Thursday, 9 January 2020

'Ardhammer'

Just a heads up for any wargamers looking to brighten up a dark damp Sunday. I've attended the last couple of years and enjoyed a couple of hours browsing toys, terrain and such like while chatting to fellow gamers.
 This year  I think I'll take some stuff along to sell off. Its free so whats not to enjoy.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Independent Wargames Annual 2019.


Welcome to the Independent Wargames Annual for 2019. I initiated the Annual in an attempt to produce something that was more than just a review of what I did, where and when in whatever year I was posting about.
That said as the year 2019 closes and 2020 beckons one is naturally allowed to mull over the campaign year and record what stood out and what could be done to improve the pleasures of our wonderful hobby for me.
 The standout moment of 2019 had to be the weekend giant refight of the Battle of Waterloo in Glasgow, where wargamers from across the world met up at the university to take part in using 23,000 figures to raise cash and awareness for injured veteran soldiers.

 My command, part of the Young Garde that since the game have moved on to pastures new. The weekend was a wonderful example of how to run a very large wargaming event and also a perfect example of how to publicise the hobby to the unknowing public.


Anyway back to other matters;
Colin over on 'Carryings on up the Dale blog posted the article that originally appeared in Practical Wagamer way back in 1990 of John and my re enactment of the Battle of Blenheim in 6mm. It was a real trip down memory lane although sadly I could remember very little of the event.
 Luckily John who has religiously kept a dairy of his wargaming since the beginning was able to provide me with details of that fateful weekend at Hunwick Community Centre. It was quite an event for me made extra special by the great Charlie Wesencraft accepting a command.
 John was able to tell me the battle was staged on 24th September 1989! hence the '89' Beano annual picture and we used the excellent 200 Years wargames rules. They were and are still very good and if I remember correctly were easy to play.
  The battle was a very tight victory for the allies and needless to say my French command was virtually wiped out. So nothing changes really. I sold the actual armies last year which was a shame but needs must sometimes.Some of the original terrain boards were given away this year, surprisingly still in very good condition. Clearly I poured some real love into their construction. What struck me about the actual game was just how enthusiastic we were about the whole event and how driven John and I were to get every regiment on the battlefield only to discover a year later that we had painted the right number of units but included some units that hadnt fought at the battle. Important in 1989 but now, well at least we had the unit numbers correct and the game looked right.

I found a couple of old photographs from that eventful day, the first one of the great Charlie Wesencraft throwing the allied command over the stream towards the Bavarian command with John's 'young' son Neil watching. Young Neil who was tea boy that day now has large 40K armies so something must have stuck.
  The second photograph is of the same part of the table pre combat, we always liked to do things big, even in the 1980's.


 In the weeks on the run up to Christmas John and I fought several English Civil War battles in both 15mm and 25mm. The rules we used were Victory Without Quarter that John had downloaded from 'The Lily Banners' site. The rules have been around a few years but I had never played them. They gave a really tense series of battles with uncertainty and real friction. Whilst this is not a review of the best rules of the year, I must admit I have thoroughly enjoyed using them and considering they are free to download are definitely worthy of my recommendation of 2019 even though I have come late to the party.

Normally I dont keep a count of what figures Ive painted and based simply because its something I have never seen as needed. With retirement I can paint regularly and luckily I am still able to paint unhindered by illness or injury. So I just put my head down and crack on. I know that in 2019 because of the Waterloo game my ECW project was delayed by the painting of my Young Garde Command but it didnt really stop me from completing most of what I wanted for the ECW.
My deviation into SPQR again stopped me painting some additional ACW units I have ready but again they are just extra regiments I wanted to add, simply because I bought some 'interesting' new figures that had just been released last year.  Hopefully the next couple of months will allow me to add to both the ACW, ECW and SYW armies. [all those W's]

Another thing I try not to do is announce that I have several resolutions for the new year, especially because any good intent lasts only as long as I can remember them which is usually about a nano second. I have however determined that I will re jig my wargaming room and also sell all my 6mm Napoleonic armies. Given how Napoleonic's was always my first love this will be difficult but to be honest I have whole corps of figures that have never been used since they were painted some 10 years ago. As a sign of my intent I finally disposed of all my terrain boards [sorry Dave] which was a shame in some respects, but weight and space have become an issue. I know they have gone to good homes.
 So the logistical nightmare of shifting several thousand 6mm figures beckons, hopefully I will be able to carry this task through quickly.

 2019 did see make a concerted effort to locate and collect the remaining Wargamers Newsletters that I needed??? for my collection. Only last month I believed I was nearing completion only to discover that the magazine started two years earlier than I thought! So now the difficult task of locating the magazines for the years 1962 and 1963 lies before me, and given the poor printing quality that Donald Featherstone and Tony Bath were forced to use Im not holding out much hope.
 Not wanting to boast I was really pleased when I was able to obtain some War Game Digest's which were the precursor of the Newsletter and it is very noticeable the quality of the magazines production in comparison to the English Newsletter. Even then the US wargaming scene prided itself on quality magazine and book production, and yet the British articles seem more relevant to what I term modern wargaming and historical research.

Whilst attempting not to make this a true review I must mention he wargames shows I attended.John and I attended fewer than usual but this was more to do with circumstances outside of our control than personal choice.My favourite was the first Partizan of 2019 which had the balance between wargames historical and otherwise about right. A close second however was Battleground staged on Teeside which is a lovely show that is definitely going in the right direction.
Best wargaming product of 2019 for me was the Games Workshop range of Contrast 'paints? The company has once again produced the next generation of paint to make wargaming even more pleasurable.
Declaring the best figures of 2019 is clearly a subjective thing and I love most wargaming ranges, but thats simply because all toy soldiers have a charm of their own. My personal favourites were however the Victrix plastic ranges of ancients and the new Steel Fist landsknects. Not cheap but real works of art. But then of course I also rediscovered the old Mini Figs ranges for the ECW and once more fell for their charm. Wargaming is a tough hobby sometimes. 
One thing that I clearly failed at was increasing the numbers of wargaming followers of my blog. The Facebook experiment became a real nightmare and frankly a waste of effort. I appreciate that blogs are somehow passe but for me they provide a great way to swop ideas, viewpoints and knowledge. Something that other more instant platforms dont. But at least I tried and I learned a little more about the curse that is the internet. 
But to end on a more positive note, the hobby for me appears vibrant and full of potential.There are clearly some wonderful and very clever wargamers out there who simply get on with enjoying the hobby and continue to produce some great rules and wonderful figures. So a happy new year to one and all and dont put off until tomorrow what you can do today.   














Monday, 30 December 2019

The Eve of New Years Eve.

 Well its the eve of News Years Eve and its about now I post my Independent Wargames Annual. Hopefully this year will be no different except it might be after the start of 2020 when I get around to posting the whole thing. Christmas was a busy time again which isnt a bad thing although young excited grandchildren can exhaust you. Parenthood is definitely a young persons game so God knows how Ronnie Wood manages. It perhaps explains why he is touring again with the Stones.
 Anyway I have completed my little painting exercise to sharpen my painting appetite and can now say the Lord of the Rings Chess set is complete....I managed to fit in a few hours painting between various festivities. I did enjoy the exercise, so much so I hope to locate another set to paint, except this time I will probably complete and sell the set on, depending on how it goes.
 Im now ready to go on to a couple of small painting projects after I bought some old Garrison SYW artillery crews and guns which will become battalion guns for my French army.They are more decorative than effective, but it adds to my army.
 I also picked up quite a number of painted Hinchliffe SYW Austro Hungarian grenadiers which will complete a unit that was too small for my armies. The actual small unit of grenadiers were bought from Ian Hinds and are beautiful Old School figures painted to a great standard. I think Ill find it hard to match the black lines created by the original owner. They are very nice figures and I 'had'? to have them.
 I was also lucky enough to trace a number of Garrison ECW figures which will be re painted and drafted into my armies. Garrison produced some lovely sculpts, well in my eyes they did and Im looking forward to painting them. So that is my short term plan for January but as of yet I still haven't decided what to do next.


                                 I did also manage to complete my 'henge' for SPQR.
   I also squeezed in a couple of preachers to inspire a couple of ECW units, +1 to morale.
  In between visiting my family I finally completed another unit of Romans and some slingers for SPQR. These were put aside but look okay now they have their shields.
 So there you have it. Not a very productive period, but Christmas never is and neither should it be really. Anyway a Happy New Year to all and hopefully you will find something to interest you when I post my Annual for 2019.



Sunday, 15 December 2019

The Battle of Fontenoy by Charles Grant,circa 1964



As mentioned in my last post I have downloaded the article that Charles Grant submitted for the Wargamers Newsletter Special Issue 1964. It may be of interest to wargamers of a certain age and was created well before the release of Grants classic book on the subject. Im afraid time hasnt been totally kind to the article in that the ink has faded with age, hopefully it is still of use.













Its interesting that Charles Grant makes reference to the creation of his famous canister cone in this account.

Amongst my purchases I was also able to pick up this Wargamers Newsletter Yearbook 1966/1967. There is a another article contained in the issue by Charles Grant. This time it his refight of the Battle of Minden. Now I haven't read through the issue yet but I admit I bought the magazine when I saw Grant had written an article re the battle. I will reproduce it when I find some time. 



Saturday, 14 December 2019

Out with the New, in with the Old.

                    Anyone recognise this beatnik looking chap playing and ECW game?
                                                                    [answer at the end]


 A few weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that I had failed to buy a number of Wargamers Newsletters from the USA due to excessive postal charges. I would again like to thank Johnathan Freitag who lives in the USA who offered to find a way to obtain the issues and send them to me. It was a typically kind offer that one expects from fellow wargamers who are in the main generous souls where wargaming is concerned. Anyway the very kind gesture wasnt needed as I luckily managed to obtain a fair number of the back issues I 'needed' to complete my collection of Newsletters. They werent cheap and frankly some were extortionate but I bit the bullet like a true collecting nut.
 I now only need locate 16 issues to have the complete collection of wargaming magazines that promoted the hobby when there was very little else apart from the odd wargaming article in the early Military Modelling magazines circa 1971.
 Donald Feathersone however had kept the wargaming beacon alight  for years before that, and certainly from 1964 when Tony Bath,Jack Scruby from the USA and himself had gone their separate wargaming ways for whatever reasons now lost in the mist of age.
 I normally dont like to boast about what I am privileged to own but being able to read these early magazines is a guilty pleasure.
 Yes some of the 'articles' are very brief, little more than tips and observations but like any history student if one wants to understand where we are, we need to study the past.
 Reading the Newsletters shows how we came to be where we are now, the same arguments that troubled the early wargamers,[ less than 500 internationally in 1965 ] are still argued even now and their solutions are as relevant as the ones produced nowadays.

Amongst my purchases was this gem, a special issue full of  wargaming articles from 1964.
 I particularly mention this magazine because the late great Charles Grant contributed a lengthy article titled 'Experiments with a Battle' which is an account of his different refights of the classic Grant battle, Fontenoy 1745. This account is well before the release of his classic book The Wargame and shows how he was testing various ways to fight the battle.If anyone is interested I will scan the whole article although due to its age some of the printing is very faint.
In the lengthy introduction Featherstone jokingly moans of having embarked on too many wargaming periods [sound familiar] but blames Peter Gilder for at least two of the projects, simply because he was given some beautiful pieces of wargaming terrain made by Gilder.

So whilst desperately attempting to complete my Newsletter collection I was able to obtain the following wargaming gold [well for me anyway]
By accident I was able to lay my hands on a decent number of The War Game Digest, the magazine that Jack Scruby compiled from 1958 for the small number of would be wargamers that existed across the world. I have yet to peruse these magazines and wont until I have obtained some decent protective covers for them but this is the magazine that fired the enthusiasm of Featherstone, Bath and Grant plus several others.In fact it was the start of what we are all involved in, modern? wargaming.
 Serendipitously from a totally different source I was also able to obtain some copies of the digest's successor, the less famous Table Top Talk which I believe started about 1961/1962. Although a smaller magazine than the digest it is a well produced little magazine that contains some still relevant information and is brimming with wargaming enthusiasm.
 In a couple of decade these pioneering wargamers will probably be unknown but whoever is playing the games of the future their pleasure will be because of a few people prepared to take a chance and create a series of magazines that would bring the disparate wargamers together.

Answer; the beatnik was a young Stuart Asquith.

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Some tidying up in progress.

 Its that time of the year when I tidy up a few projects and also a time when I take on a couple of small painting exercises to sharpen the painting palette as it were.
 I enjoy playing chess, but will never be very good at the game, I have found that for the first few moves Im okay but then lose focus and inevitably make a tactical mistake that leads to defeat.A bit like my wargaming. What seemed like yesterday but was back? in the 1980's I painted up a Napoleonic chess set using Tradition and Connoisseur figures, it sits next to my computer desk, its is still a decent looking set. However I wanted to create a set for my grandson that he could use or at least look at, so these images are of the new set Im creating. I picked the Lord of the Rings theme because I hope he will one day read the book which I have loved since the early 1970's.
 Im enjoying the small exercise, the figures are decent likenesses of the characters from the Fellowship film and have a decent heft when handled.

                         For some reason I have painted the orcs in two different skin shades but I like them both so didnt want to repaint them.

 I mentioned that I had entered the 21st century at Stockton and bought some 3d printed terrain.The pieces were of a neolithic stone circle and perfect for the SPQR games.They are very nicely detailed pieces.
 Naturally I 'had' to include a semi naked druidess/warrior to placate? any would be ME2 wargamers.
                                           Shes a fine looking lady with a taste for heads...
 Finally Stuart of Colonel Bill fame has produced some beautiful ECW character pieces. So I have started putting them together, they are lovely sculpts.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating