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Friday, 28 July 2017

The End of the Dinosaurs. [ Discuss]

                                             Image; The End of the Dinosaurs.

I visited my grandchildren last weekend and after recovering from their full on, non stop demand for entertainment from Grandad. [What happened to telling them to bugger off into the nearest wood to play?]
  I got to thinking about the toys and education that children have nowadays and the impact this will have on wargaming.
 Before everyone [one?] clicks and moves on. Take the time to think about the social experiment that has been happening in this country for the last forty or so years.
 I can remember Featherstone railing against the Scandinavian ban on 'War toys' and how West Germany viewed such toys as 'problematical', whilst we young wargamers shook ours heads in pity and carried on researching and collecting our armies. It could never happen in the United Kingdom, could it?
 Well like those poor dinosaurs in the image who probably thought their idyll would go on forever I think wargamers from 5 to 80 years should wake up and give some thought about the progression that is taking place in the home of Wargaming [ ie Great Britain]
  I was of a generation whose parents had lived and fought through the Second World War. Fictional programmes, books, Comics for children and films were readily accepted as entertainment of that terrible event.I ate them all up.
 I could easily buy toy soldiers at my local shop, and buy every type of toy gun known to man. Ah yes, the Johnny Seven, the ultimate Jap killer [ one could use that term back in the 1970's. There were no Japanese children in my village then. Funnily there are still none even now, but I cant say such a derogatory term apparently]
                    The ultimate Christmas present of any right thinking boy in the 1970's.

 Now move forward to this 'enlightened' age. Yes you can still buy toy soldiers, albeit it is becoming increasingly difficult, but certainly parents [ I am generalising here] seem to be avoiding the buying of such things and instead buying Super Heroes, Fantasy figures space men etc, basically anything that doesnt appear to glorify [ in their eyes ] historical warfare as such.
  I mean its very wrong to encourage such violence isnt it?
   Move onto education and we are into something that is in my eyes a little more sinister. Our history has been carefully sanitised over many years and now bears very little resemblance to the country that Great Britain evolved into.
A couple of examples;

  Even the Second World War is now a struggle between the democratic nations and the 'Nazis.'  Not the German Nation, but some new creature, that has carefully shifted those terrible events onto the shoulders of a mythological evil race. The Nazis.

I watched a BBC 4 history programme the other night about the Vikings.
  I was looking forward to it, expecting a well researched programme, until the presenter,  A History Professor, likened the Viking invasion of Lindisfarne to the policies of Mrs Thatcher? Proof of the BBC left wing credentials? Probably. But also it showed for me the thinking of the educational establishment as regards how they present our history to young people.

 One has to look no further than the regular demands to ban white historical figures of our history from the walls of our Halls of Learning. The latest one being the demand that a psychiatry course in Oxford should contain only sources from non white psychiatrists because well, its 'wrong and exclusionary'. Never mind that these white people were the founders of that science.

In the 'Land of the Free' the trends are even worse, and lets be correct  this country inevitably follows the USA.  Statues of General Lee and other rebel Generals are disappearing from public vistas, and of course the Confederate flag is now effectively banned. A bit like the Swastika was [ is ] in Germany, because banning something is the answer?
 I really am waiting for the first instant of complaint from some distraught person who goes to a wargames show and sees an ACW game in progress. God the upset.

   Most history fed to children and young adults focuses upon more social events and struggles, which is fine to a certain extent. I suppose to learn about Mandela's struggle can be enlightening but hardly relevant to a young person looking to understand their own country, and certainly not a good way to fire the imagination of any would be wargamer of the future.

  So what am I attempting to say in such a badly formed way?

At the present time the trends in wargaming are towards smaller table games involving a few figures. It can be attributed to many things from cost to simply not being arsed enough to paint up an army.
 In the main these games concern some other worldly race, or zombies, or of course the latest trend, pirates. Everyone loves pirates, look at Johnny Depp, he's a pirate, so it must be okay to buy some for the kids. Its non violent, isnt it?

 If one reads any of the current wargaming press, or follows the internet, most wargamng companies who are struggling to make some cash have followed the trend to supply non human, or non historical figures in the hope of cashing in on the changes.But what happens if their new 'race' doesnt catch on?
  So where does that leave future generations of historical wargamers?
  Well I expect the most common response will be, 'I dont care, I'll be dead by then, so crack on.'

  Other responses will give examples of how clubs are attracting younger people into the hobby, except of course they will be using, non historical zombies, fantasy pirates or whatever is currently popular. The hope, and it is a hope is that some of these younger players just might make the step over into historical wargaming.

  The problem will be that these acolytes will have very little knowledge about the tactics, units and probably the reason for the war. So in point of fact they might as well go back to shoving Space Marines around a table. At least they have read their latest Codex and know the background story as to why they are fighting.

 I wish I could offer a solution to what appears inevitable, but historical wargaming as we Dinosaurs know it will have disappeared like our namesakes in probably one or two generations.
 So whilst I will continue to push around my lovely armies and read history books until I'm nailed in a box, I would suggest that all wargaming fathers of young children consider just what they can do to sustain this wonderful and harmless hobby and take action now.

               And on a happier note, my best ever Christmas present; Mighty Joe.



Thursday, 20 July 2017

The VMI. Cadets.....

 Well progress has been slow since my last post, I suppose its a combination of good weather, other distractions and other issues. All wargamers hit a wall now and again, for some that is the end of their hobby and they move on to other things, such as a new job, a partner or golf. God forbid.
 For me, hopefully its a hiccup on the way. I think its too late to discover a new hobby, I've invested far too much life into the 'thing', and the 'thing'  has tended to take over at times. Anyway, I'm pleased to say I have completed this unit, the Virginia Military Institute Cadets. Another eclectic choice, but to be fair Redoubt Miniatures made a decent fist of sculpting this unit.
 I am half way through the 79th New York Volunteers, resplendent in tartan and such frippery.At least this unit had a lengthy war record.Again Redoubt sculptured a decent figure, and any unit wearing epaulettes and beards is a must in my eyes.
 John and I have finally mastered Picketts Charge and I think we understand the rules well enough to have a great game with them. My painting progress will stop again as I travel to a wedding of a friend and grab a holiday at the same time, so life interferes in my aim to complete these two armies sooner rather than later. Hopefully the enforced break will give me the necessary kick up the Khyber I clearly require.
 I have checked just how many units I have painted for this project, and was surprised when I found I had painted 43 infantry regiments, not counting skirmishers and such like.One would have thought as I got older I would have put a bit of planning into a wargames project and not just put my head down and lash the paint on, who says older and wiser? Now then where's my suntan cream?

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

When your bucket list is ticked.

 Well its been a while since I last posted, for which there has been several reasons, some I can comment upon, some I cant. I have realised that I am near the end of this ACW project, and have only the Union cavalry and Union extra artillery to paint. It came to me that perhaps that should be it as regards starting a new project. I know that there have been some recent postings about such a thing, and I don't doubt there will be many posts more given how there are many wargamers who probably started at about the same time as me.

 I specifically started a ACW project initially because of the Glory Halalujah rules, but since the release of Picketts Charge rules, John and I have embraced these rules as the ones of choice, and the more we use them the more I enjoy them. Last weeks refight of Donald Featherstone's scenario Plattville was a corker. I must admit Dave Brown is on to a winner with these rules, and boy do you need to think about what you are doing, a great cerebral exercise and fun too.

 But I digress. So I have nearly finished the project and I have pondered about what next. I just dont think I have the appetite to start another period and army, the way I am viewing it at the moment is I would be painting units that would probably never see the light of day. As I have cited before Peter Young was on the money when he called collecting armies from various historical periods as madness [ I paraphrase] and after all my wargaming years I have finally understood what he was on about. 
One of the problems I have is that not only have I virtually completed this project, I have also virtually completed writing my first novel, [ just some editing to complete] which has now provided another loose end that needs tying off. My aim in this case was to write a novel that had been in the back of my mind for many years but I never got around to starting it. Well I have now ticked that box, so again what do I do now, because I'm not even certain it is any good, although my tutor has been very positive, but one expects that nowadays, no tutor ever seems to tell the full truth anymore, unlike my former school days, when a spade was a spade. [digging implement to any would be devastated reader]

 Like other mature wargamers, one realises that you need to shrink some of the collections that you have put together over many years. In my case my biggest concern is regards the 120+ terrain boards that I no longer use.These were made for the many 6mm refights that John and I staged at various shows. To be honest I am loath to scrap them at the local tip, merely because they are in very good condition and also are frankly better than most boards I have seen at most shows. So that's one thing I feel must be given a priority. The second concerns my collection of Napoleonic books, EBay rarely works as regards books, and I am loath to give these away, especially as some have been my companions for many years, but go they must.
 As for my collections of wargaming magazines, I think Bonfire Night beckons early, given that at the last show I couldnt even give them away.
 On a more positive note, and which proves I am still involved in this wonderful hobby, I have bought a box of Warlord's new landsnects, the original Pro Gloria ones. Do I need them? No of course not, but I had to have them. The images in this post are some things I have managed to complete, but again they were a struggle to tackle, it must be an age thing. So I apologise for the lack of enthusiasm, hopefully I will survive, as Gloria whatshername sang and bounce back soon.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Its official, I am plain unlucky.

 Well its now official I am the Unluckiest General, and that has finally been recognised by my peers following the Amateur Military Gentleman weekend. I look on it as a positive achievement especially as I was awarded a wonderful trophy very kindly donated by Aly Morrison, who again shows why he is a top wargamer.

   The Unluckiest General Trophy, won by well, the acknowledged unluckiest general..... Me.

   To be honest I feel I didnt deserve the award simply because my dice throwing was pretty average, for me anyway. Commanding the Austrians twice in Colin's refight of the Battle of Leuthen we won one and lost one. I found it interesting how different wargamers fight and the AMG weekend was a great opportunity to watch this in action. Not just how they view and tackle a battle, but also how they react to interaction between individuals.
   The weekend is now in its second year, and hopefully will continue given its undoubted success. Initially it was a means to get members of the AMG forum to come together face too face for a wargaming extravaganza, but given the various upheavals in the said forum it has morphed into something which I view as what is best about wargamers.
 Over the wargaming years you normally get to know various individuals after meeting at the shows, through other wargamers introducing someone and of course through the internet.
 But normally you are like ships passing in the night.
So a wargames weekend where one can play in a number of large games with a number of generals per side is wonderful. Stopping in a decent hotel, eating and drinking, and discussing wargames issues, and generally talking history is something a little bit special. I hasten to add its not about showing off one's knowledge about some obscure period, its more about enjoying the company of people who love the hobby, beer and food. Now that the AMG connection is firmly left behind, the weekend has the potential of growing into an even better wargames weekend.
 Fellow attenders have posted far better images than me of the weekend, but there were four large 28mm wargames to fight over.
  A wonderful Malburian affair which rightly won the best hosted game, created by Paul Robinson of Grimsby [ the club not the film  ] fame. There were some wonderful painted units and the rules written by Paul made the game run very smoothly.

 The prize, for the best wargame host held over the weekend. Again donated by the most excellent Mr Morrison. I really would like to have won that.

                   Sorry about the image of Paul's Malburian set up, it really doesn't do it justice.

Graham Cummings, of Crann Tara, hosted a Jacobite War battle, using his lovely figures and the Honours of War Rules. Sorry about the images, it was very hot in the room. Again a top quality game.

 Two dodgy cockney types hosted a wonderful Sudan game, with some brilliantly painted 28mm figures. Des Darkin and Martin Gane, of South London Warlords fame were convivial hosts and also great to take the michael out of. A pair of good sports.  Its fair to say that wargamers came from the four corners of the kingdom and one from our former colony of the Americas. God knows what Jim Purkey made of us [ well me actually] but for such a diverse group, the mix worked.
                          I loved the look of these buildings and really wanted to snaffle them.

 Colin staged Leuthen twice over the weekend, with me as the Austrian adviser. Both battles were tense affairs, with interesting ideas by the Prussians on how to tackle to problems of the terrain. Both days I took 'control' of the Reicharmee contingent, and to be honest for really poor troops they did alright. We won one, and got absolutely hammered in the second game, by the use of some heartless and cowardly Teutonic tactics.

 I could wax lyrical about the whole weekend, but all I will say is that if one likes to take part in some great games, of a very high standard, and like shooting the breeze with other wargamers while drinking and eating then this is the weekend for you. One comes away with new ideas, a bit tired but most certainly enthused. One tip though, never ever drink with Angus Konstam the guy is a legend.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Reports of my Death have been Greatly Exaggerated.

Just to prove I'm not hanging from some tree, I have just completed two more regiments in my ACW project. The Union chaps have come out rather well, and are my interpretation of the Mozart Regiment, a New York unit sponsored by a theatre! I had to include them in my eclectic collection.

The rebel regiment is the final unit for the Mississippian brigade. These were bought from Peter, a close friend of Jim Sweeney who kindly let me have them. I touched them up to make them compatible with my own troops. In the background of both units is the expanded Headquarters for both armies. I 'had' to paint up some more accessories for the camp scenes.
My 'observations' about what happens after a wargamer shifts his mortal coil brought some interesting! comments, but it also brought a great post on Jonathan Freitag's excellent blog, Palouse Wargaming Journal. He was also able to articulate far better than me about when does a wargamer stop collecting, and instead simply just use their toys in games instead. And there's the rub for me, I think it was the late great Peter Young that mentioned a wargamer who collects armies from many periods is mad [ paraphrased by me] it is a madness, but an enjoyable type of insanity. So SYW battles this weekend.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Durham Wargames Show, makes one depressed.

Well I attended Durham Wargames Show after a sabbatical of some three years. Billed as The Friendliest Show in the North I found myself at a loose end, so braved the rain and the students at Durham Regatta to see what was appertaining.
 I could so easily knock the show, as it fails on so many levels, but I will attempt to avoid that. The Durham Wargames Group have been around since the late 1960's early 1970's and to be honest always had a decent setup club wise. Some of the former members were pretty innovative wargamers and very keen to boot, now I think they just seem happy to turn up weekly and play a game, which I suppose is acceptable.
 What struck me yesterday was at the Bring and Buy sale where one of the members was selling off a load of wargames books, unpainted figures and ephemera on behalf of a wargames widow.
 He was doing a good turn to help a woman out, whose husband had clearly been a long serving wargamer judging by some of the books for sale.
 It must be the mood I was in, after the Election and a day on the drink waiting to hear Rod Stewart on the night, but I found the sale depressing. Mortality and all that I suppose.
 One spends years usually building a collection of figures, books, magazines, and God knows what, and then suddenly someone is left with the responsibility of clearing it all out.
 Sorry if I'm sounding maudlin.
 To an untrained eye, boxes of wargaming magazines from the 1960's and 1970's suddenly look like a bonfire waiting to happen. Oh and all those fusty smelling books containing blurred black and white photographs of toy soldiers just crying out to be dumped at the Council tip, and dont get me started on my painted armies.
 I came home after the show feeling I should compile a ledger for my next of kin, in which I would record the worth of my life in wargaming. Except it would be a very time consuming task and too much to hope they would be sold to someone who would appreciate the wonderful legacy they have inherited.
 Sorry about sounding really depressed, its hardly a great endorsement for a wargames show. One should feel invigorated after such an event. Maybe it was the weather and to much JD.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The Texan Brigade.

Well I've completed the units for my Texan Brigade, all five regiments. They're not my best work, but they still look presentable. The figures are a mix of First Corps and old Foundry figures. So the project is nearing completion, although my priority has to be the Union artillery batteries as I am very short of guns. The problem is that I want to complete the 79th New York Volunteers [ Highland] regiment, and the Virginia Military Cadet regiment before I return to the more mundane stuff.

 This is my Command base for the Union, ready for my inaugural 28mm Picketts Charge game.The figures are a couple of excellent FGZ figures with some plastic ephemera scattered around to make up a scene. So I am still making progress, albeit a bit slower than I would like, hopefully I will apply myself a bit better over the next couple of weeks. Except next weekend is the AMG wargames weekender, although I'm not certain if that is still the title that we can use. But whats in a name, I just hope it is a great success with some great games fought and a lot of wargames chat, chatted.
 On a final note; a few weeks ago I made the mistake of wanting to expand my blog readership, and thinking that joining Facebook would help, I blithely joined against my better judgement. I think I have touched on this organisation before, concerning a murder inquiry I was file officer for, and just how obstructive and arrogant they were, bearing in mind this was a child murder.
 I now realise just what a bad move joining was, as I am continually bombarded with some very worrying views attached to various posts. One concerned how Hitler  had ONLY killed six million Jews and wasnt as bad as the Tories! and that was quite a mild comment. Others concerned how it was the fault of successive British governments who were responsible for the murders in the last three terrorist attacks. Its pretty clear that Facebook was not a good idea, and I have opened a Pandora's Box filled with some very very troubled people.  And of course the Founder has now set himself on a course to stand in the next Presidential Elections, posing as a young Bernie Sanders, God Help America if that should happen, what a vile thing it is.  Now if I can find out how to leave the damned thing. But on a happier note, wargamers seem more grounded and in the main sensible, except where buying more toys is concerned.

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