Saturday 24 November 2012

Smoggycon 2012 Part Two.

Smoggycon for me is a show on the way up. Its friendly,it has helpful organisers and its easy to get to for me.
 Southlands may be a sports centre,[a bit of a rarity in the North East since the recession.] but it has good parking,and the show puts on good value tea and food.
 The trade is a good balance of the larger traders,ie Dave Thomas, Irregular Miniatures,Old Glory and Pendraken,and the new smaller traders,just starting out.
 For me the show hit my wallet hard. I bought some more Perry Renaissance figures,when I say a few [thats for the benefit of my wife.] The reality was I bought quite a few.
 I also have bought two packs of Old Glory Gendarmes,to try them out. They look pretty good.
The reason being that Foundry had let Dave Thomas down,and he couldn't get me my Christmas present from my wife, 24 Foundry Gendarmes.
 I get the impression that Foundry can't get their act together and have management problems,may be next year.
 The big thing for me was I was able to buy 61 Wargames Newsletters from Ian Kay!
 To some gamers that might be a so what,but to me it was a great event.
 Some of the magazines are over forty years old,and I think still have a relevance today.[ Maybe I'm deluded.]
 Games wise,there was an Impetus tournament. These are good rules,and probably made for a good tournament, I cant say.It did seem popular.

 Games wise, I liked the ten mil. Malburian game, lots of figures,and a nice set up.
I also liked a 20mm Battlground Kursk set up.The rules look interesting,and I thought the set up was very effective.
I'm probably doing a lot of clubs a disservice at the show as I didn't get around them all due to the game I had running.
 I checked out the new style bring and buy,copying from the York show,unfortunately I thing E bay is starting to make big inroads to the bring and buys,I got the impression the set up was a failure,with very few being willing to sell their own stuff.I personally think its still the way to go.
So was the show a sucess, I know talking to three traders that they did very well,and couldnt complain. The numbers through the door again looked like it was up,and I left the show skint and knackered,usually a sign of a good show. 8 out of 10.

Smoggycon 2012. Part One.

I always know the campaigning year is ending as I attend Smoggycon in Middlesbrough.
It is probably the most apt name for a wargames show,as if you know Middlesbrough then you can understand the nick name Smoggy.
 As you travel over the A19 flyover I always think of Mordor,as the flames fly from the chimneys at the large incinerator,pretty it ain't.
The show however is good,and has tried hard to replace the defunct Parade ground show that was staged at Stockton.
 John and I weren't certain what to put on as a game,and due to time constraints, aren't there always,
I couldn't get my replacement terrain boards finished [or even started ] in time.
 Anyway I opted to put on another SYW game,just to showcase the OSW ranges of figures that are still available and worth looking at.
 We decided to use Blackpowder rules and opted for a mid size encounter battle, French against Hanoverian Hessians.
Its a testament to BP rules that after John forgot the quick play charts,and I forgot the rule book we were still able to play. The rules are that easy and that good.
 John took command of the Hanoverians and I took my customary French.I gave each side ten battalions of foot and six regiments of cavalry,with the od extra light unit to make things interesting.

Doing what the French do best,I opted for a very stately stroll forward,as the Hanoverians came on like a banshee. Smoggycon for me,is a chance to meet up with old faces,and also make new acquaintances.
This year was no exception as I met and talked to my old boss!, a closet wargamer,who never said a word before.I think he was impressed by our set up.

 John throws forward all his troops,in an effort to catch the French unawares....which he did.

 One of my claims to fame,was my Austrian allied hussars,blundering their way to undying shame,as after throwing a double six,they charged the nearest enemy. One move later they were gone like  summer snow..................
 A view of the Legion Brittanique and skirmishers,taking the corn field held by the Arquebusiers du Grassin.
 A shot of the Grassin,just before they disappeared.

 A couple of photographs of the camp scenes I like to scatter around the chaos.

 John's combined Hessian grenadiers attempting to hide.
My mystery French infantry,they still have not been identified,even after consulting Dave Thomas, Andy Copestake, Ian Kay and Phil Robinson at the show.
 Commander of the French army resplendent in all his glory,wishing he had taken out dual status,as his army starts to disappear.
 To be fair to myself,as the day wore on, I started to make inroads to John's position,but at great cost to my troops. A winning draw to John.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Some Hard Thinking.

Andy on his blog, Glorious Little Soldiers wrote a post mentioning me and a friend who was resurrecting his Airfix ACW armies, and he asked whether as you get older do you attempt to re kindle your youth.
Now apart from a quick reply on Andy's blog,his post got me thinking, actually some proper thinking for a change.Now apart from a short reply to Andy,this post got me thinking, really thinking actually..

 1] Why did I go back to 28/30mm figures.
 2] Why did I opt for SYW.
 3] Why have I tried to use figures from the 1970's,1980's period.
 4] Why a return to the rule ideas of the late 60's and 70's.

Well originally I think its fair to say my interest was re kindled with the publication of Battle games  and the inception of the Old School Wargamers.
 But what I quickly realised was that the figures I was buying,are figures that I still find very attractive and wanted to own and paint.
When Willie figures were originally released,I wanted them,but knew I could never buy them.
When Steve Hezzlewood produced his Pax Britannica ranges,I thought they were beautiful, but the SYW was not a period I was really interested in.
Things move on,and as you get older, but maybe not wiser, you realise that life is too short to not follow your instincts,if you can.
 I have always loved Peter Gilder's work at Hinchliffe, and inspired by the figures painted by Phil Robinson in the early Miniature Wargames of the SYW Prussian army I took a mental note that I would research and collect that period. After that it logically followed to pick up figures from the Garrison range,some of which I had actually painted in a former life.
 So I dont think nostalgia and a search for my lost childhood was involved in the thought processes.
If that had been the case, I would have gone right back and collected Airfix figures myself.
 One thing I will admit to was that I wanted athe rules I use to be enjoyable,and very playable,but with a feel for the period.
 The rules John wrote, ''A NOSTALGIC WHIM'' I think encapsulated the simple but fun approach, but by the same token, the use of Blackpowder was a set that allowed other gamers to come and fight with my figures, without any problems.
 So it was a win win situation as wargaming is hopefully about seeking out like minded people who can enjoy the experience. God I think it all sounds a bit pompous, but hey ho.

Anyway I think I've convinced myself, I didnt want to return to my childhood,especially the bit when you had to scrat around for information, and when buying your figures you invariably ended up short on the order and probably stuck with some alternative figures from a different period,which if painted and viewed at night in the dark could look similar to what you had really wanted!

 Pax Brittanica, Austrian, French and Prussian.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Wargames Illustrated.

Every month I make the ritual trip to W.H.Smiths to buy my Wargames Illustrated.
October has been no exception,as I lashed out and bought the November issue.
Like the saddo I am, I always make a point of not reading it until I am tucked up in bed. Often John is not allowed to show me any pictures from the newly bought magazine,or talk about any of the articles.
 At the same time, I had been able to hunt down a further three Wargamers Newsletters,in an attempt to finish my collection [some hope]
 The illustrated, took a very short time to read, although I do have some Flames of War stuff, its not really something I get excited about.
 So after reading through the stuff about bases and terrain, I had finished the magazine.
There is never any letters,views,opinions or articles that just might spark up a debate.
Is that what wargamers want? Somehow I would like to think that isnt the case.
 I then read the three Wargamers Newsletters, 188, 189 and 201.
 You could always rely on Donald Featherstone in his editorial to give an honest opinion on some topic loosely linked to war gaming. God knows what would happen now, if he was still writing an editorial.
Probably he would have ended up in court,and tagged a bigot or a racist.
These seem to be the most popular names that can be credited to anyone not on message. But I digress.
What I actually wanted to record is the fact that the Newletters were full of reading,relevant even today. There was fine articles by the late Paddy Griffith, an interesting synopsis by Donald Feathersone about the last 200 Newletters and how it came about, and some interesting letters,with differing points of view.
 All in all a damn good read, and no eye candy or professionally created terrain anywhere to see.
I must be getting old,or just a bit sour. I know I am definately not on message in the brave sanitised world that is the current wargaming scene.

A Project Never Finished.

Earlier last month, I decided to start a new army,using mainly Perry figures,to recreate my army of Cesare Borgia. In order to do this I thought I should shelve my SYW project and bring it to an end.
Well,that idea lasted about as long as my cat's attention span.
I actually started to miss painting the figures,and struggled to get a grip of my new renaissance figures.So in order to focus a bit, I started touching up a unit I had bought off e bay,of ready painted figures,that needed a makeover.
So I set too with half a regiment of RSM figures,Id luckily got cheap, and do you know I really enjoyed it,so much so that I also cracked off a unit of Romagnol infantry for my sister project.

 Not content with that,I had to re paint some command figures and add a couple of new ones. I probably have more commanders than the actual French SYW army, which had on its books, 900 Brigadier Generals! That is a fact by the way.

 I was lucky enough to finally hunt down and purchase The French Army in the Seven Years War by Lee Kennett.
  This is a fine little book, providing the reader with details of the French Army, and probably explaining why it did so badly in the war.
 Crippled with debts it couldn't deal with [ sounds familiar] and awash with too many Generals who had no role and spent their time intriguing against the Commanders, the army was lucky to actually function at all. Charles Grant had mentioned the book in the WARGAME, and I always wanted to read it.
Dont expect any uniform details, but a good book for any French SYW wargamer,who wants to understand the army they use.

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