Sunday 24 March 2013

A Call to Muster or when is Spring again?

 Sometimes I wonder if God isn't punishing the British for some reason. Perhaps their creation of the Spice Girls, allowing Simon Cowell onto television, letting Tony Liar well be Tony Liar or some other such perversity.
Because God just keeps p****ing on us. Above is a town that I passed through on the way to Call to Muster in Middlesbrough, the road was fairly clear, but the wind chill made you cry.
 I had offered to put a game on when I first heard about the return of Dave and Tom to the wargame show world. John and I have always put games on at their shows, and always have enjoyed it. The weather made me think it wasn't such a good idea. But a promise is a promise.
  Neil, John's son wanted to give his Russian WW2 army a run out using the PSG rules, Battleground Kursk. John wanted to use his lovely? German army, and I just wanted a reason to replace the boards that I had left in Newcastle during a very senior moment. An arrangement made in heaven.
  Anyway on arrival it was evident that some people had listened to the news, the Daily Express or such like threatening Armageddon again. So Tom and Dave were let down by a few groups and traders,however the majority braved the wind, and battled through the no show snow.

I should give a detailed description of what took place in the game based around Russia in 1944, but I am not a tankie really, although I do love the models. What I do know is the rules are very good, play very well and are understandable to a dimwit like me. Oh and a Geman Ferdinand is virtually indestructible.  Guess who had that in his command.
   I think I would have been quite happy to blast away at the Russian army all day with that tank,safe in the knowledge that it just couldnt be destroyed. I want a regiment of them please.
 I have put these photographs on the blog, purely for aesthetic reasons, as I know Neil has taken lots of photographs on his blog, The Old Hunwickian. I wanted to show readers my glowing explosions,and what happens if a Russian artillery team mess with my Ferdinand.

 My offending Ferdinand in action, painted by John and commanded by yours truly.

Because Tom and Dave are starting again virtually from scratch, trade was hit and miss. I know they struggled to get the show advertised, and the weather warnings frightened off would be punters, but up until the watershed at 2.00pm things seemed pretty busy.
I hope all the traders did ok. The pair have always tried to keep costs down, and the food was cheap and cheerful. Always a good example in these times of recession.

 I had a saunter around the games, and I loved the ancient game next to us put on by the Private Soldiers.
 I know Count Belisarius also like the game, because he took virtually the same photograph of the Irregular Miniatures elephants.
I was also strangely attracted to the Garrison light cavalry as I used to have this figure in my first ever metal ancient army,still a good un.  Also you may be able to notice the Hinchliffe foot archers,again a great figure in my eyes.

Tom and Dave have to be applauded as they always attempt to invite military modelling groups from the area to exhibit. This time Darlington turned up with some lovely models.This was one of my favourites, and I am afraid my camera doesnt really do it justice.
When I saw this tank on show in another game, I had to photograph it, just purely because it was a ridiculous piece of war engineering.I think the game was put on by the Middlesbrough Gamers.

There was a fine skirmish game from the Guisborough Gamers,with some well painted buildings and a great train station.

I did a bit of buying,and one thing that caught my eye was a range of 28mm Elizabethan figures from Hoka Hey figures.It includes Irish kern, and gallowglass. They also had a very nice late gendarme, especially the barded horse.
So in conclusion a good but tiring day out, with God still dumping on us.Who would be British?

Sunday 10 March 2013

Derek Sharman, a forgotten wargame inovator

Following on from Andy's post on his blog regarding who or what caused him to take up wargaming, he mentioned a worthy who greatly helped John and I when we were struggling with wargaming.
 Derek Sharman was a gentleman who initially worked in a pet shop  [I think ] in Durham City, that as an aside sold the odd wargames figure!
 This was the late 1960's early 1970's which was how things were then. I also knew of another pet shop that also sold wargames figures in Bishop Auckland. Strange that pet shops cornered the wargaming market in my area, it was a bugger going in to buy a goldfish and coming out with some Mini Fig cavalry.
 Anyway Derek looked after the wargamers who started to hang out at the shop, and when wargaming started to take off, the pet shop owner took retirement and the Wargamers Den was born.
 As a teenager, going to Derek's shop was a thing to really look forward to, there always seemed to be something going on in the shop, either some painted figures or a game, or just other wargamers all looking for advice and ideas.
 It all seemed so new and interesting.
  What I remember of Derek Sharman was that he was really enthusiastic, he certainly seemed knowledgeable but he didnt seem that well organised. I also think Derek was better as a wargame innovator than as a businessman.
 Saying that he did organise some really good wargames shows, that seemed to draw in the public. He also had an eye for locating the shows in really atmospheric locations, like Durham Castle, Lumley Castle and the Castle Green. Also being heavily involved in the 68th society, he always managed to have a fine turn out from the re enactment societies.
 My favourite being when he got the Imperiale Guard band with David Chandler dressed up in his finery at Lumley Castle Napoleonic fair.
 I only wargamed with him twice, both times at Bishop Auckland. One where his Persian army was minced by a massive Greek army, full of Spartan hopolites, +2 for bell corselet!
 The second when Derek took it upon himself to physically charge the French Guard horse artillery up to close range of the British Guard, +2 for British musket fire! The result was carnage.
  It always struck me as strange that my regular wargaming opponent then, seemed to get +2 for every unit he had! Still I was just learning the game then.
 Like I say Derek was more an ideas person than a general and businessman.

 The one thing he was however,was very kind, and apart from allowing me to buy George Gush's Renaissance Armies book on HP, he also gave me a set of his ancient rules, and discounted a lot of Garrison ancient Persian figures when I was struggling to pay for them.
I'm hoping other wargamers who came across Derek can fill in some of the gaps,because to be fair, he did an awful lot for wargaming in Durham County and deserves a bit of recognition, even if it is only in this blog.
I understand that Derek lives near Berwick and is heavily involved as a tourist guide.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

A Call to Muster 23rd March 2013

  I thought I should remind any wargamers who live anywhere near the North East of England that A CALL TO MUSTER show is going ahead in late March 2013.
 Tom and David, have always worked hard to put on a good wargames show, and since the demise of their venue in Stockton and ill health, their shows were a great miss.
 Anyway they are back, and have put together a new show, with a fair number of wargames clubs and trade.
 Support it if you can, all proceeds always go to charity, and they have always put on a good day. We will be there.


On a Roll.

Feeling a bit rejuvenated, blog wise, I think now would be a good time to get something off my chest, namely the current state of the wargame magazine world. This view is naturally subjective, but I can easily argue that I am qualified to have an opinion, God knows I've bought plenty of the damn things over the years. In fact I have a bit of a dilemma,in that  something has to give magazine wise, before my roof joists do. I am going to have to either give away a lot of magazines, or cut them up and keep the best bits.
But I digress...........
 I have got the latest Wargames Illustrated, issue 305 and  I can usually judge if I have enjoyed it by the length of time, it takes me to read it. This copy took minutes.
 Now I know it is owned by Battlefront and will naturally feature their Flames of War ranges, I can live with that, I even have two of their armies.
 But somehow the magazine just seemed a bit too, well glossy.
  I know that doesn't explain what I am trying to say, but the range of articles with the wonderful terrain, figures, rule writers etc,etc seems just too slick somehow.
  Again this is my opinion, for what it is worth, but if a new enthused would be wargamer bought that magazine, what would he think? Would he be inspired, probably, would he want to take up wargaming, maybe, how would he be able to pursue this wish?
 There's the rub, nowhere in the magazine is there anything to point a newcomer in the direction that they require. Is there anywhere in the magazine that could help a newcomer to understand what wargaming is actually about. Well no, in fact what is on show is pretty unobtainable for a lot of wargames veterans.

 Going on from there, the magazine is so damn slick that there is no friction, ah that word again, but this time I mean, no letters, views, or articles that run counter to the image that Wargames Illustrated has created. Where is the debate, where the alternative view, where is the wargamer with their latest ideas to amend some rule or other.
 Wargames Illustrated gives us the perfect wargames world, great figures, great rules and lovely terrain, set in a perfect environment.
  Not every wargamer likes 28mm figures, not every gamer likes Flames of war, and not every wargamer can emulate the tables created by Ron Ringrose, God I wish we could.
 The magazine seems to provide a vehicle for a group of wargamers who are effectively professional, or the next best thing to it.
 Is that a bad thing?
Well its good that wargamers can portray a lovely table and figures, if the public actually attended a wargames show.
  Also such a table/game would hopefully inspire wargamers to try that little bit harder to emulate the game on show, but somehow I dont think that will happen.
   Who can afford painted buildings by The Grand Manner?  Who can afford beautifully painted mega sized units?
 Who can afford professionally built terrain?

 So whats my gripe then?  I think its basically, Yes its nice to see some ones lovingly created collection, as a feature each month, but for Gods sake, introduce some ordinary people into the equation, and let them show the wargaming world that there is an alternative view,away from the ideal of perfection. Otherwise our wargaming future will become as regimented as the Games Workshop world, God forbid.
 Here endeth the lesson..........................

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Its My Birthday!

Its been a while since I have posted, that is mainly down to a number of factors, namely, work, work and grandchildren. Anyway today is my birthday, and when one gets to my age, you tend not to make a big fuss about it. So I thought it was a good time to put up another post, especially as I have finished another couple of units for my imaginary SYW contingent.

 Firstly I managed to obtain at a good price a couple of unpainted units of Holgar Ericson cavalry. Now I know a lot of older wargamers wax lyrical about the anatomy of the horses in this range, and I must admit that some of the horses are very good, especially when you think they have got to have been originally created in the early 1970's if not earlier, but others are a little bit crap to be frank. Anyway I painted them, and I do like them for what they are. This unit is painted in the colours of the Duchess, ie I had some spare Goblin green kicking about.
 The next unit is from a second hand batch that I have re painted in the main.  Without sounding too big headed I think they came out pretty good, and certainly look the part.

 A lot of wargamers seem to turn their noses up at Hinchliffe, but their SYW range was a really good one, even though Peter Gilder omitted to cast a musketeer in a march attack pose. Any SYW experts amongst the readership, will notice the Brunswick flag, well it was too nice not to use on this unit.
 I went for a more brash style of highlighting, as I remember when I actually viewed some of the figures that Peter Gilder had painted, they looked brilliant from afar, but up close tended to look a little bit slap dash. I dont think I could ever replicate his great style, but it was certainly effective.
 These have the Ducal colour as their facing colour.
 Anyway, another year older, but certainly no way any wiser.
 I have been busy, so check out my sister blog, re more units that I have painted.

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