Tuesday 10 February 2015

A Nostradamus Moment.

I was re reading the latest edition of Miniature Wargames the other night, [ issue 382] struggling to find something mildly interesting, when I read an article by Mike Hobbs, titled Passing the Torch.
 Basically in order to answer the doom laden predictions of various wargamers of maturing age, Mr Hobbs described the goings on at the Cardiff Wargames Club, which sounds a pretty decent set up.
Its always interesting to come outside of my wargaming bubble and find out what the future holds for wargaming in general. Somehow I dont see the future as too bright.
 Its clear that wargaming in Cardiff is thriving which is great news, what also appears clear is that if this is replicated across the United Kingdom, and the world, then wargaming as I have known it is fast disappearing.
 It could explain the increasing trend that I have seen at wargaming shows, in rules, and in figure manufacturers for much smaller, skirmish type, history light wargames.
 If the Cardiff group is typical, and I cant see why it shouldnt be, then the new breed of wargamers is fixated upon lists of units that have 'special'  abilities,equipment, and such like, in fact that old chestnut, 'List Building' a la Wargames Research Group like wargaming.
Basically attempting to find a unit of troops with that winning ability. God help us!
 So the next generation of wargamers appear to want the following,
1] rules that are easy to learn and play[ fair enough]
2] they want figures that are quality castings [again fair enough]
3] they dont want to spend a lot of time researching the history around the game they are fighting, hence the popularity of rules such as Flames of War, Saga, Bolt Action etc, where everything is basically in the book provided.
4] Apparently a big plus for the new generation of wargamers is List Building, that is the ability to trawl through the rules purchased to find a winning combination of troop types which then go on to sweep the wargame field of their opponents.
  Lists have always troubled me. Who has compiled these lists? Which expert, who must have knowledge that no other historian of wargamer possesses is able to draw up a list abilities and equipment that can create a super unit.
 I was always stumped when Bruce Quarrie brought out his Napoleonic rules with table of National characteristics, right so you want to be Spanish, well that means your sneaky, lazy, stupid and cruel, that will be a 5 factor then. Christ is that what the future holds for wargaming. Come on, surely the last fifty odd years has producded something more than this.
   As touched upon earlier, I have noticed for a while a trend towards much smaller display games, fewer figures and occasionally abstract games.I think I now understand why this is, obviously the new generation of wargamers is exhibiting the type of games that they see as the future of wargaming.
 Its like being told that the world isn't flat, and the Pope isn't infallible.
    I think if this is the future then a lot of wargaming companies had better re appraise their business plans, because their latest release, of well researched historical figures is going to crash and burn.
 I also advise them to consider producing a set of simplistic rules, filling it with loads of lists of obscure weapons and attributes and then producing a small range of very expensive toys with stick on bits. Oh and charge shit loads of money for each upgraded figure.
 They could even change the name of their companies to something like Games Research Workshop Group.
  Any wargamer who has taken the trouble to paint a Spanish Napoleonic army [ me] or a Neapolitan Napoleonic army [me] has become obsolete overnight, because clearly the underdog is finished.
 The future looks to hold, super units consisting of the SAS on steroids, or a whole army of Imperial Guardsmen drunk on winning. Now is that what wargaming should be about?
I am clearly showing my age here, but perhaps the older wargamer who attends these clubs, ie Cardiff, should consider setting up a more historic game, for these youngsters and attempting to show them that its not all about small ready made simplistic games, but actually wargaming is also about reading about history, researching various armies, and generally attempting to learn as you are having fun.
 The final paragraph in the Mike Hobbs article says its time to pass the torch to the new safe pair of hands belonging to the next generation.
 Personally I would rather use the lit torch in a more delicate place.
Here endeth the rant................

Sunday 8 February 2015

Lobositz, a battle won and then lost?

Yesterday I attended the refight of the Battle of Lobositz at Colin's.Paul Robinson of Grimsby Wargames club fame, did the long drive North to play in the game. I wont spoil what I anticipate will be on Colin's blog, 'Carry on Up the Dale ' but instead will only show some of the images I took during the day.The image above shows Paul ringing for a taxi to take him away from the battle as the Prussians commanded by him and John Reidy were getting a severe thrashing by the Austrians led by me and Colin. That was before dinner. Now everyone knows wargaming is a game of two halves, and after dinner it was fair to say my command was annihilated by John and Paul.
I still cannot believe how a wargame that Colin and I were winning, and winning well could turn so dramatically wrong and end up with a severe defeat for us.   

               Colins command ensconced in Lobositz, they were never troubled by the Prussians.

 My grand tactical march onto the flank of the emerging Prussian army, when all seemed to be going well.

 When best laid plans go t##ts up. Prussian dragoons hitting my weakened cuirassiers. One can guess what happened next.
                                          Yes that's correct, the flank began to be rolled up. If one looks carefully, you can see Paul's infantry approaching to give my Austrians the killing blow.

                                   Prussians, thousands of them, and very unforgiving ones at that.

I knew things had become desperate when all I had to stop the Prussian advance was som Austrian Hussars. Needless to say it wasnt to be.

These were the detritus of my command leaving the battlefield. A unit that had never actually been on a wargaming table before. 

Saturday 7 February 2015

Wild Geese, done!

 Well I've completed my Wild Geese Brigade, and I am glad to see the back of red uniforms. To be fair the figures were a real pleasure to paint, but red can be a probmatical colour, well at least for me.
 Ive added a couple of Irish Brigadiers to complete the units, and now look forward? to Crann Tara releasing the Fitzjames Horse so I can complete the Irish contingents.I didnt photograph my fifth Irish regiment,because being Willie figures they are so very different from most of the other units.
 Anyway, there they are, I now just have to decide what attributes to endow on them from the Blackpowder book. You have to give the units some special qualitity otherwise they just wouldnt be the Irish.

 I also completed another unit of French cavalry, to bolster the cavalry units. RSM figures are a pleasure to paint,and I find I can knock them off pretty quickly given some spare time. Oh to finally retire, whilst still fit enough to paint.

Monday 2 February 2015

The Campaign Season has Opened.

Well yesterday was the York show, and I have returned, enthused, inspired and a shade lighter in my wallet.
Yesterday was a day of meeting people and sitting having a talk with them, and can I say what a great way to spend a day.
 Firstly to the show. I arrived early, ie 09.00, and I was able to get in straight away, now how good is that. This meant I could have a bimble around eyeing up the stalls before the crowds came, and the crowds came. I think this year was even busier than last year, and it seemed there were more people buying, or maybe thats how it looked to me.
 There seemed to be a nice mix of people, both old, ie me, and young, ie children with their parents.
 The trade again was a fair mix, not only with the usual suspects, Old Glory, Dave Thomas,Irregular,  Caliver etc, but also some smaller and newer traders selling everything that a wargamer should every need.
 I only bought six figures! from a trader who was selling TAG figures, but somehow I still spent over £150.00 how can that be. The food wasnt a bad price, the entry was reasonable and the parking is free. Of course I did manage to buy some paints, just in case I ran out in the next millennium, and I bought some Games Workshop brushes which werent cheap, but where did the dosh go.
 The Table Top sale was very busy as expected, and by popping back throughout the day I was able to barter for a couple of really nice buildings and also some really well painted explosion markers.
 Games wise I thought the majority were okay. I must admit that I forgot about the one game I wanted to see, which was Ramilles which was on the third floor, and I was too busy talking to remember to go and study it properly.Sorry.
 I enjoyed talking to Mark Dudley and also enjoyed his Blastoff Bridge 54mm game, which contained some of his lovely Prince August castings.A great looking game.One will have to accept my apologies for not knowing who presented the games that I did photograph, my favourite was the following;

                                The sea was particularly effective, showing off the ships.

                                    The stone tower, had flashing red gun ports, nice touch.

       Below is a shot of a graveyard from a Zombie game, I believed based on Shaun of the Dead.
 This is from a really well done first world war game fighting against the Turks.

                                 My favourite unit, some camel corps types, great.
                                                   Again a well executed trench system.
 The images below are from a Saga game showing late Romans I think, but I could be wrong, still a very good looking game.

Now onto the main events.
The photograph at the top is Charlie Wesencraft doing a book signing for me. John Curry publications, have released a new book for Charlie, this one is titled, Seven Steps to Freedom. The book is basically a series of battles both big and small from the American war of Independence, including the Indian wars prior to the revolution. Also included is a set of rules. It is typical Charles Wesencraft, with clear and concise descriptions of the battles, and how to fight them, a must for any serious wargamer. Charles has donated all his royalties to the Help the Heroes Charity, so what is not to like. I was able to buy my copy through Amazon. Charlie was in very good form.
From that meeting I met a man I have wanted to meet for sometime, Tony Runkee and his lovely wife. I hope to sit down with Tony in the next couple of months to interview him about the early days, with Frank Hinchliffe, Peter Gilder, John Braithwaite and many other names from the wargaming past. I also asked Tony to paint me up some Turks. Tony is a mine of information about painting techniques and has a great style of painting. I was also introduced to two wargamers who I have long admired, Rob Baker and Ian Smith. Tony had painted Ian some 40mm AWI and Napoleonic figures which were terrific. They will be for a game at Salute 2015 I understand. 
 From there it was a dash to the bar to meet various members of the Amateur Military Gentleman wargames site. Which was later described by the cheeky beggars from the Westerhope Wargames group, as the wargaming elite. God help us if that is the elite, I dont think we would have been accepted into the Imperial Guard. Still I got to sit down and talk to the great Charles Grant and his son Charles Grant [ a bit of a problem with naming children there] who were very good company. I was able to talk over with Graham Cummings about the next releases from Crann Tara,
[ more expense on the way] I was again able to rabbit with Mark Dudley about his projects, and Colin was able to finally meet Paul Robinson of Grimsby fame to arrange the Lobositz game which we hope to fight this weekend coming. Cant wait.
 Finally after all this glad handing I met a wargamer who confirmed my belief in wargamers in general, and who deserves a special thank you. I had been contacted out of the blue by a wargamer who offered to bring me some Peter Gilder landsnects to York. Was I interested? Do bears s##t in  the woods. 
Anyway I met and sat down with a wargamer who clearly has a great set up and a collection to die for. Jason Page, who very kindly travelled up from the deep south and brought me a box of landsnects that were 'spare' figures from the Wargames Holiday Centre collection that he had bought off the late Mike Ingham.
There were, painted Vulcan, Garrison, Lamming, and Hinchliffe Italian Wars pikemen, painted by some of Gilders best painters. I cannot wait to rebase them, after a little renovation work.
 Jason has been able to locate units from some of the best painters in the United Kingdom, and clearly has a very discerning eye for the best.Now that would be a great way to spend a couple of days trawling through his armies, and drooling over them.
I wont spoil it, but Jason has a great idea for an article for Miniatures Wargames, but its funny that we both had similar ideas that we thought should be shared with the wargaming public. I look forward to Jason producing the article.What a very generous bloke. 
So that was York, and for me, I think the best show that they have had. 

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