Tuesday 17 March 2015


Now that Colin, has posted the battle of Reichenberg on his blog 'Carry on up the Dale', I can post some photographs from the battle that we fought at the weekend. What was in Charles Grants book quite a small affair, became quite a big affair. I wont go into the niceties of the actual battle, Colin has done it far better. But effectively the battle was the encounter before the large battle of Prague.
 The Austrians were in a prepared position, facing the majority of the Prussian army. In reality the Prussians quickly out outmaneuvered the Austrians, turned their flank and gave them a bit of a beating.
 On Saturday, I think its fair to say Colin and I, as the Austrian C in C changed history.
 Using Black Powder rules is a bit like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Me I really didnt like them, but as I continued playing with the rules, I have really come to enjoy the cut and thrust of them. My advice to anyone not liking the rules, is to stick with it, and hopefully you will see the light as it were.

There are always episodes in a wargames battle, that greatly effect a game. The photograph below of the Austrian Carabineers charging the flank of the Prussians was one.
 Ignoring the rules of commonsense, and offering my flank as a target to the Prussian grand battery, I managed to charge home unscathed into the Prussians. It shouldnt have been able to happen, as four guns target you, but it did. I think it was as big as a surprise to me, as to John who was leading the Prussian attack. The Follow Me rule in Black Powder can be a game changer, and although I was to inevitabley lose the commander after the charge, it was worth the risk. The Prussian attacks began to falter after the melee, and although the attack wasnt as effective as I had hoped, it turned what appeared a Prussian victory into an Austrian one.

 Of course there is always a down side to showing superior wargames generalship, especially when Neil, decided to lead his Prussian cavalry against the flank of my Hungarian Grenadiers, except his attack was nowhere as successful as mine and the grenadiers saw the charge off.
 All in all a very nice way to spend a Saturday.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Austrian Horse Grenadiers.

 Well I managed to find time this week to paint this unit for Colin's re fight of the Battle of Reichenburg, as the Austrians fielded a unit of Horse Grenadiers in the encounter. I surprised myself on how quickly I put these together and painted them. I still think that Peter Gilders designs for the horses in his Foremost range take some beating. They were ahead of their time in general design and movement.  There is always an issue in fielding a newly painted unit in a wargame, invariably they do badly and rout. Still they will look pretty as they flee the table.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Is the Wargaming Convention Dying?

                                 [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

So is the Wargaming Convention dying? as discussed by Gary Mitchell in  Wargames Soldiers and Strategy 77.
 On first reading of the article, I thought I would be annoyed, remembering the ire that Paddy Griffiths article Against Toy Soldiers caused me. However I think with age you tend to take a step back and attempt to be more mature in your response, that is if you can be actually bothered to make a response.
 On re reading the article Gary had some good points in the brief. We all accept that the hobby is graying rapidly, we all accept that younger would be wargamers are quite thin on the ground and we all understand that we need to attract younger wargamers if we would like the hobby to continue after our collective demise.
 The wargames convention is one area where there is a need for a rethink as it is probably the best way to reach the younger public, short of going into schools.
 The ideas put forward by Gary were all pretty much commonsense, some should be a given, other ideas are merely experimental.
 I think we have all griped and banged on about shows and what makes them good and what makes others frankly crap, but for me wargames shows have always been something to look forward to, but then I think I have a very childish gene.
   When reading the article what surprised me was my reaction to what Gary suggested about doing away with the 'demonstration game', instead of anger I actually started to agree with what he was saying, but in a more qualified way.
   Now I have been putting on demonstration games since John and I took our first game to a show at Whitley Bay in the early 1980's. It even got a mention in the Miniature Wargames magazine of that year, fame indeed and I have always thought we were attempting to put something back into the hobby from that early start. But to be honest were we deluding ourselves.
   As the shows continued our ambitions grew until John and I were bringing mega games to the shows, ie a one to one unit representation [ in 6mm] of the Battle of Blenheim, the Battle of Austerlitz, Waterloo etc. All took a considerable amount of effort, a great deal of research, [this was before the internet] and time and money [ both of which were in short supply]
 Were there new would be wargamers banging on the doors of the show to see these games? I dont think so.
 However as I have got older, and hopefully wiser, what I did find when we were putting on games was that wargamers and sometimes their children would be regular attenders at our table and we would talk about the game and the hobby, and the table and basically anything to do with the hobby. So much so that in the last few years we rarely get to actually play the damn game.
  So for me demonstration games have to be at Wargames shows, purely because if they are done well, they inspire, and encourage wargamers to excel in their painting and modelling skills and also gain information.

                            [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

For me I think Gary got this suggestion a tad wrong. I know what he was actually alluding to, it was the unfriendly backs to the public, as the public stand next to the table hoping to find someone who will actually speak to them but are usually ignored.
 So what Gary should have actually suggested was that any wargamer who was making the effort to put on a demonstration game should also make the effort to talk in a friendly and non condescending way to the public, basically like 'the nutter on the bus'.
  Of course this is very difficult for some people, who lets be frank have trouble engaging in conversation with their mother who they probably still live with, but if one is prepared to put on a game, for God sake talk while you're stood there.
  As I write this post, an idea has been forming in my head as to how to get the younger element interested in wargaming, and the theme that keeps coming back is, what was I interested in when I was a teenager? and the answer was girls. So the solution to me is easy, each table, trader, etc hire one very pretty girl to stand next to their exhibit, looking bemused, handing out freebies, God we would be fighting off the teenagers then, and probably a lot of older wargamers to.
 Anyway to get back to reality, how can we, the current wargamers make certain that this hobby continues in its current recognisable form.
 A toughie this, given the trend that is modern day youth.
  I think we just have to be relaxed about it to a certain extent, plenty of children seem to be sharing a basic wargaming experience with their parents and from this will come some sort of continuation.
 I think the trend to allow children and partners to get into shows for free should continue, anything that is free has got to be good. The current trend for short, easy to play games is probably a good thing in that it allows younger people to engage in a form of wargaming, however I think they should have a very strong historical bias which would encourage the players to want to read and research their game and actually make it more relevant.
 Wargames clubs have a responsibility, and need to encourage teens to attend their clubs even if its just to play Warhammer etc. It is still a start. However once they do attend, older club members need to talk to them, otherwise the club is just small groups of people who never mix. I think this happens now and needs to be addressed [ mind this is coming from a wargamer who has never joined a club]
 I think the idea Gary put forward about craft stalls etc, is a non starter, and unless there is a martial slant to it, is frankly ridiculous. I know of a least one show that attempted to get model train enthusiasts to put on a table etc at a show, but it didnt really work.
 Lets be right, anything that is not of a wargaming nature at least has to have some relevance to the wargamer and the potential new recruit.
  One should also consider what exactly young people do with their time and how they think. Now thats a difficult one for me as I avoid young people like the plague, merely because we have nothing in common, but there are lots of wargaming parents, and wargamers that actually converse with these groups, so please say what exactly floats their boats and use this knowledge.
 [ It cant be just texts, sextexts and ennui]
 One thing that I always thought would make a good participation game and would be impactive to the younger would be wargamer was the Harry Potter series of books. There must be a decent participation game in that series, and everyone knows of the books and films.Perhaps a Quiditch game similar to Blood Bowl. [Just a thought]
 Talking of which television and new films are always areas where young people have an interest, so perhaps this is an area again where we could make inroads into catching their attention. That terrible film Fury is a case in point, also the Transformers series.
                              [ A blast from the past, my re enactment of the Battle of Aspern Essling ]

The biggest problem that wargaming in general has [ at least for me] is the lack of a governing body. Now before everyone starts demanding my burning, what I actually mean is that to have a uniform approach, there would be a need for a body to make certain that all shows and clubs were singing from the same song sheet. This is never going to happen, and I must admit it is only in respect of a corporate response to the greying hobby that I would welcome a governing body.
 I suppose a second best response would be for some club to stage a new type of show, aimed at attracting new wargamers which became a huge success.
 Success would invariably be copied and the hobby could then grow. So wargaming is in a bit of a quandry, how do we survive in sufficient numbers and in a form that would be recognisable.
All answers on a postcard please, to the Central Wargaming Governing Body.




Thursday 5 March 2015

When my Mojo stalls.

 Like a lot of wargamers, my painting mojo will struggle, and I will stop painting units. What I have found helps me to restart the painting process, is to paint up command and single figures just to get things moving again.
 Its quite amazing just how many single painted figures I seem to now have, which either means I lose my mojo often, or I should consider going in for skirmish games. Either way I do find it helps me.
 I was very kindly sent a box of Willie horses the other week, and I have found that Front Rank figures fit them very nicely. Front Rank aren't my favourite SYW figures but they do go well with Wiilie. So I am now going to paint up a unit of French Gendarmes of the Guard, it would be daft not to use the horses.

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