Sunday 29 November 2015

The End of the Campaigning Season.

I always look at the Stockton/Middlesbrough Wargames show as a signal that the wargaming season is coming to a close. Just as I identify the York Show as the start of the season.
 So yesterday I made an early start to set up at the Battleground Show organised very well by Leon of Pendragon Miniatures fame.
 The main hall used by the show is a very good one, as it is well lit, large and well set out. The loos are close by which is important for a person of my age, and the free carpark is expansive.
 The only gripe is the fact that wargamers have to make a trek of about one hundred metres to a well set up, and good value cafe.[ There is always a gripe nowadays] Perhaps Leon can organise a bus to take gamers across to the cafe?
 Anyway to the show. This year, we, the Independent Wargames Group [ 3 members and one acolyte] put two games on. One was  Blucher 10mm Napoleonic game run by John and Neil. The second was Rossbach in 30mm run by me and Colin. [ Most of the effort coming from Colin]
 With arriving early to set up, I was able to wander around talking to other wargamers also setting up.[ There is always some annoying person to hold things up, and it is usually me]
  As a result I was able to pester Andy Callan of hair roller armies fame about his latest project, Paper Armies. These are created by the very very talented Peter Dennis, who illustrates for Osprey. The armies are beautifully illustrated flats, with rules by Andy, on terrain by Cigarbox. I loved the whole set up. I have always been fascinated by flats, but these paper models were beautiful, and I would have loved to get to grips with the English Civil War battle Andy and his cohorts had set up. Wargaming innovation at its best. I was also well impressed by the quality of the materiel used by Cigar Box for the terrain.

 I also pestered Graham of Crann Tara Miniatures, to get a look at his new releases. He will be selling in the very near future a wonderful generic soldier for the Seven Years war which would serve in most non Prussian armies, very much in the RSM mold, but crisper and naturally better detailed. Just what I didn't need to be frank.
 I also saw and have purchased his new French Garde du Corps, a French unit that I wanted ever since I saw the illustration in the Funcken book donkeys ago. Again wonderful.
 Now to the games. I am suffering from some crap Winter virus, and taking quite a bit of medication, but I think it was fair to say there was no bad games, just a nice selection of everything in various scales.[ so I cant blame the medication for my euphoria]
 Of particular note, was the Blucher game, purely because it was so damned neat and well presented, and yes I probably am biased, but it looked and played like a wargame, contrary to various discussions I had about the rules being boardgame like.

 It was good to see that 'Care in the Community' had allowed the Westerhope Group to put on one of their eclectic games. They always manage to put on something different, and always in large numbers. Personally the group should be investigated for how they afford to do this.
 Sorry about the quality of the photographs. My hand was shaking laughing at the lads Pink shirts.

 John, 'Pretty in Pink' Coutts of the Westerhope Group attempting to explain why he didnt need to take any medication to his carer.
Conrad Cairns, from the Durham Wargames Group, showed off his revised Placenoit 54mm game, which looked very good. Another game I would have liked to participate in.

 And onto Rossbach. We have fought this game before as part of our refight of the Seven Years War! On that occasion the French and Reicharmee gave a good account of themselves. This time its fair to say, the Prussian fought as they did in history and went through my army like a knife through butter.
 Colin stepped aside to allow John the Red [ as in Corbyn!] to be Frederick, and he could do no wrong as the Prussian cavalry rode roughshod over my army. A comprehensive whipping for the French.

 The initial setup, from the French perspective. The French infantry could not move until the third period, and could not deploy until they were withing 24 inches of a Prussian unit!
 My poor Reicharmee cavalry, on move one. In march column facing the Prussian juggernaut. The Prussians move first!
                                                      At the end of move one.
             Move three, and the Prussian infantry and artillery had moved into position.

My remaining French cavalry were all that was between the Prussians and the marching infantry.
  Surprisingly that didnt seem to stop the Prussians who rode down my reserve very quickly.

 I was now able to activate my infantry on move three, but the Prussian cavalry were already within striking distance.

    In a brilliant move, I managed to allow the flank of my troops to be facing the fleeing Austrian hussars pursued by the Prussian Garde du Corps. The result was not pretty.
My Reich Armee cavalry legging it off the table.
 So blaming the serious virus that I was clearly suffering from, I acknowledged defeat and surrendering my Marshal's Baton I accepted the meagre commiserations of my communist opponent.
 As for the show. A great way to finish the campaign season.


Sunday 15 November 2015

To more pleasurable things, a re fight of Kunersdorf.

 Anyway, thankfully getting away from the unpalatable realities of modern life. Yesterday Colin very kindly staged a refight of the Battle of Kunersdorf, the next battle in  our refight of the Seven Years War. As I have touched upon previously, my wargaming had been curtailed due to me taking up temporary gainful employment, so I was really looking forward to a damned good thrash. I really thought Colin had pulled out all the stops for the set up, which was a devilish problem for both sides.
 I wont comment very much on the actual re fight, as I know Colin will no doubt provide a far better, and more detailed account, as is his due. Anyway, refusing to fight for the Prussians, I took command of the Russians, with Colin, whilst facing the two Johns. The rules of choice were Blackpowder, with the usual add ons re generalship and troop types.Needless to say the Russian high command was not of the best, with hesitant and timid used to describe most of their generals.
 Prussian fusiliers, who were to learn that pink is not a good colour to wear. They subsequently routed.

                                             Austrian reinforcements, arrive, to stand about.
 John the Reds first attack against the unfortunate troops of the Observation Corps. [ Not the best troop types ]
 Down to the right, is one of my Russian Grenadier regiments, who attempted to counterattack. The unit was to rout quite quickly against Prussian firepower. Im afraid it was not to be a great day for the Russians, as the whole army collapsed after a refight of five hours. I thoroughly recommend this battle as a scenario to re fight, there are several tactical problems to cope with for both sides. Anyway, a great game, and a great refight.

A counter argument to some other postings.

I've always felt that to spout my political views on a blog dedicated to wargaming is not the done thing.
 Certainly when I was gainfully employed, even speaking about my beliefs could have very easily losing my job, and potentially ending up in court.
 However I think that now is a good time to counter some of the out pourings that have filtered onto other wargaming blogs about the latest atrocity committed in the name of Islam.
 In particular the blog of  Robert Cordery who posted a lengthy piece regarding the Paris murders.This and the inevitable Tricolour flags stuck on some blogs, seems to me slightly ridiculous. But then each person is allowed a view, and since the death of Princess Diana, it became fine to join in and show some grief.
Taking us back to the post of Robert Cordery, I follow his wargaming blog, and he seems a decent bloke, so my post is not a criticism of his view, and the majority of the comments he received.
 Bob, to sum up his feelings uses a quote from Doctor Who?

‘So, let me ask you a question about this brave new world of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one? ... This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die. You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they’re always going to have to do from the very beginning – sit down and talk! … You're all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgivable.’ Well here’s the unforeseeable, I forgive you. After all you’ve done. I forgive you.’

 Well I would like to ask Bob, and the other commentators this. Just what would it take, for you to take up arms  and physically fight for your existence? Another 7/7, another Tunisia, a new Charlie Hebdo, just what?

  History has a tendency to repeat itself as mankind, forgets the lessons it has learned and goes on to make the same mistakes again. Prior to World War Two, there was a very strong pacifist movement, there was debates held about not taking up arms for your country, and a message of 'peace at any price'. Luckily Churchill existed,Hitler was clinically mad, and of course the rest was history.
 But just suppose, that Hitler had not invaded Poland, and held off his war with France and England, but instead had invaded Russia, whilst pursuing his murderous intent to wipe out the Jewish population.Would Churchill have been isolated, and would the Peace Movement have been able to win a general election, thus keeping Britain out of a war against Germany. In turn blithely allowing us to ignore the genocide taking place across Russia and Europe. Basically that is how I see the views of Mr Cordery and his fellow commentators.
  Sometimes ordinary people come face to face with out and out evil There is no way to reason with this evil, and all attempts at mediation are looked upon as weakness by the perpetrators.
  What our country and France stands for are Western ideals. Live and let live, conciliation, forgiveness, love of music, laughter etc,etc, not perfect but at least people can breathe.
 What these murderers stand for is ignorance, stupidity, cruelty,hatred of women, and every  ism one can think of.
 Any person not of their persuasion is fair game for anything they wish to inflict upon them.
There is no middle ground, there is no starting point to show them, we deserve to be listened to.
 To use the script from a Doctor Who episode is some how laughable, if it wasnt so damned sad.
 Sadly due to the previous criminal acts of Tony Blair and his cohorts, our Parliament is hamstrung. A warlike response to the series of murders, and other murderous acts committed in the name of Islam is very remote, certainly with the election of Corbyn and his flat earth supporters.
 Not everything that the USA is wrong. Not everything that the Tories wish to do is wrong. Sometimes to stand and fight is justified, and certainly when the evil that has grown out of the chaos of Iraq is on the up, right minded people have to make a stand and fightback.
 Forgiveness can come after the evil has been eradicated and the world is made a safer place. 

Thursday 12 November 2015

The Great Wargames Survey 2015.

Well this months Wargames Soldiers and Strategy confirmed for me why it is my favourite wargames magazine. Apart from the theme being about the Italian Condottieri they also published the results of their yearly Great Wargames Survey.
 I have found that WSS consistently provides some item that gets my old grey cells moving, and moves away from the spoon fed fluff that seems to inhabit our wargaming press in the main.
 Normally one can be a tad cynical about poll's and surveys, as witnessed in our last General Election series of polls.
 However the mere fact that over 8000 wargamers took the time to reply to the survey must provide a fair degree of authenticity to the findings.
 I found of great interest, the results of the most popular periods of the respondents.
 Science Fiction piled in to first place! with World War Two in second, and Fantasy in thrd.
 My areas of interest, were down to seventh [ Napoleonic], Eighteenth century warfare weighed in at twelfth and Pike and Shotte at thirteenth.
 The ancient period, once the colossus of the wargaming community could only manage a paltry sixth. Phil Barker must be spitting feathers.
 Pulp Gaming was up to fifth in the poll of polls, so Zombies are confirmed as very popular.
So what conclusions can one draw from the survey, as regards the choice of favourite periods. Well it is pretty clear that the newer wargamer, ie under 40 is more game orientated, and less war orientated.
 It tends to confirm that younger wargamers are more history light and the old duffers [ ie me] is happier reading about history and then attempting to play a game representing what they have read.
 This is not to decry [well not too much] the younger gamer, but it does confirm for me anyway, just how piss poor our education system is as regards the teaching of history, and the reading of factual accounts. And to confirm my prejudices this week, I witnessed an episode of Pointless, where a university graduate answered that James Callaghan, had been a president of the United States.
 [ F.F.S]
 I think it should also be a wake up call to historical wargamers of the need to make more effort to get younger wargamers interested in historical wargames. I certainly think that smaller historically based games like Saga, have an important role in capturing a few youngsters [ie under 40]
 I noted that the Medieval  period had finished fourth in the poll. Clearly Saga and the like had had some effect on wargaming tastes. So perhaps it is time to introduce a Napoleonic equivalent.
  Still its not all doom and gloom in the wargaming world. At least there is a good percentage of gamers under the age of 40 happy to play a game with toys. Some will see the light and move into historical wargaming.
  I did find it very interesting, that the Ancient period had fallen so far from grace, considering how in the 1970's,everyone played ancients. But that is history for you.
  For me.  I will continue to potter about in my niche periods of Napoleonic's, the Seven Years War and the Renaissance, staying in the shadows, where I can read the odd tome of military history and plan my next foray into this wonderful hobby we have.

Some clever person clearly saw the writing on the wall as regards the future of ancient wargaming, when they producded this.


Monday 9 November 2015

Middlesbrogh/Stockton show.

A bit of a plug for the Battleground show at the end of this month. Colin and I will be 'doing' Rossbach in 30mm, while John and Neil will be fighting 'Blucher' in 10mm.
 I just hope the map isn't to scale because we need a table a tad larger than is on the plan. Well worth the trouble of attending. So drop by and have a chat or whatever.
 What better way to end the campaigning season than buying some new toys, and chatting to new likeminded people.

Saturday 7 November 2015

A Review, of sorts.

     I tend to read most reviews of all things concerning Wargaming, just to get some idea of whats actually going on and how good these items are. Inevitably the reviewer can only give a personal opinion, sometimes wrapped up in technical speak, but still just their personal opinion.
 Most reviews in this day and age are fairly non committal, with the odd very good or very bad rating if the reviewer feels that strongly about something, but this is a rarity.
  Compare this with the no nonsense reviews from the late Donald Featherstone who always called a spade a spade [ and by that I mean a digging implement] and to a lesser extent by Terry Wise and Stuart Asquith who were pretty forthright in what they reviewed.
 Of course these wargamers came from a time [ ie my time ] when the truth was more important than the upset the reviewer may cause the person whose item/book/rules were being reviewed. However I tended to take more notice of their opinions, whether good or bad, purely because they were very honest, and wanted the best for the hobby.
 So where am I going with this meandering spiel.
 Well I fought my fifth Napoleonic battle using the new Blucher rules, the other night against John, and I came away from the game with a closely fought draw. This encounter was a French versus an English scenario.
 What struck me after the game was the following, I felt the game provided a very good representation of the tactical strengths of both nations, without making the British too strong, as I have witnessed in other rules over the years.
 I threw away a chance of winning, by making some tactical errors, and poor command decisions and not because of poor dice throws, and dubious rules.
 Thirdly and for me most importantly, I absolutely enjoyed the whole experience, as it was exciting, fun and if you weren't on top of what was going on you knew you would lose the game, so tension was maintained throughout the whole night.
 This has been my experience for every one of the five games we have fought. For me that is pretty impressive for a set of rules I am still getting to grips with.
 So getting back to the initial point, whilst this cannot be classed as a review of a wargaming product,  because really it is only my opinion, I really feel that Sam Mustafa has created a brilliant and fun set of wargaming rules, and if any wargamers are looking to either take up a new period, or is still looking for a set of decent Napoleonic wargaming rules, then look no further, because these certainly are the real deal.

            The basing gathers pace. A new corps of Austrians for my Blucher 6mm armies.

Wednesday 4 November 2015


Throughout my life I have made decisions that later I regretted, thinking why the f### did I do that.The latest one was to accept a temporary job with my council. I think I applied simply because the job was on offer and I thought I should be gainfully employed?
  Anyway I forgot just how much full time employment can interfere with wargaming.
 So as a consequence there has been a paucity of wargaming, and painting of figures in my world. 
  The positive is that it is only a short term job, and I cannot wait to pick up a paintbrush again and get cracking with some figures. 
 So in a way, employment is a great stimulus to wargamers who are suffering from a bit of wargamers bloc. Well thats what I keep telling myself.
 Lacking in game time has not however stopped me from adding to my metal mountain, especially after I saw Colin's SYW Saxons from Eureka on his blog Carry on up the Dale.
 I have always had a soft spot for the Saxon army, it was probably after reading about Augustus the Strong, Maurice de Saxe, and that knob Frederick's actions after the surrender of the Saxon army at Pirna.
 Anyway, I have opted to collect some Saxon units,pending a decision about what to do next in my wargaming world. Do I return to ancients or do I start a completely new project like the French Wars of Religion? or the Great Northern War?
  Thanks to Andy of Old Glory fame's plug in this month's Miniature Wargames, about my blog, I feel I should throw in some views about the state of wargaming, just to perk things up a bit.  
 I do have a few observations about current trends that have perturbed me a bit.
 One is the current fad for all things Zombie like. This is purely a personal thing, and is not meant as an attack on what to some people is a fun sub genre. But the question I ask, is why?
 Does it all stem from Buffy the Vampire slayer, and perhaps Shaun of the Dead, which I did find funny. What exactly attracts wargamers to paint up loads of figures that should in the main be poor at reacting to any changing situation, act in a stupid and brain dead manner and by the same token difficult to kill, because they are already supposed to be dead.
 I just dont get it. 
 Clearly a lot of wargamers do, and also a great number of other people who have taken to Zombie Larping in a big way.  But to me it just seems a dead end [pardon the poor pun] 
   It hasn't stopped a lot of small companies releasing new figures to corner that particular market.
 The fantasy market as a whole appears to be very buoyant at the moment, with new figures, accessories etc being released daily. I suppose this is to fill the void left by the demise of Warhammer World, but what do I know. 
 I was never able to get to grips with what Games Workshop were trying to achieve. I painted up a wonderful Brettonnian army, spending loads on it, to then sell the lot after I had completed it, so a bit of a waste for me then really.
                                        A bit of a dead end, and only used once?

Of course Games Workshop has still been able to significantly influence the wargaming world by downsizing its empire and unleashing a lot of its well trained staff upon us.
 The behemoth that is Warlord Games is proof of that, not that I can complain too much as I use their Black Powder rules.
 Still I wonder where wargaming would have gone if Games Workshop hadnt got rid of a lot of its staff, and allowed them to effectively influence the wargamers world.
 Supposing, the Perry twins, Mark Copplestone, Warlord,Rick Priestley and the other GW trained personnel had remained in the confines of Warhammer World, and not made the cross over into mainstream wargaming, what would have happened instead.
 Would there have been £30.00 plus rulebooks, crammed with wargame porn. Would the plastic figure have taken off as it has, would there be such an emphasis upon history lite wargames and rulebooks? The list is pretty long if you sit down and think about it.
 I am ambiguous about the pro's and cons of the fallout from Games Workshop. 
 I love the Perry range of figures, I admire the professionalism of what Warlord have achieved but sometimes I cringe at the lack of depth and knowledge exhibited by some wargamers when playing a wargame. But then I am an old fart, and accept things have to change.
  So if Warlord would like to release the Pro Gloria range of plastic landsnequets that they bought this year, then I would probably be convinced that ex Games Workshop employees were a force for good.
 But then I am easily bought.

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