Wednesday 30 November 2016

Post Script to Battleground November 2016.

 Modern Life for me is a constant confused fug. I read and watch as things occur around me and wonder if its time to throw myself off a cliff like some daft lemming. [which apparently is a fallacy]
 So its probably none of my business, [no actually it is ] but I have a small rant that I would like to get off my chest.
   Leon of Pendraken fame is a top young man, keen, clearly enthusiastic and probably the type of boy you would like your daughter to bring home. He took over the Battleground Wargames Show and accepted responsibility for running it. Without people like him, most hobbies couldn't function.
 One idea he brought in was that all women and children under 14 would get into the Battleground show for free.
 A simple idea, and one that seems perfectly logical and very reasonable. But oh no, apparently in the United Kingdom the basic English words, 'Women and children under 14 get in for free' became controversial??? Was it the wording Free Women?
 As a consequence this year in an effort to stop any controversy???  this was changed to Families get free entry. [ No I dont get it either]
 This is the question I would like to ask, what moronic no life would think the offer was worthy of any type of comment that would force a change of wording to encourage wives, girlfriends, young children to spend a couple of hours with their 'life partner' and then inform the organiser of their concerns, and upset feelings.
I could understand any sort of upset if Leon had said ALL WOMEN should pay TWICE what men have to pay or even more controversially, NO ENTRY for WOMEN to go to a wargames show. Maybe that's where he went wrong, because any publicity is good publicity.

 In a former life I was a member of my local Workingmens club, and women couldn't drink in the bar,  the clue was in the name ' Working men'. God did that get the Femicists in an uproar, until they were let in. It must have been a huge disappointment when they saw a bunch of old men, and young drinkers [me] sat playing dominoes and living the life [not] The clubs closed, and that way of life has now gone, sadly for me.
   Couple this minor irritation to Partizan's badges that have been issued the last two years, requesting that the wearer does not want to be photographed whilst at the show?????
 Which I must admit got my sad imagination working.
 Did some wargamer, tell his 'life partner', ' Oh I'm just off to my cookery class Hunny Bunch [sic] and will be back later, before surreptitiously dashing to Partizan to buy some toys, and then rushing back with  a small amount of flour on his clothes, and some Greggs pasties in a basket to perpetuate the lie.
 Only to be found out when his mush is plastered all over the latest edition of Miniature Wargames, which his partner 'always' reads.
 So to all complainers, whiners etc, please engage the brain before taking to the moral high ground.
 Oh and if someone can provide me with a reasoned explanation of these two diktats then feel free to comment.

        And a little joke, to allow someone to get the vapours................and be 'devastated'

                           'I know its an all male bar, but Im a bit worried about the stripper.'

Sunday 27 November 2016

Battleground 26 November 2016.

          Colin puts some final touches to our game, prior to the general public coming in.

Well I'm safely back from Smoggyland, in one piece although a tad tired and bereft of cash funds.
Battleground for me personally is a very good show, in its former life it was also a great show, and I always viewed it as a signal that Winter had arrived.
   Leon of Pendraken fame has done a fine job taking on the responsibilities of hosting the show, and wargamers should recognise just how much effort he puts into making it such a success.
 And it is a success, with goodly numbers coming through the doors, even if they only want to spend a couple of hours buying some last minute wargame goodies.
 I don't know if it was as busy as last year, but it certainly seemed to have people walking around all day.

Our 'group' put on two games at the show, a 10mm Sudan game with John and Neil hosting that, and Wilson's Creek hosted by me and Colin. Both used terrain cloths, which I thought were very effective.

 I must confess that I wanted to fight an ACW game, purely so I could 'blood' my newly painted rebel regiments, so Battleground was a perfect excuse to get them on the table. The setup was made easier by basing the battle using the article that Paul Stevenson had written in Miniature Wargames 364 in 2013. That game was the first time that I had used Blackpowder rules, so seemed very apt, especially as Paul knows his stuff and had provided a very accurate account for us to use.
 Obviously since then I have become quite knowledgeable about BP, and with the release of their Glory Hallelujah supplement it was an interesting exercise to re visit the battle. I think as a display it looked about right, as a wargame I struggled against Colin's better Union troops and managed a losing draw. Shotgun armed militia are not too good to use. Also being caught in flank when in march column is never recommended, so I thought I did well to hang on. Newly painted regiments never fight well on their first outing, [second rule of wargaming]
 I can only apologise for not providing a detailed list of the clubs who put on a game, followed by a pile of images, but something had to give, between being at the table and shopping. I must admit I bought a lot of stuff, mainly Perry figures, although I managed to pick up two old Almark that I didn't have in my collection, one on the ACW and the second on the AWI. I also bought the first two Military Modelling annuals from the affable Graham Cummings, so I had a right wallow in nostalgia when I got home last night. Ah the smell of old [ish] books, wonderful. So how was the show, naturally I enjoyed the day, tiring yes, but its good to stop and talk to all and sundry about the game, wargaming and anything really. Make the trip next year, Battleground is readily accessible from the main A19, and is a very good day out.

           Never ever use march column within sight of the enemy, oops forgot that one.
                                             Because this is what happens if you do.

 Conrad Cairns of the Durham Wargames group always puts on a nice game, this was his 1866 battle, something I would have liked to get my fingers into.

 I would have loved a command in this lovely Malburian battle, I think it was Ramilles.

 The hardest working wargamer traders in the country [ well they said they were] Colonel Bill and trainee. Its funny but when I worked with the pair in a former life, salts couldn't work them.

Another battle I would have liked a crack at, Cannae, naturally.

Thursday 24 November 2016


 I used to be quite adept at making my own terrain boards and the like, although I never mastered the art of dry brushing yellow? Dont ask me why. Anyway I decided to try my hand at making some compulsory snake fencing, which one needs for the ACW. These images are my first attempt at the fencing, and to be honest they seem okay.  Having done some more research I think my fencing is a little sophisticated for the era, and should simply be laid flat roughly hewn lengths of timber with a rock base. I will see if I can make a fist of them later. Being of the age I hoped to buy some value [cheap] fencing but there seems to be a shortage, probably because it is a bit time consuming. I have bought a couple of Rendra fences just to see what they are like. Of course these aren't cheap, but look very nice.

Sunday 20 November 2016

Battleground 2016.

 This Saturday is the last wargames show that I will be attending for 2016. I then will be retiring into the Stygian gloom to hopefully prepare for the 2017 season.
 The show has been growing steadily after Pendrakon Miniatures took up the mantle after the sad demise of the Stockton show. I have always liked this show and felt it offered everything that made wargaming such a great hobby. It is friendly, filled with enthusiastic people and it is near enough to Christmas to make it feel, well festive.
 So get yourself along for a good day out. We are staging two games this year, an ACW game and a Colonial game.
 I like the new venue, which is easy to access, with plenty of free parking. Whats not to like.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Union troops at last.

 Well I finally got to grips with my first Union Regiment, and inevitably it had to be from the Iron Brigade. As I have previously explained there is no plan to which regiments I will paint, merely that they are either a famous or infamous regiment, or that they are dressed differently from the norm. This was originally how I collected wargames armies, especially 25mm Napoleonics, if it looked good then I would paint them. Certainly some wargame purists will turn their nose up at this approach, but my intention is more about enjoyment than accuracy of units in certain armies. Still I will have to do at least a couple more of the Iron Brigade to allow their Veteran status on the wargames table.

 Ive also completed some Confederate command figures, and rectified a mistake that John helpfully pointed out, basically that Blackpowder commanders need two dice to show their rating.God knows what I was thinking.So brigadiers will have one figure per base, and divisional and commanders two figures per base, simples.  Colin and I will be hosting an ACW game at Middlesbrough on Saturday using some of my new figures, and Colin's lovely collection.  The game will be a representation of Wilson's Creek 1861, which was the first ever Black Powder battle I fought in back in 2013, when Paul Stevenson kindly invited me through to take a command at the Durham group.
 Currently on my paint table is an Irish regiment and Hawkins Zouaves, both are progressing nicely.Anyway roll on next Saturday for hopefully a good days wargaming and a chat to all and sundry.

Monday 14 November 2016

One set to bind them!

Well on Thursday Colin, John, John and myself returned to the SYW, using Honours of War wargame rules. We started using these rules as soon as they were released, and I really enjoyed them, I felt they gave a more SYW type of game as opposed to the Black Powder, Argument of Kings rules we had been using.
 The game itself turned into a rather fractious affair, due to a number of things, but mainly because we hadn't played the rules since August, and well we had forgotten how they worked,and by the time we did, the Prussians, ie me and Colin had lost.
 The result was actually a tonking, with the Austrians not really being troubled.
 After the event I had a long think about the rules we were using, and why they just didn't have the allure that I had previously identified.
 Ignoring the bickering, which to be honest does happen now and again, I simply hadn't enjoyed the actual feel of the game. The Austrian artillery can be very powerful due to their historic rating of
' superior, ' and to be honest everything I have read backs up the fact that the Austrians had a very good artillery arm. However as John Reidy pointed out, one spends a lot of time rallying from causalities, because woebetide any commander marching into a firefight with 3 causalities already to there name. [ One can only take 4 before being forced to retire or 5 when they become destroyed] The trouble is it is very easy to receive causalities from good troops.
   So is this  post a critique of the Honours of War rules, well no I would like to think not, there are a good number of great ideas in the rules. What I can say is that after 40+ years as a wargamer I still haven't found a set of wargames rules that I can honestly say captures the 'feel' of the period I am fighting whilst being fun to play.

George Gush's Renaissance rules that I used for many years in the 1980's before I moved onto simpler things?
 This is actually a ridiculous state of affairs considering that wargames has been around far longer than my mere 40+ years.Is there any other hobby/sport which hasn't been able to formulate an accepted set of rules after such a  period. It may go some way to explain why wargames rules are released with such depressing frequency. Wargamers are still looking for the Holy Grail of rules that will satisfy what we are looking for, except of course we wargamers are all looking for different things, so therefore the Grail can never exist or ever be achieved.

Controversially during the early 1970's there was an attempt by the London Wargames group to have their rules accepted as 'the universal' set. 

It comes as a bit of a shock that I will probably never find that set of rules that ticks all the boxes I am looking for and that I will always have to settle for compromise. So what boxes do I actually want ticking? well in no particular order, it has to be playability, ie easy to learn and use. They have to 'feel' they mirror the period being fought. There needs to be enough balance that no army is a 'super' army that can never be beaten, and most importantly they need to be fun, even for the person who actually loses the game.

 So is it back to square one, using Featherstone or Peter Young, somehow I dont think so. They were of their time, and although they have many merits, they are also, well, dated. So where does one go from here one may ask, well I like a lot of Blackpowder's ideas and a lot of the Honours of War ideas, but can one use the best of both and make a set of rules that works? Or is it back to square one, maybe WRG!  

Monday 7 November 2016

Rebels, damn Rebels.

  I have now completed my second brigade of Confederates with their artillery supports. Initially I was going to stop there and begin painting two brigades of Union troops, and then move back to my Renaissance projects. But like all well laid plans things have gone a tad awry. I must admit I have enjoyed the exercise of painting the ACW figures, and I'm not even certain why.

  Just before I attended Fiasco last weekend I got a message from the bold Jim Sweeny asking if I was interested in a unit of Confederates, ready painted. Now Jim is a very good painter so how could I refuse his offer, so I bought them [ when I square up the money of course] so naturally I will now need to add a third brigade of rebels. Included in the box Jim handed to me was a unpainted unit of Union Zoaves, some personalities and a couple of artillery pieces plus crew and limbers. So thanks to Jim I will now have to expand my plans and include some more units, well at least that's what I'm telling myself.

 I also bought a box of Perry plastic artillery intending to only use the actual guns, what I hadn't realised that the pieces are big and didn't fit my metal crews, so I painted them up. I like them a lot, and at £18.00 for three units whats not to enjoy.

 My two completed Confederate brigades, with commanders, lights and guns. They will hopefully get their first outing at Battleground at Middlesbrough later this month, pop by for a chat please.

The ragged unit I blagged off Jim with new flags. I touched up a couple of faces to blend them in with my units, but as I said Jim is a great painter so really they are all his.I love the standard bearer with one arm. A cracking figure, I think they are Redoubt Miniatures, and very good they are to.

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