Thursday 29 December 2016

Now that Christmas is over.

Well Christmas is over and with it the spirit of goodwill towards others, well it is in my little world. I wasnt going to comment or post about the latest edition of Time Commanders but I cant help myself, so sorry to anyone who enjoyed the programme, of which I understand there are a few.
 I know absolutely nothing about television programming, but I would assume the idea is to provide a programme that will potentially entertain,educate, make the viewer think, or other some such reaction.
 But my reaction was to sit open mouthed for about twenty minutes before my wife prised open my fingers and took the television controls off me in order to change channels.I think she feared for my health, or sanity.
 Now when it came to creating Time Commanders what exactly was their hope, because it didn't inform or educate, it wasn't exciting and frankly it was a muddled waste of money.
 [ Some of which was mine courtesy of the licence fund]
 The choice of battles seemed reasonable, although Zama was a tad one sided for anyone leading the Carthaginians. Waterloo was a given I suppose and with the company that brought us Total War it was inevitable that Atilla would be included somewhere in the series.
 I never thought I would say it but Greg Wallace was the best thing on the show simply for his manic enthusiasm in the face of complete and utter confusion. He actually looked professional, which isn't bad for an ex green grocer.
  As for Lynette Nusbacher?, well what can one say without being investigated for saying what the majority of viewers would have been thinking. I bet there was some interesting conversations in some households where the children were actually watching the programme.
 I suppose Ze [ an accepted form of saying he/she, without categorising the gender of the person. I kid you not.] should be applauded for sheer balls.
 Should the programmer seriously consider producing a fourth series, can I suggest they use some competitors with at least a modicum of knowledge about the battle on offer. Frankly letting 'ordinary' people loose on a piece of military history just doesnt work on so many levels. It would have been more entertaining to ply the people with alcohol or some hallucinogenic drugs, prior to letting them  fight the battles, it couldn't have been any worse.
 So with that little rant, can I wish everyone a very very Happy New Year.

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Plastic or Metal, discuss.

I think amongst the many game changers that have occurred in the wargaming firmament over the last 30 years was the re introduction of plastic figures. The return of high quality plastic figures in a hard plastic has allowed ALL wargamers to create large armies.
 Really there can be no excuse for any wargamer who wants to recreate and fight large scale historical battles. Plastic Soldier, Flames of War, Zveda, Victrix, Warlord, Agema, and of course the Perry Twins have given wargamers a rich offering.  I must admit being Old School, with a capital O.
  I was a bit dubious of plastic being reintroduced probably because I had spent a small fortune on buying and painting  a lot of metal figures. Frankly I still love? metal toy soldiers which is really strange if one examines why a man 'loves' an inanimate piece of metal. [ But we'll not go there]  
However I must admit that I am won over, simply because the standard of sculpting is of such a high quality, coupled to a decent price for a lot of figures. I usually mix up the plastic figures with my metal figures to 'pad' out my units. But thinking about it logically there is no need as the plastic is excellent in its own right.Hence my latest Union units.
The latest Perry offering for the ACW has convinced me that for large sized battles, 28mm plastic is the way to go. I know from a resale point of view, plastic doesn't command that high a price, even the best painters dont seem to get that much of a return. However for me where I am simply wanting to paint and build up the armies it is great. The only downside I have found is my actual clumsiness. I honestly think I have dispraxia, because I always manage to lose heads and arms with regularity, and I have also found that I have trouble with my left and right arms, ie. I have found I stick them on the wrong side of the bodies,so they look like some demented Kali.
But dont worry all you metal figure producers I haven't given up on the metal just yet and have just bought a couple of units of the TAG Tudor Gendarmes,oh and some Foundry ACW, plus not forgetting the Redoubt figures I finally received. Now there's a tale in its own right.
 I wonder how many wargamers have struggled to get figures directly from the Redoubt producers.Is an order placed on the 5th November and received finally on the 18th December normal? Perhaps I am just unlucky.
I decided to have a review of the ACW units that I have painted this year, I am quite pleased with my progress as this doesnt include my renaissance units that I also painted, and my Blucher 6mm. units that I rebased.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

The Georgia Cavalry.

 Well my ACW project moves on a pace, obviously the distraction of the oncoming Christmas has slowed things down a bit, but I have managed to keep pegging away painting up some figures. I enjoyed painting up some Perry metal Rebel cavalry although they do have an annoying amount of small pieces of flash everywhere.The chaps are the Georgia cavalry, obviously not all of them.

 Next are a well dressed, Missouri State Guard, that really should have been a more ragtag unit, but they were easier to paint as they are..

 Finally a few skirmish Union troops. They were going to be a part of a Union regiment, but they look better as simple skirmishers. The other half should be completed very soon. I am also two thirds of the way through a Irish Union regiment, although I have started undercoating a unit of War of Religion Gendarmes, which will be a distraction. Talk about a butterfly mentality.

Thursday 1 December 2016

My first Union brigade.

 My posts seem to be like the buses, they all come at once. I have been fairly productive lately as regards painting, and I have managed to complete a further three Union regiments. It is an eclectic bunch, Pennsylvanians, Irish and a Zouave unit, the 9th New York. One thing I have noticed is that the Perry twins havent made any lively posed Union troops in metal, so they all are quite sedate, whilst obviously Redoubt Miniatures go for a more energetic pose.
 Each have their individual charms, and I like both ranges. I did include a couple of the new Perry Plastic Union troops which are a tad bigger than their metal chaps but are very nice.
 I am currently doing a few cavalry and a Confederate foot unit. So its onwards and upwards.I never se myself targets or write lists anymore simply because I never have stuck to them. The target is simply to paint up both sides of the ACW and stop when I get sick or my wargames allowance runs out. I think the cash aspect might win the argument in the end.

The IWG Christmas Annual 2016 Issue One.

 As a child I always looked forward to receiving a couple of annuals of my favourite comics from Santa Claus, usually it was the Topper and Beano. Well in an effort to reintroduce what was a great tradition, I have produced my own little annual, perhaps not up to the standard of the Beano, but hey ho..............

                                                      RULES I HAVE USED IN 2016.
As I have previously posted and commented upon, this year saw a copious amount of wargames rules released, some good some just a re hash of older rules. I cant comment on them all, simply because there were so many.
 However I was impressed by the following, and in no particular order,

 I was very impressed by their original Impetus rules, and in my opinion Dadi and Plombo have developed an even better set of rules for the late renaissance early lace war period. These rules have some interesting ideas, which keep you on your toes as a wargames general. Deploy wrongly and you will suffer, be impetuous in your movement and again one can suffer. They offer a very intense game which requires a lot of thought. The best idea is to stick to historical tactics and you may actually become a Conde. Well recommended. The rules contain a few quirky ideas typical of the original Impetus rules.

Glory Hallelujah.

As I have previously posted that after travelling to the Gettysberg battlefield, and then re reading the Bernard Cornwell Starbuck series I was inspired to paint up a few ACW figures, however when Warlord released their ACW rules, it became a perfect storm for me because I really enjoy playing with these rules.
 There is an awful lot of content in this book, the rules naturally, some very decent scenarios, eye candy obviously and lists. All for £20.00, but one can normally get a set for £18.00. Cheap by current standards.
 A lot of wargamers dislike Blackpowder for many reasons, and some are probably relevant, but they were meant to be the skeleton on which to hang more detailed supplements. Glory Hallelujah are just such a set because the game captures the period really well. The rules provide a decent amount of detail for all those ACW buffs who love the minutiae of the different weapons used during the conflict without slowing the game down. The troop classifications are also worthy of mention, ' seen the elephant' being a great example of a battle hardened unit that feels it has done enough. Dont expect them to sweep the field, but then they will be hard to drive out of a wood.
 Well worth a try and definitely recommended.

Honours of War.

Until these rules were released I was using Black Powder, Argument of Kings supplement, and whilst they gave a good game, they just didnt have that extra I was looking for. These rules seemed to offer that extra something and to be honest apart from the artillery ranges I thought these were the 'one'. As a consequence we played them to death throughout the summer. However we had a game after a lay off of several months and frankly I hated them? On reflection they provide a fast moving game, but having to rally all the time, kills a lot of my enjoyment. Woe be tide if you face Austrian heavy artillery, which is what I normally field. Some good ideas, but they need some tweaking, well they do for me.

 So after a lot of thinking, Baroque is my rule set of 2016, simply because they give you more than a fun game. One really needs to put some thought into what you want your troops to do, and if you make an error it takes some rectifying. That is if you are allowed. Recommended. Get Santa to deliver you a set.

                                SHOWS THAT I HAVE ATTENDED IN 2016.

 I like Wargames Shows, I always have. From my early attendances at Northern Militaire and Sheffield Triples, I just like walking around looking at wargaming goodies.
 This year was no different, but somehow I only managed eight shows? York, Salute, Middlesbrough, twice, Gateshead, Fiasco and Partizan twice.
 All had their good points, and most fed my need to be at a wargames show.
 The best by a long way was the Vapnartak show at York racecourse. It is a signal that the new wargaming season has started, the venue is very good being well laid out with okay food and decent parking.
 The last few years there is a definite buzz about the whole event, and it was nice to meet up with wargamers I only see now and again.
 Salute 2016 on the other seemed somehow very flat for me, whether it was the dearth of quality wargames and a marked increase in very small skirmish type games or just the sheer immensity of the whole event, I dont know. One thing I didnt appreciate was the fact that all seating inside the hall was taken out? stopping one from having a sit down in the main hall and just getting your second wind. I managed to blag a chair in the hall, but when I went to sit down near a large roller shutter door I was informed I couldn't, for Health and Safety reasons? I suppose had there been a fire the 24' wide space would have been jammed with zimmer frames. This is something that will need to be considered at all wargames shows, in that there are a lot of old farts like me who, well get tired and need a pit stop, so get a few seats in the halls where the action is please.
 Getting back to Salute, I just felt the show had dipped from its usual high standard, Steam Punk? not really a wargames theme for me.
  Of course my other gripe was the painting competition which was wargames lite, and led to some strange decisions. [my personal view]
 So I think Salute in 2017 stands at a bit of a crossroads, will it continue in its current vein, or will it return to mainstream wargaming? I will give it one more go, then rethink my views.
   So the show of 2016 for me was Vapnartak.

                                     RULES OF WARGAMING. [ Advice from an old fart]

 1]  Wargamers will always occupy every wood or town within march distance of them, and then refuse to come out of the other side. Even if there is no point in being in there to start with.

2] Wargamers will occupy every hill, and put their only artillery on them, even if it is out of range of the enemy.

3]  Never think, I don't want a one or a six, because that is a guarantee to get them.

4] Always tell your opponent that he needs a one or a six when he doesn't want one.

5] Never stop your opponent from making a really daft move by rolling your eyes, sneering or any other tell. In fact attempt to look or act worried.

6] Be magnanimous in defeat, and modest in victory, [until you get home]

7] Throw a dice if no one can agree, it shuts up most arguments. [ But not at your opponent, well only as a last resort]

8] Admire an opponent's newly painted unit, and then concentrate all fire upon it, morale is everything and losing a new unit is a killer.

9] If your opponent has a guard unit, shoot it at any opportunity, again morale is everything.

10] Enjoy the spectacle of lots of soldiers on a wargames table. A lot of effort will have gone into the set up.

                GREATEST CONTRIBUTORS TO WARGAMING. [My personal view]

 10]  Charles Grant Jr.

  9]  Stuart Asquith.

 8]  Hal Thinglum.

7]  Terry Wise.

6]  Harry Pearson.

5]  Duncan Macfarlane.

4]  Peter Gilder.

3]  Charlie Wesencraft.

2]  Donald Featherstone

1]  Charles Grant Senior.

As one will see it is quite an eclectic list with a number of wargaming personalities missed off. Because The Wargame had such a profound effect on my wargaming Charles Grant had to be number one. I regularly return to the book for inspiration, and probably to reminisce about how it all started for me. Harry Pearson's inclusion was also a given, because his wonderful book Achtung Schweinhund is another book I continually return to.
 I did consider creating a top 20 of influences and contributors, to include Rick Priestley and co, simply because of the way they have transformed the whole wargaming ethos as regards rulebooks, rules, presentation etc. Perhaps that could be a future more cogent post.
 Anyway if any would be wargamer is looking for a late Christmas present then I would suggest any of the books authored by most of the above. But definitely buy this, and give it to your partner in an effort to explain why.

                                          Predictions, Guesses, and wild supposition.

Following the trends used in the media in general I thought I should include an opinion [ opinionated] piece of what I see in my crystal ball for wargaming over the next year or so.

  Well I am definitely getting no younger, so its a given that I will become more of a moany pain in the backside, but that aside, Wargaming in general seems to be pretty healthy in a lot of respects.
 Granted the days of wargamers buying and then collecting very large historical armies is in a decline, if simply because the veterans are getting no younger and probably have got everything they actually need to fight that one big battle.
 It is pretty clear that wargamers want to be able to play a game that is easy to set up and fight in a couple of hours, so games based on Dragon Rampant, Lion Rampant, Saga, Bolt Action, etc, etc will continue to thrive. I think I understand why they are popular, but it would never have satisfied my urge to play on a beautifully set up large table with loads of figures moving around the place. Its like a Chinese meal, fine for a short time, but you soon become hungry again [ well I do ]
My ideal was a Peter Gilder type layout, which clearly reinforces how old I am.
   I can see issues with companies that only sell their figures in regiments simply because a lot of newer wargamers want less figures for their games, I hope I'm wrong in this.
  I fully expect the release of even more rule books aimed at this market as witnessed by the new Osprey, Rogue Stars rule book released this month.
   Certainly there will be an increase in more detailed figures and models,ie Warlords new Konflikt 47 ranges to cater for this trend. Looking for a positive spin, at least it means that the hobby should catch a few wargamers who progress onto other types of gaming.
 On the historical figure front things are much harder to predict. I would love to see Warlord finally release their plastic Landsknects and Gendarme ranges that they purchased from Pro Gloria, having watched that small company develop these figures it would be wonderful if they actually hit the market.
 Clearly Colonial figures are showing some signs of becoming fairly popular, but then that has happened before and then they have disappeared from sight. But certainly the Sudan campaigns offer a fairly evenly matched pair of combatants.So perhaps more figures will be released.
  I hope Graham of Crann Tara fame succeeds in releasing his Saxons Seven Years War range, but that's a purely selfish wish, and of course is quite a niche market.
 It always struck me as incomprehensible why the Seven Years War era never became a major wargames period, strange that.
 So the trend for me personally is hopefully more painting, playing and buying, which shows how much I am off message, [ which is a satisfying thing really]
 But from a general wargaming point of view there needs to be a concerted push to capture more bored people looking for good company, laughs and a bit of competition.

  Anyway, I think this post is long enough for the moment. I hope someone likes at least a part of this Annual, so a Happy Christmas to all, and remember a 28mm Garde Grenadier is not just for Christmas.

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