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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Baggy pants and fezzes.

Its fair to say that if I could get away with it I would have a Union army of zouaves. In a period know for drabness I am attracted like a moth to a flame when I see a baggy pair of pants and a fez.
This will be the final Union zouave regiment, and I chose the 146th New York naturally. Simply because they wore a beautiful dressy uniform.
The figures are the old Foundry range, which are still quality figures. 

I also completed a spare Union limber, just to show I am still progressing towards completion.

Another week, another drubbing.

Its over twelve years since John and I had our last wargame with Steve Taylor, but when we met him last year it was great to see him. It was a shock to see him moving slowly on two sticks but he was in great spirits although clearly in pain. Anyway when he contacted me out of the blue about trying out a set of ACW rules based around Fire and Fury and DBA, how could I say no.
Steve brought his lovely collection across to my home but insisted on acting as umpire between me and John.Its been years since I had played either set of rules but I managed to pick things up pretty quickly.Selecting the rebels, naturally. I thought I would surprise John with a holding attack in the centre whilst I turned his right flank with my best veteran troops.
Well guess what, my plan unraveled in double quick time as John had craftily massed his troops on one side of the creek, and left my best brigade in splendid isolation doing nothing.
Needing pips to move is okay if you throw high, well needless to say that didnt happen too often to the Rebs. Meanwhile John trundled inexorably forward against my green brigade which was duly peppered with Union artillery.They retreated in disorder, probably wondering where their best troops were.
I was surprised it took so long for the Union to shatter two of my brigades but they eventually did.
As a try out the amalgamation of two rule sets worked very well and will only need a couple of tweaks to make them very playable.It was great to see Steve again, and even better to see him moving better than last year.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Plastic Week.

 I have a bit of a love/ hate relationship with plastic wargames figures. I love the price and what is pretty good value for money. I like their paint ability [ more of that in a minute] but I hate gluing the damn things together. I end up with strings of plastic glue hanging off the figure and invariably on my fingers and beard.I just cannot do a really neat job of sticking them together. Anyway I wanted to use up a box of Perry Union troops and stuck them and me together.
 I have noticed when it comes to the actual painting I dont do a precise paint finish on them unlike my metal chaps. Subconsciously I think back to my Airfix soldier days when I just used to slap the paint on them.Anyway I have completed the regiment, the 90th Illinois, an Irish regiment that fought in the western theatre. Why them? I liked the flag, simples really. They are an average painted regiment, but they will do.
 As for the gory exploding union troops. Well that is courtesy of reading Wargames Illustrated and the Ron Ringrose article. Again I know they aren't up to Ron's standard, but it was my first attempt. Now I know the pitfalls I may do a couple more to stand around my table. 
 Anyway tomorrow I'm hosting an ACW game using a set of rules based on Fire and fury and DBA. God knows how that will work, but let no one accuse me of trying different things.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

BBC4 The Vietnam War.

In my down time [ of which I seem to have quite a bit] I have been watching A History of the Vietnam War on BBC 4. Usually I only have a passing interest in 'modern' warfare and have a cut off point of 1870 or thereabouts. But I must admit I am pleased that I have taken the time to watch what is a fascinating and very interesting series. Apparently it took ten years to make and is seen from all sides, including the French who frankly didnt exactly cover themselves in glory from the get go when they created their Indo Chinese empire.
 I was only a child when the conflict escalated and dragged the USA into the malestrom, but I can remember the civil turmoil as the war dragged on and my annoyance that Harold Wilson refused to help our allies. I was still a teenager then and in hindsight it was one of Wilson's smarter decisions.
  I thought as I am going to Cambodia and Vietnam next year that I should get a better idea about the conflict.
   If one is able, I would recommend that you take the time to watch the series. I have just finished viewing the footage where the American 7th cavalry [ Airborne] deliberately decided to take on three whole battalions of Vietcong, even though a deserter had warned them of the numbers they were facing. Talk about re living a historical mistake. The unit survived, just. Although it took the entire US airforce to stabilize the situation and stop them from being overun.
  Brave men on both sides and very moving. And yet we still make the same mistakes. Never start a war unless one has an aim and knows how we are going to get out of the damn thing.

Friday, 29 September 2017

All that Glitters.

Well yesterday John and I took part in a titanic struggle involving the armies of John Churchill and The Sun King.And what a battle involving 7 brigades each. The rules we used were our old favourites, Volley and Bayonet by Frank Chadwick. They were originally published in 1994 and although they were updated recently we still think the original rules were the best.

 Twenty three years is a very longtime as regards wargaming rules and given the alarming regularity that new rule books appear you would think that something better would have come along in that time.
 After yesterdays battle I seriously think not. The game contained everything that I want in a wargame. Tension, the chance to actually attempt some cunning plan and no need to constantly consult the copious pages of a large rulebook.

 Granted the rule book lacks eye catching photographs of miniatures. It is has a soft cover, and  consists of 20 pages that contain the simple rules written without jargon.The rest of the book is taken up with scenarios of large battles from various periods. So its perfect for wargamers like me who just want to get on playing with their soldiers and thrashing the enemy.
 There is no filling, no fluff just good honest common wargaming sense. Something that is increasingly missing from the current slew of very expensive rulebooks, with the odd exception.

  As for the actual game. Well for the first hour or so I really thought that I was going to achieve an overwhelming victory only to see my ridiculous dream melt away as my British died manfully.I was lucky at the end to achieve a draw. So after the game I was truly knackered and had a blazing headache and left thinking, if only...............
Now that is why I love wargaming.  And remember all that glitters is definitely not gold.


Thursday, 21 September 2017

A plus for Internet shopping.

 Well I'm back from my latest jolly which should hopefully give me a clear run up until Christmas. I'm not complaining, far from it, but as the dark nights approach there are a lot of things I need to do wargaming wise. Just before I went away I decided to take the plunge and purchase a large terrain mat which I hope to use at wargames shows later this year and next year. The mat, ordered from Tiny Mats at the TinyWargames company was waiting for me when I returned.A very prompt return of product.
I wanted a mat big enough to cover my table should I decide to use it instead of my generic boards, and also be big enough to use at a show to give a large wargame. They agreed to print me a 13' by 7' mat. An irregular size but I want to put hills under the mat and then fix the whole thing to a table, hence the strange size. It will give me a 12' by 6' table. While I was away this time I saw a lot of sunbathers were using large plastic clamps to fix their beach towels to their beds. The little wargaming lightbulb came on, and courtesy of E Bay I have ordered some. Except they wont be fluorescent pink in colour.I intend to spray them black.
Unfortunately my images dont do the mat justice. As wargamers will know, the mats are a much better green than the image I have took.I would thoroughly recommend the company and on first look, the terrain mat. A big investment but its a lot lighter than the mdf boards I have used in the past.
As I have alluded to in my title page we are experiencing something of a Golden Age in wargaming, and the ability to buy such items at the press of a button is first rate.I now just need to move a 100 plus terrain boards.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Catawumptiously Chewed Up!

Well today was my inaugural 28mm ACW battle using my latest armies. I started this project on the 31st August 2016 and today I finally saw both armies in use. That's the good news. The bad news was I got my backside absolutely tanned by John. I am still a little bit stunned as to how I suffered such a defeat, the final insult being my Virginians suffering from being Catawumptiously Chewed Up!
 We were using Dave Brown's excellent ACW Picketts Charge rules  and to have a brigade reach the chewed up stage, basically means there is no coming back.

We started the game with two brigades each, I had the Elite Texans, and Barksdale's Mississippians while John had the Iron Brigade and the Irish. There were an additional three brigades each off table. All marching to the sound of the guns. As each brigade arrived, we decided to dice to see what classification they would be.

 Nothing is certain in Pickett's Charge. It definantly helps if the player wins the initiative each move and gets the drop on his opponent. This however becomes harder to achieve if your orders fail to get through to the brigade commanders and they become 'Hesitant' prior to the initiative throw.
My command throws were frustratingly consistent, with my brigades going Hesitant at the drop of a hat. At one stage I was able to have two reserve brigades arrive on the battlefield in quick succession, only to see them flounder in confusion.

Below; my Virginian brigade gallantly marches onto the battlefield only to refuse to advance towards the enemy after that?

The Mississippians start to rout. They were probably sick of waiting for those damned Virginians to move.
 As the Mississippians ran through a second supporting regiment, these needed to throw to see how they felt.  Clearly a double one wasnt going to make them feel too good. So they ran to.

 Meanwhile my Louisianians entered the fray to support the Texans. Yep, they decided to have a picnic before advancing again.
             Meanwhile, the Union infantry were getting their dander up and doing a sneaky march onto my flank.
                                                   Still waiting?

 John, trying not to laugh, sends his Irish forward again. This time the Texans struggled to handle them.
 My Virginians, finally were able to shake out into a decent looking line. The only problem was they were classed as 'Green'. It should have been yellow. Just after this, John would shell the Virginian Cadets who decided that they were too young to fight, and legged it.
  On the flank, one of the Union reserve brigades appeared. Just a few zouave types. Nothing that I couldnt handle.
    One of my green regiments, reached the zenith of my success, by chasing off an Iron Brigade regiment, before the brigade decided to leg it, leaving them stranded in a cornfield, surrounded by Yankees.
    Another test, another fine double one, another regiment decides they have had enough.                                

   The Virginians, leaving the battlefield, just as I had managed to rally my Mississippians..
 Yes, you guessed it, my newly rallied Mississippians produced a fine throw. On to Richmond I think.

 The Union zouaves parade across the battlefield, looking for a rebel to shoot.


 Rebel, 'Man of the Match', my sniper who was attached to the Texan brigade, and manged to kill more Yankees, than ALL of the Texans combined.It was one of those days.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Border Reivers Wargame Show 2017.

Well I attended Border Reiver's show at Gateshead as intended. The weather was beautiful and surprisingly sunny as I traveled into the dark domain of the Geordies. There was quite a queue outside of the Sports centre when we tipped up at the stadium, and parking was also at a premium.
John and I were hoping to offload a few unwanted items at the do it yourself bring and buy, and I had high hopes of moving on some ephemera that wargamers always seem to collect. I managed to sell about two thirds of what I brought, and managed to make a few quid for myself. I never expect to make a profit at these events, but simply recoup a few quid. The problem was I ended up buying some nice trees and hills from another wargamer running another table while I was attempting to off load my stuff. Still my intentions were pure.

The show was busy for the first couple of hours, but invariably after about 1.00pm things begin to tail off. There were less games on show this year, but a few new traders selling stuff that looked interesting but I didnt need. John and I always used to put a game on at the show when it was at the Arena venue, but it is becoming increasingly harder to find the necessary energy to stage a game.
 I often feel I should start putting on games again. But then I often feel like pulling on my old football boots, and that's not going to happen either.
Still there were a couple of qualitity games that stood out. My favourite which had been at Partizan a couple of weeks ago, put on by a group from Harrogate, and used some beautifully painted 28mm renaissance figures.I love this period in history and when you see beautifully painted toys it cant be beaten in my eyes.
Where have all the wargamers gone? Mind it was after their curfew time of 2.00pm.
There was a very nicely staged Napoleonic game using quality terrain built by the players, who happened to be selling the terrain tiles. It was very good looking terrain.
I bumped into Charlie Wesencraft one of the wargaming greats, who somehow looks younger than ever. Charlie is 90 next year. He was clutching a bag of unpainted metal he needed for a Montrose battle he is staging.

                                   And finally my favourite game of the show;
 A steam punk affair called the Invisible Men. I liked the realistic terrain and well painted invisible toys sculptured and painted by that award winning wargaming personality, John Coutts.

The reality was a misunderstanding between the shows organisers and the lads at Westerhope which led to no game being staged. All show organisers should ask for confirmations from wargamers and not expect them just to show up with a game. For once John Coutts seemed lost for words............                     Well for about five seconds.
Still I enjoyed the show and its great to bump into wargamers old and new. Thanks to the people who organised the show, and stick at it.

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