Monday 30 December 2019

The Eve of New Years Eve.

 Well its the eve of News Years Eve and its about now I post my Independent Wargames Annual. Hopefully this year will be no different except it might be after the start of 2020 when I get around to posting the whole thing. Christmas was a busy time again which isnt a bad thing although young excited grandchildren can exhaust you. Parenthood is definitely a young persons game so God knows how Ronnie Wood manages. It perhaps explains why he is touring again with the Stones.
 Anyway I have completed my little painting exercise to sharpen my painting appetite and can now say the Lord of the Rings Chess set is complete....I managed to fit in a few hours painting between various festivities. I did enjoy the exercise, so much so I hope to locate another set to paint, except this time I will probably complete and sell the set on, depending on how it goes.
 Im now ready to go on to a couple of small painting projects after I bought some old Garrison SYW artillery crews and guns which will become battalion guns for my French army.They are more decorative than effective, but it adds to my army.
 I also picked up quite a number of painted Hinchliffe SYW Austro Hungarian grenadiers which will complete a unit that was too small for my armies. The actual small unit of grenadiers were bought from Ian Hinds and are beautiful Old School figures painted to a great standard. I think Ill find it hard to match the black lines created by the original owner. They are very nice figures and I 'had'? to have them.
 I was also lucky enough to trace a number of Garrison ECW figures which will be re painted and drafted into my armies. Garrison produced some lovely sculpts, well in my eyes they did and Im looking forward to painting them. So that is my short term plan for January but as of yet I still haven't decided what to do next.

                                 I did also manage to complete my 'henge' for SPQR.
   I also squeezed in a couple of preachers to inspire a couple of ECW units, +1 to morale.
  In between visiting my family I finally completed another unit of Romans and some slingers for SPQR. These were put aside but look okay now they have their shields.
 So there you have it. Not a very productive period, but Christmas never is and neither should it be really. Anyway a Happy New Year to all and hopefully you will find something to interest you when I post my Annual for 2019.

Sunday 15 December 2019

The Battle of Fontenoy by Charles Grant,circa 1964

As mentioned in my last post I have downloaded the article that Charles Grant submitted for the Wargamers Newsletter Special Issue 1964. It may be of interest to wargamers of a certain age and was created well before the release of Grants classic book on the subject. Im afraid time hasnt been totally kind to the article in that the ink has faded with age, hopefully it is still of use.

Its interesting that Charles Grant makes reference to the creation of his famous canister cone in this account.

Amongst my purchases I was also able to pick up this Wargamers Newsletter Yearbook 1966/1967. There is a another article contained in the issue by Charles Grant. This time it his refight of the Battle of Minden. Now I haven't read through the issue yet but I admit I bought the magazine when I saw Grant had written an article re the battle. I will reproduce it when I find some time. 

Saturday 14 December 2019

Out with the New, in with the Old.

                    Anyone recognise this beatnik looking chap playing and ECW game?
                                                                    [answer at the end]

 A few weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that I had failed to buy a number of Wargamers Newsletters from the USA due to excessive postal charges. I would again like to thank Johnathan Freitag who lives in the USA who offered to find a way to obtain the issues and send them to me. It was a typically kind offer that one expects from fellow wargamers who are in the main generous souls where wargaming is concerned. Anyway the very kind gesture wasnt needed as I luckily managed to obtain a fair number of the back issues I 'needed' to complete my collection of Newsletters. They werent cheap and frankly some were extortionate but I bit the bullet like a true collecting nut.
 I now only need locate 16 issues to have the complete collection of wargaming magazines that promoted the hobby when there was very little else apart from the odd wargaming article in the early Military Modelling magazines circa 1971.
 Donald Feathersone however had kept the wargaming beacon alight  for years before that, and certainly from 1964 when Tony Bath,Jack Scruby from the USA and himself had gone their separate wargaming ways for whatever reasons now lost in the mist of age.
 I normally dont like to boast about what I am privileged to own but being able to read these early magazines is a guilty pleasure.
 Yes some of the 'articles' are very brief, little more than tips and observations but like any history student if one wants to understand where we are, we need to study the past.
 Reading the Newsletters shows how we came to be where we are now, the same arguments that troubled the early wargamers,[ less than 500 internationally in 1965 ] are still argued even now and their solutions are as relevant as the ones produced nowadays.

Amongst my purchases was this gem, a special issue full of  wargaming articles from 1964.
 I particularly mention this magazine because the late great Charles Grant contributed a lengthy article titled 'Experiments with a Battle' which is an account of his different refights of the classic Grant battle, Fontenoy 1745. This account is well before the release of his classic book The Wargame and shows how he was testing various ways to fight the battle.If anyone is interested I will scan the whole article although due to its age some of the printing is very faint.
In the lengthy introduction Featherstone jokingly moans of having embarked on too many wargaming periods [sound familiar] but blames Peter Gilder for at least two of the projects, simply because he was given some beautiful pieces of wargaming terrain made by Gilder.

So whilst desperately attempting to complete my Newsletter collection I was able to obtain the following wargaming gold [well for me anyway]
By accident I was able to lay my hands on a decent number of The War Game Digest, the magazine that Jack Scruby compiled from 1958 for the small number of would be wargamers that existed across the world. I have yet to peruse these magazines and wont until I have obtained some decent protective covers for them but this is the magazine that fired the enthusiasm of Featherstone, Bath and Grant plus several others.In fact it was the start of what we are all involved in, modern? wargaming.
 Serendipitously from a totally different source I was also able to obtain some copies of the digest's successor, the less famous Table Top Talk which I believe started about 1961/1962. Although a smaller magazine than the digest it is a well produced little magazine that contains some still relevant information and is brimming with wargaming enthusiasm.
 In a couple of decade these pioneering wargamers will probably be unknown but whoever is playing the games of the future their pleasure will be because of a few people prepared to take a chance and create a series of magazines that would bring the disparate wargamers together.

Answer; the beatnik was a young Stuart Asquith.

Thursday 12 December 2019

Some tidying up in progress.

 Its that time of the year when I tidy up a few projects and also a time when I take on a couple of small painting exercises to sharpen the painting palette as it were.
 I enjoy playing chess, but will never be very good at the game, I have found that for the first few moves Im okay but then lose focus and inevitably make a tactical mistake that leads to defeat.A bit like my wargaming. What seemed like yesterday but was back? in the 1980's I painted up a Napoleonic chess set using Tradition and Connoisseur figures, it sits next to my computer desk, its is still a decent looking set. However I wanted to create a set for my grandson that he could use or at least look at, so these images are of the new set Im creating. I picked the Lord of the Rings theme because I hope he will one day read the book which I have loved since the early 1970's.
 Im enjoying the small exercise, the figures are decent likenesses of the characters from the Fellowship film and have a decent heft when handled.

                         For some reason I have painted the orcs in two different skin shades but I like them both so didnt want to repaint them.

 I mentioned that I had entered the 21st century at Stockton and bought some 3d printed terrain.The pieces were of a neolithic stone circle and perfect for the SPQR games.They are very nicely detailed pieces.
 Naturally I 'had' to include a semi naked druidess/warrior to placate? any would be ME2 wargamers.
                                           Shes a fine looking lady with a taste for heads...
 Finally Stuart of Colonel Bill fame has produced some beautiful ECW character pieces. So I have started putting them together, they are lovely sculpts.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Battleground 2019, the return?

Two years ago I think it was, John and I decided with heavy heart that we shouldn't put on any more games at wargames shows. We decided the effort was simply getting too much and it was time to accept that we were getting a bit past it.We wanted to just enjoy the shows as spectators and shoppers. It seemed a reasonable concept you would think.
A couple of months ago in a fit of wild enthusiasm I decided we had been premature in our retirement and  it would be a great idea to stage a game at Battleground and display my 'old school with a contemporary twist,' English Civil War armies.
  Leon, bless him, when contacted found space for us to return to the show although I got the impression it would be a struggle to squeeze another big table into the hall.
So early yesterday morning after scraping the frost off the car I took my collection down to Middlesbrough to set up.
 Battleground has come a long way from its original location in Stockton and now uses a well lit, easily accessible hall on the university campus. So with a free car park, well lit hall, good toilets [very important] and hot food literally outside the main entrance the Independent Wargames Group set up their 1642 game using figures designed in the 1970's and 1980's and painted to recreate the 'feeling' we used to enjoy when we first started on the long path to wargames goodness.
Leon has done a sterling job resurrecting the show and its becoming a great event to attend in the run up to Christmas. He has attempted to make the event more relevant to wargamers by introducing free entry, encouraging the smaller and unusual traders to attend and to host historic lectures that would interest the wargamer. The boy done good.
The show itself was very busy until the wargaming witching hour of 13.30hrs when things tend to tail off somewhat.Another idea Leon adopted is to close the show at 3.00pm which is a help to traders who have to load and travel to their homes get there in a reasonable time without letting the hosts down by packing up early.
So as a show it was the inevitable blur with welcome questions about the figures, 'can you still buy Hinchliffe?'   'Minifigs! they were my first metal figures'etc.
I would like to think it triggered a few good memories of when there were fewer choices but wargaming life seemed better. Of course thats nostalgia for you, the reality is the choices now can hurt your brain, damage the wallet but offer so much more.
Because of the game it was much more difficult to study the other games on offer. Colin of Carry on up the Dale fame naturally had a wargaming extravaganza resplendent with lovely banner and loads of Sikhs. The Westerhope posse were their annoying selves showing people their Little Big Horn game with flickering tepees! and cheeky rapport.
I still managed to spend a lot of money with not too much to show for the cost, well okay I did get a lot of hedges from The Last Valley, some lovely character pieces for the ECW from Stu of Colonel Bills fame and in the bring and buy I mysteriously ended up buying some lovely painted 1/32 medieval's from very talented guy from Stockton.
And to show people I am up with the kids I even bought a wonderful 3d created piece of terrain for my SPQR Britons.
And the aftermath???
On my way home, I began to think about the return of Muhammad Ali and his fight against Leon Spinks his ex sparring partner and protege. In that fight Ali was totally out boxed and towards the end Spinks could be seen refusing to punch his hero.
I felt like Ali, punch drunk and knackered.
So sat here typing and nursing a bad back and headache I've realised that maybe John and I have done our bit for Wargaming and deserve to hand the baton onto younger wargamers to display games that will hopefully inspire and enthuse people. Its very obvious that shopping and moaning about younger wargamers is the future. Still I needed to be certain............

What a crew, members of the Westerhope posse. The others were probably pillaging my table while I was taking this photograph.

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