Sunday 24 January 2021

Ethics? Is there a place in wargaming for such a thing?

Like so many I was bored last night and somehow ended up watching a podcast called Veteran Wargamer. The podcast is run by an American bloke called Jay Arnold and seems well put together, well it does to my Luddite eyes. The latest podcast was with a group of what were described as wargaming luminaries?? including Jasper Oorthuys, Sam Mustafa, Annie Norman and Ilan Mitchell- Smith. Obviously I have heard of Sam Mustafa and have always been impressed by his rule writing. Jasper Oorthuys is a leading light with Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, as for the other two, Im sorry but I haven't a Scoobies who they were, but then I'm probably not down with the kids as it were.
Anyway the discussion was regarding ethics in wargaming???
 Basically it revolved around the age old argument of what people game and why certain periods are avoided by certain gamers. I think we all possess a period in history that we have deliberately avoided simply because we had either been a part of the history that was to be wargamed, we had family that had taken part in the conflict or simply the memories were just too fresh for it to be trivialised by a game with toy soldiers. The discussion group touched upon the whole idea of wargaming and whether it was something that in its own right was the correct thing to hobby, especially if you subscibe to the idea that it glorifies war.
  I would like to think that anyone who knows me would realise that ethics isnt something that bothers me too much where wargaming and painting soldiers is concerned. I certainly wouldnt buy and paint up figures meant to depict genocide etc, but that wouldnt be an ethical issue, because it simply wouldnt be right on so many levels.
There were however two things that struck me about the podcast, one was that the group felt there was a need to discuss the subject at all, especially given the makeup of the wargaming population who are in the vast majority knowledgeable regarding military history and understanding of the actual horrors of war better than most laymen and therefore pretty decent people, well except where dice throwing is concerned.  The second was why do people nowadays feel the need to look too deeply at what is an innocent pastime almost desperate to find issues where none exist. 
 In this day and age of pseudo victimisation, distress at innocent mis-speaking [ is there such a word?] and people being cancelled left, right and centre the last thing wargaming needs is a group of people creating a movement stopping us playing with toy soldiers.
As for this group of luminaries I would refer them to Robbie's basic law of life which is, 
 ''if it looks like a turd and smells like a turd then it will probably be one.'' 
  Its never steered me wrong yet.*** 

And now onto more upbeat things. I am still making steady progress with my Wars of the Roses small project and have completed a few more items to add to my growing band..
Like a lot of wargamers of a certain age we forget just what we have painted, well I clean forgot that I had created a few bits and bobs that are perfect for my Never Mind the Billhooks project.
Perry's Margarette of Anjou was discovered hiding in my draw of Italian Wars figures, along with a couple of other bases. They have been seconded to my army. Well except the Queen, who will have to stand around looking angry as the Yorkists hopefully batter the Lancastrians.

                                   A 'spare' Perry light gun, perfect for the ward of Kildare.

I also completed my second unit of mercenary pike which was a relief. I know they are an anachronism as Landsknechts didnt really come to the fore until the 1490's but they will do. 

Because I like Pete's Flags my final ward will belong to the Earl of Kildare which gives me a great excuse to add a further unit of Kern. I also intend to field a unit of Gallowglass and Bonnachts to fill out the ward. Clearly not historically accurate but I like the idea it could have happened. 
 Regarding history, I am currently reading the history of the Wars of the Roses by Hugh Bicheno which is a very good couple of books, except at the end of book one he totally poo poos what happened at the Battle of Towton, especially Fauconberg's famous trick with his Yorkist archers. You know the one, where he orders his longbowmen to fire one volley at the Lancastrians using the wind and the snow to antagonise the Lancastrians to recklessly fire off all their arrows in reply, famously they fell short. 
 I always loved that idea, anyway it never happened! 
  Discuss please.
 Secondly he pours coldwater on the Lancastrian army as it marched towards London allegedly full of wild Scots and Northerners intent on rape and pillage, again he believes it never happened! Having seen his evidence it does make for a good discussion. Perhaps the Veteran Wargamer could create a podcast such as that. 
*** I know it will be surprising to some but I actually attended a university where I was 'taught' ethics. I came away with the clear understanding that if the end justifies the means then its fine as long as one can handle the means and the end. 


Friday 15 January 2021

The Battle of Poitiers, Featherstone Ephemera.

Lockdown day God knows what; Anyway because of the weather, snow and frost and other nasties I was able to get on with some painting. I was determined to finish the commanders for my small? Wars of the Roses contingent. Again these were in the main, Grenadier Miniatures with a couple of Perry commanders thrown in.


One of the nice things about the digital world is occasionally one gets in contact with likeminded people, wargamers seem especially susceptible to getting in contact with other enthusiasts. Anyway the most excellent Iain Macmillan kindly sent me some Donald Featherstone ephemera that I hadnt seen. I thought it would be nice to spread it about amongst potentially other Featherstone enthusiasts. It appears to be the original documents with amendments for Featherstone's account of the Battle of Poitiers 1356.
I hope it is of interest to some Hundred Years War and Featherstone fan. I certainly enjoyed it.

I especially liked the map that gives a clear idea about the set up for the game.


I was also able to complete the first of two mercenary pike units for the Wars of the Roses. Normally my blocks are much bigger and denser but for Never Mind the Billhooks twelve figures will suffice. These are old Foundry figures, but still very nice sculpts.

Finally some Citadel and Grenadier early firearms skirmishers. Not very effective, but quite pretty.

Monday 11 January 2021

Staying positive.

 I am determined to stay focused and up beat these next few months simply because otherwise one will climb into bed and pull the covers over you're head. I dont class it as a New Years resolution more something to aspire to. In these nightmare times its difficult to see past your next meal and thinking about a wargame with a real live opponent is more like a fantasy than anything else. But small stepsall that.

Luckily the post is still running and that internet thing calls like a siren to buy some more toys in anticipation of the day we can run free again. In an attempt to save myself from bankruptcy I bought some Perry plastic Wars of the Roses just before lockdown. I would imagine not many gamers enjoy sticking them together but when they are glued up they make excellent figures. These are for another Stanley ward and will be the men at arms. 


These chaps are the final units of the first Stanley ward. I do like the colour combination of green and red and the lovely Pete's flag enhances their look a great deal. There are some very talented peoe kicking about and Pete is up there when he sets his mind to it, mind I dont know how he balances everything.

I deliberately sought out the old Grenadier range for my generals, simply because they are so damned nice. Prices have become ridiculous on E Bay, but luckily I managed to get a fair price for these.
I know they are over sized and exaggerated but as we all know the rule, my army my rules.
This blue and yellow chap is a Perry plastic that cried out to be promoted to a commander. Blue and yellow make great colour combinations.

Yes, he is a fantasy figure with a jousting shield but again he was too nice to ignore.

Finally my official foot commander which is a combination of a Perry plastic a Grenadier figure and a Citadel herald  which I was very kindly given several years ago. This figure was originally in the Gilder collection although I would hazard a guess Gilder didnt paint him. The flag is a generic Saint George flag.
    I like to read as much as possible around a subject but I am amazed at just how little there is about the Wars of the Roses. By that I mean a decently researched , meaty history not a small, dip your toes in the water book. Ive had to return to my Conn Iggulden fictional book series to attempt to get a 'feel' for the period. I know the history is a bit skewed but it at least has a period flavour although he clearly didnt like Richard of York whom I have a soft spot for. Still its better than that train crash on television, 'The Great.??? My wife managed to prise the controls out of my fingers as I screamed at the bollocks I was witnessing, why do they make these dreadful programmes, it makes Noggin the Nog look like a documentary.  Stay positive.... stay focussed......   

Saturday 2 January 2021

Independent Wargames Annual 2020


If this had been a 'normal', and I use the term loosely, year I would have created a series of soundbites regarding what stood out for me in the wargames firmament in the calendar year.

Of course 2020 was the opposite of normal and instead can have many cachets attached to describe the year. For me 2020 was and remains a living nightmare with relief barely in sight. 

 I class myself as lucky because our wonderful hobby was able to keep me occupied and allowed me to remove myself from the realities around me. A lot of people weren't so lucky and that doesn't include the thousands who have died. Many will never recover from the experience and no doubt we will witness certain fourth rate media personalities regaling us with their mental health issues and producing books etc to tell us how we can combat the effects of isolation, fear and in my case my burgeoning waistline. But I digress.

 Has anyone else found that as the months have dragged on they struggle to focus to complete even simple tasks. Procrastination is certainly an issue I repeatedly confront and finding ways to remain motivated increasingly difficult. But enough of my whining, lets talk wargames and all things positive.

This nightmare has certainly been good for most figure producers and I hope this has percolated down to the smaller one man companies as we ordered figures, paints, buildings etc via the internet. I would like to think its been a boom year for the traders.

 I read today that the share price of the mighty Games Workshop makes them richer than Marks and Spencer's. Now that could be down to the price of their figures and the numbers they have shifted, but I suspect my purchase of their Contrast Paints has gone someway towards them making piles of cash. I confess I do like using the range but find the price hard to accept, but I still buy the damned things.

 In  the early months of the lockdown I was finding myself able to paint figures by the score as I quickly built up units of ancient Persians, Greeks, Caesarean Romans and Ancient Britons. The release of the first box of the Wargames Atlantic Ancient Persian range didn't help with the numbers of figures I found myself painting, and just when I thought I had enough Persians, Victrix released their first box of Sparabara that are beautiful figures and of course they provided beautiful transfers for the shields and quivers the figures possess. Having now seen their images of their Persian cavalry and  heavy infantry I know I will need more storage boxes.

 Wargamers are really spoiled.....

                                             Wargames Atlantic, Persian Sparabara.
                                                     Victrix, Persian Sparabara.
This image is of the Persian infantry, based for both Sword and Spear and Hail Caesar. The cavalry are of equal size and numbers. Personally I know I over did the numbers, but what else could one do. 

 I couldn't help myself and bought a number of unpainted and really old Mini Fig Ethiopian infantry.

                                   My small but very effective Caesarean Roman army.

Unfortunately as we approached the autumn I began to struggle with being able to sit and paint for any length of time, well actually being able to sit per se. The pain was diagnosed as two bulging discs. I wont bore anyone with the details, but sitting for any length of time has become a debilitating issue which clearly affected my wellbeing. I've found that even surfing the internet has become tiresome, which I will use as an excuse for my lack of regular blogs. The reality is, that I had little to say, and what I could have said wouldn't have been very inspiring and probably depressing. 


Luckily a free set of rules has helped me combat the issues I was struggling with. 

Andy Callan's free Wars of the Roses rules offered me inspiration and a small kick up the backside. 'Never Mind the Billhooks' a diminutive booklet is a joy as a wargame. It possesses enough historical realism to make it feel right' for the period whilst flowing easily. Basically its a game that's simple to play whilst containing enough friction to reflect the historical nuances that were the Wars of the Roses.

 So having sold my WOR armies many years ago I am now slowly replacing them. Talk about Groundhog Day. Years ago my mother in law obtained details of the history of my family name and the heraldry that would have been used if my family had been influential enough to have possessed such a thing. Its all bollocks really but I will be fielding my own 'ward' resplendent in its livery, and why not.  It is keeping me amused and inspiring me to take up a brush for short intervals. 


This  'ward' is mainly Grenadier, Citadel and a few Perry Kern. In order to cut back on the expense I fully intend to use Perry plastics, but everyone knows about the best laid plans. The actual flag is the Stanley family as is the livery colours.  

 So thanks Andy for your work and generosity. Later this year? Andy will be releasing a further set of rules for the period with added units, rule etc. and also additional cards to frustrate the players I cant wait.

  One of the many things I have put off is actually counting the number of new figures etc that I managed to paint during this crisis. I know its a lot, but I have continually found reasons not to actually find out. Perhaps its because I know its too many and will probably never be used in battle. 

So finally I hope everyone has weathered the crisis and like me is looking forward to lots of wargames big and small with a smattering of wargames shows thrown in for good luck.



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