Friday, 10 February 2017

A News size for the ECW

Now that a good bit of the new Blue Moon English Civil War range is available, I've been trying to work out what I should do for myself using it.
 I've had ECW armies on and off since 1977 and these days, and for the last decade it is probably overall my favourite period for modelling, collecting and wargaming. I've around a thousand painted models in  2 distinct collections plus about 100 or a bit less in 40mm- though some of these last are more strictly 30 Years War.
 Nevertheless in all this Pike and Shotting I have never done anything in 15mm- until now.
 All right a mere 14 figures isn't much but its a start and there are more on the painting desk.
 So here are 3 pics of the first fruits of a possible 15mm ECW project which if I continue will be the New Model Army expedition to Flanders and the Royalist Army in Exile with Spanish and French regiments for each side as well.
 Will I get that far. Only time will tell.
15mm Parliamentarian General. 
I know I'm biased but I do like these little dudes.

New Model pikemen in 15mm. The flags are handpainted ,made from wine bottle foil. 
and finally for the moment.
Officer in Ciurassier Armour from the same pack as the first picture.

I should have more packs from this range available in March- the guns and the Horse.  Irish and Scots should be along later.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

To Lament or not to Lament !

The other day I received in the post a copy of the latest Osprey Games booklet "The Pikeman's Lament"  from that very efficient outfit  The Wordery an ebay bookseller I've used previously. Costing me a mere £9.65 including postage  this looked like a bargain and it terms of the physical appearance of the book it was
 Then I looked inside and all my illusions were quite quickly shattered.
Now as you know I'm a bit of a 17th century nut- mainly ECW but not entirely ignoring other wars of that tempestuous century either. It follows that any set of rules purporting to depict conflict from that period is going to interest me. The active phrase here is "purporting to depict".
 The basic idea is actually pretty good- these are no rules, or perhaps I should say this is not a game, for refighting large battles. In theory it depicts the small war of outposts , minor actions and skirmishes that were a major part of much 17th century warfare. And so it does.... well sort of... maybe a bit anyway ..
There is some good stuff here most especially the almost role play of the officer selection process but each "Company" is only allowed 1 officer (and no NCOs) so an historical command structure is not allowed despite the fact that the officer character starts as an ensign- the lowest commissioned rank of the period-
  It is pretty obvious that the authors are very prepared to butcher the actuality to achieve their desired results- these being a "set of simple and fast moving miniature wargame rules" . An awful lot has been subordinated to these objectives.  Period organisation, period formations, period weapon handling, period drill   and period terminology have all been given a proper kicking to make them fall into line with the authors "game". Now in some cases this is necessary . I suspect that these rules will handle small scale cavalry actions rather well assuming you can live with tiny units and non period organisations but the points based organisation places  quite a bit of "negative freedom" on the system especially as the points system is also part of the morale mechanism.
 A couple of examples
 In these rules a "forlorn hope" is a troop type rather than a military decision. So I'm tempted to ask can you use a forlorn hope as a forlorn hope ?? Well yes actually  in the game the term actually means "small elite foot unit" rather than  the advanced party  ( of either foot or horse as the situation demanded)   the term was actually used to indicate.

Dragoons- now anyone with a basic grounding in the 17th century military art knows that dragons were mounted infantry who dismounted to fight. Here the term is used to indicate any type of  mounted firearm cavalry as well as traditional Dragoons -no distinction is made Dragoons do not have to dismount to fight. They do not have to act as their historical namesakes did.

This misuse of terms is at best misleading for the newcomer, which you would think that  this limited ,tightly organised and rather narrow focus game is aimed at. Let's face it if you are into 17th century warfare and know anything at all about how operations were conducted then this game will make you laugh- especially if you are not already a wargamer.

 Also for the type of warfare these rules are intended to depict 2 of the troop types available would have been a distinct rarity and possibly - for certain of the given scenarios absent altogether- Pikemen and Artillery. In accounts of the various types of outpost warfare of the period I have Pikemen are rarely if ever mentioned. Artillery more as an objective than a unit- besieged garrisons would sally out to destroy or disable the besiegers guns if they could as at Basing House and Lathom house to cite just 2 examples.
 Also this "game" is very dice heavy. Everything requires a dice roll  moving, firing, reaction, orders, casualties  and morale. Dice rolls are substituted for decision making. Great if you are 12. You might lose the will to live if you are an adult.
 However above all else what really really gives me the hump in these rules is the unit structure. There are only 2 unit sizes 12 figures for some foot and 6 figures for all Horse and Dragoons and the remaining foot and gun crews. Why this should be so is never explained so despite the fact that we are told 1 model represents 1 real soldier (so what the hell use are 12 pikemen - a mere 2 files for much of the period. Why would they be involved in "outpost warfare" ). You get the distinct impression that this is done because the authors favourite toys are sold in  factors of 3 or 4 or 6  or more likely that the system was lifted straight from the very un-medieval medieval "game" Lion Rampant without benefit of actually  looking at 17th century warfare.
 If you want a quick  simplistic "game" with a very little 17th century flavour and an awful lot of dice rolling.  A game that is quite heavily structured so you don't have to do anything as radical as thinking for yourself. A game that assumes you know nothing and doesn't bother to enlighten you then this is for you, straight from the booklet.
 If you want a game of 17th century outpost warfare then these- after a good butchering may do the job but straight from the book they are just another same old same old  skirmish- a- like.  Frankly I could go on about poor points such as no weapon differences- despite the fact that these were viewed as important at the time (don't for instance use matchlock muskets for either sentries or night operations if yo can help it) but this is the kind of stuff the interested player  or umpire can put in at need and IS nit-picking. Nevertheless the overall impression is that the authors have striven mightily to do as little as possible to produce a sequel to lion rampant- which wasn't that good anyway and in doing so have for me dropped the ball somewhere near the halfway line .... sort of a grudging 5/10

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

No rest for the Wicked- again ...

Last Sunday - 5th Feb  saw the York club show Vapnartak come around for 2017
 Now I can't say a massive amount about the show as I was too busy to see much of it. For me at least it was at least as busy as last year and very probably somewhat  busier. Buckets of assorted Blue Moon 15mm seemed to flow over the counter backed up by  True North WW2 and Command decision. A fair few 28mm in various period also moved across the table in exchange for the odd portrait of Her Maj. Spent a useful few minutes chatting to John Treadaway Editor of MW about lead in times for reviews and other info..
 A very brief look at the games on the ground floor- I never made it upstairs this year- frankly did not inspire. There were a few good lookers but I'd seen them before and no-one seemed willing to talk- not that I tried that hard since I seemed to have spent most of the day chatting to customers and wearing out my vocal chords
 One thing I saw jarred rather badly. It appeared to be a demonstration of the new Airfix based game from Modiphius - back to introverts R us I thought, paper map laid out on the bare table a few bits of plastic scattered about on it . Introverts mumbling away behind their hand of cards. Just the thing for a club night for the average social misfit.
 Now if Modiphius were behind that display(I do not think they were) they need to get a new display team. If it was a club trying to get you interested in the game and in them.... they need to get a new display team. This kind of thing is the very antithesis of everything I love about the hobby- also somebody around that table needed to stand closer to the soap. Why would any interested party actually bother with that shambles? Or indeed with any of those display games that do not bother to have a talking head or two to engage with their potential punters. I really sometimes think that the only reason some clubs do demos is so they can get into the show for free.
 Now I do know that there are plenty of clubs who are NOT like that at all and give a chance will talk your ears off- which of course is exactly as it should be.Mor Power to Their Elbows!!
 Dropped a few quid at the ever helpful Coritani Miniatures  stand on some paint and brushes and picked up a history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers in the Napoleonic Wars from Dave Lanchester. The long quotes from contemporary sources are really useful. There is no substitute for reading the words of the blokes that were there.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the event as I always do there are still plenty of "proper" wargamers out there of all ages by no means all of them are memebrs of Introverts Anonymous

Oh and a sort of PS-The prices for some non- historical stuff are getting even more ludicrous than formerly  10 quid a single figure- often in resin - is no longer unusual and 4-5 quid each quite common Mind you if you WILL play kids games with 3 men a side .....

Monday, 30 January 2017

Essential Reading

When I was at school (when they still had flogging) there was a teacher  who opined that any boy who had not read 20 books in a term was by his own fault a dullardand a cretin (the B*****D'S favourite term of dissapprobabation) . Now this old bugger was out of date even in the 1970s and didn't specify what kind of books these should be though he did quiz us on what we had read... so I kept quiet about my "Victor Book For Boys" and told him about  Rosemary Sutcliffe, Arthur Ransome and R. F. Delderfield (this last chap not only being a quite tedious novelist wherein  I spent a tedious couple of days as an extra in a TV adaptation of  his "To serve them all my Days"  but a not half bad Napoleonic Historian- Try "Imperial Sunset" and "The March of the Twenty- Six"  a bit dated now perhaps but worth a read.) The point her of course being that I got away with it unlike some of the less literary members of 3E who - poor slobs- had to endure a bawling at which if it happened today  might have involved the appearance of Child Protection !

 Ah Happy Days .... 


However the other point is that even at that tender age (13)  I read books that didn't always have pictures in and I didn't use my fingers to follow the long words. This has stayed with me. The literary side of our hobby is important to me but not only within the hobby.
 What started this train of thought was  re-reading Helene Hanf's splendid  84 Charing Cross Road a wonderful little book made into a splendid film with Anthony Hopkins . It caused me to ponder upon essential Reading that did not include wargaming or even military history.
 Shakespear is obviously near the top of that list and a bit of Jane Austen can do you no harm.. I love the precision of the language. I may get pilloried for this but I could never get on with Dickens you can shove " A Sale of Two Titties" where Rev. Spooner  would not want it to go! I do quite like Dorothy Parker- again brittle humour combined with pathos and on our side of the pond Evelyn Waugh- though it has been a good few years since I read any. I still look in at P.G. Wodehouse- I have 4 volumes of his stuff  with more to get- for light relief.  Of poets T.S.Eliot, W.B Yeats and Robert Frost spring to mind. All these dudes are of course "SERIOUS LITERATURE" as distinct from the more popular sort that most of us read
 So a question.
 What serious literature do chaps read if any  and also therefore what do you consider to be serious literature 

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Upcoming from Raven Banner.

Stephen Huckaby- the Man from Rave Banner Games  sent me these 3 pictures of his upcoming releases which, as soon as they are available, I will be adding to the OGUK product list.
 Hopefully I will have these in time for Salute on April 22nd

You don't often get figures in  greatcoats or foul weather gear- yet warfare did go on in the rain .....

I wonder if his bugle is full of water ? 
I realy do like the look of these- even though I don't do ACW in 28mm - don't really do it at all any more. The 40mm have not been out of their boxes for 3 or 4 years. However these lads are tempting my paintbrush.

Nice Officers. 
I'll have the intitial group of Raven Banner releases at Vapnartak on Feb 5th  but also see them  on the OGUK  website

 or if in the US on Raven Banner's own site

It will be intresting to see how this range and company develop.

Friday, 20 January 2017

In Time for Vapnartak at York.

 I'm currently unpacking 11 crates from the USA- which incidentally are costing me a grand more than the same order this time last year- not in US dollars of course but in post- Brexit not as good as they used to be pound notes. However it is still cheaper than trying to produce the stuff in the UK what with business rates and local council kickbacks and rent for premises (which is outrageous)and VAT  which adds more costs so despite the current burst of lunacy I'll keep at it.

 so new stuff for York
 Top of the list will be those splendid Raven Banner Games ACW figures mentioned in the previous post
 Also a couple of new packs of Sash and Saber ACW.- Frock coated Confederate Infantry. The Sand S  range now stands at over 50 packs
 There are also some new Blue Moon ECW packs - but not the guns which did not seem to be included in the shipment- I've added them to the next order.
 More Napoleonics in the shape of more late Saxon Hussars and Artillery crew both horse and Foot
 so about 17 or so new packs for York- more than some dudes have in total
 Oh and all the normal stuuf- the ECW range and most of the Saxons have never been to a show before .....

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Raven Banner Games

Raven Banner games are a new- to me- American  company just starting to produce some really tasty 28mm ACW. I am now  selling these in the UK and Europe.
 The first 7 packs are up on the website

Personally I think they are some of the best ACW figures I've seen.
They have a slightly  scruffy campaign look to them very reminiscent of the photographs of the period, but are splendidly sculptedand have good anatomy and movement.
 So far there are only the 7 packs- 3 vignette sets and  3 unit packs depicting the 33rd New Jersey in their rather badly fitting "chasseur" uniforms imported from France. The 7th pack is an extra set of command including a mounted officer.
 More packs will be added including some Infantry in greatcoats which look splendid and I'll show them to you when I can
 However for now here are a couple of pics of the 33rd New Jersey chasseur types.

 I do like the clever touches such as the chaps with his pack on the ground near him and the mixture of dress styles.