Friday, 18 December 2015

Lifes Rich Tapestry ....

So let's get a few things straight. 

 Someone once said "Life is a minestrone" (Actually it was 10cc- the rock band- a couple of whom went to my Grammar school - but several years ahead of me. Fallible memery says one of them was a prefect who gave me a clip round the ear and a detention for doing something nefarious- which I've forgotten but there you go. Part of the minestrone or indeed lifes rich tapestry).
 Which early digression doesn't prove much one way or the other but may point towards diversity, a nod to that famed rich tapestry and perhaps a way of life that back then was normal, now would be seen as positively primitive with anguished calls to Social Workers and threats of legal action.
 So what is my point- Life was better in the 70s?.
 Not a chance! Neither real life nor Wargaming life. In some ways it was freer certainly- Free Speech actually existed in the real world rather than being merely a concept you pay lip service to until you hear something you don't like. (Such as the calls to Ban Trump and Fury  because of their very unpalatable remarks (Doesn't Trump and Fury remind you of a bad Music Hall act of the Le Petomaine type!!). Personally I'm with Ian Hislop here- let 'em spout and then rip the piss- though he put it more carefully than that- but of course he meant present another view, argue your point. Discuss ,reason debate think, present a new argument. Something else that was actually encouraged back then- at least it was at my University. Though it has to be said that the first seeds of "Ban everything I disagree with"  was showing its ugly head by the early 80s if not before.. So paradoxically it seems that we now have many more ways of saying things - but far less to actually say. Hmm  Still trying to work that one out ....
 In our hobby as in life the idea of debate has become somewhat unfashionable. For me this is deeply unfortunate- now I'm aware that there are various forums out there but they all seem to consist of pissing contests between egos of varying sizes or collections of snide remarks by tossers who wouldn't dare say the same face to face rather than reasoned debate.
 I actually recall being ejected from one Yahoo group for NOT calling the "Lord Moderator" a Nazi- (but daring with others to discuss thing he didn't approve of- I was told "this isn't a Democracy" - "Well B******s to you" thinks I(exit Villain sneering!)
 Which once my ire had passed made me giggle rather more than somewhat. simply because of its sheer bloody arrogance.
Now here I adopt a different attitude and style- chaps can say mostly anything they want- as long as it doesn't break the law or frighten the horses!. There are comments on this blog that I disagree with and have angered me a tad(being accused of misogyny for one) but rather than delete them I of course let them stand- Free Speech is too precious for fits of pique- especially as it is becoming so unfashionable.. Of course you have to be prepared to put up with small- minded spite but Jeez! if you are in the Trenches you get shot at- Shoot back Dude/ Or as my Ethics teacher put it- Question everything!.
 Now for me that holds in our hobby as in life- think about it- Why are todays rulebooks so pretty- it is BECAUSE they have fewer actual rules in them?
 Why are identikit skirmish games so popular- when soldiers are cheaper than ever- I can think of several answers some all or none of which may be correct
 Why is the Sci-fant genre so popular perhaps 3 or 4 times as popular as "traditional wargaming"  especially when many of the games  seem to be far far more limited in scope than the open ended possibilities of the Historical genre?

Where did all the thinking go??

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Shiny Sawnies......

So finally another small unit for the "Shinyloo project takes shape. These are in therory the Gordon Highlanders
30mm Gordon Highlanders Waterloo campaign... sort of...

Purists will point to the kilts and shout Yah Boo Sucks doundtless but  they are as close as I can get - though the yellow overstripe is a tad on the vivid side.
A night out in Belgium....
Remebering the action of the 42nd at Quatre Bras made it obvious to set up a pic with thecurassiers mixing it with the GordonsNo doubt the Gordons are uttering the famous Scottis War cry - heard on many a field- at least by me- of
 See you!  Has ye mither got a sewin' machine- Tell her tae Stich THAT !"
"Getyfu-Ya Basa! " - usually when grasped by an enemy.

Highlanders are a mixture of Stadden- a couple of Minot and some Foremost and despite differences in height and style all live happily together.  .

Monday, 7 December 2015

Germany reunited Early ... almost

Saturday 5th december 1985 - well 2015 really but it was 1985 in the pub  where we meet- just for the day you understand.
 Theatrical Steve was in the chair and decided to run a Cold War goes Hot game in 20mm  scale using a variant of Rapid Fire. Now I've given  the origonal  of rules a proper kicking in the past so maybe I was just a tad dimayed.
 As it turned out my fears were almost groundless. Such issues as I had were quite minor.
 Forces involved were West Germans-(FDR)  with Leopards and  other assorted tasty hardware- including Marders and suchlike stiuff. Panzer Grenadiers with all sorts of clever tools hanging off them - Well Nice. Not to say Tasty ... and the East Germans of the DDR with all sorts of Russian Kit with which I'm more familiar. T- 72 T55  BMP 120mm mortars off table 122 mm Artillery   Hind Helicopters  etc etc.
 Needless to say I took the West Germans....
 Our objective was to hold a  rossroads vital to the East German advance- a full report of the action is on Tantobie Internet Tattler where there are some fine pics of Steve collection

I'll not  repeat the Comminist Propaganda  but suffice it to say I was on the whole pretty well impressed by the way the game ran. Steve did a good job even though Andrew Von Tekkmiester commanding the DDR forces  was uncannily jammy - until the last couple of turns- flying a Sagger down a narrow alley up one of my Leaopard 2s was  just beyond belief at one point I was doen to 2 operational Leopards out of 6  and it looked a distinct possibility that the Freedom loving peoples of the FDR would join the Workers Paradise of the DDR with all those big butch  lady shot- putters to keep 'em in line.
 However the sheer terror of this proposition got the panzer Grenadiers into action - pinching out the enmemy infantry lodgement and shooting up the DDR tanks with Milan Missiles.
 It was still looking distinctly iffy though until the DDR artillery spotter failed twice to establish comms with his off table 122 mm guns- which had he managed this would have sorted out my infantry good and proper. However he didn't so we were able to hold on to the objective by the skin of our fore as it were and sort of gain the day- sort of ....
The DDR approaches... Hordes of 'em ..
and Approaches .....
meanwhile the Good Guys sneak about in the hedgrows....
still sneaking ....

Normally for this kind of game we use  Combined Arms- which is, so I thought- a higher level of command - basic manovre units being companies of- say 3 or 4 tanks or IFVs . This game felt a lot more down and dirty with units representing squads or platoons- or so I surmised from the look of the thing. It transpired however that  each Marder with its 7 figure singly based squad represented a COMPANY. Now don't get me wrong but I'm afraid an infanrty company operates very differently from a single squad and had different tasks and assets.  This was a failure of the rules - though not as it happend the game. We both(players)  thought that the game played much more low -level that the  "command detactment" you get with Combined Arms was not there. However having said that, as a lower lever smaller action game it worked well  very much "bottom up" rather than the "sort of Top Down" you get with Combined Arms.
 I definitely fancy another bash and this lower level will suit my  15mmAfrican collection .....which will need beefing up a bit
Now both Andrew and Steve are more knowledgeable on modern stuff than I  so they did have a tendency to speak fluent acronymic of which I understood just over half. I even attempted to  put an ATGW up his FOO in his BDRM  but as was typical of this day didn't get the dice roll needed.
Mind you the fine Ale and Food more than made up for any dice malfunctions- it always does - Jean Once again our Thanks.
As it happens we had another prospective member visit our group-   . Now Paul is into re-enactment and is a member of several groups but freely admists to being a newbie at this wargaming lark- his only experience being several games of Bolt Action at another local "gaming group"  who actually may be the complete anitheseis of the TWATS- but I may be doing them a disservice. However from Pauls conversation it did deem that Bolt Action was the only vaguely historical game they semm to play- all the rest being SCI-FANT and the accent being very much on "the gamin' innit"  Their website(which I did check out) being all X-wing Warhammer  and 40k and other  knowledge -free  dice rolling contests with lots of Shazam Kapow  and very tournament heavy- so not our style at all.
 Now Paul -despite being a tyro wanted more historical stuff in his games and is busy building  Waterloo period Napoleonic British in 15mm with French to follow.
So it is of intrest to see how different ours and Pauls and indeed many bloggers views are from the those of the WSS survey. It's pretty obvios that - according to the survey competive  head to head plastic is in vogue currently - though I'm still unsure how 40k X-wing etc is "wargaming"- gaming certainly- miniatures gaming very probably wargaming ?? not sure as there have not so far been any wars involving X-wing fighters or Space Marines.... so the most popular periods don't actually exist .... what does that say about a good half of our ..."bretheren?"

Friday, 4 December 2015

Controversial MOI !!

So last Saturday saw the Battleground show in Stockton on Tees- in the posh bit with the pretentious street names "University Boulevard and "Council of Europe Boulevard" - Give me a break it looked like a cross between an outdoor shopping mall and an East German  Housing estate- but a good bit tidier.
 We got our gear in quite easily this year- Leon had got more doors opened and the whole look of the show was far better than last year with better games and better lighting.. There was little of the boutique games - Introverts R Us that was such a feature of last years show. I only saw one unplayed  'orrible board-gamey thingy - half a dozen plastic men on a card map- no-body there no idea what it was. Didn't care either.
 It was whilst I was checking out the Westerhope Clubs Colonial game one of their number claimed I was "Controversial"
 What little  Moi  !
 Of course the gent was absolutely right  both controversial and provocative. I hope that is part of the point of this blog , I think many of us take our hobby too much for granted and need to think about what we do and - at least some of the time WHY and just possibly articulate the why a little better- see Andrew the Tekkies new Blog- Tantobie Internet Tattler
 for his view on the lack of  articulation - not only in our hobby but in general..
 Personally I don't get this  what is so difficult about acting like a human? I know fear of public castigation plays a part in our hobby at least and that some blokes seem a bit shamefaced about what they do, but surely that is a hangover from past times. Or are we entering a new Intellectual Dark Age  where knowing ANYTHING  about anything - except perhaps the plot of a currently popular Soap- Opera - is seen as not  correct or appropriate.
 However back to the show. Actually it was a 3 hour event- the hours from 1 pm to 3 pm  were mostly dead. I could tell this simply because I was walking about instead of working. The hours 10am to 1 pm were not exactly hopping either but there were people in the hall - the stats apparently say over 400 - but not all at once- not including the demonstators and traders of course. I'm not convinced 200 yes 300 maybe but if 400 some must have only stayed for 15 minutes.

 Starting about 12.45 the hall emptied so fast I thought someone had shouted "Free Beer".

 Mind you the games looked good. I'd opine that overall  they were the best I'd seen at a North-East show this year and possibly last year too.. See various other blogs for photos including 2 on my blog list- Carry on up the Dale and the Independant Wargames group.  but there are several other reports about. All comment upon the quality of the games so it is needless for me to add anything here.

Yet there was a serpent in Eden.

To maintain the show  organisers need the Trade- after all our fees pay for the hall. I doubt- despite the opinions to the contrary that a show without the trade could fly- would the gamers actually pay a proportionate cost of venue hire or the  demonstrators?  Experience says not. Now I'm aware that some  non-traders think that we should just turn up so they can look at stuff  even going so far as to only take samples and little stock. I've heard it called a "Marketing Opportunity" this had some merit in a pre-Internet world but now?  Anyhow  how do you market to an empty hall ? And who pays?
 Now don't misunderstand here I don't expect to make money at every show some days are just not your day but it seems odd that for the past 2 years Battleground has been botton ranking show in my personal league. This year by a larger margin than previously - yet its predecessors in the same area were not always propping the rest up by any means  and, visually speaking, they were not as good looking and were often in far worse venues.
 So what is it about shows in that bit of England north of York but south of Berwick in the second decade of the 21st century.? I know I'm not the only chap who sees this-  other traders at the same event  had a far  worse day than I did- one chap taking less than 40 quid all day and another- who had not done badly the previous year called this show a "savage Re-adjustment". Others were expressive and more brutal r  but less eloquant!!
 Nevertheless shows in other parts of the land do not seem to suffer this- even shows of the same size- Falkirk for instance. Partizan has been suffering a bit but  that should change with the new venue. Salute and Donningtonat the other end of the scale, move on . York ,in the middle so to speak,  is splendid. Now obviously you get fluctuations up one year down the next - it can take a whikle for new stuff to move through the ststem- like  out new Napoleonic Transport range or the new Bavarians Swedes Saxons Danes and Wurtembergers- to which the Swedish and Danish Cavalry and gunners  available by the time you read this. .

 Are NE gamers wedded to workshop and similar kiddies games ?-
The evidence of the show games says not and that goes for all 3 of the NE shows I attend..
Yet I'm told 10mm fantasy is popular- never seen a game yet. (As an aside Why- if you are going to do Fantasy surely you want the WOW factor of big dragons and large well finished models that surely is the appeal of Fantasy- but if your WOW pieces are smaller than a 25mm cavalry figure don't you lose the point rather or is that just me??)
Having said that by no means all wargamers I know go to shows- several of the TWATS were working  and have to make arrangements to get to any shows and other blokes in different parts of the country do 1 or maybe 2 shows a year at most or even none.
 These are questions I pose rather than have answers to.
Equally  mail order to all points is steady- I do more business with Finland that I do in the NE and even those countries that had a far worse recession than we did are improving- business with Spain is up by 52% France and Italy  by about 15%. Even the USA buys ranges from me  that are not Old Gloryor that we produce here- like the aircraft for example.
 So why in the NE are we seeing lower show attendences?
Another point- most shows I do -especially those from York and South  I usually have pre-orders for. Chaps have made sure they get the stuff they want- and of course take advantage of our "6 for5" deal where they can. This does not often happen at NE shows- except Durham where we don't Trade .....???
Currently I'm not sure I'll go back to Battleground. If I do it will be with a smaller stand which means I'll have to leave stuff behind ....
 I'm going to have to think about this

Friday, 27 November 2015

Waiting for the Deluge ....

So Friday 27th November 2015. Here I sit waiting .....
Waiting for what  I hear you mutter-a bus,a cup of char , the Messaih-?
 "He's not the messiah , he's a very naughty boy!"
 No actually I'm waiting for UPS to deliver my shipment.. Their Tracking system tells me it arrived in Gateshead just after 5 this morning and is now
 "On the Vehicle out for Delivery"
 So here I sit cheque book at the ready- for the VAT and import duty bill  Gawd knows what it will be  but £800-£1000 probably - all for Dave and his rich mates and the various Civil servant pensions ....
 So what am I expecting?
 15 crates of Toy soldiers ,ships, buildings  etc etc etc.
 Hopefully it will include a bundle of new gear - mostly new Blue Moon Napoleonics
 Dansh and Swedish Cavalry and Artillery crews as well as a huge bundle of re-supply for my currently somewhat depleted stock  bins.
 This lot is later than usual. I have not had a re-supply since just before Donnington- the US show Fall-in got in the way.
 This should enable me to send out all but the most recent back orders so chaps waiting for stuff should start to see it next week or the week after- depending upon where they live..
 I've got to try to unpack all this gear and sort it before we collect the van for Battleground tomorrow so the sooner UPS arrive the better... and it is already 9.43

12.35- Shipment arrives and is off the truck- let the deluge begin ...... 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Use and Abuse of History or is it ?

The Abuse of History.

 On Sunday mornings I try to take it easy, watch a bit of News and chill dude.! So last Sunday I caiught part of some discussion programme where 4  people were discussing The British Empire. Needless to say PC reared its smooth narrow  and ignorant head immediately.
 According to one "writer"  the British had "invaded India" -despite searching through my many volumes of Indian History I failed to find any evidence of this at all - no date when the fleet landed its troops no location nothing ,nada, nix ,nowt. Needless to say India at the supposed time of this "invasion" did not exist as one coutry. The Mughal Empire was falling to bits and war was a normal part of political life but let not mere facts get in the way of his royalties on his next set of packeaged crap Further the maker of a programme on Sophia  Singh opined that her grandfather Ranjit Singh- founder of the Sikh state had "fought for Freedom and Justice" and that the Punjab was peaceful under his benign rule (!!!!!) and implied that this fighting was against the British- Ranjit of course never fought the British and was dead before the Sikh Wars began indeed the HEIC were his allies and of course the Khalsa invaded  British  India not the other way around. Entirely ignoring the facts  or actually lying to re-enforce a fashionable  politically correct dogma is now common amongst "popular" historian/journalists of a certain stamp. In the same programme some social media numpty opined that the USA had dragged "us"- ie the UK into all its wars in the last century thereby demonstrating an astonishing ignorance of the actual facts- (WW1 and WW2 for a start) wonder if he was the same ignorant pillock who recently said that Jim Callaghan had been a US President!
 Obviously all of this lot regularly  attend Thickies R Us

Now we  Historical Wargamers abuse History all the time- using  it for our own  quite minor ends but rarely if ever with the misleading  motives of the above or rarely being that thick despite  my occaisional waspish assertions to the contrary ). Not only that but those of us who actually take notice of History know when we are abusing it and also - mostly - know where and why we are doing so . Hopefully at our best we are like Historical Novelists- the ones who put "Historical Notes" at the end of their novels- say well "This is what actaully happend and this is where I deviated from it for my novel "

So do we go down the PC route or do we as chaps who know whereof we speak "Keep the Faith" 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Miniature Wargames no 392

 Well there is a bit of a turn up after 3 months of struggling to get hold of a voucher copy of the mag. I finally get one on time- actually 2 copiesthis time- just like buses!  As an advertiser who spends cash every month  a "voucher copy"  should be normal  but of late I'd been having bother and had  emailed  Media Shed  (the advertising agents) and Henry who had each time sorted it out . But today was the first time since August I had not had to  go into chase mode !  So Nice one Henry and Nice one Media Shed !
 As it happens this issue is pretty tasty too.
And in case you readers of the last two issues were wondering - no I'm not in it !
FranzEharts article "King of the Battlefield" is a little craker- this lad knows his stuff and its great to see chaps studying their chosen periods in depth - I know plenty of chaps do- but you don't see the evidence  that often in the pages of the magazines..

 Marcus Wheeler sking game - though not to my taste- how is strapping 2 planks to you feet and chucking  yourself down a moutain fun - was nevertheless ingeniuos and the sort of thing you might like a go at once or twice- likewise Jim Websters slave revolt mini-campaign- of which I found the historical background just as interesting as the possibility for a few skirmish games. A second Ancient Naval game in what 6 months- thats good going by any standards but I still have to study that- add 2 articles on how to make stuff and we are filling the mag with some unusual articles Topped off by Henry's own on the Fortifications of Cadiz and yes  chilled Fino  with Tapas-  love it !
 I even read some of the columns- Treads did his usual Fantasy Facts- which whilst not being a Fanstasy chaps I always check out for any Sci-Fi I might fancy- after all I did buy 7TV- the last version - for a mere £15.00 now the new one is out for £40.00- but I don't care for me it is entriely superfluous and  when I saw the price of the new figures to go with it- 'Kinelle!!  3 and 4 quid a figure .
 Why is a lot of non- historical stuff SO much more expensive.... Because you buy it that way Dudes!!
 Neil Shucks column had me nodding and swearing at the same time Nodding - as someone whio has been over the pond to a few US shows- always Historicon but severalvisits ove the years I agree with the whys and wherefores of his assesments and have said so  in print a few times over the years but you should see the trader hall at Historicon-
" Zulus Sir Fahsands of 'em!"
 and there's me doing a stint behind the OG US stand having to read the bloody money cos its all the same colour and add- in my head 7.5% state sales tax ! A Good laugh though!....and the leggy Blonde in the Tex-Mex restaurant ....America does have its attractions even if I found it easier to buy a gun than a beer in rural Pennsylvania   and no I never saw a "Demo- Game" on the British model at any of the US shows I've been to but then the set up is very different with "booking" your place at a game and being expected to turn up if you have booked inand many gsames being for a set number of people for a set time- so in the programme it will say 6 players 3 hours often with some notion of the experience level required...
 As for "The Cult of the New"- this had me gnashing my teeth. I'm not saying he's wrong  but he seems to have forgotten- like many current  commentators who are GAMES obcessed that at least part of this hobby is about collecting model soldiers- or toy soldiers if your prefer so "new" is a relative term- I still sell ranges that are  20 years old as well as loads of newer stuff and even stuff that is only a few months off the design bench- much of this is "new" to the individual who buys it if he is beginning a "new" army for a "new" period.
 Yes despite the deluge of "games" chaps still do that.
But overall a good mag with stuff to read in it and for adults too
 Nice One Henry .... 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Modern Wargamers ????

 Now this is really a continuation and a reply to the chaps who commented on my "Is there another way perhaps"  post.and indeed contibuted to the discussion- which was rather the point
 To me at least it is pretty obvious that the "Broad Church" idea is  if not actually  dead is  no longer  quite apt as a metaphor.
" In my fathers House there are many mansions" - perhaps  devil a doubt, but the idea of "wargaming" being one hobby -  no I think not and it probably never really was. The potential scope is simply too vast- despite what the Games Designer Dudes tell you.
 There are common threads and doubtless some fella will come up with that clever circle-cum triangular diagram whose name I've forgotten to tell me that yes really all this is nice and happy and mutually inclusive and that we should all have a group hug. Well no thanks- Happy it may be and indeed is but all inclusive  Not really except insofar as we all enjoy what we do - which is the main point.
 According to Norm's defintion I'm not a "True Wargamer" and according to mine he is  mostly a "Boardgamer" or simply a "Gamer"  Neither of us is actually  wrong. Now as it happens  I don't define myself as a Wargamer - not usually anyway . It's a useful shorthand but does not go the whole hog Compleat Wargamer - for me comes closer- including the waltonian spelling of complete. But really I'm a historian who plays games sometimes- the history part being more to the point than the games part- hence my loathing of  DBA
 Steve makes the point that playing DBA does not stop you researching the history and of course he's absolutly right but if you know your history what the hell use is DBA  other than as a dice rolling contest and a game with more akin to snakes and ladders than to Ancient warfare. of course if you simply want a game with a funny name and some silly jargon it fits the bill perfectly (Yes I know I have a major Blank where the DB's are concerned  I've played 'em and they all seem the same to me. I really can't see the point and in 25 years. No-One has been able to enlighten me as to what actually is the point. Especially as this is one of those times when boardgames could do it better . Indeed I'd actually class dba and DBR as mediore to poor Baordgames. DBR still has my vote asWorst Crap Ever Produced in the Hobby (section 2 Rules) )
 Equally  from the perspective of a  toy soldiers first type of "wargamer" DBA and its ilk are not toy soldier friendly- thus neatly removing one of the reasons for  being a "Wargamer " in the first place- at least if you are British...
 Yes I'll expand on that- my perception over many years is that in the USA  a Wargamer was a chap who played war based boardgames- Avalon Hill SPI  etc and figure based games were  if not exactly second -fiddle were not exactly first port of call either. In the UK - thanks to Featherstone et al  the Figure based games were to the fore much more- Featherstones books barely mention Boardgames and Wise devotes only a short chapter. A recently acquired copy of Tunstill "Discovering Wargames" - from 1971 does not mention Boardgames at all.  Indeed there are separate books on Boardgames and Board- Wargaming. This side of the Pond they have a perceived separate genisis. Most of the major Boardgame publishers were (still are???) American  SPI, AH Yaquinto The Wargamers etc.  Panzerfaust, an early US magazine was boardgmes orientated - its offshoot Campaign  became history and later  miniatures.
 My point being in this instance simply that it is hardly surprising that Norms perceptions and preferences should be different to mine.
The Classic British books are figure centric- this is not always the case in the US- Look at Morchauser and his squared board. Many of today's games- see Robbie Roddis "Blucher" games- as an example(Mustapha being American I believe.)    have the toy soldiers as mere counter decoration  whereas I still want those pesky little men to the fore. I don't - at least not all the time want pretty counters but models of actual regiments.
 So this is beginning to look like a mere catalogue of my personal likes and dislikes- not really the point- see my piece in MW391 for more on THAT
 No I think what I'm driving at is to get some kind of picture of "today's wargamers" if that mammoth task is remotely possible. For many the accent seems to be on the actual play - like junkies they have to have a fix- of dice rolling  NOW
 Now that kind of thing may be the case in many households but not in all by any means. What I see is a much more fragmented hobby, simply because there is so much stuff about you can't be intrested in ALL of it- even assuming you were well heeled enough to afford it- most recently another massive wallet catcher from the Stars Wars X- wing con- job 80 quid for a plastic spaceship ! Garnferkyersel!
"But I can put it straight onto the table and play with it immediately"
 Assuming you've already spent the 90 quid of so on the basic core set - Its Geordie  lawyer time again
 Hadaway and Shyteman!

Obviously being time poor our "Modern Family Wargamers" have money to burn!
So we have the new situation comedy show

 "Modern Wargamer Family "!!!  Episode 1

"Joe thought wistfully of the Imperial Guard he finished painting last night"

Que jaunty "comedy" music and canned laughter (Depressing isn't it- I bet they use the word "fun" a lot)
 Joe Wargamer is in the  kitchen  opening some microwaved steams in a particularly nauseating fashion.
..."But Darling I want to  re-fight Waterloo tonight with Murgatroyd  and the lads at the club.. told you about it- its on the calender....
 Ms Fleur Smith- Brown - Wargamer shrieks from upstairs.
"Waterloo- no chance that will take at least 3 whole hours.
 You have to get Jocasta to her Mud Wrestling and Pole Dancing seminar by half -past  then pick pick up Tarquin from his Larceny and Financial Management Class- you do want him to be a Merchant Bsanker don't you !! "...
 And YOU PROMISED Tarquin a game of ZOMBIE BLOOD  MASSACRE 27 so he can have the red dice with skullz on - it will be fun  won't it- she adds menacingly as she enters the kitchen.."And did you finish painting his EFFINDEAR Miniatures Plastic Zombies or were you reading books again and fiddling about with" - she glared testily-"historical stuff!!" She sniffed audibly in marked disapproval -
 Joe stares at the dull khaki of his cooling Hummus and swallows hard. Thinking wistfully of the   Imperial Guard he finished painting last night. .
 But Sweetness ...." started staring  fondly at the  top of her purple hair.
"No Buts" she continues as she laces up her  red leather 14 hole Doc Martins "When I get back from my "Personal Self- Defence  attack dog training class" with Fluffy here (at this a sleeping Rottweiler in the dog basket  opens a lazy eye) we can all have a game of  "Overpriced Spaceship Battle" and all have "fun" together  rolling lots of dice ....

More canned laughter........whether we like it or not .....may the fun never start .....

Is this more stuff that Joe Wargamer will never get to use ......

But that is their choice of course - and again that's the point. The choices do exist.and it works both ways- which is the part some really hate. Some of us are wise enough to eschew  this weeks fashion and do the stuff we actually like doing- whether it be "Traditional Wargaming" or something else.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015


 Now regular readers will know that the Tantobie Warfare and Tactical society are not a competition orientated group. Quite the reverse in fact. Therefor it may  come as a bit of a surprise to see the title of this post.
 Yes we decided to do a "competition" - of sorts

Gauls vs Greeks Shaun and Steve  punching it out !
Saturday saw 5 members gather at our usual pub. Present were your Gentle Author, Andrew the Tekkie, Theatrical Steve, Mechanical Shaun and Flaoting Jeff
 We set up 2 small tables each around 5feet by 4feet  troops were 15mm provided by Shaun and Jeff  4 armies were used Gauls, Hoplite Greek, Roman Republican and Later Carthaginian.. I organised each army as Tactica "Half Armies- halving the number of units rather than their size. This hopefully meant that there would be time for 2 games per player
 As Umpire my task was to adjudicate any disputes and impose fines for taking things too seriously!- Though this latter task was not required and  the phrase "Fine, 1 pint" was not uttered ! (Though the  similar phrase "Yo!Minezapint!"  certainly was)

Jeff and Steve grind away !!! (all double entendres entirely intended ! ) This of course was Roman Republicans and Gauls
 The first pair of games saw Andrew (Carthaginian)  taking on Jeff  Roman Republic while Shaun used his own Greeks against his own Gauls- which were commanded by Steve.
 In tactica the main skillsa player needs are in the area of deployment- a good deployment can increase your chances of Victory whilst a poor deployment may seal your fate in short order- especially if you throw bum dice.. The basic system is simple withoput being simplistic- the mechanisms are straightforward but with enough intrest to keep you on your toes
 As these were half size armies the no of battleine units that had to break was as follows
 Gauls2 48 figure units
 Carthage 2 24 figure units
Rome 4
Greeks 2 (32 figure units)
The Roman units were of course only 12 figures strong- thy had 4 each of Hastati Priceps and 2 Triarii. This made the a tough propoition.
 The Galic masses were big- but unweildy and  having little armour in theory died faster .
 So off we go
Andrew's Carthaginian Elephants died in a hail of D6. As always Jeff's dice rolling was almost legendary- 6 dice needing 6s to kill  and the bugger gets 5  in one lot... It would be wrong to say the Romans had a total walkover but for the Carthaginians it all went downhill from there. Andrew- well out of his comfort zone dealing with swords and spears instead of 120mm guns and ATGW was heard to tommuter darkly about bloody primitives ! The Roman and Carthaginian heavy cavalry induldged in a bit of MAD each laying about them manfully then both failing the restultant morale test and routing.
 Then the Roman mincing machine got going the Pila went in followed by a sword charge  and it was curtains for the Carthies....
 On the other Table Steve squared off against Shaun for a much closer punch up ! Gallic tactics were simple consisting of one word - Charge!  Though Steve held back one Infantry Warband in reserve- letting his archers -a single 12 figure unit have a shoot at the unit of Hoplites which slightly outwinged him. The Greeks advanced in a nice solid line covered by some  skirmishers- which the Gallic Javelin skirmishers charged and sorted out - despite Steve's muttering about dice! . As the Battle lines clashed it was nip and tuck for a while but the reserve warband smashed the archery weakened Hoplite unit and when the second  unit- of 4 broke it was all over for the Greeks- their army decamping faster than their Economy !

 All Change
We set up the second set of games  with Jeff's Romans now taking on Steve's Celt's and Shaun having a bash at the Carthaginians.
 At this point as it by magic Beef Butties and chips appeared
 Break for Lunch was the unanimous cry !

Second Round.
Second round- Shauns Greeks get deep

The second round of battles was to be a bit tougher. The Gauls and the Romans squared off  for a major bloodbath. Neither side used any subtlety at all  and pretty soon is was a simple grinding match - with the Romans having an advantage in manoureability- offset up to a point by the sheer size of the Gallic units.
 On the other table Shauns Greeks had formed up deeper than previously and on a shorter front. Andrew Elephant charge started well and his Spaniards destroyed the Greek Peltasts. On his other Flank the Greek cavalry were put to the Sword and it all looked really good. The Greek flanks were in serious trouble.
 Then the Elephants died....

Just before it all went Pear shaped for the Carthaginians.

The Spanish - in too long a line took and age to wheeel into the Greek flank...
The Carthaginian cavalry on the opposite flank  charge a Hoplite unit in flank - 24 dice needing 5 or 6  for kills- 4 kills ...Oh  Bugger!  may have been uttered- not enough to cause a rout.  It took another move .
 In the centre the 3 deeper hoplite units ground through the Citizens and Africans 3 units against two smaller but thinner ones could only end one way. The Carthaginian centre broke and it was all over.
 Has the Carthaginian centre mangaged to hold for that one more move the Victory would have been theirs.
Back on table one the  bloodbath continued eash side claiming THEIR dice were crap when they were actually evenly matched..
 Then a Miracle occoured!  I've played Tactica off and on since it first appeared in 1989(though in my memeory it seems longer !) and I've never seen it happen before- BOTH armies suffered their own breaking points inthe same turn . Therefore Both armies lost- and won .... So the Umpire declared a draw.

For us this  set of games was deliberately lightweight fare. Something different from out usual stuff and was none the worse for that.
 Maybe next year we'll run another TWATS TINY TACTICA TOURNAMENT.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Is there another way perhaps. ?

My wife Carole is a keen Gardener. She potters about doing various gardeny things to sundry bits of greenery. Occasionally she calls upon me to dig holes or lift heavy things. This is about as far as my gardening expertise runs.
 However the other night I happened to be watching Gardeners World with her and caught comedian Griff Rhys -Jones in his rather palatial garden. The presenter asked him if he had always been a gardener.
 He answered "No it's like Radio 3 you have to grow into it".
 At this a light bulb came on in my head !
 "Grow into it" I thought- exactly what SHOULD be happening is our hobby.
10mm Sassanids- Maybe they can Grow into the hobby abnd become 25mm!!!

 Newcomers should grow into it they way most of us did. Starting small and simple with say Thomas' One Hour Wargames or indeed any of Neil's fine books Or indeed many of these "Osprey Wargames" which seem very simple and lightweight  (Sort of today's early Featherstone or even simpler Terry Wise.). To me these are perfect entry level stuff you don't need much period knowledge, You don't need many figures or that much terrain yet you are still encompassing some of the skills you will need if you decide to stick with it and expand and grow into the hobby .
 However that is not the way it seems to go- the idea is to as Priestly put it (that's Rick not J.B.) "Get the Kids to play" - the accent being very much on play rather than the multitude of skills we thought we needed when we started. Now lets face it "not JB" has a game designers axe to grind here- which of course is one reason why Warlord have "not40K at all in the slightest" -they call it "Beyond the Gates of Antares"  on their books and why every game designer and his brother are bringing out lightweight "games" because there seems to have been a collective commercial decision that
a/. It's for the children cos pester power gets us the bucks
b/. Their customers are all lazy minded
c/. need to be spoon fed because they are too thick to deal with complicated ideas like counting into double figures...
 God Almighty - how bloody patronising can you get !
Nevertheless there does seem to be a perceived problem with so called "Entry level" to our hobby-me I'm not so sure.  The problem may be in defining what "entry level" actually means .
 For example I have Lion Rampant and much of it is pretty  predictable but having  said that  definitely "accessable"  and suitable for entry level. A child of ten would have no bother at all, see the review in my previous post
 As it is, it is wargaming very lite, an intro to pre-gunpowder skirmish gaming well done as it stands  but no more than that.
25mm Wars of the Roses.

The problem is really that many blokes are lauding it to the skiesas if it is something special. Take a look at some of the reviews of it - and of the others perhaps  It seems that "simple" and "quick" and "fast moving gameplay"  is all Joe Wargamer wants these days. Yet as it stands  it is simplistic almost to childishness and very limited.
 There is a misconception now common that detailed ( read complicated) rules MUST be bad and  simple(read simplistic and childish) MUST be good. This of course is cobblers both ways as nobody has a concrete definition of "good" . "Good" is not a constant. Lion Rampant for example is "good" if you want a simple entry level game of pre-gunpowder skirmishing. Not so good if you actually want more than a mere cosmetic resemblance to actual medieval warfare.
 As always the problem lies with Wargamers-the public wants what the public gets
  However the point of the foregoing digression is that I do have the background- I know the medieval period  so can adapt and "improve" the contents of the book and indeed  could do so with any period I choose to interest myself in. As can all of the chaps I know  Surely that is part of the point. One of the things that differentiates us from say  Scrabble or Risk or Diplomacy or monopoly  is that this in an open ended hobby where knowing your stuff- whatever it be SHOULD be encouraged rather than denigrated and belittled. Frankly I can't see the point of the gaming part of this hobby without the background knowledge. It is mere dice rolling for the hard of thinking. Most of the skills you need are  used before the playing actually starts. Especially if the "game" you choose to play takes all the decision making out of your hands and places it in a deck of cards or the roll of a dice. This is not to say that card driven games are bad
 As it stands today most newer rule sets downplay the knowledge you need to play. or attempt to supply all of it themselves.- This comes from the Fantasy Genre- you know the kind of stuff
(Deep Voice)
" In  the Days of Yore in the Caves of Fartolehiem the DWARVES  of King Shawtarze ......"- then Telling you what was permissable or not  in portenous and often  patronising language .
 Now a goodly number of Historically based rules do theis- most notably Flames of War and its ilk. .
 Possibly a question needs to be asked here- how many of today's wargamers have or even want the background knowledge to enable them to have enough of a critical faculty to say why they like or more likely dislike something beyond saying
"I don't like it cos its crap"
Yes some chaps ARE like that but equally many perhaps most  are not- are they being catered for by the quick and simple brigade?- and also do they care ?
 and secondly- the crux here for me
 Do we need to pander to the  child market at all?
 Where does the idea that we must catch new Wargamers before they hit 10 - we are not Jesuits (give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man)
 Of course there will come the answer- "Where are the next generation of Wargamers going to come from"
 Well for a start they are already here.
I have customers aged from the late 20s through to their 70s and I'm sure other outfits are the same. Granted the majority are past 40 but that does not mean they are in their dotage- as many commentators would have you believe.
There is a good bit of Ageist crap spoken about this hobby- usually by self proclaimed old men in cardigans who want to be Doddering Old Farts before their time.

 What exactly is the problem with wargames that take a little effort and are not PRIMARILY designed for a 10 year old? Especially once you get past so-called "Enrty- level"
 Why should we only be aiming our "recruitmant" at children. What is actually wrong with attempting to recruit inteligent adults- are the  elder generation saying there are no such animals? 
 What is wrong with making it clear that this is a hobby wheresome  intelligence and some specialist skills are requiresd, that you have to learn stuff over time and that at least some of the time that requires effort and even a little brain work. Lets face it other hobbies don't seem to have this problem- Model Railways , Model Car Racing-  try being a halfwit with a couple of grands worth of Radio controlled cars to play with  or  Radio Controlled Aircraft- get that wrong and SPLAT!  Several grand and Gawd know how many hours work in bits all over the field. Of course at entry level all hobbies are cheaper and simpler but if you stick it you grow into it as you gain skills .  So the Model Railway chap may start by buying ready to run off the shelf - and that may be enough for him but if he grows into it he may end up  building his own from plans and creating some truly wonderful scenery.
All hobbies have their specialist knowledge- why do we constantly downplay and denigrate ours?  Usually so game designers can make a few quid  or so it appears
 That getting a pair of armies onto the table requires something more than an ability to throw dice and read a few works from the" back of a postcard" is for me an absolute. If a Wargamer chooses to stay in the shallow end  of the pool so be it- his choice- but should those who swim in deeper waters  not also be catered for? Or is there perhaps and acceptance by  the Games Designer Dudes that we who swim at the deep end are largely beyond their reach?.
 Of course  perhaps we don't need the GDD's to tell US what to do, Perhaps WE have moved beyond THEM- at least some of the time.
 Of course in actuality- to continue the metaphor- sometimes you swim at the deep end and sometimes you just paddle about a bit getting your feet wet. I can - for instance- see me playing a modified Lion Rampant format for the Wars of the Roses in 40mm but some kind of Formation rules and Leadership rules will need to be added.
 What is the problem that some have with actually using their brain sometimes?
 Now don't get me wrong there is and has always been a place for "Wargaming Lite"   While sometimes you may want to re-fight Waterloo at others  you may simply want a Barney down the Boozer! Or indeed anything in between. There should be room for all shadings
 In MWBG no 390  Niel Shuck's column  says
 "When we play a wargame we are looking to simulate (however abstractly) what would happen should that battle take place in the real world"
Now to me this is so obvious that it should not need saying but it seems that it  is being said more and more. I wonder why this is?

 In a world where craft skills are fashionable again- Sewing Baking Gardening Potting- to name only those on BBC2 why do we CONSTANTLY belittle ourselves to ourselves. I begin to wonder if ours is the only hobby where actual thought and knowledge  is actively discouraged by some in favour or yet another Zombie game - see the two reviews in MWBG no 390 pages 59 and 62- 2 different reviews one for another bloody Zombie game and one- the  low point of an otherwise decent mag  for a game based around Slasher movies. Now just how are these "Wargaming" - they may have a place in  MW sister mag Tabletop Gaming which I've seen and was singularly unimpressed by - but here? - To his credit Henry offers his opinion on the Slasher game . Read it for yourselves !.. Nice One Henry !
Surely this kind of  nasty  unpleasant mindless dross has no place in our lexicon. Yet it seems the level of this crap is increasing. Somebody must be buying it and worse playing the bloody things over and over. Thank Gawd I can't see into what they are pleased to call their minds .....
If we don't  "reclaim our intelligence" perhaps we are doomed

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Rampant Regardant

 Recieved a copy of Osprey's Lion Rampant yesterday and to look at it is exactly what you would expect from and Osprey. Pretty, well produced and full of pictures - some of which actualy may be of use.
 This is my first foray into "Osprey Wargames"  as none of the other titles have even remoely picqued my interest. After all how many similar skirmish games can you do (though it has to be said the forthcoming "En Garde" may be added later)  what with Pirates, Samaurai,  Victorian Sci- Fi  assorted Fantasy etc etc etc  I wondered if they were actually going to publish anything that was close to a set of "proper" wargames rules.
 So  after hearing or reading sundry blokes' opinions on Lion Rampant - being something of a medievalist- I thought I'd give it a bash .
 Well it definitely falls into the  "limited skirmish game" category

Lion Rampant     

But despite that it has some nice ideas and the rules are presented with a light touch. For me they came across as quite old school and a bit simplistic. The basic system is actually not bad- and with a bit of tweaking could be  better. The limited nature of the units and "organisation" is for me a serious drawback. I HATE set unit sizes especially for the sort of Petit Geurre this is supposed to represent. However much of that can be ignored if you choose and much to his credit the author encourages you to look deeper into the medieval period and go beyond the fairly narrow confines of the book .
 As for the actual rules they are pretty simple- a child could follow these so Joe Wargamer should not have too much bother. If you want to get a bit less lightweight though you are going to need to tweak a bit. There are no formations in the system for anything other than spearmen types- despite the fact that there is a "drilled" skill for mounted Men at Arms .... bit odd that- you are a drilled unit but you have no formation ... Hmmmm
Also shooting and fighting- whilst basically good simple systems have a single silly foible that I can't see the need for. A unit can take up to 42.50% casualties without any loss of its fighting or shooting power. This is just daft- especially when the system allows for 1 combat/shooting dice per figure. I'll be dropping dice as a units is reduced thanks- its actually easier to do this than not ..No of figs in a unit = number of dice used - not exactly rocket science
 Again for this type of Petit Geurre such large losses are a bit ovet the top 
 Fortunatly the system should allow such tweaking and IMHO will be better for it . Avoiding the silly points system should actualy help too though bizarrely the points system is slightly tied into the morale test - again shouldn't  make a great deal of difference if you ignore it.
 Scenarios and basic "army lists" are provided for the lazy but once again to his credit the author acknowledges that they are only basic. Indeed I applaud  much- if not all - of his design philosophy.
 On the whole these rules should provide a basis for  some low level Medieval mayhem suitable for a child of ten or a wargamer of 47 - I plan to use my 40mm Wars of the Roses collection and possibly my 40mm Normans , Saxons etc. I'll play a run through or two - cold as the rules are written before Tweaking though.
 The "Armies"  are very limited in size around 40 figs being average though if you were mad I suppose you could do a peasants revolt where the maximum would be 24 units each of 12 serfs .... but that would be daft ... for your "24 point" "army" or retinue as the writer terms it. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Definitions and Dillitantes.

 Now the recent- but short- discussion surrounding the merits of Donnington show  last weekend on this and Robbie Roddis blog has prompted me to think a little on shows and what punters expect from them .
 As always the first conclusion is that they don't know what they want but the moan when they don't get it.
 Again I'm being deliberately provocative becasue I want answers - which doubtless I won't get.
Now Robbie admits his idea of some kind of overarching organistion to do "12 or so regional shows" is a fantasy but it does give us a worthwhile starting point to examine shows and why some blokes like Robbie find them  unsatifying..
 Now as it happens I don't have a problem with the current show structure and I'll tell you why. I like its individuality and quirkiness. The different levels of differing shows is  an advantage- From Salute at the top via Donnington , Triples, Partizan Claymore etc. down to tiny shows like Durham- all have something to offer. Now  I've not been to a show purely as a punter  for a good few years- my last was Fiasco at the Armouries in Leeds and frankly a mere wargames show could not- for me- compete with the magnificence of the Armouries. So I spent about an hour at the show and 3 or 4 hours in the Armouries- no contest. Nevertheless different shows have different levels- I always enjoy Durham- its the only show I demonstrate at these days. Deliberately doing a different game each year. All of the other shows I attend I attend as a Trader and big is not always best. My favourite "Club" show this year was Carronade in Falkirk- a little craker. See my report earlier in this blog.
 I don't for instance do the "Warfayre" show in Reading in November any longer. - Sunday was a waste of time Its a 6 hour trip each way  the venue is falling to bits and smells of jockstraps and wee wee- or used to.
 Similarly I don't do WMMMS any more for similar reasons or SELWG- mainly because for us it is a total pain to get to- another 6 hours each way- for a one day show with really bad unloading its not worth it.
 Nevertheless - these show continue without me so someone is getting something out of it- and it can't just be the wedge the organising club make!
Yes all shows can be a bit samey and Robbie quite rightly picks out the old WARCON show of the early 90s as a fine example of its time. - I both traded and ran games there and it was great fun BUT the additional lectures etc  were mostly failures- very few turned up. These days I'd wonder if any would. The intellectual down marketing of our hobby is now a constant . knowing stuff- in almost any walk of life is seen as not quite the thing so its bound to reflect in what we do. Look at the outporing of  simple background  knowledge free games. Intellectually low rent  for the hard of thinking- but well produced, marketed and of course priced . Convenience Wargaming for the Convenience Generation.
However moving on . How for instance do we get to Robbies Fantasy- who decides which are the "best" games- A Committee of retired Civil Servant and ex-Police Wargamers ?(after all they have the time and the money) -  NO CHANCE over my cold and festering corpse. A Committee of Traders- I refer the gentleman to the answer I gave a moment ago- only more so .
 The problem with any kind of National organisation is that it will inevitably lead to a narrowing of what is "allowed" . Give any group power and they will abuse it and  twist it to their own ends and there are always enough  brown nosers and fellow travellers who think they can get something out of it- and no I don't mean just money.
 Yes I'm a cynic devil a doubt but it is the differences that make this hobby so much fun. The current  commercial climate has seen a ferocious narrowing over the last few years so that in some quarters anything other than the "dice rolling and counter pushing"  is no longer in vogue. We need to keep the diversity- some of us are incurable Dillitantes- which is why I probably  wouldn't want to trade at a "themed" show for instance- though I might demo at say a Pike and Shot  show if invited and if I could get there- I wouldn't go near a SYW only themed show- too narrow and just possibly too far  up itself for my egalitarian soul.. No more diversity not less- if a show is crap don't go then it may die and be replaced with something else- Darwins Natural Selection perhaps?
 I remain of the opinion that many Wargamers are- for whatever reason - lazy in some respects, hidebound in some respects and don't want change- why should they when they enjoy their hobby..
 Wargaming shows no signs of snuffing it, sure it changes and its far far more trend and fashion concious than it used to be- but that is a reflection of the world in general. .
Most Demontrsators and PP games masters at shows are- despite commercialisation still volunteers giving of their time and effort more or less freely because they want to do it.
 Long may this  diversityand Freedom  continue.

Friday, 9 October 2015


Argentinian A-4 Skyhawk ove the Falklands - 1982

Finally I finished  what should have been an easy- ish paint job. took longer than I'd have liked simply because other stuff got in the way. Like work for instance- which of course this was anyway. So an Argentinian A-4 Skyhawk. The A-4 was a pretty ubiquitous aircraft in its day sering with the USA in the Vietnam War The Isrealis during the Yom Kippur Warand of course the Argentines during the Falklands War. Other airforces including Kuwait New Zealand and Brazil also used the A-4.
 It therefore seemed natural for Lil'flyin' Fokkers to make one to complement the Frieforce Miniatures 15mm Falklands range.
 LFF also of course do a Pucara- but that one is still on the painting table....

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Brutal Boks Batter Birds

 A bit of alliteration there - but the American Eagles really did get a proper doing 64 -0. Now I expected a bok victory but it was so total, so complete that there was only 1 team on the pitch -especially in the second half. The American scrum was awful - pushed all over the park by the stronger South Africans almost at will.
 Frankly I was surprised at how bad the USA were. They have played better but the Springboks are really on form now.
Wales have a hill to climb  I really hope they can do it.
 Now if Samoa beat Scotland- unlikly I grant you but not impossible tyhen Japa may Qualfy- which would be fantastic especially as they should I hope be able to beat the USA. Though we are told the USA have "targeted" that game and fielded an understrength side against the boks ..... Hmmmmm
 Should be an interesting weekend of blood and thunder.
 Times of the games here.

Along with lots of other info

You will of course notice that I've been notably silent about the England disaster. I didn't see it as I was in Derby  but the result says it all. A customer- Derek was there and knows his rugger, better than I  and opined that the Australians gave us an object lesson in how to play a game.  English Discipline was again very poor so we deserved our kicking !
 Nuff said move on .....

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Pleasure and the Pain

 Normally I don't give personal health reports on this as nobody gives a toss anyway so why bother. However I did my back in loading up so any of you wondering why I was hobbling around the show like a man with 2 wooden legs now knows Nuff said. Its only pain - keep taking the tablets and carry on ....

 So far I've read 2 reports on the Derby World Wargames show which I attended last weekend. - I sort of recognised the show from the reports .... sort of .....
 Both Reports- Trebbians and Robbie Roddis'  could have been reporting different shows though neither of them  rated the show particularly highly for their own reasons. and mostly I agree with what they say. Though I  try to avoid non-historical games at shows like the plague.
 I could add a third report  from me which would rate the event higher  than both - probably for different reasons again. So here we see the basic problem which no-one seems to be able to answer clearly what dio you want from a show. Both of them have a little pop at the event but I can't see why - becasue neither of them got what they wanted from it ? I can't tell .
 Put  deliberately bluntly it seems to me that Robbie wants Bright lights shazam Kapow !  and Trebbian wants more speed and  dice rolling ! - and yes that is deliberately provocative but it seems to me that the event provided plenty of both - if you knew where to look and you are that way inclined (whichever way) .  Perhaps I don't expect as much from a show- my biggest personal bugbear  was the almost complete lack of Talking heads to tell you what it was all about- Now on some games I didn't have a problem here  Peter Bradfords MacPhersons Ridge allied with Martin Knights 1 to 1  example of a Brigade action from that battle- they'll talk your ears off if you give 'em a chance. Same with the Stonewall grouops  Quatre Bras which  like the ACW game looked pretty tasty too.  But on many  demo tables  the players were PLAYING not DEMONTRATING.For intance I never saw the WW2 Scheldt game being played but perhaps I was working. There were a good few others I never saw being played- a sparse  but well done WW2 desert game- Nice terrain and models  but devoid of players. There were also several games on really small playing areas which I had no idea what they were as I never saw them being played- and on the couple that were it was "Introverts R Us" . Mind you having said that I've never viewed our hobby as a spectator sport. Watching others wargame is roughly equivelant to watching  paint dry - only less interesting- but probably  on the whole quite as smelly ! .Nevertheless- the aforementioned back problem did mean I had a bit more time to wander than normal as sitting down or standing still for any length of time was a bit of a pennance- so I wandered
 None of this is the organisers fault-you can't force players/demontrators to act the way you'd like as always some do some don't.
 In other ways the show was a bit weird. Saturady was pretty flat tradewise but Sunday -abnormally was better than Saturday which made  my happiness index rise a good bit. Some at least of the other traders had a similar experience.. From a commercial viewpoint it was the best for a few years and I'd go further it was the best looking show there for a few years too.
 Certainly better than last year which had even more unplayed "tiny-board-unwargames" than this year- mind you the nadir this year was  a horrible board wargame of WW1 on printed paper with horrible little plastic men ... Why??? - Especially since I never saw it being played .

So overall I enjoyed the event- some good craic with some good blokes.; Some good looking games which the players were enjoying -and doubtless if I had played I would have enjoyed... If I had to score I'd give it an 8 but such things are largely pointless as you can't really compare shows anyhow. As a punter for instance I'd rate Derby above Salute simply because I can get about and see stuff BUT were I living in the Capital then Salute would be top dog all round as it is from a traders point of view it still is..

Can't recall seeing any 15mm games at the show .These are of course 15mm WW2

 Continued on Wednesday..... Thinking about the above  overnight I'd still say that Donnington is from  several viewpoits a fine show. Always one of my favourites in a good year. Commercially Salute is better no doubt but leans more hevily of non- historical stuff and on commercial outfite running Non- historical games.. Donnington is more grounded in "proper" wargameing- even to the competitons  which while I don't play I did give prizes for 2 of them . I know- because I asked that it was one of the organisers objective to give more prominence to clubs doing displays rather than  traders running games to flog them. Now I heartily approve of this stance. That it didn't perhaps get the diversity  it intended is a shame- no 15mm at all that I could see outside the competiton tables- yet I sold literally thousands of 15mm figures over the weekend. with just over 60%  of my pre-orders being 15mm . I was of course not the only 15mm manufacturer there- I saw Essex and Donnington nd Lancashire too.  So do 15mm players hide their light under a bushel ??  I can't answer that as personally my 15mm collection is pretty small. Also I can't run games and run the Trade stand- Though putting on a 15mm Modern game would be no big deal.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Brutal Boks Bounce Back

England lack disipline and give away a 10 point lead .

What a weekend. England blow it in spectacular fashion- help by some seriously good Welsh kicking by Dan Biggar.  But to squander a 10 point lead by simple indiscipline is appalling- I lost count after 13 penalties- including at least one given away by the bloody captain.
 Laugh! I thought I'd never start !  To cock it up so mightily in your own back yard takes  real "skill" What did my head in was that- England played well in the first half and barring the penalty count were doing OK until the last 20 mins or so then when the subs came on it all fell apart
The Sprinboks batter Samoa and looked like a different team becasue they had something to prove .
 Now Its up to France .... or just possibly Ireland. Wales simply won't have any men left but if they can stick a band-aid on a few .... maybe 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Brave Blossoms Bash Boks

Never to be thought of. The Japanese beat the Springboks in Brighton !  What am I going on about. The Rugby World Cup  of course- the greatest sporting event in the world. Forget all those elen a siode round ball pansies. Soccer as we know is a game for girls.
 Mind you maybe I should be a bit chary about mentioning the Rugger as the last World Cup  caused me to leave the  "dwedfully" middle class OFW  group- not that I cared in the end. After all when some over paid (or over pensioned)   middle class tosser tells me "This is not a dmocracy"- the second word in my considered reply will be "OFF" .So as it happens I'm well out of it.
 So on to better things. What a game! The Brave Blossoms were awesome. Inventive ,sharp, clinical, fast,. The Boks- well possibly complacent - expecting to win by 30 points so it took them a while to get that they were in a game. but at times they looked depressingly old and ordinary
 If you are a rugger fan and you have not seen the -Ion its you I'm talking to- its well worth a watch.
 England- well they just got away with it against Fiji  but no-one had any broken legs or bones sticking out of the snotter so OK for the next bout
Catch Samoa against the USA next but my next "must see at all costs " is Japan v Scotland on Wednesday can the Blossoms do the Porriges ??? On current form they may well.

Wargames- well I did play a Ancients game to Tactica yesterday in 15mm and yes it was a tight gems- went doem to the wire BUT- because I fannied about I came second- Should have sent the forwards in (Roman Legionaries to the untutored)  to make the Hard Yards up the middle instead of worrying about the wingers until it was too late- poor timing. Mind you his back line was faster(more cavalry) and his front row(Elephants) didn't half taker some stopping.
 Picture when I get them out of the phone !

PS- The Welsh seem to be made of porcelain  4 more injuries against tiny Uraguay- at this rate they'll have nobody left. They are having a very poor run of luck that way

Thursday, 17 September 2015

What- Exactly -am I disenchanted about ???

Good question that- do you mean aside from most of the human race or are we being more particular here?
 You might even say that I'm disgruntled- but since I'm not sure I've ever been gruntled in the first place  how would I tell?.
 It will always be a fascination to me as to why many - perhaps most of our brethren can't or won't explain  the why of what they do - it is as if they are ashamed of it. Do they indeed know why . Why  indulge in any part of our hobby at all and "Cos its fun" does not alone cut it as an explanation. How did it get to be "fun" in your eyes ? What differentiates "funA" from "funB". Why are certain periods perennially popular and others "commeth up and are cut down like a flower" .
 How did the hobby  change from a - largely- miniatures driven hobby of the late 1970s- 1980s become the almost entirely "games driven" hobby of today . Is all the blame to be put on the "games designer dudes" probably not..

25 or 28mm Normans . Painted by me about 20 years ago.

More of my ECW collection.

Indian Mutiny Puch - up.Hodsons Horse attacking Mutineers.

 Now I'm not entirely immune to the lure of games for their own sake- I love "Kingmaker" and quite like "Axis and Allies" but personally I draw a distinction between "games" and "wargames" , For example I could no more imagine a refight of Towton using DBA or Lion Rampant or Saga than fly in the air. The Battle of Towton deserves more respect than a 40-50 figures a side  dice rolling contest. That distinction seems to have been lost some time in the 1990s or early nougties. Why? It can't only be laziness surely. Convenience Wargaming ?
 So a few daft questions
 How many sets of rules do you think there were in the 1980s compared to today. I'd really like to know and yes I'm only talking about historical rules here. My impression - and I could be wrong- is that there were far far fewer then than now WRG still dominated Ancients - but they were not alone there was Gawd 'elp us Newbury fast play- which wasn't ! and my still favoured Tactica. There were others I forget and almost certainly sets from the USA I've never heard of but were there as many as a dozen sets? WHAB didn't appear until 1998 so what did we have pre-1992?. Not simply Ancients but other periods too.. I recall rules by Tabletop games- most of which were unplayable I say 1992 because that was the year Old Glory UK came into being so in theory AFTER that date I'm a professional and some of what happens from then on IS my fault!
How many sets of rules do you own today? I hate rules in general and  certain sets in particular. They can so often get in the way, Yet having said that I probably own around 30+ sets - most of which I've played at least once. Some of which I have played an awful lot over the years- with or without local modifications. Most of the sets I have are at least 5 years old, many somewhat older. Only a very few less than 5 years old as these latter all fall into the "been there done that" category- they have nothing new  except eye candy. There are of course sets that I have not played for decades WRG1685-1845 for a start! as well as 2 by Tabletop from the 1970s- Lance- a medieval set I used to play quite a bit  and Tercio for Pike and shot
. That number doesn't count sets in proper books  and sets I wrote myself don't count at all .
 Compared to some blokes a mere 30 sets is nothing. None of these are considered holy writ- no negative freedom here. Rules lawyers are consigned to the nearest scorpion pit without mercy. Argue from a historical perspective and- as Umpire I'll listen and you may win your point. Argue that "on page 239 of Wundarules 6.9 ..." and - metaphorically speaking its "hello stingy " . It is not beyond the realms of possibility  for the Umpire to bin a set of rules part way through a game. Now the games players amongst you may gasp and mutter  but since when was the conduct of  warfare governed by set rules?. Indeed a few years back I ran a 40mm ACW game  where I deliberately changed the rules every move or so  to keep the players thinking.
 Yet there are now more rules than ever before and far  more games of a very limited nature . Imagination and the historical background has gone out of the window ....

 Or has it?

Drabant 28mm- we'll be taking the whole Drabant range both 40mm and 28mm .

Ottoman Turkish Dellis- "mad heads"
  Again I draw a distinction  between what appears to happen in the magazines and what actually happens in the real world. Looking at the games at Gateshead and Newark- when you could see 'em I was pleasantly surprised by the wideish mix of periods and styles. Sure there were some that didn't take my fancy- but there were plenty of others- a lovely Battle of the Yellow Ford and a nice clean looking 20mm Cold War goes Hot scenario to name just two that I had time to see. The list for the up and comng Derby World Wargames has some intresting looking stuff- by no means all  boutique games being pushed by some company wishing to advertise its latest out of the box job. Though there is more of an accent on "the newst set we publish" than in former decades. Nevertheless the majority of the games both demo and PP are A histoical and B interesting- there is even one game using Flats !  I must get a look at the 6mm one-to one Napoleonic game.It is intresting that  most of the Sci-Fi or fantasy games are PP and most of the demos are historical. Interesting that of the 8 or 9 sci-fant games listed 3 are being put on by the same commercial  outfit  I'm sure that says something   just not sure what .!
Check out the list of games here
 I'm actually looking forward to  the show.
 The lads from the "like a Stonewall" group (AKA Mansfield Mafia!!) are doing Quatre Bras .
 My mate Peter Bradford is doing ACW "McPhersons Ridge" - both of these in 25mm - or 28mm if you prefer- since a goodly proprtion of the figures on each of these are Old Glory I should know how tall they are ! The Ilkley lads are doing Marignano- which I'll have to take a look at.
 There is a noticable  narrowing of the "available" periods however  
Of the total of 43 or  44 games listed both Demo and PP
 7 are WW2- though one of these may be listed twice
7 are Napoleonic- but mostly Waterloo campaign  only 2 games NOT being hundred days inspired
5 are pre-gunpowder (1 Ancient 2 "Dark Ages" 1 high medieval 1 samuarai)
3 may be loosely termed "pike and shot"- this includes Poltava which is the only game set in the 18th century
2 are ACW
1 Colonial- Zulu War
2 Modern- Afghnistan and Africa
5 are WW1- technically one is a western gunfigt- set in 1917 - the Wild bunch but there you go !
The Old Glory Turkish High Command- OXT23 6 different generals plus the Janisary "Kazan" cooking pot  and some extra officers- a mere £24.00 per pack.
10 are Sci-fant- this includes one called "open skirmish"- but since that is all it says it is hardly informative
Janisarries. I almost have enough Turks for an army .... almost
Later Turkish Spahis- Suvallieri  possibly  mid 17th century or later as they have pistols.

 It is interesting in the wider context what ISN'T there. Nothing much from  the 16th  17th or 18th centuries (3 games for 300years )no "BC" Ancients at all . Only 1 game that might be termed "Classical" Ancients- Teutoberger Wald . Of the historical games  24 are from the last 200 years of Human history but mostly concetrated into 4 areas  within that. No naval at all only 1 air game the same WW1as last year- I wonder if its run by the same ignorant bugger who pushed me out of the way when I was having a butchers- silly sod in a flying helmet  Oh dearie me !
 No  ECW or TYW Seven years War or AWI. No 19th century European- all of which have featured previously. Not sure if any of the games are 15mm- which is odd considering how many 15mm I sell  and I know I'm far from alone here..I'm aware that it doesn't happen much but should any historically minded Joe public step in he'd have a thin time  give the relatively few periods on offer.
 Nevertheless these is still some intresting stuff there and I'm still looking forward to it so maybe I'm not as disenchanted as I though I was ....... maybe ........

PS The photos are all deliberately chosen as periods that are not in the list of games for the Derby show. But all are ranges that we WILL be taking to the show.We'll also be taking stuff that is being gamed at the show- so ACW Napoleonic and WW2 all in 15mm- ACW in 28mm too .

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

More shiny dudes

 Well despite the  rush of recent shows and the preparing for the second biggest show of our year- Thats Donnington or Derby World Wargames if you prefer -   only Salute is bigger- I'm still managing the odd half- hour here and there at the paintng table.
 I've evn painted a few 15mm- other than tanks which is a minor miracle. Nevertheless Mostly I've been shining on
Shiny or what!
More shiny- the Shinyloo French cavalry growing slowly . I'll be accused of having and army next !
 I now have almost enough of the shiny lads for a small game - possibly featherstonian possibly Youngian.... that still remains to be seen.

Not shiny but short- you saw them here first ! 

The picture above shows some of the soon to be released Blue Moon 15mm Dacians- these lads have their choppers out with a vengeance. I'm also told that there will be Imperial Romans and Sarmations in the mix as well. I've also seen other Dacian Infantry. I assume- but don't KNOW that these will be out at Fall In or thereabouts.
 but you saw them here first !!!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

No regrets.. No tears Goodbye .. and then some more important stuff.

 Well thats it done finito Benito . Over   Brilliant. No more Stygian Gloom . The last Kelham Hall Parizan is dead.
 Long Live Brighter Partizan !!! 
Thank God thats over. Over the last few year the bunch of  pillocks who took over Kelham Hall from the previous owners have moverd heaven and earth to be obstructive and unplaeasant to the Partizan Organisers. If only half of the stuff I have heard is true then the MD of Kelhamn Hall Ltd needs a slap . For the amont of crap he has put in my way alone he needs a slap 
However No more..
 No More  Getting to your stand to find that the Venue owners have filled the space with staging.
No More  Being charged £14.00 for 3 pints (Here I was almost on the phone to my Lawyers Hadaway and Shyteman! )
NO more Manky overpriced bacon butties or saugages that look like dildos for bunny rabbits
No more tea  that looks as if I've peed in it- and thats before the teabag goes in ...(Dunk it Man Dunk It!!)
 well at least not in that part of Notts anyhow ...
 There's No regrets,
 No Tears Goodbye,
 Idon't want you back,
 We'd only Cry ,

Thank you Scott Walker and Goodnight
Goodnight Ladies 
Goodnight Sweet Ladies
Goddnight Goodnight
 and flights of Angels sing thee to thy rest .... 

More Important Matters. 

40mm French Hussars


 I finally got hold of my copy of MW389. Its a Good 'un! There is stuff in it to read and not just more tedious scenarios for rules I've never heard of. There is stuff that shows evidence of actual serious thought.
 Leaving aside the stuff on fencing and Waterloo and 6mm figures- all of which have their uses I'm really talking about 2 or 3 articles
 Conrad Kinch's piece on points systems put both sides of the case well. Now I don't use them myself but others do so the vitriol they attract is "pointless" - I'd use them if I played competitions though and I've always thought they have a place- merely becasue I find them tedious is beside the point use them if you wish or don't . Points systems however do beget Army lists and so feed into  Neil Shucks piece on Warhammer Fantasy and its new derivative Age of Sigmar- neither are something I give a toss about per se but again they feed into the constant debate about the Future of the Hobby and it is intresting that both autors - Kinch and Shuck say much the same as I did in my "Who Needs Army Lists" piece  in the mag  around this time last year. 
Plus ca Change thinks I !! 
 Mind you a picture of my idea of hell appears in this article Row after Row of identical competiton tables filled with identikit war gamers - if they think thats fun then fine- Positive Freedom all round but me I'll pass- all those backsides bending in unison ... Nah ! 
 Mind you Mr Shuck's remarks on price- Plastic is not always cheaper- I can think of plastic sets that are more expensive than our standard 28mm packs. then you have to spend half a life time building one or two ..... 
 Neagative Freedom by Rob Wyeness definitly caught my eye. Even if he started from a Fanstasy perspective. My first thought was God almighty these dudes are really weird as I read phrases like "the need to play a game" and "anyone who is a geek" and "freedoms to go too far" I wondered if these chaps get out much  or if they live in their mothers attic - like a modern Mrs Rochester perhaps ! 
 But reading on and coming to the crux I realised that the point was a fine one well made- for myself- although I barely touch Fantasy at all and only a tad more sci-fi I'm all in favour of positive Freedom in wargames as well as life - so  the rules are merely a toolbos and never Holy Writ and Whatever Blows your skirt up Dude ! Those of you who read this blog will know that on the whole I'm a Positive Freedom advocate- though the term was new to me. You'd think that  from a Historical perspective there would be much more Negative than Positive Freedom - but in my experience that is not so. Period is immaterial here its the players attiude that counts - I'd define 2 basic types in our hobby really - though as always there are shadings and extremesand some chaps do bits of both depending upon mood . These types are "Competitors" and "Storytellers" . I'm pretty much in the storyteller camp  I find competitors on the whole too narrow in outlook  for a storyteller the Rules can  get in the way for a competitor they are to be used to advantage- to narrow the focus for a victory and an ego boost. The storyteller gets his ego boost when the story is well told. so competitors are Negative Freedom Types- the Rules give them the structure and boundaries they crave. The Storytellers will use the rules to support the narrative - but will discard the bits that don't work- a much more open ended arrangement. As a general rule I opine that "period" is more to a storytellers taste and "game"  more to that of the competitor.
  I'm betting most games companies are in favour of as much Negative Freedom as they can force down your throat .

PS and how many other writers could get Scott Walker Shakespear and Charllotte Bronte into the same few hundred words .