Thursday, 22 December 2016

A clutch of unread magazines

As you might expect I've been a tad busy in the run up to Crimbo. However all is as done as we can do . Now the last few latecoming parcels have gone up  up to the Post Office  that is it until we start again on Jan 4th. Orders can still be ordered but won't be processed or sent as there is little point in them sitting in a Sorting Office for a week and a half. Also - it has to be said - in certain areas stocks are a bit low after the hectic period just finished. Though I have just added a bundle of new stuff to the website in the shape of more Blue Moon ECW and a bundle of late Saxon Napoleonic cavalry. More new stuff will be added in late January.  when I get my next shipment from the USA.

 My last shipment from the USA arrived last Friday- since then Carole and I have dispatched around 150 parcels via the Post Office and our courier so I've barely had time to open let alone read any of the last 2 month's worth of magazines that have dropped on my mat since late November..

So now I may, just may have a bit of time to myself. Some of it will be spent looking through this bundle of magazines
 MW 404 MW 405  WI 350 WI 351
 Now in theory that is an awful lot of pages but once you categorise it actually works out a lot less. Ignoring all the adverts in both magazines for the same old same old cuts down the workload by at least half. The reviews in all  if the magazines are sometimes useful  but mostly not  likewise the infomercials for particular rulesets or games masquerading as articles. and the"interviews" with sundry games designers who - quite naturally want to push their latest creation . This kind of thing seems to be almost the only reason for  non- historical content these days. Either infomercials or interviews. Sci- Fant is or seems to be almost totally  game driven - "buy this game play it this way  because we told you so (£49.99)DISCLAIMER The company is not responsible for any accidents resulting from gamers using their  own brain)"
 Now this does not detract from the quality of some of the gear- so the Crooked Dice minis for 7TV look excellent- I even own a couple and the new John Carter of Mars stuff from Modiphius looks interesting -from the point of view of a figure painter getting the right flesh tone on Deja Thoris'   lissome thighs  could prove an interesting challenge!!
 Are sci- fant gamers so devoid of imagination that ALL they want to do is open the box and roll dice? Surely that cannot be the case. The vast number of different "games"  currently appearing in all of our different fields of endeavour would however suggest that this instant approach is becoming more and more popular. I'm not sure some of these are even wargames- when did the Thunderbirds , for example go to war ?. Even within the historical field the appearance of many very similar "games" may lead us to believe that this trend is for the moment almost universal.  This means that magazine content has to follow this trend (or perhaps help to create it under pressure from publishers anxious to make a few quid)  So within these four issues are no less than 11 infomercials for specific "games"- the majority- 7 -  being in the 2 issues of WI add in a couple of "interviews" in MW plus the usual review pages in both mags and you'd think that there would  not always be a lot of room left for "proper" articles.
In the case of these four issues at least you would be wrong.
 Show reports  include SELWG. and  Warfayre  in the UK ,Little Wars in the USA and Little Wars in Melbourne Australia.. All of the show gave us some fine looking display games..
 Various articles gave us information on the Korean War battle of Choisin ,Naval action at Jutland, Colonial Warfare and a good look at wargaming on gridded terrain. MW has a nice article by Belgian Wargame  Dirk Donvil on Napoleonic gaming in 54mm - showing different ways of doing stuff. Miles  away from the "open the box and do as you  are told"  of the infomercials sometime apparent.  Add in what I suppose is really another infomercial for Warfare Miniatures on the Great Northern war (interesting that the author barely mentions  15mm GNW ranges at all and totally ignores both the Blue Moon 15mm range- which has after all only been available for about 5 or 6 years.) Despite this overall the articles do provide a basic grounding in the period albeit a somewhat biased one.
 Of the four mags my overall favourite article was by 10mm enthusiast Dan Johnson in MW 405 detailing how he turned skirmish game SAGA into a rather splendid looking 10mm Crusades  set up for larger engagements. Equally Arthur Harmans ECW rules look useful and intresting - though I have not tried them yet.
Once again as far from the "buy my new thingy" infomercial as you can get and showing that (with others) there is still individual sentient life out there.
On a personal note I read the review of  Osprey's ECW/TYW -a -like "game" Pikeman's Lament " with more than a little trepidation. The review leads me to believe that it is more of an FRPG than a set of Historical rules- more like the D and D volume "A Mighty Fortress" that say "Forlorn Hope" or even "File Leader".- According to the review there are no rules for unit facing- so perhaps that is the reason for the Pikeman's lament as a pikeman on his own is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Equally a bunch of pikemen with no unit structure is possibly even less use. Now I'll have to get a copy of these but if - given the author- they are as 17th century as Lion Rampant was medieval then I'll be using  such wonderful historical documents as Hammer's "The Scarlet Blade" as my historical source material. Nevertheless let us not pre-judge until I get a copy.

Overall there is plenty to read in these four mags- WI seems to have toned down it's "Shazam-Kapow" just a little though overall most of the articles are still shortish and in general of lighter weight than those in MW with a somewhat heavier reliance on the infomercial style. MW still seems to me-somewhat the more adult- though it has to be said the gap between the two in this regard is closing.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Roots

Back in the day a novelist /historian called Alex Hailey wrote a book called "Roots" purporting to be about his own ancestry. It was made into a TV series and actually wasn't half bad.
 Some time later the debunkers found out that  he had- at least in part been guilty, perhaps, of  some terminological inexactitude. This did not detract from the book being readable or the TV series being amusing.
 .This really appropos of not much except that the Twats Tiny Tactica Tournament didn't happen as planned because of chaps crying off at the last minute.
 Nevertheless 3 of us turned up at the pub- still wanting a bit of Ancient amusement of a more or less historical nature. So as a light alternative to Tactica I put a couple of the old "Classics" in my bag and told the lads if they didn't fancy Tactica how about either Terry Wise or Don Featherstone (actually Tony Bath). In other words we were going back to our Roots !
 It quickly transpired that Terry Wises' ancient rules didn't really work and I still can't fathom the melee system so we switched immediately to Tony Bath's set in Featherstones War Games of 1962 vintage. This without any  dislocation or disorganistation  or indeed any change at all  of either army. Like many older rules both these sets are "figure-driven" rather than "mechanism-driven".so it means that you can paly either as you like.
 Troops were 15mm- my own Marian Romans- commanded by Andrew and Shaun our resident Ancient Man using his Samnites. I umpired and this was really an exercise in seeing if theses ancient Ancient rules would work with two armies based differently and with no points systems or army lists  or other modern fol-de rol to get in the way. Yes I know the Marian Romans never fought the Samnites but Shaun reckoned that they had never yet been out of the box and it was time. So we streached a point. Andrew commanded the Romans . Shaun simply emptied his box of Samnitesand battle commenced. . No points systems or Army Lists were harmed in the making of this game.

My 15mm Marian Romans . All Blue Moon. Mostly painted by John Reidy.

 You know what, I've played a hell of a lot worse. It quickly transpired that there is little new under the sun. I'd not played these at all since school  with Airfix Romans and Ancient Britons with a few Hong Kong rip offs to add variety. (I recall some plastic Greeks that were basically pantographed down version of Britains ) They felt a lot like a cross between WHAB and Tactica- especially WHAB. The IGOUGO system slows things a bit but that could easily be altered to an "orders and Simultaneous movement" system without touching the actual mechanisms- which are dead simple.Dicing for "initiative" (ie choosing to move first or second) add a bit of spice
 Morale could do with a bit of fiddling, simply to vary the troops quality but basically the rules are pretty sound and faster moving than WHAB and possibly WRG 5th or 6th though we'd need to play a few more games to be sure of this. Like Tactica these were  a little dice heavy but not so badly that it took the game from the players control. The players were always in charge of their own decisions.
 These rules were of course a simple introductory set and none the worse for that. By today's standards definitions were a bit wooly and certainly would not suit the "win at all costs" types who need to have the far end of a fart defined to stop them cheating. It would be no big deal to add a little more period specific detail if you wished but all the basics are covered for those who have a modicum of useable brain cells.
Crunch Time- Just before the deciding melee. Shaun's Samnites in the more open order will get chewed up by the Roman mincing machine..

For the record the Samnites went down to a bloody defeat after an heroic resistance. The main Mellee in the centre swung back and forth but the Linen Legion could not quite match the power of the better armoured Romans Legionaries. What luck was about did seem to run Andrew's way(for a change did I hear muttered?)  but it was still a very enjoyable exercise as well as going some way to proving as Andre put it- "You don't HAVE to pay £30.00 for a book full of pictures and a few rules"

I will have another bash at these simple rules  with different armies. But equally I'll still use Tactica or WRG or possibly Hail Cesar as the mood take me. After all its not simply about finding  a game you can win at is it?
 Once again our thanks go to Jean the Landlady- in extra measure- for providing a splendid Christmas dinner  with all the trimmings as well as the usual fine beer.

Looking forward to some good games next year- Including the postponed TWATS  Tiny Tactica Tournament.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Pure Hell of Christmas

 I have this dream around this time of year. There I am sitting at a table  surrounded by ahem"friends and family"(who in this dream I do not know) all wearing silly paper hats and stuffing themselves into a mindless stupor with  sprouts and turkey(and OOH these sprouts have been on the stove since Thursday ! and OOH getting that 64lb Turkey into the oven wasn't half a chore! ) Needless to say the awful bread sauce is thick enough to put into a mould and the shrieking from sundry brats  blarting about how Santa didn't bring them the latest version of Zombie massacre 29 (and some of those brats are at least 32 ) is enough to burst your eardrums and of course my fresh foaming pint of "Old Horizontal" is just out of reach and the bells jingle louder and the fake snowflakes fall like 81mm mortar shells and every list has been checked at least twice.......

Then I wake up on a cold sweat and THANK GOD it is only December 6th.

PHEW!!!!

Now don't for a moment think I'm anti- Christmas. I'm not- well not altogether- though perhaps if James Stewart HAD jumped off the bridge in "Its A Wonderful Life"  we would not have to put up with that mawkish drivel year after year. (Though I can handle "The Great Escape" and even "The Wizard of Oz" no problem).
 No my problem here is not MY or indeed myself and my wife Carole's - Christmas but the way every other buggers Christmas- or more accurately the expected  correct commercial Christmas is rammed down your throat like a 12 pounder roundshot. 
It's enough to make you weep sometimes.
 So what is my kind of Christmas- well for a start it means a few days off without having to think about little lead men or parcels, some "quality time" (awful phrase)  for Carole and myself perhaps the odd visit to family.... maybe... though hoping to avoid stroppy teenage nieces who can't converse without use of the texting thumbs.
 As for Christmas dinner- well I hate Turkey so this year it is venison- so Rudolf had better not stop here. He'd be on the plate before he'd finished noshing his 3 millionth carrot of the night. How the overweight bugger leaps from rooftop to rooftop is beyond me and if Santa gets outside all that sherry- or milk and cookies  when in the USA- he's going to throw his guts up somewhere over the Pacific .Will NORAD be able to  track that I wonder?.


Image result for christmas images cartoon





So basically I'm looking forward to the holiday to a bit of peace and quiet - and even  a small amount of Goodwill to all men - and women.
So here's Hoping your all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.






Related image

Friday, 25 November 2016

Troops of Horse and Photo software.

These Two troops of Roundhead cavalry have been on my desk for some time- Both will join existing troops to form larger regiments. So the Orange Cornet will join the Earl of Essex's regiment and the Red Cornet Sir William Balfour's  regiment. Both troops will join the "Modern ECW"  army rather than the shiny 1970s one. The Parliametarians in this collection are representative of the Earl of Essex's Army for the Edgehill campaign. The Royalists  more for the Summer of 1643.
 The shiny blokes are of course for 1978 !
 However  I do fancy doing  an "Edgehill-a-like" sort of refight at the Durham show this coming june(assuming of course that they are kind enough to invite us) where I use about 90% of the ECW stuff I own all on one table- the thick end of 1000 figures I think, though I have not actually counted 'em all.

Troop of Sir William Balfours Regiment of Horse. Possibly that of his Major and Son- William Balfour . 


 The models are all Old Glory though the horses- again Old Glory are- or some of them are- no longer in production. We changed our horses a good few years ago as some of the older ones were a bit thin. However I still have a few of the older horses left in my personal stock and for some units I prefer them.
Two troops together led by Sir William Balfour. Though at Edgehill he may have been in Cuirassier armour as the first Colonels troops of his regiment consisted of 802 cuirassiers plus officers.  So I might paint another ! 
Close up of the two troops. 

An 8 figure Troop represents a standard  troop of horse of roughly 70 men plus Officers so figure to man ratio is about 1-10 . However on the table they often act more like "divisions" of 2-3 troops which was the standard fighting  formation- we'd call it a squadron.
 Photo software can do your head in . I took these pics yesterday and the machine then hid them in the bowels of itself when I uploaded them to the computer. Apparently  the photo software  thinks it is Jan 1st 2005  despite haveing accurate clocks and calendars for other functions. Talk about left hand not knowing what the right is doing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Rules rules games games.

Saturday the 19th Novemebr saw 5 TWATS   gather at our usual haunt for this months game - or rsather games
 Andrew the Tekkie was in the chair so it was 15mm Moderns using my British and Iraqi forces. However the idea this time was a bit different.
 Basically  Andrew and I wanted to test 3 rule sets to see how they compared. So Andrew set up a simple scenario which would be played out to each of the 3 sets
Team Yankee as it is the newest brightest ans shinyest came first . This would be its first outing
 Cold War Commander as we'd never actually played this and finally
 Combined Arms- is our usual set for these games and would therefore be the last of the 3 test games. In the event it didn't get played but as we knew what to expect from the system it did not change out ultimate findings.
 Andrew will post  accounts of the 2 battles on his blog Tantobie Internet Tattler in due course .http://tantobieinternettattler.blogspot.co.uk/
 I'm going to restrict myself to my opinion of the two rule sets.
The table laid out for both games- Iraqis nearest the camera. 

 I was deeply sceptical about Team Yankee. It is a glorified skirmish game where one tank represents one tank. Higher formations  than the company tend to be ignored for though you could play them if you had enough kit it would be a major exercise. Some things really jar- baled out tank crews for a start- not in a 1980s battlefield- well not for very long anyhow. My first reading of the rules was pretty cursory but they seemed rather simplistic and as always with that style of rule writing just a bit patronising. I was prepared to give them a proper spanking. Yet it has to be said I've played worse. The game was quick and frantic and quite dice driven yet it had its points. By the end of 5 turns there were dead tanks everywhere- mostly - but not entirely Iraqi and the British recon unit and 2 Challenger had ceased to exist. For the  1980s North German plain that is not actually bad- and since that is what the rules are designed for... The feel however was very gamesey, very shazam-kapow somehow quite teenage. Yet there was a bit of potential. The off- putting part is the price- not just of the basic rules but of all the add-ons- apparently £16.00 for the artillery  bombardment tool- some plastic thingy and of course around £12.00 for each of the add on books/army lists not to mention the vicious prices of some of the models. Of course this last does not bother us since we have bundle of modern stuff available.
 Despite all this I am, surprisingly, a long way from writing these off. I still prefer Combined Arms over Team Yankee - as it doesn't treat you like a 14 year old- and does not threaten to market the shite out of you at every opportunity. Also I prefer the higher command level of CA. Nevertheless TY was a good bit better than expected- 6/10
Team Yankee- move 2 and the Iraqis still survive ! 

Now we come to Cold War Commander. In theory it is set at the same command level as  CA- with one model representing a platoon but there the resemblance ends. simply because there is no higher organisation than a single model vehicle /Infantry stand - you are supposed to make it up. The whole system is slaved to the Army lists which in many cases cover a pretty wide time spectrum.Some of the possibilities are odd. with "higher" grouping of several platoons/units being called formations. There are  no companies/squadrons/battalions. Merely groups of pretty counters. So organisationally they don't score.
The mind numbing nothing ness of the desert and Cold War Commander.

 Now, on to the mechanisms- simplistic  but somehow not simple. Repetitive and tedious is the nearest I can get- this was DBR with tanks  with a bit of Black Powder for flavour and perspicacious reader will know my opinion of DBR. These possibly were not that good. The IGOUGO system made it slow even for a first game.. All 5 of us died of boredom by move 4 . If you are the sort of games player who thinks dice rolling is an intellectual activity then these are right up your street as EVERYTHING is dice controlled. Issue an order- roll dice, want to fire -roll dice work out hits- roll dice  Saving throws- roll more dice . . Morale- no not really  but roll a dice anyway. Gawd this was tedious. I had spots before my eyes.  Then do it all again next move as hits are not cumulative so unless you accrue enough hits on a unit in 1 turn to kill it outright . It comes back again later even if it has been forced back or temporarily suppressed. . This is yet another prime example of making the game for the sake of a game and ignoring the actuality.
 Total Cobblers 0/10

Nothing to do with the game but a pair of Old Glory AMX30 painted - and sand skirts/aerials added by Shaun Holdsworth.
 A regular TWAT. 
Still despite the above  as always a good day had by all.  As always mightily aided by  Beef Butties and the odd pint ! Next meeting in December will be the TWATS Tiny Tactica Tournament. - Watch this space !

Friday, 11 November 2016

At a bit of a loose end

 Been pretty busy lately  what with the new Blue Moon ECW range now being in stock - well the first 20 packs any how and catching up with back orders to various parts of Europe and beyond. It follows therefore that my own personal hobby has taken a bit of a back seat recently. Especially since unlike a goodly number of bloggers in the wargaming world I don't happen to be  some kind of retired fellow of leisure. Frankly I'm pretty happy about this as I'd  probably die of boredom within half a year.  I don't feel myself ready for the knackers yard yet by a long way unlike some of the dudes you see shambling about at shows. But that is by the by the point with working for a living is that sometimes you can't fit other stuff in . This is true of now. I've not finished any new figures for any project for some time.
 On the table I have a troop of ECW cavalry - 28mm Old Glory about half done- ready for either Balfour's or Esses's regiments circa spring 1643. Also some more "shinyloo" figures for that project which I've assembled. I'd hoped to run the first "shinyloo" game about now but that is not going to happen. It will be next year now.
 Part of the problem is me- after a week or so of 10-12 hour shifts  surrounded by the little lead gits you want a different vista- so painting is temporarily out of court. However the madness has calmed down to a mere dull roar so hopefully I'll get some more toys finished

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Miniature Wargames no 403

The Conundrum Solved?

I've had my copy of MW no 403 for some time. It is John Treadaway's first as Editor. The "new look"  really isn't so new and there is much here that shows John's current policy of "keep on Keeping on" as he put it to me. Nice articles on Ancients- Macedonians and Persians  with what may be a nifty set of simple rules, Building Rorke's Drift- or at least making something out of the rather basic set of lazer cut wooden parts. They look like a lot of work BUT a lot easier than scratchbuilding- which I did back in the day and a nice article on the Battle for Crete in WW2. This is interesting stuff and not based around any given rule set which is very refreshing. Like wise an article on Dreadnaught period Naval warfare which I have not yet studied  but the author seems to know his stuff somewhere I have a fw 1/2400 Dreadnaughts- somewhere .....and  a nice 1980 Cold War goes Hot scenario from Conrad kinch- this WILL get used !   There was even another How to article on pating tanks- but I can do that- not that the piece wouldn't be useful  but the pics were (rather nice0 sci-fi vehicles rather than, well tanks ....
 To all intents and purposed this bit of the Mag has so far hardly changed at all  except for the waste of space that is the club directory- I really hope that appears only once or twice a year and that quite a bit of space is given over to reviews . There was a nagging feeling- hopefully unfounded that  stuff was "spaced out" a little too much to fill the available pages.
 As for the much touted Sci-Fi and Fantasy section well all it does for me is illustrated the  narrow  games only base  of  today's sci -fant  hobby. With "Critical Hits"  no less than 3 infomercials about currently favoured "games" Frostgrave(who cares)  Bushido (nothing really to do with historical Samurai) and something called "Panzerfauste" a sort of WW2 based "game" with orcs and Dwarfs and "magick" basically Flintloque with machine guns - dearie me the 1990s original was bad enough with its awful clumsy models (Yes I had a few)and simplistic rules .  However such nonsense seems pretty popular as it raised most of its brass via Kickstarter. which only goes to show you that there are more kidults  out there than even I thought. I've seen a few pics of the models and actually they are pretty dammed good of their type and made me giggle - but not enough to want to spend actual real money on them.. The joke wears thin pretty quickly with even the cleverest fantasy especially one as derivative as this.. The articles are full of drawings and "artwork"  (but not Art)  but overall none of the articles actually say very much other than to extol the virtues of their product and tell you what stunningly clever chaps the designer are But perhaps that is the way with today's game first everything else nowhere  hobby after all you get the same type of infomercial in  historical wargaming too the "I'm so  awfully clever you must play MY game and no don't you DARE think for yourself" syndrome is not only a sci-fant problem by any means.. .

Frankly for a first mag under new Editor ship It is not half bad and could have been a lot worse. I don't mind a bit of Sci -Fi  so the Critical hits section is not automatically out of court and will bear watching but making it almost entirely reviews and infomercials for this months fashion  hopefully will not last.
 But still worth a read and I await the next issue with interest.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Three More From Moscow.

Nick Bokarev- Owner of Drabant has sent me pictures of his 3 newest  Miniatures- All in 28 mm.
 They are the start of a range of "Persons"- ie Personalities for his growing and deservedly popular Dark Ages range.
 I'll have some of these with my next order from Moscow- which currently Nick is making for me .

Sviatoslav. Grand Prince of Kiev.
Volkhv - Heather Priest. 

A Heather Priest is some kind of pre- Christian priest of the pagan Rus - so I am told. .


William the Conqueror 


The last one of course is well known to us.. William the Bastard !
 All are of course well up to the hight standards set by the rest of the Drabant range.  I await their arrival with intrest
 Prices will be £3.00 for the foot personalities and £5.00 for William.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Dimensionally Challenged.

As regular reader will know I like the painting and modelling side of the hobby. More- in some cases- than the mere dice rolloing. I paint figures because I like 'em not merely because I want a few more pretty counters..
 Thismeans that sometimes I paint figures which don't fit into any armies or projects- just because I like them
 This is especially so when I(very rarely) paint any flats.
Marian Roman legionaries .
 I've had a few flats in the lead pile for years adding too them once in a while because I like their delicacy and the fineness of the detail. I'll never be  in the premier league of flats painters but I like to have a bash as a painting exercise.. It keeps your technique sharp. Remember, these little blokes are "30mm"  so about the same size as most of todays "28mm" but much much finer in proportion.

Robert the Bruce. Painting the double tressure was a right pain. 
I think this one is supposed to be Joan of Arc  but maybe not. 
Some flat painters only paint one side  I paint both as one day I'd like to have 2 small forces  either medieval or 17th century.

Yes I do paint both sides. 
However it is all a matter of "point of View"
But we'll have to see . I paint slowly at the best of times and these take real effort. However I've a couple more on my desk. so this tiny collection will grow albeit at a snails pace.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

I just can't stop shining.

Now as you may have gathered I've not been posting much recently- too much work on. I've still managed a little painting almost all of which has ended up being shiny. Currently I'm pretty much into the idea of retro-wargaming.
 The reasons why - well honestly I'm not absolutely sure. Part of it is certainly a reaction to all this  wargaming -lite that is about these days and the often childish appearance of some more recent contributions to our hobby.
 I know I'm banging on about this but I really do think it is a major problem. How can we expect to recruit new people (assuming we do need this) if all we have to show are "bang bang you're dead" games for  12 year old boys- played by overweight badly dressed chaps with builders bum !!
 Yes of course I exaggerate- neither do we need (as recruiters)  over serious  badly dressed blokes who look as if falling under a number 9 bus  would ease their outlook on life !!
 Yes I'm taking the mickey.
 Some of the games at Donnington proved that this need not be so and indeed is not always so.
So why MY current reversion to  older rules including the now often despised WRG ?
 Honestly I prefer to be treated as an adult. I can read long(ish) words without using my fingers. I can do sums (but not always hard sums) and I don't HAVE to look at pictures to understand what a writer is saying to me. I can read whole books and some of them don't have pictures  at all and YES it's FUN.
The finally finishes White Regiment of the London Trained Bands. Figures are almost all Les Higgins 30mm Jason with only 3 interlopers.

 I enjoy the painting and modelling side  at least as much as the playing - possibly more - and the historical part again as much if not more than the others. Again they are FUN. Fun and Triviality are not, despite appearances to some, the same thing.
. For me those who wish to trivialise the hobby in their own image are doing all of us a disservice. By attempting to narrow to the trivial in the name of "simplicity" and "accessibility"  what happens when it is all trivial and simple? Where do you go from there?  What will have happened to diversity- of the intellectual sort ?  Or, perish the thought, will we all be Dwarf- fiddling (but with only 7 a side of course !!) .
The Scots Greys as they currently stand- still a few more to paint. All Stadden 30mm some of which needed a good bit of TLC even before the painting started. 
Now don't get me wrong here I don't mind other chaps doing Fantasy and quite like Sci-Fi in parts It is the lack of imagination I find hard to deal with. How the hobby has  all narrowed down the the mere gaming at least if you read some of the various magazine pieces.  Is it like that at grass roots level. Sometimes yes. I've seen more than 1 club website that lists "The Games We Play"- almost all Fantasy-Sci-Fi skirmish games which all look the same to me.

Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Regiment of Horse. Mostly Hinchliffe/Foremost but with some  Old Glory Horses and a single Old Glory trooper as well as a single Front Rank trooper. Deliberately mixed together for effect.
 Equally many "Games Shops" and "webstores"  advertise the same  comparatively few "games" over and over. So somebody must be buying them (or are they all just sitting on tons on unsellable stock?) and so many of them just seem to be
"GW wannabees" that you do wonder  where all the soldiers go..
 Especially since I'm still selling Farsands of 'em !

The British staff for "Shinyloo" Willie or Stadden figures on Stadden Horses. All 30mm
So overall maybe it is nowhere near as bad as it sometimes feels.


The Frecn Staff for the same"shinyloo" project. All Stadden 30mm models. Except Boney himself who is a Willie !,

 The current "off the shelf and play no brain cells needed  "  attitude of many rules writers/ games designers  really flies in the face of everything I like about this hobby.  Now there are still plenty of blokes who  do still use their brains- Donnington once again proved that- (including a splendid small scale Waterloo game on deliberately contoured terrain to show how that terrain affected the battle- sterling work lads - but I never got a chance to talk to 'em) But even there there were a number of daft looking games which I can't pretend to understand some doubtless infomercials for the games companies that put them on  they all looked so similar .....

So I hope that all of this sub-GW derivative dross  won't swamp us- I don't think it will really but the price of freedom- so they tell us is eternal vigilance ....

The picture on this post were chosen for two reasons- I like them  and they in part illustrate part of my own attempts at a bit of diverseity.
I suppose that is the nub of what I'm droning on about and why - up to a point- I have reverted to

 a time when brain cells were in fashion.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

The urge to do something ... a little different.

It has been a good while since my last post . This is simply because real life keeps getting in the way. I've had a very busy work period sorting out what I can do about the nosedive of the Pound and watching while all my costs go up between 10 and 20% simply due to the continual stupidity and prevarication of our cretinous excuse for a Government. This will not of course mean a 20% price rise- perish the thought! but as I noted earlier it will mean rises of between 5 and 10% on many items - but by no means all. As I have said before I hate putting my prices up . Even so it has been 5 years or more since some of these prices rose. Doesn't mean I like it though!
 So we will keep on going keeping price rises to a minimum.
 Also on a much much brighter note the next Blue Moon release in 15/18mm is the start of a massive ECW range. I should have the first packs of Foot with my next shipment which is due around the end of this month or perhaps- hopefully- a little sooner.

However on the nicer things ....

There is no doubt in my mind that wargaming has its boring bits. Different blokes of course find different bits boring. My own "Boring List" has changed more than once over the years. There is no doubt that my wargaming tastes have changed also. I have eschewed Fantasy since the early 90s Yet my  re-awakened interest in Modern Warfare has also - up to a point- re-wakened a desire to have a bash at a bit of "Hard SF" or more likely in our group "Silly Sci -Fi - because of the awful jokes. Hence the recent digging out of "69th M.I.L.F." Now all I have to do is find the box which has Denzil Washington Snipes and his Freedom Fighters of the Armed Revolutionary Socialist Executive not forgetting Fidel  Ernesto Gevara Smith with all his assorted thugs and Henchpersons. It may even be getting close to the time for a little seasonal silliness.
 One of the  minor reasons I started the "shinyloo" project was simply because it was very different from the other stuff I was doing at the time.
 Those wargamers who play the same game week in week out- be it DBA , Lion Rampant, Bolt Action or Star Wars  or whatever must simply have a much higher boredom threshold than I .
 Maybe they are of that type who perceives dice rolling as an intellectual exercise- or these days the idea seems to be to pull dice out of an embroidered little handbag, This apparently is a "game mechanism" .

 I now have a horrible image in my tortured mind of Lady Bracknell  observing tartly "A Games Mechanism!" As she catches Ernest fiddling with his bag !

(Apparently there are now Pokemon embroidered  douche- sorry dice- bags- can this
bloody hobby get any more childish and infantile- probably - Grow up for ***** sake ! ) There is even a bloke claiming that he will be carrying  "an ever increasing range of embroidered bags" !!!!(but probably not by Biba,  Fendi or Stella MacCartney I suspect!) I'd laugh  but I might burst into tears instead !


Mind you back in the day it was- almost WRG or nothing so not much changes really - except.... well except matters of taste. The fashion- started by DBA for tiny tables (or "boards" as they are now called) with tiny numbers of troops for tiny short duration limited scope games as if that is now the norm really gives me the right hump. The ferocious narrowing of the hobby  down to the trivial is not to my taste at all .
 Even the idea of playing every week now palls. There was a time I did so - even as recently as the noughties meeting were on a Thursday evening. However limited time meant that only small games could be staged usually on quite small tables and frankly it all got very samey and rather wearing.(Though the vibrating Guinness was rather drinkable).
 Not until we moved to our current location  in the pub and Saturday meetings did things perk up and differing varieties and styles of wargame were possible.. A larger table space and a few additional members as well as more time made for more variety. even though the actual number of meetings had dropped to around 1 a month or less. So though we were spending a lot LESS time overall playing the Quality of the games i s far far superior.
 This of course is entirely at variance with today's fashion for instant  gratification and speed  but with the  intellectual content of a dead rubber plant BUT repeating yourself more frequently ,on a smaller table - possibly in different hats !  Just like our woeful collection of political leaders then ....

So our watchwords are quality and variety- now we may not always reach those standards but that is what we aim for.
 So Donnington show last weekend had plenty of quality and a good few little bags.......
 There were some fine looking games-
 Teh "Like a Stonewall" groups Hastings was as usual a fine game. This bunch know their stuffand as usual put on a fine display.
Othe games that took my notice included the Siege of Athlone- as featured in WI a couple of issues back- again a good looker with some tasty modelling.
 However my personal favourite this year was Dave Brooks and his mates with their beutiful 30 years War game  I even bagged a couple of pictures.
Dave Brook's game at the recent Donnington show. Those flags are mostly hand painted. 
Another shot of Dave's game. Guns are Old Glory crew various makers. 
 Ilike the way Dave mixes makers in his armies. There were all sorts on the table. Old Glory. Foundry. Essex and some lovely figures by a Czech maker called Emil Horky  which I must get my hands on some examples of /
 On the table all mixed in a treat- non of this sizeist angst for Dave !!

So once again Donnington went some way to restoring my faith in the wider wargaming community that faith which is so often tried when scanning the pages of some of the magazines some of the time. I really really do not get this apparently constant urge to be childish which is now soobvious within some areas of our hobby.




Sunday, 18 September 2016

The Battle of Shyterly Moor- 1643 or 1978- take your pick.

 Saturday 17th October saw 4 T.W.A.T.S gather at our usual watering hole forthis months game. To whit you Gentle Author Floating Jeff, Mechanical Shaun and Andrew the Tekkie.
 I was in the chair  so decided to run and ECW game as I have lots of toys. Not least a bundle my wife Carole bought me for Crimbo a couple of years ago . These have featured on theis blog most recently in the post "Reconditioned Regiments" and also in my ECW article in MWBG some months ago as well as in other ECW posts here. .
 So it was about time they took to the field.
 Most of the models were Hinchliffe or Foremost but with several Garrison and some Minifigs gunners. The White Regt of trained bands were of course my single precious unit of  rare Les Higgins "Jason" 30mm figures- with a couple of Stadden to make up the numbers.(I totally forgot to bring the 7 figure cavalry unit of Jasons that I have. They will turn up next time.  A few Essex and some Old Glory were mixed in where they fitted in stylistically. Both armies were very shiny !
 As they were  mostly figures from the 1970s it seemed appropriate to run a game using 1970s rules so I chose George Gush's WRG set from 1976 . I used to play these quite a bit in the late 70s and had dabbled since but it had been at least 10 years since these had been used in anger,
 It was an intresting and entertaining experience.
 So here are the briefings for each side.

September 1643 or 1978 – take you pick!
Royalist Briefing
 Sir Geoffrey Riche- B’Stard.
Baron Firkham of Firkham Hall

Ye rebels have entered your lands intending to plunder monies intended for his Majesty (minus your cut of course !) You have therefore drawn together your forces to oppose them as they advance from the mill town of Utterly toward Firkham.
 You have drawn up your army on the edge of Shyterly Moor.
 Your army consists of.
 Horse and Dragoons.

The Queens Regt of Horse.
 A class HC ( C) Order Sword and Pistols
 9 figs
Sir Thomas Tyldesleys Regt of horse.
A class HC ( C ) Order Sword and pistols.
11 figs
 Lord Capels Regt of Horse
 A class HC ( C ) Order Sword and pistols.
11 figs
 Sir Haverage Dyce’s regt of Horse
A class HC ( C) Order Sword and pistols.
8 figs
Sir William Blackstone’s Regt. Of Dragoons
D class MC Order  sword  when mounted
 C class Open order musket when dismounted.
 10 figs

The Foote

The Kings Lifeguard of Foot
 Redcoats.
 Pikemen close order. HI C class
 2 sub Units each of  LI musketeers C class
16 pikes
32 muskets
Sir Charles Gerards Regt. Of Foote Bluecoats
Pikemen close order HI C class
2 sub units each of LI musketeers C class.
24 pikes
32 muskets
 Col. Mythical Smiths Regt. Of Foot Grey/Brown coats
Pikemen close order HI D class.
2 sub units each of LI musketeers D class
16 pikes
24 muskets.

The Ordnance.
 Heavy Guns
 2 gun models D class gunners.
 Guns may not be moved one placed. May only turn on their axis- which counts as movement.
 light gun
1 model D class crew
 May not move and fire
Light gun
1 model D class crew
 As above. Either light gun may be attached as sub unit to foot unit if desired.

Objective

Destroy the rebel scum! 


Parliamentarian Briefing 1643 or 1978 –take your pick!
Major-General Jasper Grasping.

That foul malignant Sir Geoffrey Riche- B’Stard has been raiding the mill towns of Utterly and Skintborough to extract contributions for the Kings evil counsellors.  Some of it was your money !!
 Therefore with the help of the Lord of Hosts you shall smite the malignants Hip and Thigh.

The Horse.
Sir Arthur Hazelriggs Regt. ofHorse.
 EHC close order sword and pistols C class
16 figs in 2 units of 8
Col Philip Twistletons  Regt of Horse
 HC (C ) Order sword and pistols  C class
10 figs
Col Edwin Cooke’s regt of Horse
HC (C ) Order Sword and pistols D class
10 figs

The Foote
The White Regt of Trained bands
Pikemen HI Close order C class
2 sub units of LI musketeers C class. Order
25 pikemen
 32 muskets.
The Green Regt of Trained Bands.
Pikemen HI close order Cclass
2 sub units of LI musketeers C class. Order
16 pikemen
24 musketeers
Col Edward Suren’s regt . of Foote
Pikemen HI  close order C class.
2 sub units of LI musketeers C class .Order
14 pikemen
22 musketeers.
The Utterly and Skintborough Commanded shot
Musketeers LI D class Order,
24 musketeers

The ordnance.
Heavy Gun
 1 model D class crew
May not move once placed except to turn on its axis- which counts as movement.
Medium Gun
1 model D class crew
May not move and fire in the same turn-
 Light Gun
1 model D class crew



Objective- Destroy the Malignants!! 

As we had not played this system for some years I decided on a simple encounter battle. I wrote the Briefing deliberately BEFORE checking out the rules to see if my memeoory was at fault- only with regard to artillery movement had I misremembered- Gush allowed artillery more freedom that I would have. For the game we went with Gush..
The armies deployed. Royalists on the right of the picture. Table approx 8 feet by 5 

The Battle.

Both sides  deployed  ignoring period formation. Foot mostly  2 ranks deep  instead of the deeper formations of the 17th century. The idea seemed to be to get the most firepower in. ,
 For the first 3 moves little occoured . Each Commander -Floating Jeff for the Royalists and Andrew for the Roudheads- ably assisted by Shaun simply felt at eah other rather gently. The Royalist Dragoons siezed a wood on the Parliamentarian left whilst twice their number of  Roundheads in the form of the Commanded Shot simply stood and watched. 
 A prolonged artillery duel ensued in the centre with the Royalists getting marginally the upper hand and causing moderate losses to the White regiment. However the Kings Lifeguard were far from unscathed as the duel continued Andrews artillery dice being marginally better- even with fewer guns.

Closer shot of the Roundhead deployment. Britain's trees once again do the business

 Finally Jeff got moving . The Queens horse charged Twistletons and routed it in short order- Jeff doing his dice thing as normal!! . The victorious Cavaliers then pursued into the somewhat surprised and stationary Curassiers and after a 2 move fight sent then on their way as well and being nutters pursued them from the field. Jeff's dice had scored again helped by a thumping slice of luck when Andrew's dice were the worst possible outcome and Jeff's the best with a plus 4 difference to the Cavaliers !! . Glum faces in the roundhead camp and dark muttering to boot !! 
Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Horse advance. Figures are  mostly retro being Hinchliffe from the late 70s but combined with a few Old Glory and painted as recently as early this year. 
On the Royalist left Dyce's and Capel's horse advance.. In the distance the Queens horse can be seen doing the Roundheads over good and proper ! 

 Left with little choice the Parliamentarians began a belated advance with the commanded shot entering the wood on the Roundhead left to search for the now dismounted dragoons. In the centre a firefight erupted which the  Roundheads had the better of but over on their right it all went very pear shaped very suddenly.
The roundheds begin to advance- Too little too late. 
 Surens Foot fired at Dyces horse- which drove them to a frenzy and they charged. They were however supported by Capels horse who hit the foot in the flank dispersing the sub unit of shot and smashing into the pikemen as they were engaged frontally. After some truly bum reaction test throws the whole unit fled pursued by the royalist horse. At this point Andrew and Shaun conceded defeat with 3/4 of their horse and 1/4 of their foot gone they had little option. So  we all had another pint ! .
The wheels come off AND it all goes very pear shaped for the Roundheads .... 

Post match analysis! 

Andrew had correctly predicted that "he was in for a right smegging" and so it proved.  Back in the day Jeff had been something of a competitor around the country and despite a decade or more since the last WRG game it was amazing how fast it all came back. Up to a point this was true for me as well.. Shaun has some experience with WRG too but only with the Ancients.
 However the Roundheads lack of aggression cost them the game at least as much as Jeff's knowledge and his uncanny ability to get good dice when it mattered (He throws bum dice too but somehow never at the tipping point as it were !!) .
 There is no doubt that these rules are not perfect for the ECW- I need to put in some period formation rules for a start/ However we will re-visit   them both for the ECW and  for other pike and shot sub-genres.  We may even visit the Ancients rules.
 Frankly I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the experience. I know its not fashionable these days but you actually have to think about what you do rather than simply roll dice or even pull them blind from a silly little bag like a poor raffle for a box of cheap whine ! (spelling error very intentional) 
A bit of showing off!.The Battle Magazine isd October 1978 and if you look carefully you can see the two units in the photo are now in my collection . 
Another this time matching the figures to the Asquith/Gilder Osprey on Naseby from 1978.

 Oh and the label "Retro- Wargaming" - well frankly "Old  School " reminds me too much of doddery old farts in cardigans with thermos flasks , smelling- as one blogger put it  of "Ralgex and Werther's origonals" . Not the T.W.A.T.S  style at all.
 As always thanks are due to Jean our  landlady for the splendid beef butties and acres of chips and gallons of gravy. Not to mention  more than a  few pints of Consett Brewery's splendid "White Hot" a light ale which is just the job for a decent seession.
 Next game will be sometime in October. I'll start thinking abut it once we get back from Donnington .









Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Treadaway Conundrum.

It is now pretty common knowledge that John Treadaway has taken ove as editor on Miniature Wargames.  magazine.  Henry Hyde's tenure- whilst starting a tad shakily soon made the magazine my personal favourite,  on average, of the 3 glossies. WSS out shone it sometimes and WI out glossed it always but never had the style to treat its readers as if they were older then 14 so all in all it was the best of the 3 .
So Treads has a hard act to follow and frankly a bit of a poisoned chalice. He brings a good bit of experience to the table but knowledge which lies primarily in the Sci-fant arena. Now personally I' ll nerve be a fan of Fantasy gaming - can't see the point of all that Dwarf -fiddling and more importantly the po-faces of many of its practicioners. Also GW- especially 40k just turns my stomach it reads like  a game for nasty little boys who pull the wings off flies ....
However on the ups side Treads has a track record of fine looking sci-fant games in various sub-genres often - and this is much to his credit- avoiding the well trodden paths. Both in Mil -Mod and latterly in MW even though not a fantasy game at all I'd read Fantasy Facts as I do have a small interest in "hard SF" style games as occasional light relief from serious historical stuff.

 THE 69th Marine Independent Landing  Force.
I've no actual objection to sci-fant articles within the pages of the magazine though I do have a concern that- due to internal Warners politics it may allegedly  all be slanted towards  one company to whit Mantic games. Now my knowledge of this outfit is severely limited- to one meeting with one supposed  representative at the Scarborough show War Torn a few years back. Frankly he was full of s***. He promised but did not perform. Now I have no reason to suppose that this will happen in the magazine- or that this attitude is normal for Mantic but it does make you cautious.

So Treads has a serious conundrum to  solve. He has to bear with the sometime waspish attitude of historical wargamers to sci-fant ( guilty m'lud!) as well as the narrow minds of some of the "gamin' innit" crowd who can't see past the end of the currently fashionable overpriced plastic spaceship.
 Then of course he can only decide  which article to print from those he has to hand......
I await the first few Treadaway issues with interest.