Sunday, 19 February 2017

View From The Window

Busy weekend last weekend so no View, not because I have mellowed or given up on life. It is the usual miserable wintry morning with a day of kow-towing coming up as it is the wife's birthday, I took her out for a nice lunch yesterday and a surprise visit from the boys. All did not go to plan as usual for me these days, it would seem I couldn't plan the proverbial in a brewery without the Gods throwing a spanner in the works, Graham could not bring his family as Gabrielle contracted hand, foot and mouth which is contagious and therefore had to stay at home with mum. It was snow blizzards last week if you remember. Neither myself nor my friends ever had HFM (how modern is that, you read it here first) and neither did my sons when they were growing up, where did it come from?

I see sport is on the back foot again, Lord 'Clean up' Coe has been let off the hook as although his remit was to clean up the Olympics he now seemingly was not expected to know about the extent of the corruption, better check that job description. And poor David Beckham miffed that he is not Sir David while people less deserving, in his opinion, are at work on their coats of arms, you played football mate, case closed. Not that I am enamoured of the whole honours deal once you didn't have to spend a few hours hacking away at the enemy on the battlefield.

Corruption, what corruption?
 "Tories Kill 30,000", now that got my attention, a cull on Remoaners I thought, bodies hanging from lamp posts with placards perhaps and pin striped wallahs pointing sticks, I looked out just in case. No, nothing of the kind of course, it was a figure pulled from the great big book of dubious statistics, like the tens of thousands who were going to keel over from swine flu or SARS but in the end didn't. Have you ever listened to something like "one person dies every 30 seconds from ....." if that was the case you would think you would be stepping over a corpse or several during your normal Saturday shop where you probably rub shoulders with hundreds or even thousands of people, or is this all happening somewhere else, are whole towns and cities becoming wastelands that we don't know about, unless you are a bean counter. And the 30,000, yes its rubbish.

The BBC killed the news for me last week, again, by having a special on the NHS every night, I tried ITV only to find they were concentrating on mental health, which now seems to be back at No.1 after an absence of a few years. Is it not strange that the UK is the only country which continually has health at the top of the agenda and not in a good way, yet we are told our system is the envy of the civilised and uncivilised world. It now takes me four weeks to get an appointment at the doctors and that is if I am happy not to want my own GP.

 Sir Martin Rees, Baron Ludlow, an Emeritus Professor no less is warning us that if a large asteroid hits the planet we will be wiped out, Bruce Willis beat him to it in Armegeddon.

So it comes from a movie?

I had no idea Vegans could be bloody minded did you, I thought they were wholesome through and through and could look down on the rest of us from their lofty heights, but it would seem they are just like the rest of us underneath. Well maybe not, who would have thought certain coffee's and modern technology 'exploited' humans, the owners of a cafe in Huddersfield have decided to destroy their business by being obnoxious to their customers and refusing them wi-fi along with certain drinks, I see they don't mind the technology to make the other drinks or their electric till however, or their lights or the heating. I think it is more to do with saving cash than their concern for the rest of us.

Humans not welcome.

Where do you stand on Pewdiepie which rhymes with Tweety Pie, I had never heard of this guy who seemingly makes around £12,000,000 a year and whom Disney has now dropped like a hot potato, god knows what Disney thought they got out of the guy. He is a Swedish vlogger who has made a living, like many on social media, by being a prat and a complete mystery to anyone over twelve, I looked him up and managed an excruciating one and a half minutes of one of his rants before switching off. Why would a company like Disney see any good in this clown or think he will enhance their brand, I think it does the opposite, they dropped him by the way as there is a hint of racism behind his blonde Aryan looks, which was all right for Disney until the real world got a hint of it, now he is persona non grata.

I watched a programme on prisons the other night which shocked me to be honest, well it didn't because I am an old fashioned kind of guy and would like to see prisons returned to the 1950's, but it was dreadful. The prisoners basically ran the prison as there are not enough guards to guard them properly, the French company which runs the prison trundled out the usual official line about sticking to the rules and they would look in to anything which the programme pointed out was wrong while all the time denying that cutting back on maintenance and staff in order that their profit margin stays the same is communist lies. I cannot understand why, if there is one way in and one way out you cannot stop people bringing in phones and drugs, several kilos of drugs in one instance. Search the visitors completely and if they are caught they don't get to come back, you don't have 'human rights' as a criminal you gave them up to live outside the law. Get some flak on the wall to shoot down drones, and how difficult is it to stop people throwing stuff over the walls? Drop the rehabilitation nonsense, the pool tables, the televisions and the call me sir stuff, it is a punishment and you should not want to come back once out. Oh, and ditch the private owners as well or make them do what it says on the tin.

You made the mess, you live in it.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

On Track

Home alone until tomorrow, the missus has been away all week, so I have painted all my figures, no of course I haven't, but despite losing a few days at the weekend battling in Caen and on the plains of Gaul I have now got my Goth Bucellarii/Nobles complete. I am very pleased with them and they look exactly as I had pictured them, tough, well dressed, armoured cavalry, I am uncertain whether I will add normal Goth cavalry but at the moment this troop will do very well.

I may be taking the Patrician Roman's to the club on Tuesday so I have been painting some Christian types for Intervention Points as the Church was beginning to get a hold on the hierarchy of the Empire at this period. Along with these I have Senior and Junior Roman commanders and the Goth chieftain, who would have some kind of Roman military title as they enjoyed these and it enhanced their prestige with their own people. They are at the varnishing stage at the moment.

I now only have three more units in the lead pile, more Goth infantry and the Huns/Alan cavalry, I am going to take an hour or so later to get some nomad cavalry ready for the tray, I do seem to be racing ahead with these guys, they were supposed to last me until the summer.

I was given my wife's old iPad when I bought her a new mini last Christmas, and I have struggled with the thing ever since, god knows how much rubbish is on it and it takes several pressings of the button to change pages and some pages take forever to load. Yesterday I had had enough, I bought myself a mini and it arrived today, in fact I have got it up and running and will spend some time putting it the way I like this evening. You never need one of these technical marvels until you get one then it seems to become an extra arm. I check my emails on it and follow several writers that have the same view of the world as I do but articulate it better, at the same time I took out a subscription to The Spectator so I receive a digital copy as well as the written word and an archive going back to 1864ish.

I am unsure however of where I will find the time to read it, I had to shelve a large map project for a priority one only to have that too shelved for a more priority one(?). I also took almost three hours to complete a map yesterday only to press the wrong button and the thing disappeared into that vast recycle bin in the sky, I was not amused and it took the shine off buying the iPad. Looking on the bright side the work will put the Anderson Map Fortune back in the black.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Dux Bellorum (Duke of Battles)

Sunday morning was bright and sharp, which of course means it was Harry freezing, however Stewart managed to get over the A66 without a hitch and we marshalled our forces after a fry up to uphold the honour of both the North and Scotland. I was going with Romano-British and Stewart his Carolingian's, in War and Conquest world there is a cut off between the Dark Ages and what we call the Age of Warlords I was in the latter and Stewart the former and we fought armies suitable to each period as Jenny and Phil, especially Phil, have around 15+ armies between them.

My first game was against Jenny who was using Phil's Patrician Romans, the very army I am busy building at the moment, we had gone for 3,000 points and at that number the Romano-British can field an army for all contingencies. I went for two bodyguard units (Comitatus), two Milites and one Pedyt supported by two archer and one sling unit along with two Milites cavalry commands. I was relying on the Comitatus to do the damage as usual while the rest of the army took a 'wait and see' attitude, however, this time I was not going to throw my cavalry forward because I knew the Roman stuff was far superior and therefore they would constitute a mobile reserve.

The Patricians formed up with cavalry on the left, then the German Foederati followed by the Romans, one unit was put away out on the right to get around my flank. I had spotted the Bucellarii and put two missile units opposite them backed by cavalry, I also noticed that if I quickly shifted my troops to the right I could face them with infantry, it blocked my cavalry but freed one up to move to the left, battle commenced.

British on the left, Romans on the right.
Hun Bucellarii.
Battle about to commence.
The end draws near.
Carolingians vs Saxons.
The lines clash.
I followed my plan and although my first shots fell short, both stones and arrows my shooting picked up as the game went on and the Roman cavalry began to suffer, to alleviate this Jenny galloped her horse archers away as my infantry now confronted the Bucellarii, the horsemen were taking rising casualties from the missile troops and now the javelins of the Comitatus. I now had a dilemma, I had got my infantry into position against the cavalry but I was shooting them to pieces, why take the chance, albeit slim, that they would lose a combat, I chickened out and the Bucellarii too galloped away but there was only a handful left and thus no threat for the rest of the game. Meanwhile the infantry lines closed and javelins and darts flew through the air, on the right the main clash began as the Comitatus fought like lions around a small hill the rest of my brave boys stood rigid behind their shieldwalls. The pendulum tipped irrevocably in favour of the British and the enemy left broke, it was time to loose the cavalry, Jenny accepted defeat and we shook hands.

On the other table I had occasionally heard whoops of joy from Phil as his Saxons met the serried ranks of Carolingians, but as I turned around at the end I saw a dejected Phil also shaking hands with Stewart, the score was 2-0.

We lost no time changing tables, this time Stewart was fighting Jenny's Vikings and I was up against the Patricians with Phil as Magister Militum. I won the roll off to see who deployed first and as a gesture of good will I let him go ahead, funnily enough his army almost mirrored Jenny's deployment so I also formed up in the same old way with the same plan. I went forward and pressured the Roman left, I threw Strategy Intervention Points in to gain the upper hand and move first and when Phil did manage to win I used my 'Dux Bellorum' ability to force a reroll, which I then won, my right flank marched on while my left again went in to shieldwall and was positioned so that some Roman units would not be able to get into the fight when it came due to lack of space. I expected Phil would pull out his Bucellarii as Jenny had done but no, in they came pell mell, now we all know that the cavalry should not bowl over an elite formed up infantry unit, but there is always that sliver of fear that it will indeed happen and as it did happen to me in Peterborough last year I still had that sliver of fear.

Me on the left, Phil on the right.
The Roman left is under pressure.
The Romans collapse.
I needn't have been scared, the cavalry were halted then ran off, at the same time a unit of Foederati also headed for the rear, Phil now threw his whole infantry line at me, the results were disastrous for him as his units were either repelled or stopped in their tracks. At this point I had destroyed his two most expensive units and achieved my objective, but Phil's army was in a mess and had obviously lost the will to continue, we too shook hands. It was 3-0.

Jenny and Stewart were still locked in classic shieldwall style but the Vikings were gaining the upper hand, reduced to only one or two commands Stewart called it a day and again hands were shaken. The contest ended 3-1 for the North and Scotland, a great days wargaming and an excellent result for Clan Anderson.

Carolingians in the foreground, Vikings at the rear.

Dark Age slog.

I am now forging ahead with the new army having lost a few days over the weekend and last week, I want to have 2,000 points ready in a week to possibly take to the club, but I do have a busy week ahead so it might be a figure too far. As we now have a few interested people at the club I have proposed a small War and Conquest gaming day here at the PO in August for the guys at the club, they are a great opportunity to learn the rules and have some fun at the same time.

Monday, 13 February 2017

On the outskirts of Caen

Phil and Jenny arrived five minutes late, which is not bad going considering journeying from the other end of the country up that one motorway, my son Stewart started off but the A66 was being its usual bloody self and he had to turn back due to snow and fog. The weather seems to have a particular bent for being atrocious whenever we or they attempt the A66.

Now, I pride myself in having both sides for whatever period I game and the terrain to match, however I was a bit surprised when Jenny said she had to pull the car around to the front and almost park at the PO door, something no one else has ever tried or managed. I then saw the reason, box after box came out the back of the car and into the PO, about an hour later we quite literally had the outskirts of Caen in the summer of '44 spread over my ping pong table. It was a beautiful set up.

It was an introduction (again) for me to Chain of Command, it was a Scottish attack on the 12th SS and we had to gain the town square to win, it looked a long way away from where I was sitting. We carried out the by now famous 'patrol phase' which at least meant we did not have to start at opposing table edges and spend all day moving instead of fighting. There was a large stone barn in the middle of the battlefield and the Germans occupied it, along with an orchard on our right flank, it was me and Jenny versus Phil. I was on the left so gingerly advanced towards the barn while Jenny made a move on the right, I of course was hit by MG42 fire almost immediately and took cover, I brought on a mortar and got a shot off and dropped some smoke which halved the German fire but the barn remained a strongpoint.

The bloody barn.
Bing, Bang...

I was in charge of three tanks and an M10, I brought the first Sherman on and I suspect it was a reconditioned one, as was the others as it happened, because it seemed to move in first gear, no sooner had it appeared than up popped a Marder III in the village and then up went the Sherman. I brought a second one in and started lobbing shells at the barn, but although I hit the troops inside I couldn't kill them, the mortar also sent a bomb into it at one point. My infantry were basically pinned as another German squad turned up behind the barn, I was feeling pretty helpless, Jenny was not having things much better on the right, although she was edging further up the road than I was. On came the third Sherman and it too fell victim to the Marder, shortly after this my remaining Sherman was also lit up, I now had infantry pinned, no armour support and not much chance of ever making the town square. Jenny made a dash on the right but the German defence was simply too well dug in and despite raining smoke on the area from her mortar her platoon was going nowhere, because as soon as it cleared there was wall to wall Hitler Youth waiting with itchy trigger fingers. I managed to bring on the M10 but it was too little too late and we called a halt as it was obvious the town would be held.

Jenny's troops bravely push forward.
The Boche waits.
Too late mate.
In the cold light of day what did I think of CoC, had I changed my mind, no I hadn't. This game flowed better than my previous couple of games and I quickly got used to the activation system, however, like the others as soon as I came up against an enemy squad with an MG and decent line of fire then everything stopped for tea. I only managed about three shots with my mortar team because I couldn't roll a 1, yes, I could have brought one of my leaders back but they were required up front. I could not believe that despite being pummelled by a Sherman, shot at by my infantry and having the odd mortar bomb dropped on them and losing half or almost half of their men along with garnering a huge amount of shock, nothing could shift the Germans from the barn. I also found the tank vs tank fire mechanism of handfuls of dice just plain strange.

At the end of the day both CoC and Bolt Action in my eyes have things wrong with them, you could possibly argue the latter more than the former but neither is perfect, but the selling point of CoC is that it portrays realistic tactics and rewards good command and control, I just do not see that. When you can have a tank and a mortar staring at a barn containing enemy troops giving your infantry a hard time and because you don't get a 1 or a 3 on a die they simply do nothing is not my idea of reality. So it is Bolt Action for me for WWII and a mental note to stop complaining and get on with playing.

I enjoyed the game more for playing with friends on a wonderful table with gorgeous toy soldiers, we retired as planned for my famous pork and chickpea curry which went down a treat and girded our loins for the coming North vs South contest the next day, my son was going to attempt the A66 again in the morning.