Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Auxiliary II

No club last night so no AAR today, real life caught me up and I had to stay home. I did manage to put the finishing touches to my latest Roman unit and base them up this morning.

Now these are not Aventine figures as I have said and they are old moulds and in a close up photograph do not look fantastic, however, from where I am looking at the moment they will blend in on a battlefield pretty good. I have also put them on a movement tray when in fact they will mostly operate in a skirmish role, if they had been meant to be close order troops I would have had them sorted so that the throwing guys would have been in the front line, but by the time I realised it would be a good idea to put them on a tray they were already glued to their bases. There are a few whose faces do not bear close scrutiny as they look like they have been in a boxing match with whoever is the champion boxer these days, last I knew it was Cassius Clay.

Next up are my officers, 50% casualty markers and rally point, I counted up what I have at the moment and I can easily field a 2000 point WAC army, two cohorts and two cavalry units to go and I am still teetering on adding another auxiliary cohort. The artillery of course is a separate matter all together and doesn't count.

Why Wargaming 4

Just as things were cooling down at the club and games were becoming harder to get as WRG 7th edition did not go down well the hobby as a whole was expanding and some of the other members to my horror turned to Star Fleet Battles and the growing Games Workshop hobby. Also some of my long time opponents were leaving the nest to make their way in life and wargaming was a poor second to girls, money and booze, but I was a stick in the mud and found myself floundering, it had to be big armies and big battles for me, I refused to go boldly into space at warp factor five.

7th Edition ended ten years of medieval gaming.

My saviour turned out to be my cousin from London, you remember him from Part 1, well John had not been put off by my shenanigans with the wagons and had built himself up a couple of 25mm brigades of American Civil War figures. I played a couple of games on his bedroom floor while visiting from Portsmouth back in the days when you needed to be Alan Turing to work out when you fired a musket if you had actually hit anything, as you seemed to factor everything in from the wind direction to what the soldier had for his breakfast. John had moved to nearby Kilmarnock for a time and invited me through for a game now that I was a real wargamer, I duly went and we played a game in his garage, he had more troops but they were still 25mm, however the rules were a revelation to me, they were American and were perfectly written, no ambiguities and loads of examples of how to do this or that and they did not give me a headache or had me reaching for one of the new fangled pocket calculators which I had although I hadn't been to school in twenty years.

I immediately bought a set and jumped into the American Civil War with both feet, albeit I would do it in 15mm, little did I know it would be the death knell of my medieval armies and to all intents and purposes for them 'the war is over.' You really have to say that in a leering faux German accent for it to work.

The Battle of Newmarket with a fraction of my troops, and one of my best scenarios.
 Only one guy at the club wanted to play ACW and he gave up when he fell out with me after we had a shouting match over something or nothing, he was no loss as he once turned up to fight a campaign battle with 33 men, half unpainted, crammed in a margarine tub against a fully harnessed Imperial German army, I got the win by default. I then made the decision to bid adieu to the club which had introduced me to real wargaming and which had given me ten years of battles and enjoyment, but like the Navy it was no longer the place I had first joined.

I had just moved house and the new one had a huge floored loft area, I built an eight by five foot table, it had all the room I needed to store my large collection of terrain and my growing collection of ACW armies and everything else. I made it comfortable with flags and posters around makeshift cardboard walls, putting anything else up would have involved DIY skills and I do not possess them although my table lasted well. We sweated in summer and froze in the winter, but it was marvellous. I still had one regular opponent who was happy to play so although every Saturday was now out I always managed one while onshore from the rigs.

I needed to find out the colour of Union or Confederate guns and limbers so I put out a question in an ACW magazine, I got two replies and I am still in touch with both of these men after twenty seven years, however one in particular had a huge impact on my wargaming. Ryan Toews (pronounced Taves) a Canadian is an expert in all things ACW and if there is something he doesn't know he will find out, as well as tactics and uniforms his knowledge of ACW flags is second to none, he can look at one and tell you which depot made it. The colour is an olive green and the top of limbers should be copper by the way.

Ryan invited me to take part in an ACW re-enactment at Perryville in Kentucky, the uniform etc. would be provided and I would be enlisting in the 17th Mississippi Infantry Regiment. Having never met any of these guys I turned up at my American friends house and he put on an excellent game for me with his mates and looked after me. I then made my way to Chicago and met up with the Canadians outside "The Emperor's Headquarters," a legendary wargame shop the likes of which I had never seen before. The story was that the owner had made millions on property deals and started this shop as a tax loss or some kind of scam and that therefore he wasn't bothered whether it made money or not, I am wiser now and don't think this was the case. I duly met the Canadians and from the first moment they treated me as one of their own, we trotted into the shop and spent time and money over an hour or so. I picked up my first pack of Old Glory 15mm, probably one of the first ever to be brought back to the UK.

My third re-enactment as a Yankee, Ryan is in the middle to my left.
 The re-enactment was a fantastic experience, we were cheered through Perryville by the locals as we took on the dastardly Yankees and were offered jugs of iced lemon water as we lay about on their lawns. I saw a van covered in Scottish flags and heard bagpipes later that evening, I moseyed over to the said gentlemen who was in a kilt and a Confederate jacket, I spoke to him with an over the top Scots accent only to be answered in a southern drawl with "Gee, you're Scattish too!" I beat a hasty retreat. That was the first of three re-enactments I took part in.

As I buried myself in the American Civil War I had an idea that I could write just as good scenarios as those which came with the Johnny Reb rules, Ryan provided maps for the locations and information on numbers and weapons, I did my bit on this as well, drew the maps and wrote the introductions. I then took the finished product to a small printer and had him run off five hundred copies, that one book grew into a series and we sold several thousands over time and it was very lucrative, I am biased of course and still think they are the best on the market for the price.

As for wargaming the ACW my armies grew apace as I took literally thousands of figures offshore to paint during my two week tour and I could turn out a brigade in that time. I met some guys at a show and found that they had a club about half an hour from Carluke in Airdrie and they were just beginning to show an interest in the Civil War with Johnny Reb rules, I decided to go along and was very grateful I did.

Ninian Central, my painting platform geddit?

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Why Wargaming 3

(This little series seems to be popular and now could possibly have been entitled something more esoteric like "Wargaming: My Journey", but no mind, I will forge ahead)

After eleven and a half years before the mast I handed in my ID Card and walked through the main gate of HMS Cochrane and realised if I wanted to go back in I would have to explain myself and have someone vouch for me then be quizzed about why I wanted to go into the base before I could walk through, a minute ago all it would have took was a flash of ID card. No handshakes, no flags, no bands, no enthusiastic crowds, and no thanks, I went in with nothing and I left with nothing, OK a superior attitude to everyone else on the planet, but basically off you go mate, go on, move along you can’t stand there, bloody civvy.

I was lucky to start almost straight away offshore in the North Sea as a Radio Operator. Now that the fear of providing for my growing family had left me I returned to the more important thing in life, wargaming. It was my mother who came to the rescue, she pointed out that there was an ad in the local paper where some bunch of guys ‘played with wee sojers’ just like me and were asking for like minded people. I immediately phoned the number and to my great joy found that they played a lot of WRG Ancients and met every Saturday in the local Community Centre, I was even offered a game. This was my moment to shine, although I had Scots and English armies they were not as complete as my French, so I would take them, I poured over the rules until the last minute and came up with several different compositions before arriving at the Centre on the Saturday, my first real game.

The club members were fairly young, at 27 I was almost the ‘old man’ of the bunch, everyone had an army of some kind, all 25mm of course, but they did lean towards medieval which of course suited me. I found I had been drawn against a Seleucid army commanded by a certain Jimmy Douglas, a big imposing kind of guy with a hearty laugh and a kind of wild highland look about him, he was the only one older than me. He said he knew me which was a surprise to me, later my mother on hearing his name informed me that he used to watch me in the bath! Before you gather up a lynch mob and leap to defend me it was not in a Jimmy Saville way, Jimmy was a neighbour and we played about as kids seemingly and he was always at our house and the bath of course was a tin bath in front of the fire. Anyway I spent some time deploying my army in a fairly usual way, cavalry on the flanks and infantry in the centre, and then off we went, within a short time I had been taught some very valuable lessons and my army humiliated without Jimmy breaking a sweat. His army contained ‘skirmishers’ and he handled these guys so well I was taking javelins from all sides without seemingly being able to do anything about it, his pike phalanx seemed to be recruited from ballerinas, tough ballerinas of course, as they seemed to be able to swing the big poles and form up on a sixpence every time I thought I had flanked them. And then there were a gamut of other specialist troop types against which I was also at a loss. I obviously had some catching up to do.

I turned up every Saturday I could after that and I fought the others and continued to learn, I don’t know why but maybe it was just the time but we almost exclusively fought WRG Ancients going through several editions, more medieval armies turned up and we always had at least four tables set up. Jimmy remained the man to beat, he didn’t appear every Saturday and eventually drifted away but no one except me ever beat him, he gave me a bit of a rep for arguing but in truth I was the only one who ever questioned anything while playing him and it was only on rule interpretations which, if you ever played WRG seriously, you knew would come up at least once or twice in every battle. 

I did get my revenge after weeks or months of wondering how to win, when I deployed my French with the infantry on the wings and my cavalry all in the centre, a huge line of nobles chomping at the bit and looking pretty frail to a Seleucid phalanx. On came the pikes while my infantry at last managed to sort out the skirmishers and others on the flanks being in much larger units than those opposite them, still the cavalry had not moved, still Jimmy did not see the trap. “Dismount” or whatever the equivalent is in French rang out as the phalanx was approaching charge distance, my vulnerable mounted knights now became dismounted robo-warriors and went forward in fanatical charges all along the line led by their king and his officers, the phalanx never knew what hit them and were soon fleeing for the rear, take that Jimmy Douglas! I was carried aloft by my victorious troops, no I wasn’t but in my head I was, Jimmy remained the best man and one of the finest gamers I ever fought but I felt the years of waiting had now all been worthwhile.

I even felt confident enough to try the tournament circuit and put my name down for the WRG 6th Medieval tourney or something like that one year. The first army I fought was an early Spanish force, I was using Scots and I have to be honest how this mish mash of a force was going to take on the amount of spearmen I had was beyond me, I duly walked home to victory, my opponent was a decent guy and the visit to another club was fine. My second fight involved a guy who had went out on a limb and brought an Albanian Highland Sheep Herders army, and I can’t remember whether it was the early, mid or late Sheep Herders but I did know that even if they could handle sheep they couldn’t handle my Scots in a month of Sundays, again however a nice outing and my opponent wasn’t too surprised he lost. Then came my third combat, the semi-finals, this involved a young whippersnapper with attitude, I could tell right away as the atmosphere was as frosty as the white bases of his Viking super army. He had a plan from the outset and it involved hitting me with fanatical wedges of berserkers, in they came and knocked back my schiltroms, my boys fought like Trojans and I saw the surprise in his face as they halted the enemy. What I didn’t see and the absent umpire spot, was that because I had held his men I should have lost a -2 combat penalty and gone back to normal and massacred them, my poor boys eventually lost out having given their all. Another piece of wargaming baggage to carry around for all time. I don’t think I even got a handshake at the end, the lad just trundled off and left me to pack up my bravehearts, no more competitions for me.

I had also taken to writing for money to help with my growing collection of soldiers, books and paraphernalia, I turned out articles on many battles and periods I became interested in, at least two or three a year, not a huge amount by any means but they seemed to be well received and I am vane enough to enjoy seeing my name on the byline.
While at the club over the years I sold and renewed my Scots, sold my French, something which also haunts me to this day, built Normans and then quickly sold them as they did not like me and I didn’t like them, I still hate Normans, I also built Swiss and Late German, one to get a pike army and the other to get an Emperor. And out of them all my favourite, once the French had gone, became my Edward I English, a great army as ferocious for me as they were in their day. After almost ten years at Carluke Wargames Club WRG fell by the wayside and it became harder and harder to get someone to play a game of the latest edition, I was stuck in a rut, I had had years of battles and looked on myself as a competent player but it was time to move on to something else and maybe even somewhere else or I might find myself back in that wilderness again.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Why Wargaming 2

What I forgot to mention in part one was that apart from knocking down or blowing up soldiers and models the only other interests I had were comics, especially anything by Marvel or DC and Commando, no sport at all of any kind.

Having signed my young life away at the tender age of 15 to serve Queen and country there was no time at all for hobbies apart from drinking huge quantities of alcohol while visiting numerous bars from Vera Cruz to Singapore. I did however meet two guys who did play real wargames, I saw them peering over maps one evening on watch at a secret location outside Rosyth and knew right away that looked good. Back at camp one even showed me his large locker full of Napoleonic troops and I was astounded and dropped numerous hints that I too was a wargamer, which I wasn't really but I knew about it, these fell on deaf ears and I have had an aversion to Napoleonics ever since. It did show me a new world of figures made for fighting battles and not made of rubbish plastic, but metal of all things.

A lot of things change when you get married but one of the biggest changes for me was that I now had time to paint and a place to actually store wargame figures not only that more and more manufacturers were concentrating on providing said figures and rules, clubs too were beginning to start appearing. I continued off and on with my WWII interests but I had turned a corner and began to think of leading the Scots against the dastardly English. I heard about acrylic water based paint around this time and took a special trip into the dark outer reaches of Glasgow to find some, all that was available looked pretty fluorescent to me so this was knocked on the head and I continued like everyone else with Humbrol enamels. I also found a shop called the Dragon and George which sold wargame figures, the problem was the proprietor only opened when he felt like it and if you wanted twenty of something he had fourteen or if you came back in a couple of weeks he might have eighteen and he wouldn't stock such and such a range as they were rubbish, which translated as he couldn't be bothered. I have no idea what kind of business plan he worked to it certainly wasn't one which was supposed to make money. The bloke was a nice guy, maybe he just liked the idea of having a wargame/games shop but he was certainly of no use to me, despite this I regularly made the journey just to see the shop window.

Despite still having no opponents I built up Scottish and English armies and started gathering rule books, which of course in the old days were photocopies in A5 and cost no more than a couple of quid. I eventually settled on WRG 3000BC-1485AD I can't remember the edition number but these went everywhere with me, I was still involved in holding back the Red Menace and Yellow Peril on the high seas remember. I also had passed that point where I had 'come out' as a person who played battles with toy soldiers and suffered the slings and arrows etc. of barbed wit when I attempted to get someone else interested.

I had success in this endeavour at last when I joined the 'Sheraton' I actually took figures onboard to paint while at sea, we had a lot more personal space on a minehunter than a frigate, and I had started collecting some ships for a set of coastal actions, I can't remember the scale but some of the lads showed an interest. Two actually bought ships of their own and we had German, British, American and Japanese fleets, in between our normal duties we played games on the chartroom table and a couple of times on the bridge roof and foc'sle. I was still fighting medieval battles on my own on the floor of the married quarter as there was a limit to what these guys deemed a game, ships yes, toy soldiers no.

I think by now I had joined the Society of Ancients and also started my writing career with a three part history of Robert the Bruce along with thoughts on Scottish and English armies of the period, I still had not fought against another wargamer. I had bought a book on heraldry and there was a beautiful pull out of French coats of arms for the early 14th C so I began a French army, this was to be my most professional yet. Block painting, enamels, flags and banners done by hand and no washes or inks in them days but it still looked good. Figure manufacturers were beginning to put more effort into soldiers which were not Napoleonics and the WRG Ian Heath books had a large effect on this, there were some dreadful attempts at medieval troops back then, the best were Ral Partha which I think became Citadel. My Scots contained a lot of these with their hands drilled out for spears, a drill for heaven's sake, I had to get a mate to do that for me it was so specialised, I never dreamed of doing it myself.

I was so proud of my French that I took a mounted knight unit along to one of the first wargame shows I ever attended at the MacLellan Galleries in Glasgow, a unit should have been no more than 30 figures, one prat laid out an entire Ottoman Turkish army against which my poor knights looked pathetic. To make matters worse I later overheard the judges say that up until the Ottomans turned up my knights were going to be first, I slunk back to Helensburgh gutted.

So, as I approached demob having done my bit with the Iron Curtain teetering and the Navy not being what it was when I joined up I had three armies and no opponents but yet still a burning desire to be a proper wargamer.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

View From The Window

Sunny this morning, a 'watery' sun as we Scots say, I couldn't really explain it in words you just know it's 'watery' and that's it, no wind and I will guess it is fresh outside, a sheen of dew lies on all the cars. There is virtually no parking on Main Street as it has been here since the middle ages so the protocol is that everyone parks on one side of the road and leaves the other free for the horseless carriages or no doubt the Devil's transport if you attend St. Oswalds. There are certainly devils driving some of them as they do not move aside when you have right of way, or speed through the place like a Grand Prix while texting their mates or checking Facebook, oblivious of my hand gestures, rants and grimacing face. Quite a few times we have seen Mexican stand off's with drivers leaving their cars and walking away, bus drivers sitting like statues refusing to move when you could get a King Tiger through the gap. The good thing for me I suspect is that if the criminal fraternity ever case the joint they will shortly realise that they cannot make a swift getaway as they will meet the school mam's in their 4x4's or several buses or the odd articulated lorry blocking the way.

This brings me to a sore point, does your car have those 'park anywhere' lights? You know the ones, they allow you to mount the pavement and close it off to pedestrians while you leap into Greggs or put on a bet at Betfred, they blink on all four corners or the car. They also allow you to ignore all the empty places in the car park and sit outside the supermarket door while your missus does her weekly shop. Their uses are endless, I must insist on a set if I get a new car.

I have read with glee the Corbyn bashing in the press and watched grown men cry on the box about what a disaster the man is and have generally kept my opinion to myself, apart from the fact that his election by his party members says more about the members than Jeremy Corbyn. A bunch who care more about themselves than what might be good for the country, but then again what choice did they have really. If you were in charge of the country and needed a farming minister with a bit of common sense and diplomacy in this time of crises for the farmers would you honestly decide to give the job to a vegan? She wants meat eaters treated like smokers and public money spent on a campaign to wean us off said meat, she is the exact opposite of what the industry needs and a fanatical lunatic into the bargain. That's as bad as the Tories when they put a green eco-warrior in charge of energy, his name escapes me at the moment, but here we are facing the prospect of the lights going out and that clown wanted to leave everything to windmills, pointy sticks and flints. And people wonder why I don't vote.

And to reinforce my point what do you think of the £3M we are giving to one of the worlds richest nations so that they can play football, the defence rests m'lud.

"£3 million, get outta here!"

As you know we are getting a new kitchen, we went yesterday to get our initial quote from one of the suppliers, let's just say that it would remain pristine as all we would be able to afford to cook in it would be toast and beans. The must have appliance now is a pantry, my gran had a pantry and we had a pantry when I was a lad, it was just a big cupboard where you kept stuff, we didn't realise how cutting edge we were as nowadays it costs thousands of pounds, who'd have thought.

Our life is about to become complicated after a fairly quite couple of months, my son is relocating from Korea which he did not like to a job in Wembley, so my daughter-in-law and granddaughter arrive on Thursday for an indeterminate time until they find a suitable house down south, my son arrives two weeks later. Tomorrow at half past eight the work on the new fire begins, a week of upset at least, then there are air vents and some repairs to the roof and chimneys, then of course there is the new kitchen once we decide who is getting the job and when it can be fitted in and last but not least the living room, stairs and upstairs hall to be painted.

Despite all this wreaking havoc with my savings I fiddle while Rome burns as I really fancy a battlefield tour of Waterloo next year taking in Quatre Bras and Ligny as well, that too is not cheap but sounds excellent and the company I am looking at has very good reviews. I have been to Waterloo but to have a guided tour by an expert would make the place come alive as I missed a lot when I was there due to a small blizzard, I didn't even dare take the camera out. My son wants to do an Indian Mutiny tour and I would be up for that as well but realistically not until 2017/18.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Why Wargaming 1

I am sitting here serving the public or waiting for the few who venture across the thresh hold on a Friday and am at a loss for something to do, I don't want to bring the paints down as I am running out of room here on the counter now I have the new PC and two screens and I have nothing on the map front either for a change. So, being in a nostalgic mood I thought what started all this.

Those Airfix boxed sets of 48 infantry of all kinds kicked things off, they were too small to add them to what I had, put them in the garden and throw stones at them as they disappeared in the dirt and debris, so my 'wargaming' moved indoors. It moved to domino defences and forts at the bottom of the stairs or under the sideboard, that was a great place and I still have fond memories of it, obviously I was a lot lot thinner then.

 Only the guys in a shooting pose were allowed to shoot, my first ever game against an opponent involved my cousin from London and I cheesed him off by pulling wagons away from my shooters, firing, then pushing them back so he could never hit anybody. My army would consist of 8th Army, Foreign Legion, Romans and Robin Hood's guys. At the same time my ceiling was covered in model airplanes, mostly German as I was fascinated by the many and varied camouflage schemes used, I also collected some warships. I remember blowing up quite a few planes from the top of lamposts by putting a squib (banger) in them, lighting it and making a fast descent before it went off, I sank the Scharnhorst in the same manner on a reservoir, with a few boulders helping her on the way to the bottom. Thankfully I eventually turned to dice from explosives.

I then discovered Charles Grant's book 'Battle' and I was hooked, out went the Romans etc. and in came WWII stuff starting with 8th Army and Afrika Korps and for once my armies began to look like something recognisable as such. In those days of course you could only get so much stuff and most of it was allied, there was no way you could field a PzIII or IV, Airfix did have a Tiger, which was my first model tank. None of my friends or brothers had any inclination to play the game and it was mainly a solo effort, but I began through brief contact with magazines and the library to realise that there was a lot more to wargaming than just WWII.

This was all happening at about that time in your life where you begin to appreciate the opposite sex and my patriotic stirrings were calling me to join the Navy with naive visions of me going down firing at someone or something while the water lapped at my heels, a la boy seaman Jack Cornwall. Which is strange as I became a Radio Operator and only ever sat on a gun (40mm Bofors) about eight years later and couldn't move the thing fast enough to draw a bead on a target flown by an old Canberra.

That very same Bofors.
 My small collection of soldiers, still mainly greenhorns, were packed away under the bed or in the garden shed or perhaps were given a ceremonial burial in the loft or garden as I picked up my case and headed south. However the seed had been sown.

3rd War & Conquest Tournament

I know most of you probably cannot make this event or perhaps it is not your period or you just don't like tournaments, but I would like to put this latest missive up as the organisers put a huge amount of effort in and they have opened up a few more places. You can find the details here! Thanks.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Auxiliary Cohors I

I have been a busy bee this last week with my painting, I am at a loose end with the maps and am awaiting some feedback so my spare time has been spent getting on with the Romans. I have settled on one Auxiliary cohort and might possibly add another in the fullness of time if I feel I need some cheaper troops than legionaries.

A straightforward unit, nothing special but the officer is a lovely figure and his second in command also just fits the bill perfectly he has a grizzled veteran look about him, although I notice I need to put a dab of flesh on his face as his 'tache is out of line. This time I put a shield with a couple of arrows in it and a dropped vexilio as I had spare transfers.

The next unit on the tray is again Auxiliaries this time light javelin armed skirmishers who can also form up in the battle line if needed. I had to get these from A&A as Aventine do not do a suitably Roman looking light javelinman, you could use line auxiliaries but I wanted them to be more animated, the figures are Lanceari and are more mid-Roman than early but this troop type is mentioned around Augustus' time so the jury is out on exactly what they were. The moulds are also past their best and needed a lot of cleaning, but they are by the same sculptor who now works for Aventine and therefore I suspect will fit in just fine. I can't say enough about this guys figures, they are beautiful and a pleasure to paint.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Saga Cross & Crescent

I had almost made my mind up to give the club a miss this week and concentrate on some painting as I am leaping ahead with the Auxiliary cohort at the moment and I suspect I will finish it today, basing etc. by Friday at the latest, so I have got another unit ready in the wings for the tray.

Anyway I got an invite to take part in one of Dan's large scale Saga games and as I had watched many of these from afar and always wondered about Saga I jumped in the Batmobile and braved the Lancaster traffic. I suspect most of you have played Saga as it is an extremely popular game and well supported with rules and especially some beautiful figures, one of which I 'stole' to lead my Saxons. The game is usually a skirmish game where you have a set of dice which represents your army and you use these to activate certain traits on a battleboard, these can help with melee, shooting or can disrupt something the enemy wish to do or just generally give you an advantage during a turn. You know how I feel about activation systems but this presented no problem during the game and although a few times I was unable to move a couple of units that was more down to how I used my leaders than the dice.

The Templars in all their majesty.

Dan uses 10mm figures and has enlarged the size of the units so the game presents a small battle rather than a skirmish and it does look good on the table, in keeping with my love of proper armies. We fought a simple meeting engagement as I was completely new, I chose the less fanatical crusaders while Dan took the military orders, I was opposite the less fanatical Saracens while Dan was up against his opposite numbers, whose name escapes me.

The Saracen fanatics.

These were a really lovely unit.
 I deployed with levy and shooters in the front line with cavalry on the left flank, everything else along with the good infantry was backed up behind, this was daft and I think I got off lucky that the enemy did not or could not take advantage of this. They did try and threw an early cavalry charge into the line but despite my horror at the casualties inflicted my boys stayed put, even the levy only fell back, a counter charge by my knights wiped out the enemy, a great start. It was now that my useless deployment held me up as I struggled to get my more experienced fighters into the front line, Simon kept playing one of his ploys on me which stopped my knights from moving and letting the infantry in, that was extremely annoying. Dan meanwhile was suffering from ferocious attacks by Ian's fanatics and was losing quite a few men, but luckily so were the enemy, one bug bear for us was a huge archer unit which kept us away from the centre of the battlefield for quite a while.

The enemy infantry advance against the Christian line, brave men.

With time running out I charged a unit of knights along with my Warlord into the enemy cavalry, I had some good extras to add to the fight but then only managed five hits from sixteen dice, only my bloodied Warlord survived to hobble back to my lines. Dan's Templars had charged the enemy infantry and been bounced back, but now my Sergeants charged them and drove the infantry back.

Dan had had all the fun and just as Simon and I were at last getting to grips time was called, the points totalled and we won! I think Simon would probably have lost his infantry but his cavalry could have destroyed my flank having lost my best knights, but it was not to be.

Dan took some more professional photos and when I get a few I will add them in.

A good evening's wargaming and a nice introduction to Saga, again a game which seems easy to play but requires thought to play well, very clever. Elsewhere we had a Sword and Spear (10mm) game and a Black Powder Napoleonic (28mm), sadly none of which I took much notice of as I was engrossed in my own game.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

View From The Window

The view this morning looks as fed up as I feel at the moment, nothing is stirring not even a bird in the sky and they are not giving it large with a chorus of joy either, not even that annoying pigeon which hoots most mornings. Wait, just to prove me wrong two Magpies, two pigeons and a crow have just turned up, it's going to be one of those days isn't it. Washington House has an interested buyer, a rich southerner who no doubt will sell his one bedroom flat in London for several million pounds and move here dripping with moolah for the good life, at least that is how some of the locals will look at it. Me, I just think he would be mad to buy the place for almost £400,000, although my wife would like it if we weren't cash challenged.

I have been dragged to three kitchen centres recently and things have definitely changed in that direction, hobs which don't burn you and are controlled by touch screens, boiling water on tap and ovens which lock themselves and burn off the dirt leaving a small pile of ash for you to sweep up, heavens they even come in orange and all of them look like they have been beamed here from the 22nd Century. The downside of course is that they have a 22nd Century price tag along with the looks, I have no specific idea of that side of things at the moment as two have still to send a rep and the other is busying himself trying to fit as much as possible into a small space.

I spent yesterday getting the living room ready for the coming of the wood stove in another week or so, which meant everything cleared out and a bit of wall paper stripping, I hate that, apart from painting and I am not mad keen on that either, I hate decorating or DIY come to think of it, in fact anything which takes me away from normal life and involves effort on my part. Unless of course it has to do with wargaming or grandchildren. Anyway, we got about a third of the room done in 4.5 hours as the guy must have put the stuff on with superglue but my left arm seized up on two occasions and I had to drop the steamer, my op may have stopped the numbness in my two fingers but it has left my left elbow 'dead' and the insides are just not right. My right arm has no idea what is going on and aches like hell, my missus has bad arthritis and stripping wallpaper is not exactly great for that either, so we have notified a handyman in the village who might complete the job for us. otherwise we will have to soldier on.

 Now here is an interesting thing and one which I am still shaking my head over as it reveals how mad the world is and how madder it might be in the future. I renewed my car tax online the other day and decided also to renew my commitment to someone using the bits of my body that are still OK when I die as my old card may not be any use now. I therefore took the two minutes to register as an organ donor, one of the questions was my gender, and get this, there were five choices! You had the usual male and female, then transgender which begs the question if you were born a girl but are really a man then shouldn't you simply be male? or is your body actually female anyway? Now there was a fourth box which I cannot for the life of me remember what it was, and then the fifth, gender 'Unknown'. How on earth can you have gender unknown, I dread to think what the official explanation for that is.
 Were you like me unfazzed that Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind were found not guilty of breaking any laws by taking wads of cash to ask certain questions in parliament. I bet you stupidly thought that being caught on camera and hearing them in their own words tout their services and what they cost that that would be it and Nipper of the Yard would be entitled to a "You're nicked mate!" Not only that did you see the sanctimonious pair suddenly turn into victims as they bleated that their reputations had been slurred and they had lived through 'hell' waiting for the all clear. In the eyes of parliament no doubt they are innocent but for the rest of us they will remain 'guilty as charged m'lud'.

We sit on our backsides with the knowledge that we have a proper government unlike those in the third world and our politicians are not syphoning off industrial amounts of cash to build gin palaces in the Home Counties. But when you continually have politicians use the tired old excuse that they have not actually broken parliamentary rules it is time those rules were changed. Cleaning duck ponds, charging the taxpayer for your biscuits, taxi fares, wet wipes, second homes and a host of other lucrative wheezes is CORRUPT and your rules don't mean jack. What does it take to get one of this lot in jail, even when they are standing over the corpse with the bloody knife they get away with it.

What about the migrants I here you ask, you've been pretty quite on that front, unlike the BBC which is working itself into a froth. Well, I am with Hungary and Australia on this one, I have no beef with genuine asylum seekers whose lives are in danger, or immigrants who have a job waiting for them here, but as for the rest, no I would not let them in, a small part of the world like Europe with its own problems cannot simply take in hundreds of thousands of new people who arrive with merely a backpack. Have you noticed there are no 'illegal immigrants' mentioned any more, they are all now asylum seekers, even the vast numbers who do not come from Syria.

To me what this crises also proves is that there is no such thing as a European united front or entity, whenever there is a crises in the world all of us go our own way, so much for unity. And it would seem that our leaders in the EU are just as clueless when asked to make a decision as our home grown bunch.

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Cohors II and the joy of 'wee sojers'

My second Roman cohort is now complete, that is two to go, Cohors III and the Praetorians, however on the tray now is the Auxiliary Cohort, after that either the Generals and Rally Point or more cavalry, that'll slow things down. One of the mounted units is a 'normal' one and the other as I have mentioned before are Contarii which may possibly have been another name for early Clibinarii or Cataphracts, for my period they may simply have been shock cavalry without armoured horses, whatever they were I have to do a bit of further research. I will probably leave these until the very end as they are not in the 'official' lists as yet.

Anyway I digress, back to Cohors II, I used the pilum's which came with the troops but cut them down a tad so that they were a bit stronger and wouldn't bend as much if touched, I also cut the poles off the standards and put my own on, again to strengthen them, all this seems to work fine as I have nudged them quite a bit while varnishing and basing.

 I wanted to put a bit of character into the unit and therefore added a casualty figure and a dropped shield which is a simple but effective aesthetic device, I wasn't sure about the wounded soldier but I think he works fine.

Another thing I did different this time was that I did not use different washes, this time I wanted to see how the Tamiya Smoke would turn out used as an all over wash, and I was suitably impressed and may continue with this. Actually I tell a lie here, I use Vallejo flesh wash on the skin, forgot about that.

I just love when a unit is near to completion and putting the finishing touches to the bases after which I can pour a drink and just look at them for ages. I fail to see why any bloke worthy of the name would not be enticed into collecting armies, modelling dioramas, building kits or leading his 'wee sojers' against worthy opposition.

No wargaming this weekend as work on the house has now started and I have visitors coming in October for an indeterminate time so I cannot see any extracurricular gaming for awhile, but never say never eh?

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Scratch one Princess

This week we settled down to Star Wars Armada, my second game. It involved Princess Leia and was set before the first Star Wars movie where her ship was intercepted by Darth Vader, she had the Death Star plans and was on a Space Station awaiting transport. Admiral Tarquin had of course got word of this and had jumped two star destroyers and another warship to within range of the station, I meanwhile with the Rebel fleet had to get the Princess away before she was killed or captured.

I decided to play a reckless gamble, I would jump in on the flank of the Imperial force and roll it up, I reasoned that to take on the enemy frontally would simply be too much and I would not get the opportunity to sit around for three moves and rescue the princess, in hindsight probably the wrong move.
  I caught the Imperials off guard and began to hit the nearest destroyer while overwhelming its protective fighters with my own, sadly however as the enemy had the initiative I had to chase the damn thing for several moves before once again being in a position to fire. In this game you fire first then move, so the destroyer let off some salvoes then legged it, I was then out of range and had to chase.

While I did this the friendly squadrons defending the space stations moved on the rest of the enemy fleet, they lasted longer than expected but did almost no damage to the big Imperial ships which now found the range and concentrated on one station while ignoring the other, sadly the one with the Princess on it.

Space Station 1 takes a lot of punishment.

I eventually got to a position where my target could no longer outrun me and it began to take some serious damage, all her shields at the rear were down and it would not be long before her crew would take to the lifeboats. I had failed in my mission though as the space station blew up in the distance taking Leia and the plans with it.


With more time I would have taken one destroyer down and started on the next with what should have been overwhelming firepower but it was not to be, with their mission accomplished despite heavy fighter losses Tarquin jumped away.

Space station about to go south.

I went for the flank attack as taking on the Imperial ships frontally is a tough job and I think I would have come out the loser in a stand up fight, if I had stopped a ship for three moves while waiting for the Princess to pack her bags it would have been an easy target for every Empire ship in the area and I doubt it could have survived three turns in such a predicament.

A couple of guys called off so Simon bravely umpired and ran the Imperials on his own, a big job with such a large scenario and so little time, but well done nonetheless. There is a lot to remember in this game and the addition this time of some of the upgrade cards was too much for us and we kept forgetting to use them.

Monday, 14 September 2015

It's all Greek to me.

Well I didn't do jack around the house yesterday despite my good intentions, I did manage to get a good few hours on Cohors II and catch two movies, one was fine but forgettable the other was 'Selfless' it had a nice back story, some action and overall a decent watch.

I also managed at last to get an army list sorted for the upcoming tournament in November, I went for Greek City States as I was expecting a few Spartans would turn up and I wanted to be different, but there also seems to be two other Greek City States armies on the list. Anyway I have went for the following force:-

1 x Strategos, 2 SIP's
1 x Lokhagos
Greek Rituals
Greek Comms
2 x 24 Trained Hoplites with heavy armour
2 x 24 Mercenary Hoplites
1 x 13 Javelins
1 x 13 Slings
1 x 12 Light Cavalry
2 x 20 Hill Tribes with rhomphia
The Rituals allow me to pray to the gods and receive one D3 extra SIP's, I only lose out if I roll a one, I can almost see it now, but I will leave it to the gods, Comms allows the Lokhagos to use SIP's, I have done this rather than take a higher commander for more points. The army itself has a very hard core and I am expecting the Mercenaries to do the brunt of the fighting and winning. The Hill Tribes are to stiffen the flanks and perhaps move on the enemy flanks with the cavalry if the opportunity offers itself.

There are enough players to allow two themes, Dark Ages and Classical, I have just received an email asking everyone going to confirm their attendance and I see we have Vikings, Irish, Arabs, Romano-British, Saxons and those dastardly Normans for the Dark Ages. On the Classical side there are Persians, Greek City States, Carthaginians, Macedonians, Indians and Spartans. At the moment there are nineteen players and no doubt a twentieth will be sought to even things up for the Dark Ages, there are at least seven newcomers a few of whom have played very little War & Conquest I believe but this is no barrier to enjoying the tournament. I myself have still only managed less than twenty games but am still on a high from my last win in May at Kegham Hall, this time we are back at Wargames Foundry.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

View From The WIndow

A break last week as you know, the view then was wonderful, the hills of the Lake District in the distance the wet sands of the bay as the tide had gone out or was on the way out as some large runnels of water were still to be seen all in glorious sunshine. I sat out with the others who had got up early and we spent the time talking, then as the morning proceeded we devoured our rolls on sausage and tattie scone with brown sauce, a Scottish delicacy. After this having no inclination to do anything remotely involving effort we had a musical interlude and sang some uplifting songs accompanied by my wife on the ukulele and my nephew on the guitar, my nephew of course is younger and I am out of touch with music now that Top Of The Pops is no longer de rigueur but I asked him several times if he didn't know a happy or upbeat song we could enjoy. Gin and Tonics appeared about 10.30 but I manly held off until lunchtime, we were also buzzed by a pilotless drone which took pictures of our hedonistic antics. As I said before a great gathering of the Clan.

This morning the view of course is very different but sunny I can see as far away through the gap as I have ever done, Ingleborough is a dark mass and the horrid windmills are spinning away, so the wind is still with us. Washington House is still on the market and I have not noticed any interest so far, so dig into that nest egg if you want some history and a headache. I do notice that someone has been out chalking yellow lines on the pavement again, which of course is illegal and no one takes a blind bit of notice of them anyway, and as you can imagine with our weather they need renewing almost every other day but it affords a chuckle now and again.

It would seem that the offer of using the Post Office as a huge wargame/study is now about to be signed in blood and therefore made legal or at least given the prominence that it can be brought up in an argument and thrown back with the "but you said!" retort. We have now decided that unless we get a huge lottery win we are staying put here in Warton so we are now putting the house right and getting it how we want it and not how it was left. We have put in a new bathroom and laid two wooden floors but now we are putting in a wood burning stove and a new kitchen, I think only the latter is really required but what do I know. The fire and the attendant work involved along with some remedial work on damp will upset the downstairs for several weeks the kitchen ditto and both projects are eye-wateringly expensive but surely that's it then.

While we were looking at kitchen stuff the young lady asked for our details so that their rep. could come around and spoil our day with actual prices and said a curious thing "Mr and Mrs? I am not judging." Why would she feel the need to let me know she wasn't judging and judging what exactly, did she get a lot of eloper's or BLT's in wanting to put two fingers up to polite society or accepted values by putting in an overly expensive kitchen?

 None of this work will be done tout de suite either, that no longer happens, so this work starts at the end of September and may not be all complete until around February. Unless you go to Ikea (Swedish for rubbish) no one will sell you something right there and then, "it has to come from our factory on Pluto see" or "we only build to your requirements" which of course translates as we do nothing until your cash is in our bank. I always wondered how much money I would have made if I had taken that attitude when I had the shop, so you want that Mars Bar, well let me make a call and see if I can get it here for next Tuesday between one and four as that one is only for show.

Why do people put YouTube tutorials up without speaking, if you are tech savvy enough to film your computer doing something and then upload it, put a bleeding voice over on it so I don't have to keep stopping the thing to find where the mouse arrow is!

Along with many other big events I have never watched an Olympic Games, Wimbledon or Budget Report in my life and up until last night that list included the Proms, but I was at a loose end having wasted another couple of hours on a pointless movie (Fantastic Four) I flicked the switch and sat for thirty minutes or so and enjoyed the sheer enthusiasm and eccentricity of the audience along with of course the music as the show was coming to an end. What a wonderful in your face enjoyment of Britishness, that's not something you can stamp in a passport or have a council wallah grant you in a registrar's office, magnificent and no wonder there was tears at the end.