Saturday, 31 October 2015

On Parade

Despite my debilitating sore throat I stepped up to the mark and completed the Auxiliary cavalry, I really like these guys for some reason, they just seem to click, the officer is a bit wooden but I can live with that, the horses are really nice and I think the green colour scheme works just fine. I have attempted to get the next unit, Praetorians, ready for priming but I can't really shake the doldrums at the moment but I am hoping after last night I am on the mend.

Auxiliarium Equitum Dimittit
 I also managed  while I was basing the cavalry to coat those garish desert hills and terrain pieces with some of my 25 kilos of sharp sand, I also put the odd tuft on the surface and I think you will agree they are much better.

Now that's desert.
As I have some spare time I decided to show you a picture of the new mat and while I was at it muster the troops as they near completion to give me an idea of how they look en masse.

'Sands of Time' desert mat.
  And here are some close ups of the battle line, no parade pansies here, just veterans of the Twelfth 'Thunderbolts'. I suspect they will be finished around Christmas or just after so I intend to enter them in yet another War and Conquest tournament, a friendly in February which friends are organising. I really need to fight more battles with my favourite Romano-British army, I have gone Greek as you know for the next WAC tourney instead of Dark Age, so perhaps back with King Arthur in May. Mind you I am enjoying playing with the Saxons against the British (and my son) during our warm ups for November.



I should be back at the club on Tuesday for that Dystopian Wars game although it is getting a struggle to set out on such miserable cold, wet evenings, also next weekend is our last 'training' games before we head off to Newark on the 13th.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Another Red Letter Day

I didn't get to the club the other night as I am still suffering badly from this damn throat, so much so that I have got a doctor's appointment for this afternoon I am going to lay it on thick to hopefully get some antibiotics and put an end to it.

The mail man knocked on the door as he always does, but this time it wasn't the usual guy and he handed me a large parcel, it was my desert mat, something I was not expecting for at least another week or so and then a second postie brought me the latest in the Walking Dead volumes.

The best thing of all was an email from Bev Kreuger at The Last Square in Wisconsin, some of you American readers may know this game store, who informed me that she had approximately £94 in royalties for me from sales of my scenario books. She explained that TLS had suffered from the banking crises and they had now turned the corner and as she was stock taking she found that she had sold her remaining stock of our scenario books and she wanted to pass on the money to myself and co-author Ryan. It was a very pleasant surprise and what an incredibly honest woman.

The Last Square logo.

I am hoping to work on my terrain pieces this afternoon and get some photographs over the weekend with what I have of the Romans on the new mat.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Celts and Other Stuff

I am at a loose end at the moment due to the missus being away and suffering from my debilitating cold however I watched the BBC series on The Celts as it was recommended to me by Matt at Wargames Table.

I have actually met several people through the years who insist they are Celts from Devon to the wilds of Lanarkshire despite recent DNA testing which gives us more of a Scandanavian leaning amongst other influences, Genghis Khan would you believe for instance. So I don't personally see myself as a Celt, Scots yes, Celt no.

The programme was pretty good and the historical bits showed the producers were not happy to rely on the usual ten men on a 1/10,000 scale and careful editing showed the battle scenes at their best. The programme was presented by Alice Roberts and Neil Oliver and as you know Neil gets stick about his long hair, and the atmospheric shots where he glides about in the shadows etc. and true to form Alice gets no slo-mo shots they all belong to Neil. You get an overall picture of the civilisation then an episode mainly on Vercingetorix and one on Boudica (I don't know what the proper form is anymore). Vercingetorix gets a raw deal, captured and slung in prison for six years and then publicly strangled, so much for the noble savage, didn't cut any ice with the Romans.

Pretentious moi?
While I am on about the meedja I watched a film on child soldiers in Africa the other night and it turned out to be a good watch, very atmospheric, well made and obviously fairly brutal. I couldn't help but fell sorry for those caught between the different factions who all treated the civilians as fair game and with off the cuff violence. That most versatile and charismatic actor Idris Elba plays a leading part as the commander of a battalion of young boys.

I have one more for you, it is one I mentioned a year ago on my return from Korea, "Roaring Currents" or sometimes known as "The Admiral", there is an english language version out now and if you like watching a good battle you really need to see this. I have dug a little into the battle (Myeongnyang) and of course the film makers have put their own stamp on what happened, nonetheless it is a magnificent piece of cinema. One scene in particular stands out for me when Japanese boarders try to make their way across gangplanks onto the flagship and are hurled back by shrapnel blasts. Twelve Korean war vessels against about 133 Japanese warships plus several hundred transports, however what you are not privy to is that Korean warships could carry from 26 to 50 cannon and the Japanese at most two, they relied mainly on boarding tactics, they were also larger and better constructed, even so, a magnificent victory.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

FIASCO the Show

We got to the show about half an hour after it opened, having got the map to the hall the main thing which stood out was the number of games on display, it was very small, and once inside the hall it looked in the main to be a traders convention. This was a shame as I had been looking for some games to give me some inspiration, the quality of most of the games was pretty poor to be honest or the standard you would see on a decent club night. Only one game in particular stood out for me and it was part of the battle of Kursk fought with Bolt Action rules on a beautiful terrain, but although I approached the table on several occasions and at one obviously took pictures no one spoke to me or looked like wanting to. The other well constructed game was just outside the main door and was a big WWII Western Desert game but again the guys were more interested in playing than engaging anyone who showed an interest. I had a word with Simon and Michael Curtis of Curtey's Miniatures and 1st Corps and wished I had all the time and money in the world to build armies with their wonderful figures but sadly I don't, but I might end up fighting against them in February. They did speak at length about the effort involved in bringing their 'road show' to a convention and I can see some time in the near future where we will only have one or two large trader and wargame shows with local shows going back to showcasing the hobby alone, if at all.

A demo of Guild Ball, a fantasy football game.
Eastern Front

Eastern Front
Eastern Front.
I did manage to spend around £60, I got some primer and jumping ahead some Iranian flesh paint for the Sassanids next year. I also saw a lot of desert terrain and bought some hills and rough ground from S&A Scenics which I will sprinkle with my sand to match the Roman bases, I also got a small marsh/oasis from the Last Valley which I will also redo with my sand, that should be more than enough for now. Bringing up the rear is some magnetic tape and a bunch of spears which I have run out of at the moment.

The Swag.

Nothing to do with the show but my Suicide Squad comics have turned up and I have started the first, and it is pretty good, as you can see by the covers Harley Quinn seems to be flavour of the month at the moment, looking forward to the movie.

View From The Window

I am sitting awaiting a lift to the FIASCO wargame show in Leeds, as well as the clocks going back my early bird impression is also due to a throaty cough which has robbed me of most of my sleep the past two nights, why do these thing always get worse at night. Strange view this morning, it is damp with grey clouds but there is sun there, that watery sun I told you about, and it is showing the last of the green in a nice colour, as if the fields and plants have just been jet washed.

I am home alone again for a week and despite having given the impression this is exactly what I was looking for, rattling about the house on your own is, well, lonely. No dinner ready when the PO is closed, no coffee and a chocolate at 10, no one to listen to me vent my spleen at the News. But then again, no one to tell me how to prepare my soup, to remember and put the right bin out, discuss kitchen designs or write a list out for our visit south for Christmas; socks, toothbrush, seven dresses for three days, fourteen pairs of shoes, warm coat, cold coat etc. So on balance I will survive.

My lift is nearly here, scratch the above, it is now grey mist and pouring with rain, stay indoors weather really, brrrrr.

I'm back. You probably don't have a shop, but I do and it is not like the old days, when we went into a shop we did not touch anything, we stayed within command distance of my mother or father and dared not move. That dear readers has changed, what we have now is the mother either harassed or unconcerned that she has kids in tow standing at the counter saying "Don't touch Jayson" while looking at me and oblivious of what Jayson is actually doing. Normally that is picking up the greetings cards and putting them back in the wrong place or putting them in a neat pile on the floor with me glowering at him. Or maybe it is Chardonnay-Shiraz seeing how fast she can spin the card holders all the while ignoring the pleas from the parent at the counter not to do it, who again rolls her eyes at me in a "what can you do" kind of look. Well you can smack her for a start my look says back. Occasionally, like Popeye "I canst takes no more" and I shout at Jayson or Chardonnay-Shiraz only to face a look which could kill, how dare you shout at my angels! Well I do dare if you cannot discipline them yourself and I remain content that once they leave the shop that's it, but mummy or daddy have to live with them.

Chardonnay-Shiraz unhappy at something or someone.
Who exactly is the word unwaged supposed to help, at the show today you were either waged or unwaged as I suppose '£2 concession for the unemployed' is judgemental though true, but isn't unwaged just as bad, because we all know whoever asks for it does not have a job.

I chose a documentary on BBC iPlayer entitled 'The Forgotten Army' which was introduced by Griff Rees Jones, so naturally I thought this was about the 14th Army in Burma and Malaya, that turned out to be untrue, it was nonetheless a fascinating story of two West African divisions fighting for the British. What it failed to mention or brushed over was the other people in the title, the Indians, native allies and British who were also there. Again it rather pointed the finger at us as having done something wrong, the Africans were not treated well but nor were the rest of the 14th Army as the war ended no matter what their nationality. You cannot impose 21st Century mores on the past and his comment that he was afraid he and his generation had a fixation about WWII was rubbish, of course we had a fixation with it, five years of bloody warfare and a struggle to overcome two fearsome enemies. I still have a fixation for it and I am not afraid to say so.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

The Last Kingdom

This is a hot topic with us wargamers at the moment and has been long awaited by Dark Age fans, so, having seen the first episode and being a pain in the bum for pointing out historical faux pas what did I think.

Before we get to that let me say that until recently the only book of Cornwall's that I had read was one on the American Civil War and it was dreadful, I took up his series about his view on King Arthur and it was OK, I read two and am not bothered about reading any more. I have read historical fiction and read a great deal when I was younger and it was all better than Cornwall's or at least that is the way I remember it.

I also have to agree with some points of view that if you are going to turn out an historically based series and have to spend money please spend it on the right stuff, you can pick up an Osprey book if you are Googley challenged. I can forgive a lot but getting the costumes wrong is really pushing it.

Having said all that I thought it was pretty good and I enjoyed it and I look forward to more. We have to be thankful for what we get as amateur historians and wargamers in the way of bringing our periods to life, sure we can get real bummers like the White Queen but we can also get stuff like Vikings and this which in the end are historical fiction not historical fact. Leave your brain on the kitchen table, grab a beer and simply enjoy something for enjoyment's sake for an hour, then put your brain back in, if I can do that with Braveheart........!

I do wonder why we cannot produce wonderful historical dramas covering the Scottish Wars or the Wars of the Roses or even the events leading up to 1066, storylines with strong characters, battles, love affairs, murders, treachery and everything in between, and all home grown. Why?

This is something at last for me and my licence money for which I normally get nothing.


I get rid of everyone today, No.1 son off to start a new job and the missus off to the Lakes for a week of fresh air and walking, the only downside being that I have to look after the PO for a whole week. Anyway with my time free I have decided to go to FIASCO at the Royal Armouries in Leeds on Sunday, as an aside this is the only institution they have brought up North that has been worthwhile, the IWM at Salford is an expensive white elephant and sadly a project for a branch of the National Army Museum at Catterick or somewhere never got off the ground.

There is nothing specific I want to get at the show but I do want to keep my eye open for some possible Eastern Med terrain pieces now that I have ordered up the desert mat, I've always fancied a ruined temple, and I have seen some nice pieces in fish tanks. I also have an urge for a Roman Villa, I have seen some online but they are ruinously expensive, see what I did there and it's still early. I had a horrible thought last night that I should build it myself, which I think I could do, it's DIY that I cannot do but we will see, maybe a nice map project would pay for one.

I might also be tempted by some Black Scorpion cowboys, they are updating the range and adding to it as they are bringing out their own ruleset, they look great and are very easy to paint. I will continue to use Dead Man's Hand though.

Needless to say I shall let you know how I get on.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

What's in a Name

With the Romans nearing completion I need to identify them, Cohort I or II is not enough, they represent a military unit of a formidable and well organised military machine with a pedigree which covered hundreds of years so it would be unforgivable in my books to simply plonk them on the table as a representation Roman unit. My troops are based in the East so that cuts it down to around five or six legions which were almost permanently stationed there apart from when they were required as ‘fire brigades’ elsewhere. There are a couple of famous legions, III Gallica and IV Scythica come to mind but I don’t always like to plumb for the obvious so I have gone for Legio XII Fulminata or in layman’s terms ‘Thunderbolt Twelfth Legion’, aka Paterna, Victrix, Antiqua, Certa Constans and Galliena.

This is one of Caesar’s original legions and seems to have been active in the East from the end of Augustus’ reign, it lost its Eagle in 66AD during the Jewish Revolt but returned to form under its commander T. Flavius Vespasian whom it supported gaining the Imperial throne. During my chosen period it fought against the Parthians under Lucius Verus, then moved with Marcus Aurelius to fight the Quadi in modern Slovakia before remaining loyal to Marcus when Giaus Avidius Cassius revolted. It did not remain loyal in 193 when it sided with Pescennius Niger against Septimius Severus and it was punished by being reduced to the status of a reserve for a time. It was still guarding the frontier as late as the 5th Century.

There is something about military numbers which I think fascinates us all, you can see a 3 but if you see 3rd Regiment of Foot, there is instantly a history, battles, campaigns and characters for us to delve into, we can simply skim the surface or we can garner enough information to bore someone to death. It even doesn’t have to be numbers, in my Dark Age armies the units are identified by their banners, the Horses, the Wolf the Praying Man etc. and of course when I had medieval armies it would be a lord, Bruce, Warwick, Douglas or whatever. But it has to be something, I could not simply throw a bunch of troops onto the table and say, the blue guys will fire at the red guys or some such thing.

What is even better is when your miniature warriors gain their own reputations, and I know I am bordering on madness here. My Iron Brigade for instance has yet to come close to the real one, my 39th New York should not be put where you need stalwart troops, but you can rely on the 44th, nearly all my elites are not worthy of the name despite the lavish paint jobs and beautiful banners, numerous pep talks and tantrums. My most notable unit ever was the Comte de Alencon who only ever lost one fight, I was crazy enough to record every battle back then, when he was surrounded by Sung Chinese infantry and chariots, hit in the flanks and rear. Even my opponents eventually asked me to point him out on the table, top man.

So how will the ‘Thunderbolt Twelfth’ fare, I have no idea who will be the stars and who will be decimated but the time is approaching when they will have to draw their weapons in anger and begin to build their own reputation, I am expecting big things.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

For Parliament and Expense Claims!

It is now dark when I set out for the club so "the nights are fair drawing in" as we say north of the border or nowadays "get that bloody ref." Anyway it was a miserable night as I braved the traffic coming out of Lancaster, Andy was setting up a 28mm Black Powder ECW game and as usual he arrived weighted down like a pack mule. There were only three of us so Andy umpired while I took Parliament and immediately started totting up my expense claim for later, while Simon came out for the King.
The Cavaliers deploy.

Parliament deploys.
 Andy had intended to do a scenario but as it was a club night and we were short of time we just put down two forces opposite each other and had to, or stood around as it turned out. Simon is not as experienced at this kind of warfare as many of us and he straight away threw three cavalry charges at my line, needless to say I was surprised and they were easily beaten off with two cavalry troops dispersing and a third knocked back behind their lines. 

Prepare to receive cavalry.
Both lines now commenced a firefight all along the line, I withdrew my own cavalry out of range of the muskets but not of the artillery and lost one troop to continuous fire from a big gun on a hill. The only real damage done by this waste of lead was Simon losing his dismounted dragoons.
The line holds and opens fire.
 I now saw an opening, opposite my right there was only one regiment and the gun on the hill, I decided to launch a troop of cavalry supported by dragoons and a further regiment from the commanders brigade. Off went the cavalry and dragoons but the commanders brigade simply refused to move. Now this is what I dislike about this set of rules and similar ones, why on earth if the Army commander orders his men to do something under his very nose would they all refuse, where is the historical evidence for such a thing. The upshot of course was that my plan to assault the enemy left fell apart.

Let's just pretend we didn't hear 'im.
I did eventually manage to get the regiment into an attack position but I remain sceptical whether it actually had the range or not to charge not knowing the rules, in they went along with the cavalry and we then spent some time looking for an explanation of who had actually won the melee. In the end it was deemed that Simon had lost one musketeer unit and my cavalry had had to retire, so I was left in the better position at the end of it. I claimed victory only because I had killed more of Simon's units than he did of mine, from a military point of view if his regiment lost the next round of melee he would have had infantry, cavalry and dragoons ready to fall on his flank, on the other hand if he had won then I think we would again have gone back to a stalemate and resumed the firefight.

Decision time.
I know the rules are for huge, simple games and Andy has huge armies but I still don't like them and I was disappointed there was no index in the rules to help when we needed clarification. Elsewhere there was a Bloodbowl game and a large Frostgrave game, I don't get the Frostgrave thing, I have played it and it was enjoyable but interest seems to have reached fever pitch in the wargaming community putting it on a par with Lion Rampant, but of course I would be biased as fantasy has never been my thing, I can admire it from afar but that's it really. Having said that I am doing Dystopian Wars next week, I can do sci-fi no problem and I have seen the huge collection Simon has so I am looking forward to this.

Now £400 should be about right to put in front of the Speaker for a nights entertaining.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Доброе утро Россия

I'm back in the PO on what should be my day off as we still have my grandaughter and she is more at home with Granny than evil Papa who doesn't play Pony World with her. I check the blog stats the way most people check Facebook and I have noticed over the past couple of weeks that I am getting a large number of hits from Mother Russia, more so than the UK first thing. I was told that some of the hits are robots, though why a robot would want to peruse my musings is beyond me unless it is an X-Wing AAR. I had a small but significant following from Taiwan for a time but they have obviously moved on to other things. I cannot make head nor tail of the stats to be honest, some of the sections don't seem to add up but hey ho. What intrigues me the most are those out of the way countries where one poor soul has come here via Mongolia, Tunisia or Guam never to be seen again, I wonder what they were looking for in the first place.

The most popular post by far is '5,000!' which is one line basically, does that mean I rabbit on too much or do people get to it expecting something exciting and then head off to the real posts, I don't know.

Anyway onwards and upwards after a week or so with no maps I completed two one off specials over the weekend and now have two more projects, Polish armour in Europe and another on what looks like a British action in NW Europe, I have only briefly scanned the latter.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Well Done Scotland

Since the demise of the England vs Scotland football match I have had no interest in sport whatsoever and despite myself that was the only game which could fire me up, even though we lost most of them, even on my wedding day we were cuffed 5-0, but every time you always just thought, this time.

When Scotland played Samoa a week ago I watched the second half having nothing better to do and although I understood none of it I did leap out the chair on several occasions and make gutteral 'yesssss' sounds as they went on to victory.

Today I went and had a snooze and when I came too it was just in time to sit through the second half of today's match against Australia, Scotland were so many points behind and I thought here we go again. But no, I watched them catch up and overtake the Aussies with a couple of minutes to go, the phone went and I shouted "no, call back!" Like the rest of the Jocks I was gutted as the Aussies pulled it out of the bag in the dying seconds of the match, and I commiserated with the manager and captain as they were asked banal questions by the interviewers even as the result sank in.

Well done lads.

View From The Window

There is a clear view this morning although it is still pretty grey and grim, it is also cold so it's an excuse for the missus to fire up the wood burner she has wanted for so long, I have to admit it throws out some heat, enough to make its way up the stairs and warm the rest of the house. Nothing stirs of course at this time of the day, I am up early again as we still have guests and rock and roll music is coming from the living room. Village life is settling down for the winter, all outside work on houses has ceased, gardens tidied and grass cut perhaps for the last time and any entertainments have retreated to the village or church halls.

The missus was out the other night and I had settled down to 'Being Human' some nice cheese, crackers, grapes and a Hungarian dessert wine, I know how to treat myself, whence there came a knock at the door. Now I don't get people knocking on my door I don't have that many friends and certainly none who would want to disturb me when I am settled, so I eased myself out of the seat and hit the pause button. It was a neighbour from a couple of doors down, "Can you drive me to the vets the cat needs putting down." I hesitated as the missus was out, no phone and I would have had to lock up and she didn't have a key when my neighbour provided the perfect excuse, "perhaps you have been drinking?" I had been drinking so I apologised, she apologised and went for a taxi and I returned upstairs feeling guilty nonetheless.
I had my skin cancer removed last Monday morning, it took about forty-five minutes and was a doddle, I thought I might have a bad night once the anaesthetic wore off but I was wrong, not a twinge or tremor, as long as you don't mind a piece of your cheek being cut out the experience was fine and the care excellent. I was brought back down to earth later that afternoon when I went in to get an update on my elbow operation, the consultant had left his door open and I heard him complain that he just couldn't face anyone else today and that he was leaving, his last patient (me) could be put on the second doctor, I was therefore in the hospital at least 45 minutes more than I should have been, having already waited over thirty minutes.

I went into Lancaster the following Thursday and had my original large white bandage on my cheek, I now know how people who are different feel when walking the streets, you would have thought I had two heads. People either stared openly or took furtive glances when they thought I was not looking, kids huddled into their mothers as I passed, I do admit to making scary faces at some of them. I had an overwhelming urge to dribble at the mouth, hunch over and shout "the bells, the bells" but my courage deserted me, besides, her indoors would not have been amused. The reaction of my customers was even better, half of them simply asked me straight up what was wrong, the other half looked everywhere but at my face.

This neatly ties in with the BBC documentary "Is Britain Racist" to which I took great offence. The gist of the programme was that most of us are racist but we don't know it and the journalist Mona Chalabi went to great lengths to prove her theory. We got the moronic English Defence League trundled out, people who scare me and I am white, people whom most of us would not let through the door. Then three or four people were asked to spend a day in areas where they would of course stick out, apart from a few cat calls these generally went without incident, no doubt much to the chagrin of Ms Chalabi. She then popped into a pub and showed some people pictures, guess what, in the main white people preferred white people and black people preferred black people, when they were told it was 'not a racist test' most took it as such and squirmed in front of the camera instead of telling her where to go. I have lived in this country for sixty-two years and until I was 56 never had any dealings with anyone who was not white, that it would seem is enough to make you a closet racist. I now have a Tanzanian daughter-in-law and have been to Tanzania to her wedding and I meet her family now and again and colour simply does not enter the equation.

Are you on tenterhooks over another Scottish referendum or like me you don't care and are intelligent enough to know that the SNP will try again at some point and things should be left at that.

PS. It would seem I have been remiss in mentioning the return of No.1 son after seventeen years abroad and I am in danger of having this brought to my notice for the rest of the day. This has had the side effect of providing me with a base just outside London in Chorleywood from which to explore the capital and attend some of the wargame shows which until now have been out of reach and perhaps allow me to meet up with some W&C buddies from time to time. It also sadly means I shall have to venture abroad myself to get my favourite tipple, a bottle of which he presented to me last night.

Friday, 16 October 2015

I Deserve it

I haven't splashed out on myself for some time now having bought the whole Roman army and put it aside to reduce as time goes on, I have also picked up a couple of novels, seven actually, from our book swap in the shop so not so much buying of books either.

All that changed yesterday, a grateful customer gave me a book token as I had been dropping off her pension every week as she was housebound, before you put me up for an award she only lives a good longbow shot from the PO. So I went into Lancaster yesterday and stopped by Waterstones, Military History must not sell or has suddenly become unpopular or more likely uncorrect as the section has been reduced and there were no new hardback books on the shelves. Disappointed and with the token burning a hole in my pocket I retreated to the graphic novel department, again a shadow of its former self, but I did pick up volume one of Suicide Squad and no sooner had I got home than I ordered up the other four, I do hope they are a better buy than Guardians of the Galaxy.

I am finding the new Max Hastings book on spies a bit heavy going, the gist seems to be that no matter how good your spy is if he is not believed or considered dodgy or his handlers draw the wrong conclusions, which seems to be par for the course, he is pretty much useless, and this permeates the whole book so far. The Japanese chapter was interesting and I found it amusing that wargames held before they attacked everyone showed they could not win, but the head honcho dismissed the results and went ahead.

I also bit the bullet before the missus comes knocking for my share of the wood burner, damp proofing and kitchen and got a new battle mat for my Romans, those boys better fight well. It is the same as my green one and it is like thick mouse mat material and comes in at £65.28 from Czechoslovakia, ten pounds of that being tax. I couldn't get a larger picture of the mat, but that is a dry riverbed going across it, I have seen one and it is lovely. Being a nut I am also going to get some hills and use my sharp sand to turn them into suitable slopes for the mat and I will need trees and one or two other pieces to fit the Roman East.

I have cavalry on the tray now, I decided to bite the bullet and get on with them, which leaves two infantry cohorts next in line.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Why Wargaming 7

Having put the wine bottles in the proper recycle bin I decided I had to get somewhere local or localish, I looked online for clubs in the area, anything I found was at least an hours drive away and driving around the Lake District is not easy of a winters evening especially not in the Batmobile which I am sure has skates and not wheels for three months of the year.

Then of course the penny dropped or the light bulb above my head came on, you get the idea, Lancaster! I checked them up online to ensure they were still operating and found out they were and HQ was still Lancaster Grammar School. I phoned and found out that they played Dux Britanniarum and was also informed someone else played X-Wing, so that was a good start, I was also invited to come along and see for myself, which I decided I would.

Like someone going on a first date I showed up, was welcomed and slotted into a game of Sails of Glory, during game play I quizzed the players and generally managed to enjoy a few hours with people who talked my language; history, soldiers, rules, games etc. I had also arrived just at the time a Dux B campaign was about to start, my troops were given land in Northern Britain and prepared to hold it to the last drop of their blood. All in all an excellent new beginning.

However, being human I still felt something was missing, the club tends to play multiplayer games and no one is left behind but I still wanted to fight big battles and looked at my now almost complete War & Conquest Dark Age armies and wondered if they would ever get out of the boxes. I noticed on the Scarab forum that a tournament was being organised at Wargame Foundry and for other reasons as well as wanting to play I decided that I would go for it, launch myself into the unknown, never having actually played the game being a minor problem. I was told the list was full, too bleedin' late.

I don't know what happened but a slot was found, perhaps due to my enthusiasm on the forums I don't know, but I was grateful, booked my hotel and impatiently awaited the big day.

I turned up at the hotel early as I met an old Navy buddy for lunch, I fretted away in the room until I thought it was the right time to go and look for a bunch of wargamers in the bar, I took a suitably military book with me for identification purposes and sat where anyone who looked would obviously see me as an old hand. I think what they saw was an old guy pretending to read a book making furtive glances around the place looking for a like minded soul, it was a mercy I was not told to move on. Then an opening, someone shouted 'Reece' at a guy at the bar, one of the players was a Reece, how many Reece's could there be in a pub in Newark on the night before the tournament. I gathered my courage, tucked my book under my arm, grabbed my by now lukewarm pint and trotted over to 'Reece', the blank looks on their faces said it all, there apparently were two Reece's here and this wasn't the one I expected. Mumbling wargames stuff, apologies and something about mistaken identity I retreated to my room, feeling the stares at my back.

The next morning I hesitantly approached breakfast, again looking for wargamers when I was confronted by a chap seemingly organising some other guys at the buffet and due to the miracle of the internet I did recognise from forum pictures "Phil Turner I presume?" The rest as they say is history.

The inestimable Mr. Turner.

Well there you have it my journey so far through a life of wargaming. I have now reached an almost perfect stage where I have a thriving local club and outside that I have had the good fortune to be involved in the War and Conquest world of a great bunch of people. We all know that wargaming never stops and plans for the future concern possibly two more W&C armies, a Muskets and Tomahawks force and I still feel a pull from WWII due in the main to the lovely figures and vehicles available, also when the PO does close I have a huge area to turn into my wargame room/study. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Quite Frankly My Dear

After almost a year I enticed someone to play a game of War & Conquest at the club, Simon kindly took up the challenge. I had everything organised like a military operation and took along a couple of pieces of my own terrain, I was toying with the idea of putting my play mat in but the ones at the club would do, I had enough to carry.

We arrived bang on time as I wanted to set up and explain a bit about the troops and rules to Simon only to find the locks on the doors had been changed and no one had been informed or given a new set of keys, I shook my fist at the gods, why me! Simon then offered to set up a table at his house, so off we went. Simon's wife very kindly put up with us arriving on her doorstep and upsetting her evening by taking over the dining room table.

So we set up, I had a Saxon Heptarchy army and Simon a Romano-British with 2,000 points each, both armies mirrored each other in numbers of units but there were subtle differences in weaponry and armour. I had gone for half elite and half rubbish hoping the elites would win the battle for me before the rubbish collapsed, Simon had a more even army and seemed to put great faith in some Welsh mob he had enticed into his army.

Initial positions and movements.
 I wanted to break the British line and threaten their left flank, so off went the cavalry, they took a couple of casualties but weathered the storm and eventually caught and destroyed their tormentors and swung around ready to roll up the centre. I also threw the Franks in expecting a lot from them and close behind went my elite Gedriht, I held the Geoguth back as I did not fancy their chances against his Comitatus, so they went into shieldwall and advanced only slightly. The Franks hit well, threw their angons and got nine hits, which sadly only turned into 2 kills, not for the first time have I depended on this lot and been let down, they were easily beaten, caught and destroyed by the Milites. Over on my left the Welsh went hell for leather for my skirmishers which I was fairly pleased with while his cavalry rashly charged the Ceorls, for a moment I thought they might just win, but weight of numbers was not in their favour and they fled, closely followed by the victorious Ceorls.

Simon had tried to put his line into shieldwall but his Peydts refused to do so and so I took advantage and hurled my Gedriht at them, now that is how to fight, it was over in short shrift and the Pedyts disappeared. Because we had lost about an hour faffing about looking for keys earlier we called a halt, Simon almost got his objective, the centre of the table, but my Geoguth were too close and would have to be shifted, I had two units close to his table edge and if I had managed to simply walk off I would have achieved my objective. I like a fight however and could see that the decision would be in the centre and I had three units against two, the British skirmishers were of no account, but as I said time was against us but I believe I was in a winning position.

The final positions.
Simon had fought well in his first game, I think his only mistake was to go for my skirmishers with his warband instead of the Ceorls and meanwhile push his cavalry into my rear. I did fine and would have done finer if those damn Franks would actually fight.

The Franks head for the British line.
The British right mesmerised by the Saxon skirmishers.
My Ceorls ready to receive cavalry.

The Franks try and escape to no avail.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

View From The Window

Well I am up fairly early this morning, nothing is stirring and it looks kind of light grey, I can't see Ingleborough through the gap but at least it is dry. I think the interest in Washington House has evaporated it is still up for sale and I have not seen the interested party around for a while. We are approaching that time of year of course when houses just do not shift, we had quite a few new people arrive during the summer, and I use the term loosely, they pop in to the PO just to be nosy then they might just as well fall off the edge of the world as we never see them again.

I read this week that some boffins in Sweden I believe have discovered that peas have something in them that fight cancer, but I wouldn't go running off to Aldi to stock up on peas if I were you, this is where I would normally say take it with a pinch of salt, but of course that is a no no. Remember when the scientists decided that red wine, butter, steaks, lard and a huge amount of other things which you enjoyed were all bad for you, then slowly all these things have been brought back into the fold but tagged with the usual get out clause 'in moderation' just in case you have a lawyer on tap. No sooner does someone tell you something than another person just as qualified tells you the opposite.

These absurdities are everywhere, if you want out of the EU we sell more to it then we buy, if you are for staying in you shout we could not survive without their imports, if you are an Eco warrior you can say we are all going to drown in rising seas, if not you can point out that the planet stopped warming up nineteen years ago at half past eleven on 14th March and both sides have data to 'prove' their argument. An environmental group in the Netherlands sued their own government over some emission thing or other, why would you do that to your own country, how can a minority fringe cult sue the government to the detriment of the majority and get away with it, madness.

I am going under the knife again tomorrow morning, I asked a doctor three years ago about a spot on my cheek and was told it was nothing, I asked again about three months ago to be told it is a skin cancer, no wonder I am a cynic. I had waited eleven weeks so far to get an appointment which I was told is normally sixteen weeks, I got a cancellation on Friday, I trotted off to the appointment with my usual large book to while away the hours before the doctor would actually see me. Well, blow me down with a feather, I was taken within five minutes and I had turned up early, the Doc agreed that it was a cancer, also that if I was ever going to get cancer that was the one to get and it was also growing in the right direction so the scar would be minimal when they cut it out, lucky me I said. I was escorted out and given an appointment for the surgery by the receptionist, wait a minute, this is for this Monday, a mere two days hence, something must be wrong, no all is in order said the overweight girl with shrapnel hanging from her ears. Despite being in shock I gave her a polite smile thanked her profusely and said I'll see her again on Monday.

On the subject of health I take pills for diabetes, which I personally am not convinced I have, but of course you never know (see above), so if I am not careful I might lose my sight or my legs, I probably won't but just in case that lawyer is around it is on the information leaflet. I have a blood disorder, this can attack my liver or heart, again I have had it for sixty odd years and as far as I know after all the tests both organs are functioning as they would when sixty years old. I got leg cramps a few nights back and as I have been given yet another type of pill I checked it, the only side effect it doesn't have is turning you into a dog at the full moon, the worst of the effects would kill me within three days, obviously one from the kill or cure school. Another, which I threw in the bin would have given me ankles like tree trunks and worst of all, the one we all fear, right there at the top "NO ALCOHOL". AAAaaaaagh! Naturally I googled this and was reassured by the same answer on a multitude of forums, it was healthspeak for 'in moderation'.

I may as well stick with health, what about the buy who bought the drug company and then raised the price of a drug sold for something like $5 to $750! The hue and cry has of course now died down and he has been forgotten by the majority of us who move on to the next knee jerk headline while he runs off to the bank and the poor people who need the drug agonise over where the money will come from.

The village is waking up now, a couple of lady joggers have run past, the traffic is building up and a half naked male jogger has just raced past, put a shirt on mate believe me you are no ..... eh...... muscley guy, so there.