Wednesday 30 March 2016

Bomb London

Last week as we packed up from our Rapid Fire game and we were all wondering what we were going to do I blurted out "Wings of War" not having played in a while and with over 50+ models gathering dust in boxes. As usual I didn't think of what we would do until the last minute and went online for inspiration and came up with a nice game which would enable me to use my bombers.

 The scenario I found was from the official Wings of War book for bombers which I had to amend very slightly for three players. The Germans had two Gotha bombers escorted for the first leg of their journey by a Fokker DrI  triplane and a Pfalz DIII when and if they reached the second leg they would be on their own to elude whatever defences were present at the target, destroy the said target and return, hopefully, during the third part to the bosom of their protective fighters as they returned home. The British chose two SE5a's and two Camels, but the magnet fell off one of the SE5's so they ended up with three Camels, as they patrolled along the front line they spotted the dastardly Hun on his way to London.

The Germans line up for the first leg of their journey.
 Simon and Andy had decided on a plan to pick on one bomber at a time, but as with most plans it went awry from from the start. I threw my escorts straight at the enemy hoping to Immelman and come back at them while my giant Gotha's toyed with them. Jacobs in his black triplane took a hit and his engine started streaming smoke but thankfully it was minor damage, both of the escorts carried out their turns and came back on the enemy.  The bombers meanwhile got into their stride and managed to deal out plenty of shots as the British hurtled by, Andy's flight of two Camels were especially brave or confused as they ended up in the middle of the bombers and gave the German gunners some excellent targets.

The British attack.
Confusion in the bomber stream.
  As the bombers continued on their way the fighters of both sides took a fair amount of damage, and although Andy's Camels were the best targets it was Simon who lost his SE5a, Hauptmann Brandenburg's red Gotha had been hit in one engine but this only slowed him slightly. As the fighters whirled around the sky they had fallen behind the Gotha's who managed to evade the enemy and set a course for their target.

As the bombers arrived over 'London' they were supposed to be met by two second rate aircraft, Sopwith Triplanes in this instance but although I had two in the box we decided to save time and simply use an SE5 and a Camel. The Gotha's arrived in line astern pointed straight at the target, we took it that they had had plenty of time to manage this during their approach.

The bomb run.
  The defending aircraft threw themselves at the bombers but were hit by a fusillade of accurate fire from the Gotha's gunners, both were soon trailing flames but despite this continued to attack. My first bomber under Von Trotha lined up and dropped his bombs, he was slightly off and only partially damaged the target, however Branderburg in the second bomber had been watching carefully and therefore made a better effort, bang, up went the target in a puff of smoke, it was time to head for home.

An SE5a gets too close.
By this time however the British had managed to put out their fires which had not resulted in any heavy damage and were able to concentrate on Von Trotha as they manouvered behind the giant, right in his blind spot. Despite the shots which could be seen hitting the British they seemed to live a charmed life, Von Trotha's plane fell from the sky as the defenders turned on Brandenburg. Brandenburg had got separated from his friend and despite being hindered by a damaged engine he now made a brave effort to escape his pursuers, sadly it was to be in vain, just short of safety the bomber shuddered and went into a dive. Game over.

I was very chuffed that we had got a good game from the scenario and the nail biting climax as the last Gotha desperately tried to escape was a fitting end. How did the wargame go, well the Bombers dealt out a lot of good hits, especially during the second phase of the game, but even though they managed to flame both British planes they could not deal any death blows. At the end Andy and Simon had almost a dozen damage cards each with most being zero's or ones! As the last bomber was approaching safety he had six hit points left, the enemy shot and he got a zero, with the table edge ever nearer, they shot again, a one, just as I was thinking he would make it for the third phase I drew a five!

The third phase would have been an interesting fight, the same fighters from phase one turn up, the Fokker was badly damaged but the Pfalz was relatively unhurt, while the remaining British planes all had fairly hefty damage apart from one I think. If the Gotha had survived phase two then it certainly would not have survived the last leg. So who won, the Germans did, they had shot down two aircraft and destroyed the target completely, the British had shot down the two Gotha's, the loss of the target however tipped the balance.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Damn Post Office and some British

I have to be up early today as the decorator will be here to finish this week, so I took the opportunity to motor on down to the sorting office, I found that the doughball who tried to deliver my parcel last week is the usual doughball that rings the doorbell on every other day but that one. Not only does he knows there is a parcel for the village Post Office but leaves it on the shelf for a week while delivering other stuff, knowing we are present all week either in the shop or in the house. No wonder they are in trouble. Grrrrr.

Anyway, just as I thought it was my SdKfz 222 armoured car from Blitzkrieg Miniatures, and lovely it is too, it is resin and a quick look this morning shows it is a fine piece of casting, and surprisingly hefty, which I like. I am looking forward to trying out my German camo colours on it.

I completely finished my British 500 point 'army' last night, a job which took longer than it should due to the work being done in the house and other real life issues. I am very pleased so far with my efforts but it is obvious this is a force to learn the rules with, I am going to need at least treble these numbers before I quit.

500 points.

Support teams.
I also managed to get my two German squads and an extra MG42 team 90% complete over the weekend, I suspect they will be finished by the weekend. I have run into a problem, I am doing mid to late war Germans, basically Normandy to the end, these fellows all have camo smocks and boots and gaiters, I would like some 'normal' uniformed squads but these all have jackboots which were discontinued around 1942. Artizan do short boots but they all have greatcoats, lovely figures but hardly what you will find in the summer of '44, so at the moment I am leaning towards all my Germans having smocks. To prevent me having too many of one figure I am thinking of using the Artizan winter smock miniatures and simply painting them with the normal splinter camo instead of white, who could tell from a quick look at a wargame table, yes I know there is always that one guy, but stuff him. Mind you, a whole platoon in greatcoats would be nice.

Monday 28 March 2016


Pretty dismal weather here for Easter, but then again it is pretty early, I found out the other day that the various Christian churches have been trying to come to an agreement on the date of Easter for over 1,000 years and they are hopeful it will happen in the next ten, doesn't fill you with confidence about the power to get an agreement on something by talking about it.

Anyway, what did I do over Easter, cooked an Indian meal on Saturday which I needn't have bothered with as I would have got the same effect if I had poured a tin of extra hot curry spice down my throat, I had been in Scotland and picked up a carton of this particular curry sauce having memories of how lovely it was, my memory obviously is not what it was.

Following on that disaster I found a note in my letter box saying there was a parcel for me at the local Sorting Office as I had not been in when they tried to deliver it. I was in at that particular time as I was having my lunch, which angered me even more as I have a notion it is the German armoured car I have been expecting and would have built this weekend. Someone is going to get it on Tuesday when I arrive at the Sorting Office.

What went right you ask, well I managed to all but finish my British support weapons, sniper team, mortar and PIAT team, they will be all done by this afternoon and I will endeavour to get a picture up in the next day or so. I also managed to build and paint my Universal Carrier, I am pretty chuffed the way it turned out, the mudguards don't fit properly and I am not the only one who has identified that problem, but I managed in the end with the help of my hobby knife. I applied some rust and washed it in, again very pleased, I then applied the mud, it was a very camp, pinky colour in the tin, but it dried like.....mud, excellent product form MIG. I used a couple of rust colours on the tracks forgetting I had a base colour especially for tracks but again I am happy with the result.

I also managed to get a lot of work done on my Germans squads, these all have smocks and are therefore in camouflage, army camo not SS, these are Artizan figures and again not hard to paint. I have seen some painters manage to get waffenfarbe and insignia etc. on to the smocks or tunics but unless it sits out on the model I am going to leave it, these are for wargaming not a painting competition. I will however have to look out some late war infantry not in smocks as these were far from universal.

I have been perusing photographs of British and German troops in Normandy over the past few days and this one made me chuckle, he has got to be a Jock.

Master race, what master race?

Sunday 27 March 2016

View From The WIndow

Well, it's early and it's raining, we are up to K now for Katie I believe with our storms, so almost halfway through the alphabet and it is only March, I predicted as much, having said that, on my storm scales I can really only think of two this year where we have had exceptionally bad weather, rain and wind combined instead of simply a constant deluge of water, is heavy rain a real storm? On HMS Sheraton during a storm I had to vacate my bedside locker, the back of which was the wooden hull, as water came through it and soaked anything in there, and the guy in the wheelhouse had water slopping around his feet, that's a storm.

Anyway, nothing stirs as you would expect, the wind is a bit fresh and the prediction is it is going to get worse today, I can see the distant hills but they have a grey haze around them. Another house nearby is up for sale, the second time as it didn't move the first time, no visitors to Washington House for a long while but the locals can at least put a car in the drive to temporarily take the pressure off Main Street and I can use the bin which sits handily at the side of the said drive. The new neighbours have arrived at the side, I have seen them but not spoken as yet, retired couple with a dog, here to enjoy the pleasures of rural life I believe, which at the moment is the strong smell of manure as the fields are full of it.

But wait, it has brightened up in the last five minutes, the sun is up and blue skies are on the horizon, I hope Katie is not teasing us.

Last week the view was the leafy suburb of Chorleywood as we were there for our granddaughters birthday, she is five, Chorleywood is famous for the bread process from which most of it is made in the UK, the tasteless mush which adorns most supermarket shelves. It is a nice little place and you wouldn't guess the M25 is five minutes away. We had a splendid dinner and my brother turned up, he has lived in London since leaving the Navy and has a strange accent which is neither Scottish nor English but something in between. We had lunch at a local pub on the Sunday and then headed back north, only to find out 45 minutes into our journey that the M6 was closed to northbound traffic at Stoke-on-Trent! We therefore stuck to the M1 all the way up to Leeds and crossed the Pennines to get home, the M6 only opened about half an hour or so before we got in the door, it's the train next time.
I drove to Scotland last Wednesday for a funeral and although it was not quite like driving in France it was far quieter than heading south.

I see Brussels airport was closed for almost a week after the attacks there and security is expected to be intense in the near future at all airports. Shouldn't we try our best to get things back to normal after these monsters attack and not run around like headless chickens, no matter what the security forces do and how well they try and keep us safe, to stop these random attacks from ever happening again must be nigh on impossible. I do despair however that everyone will now be searched with renewed vigour when all these killers are of middle eastern origin, mainly young men but not exclusively and are moslems.

I had to chuckle last week, I watch the adverts during the news and moan constantly about how politically correct they now are, it is as though they have a list of stock characters which have to be included as they wash their T-Shirts whiter than white, or explain their savings deals or hoover their living rooms. All from the big TV melting pot and all with perfect teeth etc. then one night I caught a quick glance of a dwarf at a dinner table, all anyone could see as he smiled his winning smile while waiting for the Bisto or whatever, was his head, I almost choked, a dwarf, how inclusive is that. A few days later I saw the same advert and the dwarf was at least five foot six, I had missed the point that there wasn't enough seats to fit the whole multi-racial, same sexed, happy, all inclusive family at the table and the guy was sat on a cushion, hence we only saw his head. So, despite Game of Thrones dwarves have not yet made the list.

We have one more week to go before we can reclaim the house, the kitchen is finished and Steve the decorator has painted all the walls and ceilings, only the skirting and doors to go next week and that's it, well almost, we have the living room lights to put back, but apart from that, that's it. It will have taken six months to get the house the way the missus wants it and the way we are happy to stay in it for the rest of our days, barring a lottery win. Our only big job remaining is when the PO closes and taking away the facade and putting the wall and garden back, which I am hoping can be done on £237.48p as that is all we have left.


 Are you listening to the captains of industry, the financial experts, the myriad institutions and experts who are predicting the end of the UK our suddenly unworkable security services and our upcoming pariah status if we leave the EU? You may as well listen to what your local Scout Master thinks, one question, do you want ruled by Brussels or Westminster, tick yes or no. I despair what this great country has become.

Katie was teasing as the blue skies have now gone and it is grey, raining and thoroughly miserable, Happy Easter.


Friday 25 March 2016

George the Builder

I have completed my second squad of British and to be honest if there had been no work on the house I would have had the whole 500 points finished, so although I have to paint camo on the Germans I am hoping that I should have my two forces done by the end of April at the very latest.

So I need WWII terrain, I have plenty of trees but require fences and hedges, mainly hedges, I could probably do a nice small 4x4 table as countryside at the moment utilising some of my Dark Age stuff but being me I want the right stuff. I like the terrain produced by The Last Valley and will probably get most of what I want from there, this will mean a visit to a show as I am not sure you can order it online.

For my buildings I was going to simply buy 4Ground as they come ready painted and I have most of their Western buildings which are superb, and if you do not go for the large ones decently priced for being painted. However the WWII buildings just don't look right to me, they are too clean, sure I could spend some time on them with new roof tiles and weathering etc. but then what's the point of buying them painted, and to be honest I thought the prices a bit steep.

I therefore spent last night buying a couple of farmhouses, a ruined building and some outhouses from Charlie Foxtrot Models, all for a decent price and I have to say all with plenty of character, I will simply have to make time to paint them. Owner Colin is a friend of mine so I hope my small order will go some way to help pay his bar bill.

Although CFM do a nice range of town buildings I am going to go for a more simple countryside look to my battlefields, at least for now, I have some roads which will suit the countryside but will need more. I am going to Salute so will probably pick up most of what I want there.

The above are a few examples of CFM buildings, I particularly like the bank and school, so I can see a country schoolhouse coming up at some point.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Rapid Fire

I joined in a WWII game this week, it was set in Normandy and both sides had to defend their own village while capturing the enemy village, we used 20mm troops and vehicles and the quick-play rules Rapid Fire. I am not a fan of quick-anything, my wargaming has to take place when I can fit it in nowadays so I go to great lengths to put up a nice table with nice troops and I like to enjoy the spectacle over several relaxed hours with perhaps the odd beer or glass of wine. I do not like to fight Waterloo on a 2x2 board with the same number of men Sharpe had in the TV series in under an hour. Obviously this is not always possible at a club but surprisingly we do manage most of the time to have decent tables and finish normal games in the time allotted.

And so to Rapid Fire, I thought the game at first sight was a tad ambitious we had three infantry battalions with support while I think the Germans may have had slightly less, there was a huge piece of open ground between the villages which was going to be a death trap for any tanks or vehicles trying to cross it, but we had to try. Our first battalion occupied our village and no sooner had our tanks turned up and got to the outskirts than the first one was brewed up by an 88. It turned out not to be knocked out but heavily damaged, luckily we had a repair vehicle in reserve so it was called up.

Our village.

An 88 in the distance covers the road.

Our handy recovery vehicle.
Now that we could see something we brought in mortar fire, one 88 scratched, quickly followed by a second and a 20mm FLAK, it looked like we could simply sit still and mortar the enemy to death, things even improved later when we were allowed to bring in our artillery. The Germans opened up knocked out one of ours, gun or tank, then we replied knocking out one of theirs, we won this exchange as the enemy were left with only one AT gun and two routing StuG's while we had our Firefly, our repaired Sherman and a Stuart. Our infantry were advancing very slowly down the road and had not yet reached halfway, the German infantry were almost within shooting distance of ours when the game ended. As none of us had managed our victory conditions it was declared a draw, if it had gone on then the Allied armour with mortar and artillery support would I suspect have destroyed the German defence but you never know in a wargame.

The infantry advance down the road.
My dice.
The game did what it said on the tin, but it was too quick for me, it is for big games but even so it seemed more like a shoot-em-up than a wargame. I can see the appeal however, Andy had some terrific models of all sorts of stuff either on the table or in his boxes, he had at least four or five different versions of the Universal Carrier for instance. I was also impressed with his figures and the painting of the same, some of the plastic figures which came with vehicles were not up to much but his metal troops were lovely sculpts.

Not much happening at the moment after my rush of posts last week, I was away at the weekend and this week we have the decorator in, so not much in the way of miniature painting, I do have my second Bolt Action squad to base this evening as I can manage that in the study, but I need the light of the dining room for painting.

Friday 18 March 2016

1 Section, All Present and Correct, Sah!

I couldn't wait and as I am away this weekend I thought I would get these guys complete this morning before heading into the PO to while away the beautiful Spring day.

I have been really pleased with my British paint set from Vallejo and the Crusader figures for being so easy to paint, I am also happy to be painting uniforms as opposed to the multi-coloured medieval and Dark Age figures I am used too, that too is fairly easy, like paint by numbers.

 So there you have them, 9th Cameronians from the 15th (Scottish) Division, the Cameronians (26th Foot) were our local regiment back when we had an army, in 1968 they decided to disband rather than amalgamate with another regiment, one of only two which so decided. I had hoped to put the 15th Division badge on their arms but having looked at photographs it would simply look like a blob at 28mm.

15th Scottish Division

I sourced some for the vehicles but they were the wrong scale, I might try and paint it on. I also had to look up the vehicle markings for the Bren carrier. What a dogs dinner of a system for identifying which unit a truck or vehicle is from, only the British would deem it made sense.

From what I remember the tank markings are just as complicated, I was hoping my armour might be Scots Guards.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Mr. Anderson?

I have been inundated over the last couple of days with people desperate to save me money on my electricity bill and several have taken umbrage at my attitude on explaining I have money coming out of my ears and want to spend more not less on my magic fuel and that I wouldn't impart information pertaining to who I actually do get my electricity from. They all seem to know who is on the phone, hence "Mr. Anderson?" But the last one today was unexpected and luckily he wasn't from the other side of the world and he said the magic words "Gamemat?"

My long awaited portable wargaming table arrived. I hurriedly unboxed it, at 3' x 4' folded up, it is just on the cusp of portable, my main reason for getting it though was that it should be sturdier than the pasting tables I normally use and it will take up less room than two tables and a board.

It felt a bit wobbly and tinny but once I opened it up, extended the legs and locked them in place it was perfect, I think it should also hold up my larger 7' x 5' board with no problem. The only thing I could moan about although there is nothing you can do about it is the centre strip is slightly above the surface, this is obviously for strength etc. and will not have an effect on my War and Conquest battles or some of the skirmish games I play. If you were putting houses etc. on it then it would be easy to keep them off the centre.

 You can just see the raised centre line in the photograph above, but for me I am more than happy with the table.

I have had problems with varnish before as you will know, and I decided to get a new bottle of Winsor & Newton as the one I am using is years old and most times gives a slightly satin finish rather than pure matt. I phone up a local artists supplier and asked if they had any Winsor & Newton Matt Varnish, yes was the reply. Later on in the afternoon I made a trip to Lancaster, parked up and made my way to the shop, "Winsor & Newton Matt Varnish please", I got a blank look from the salesman, and although my telepathic powers had been stumped by some Green Kryptonite in the area I twigged and said "Acrylic". No we don't have that, but I phoned this morning, yes and you asked for matt varnish for oils, NO I DIDN'T! I don't paint with &^%$£* oils! Well we have Dale and Rowney but Liquitex is the best, then I'll have a bottle of Liquitex, we only have it in a large bottle, aaaargh! No wonder we shop online.

I found I had thrown out my plastic glue weeks ago before I decided to jump into Bolt Action, so I ordered some from eModels yesterday and it arrived today, now that is service. I have now built the first plastic kit I have bought since I was a teenager, the little Warlord Universal Carrier. I am more ham-fisted than I remember but I managed fine until I got to the mudguards, they simply did not fit. They fit fine on the box art but they didn't on my machine, not even close, so they are a bit of a botch job but I think I will get away with it on a wargame table. I am a little concerned for that top Bren, it seems to be begging to get broken off.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

McLennium Falcon

A pleasant drive to the club for a change, it was still light when we got there and it had been a lovely day although I spend Tuesdays at my post in the Post Office. It was an X-Wing game and I decided to try Rebels rather than my usual Imperials, I spent the morning in between the odd customer finishing off a major part of a map project, then I lazily decided to leave choosing my list until late afternoon. I tidied up some figures for Bolt Action and then at four fired up the Squad Builder, from then on until 1715 hrs I had to serve the public, one, a neighbour, asked  me why I always looked so miserable, because I should be sorting out a Rebel list for the club mate and should have done it sooner.

Enemy ahead.

I fell back on some lists I had in my saved folder, a B-Wing and Y-Wing with named pilots and a Smuggler on the Falcon. I arrived at the club expecting a four way game and it ended up a six player game, both the Rebels and Imperials had a Scum faction each. There was a hyperdrive beacon in the sector which made jumping quicker and more painless for pilots and each side wanted to control it, hence the dogfight.

The plan looks good.

Then doesn't.

I had Scum opposite me with a Hounds Tooth and two Y-Wings, we decided that our Scum (Stuart) and I would wipe them out then turn onto the beacon while Paul at the opposite end would attempt to slow up the rest of the enemy. I started too cautiously as the enemy turned away which left me with no shots for a couple of moves, meanwhile Stuart was having a hard time controlling his flight and his Firespray always seemed to find a Z95 in front of it, bump, bump. Meanwhile Paul and Andy at the far end were trading laser beams.

Hounds Tooth about to escape, while Firespray sails on.

Andy and Paul dogfight.

The action eventually started for us and the Firespray opened up, this was to be its first and last shot of the game as it sailed through the melee of starships and failed miserably to get someone in its firing arcs, yes it had two! I on the other hand did well and brought the Hounds Tooth down to two hit points but it managed at the last moment to flee and survive. I lost it a bit after that as I had to clear some asteroids and the Falcon went up in smoke as it became the primary target for most of the enemy fleet in the area. On the card it is trumpeted as a durable and manoeuvrable ship but it only has one defence die, which is of no use at all when being blasted from all sides.

The victorious Imperials.

The enemy at the end had a Tie Defender with a pilot skill of 8 within range of the beacon, they were set for a win unless we could shoot it down. Paul had the best chance with two A-Wings on its tail, but he misjudged and flew past it on the final run, no shot.

So, a big dogfight which was a lot of fun, I didn't give the beacon much thought and merely tried to quickly overwhelm my opposite number, a job I failed at while Stuart bore the brunt of the enemy and paid the price, however not shooting with the Firespray was not part of our plan.

Monday 14 March 2016

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

I received an invite last week to join a game of Muskets and Tomahawks this Sunday, so having nothing to do on what I expected to be a lousy day I agreed, in the event it turned out a lovely day but them's the breaks. I was in a store cupboard watching everyone else swanning about in the sunshine outside, but I was playing a game with an enthusiastic crowd, albeit in a storeroom. This I might add was a huge improvement from the leaky, cold, windswept ruin in which I have played at before in Ingleton village.

Rob was umpiring a game which I suspect as usual was based on something historical, I didn't get an opportunity to talk about the scenario as I had to listen carefully to my part in it. Being Scottish I was naturally given the command of a bunch of Jocks who were escorting a supply train of obstinate mules and even less enthusiastic muleteers. My job was to take the goods to the local fort which seemed to be pretty short on everything including ammunition, it was not going to be a walk in the park as the fort was under attack by large forces of Americans and French.

The Scots move out.

Rob as umpire was playing things fairly close to his chest and we all discovered things to our detriment as the game went along, the American artillery had set up without a line of sight on any enemy and should they wish to move their gun they found the ground unsuitable with a high chance that the piece may disappear into a ravine. My own artillery had the same problem and had to spend a lot of time repositioning itself. No sooner had we set off than the enemy entered the table and made for the for the centre hoping no doubt to overwhelm my forces and a small force of Hessians who stood in their path.

The Frenchies and Yanks turn up.
 Expecting to be attacked I hunkered down in a small hamlet and left the Hessian to it, but as the battle went on it was obvious my flank was not going to be threatened so I reformed with the intention of forming on the right of the Hessians. I did not have enough room but managed to dissuade the enemy from using a hill to out flank us as swarms of musket balls made the heights untenable, the 'Hill of Death' as it was known to myself and the German commander. However this left only one small group of Hessians in front of almost the complete enemy army, these brave fellows lived up to their reputation as time and again they forced the enemy back, I did manage to get some light infantry up alongside to help.
More of the enemy beside the 'Hill of Death'.
 At just the wrong time the French and Americans found out that the ground was far worse than at first supposed and it slowed them down considerably and ruined their plans, which was just as well as the Hessians, despite standing like stonewalls were losing men at every turn. I had by this time decided to move one of my larger battalions to their aid, but as with the enemy the ground slowed me down, but they were on the way. What of the mule train you ask, well they spent the game like the Grand Old Duke Of York, they went first one way then back the way they came, covering almost no distance at all over the course of the game. It was at this crucial point in the game the British garrison of the fort felt confident enough to come out and fight, not to help the Hessians but to assault the enemy right flank held mainly by civilians and militia.

The Hessians.
 The enemy had lost their chance, the terrain and the bravery of a small group of Germans had defeated them although I like to think my light infantry had helped, despite hiding in a dense wood. It was a good game with many fine soldiers on the table all more or less painted to a very high standard, so much so it was a joy to play with them. M&T had been the only other game I would have jumped for if I had not decided on Bolt Action, with my new project and hopefully a Byzantine army on the stocks for next year I shall have to rely on Rob and Andy to provide my fix for some time to come, just as well they enjoy it.

I have now completed the second unit of Carolingian cavalry for my sons Western Franks, it has not been properly based as it will have to fit in with the rest of his army but other than that it is ready to go.

This means I now have the decks clear to start my WWII British, I managed to get the flesh on them yesterday and have given it a wash, so I intend get started properly tonight and spend at least an hour on them. I am doing them in small batches, a squad at a time then the support weapons or maybe the Universal Carrier first, I am in no big hurry to complete them so I want to take a bit of time over them as the last time I painted WWII figures they were Airfix plastics.

I am tempted to take the night off mind you, I have been working all day on a map project and my arms are a bit painful, holding a brush will not improve matters. However this particular project is nearing its conclusion and I think I will actually buy the books, no I don't get a freebie, although I did with the Atlas, a great pity as many of the books I have drawn for are on very interesting subjects.

Sunday 13 March 2016

View From The Window

It is quiet, windless and slightly damp, it is clear and I can see all the way over to Ingleborough through the gap and the big horrible windmills are standing stark against the skyline, they must have been the best thing to happen to whoever owns that godforsaken piece of useless scrub, ching, as the subsidy pours into their wallets. I am doing my bit for that as a business owner I pay more than you for green renewable's despite the fact I am not in agreement with most of their madcap efforts. Nothing moves in the village, no new neighbours as yet, the drama group are bringing a bit of culture with Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' in a few weeks, I probably will not be attending as my backside does not react well to several hours sitting on a plastic chair.

A couple of walkers have just passed the window along with a cyclist, all equipped in the latest latex fashion showing all their knobbly bits along with their fluorescent hair bands, jackets, and warning stripes just to make sure you understand you have to get out of their way as they power walk or weave in and out of the traffic.

Talking of culture I went to the theatre last week, not to see an Alan Bennett play or Shakespeare but to see Stewart Francis a Canadian comedian, he is droll, uses a lot of puns and is clever with them. The warm up comic was a lady also from Canada who was dire, she hardly drew a laugh and I was beginning to actually feel sorry for her as her half hour came to an end, she bravely carried on despite knowing all was not well, bless her heart. I don't like women comediennes or do they prefer comedians these days, well to be honest I don't find them funny, there are a few exceptions but in the main they leave me cold, like black comics who can only talk about white people, women tend to talk about women's troubles or relationships with men. Anyway, as Stewart Francis came on I started to warm up and was laughing, not fit to bust, but thoroughly enjoying myself while a sideward glimpse at the missus showed a face which would have been appropriate on one of those Easter Island statues, I guess what counts as humour cuts both ways.

I forgot to mention last week when travelling around the country and getting held up in traffic that no matter which lane you are in it is always the slowest. On both sides cars or vans you mentally register suddenly disappear into the distance and you think, no problem they will stop in a minute and I'll catch up and renew our acquaintance, but no, they are gone gone. So you indicate and pull over if there is a gap into the 'fast' lane only to find the lane you have just left ploughing ahead and leaving you behind. No matter what you do you are stuck. Then of course there are the, usually expensive, cars which zoom up the side despite being warned that the lane is closed ahead, you sit in the queue hoping that the people up the front won't let them in because you wouldn't only to find them gone when you get there.

I haven't picked up on a lot this week as the news is dead to me just now, it is either the American election process, which frankly baffles me, or it is absolute tosh about the EU, so I reach for the remote. I usually do not comment on American leaders as I take the view that I do not know enough about them to make a comment, was George W. Bush really stupid, I would hope not but I didn't vote for him. The thought however of Donald Trump being in the White House does scare me, I gave Reagan the benefit of the doubt as to me he was simply an actor, but he was obviously more than that, but Trump? I'm speechless.

I can't go of course without this weeks PC news. Bowdoin College in the US has offered counselling to students who were to attend a tequila or Mexican themed party where they were given small mini sombrero's to wear on the grounds they may have been 'injured and affected' by the wearing of the same. I believe in the same college the caterers were taken to task over offering Chinese dishes which had obviously not been cooked by real Chinese people.

And don't laugh at the Yanks, I saw a Facebook page of a wargame show here in the UK recently where the poster had gone to the effort of informing us that he had tried to exclude children from his photographs and where this had been impossible he had put a white circle on their faces! Now this begs the question, was the kid white and would not a black or brownish circle have been more appropriate, you see where this ends up? If he had not pointed this out then I, like everyone else on the wargame group would simply have noticed the wargame!

School photograph 1956

I am having to bend to public pressure this week and mention my son in Chorleywood who, when I visited last served up an excellent lentil soup and steak pie dinner along with copious amounts of fine wine, his daughter who kept me entertained and his wife who looked after me. I hope this matter is now settled and the View will return to normal editorial standards as of next week.

Saturday 12 March 2016

BA-Day -2

The postman has been very good to me all week and as a person with some pull with the Royal Mail my parcels have been delivered in record time, mainly for him to chuckle at the little men inside and make what he believes are hilarious remarks.

I have now received almost all my stuff, the only thing I am waiting on now is the Blitzkrieg armoured car, but I am beginning to have my doubts I ordered it, I thought I had done that with my universal carrier but it turned out that I had only looked at the site and decided to buy it instead of actually buying it. I just took a moment there to check and I did buy it, phew. All the companies I have dealt with have been terrific, everything has been sturdily packaged and sent within days, I was especially impressed with Warlord Games.

I have also been more than pleased with the figures, they are all a joy to look at but my favourites are the Crusader British infantry followed by the Black Tree motorcycle combination. As you can see from the picture I have based and primed my two British squads along with an officer and his batman and am hoping to get started on Monday unless I bring BA-Day closer and find some time on Sunday, but I doubt it.

I have been spending a lot of time on YouTube and other sites getting tips on basing and painting as if after 50 years of wargaming I need them, but there are some lovely examples out there to follow and much to aspire to. I do wonder however when it comes to some of the techniques on 1/56 scale vehicles, the endless coats of paint, the weathering, the hair spray method or the use of salt and sundry other dark art practices to make the vehicle seem real, will it matter on a wargame model? Sure I will be weathering my vehicles and trying as best I can to make them look 'used' but the wife's hairspray is safe.

I should think by next weekend I might have a squad complete, although I do have pressure to complete two map projects I still have to have some 'me' time, but I do need to recuperate the money for these guys as well as more for their mates.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Club Night, Anchors Away!

We played 'Hammerin' Iron' the American Civil War naval rules last night from Peter Pig and it was not for me. My own rules of choice for this period are 'Smoke on the Water' which play equally as fast as the PP rules but are heads and shoulders above in historical feel and accuracy.

The Rebs arrive.

I am jumping the gun, the game is played on a hex grid and a mat which you can buy from PP, Simon and I were the Confederetes while Stuart and Paul were for the Union, the scenario had four CS transports and a depot which the Federal's had to destroy, these were on opposite sides of the river and fairly close to the Union starting edge. We had six ships each but after going through the set up phase we lost a ship but gained a fort, more on that later.

The USS Signal braves the Confederate fire.
 The Confederate navy entered with two of its worse protected and armed vessels while the Federals got three, including a monitor. Stuart and Paul split their forces and went for both objectives, they had no problem doing this as most of the Confederate shots bounced off their armour while the denizens of the fort didn't seem to have a clue what was going on and failed to load their guns for most of the action. The US navy had a good time firing on their targets and soon sent one transport to the bottom while destroying two of the four buildings at the depot. Confederate morale plummeted as their reserve ships seemed as cowardly as the fort garrison.

Too late the Reb reinforcements arrive, the Gaines is about to strike her colours.
 Some accurate shooting from the US navy sent the CSS Planter to the bottom with a spectacular explosion, the ship was already on its way out so the agony was not prolonged, they then concentrated on the only other Rebel vessel (mine), the CSS Gaines, which struck her colours just as a couple of her friends turned up, however so did more Union vessels. We now had the mighty Virginia and the General Beauregard on the table and they made speed as best they could to succour their friends. The Beauregard evened the score somewhat by ramming and causing one of the enemy to surrender, the Virginia meanwhile although unable to make steam sat like an island opposite the transports and fired shot and shell into anything which came close. Soon after this the last Confederate vessel appeared just in time to be packed away as Stuart called time.

The Gen. Beauregard saves face for the CS Navy.

Stuart tried to make sense of the victory points and I think it looked like a close run thing, we had lost two ships, the Federals one, however two of their vessels were badly damaged and would not stand up to much more of a battering. We had lost two transports and two houses so I think everyone was happy to call it a draw.

As I said above I did not like the game, it was too abstract, the hex system gave some strange results with shooting arcs, looking at the table it was obvious a ships guns could hit their target, but when applying the hex ranges the cannonballs sailed past on either side, very strange. I was also unsure of how they treated some of the ships weapons, the Planter had one large gun at the bow, this was not allowed to fire to the sides, only straight ahead, now I am not an expert on ACW armaments but they did not bolt guns to the deck and stop them turning. One of the most awkward rules was that the fort guns to fire needed to roll a six, so they were virtually useless for the entire game, remaining mainly silent, thereby negating the whole point of a fort. There is a bit more paperwork involved with SOTW but if you want a wargame as opposed to a game I would have to give SOTW the edge.

There seems to be a lot of blurring around the edges these days between historical games and wargames, I know both are games but I like to think that some veer more towards realism than others, Johnny Reb for instance to me gives a good game, has an historical feel and from what I have read of the period gives an excellent historical result. Bolt Action which I am dipping my toe into is probably more a game, but I am happy with that. But for ACW naval I look for more wargame than game.