Sunday, 31 July 2016

View From The Window

Fortified once again by a bacon sarny let's see what outside looks like, as usual the sun was blinding me when I first got up but now it is 50/50 grey, rain laden clouds above me and on the horizon, which at the moment is nice and clear and green, jumper, T-shirt, jacket no jacket, British summer. Washington House is a mess, a bunch of cowboys have been working, and I use the term loosely, on the ceilings now for weeks and the incredible thing is they have dumped all the waste behind the front wall or, wait for it, at the side of an empty skip! Sadly there is no one on the premises who cares, the owner is in a home and her brother does not live there and is an old codger himself, no doubt with other things on his mind.

One particular cowboy is one who has decided not to finish the job off he started on my house. Rain and bad weather prevented him from finishing the job over the winter and now eight months later he can't be bothered and is doing a Pontius Pilate on us. His excuse is that what he needs to complete was not part of the original job, despite having done 50% of it, and we need to pay more. We also have been accused of sacrificing the safety of him and his merry men by not providing scaffolding, despite the fact that their feet will not leave terra firma for most of the work. I do agree that they look like their knuckles also need to be on the ground to maintain balance but that's neither here not there. Since the missus ambushed him doing Washington House he has not shown his face again. I have had hundreds of workmen do jobs for me over the years on various houses and why is it that I can count on one hand the number who do a good job, in fact while I am at it, this applies to the whole service industry in the UK.

The entertainment industry has been getting on my nerves all week, do you remember back in the bad old days when you didn't see any black actors, or not many, in movies and they decided all movies then had to have at least one coloured person in them and this was taken to ludicrous lengths. Like 'Vikings' where, as the camera panned along the crew, there was one black guy rowing for all he was worth across the Atlantic on the slim premise that he had been captured and so impressed the crew he was now an honorary Viking, or the second Dirty Dozen film where they were going to assassinate Hitler and just as they got on the plane someone pointed out the sniper was black and there were no black soldiers defending the Reich, did they ditch him, no, they dressed him up as a mummy, war wounds you see! Nowadays we have gay relationships, almost every single series or movie has to have one whether they add anything to the plot (which they don't usually) or not. I'm also not overly keen on normal sex on the box, who is it for, it can't be for the teenage audience anymore they have the internet, why cut a good five minutes of storytelling out of  a programme to watch two people simulating sex.
Can you spot the sniper?

And now we have a film about a conscientious objector in WWII who received the Medal of Honor. Firstly let me say the man was exceptionally brave, I do not have a beef with that and he deserved his medal. But stop for a moment and ponder what would have happened if everyone outside Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan or Fascist Italy held to such convictions not to pick up a weapon or fight. It was the courage of thousands of ordinary men and women who did fight who saved a world where Mr. Doss could have his convictions.

The Modern World eh, well you can stick it for me, when I call the Hell Line, oh sorry, the Help Line for the Post Office I regularly get this "Office name? Warton, Your name? Anderson, What can I do for you Anderson?" Anderson is not my first name, I am not being familiar with someone I have never met on the phone, why would she she call me Anderson rather than Mr. Anderson! Another one which is taking hold is being asked about my partner, not my wife, especially when the person has the information on both of us in front of them.

How did we come to the pass where we rely on France and China to build a Nuclear Power station in the UK, one which will be the most expensive in the world and will charge double the going rate for the power generated. How did the whole stupid plan even get this far, if you went into a shop for a heater for that room in the back which is always chilly and you were offered the same kind of deal as the government has just been offered on Hinkley Point, you would tell them where to shove it and go to Argos. Why, when it comes to such huge decisions are they left to politicians. Of course they have left themselves with almost no room for manoeuvre as they have shut down almost all the natural fuel power stations and have ignored all the warnings that the lights are in danger of going out in the next 15-20 years until it is almost too late. And why, because as usual they did not think of the country they thought about how the decision to do something about it would effect their chances of getting voted in and hoped against hope the other crowd would make the decision for them.

40,000,000 windmills I said, 40,000,000!

That's those grey clouds up to 90% now. I am a bit later than usual today, so chest cleared, I'm off. Wait, its raining!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Dice, Grrr!

Club night and I was looking forward to a straight up fight with Simon's Soviets, I thought we could even try one of the other scenario types rather than attrition, then I got a text, I usually do not see texts until they are past their sell by date, but I now keep the phone with me in the PO on a Tuesday just in case a wargamer needs to get in touch. Sure enough Julian enquired what games were on and said that he and Andy would join in, like the US Marines we never leave a man behind so I offered them a place in our game.

So I decided to be ready for once, and spent lunchtime on Easy Army choosing a selection of 500 point forces to join to Andy's 500 points, I wasn't sure what Andy had thus the selection. I also packed the terrain in one big box and put it in the car, checked my wargaming 'manbag' for all the essential tools and then decided not to go back to mapping but shoved on BBC iPlayer and put my feet up.

I watched the documentary on the Greeks, but the presenter got to me with his OTT mannerisms and his carefully crafted 'just got out of bed' look so I went back to Tabletop Battles.

Anyway, now I have got that off my chest, we got to the club and leisurely set up the table and decided to go once again for attrition, we did a bit of chatting about WWII, Bolt Action, figures etc. so didn't kick off until gone 7.30. I had taken two eight man infantry squads, Medic, MMG and my fast becoming favourite, the Marder, if Andy or I had taken a tank we would have been left with two men and a dog, hence the Marder. If we had been able to communicate during the day we would have come up with a better list perhaps, which might have included a tank but we didn't. Andy had two squads, an MMG, light mortar a Hanomag and a PzII which we used for Recce. Andy's stuff is early war Western Front while we were fighting on the Eastern Front around 1944. The Russians were fairly basic and had four infantry squads, flamethrower, sniper and a T34/85, one of the squads at least were veteran.

I was determined this time not to rush in and think about my moves instead, so I went for a central building while my other squad advanced through a small wood with the intention of taking another on the right, they had the Medic along with them, I was hoping he was going to be worthwhile. The Marder I kept out of the way on the left flank to help Andy. The Russians rolled their tank up to the centre of the table but no further as Simon was suffering from Panzerfaust fever, sadly it was just out of range for the said weapon in the building. The T34 shot at the little PzII and immobilised it, the second shot caused a fire which was soon put out, and the third again did nothing, the Recce crew led a charmed life. I opened up a couple of times but only caused pins, no kills, then I caught a Russian squad in the open, five hits, no kills!

Goes by the name of 'Lucky'.
Quick, load blanks.

Andy asked my advice on what to do with his armoured squad and it looked at the time that we could clear a house of enemy and I urged him forward while the Marder would lend supporting fire, we did indeed make the occupant suffer but Simon managed to get his flamethrower into action and we lost our brave (foolish) grenadiers. Another valuable lesson learned and definitely my fault, don't listen to me Andy!
Suicide squad.
That was it as time caught up with us, a four way game needed more time or people au fait with the rules, Simon and I are picking them up quicker but Andy and Julian haven't played in a while, so there was a lot of explaining and double checking going on. Despite this it was worthwhile and Julian I think is searching for a new army to try out, or maybe two as his son is interested, Simon and I are going to try and have some games during his six week break and play them to a conclusion.

Elsewhere we had the boardgame, Bloodbowl, big battle Saga and newcomer Ryan showing Stuart Kings of War, if we didn't multi player we would have no room.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Tidying Up

As you know I am at a loose end at the moment, my wargame nest egg is dangerously low at the moment and will not meet my expectations, I blame it all on Brexit of course, you got to laugh, and I have just had an unwelcome email telling me I need to renew my licence for Adobe Illustrator which I use for cartography, well there goes those kubelwagens and jeeps. Hopefully that situation will end in a month or so with all the work I have piling up.

Anyway rather than play a solo game, which I should have done, I mucked around yesterday and decided to get around to putting some camo on the Panther. I took some of my camo netting and 'Germanised' it by adding some brown paint to the watered down PVA and this time I stuck some cut up lichen into the mix. I knew the look I was going for as I had been looking at some Panthers in Normandy. The lichen sank into the netting and needed bringing out, so I gave it some flock to represent fresh foliage added by the crew. I think I now have a battle worn tank on my hands.


After 1.

After 2.
I also got around to a job which has been on the backburner for some time, I rebased most of my Dux Brit troops on two customized bases made for me by Warbases so they can go back to the game if I ever convince someone to try it out with no hassle. I also took the characters off their 2p's and based them to fit with War and Conquest, I now have plenty of priests, musicians, champions and leaders for all my needs.

So what is left in the dark recesses of my mind, nothing sadly which does not involve an outlay of moolah, having said that I do have some WWII barricades on the way along with an MG42 team, the Germans can have two MMG's on the table in Bolt Action.

I now know how the victim of a snake feels when it is mesmerised, I found Tabletop Battles on YouTube hosted by a couple of Norwegian guys, Swien and Damon, they play a lot of Bolt Action along with Frostgrave and some Age of Sigmar, and I find myself watching whenever I have some spare time. I don't know why but I especially liked their visit to the UK, which took in North Star and Warlord Games along with a tournament, go figure. They have an enthusiasm for wargaming which is hard to ignore, they are also fighting their way through WWII in almost every theatre from 1939 to 1945, the aforementioned firms have been very kind to them, especially Warlord Games to enable them to do this. It is not everyone's cup of tea, but I like it.

I can't go without saying that at last we have a decent Spiderman, the kid in 'Captain America: Civil War' was brilliant, I am looking forward to seeing more, oh, and I loved Ant Man as well, two very nice surprises for me.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

View From The WIndow

Here we are again, gazing out the window fortified by two slices of toast with syrup and a cup of Rosy, the kind of breakfast which built the Empire. It is still muggy and needs another thunderstorm to clear the air, it threatens rain and a little fell during the night but as to the rest of the day your guess is as good as mine. We have new neighbours up the road at the 'Blue House', the young couple who lived there needed a larger house so I noticed yesterday a slightly older couple moving in.

I also caught a hilarious escapade from the window yesterday, the missus was in the PO and I was doing some drawing, the window was slightly ajar as it was hot, a car pulled up and parked on the pavement, this is usual for Warton so traffic can pass one another. About ten minutes later I heard a kind of screeching scream 'Dan!' faint but it made me pause, I looked out the window and the car was still there but I couldn't see anyone, back to the maps, cries of 'Dan!' got louder, I looked again, I saw the car door move, bang, bang, 'Dan!' I put my stylus down and headed downstairs to the PO, inside was a large guy with a West Coast Scottish accent telling his life story to the missus, is your name Dan mate, I enquired, no it was John, but as he was the only person around I said I think someone in the car is trying to get your attention. A few minutes later it would seem he was right as I had wrongly identified John as Dan, as once again it was screamed from the car and the door banging increased. After another ten minutes with the voice diminishing due to being hoarse John turned up and drove away. The wife had already spotted the frantic waving, banging of the door and heard the screams but John shrugged it off with 'she is a bit of a nag.'

The door to the PO banged open one day, it must surprise some people, like a fly hitting itself against a window too stupid to know it is there, because they nearly take it off its hinges as they burst through, and when you are dozing off behind the computer screens it comes as a bit of a shock, especially around 3 ish. Anyway she sprints to the counter and throws a cheque at me, to be banked I quickly deduced as I am not told what for, you need an envelope says I, no I don't came the confident but obviously annoyed reply. Yes, you cannot bank here without putting cheques in an envelope, well they do it at Bolton-le-Sands I'm swiftly assured, no they don't I hit back, no PO in the land is allowed to bank a cheque without an envelope. Not convinced she grabs the cheque back and heads for the door, no doubt heaping curses on me for incompetence and punching Bolton-le-Sands into her satnav. As she disappears out the door I slowly raise my right leg and surreptitiously push closed the drawer containing envelopes for banking......

 The BBC just doesn't care anymore now that they have got their licence fee safe for, what is it, ten years or so. You don't even have to look for the bias anymore, subtlety is not in their vocabulary, have you seen one of the hilarious 'Brexit One Month On' pieces where they go to an area which voted leave and find a successful business man, or woman, who are obviously not on the bones of their behinds for a fearful quote that, eh, nothing has changed, damn! Then, yes you know what's coming, the local dosser who hasn't had a job in his life but has latched on to the fact that he can blame foreigners for the fact he hasn't worked since leaving school.

Are you enjoying the Labour Party's convulsions and wondering what is coming next, well, anyone with a brain knows Jeremy is coming next, a bold statement but one predicated on the fact the Party, not the MP's love him. Democracy in action again. Anyway the point I am getting to is that I listened to Owen Smith, no I don't know who he is either, bleating on about wanting a more just Britain, a Britain that works for the poor and not just the rich, a Britain with a well funded NHS, a Britain which plays its part in the World, a Britai.................screeech. You get the idea, but then a thought suddenly hit me, didn't his party have thirteen years to provide all that and by his own utterances did none of it? Chuka Ammuna are you reading this (see last weeks View?) They all seem to know what needs to be done when in opposition but do nothing about it when actually in power.

This is Owen Smith.

The Russians have been doping their athletes, were you as surprised as me about that one, no, unless you work in the media, you probably shrugged your shoulders and thought they have been at it since Uncle Joe, so what's new. I am a layman but it seems to me that doping, along with corruption, goes hand in hand with modern sport and the huge amounts of money involved may be at the heart of it. Just as well all those non-Russian athletes and sports people who get caught are either innocent or have been framed, or are going to clear their names, bloody Russians.

I came late to this one and still find it incredible, the Pokemon Go thing where you go around 'hunting' these ridiculous looking characters on your phone, young hip people are so engrossed with this they are walking in front of cars or off the sides of buildings or whatever to claim the points, one teenager has already been shot dead while trespassing to get one. Did Darwin get it wrong, it would seem to me we don't evolve but go backwards.

And  Celebrity World went ballistic recently because Victoria Beckham kissed her daughter on the lips, if you are the kind of person who thinks a mother kissing her daughter is weird, you are the one who needs to check in to a facility near you, see, I am not wrong with the evolution thing.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Boot Hill

I had hoped my small order of WWII British would have been here but I am still waiting so have not had much to do recently. I was going to do a bit of weathering to my WWII buildings but am uncertain whether to go ahead with this, I have lightly drybrushed them but looking around at houses in the village unless the building is empty or derelict they are all in pretty good repair, including the paintwork. Now I don't know if the Normans in '44 were a lot less house proud than people in Warton in '16 but I could be going OTT if I went too far. I have seen some lovely examples of heavy weathering recently on the Bolt Action Facebook page but that kind of work should have been done before I built them, but we'll see.

Friends are also working on terrain at the moment, Andy at Tiny Hordes  and Matt at Wargames Table.

I have managed at last to do my Dead Man's Hand cemetery, it is not huge, simply a piece of plastic card covered in sharp sand, painted and drybrushed with the odd grave marker plonked down with enough room between them for figures to run through. The grave markers are from 4Ground as are the weathered picket fencing in the background, I thought I would use these to surround the graves and also have them available for WWII, so two birds with one stone. I thought white fencing would be out of place in Carefree and I like the look of the pre-weathered stuff. I still have about 20 kilos of sand remaining, sigh.

I have been sounded out in the last couple of days about doing a set of around 120 maps for several volumes pertaining to the American Revolutionary Wars and once I receive more information if I could put together a couple of examples for the author and editor. I was pointed to this site Obscure Battles and if you like military maps I urge you to look at this, they are superb, if you do go there read the page on how the maps were created.

I don't get to use colour very often and I always try and keep the map as simple as possible so as not to detract from what it is trying to tell the reader, I have seen beautiful maps which completely miss the point but are works of art. These I think are spot on and the balance is perfect as is the use of colour, I have certainly been given something to think about, although most publishers I think would baulk at the cost in time to produce such stunning visuals. It is the groundwork which takes the time, the drawing of all the symbols required, houses, guns, figures, woods etc. once you get all your symbols drawn they can then be used time and again very quickly and colours can be changed en masse. An artistic flair also helps, something I am working on.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

If You Go Down To The Woods.....

Club night and a game of Muskets and Tomahawks, it was sweltering last night and if I closed my eyes I could pretend to be in a cafe on the Mediterranean coast sipping wine and munching olives, but the dream didn't last long, thankfully the club was fairly cool. We weren't sure how many were going to play and in the end it was Simon and I against umpire Rob, we were the Americans, I had some Regulars while Simon led the Irregulars. We were told that we had to march to the sound of the guns and my own objective was to get to the ford beside the blockhouse with at least two thirds of my men standing. We were not sure what the blockhouse held but outside lining the fence were British regulars, Scots, who as the game progressed all seemed to be called George.

 As the cards were dealt we could obviously see Indian and artillery cards so although there were none on the table I began to fear an ambush, there was indeed an ambush but thankfully it was Simon who walked into it. A blast of fire from the forest in front of his leading unit cut them down to under half strength and they ran for the rear. Soon after the Jocks in the woods made a run for their base as the Americans moved to outflank them, this proved a mistake and they were gunned down until only, yes, George remained, Simon had had his revenge and now took pot shots at the British line behind their defences.

 Meanwhile I was slowly moving forward at all times expecting to hear whooping coming from the woods either side of me, but the only enemy to show up were some Irregular woodsmen, I got the drop on them and they ran, they were pursued by my Irregulars and although I cut them down to three men always seemed to just make it to safety in the nick of time.


 My Regulars meanwhile slowly made their way to the blockhouse and lent their firepower to killing the Scots, a sniper at the top of the blockhouse was more annoying than effective so we dismissed this threat. Sure enough a loud boom signalled the presence of a cannon in the blockhouse, but this too proved to be lacking in lethality, onwards we tramped. Around this time the civilians in the fort lost their will to continue the fight and made for the dock and safety using a nearby boat.

 And at last there they were, right behind us, the Indians, however they proved to have arrived late and really could not interfere with the endgame at the blockhouse. They did however manage to beat my Irregulars to the draw and charge them, only to find they had charged to their doom, every one of them bit the dust, but I was left with only a few men. The mad war chief decided to charge and he actually beat my remaining guys despite being outnumbered 4-1. I think Simon managed to shoot him down as he rejoiced licking his wounds.

By now the forts defenders had been reduced to the last George while my men threw caution to the wind and charged the blockhouse, only two gunners and the commander I think remained, I offered quarter to the occupants of the second storey which they promptly accepted as did the Jocks Officer nearby having lost his command.


  We had a bit of fun next as Simon tried to muscle in on the surrender ceremony as enemy swords were offered to me, complaining bitterly that his men had contributed most to the victory, he even tried to pull rank but as it turned out I outranked him so he had to sit on the sidelines, I even managed to cut him out of the photograph. You can just see the toe of his Lt. Col. on the right.

Terrific game and a lot of fun, my die rolling was dismal for shooting and melee, but my morale seems to have held when required, I did get a couple of really good volleys into the Jocks. Rob had given himself an uphill struggle to be honest, the Indians came on too late and his sniper and cannon in the blockhouse contributed nothing to the defence, the brave Scots died in rows.

Elsewhere there were three Bloodbowl games in progress, must be a new season perhaps, the usual boardgame and Sharpe Practice 2 on the Peninsular I think by the look of the buildings, it was Julian's British v Andy's French, I didn't catch much of this but it looked like the French were on the wrong end of things near the end.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016


I have been drawing a lot of maps to do with WWI recently which is no surprise and most have dealt with the Somme with the odd one on the aerial war and a couple on tanks, when I was given the material for War In The North Sea I was a bit nervous as I would be required to map out the battle of Jutland along with some others. The maps were brought forward so I had to drop everything else and complete them.

I left Jutland to the end and concentrated on some smaller actions along with the battles of Dogger Bank and Heligoalnd Bight and an interesting raid on a British convoy in 1917 by two German cruisers which hit the convoy, sank the escorts and made it back to base despite being hunted by six British cruiser squadrons.

I have read about Jutland of course but many years ago, however drawing maps of the action brings it more sharply into focus, especially as it is possible to see photographs of the action right down to the moments where British ships are blown to kingdom come.

Turret hit on Lutzow.

It is incredible that the the most powerful weapons systems of the time were still controlled more or less the same way as Nelson's ships at Trafalgar, which, with the smoke and poor visibility was sheer madness, although unlike at Dogger Bank it did seem to work from a tactical point of view. Wireless was available at Jutland but it is uncertain how much use was made of it, what we do know is that communication or lack of it was a big problem for the British throughout the battle.

Lion under fire and Queen Mary blows up.

I was trained in the use of the same flag system when I joined the navy in 1968 and the Fleetwork book would have been easily understood by a Yeoman on the bridge of HMS Iron Duke in 1916, I did not use it until I joined HMS Sheraton and then it was my job to decipher fleet (3 minesweepers) movements. We only ever used flags once on a very clear day.

Damage on Derflinger.
 Not until I finished the series did it hit home to me how lucky or brilliant the German fleet had been to escape destruction, they had managed throughout the hours of darkness to basically keep their position secret and although found and attacked by the trailing British destroyers they still managed to keep behind the Grand Fleet and sail home.

Despite the losses I don't see how anyone can argue that Jutland was not a victory for the Royal Navy, not the one they wanted and they had suffered some grievous losses however it was the German Fleet which had fled and we now know in hindsight would never again dare to challenge the British. The blockade which slowly strangled the Germans would never be broken.

With renewed interest in the battle I found the BBC documentary on iPlayer, and despite Dan Snow and some guy I had to hide with a towel sign languaging me, seemingly you don't get to use the on/off button if the BBC deems it, then why have one? As usual merely telling the tale was not enough and Dan and Co. set out to discover why the British battlecruisers were susceptible to blowing up, if they had just read any one of a number of books on the battle they could have saved themselves some trouble.

Still on WWI, if you missed the superb documentary last night entitled "The Somme - The First Day" then jump on iPlayer now, grab a beer or whatever and lose yourself for an hour, I eagerly await the second in the series, it is a documentary for grown ups, brilliant.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

View From The WIndow

No view last week as I had family over for the weekend and didn't settle down until well into the afternoon and the View is a Sunday morning thing, usually before the rest of the world stirs, like this morning. Especially this morning as it was the Village Sports day yesterday and the weather gods smiled on us after a rubbish day on the Friday. We have a small parade with floats, a risqué Brazilian band has replaced the traditional pipe band however the dancers were missing yesterday which would have disappointed at least half the audience. We had two floats, at times there have been a good six or seven but as with all of these things apathy strikes and an infusing of new blood and enthusiasm is hard to find, which, considering how many families are in the village is a real shame.

One of the pubs puts a lot of effort in and had a band so music could be heard up until at least gone eleven last night and I am sure there are giant headaches being nursed around the place this morning. We had a dinner party with some friends which was nice and I partook of two glasses of wine, I had thought of having more but you get used to not drinking besides I was chief cook for the night and this morning the bottle washer. It is windy but muggy this morning with an overcast sky, so your guess is as good as mine how the day turns out.

We do live in exciting times, a military coup in Turkey, the next basket case which is due to join the EU in the next few years bringing with it all the advantages it has to offer, eh, erm, maybe not, just a begging bowl. According to the Guardian guess what was a factor in the coup, yes, it was Brexit! And while I am on the subject will someone please tell Nicola Sturgeon it was not a vote to see if Scotland wanted to stay in the EU, nor a mandate for her to seek a second referendum, but a British vote, something Scotland still is.

I notice Gordon Ramsay is on par with Beyonce as the highest earning celebrity in the world so far this year. OK he can boil an egg, but apart from that what has he got going for him, he shocked his way to the top with numerous foul mouth rants which mysteriously disappeared when cooking with his family or neighbourhood kids in Ramsay Street USA. I went off the guy at a food show when he deliberately got a sign language interpreter to copy his disgusting words for those who could not hear them. I am ex-navy and worked twenty years offshore so I know a bit about swearing, but Ramsay's use of it for exploitation does not sit well with me.

Bea Marshall, no, I hadn't a clue who she was either until recently, she is a self appointed parenting expert, who refuses to say no to her children, to the extent that when Charlie or whoever wanted to drive the car at three year old, sat him in the front and waited until the numpty worked out he couldn't actually drive as he didn't know how and hadn't a licence, yeah right. You won't be surprised either to learn she has shrapnel in her face and has decided she doesn't need shoes any more, try that down Back Lane and see how much better you feel with feet covered in dog muck and mysterious gloop.

Still on a celebrity tack here, Alanis Morisette, a singer I believe, and her husband, another singer, who this time you really will never have heard of, have named their new daughter 'Onyx Solace'. Those are not names, they are words, what would have happened in the middle ages or whenever if people just looked around and gave their kids words instead of names, Napoleon could have been 'Bucket' or Alexander the Great Stone the Great, or we might have had Porridge the Third.

And here is one which had me rolling on the floor, Chuka Umunna MP has called for MP's to be held to account to do what they promise, that alone should get him voted out of wherever he represents and a real, economical with the truth, self interested, 'I didn't break the rules' politician voted in. I am not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn or the Labour Party but the fact that a bunch of MP's tried to move heaven and earth to prevent him taking part in the next leadership vote speaks volumes for their attitude to fairness, loyalty and democracy if something doesn't go their way, I'm getting deja vu here.

I see the BBC lawyers were on the ball over the Nice tragedy, the corporation desperately wanted information and asked people to phone in but 'only if it is safe to do so'.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

At a Loose End

All my major wargaming projects are complete for the time being and I feel kind of lost after about two years of building my Dark Age armies, the Romans and now my Bolt Action forces. Like most wargamers I have a wish list, mine includes possible Byzantine, Sassanid or Pyrrhic armies, the two former because I like Aventine figures and the latter for that reason and that I need an opponent for my Romans. I can in actual fact suborn my Saxons into serving as German Barbarians, wait a minute, is that not what they are, anyway it is possible in the safety of my own house where 'that guy' is not going to point out they are too late for the classical period.

I could do some weathering on my WWII buildings and I do have some Dux Brit troops to base up for War and Conquest as they are fairly redundant for that game although I do actually like it, the way I am doing it they can be used for both rule sets, just in case. Although my flocking marathon is now finished I did miss a couple of bases, so I have that to do as well. I went crazy with the Late Summer Grass and bought a spray adhesive to reflock my hills as well, unfortunately the original flock I put on them blended in better with the mat than the new stuff, I'm not doing them again. I also managed to rummage some WWII British from the drawer and noticed if I add four more guys I can have a full squad, so I am going to do that.

I also have a graveyard to do for Dead Man's Hand, I have everything but the fence to go around it, so I might get that this afternoon. Although I don't need to I am going to add a few more figures to my DMH collection later in the year when all the new stuff from Black Scorpion hits the shelves.

I managed to catch up with some TV series I like as well, however I am now up to date so googled the ten best TV shows of 2015 to see what I have missed. I caught Season 2 of 'Better Call Saul' the spin off from 'Breaking Bad' but despite loving the character and enjoying Season 1 I have given up, the story lines are too bland and there doesn't seem to be a point to it, because we all know where he is going. Next up was 'UnReal' a programme about Reality TV, I got about two thirds in and realised the show was even crueller than a Jeremy Kyle special, even though it was sending up the genre I simply could not watch. I tried several other shows on the list but admitted defeat, I wonder who came up with the list or am I just so out of touch with modern entertainment.

I got to watch my hero the other night, Batman vs Superman and settled down for some KAPOW! BIFF! BANG! nonesense and duly put my brain to the side for a couple of hours. No, no go there either. I liked the gritty Batman who I think did actually manage to kill a few baddies and his car was something else, but he doesn't live in a modern glass box and the Batcave is not under a lake. The whole thing was simply an excuse for the producer to get the Batman/Superman fight from the graphic novel on the big screen and he didn't even do that convincingly. Why would Lex Luthor, who brings Superman to his knees, need Superman to kill Batman? Utter tosh. God knows what they are going to do to the next Spiderman.

It's the same with many of the comics now as well, they have to be relevant, the characters now have to be ethnic or have issues or be gay or the story line needs you to have a degree in astrophysics to work out what is happening. I have the Guardians of the Galaxy gathering dust on the shelf after losing the will to live half way through.

So what have I got left of an evening while home alone, till these four guys turn up or I finally make my mind up and buy an army, nothing much, but of course this is a dangerous time for a wargamer, a bit like simply looking at cars and coming home with a new one.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

We Don't Need No Steenkin' Batches

The title has always been one of my favourite movie lines said in a heavy, fake, Mexican drawl, it's from 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre' another one of the wooden Mr. Bogart's movies, anyway I digress.

Dead Man's Hand at the club, a four way game so I went with a scenario we have already played and it went even better. Simon had the Outlaws and I took my favourite Mexicans led by 'The Spider', we had a couple of lookouts near the bank while four of our guys entered the building, the rest of our men were on either side of the bank in two saloons, hopefully not getting too tanked up before the action.

The raid had already been transmitted to the local Law and Sheriff Rob had deputised a local trail boss and his men (Stuart) to help apprehend the robbers, they also had a couple of men mixing with the citizens while the rest were in the jail house or again, another local drinking establishment, "Cowboys only friend."

As we entered the bank a rather nervous clerk let loose a shot before dropping the weapon in fear, a very angry Mexican took a flesh wound and clubbed the man to the ground. We now set upon the bank manager who refused to give up the combination to the safe and held out a fair time until persuaded otherwise (D3). The shot however had stirred a hornets nest and bullets began to fly across main street while the locals ran about like headless chickens getting in the way. My lookout took several hits and was forced into the back alley to recover, while the Lawmen took potshots with their rifles and glass shattered all around the Cowboys began to try and cross Main Street, all the while concentrating on Halloran's Place where my guys were holed up.

Waiting to get into the safe.

We got first blood and down went a lawman and cowboy, 'El Arana' was looking around nervously wondering how long it would take to get the damn gold, the Livery Stable and the horses looked a long way off and the Cowboys were in the way. Leaving a couple of snipers the Law also made their way behind the houses towards the other end of town. One of my guys hit the floorboards in Hallorans, I moved my boys out into the alley and got ready for a run to the stables.

Deadly action at the back of the store.
The Law are thinned out.

We had the gold, I took one bag and the Outlaws took the other so we made our escape out the back door, a Mexican shooting the bank clerk on the way, however by this time the good guys had concentrated at the back of the General Store and we closed to point blank range to move them, bodies began to mount up. Despite trying to bring down the men carrying the gold the good guys failed to stop the rush and paid dearly. As the clock ticked down we declared a win for the baddies.

The scenario was a success, and we all had a good time, we had several laughs as shotguns missed with both barrels at short range, men fell from roofs and dived through windows, I was disappointed that the "The Spider" didn't hit anything all game despite almost standing next to his targets.

Imagine my joy when I drew a Mexican card entitiled "We don't need badges!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Wargame Weekend Game 2

After a nice meal at the pub instead of a second game of War and Conquest I was taught how to dance by my granddaughter and lost at table tennis and Ticket to Ride, so earlyish to bed and up early to prepare the table for Bolt Action.

Playing in the Post Office is great for the room but with the open shop front it is a bit like playing in a goldfish bowl, every passer by pretends not to notice but all have a furtive look while their kids press their noses to the glass door. I then get quizzed on a Monday on what was happening.

No matter, it doesn't bother me in the least and one day a real wall will be up. So, my first home game of Bolt Action, 1,000 points a side, Germans vs British, Normandy. Apart from my infantry platoon I had gone for a mortar, MMG and a PIAT team backed up by an armoured car and a Cromwell, a little Bren Carrier would transport the MMG. Stewart had taken as support for his platoon, a medic, mortar and sniper along with a Marder III and a Pak40 anti/tank gun and tow.

The battlefield.
It was to be a meeting engagement and I thought I would make my main effort on my left while occupying the buildings near the crossroads, the Germans wanted the crossroads but had a couple of squads opposite my left. As the game started nearly all my initiative dice came out first which was a bind as I had to make my mind up what I was doing without seeing what the Germans were doing, anyway I cautiously continued with my plan.

So far so good.
 Stewart covered the crossroads with his Pak40 but I wasn't going to go near it, yet, the Humber armoured car hid behind a nearby house.

 Then on rumbled the Marder, the same which took such punishment when I had taken it to the club last week, the German infantry spread across the battlefield

 Now the bullets began to fly, the sniper made some good head shots and took out two NCO's while the Marder and Pak also managed some kills, my guys just ran for cover, the houses were just a tad too far for them to get inside comfortably in two moves. I eventually turned the mortar on the sniper but I may as well have thrown cotton wool at him.

 I now decided to throw caution to the wind, I moved my PIAT team up to pot the Marder, no, cotton wool again, it took its revenge on my Universal Carrier way down the road and took both it and my MMG team out, so much for plan A. My Humber had also fallen victim by this time, I had also moved it out to shoot at the Marder having got myself into a Marder frenzy and promptly lost this vehicle as well.

 Now it was the turn of the Cromwell, feeling pressured having lost a squad at the crossroads to assaulting panzergrenadiers, I moved it to get a shot on the Marder, zoom, miss.

The Marder replied and stunned my crew, what was wrong with me this weekend the only luck I had was bad luck. I managed another shot and missed again, but so did the Marder, it was my turn to assault and when the dust settled I had knocked out a German squad but had lost another one of mine. The PIAT by now had taken three shots and missed with all of them, the German Panzerfausts turned out to be just as useless. As I looked over the battlefield at the carnage and the advancing Germans I threw the towel in and shook hands with Stewart, dejected I slumped in my chair and allowed my grandson to cheer me up as he informed me all the troops, buildings and tanks on the table were his "MINE!"

The game had reinforced my notion that I am a rubbish WWII player, despite enjoying myself, I really need to think things through and not get sidetracked trying to knock out one vehicle. We were surprised at how painful the assault mechanism is in Bolt Action. I have to say hand on my heart it bears no resemblance to reality, I know it's a game and not historical the way some WWII rules claim they are but it is bad.

I checked it out online and yes, we should not have let troops get within 6" to make the assault in the first place and I doubt either of us will let it happen again if we can help it, which is a good thing but does not excuse the fact it is a terrible mechanism, basically if you assault you wipe out the enemy squad, there may be the odd time you fail to do this but the odds on that happening are pretty daunting. I did learn more about the rules and we used the Season 3 house rules from the team which were good, there are not many but they do fix some issues. The assaulting aside it was a good game and another learning experience for me, I look forward to another.