Sunday, 28 August 2016

View From The Window

Horrible morning, leaden sky and it has been raining, as promised by the Met Office would you believe, did you know they are going to be sacked by the BBC and some private Dutch outfit is taking over, perhaps the Dutch get better weather. How can the country's top meteorological department with all its resources be bumped out by presumably a business a fraction of its size? Warton is holding its breath for the big road closure after the Bank Holiday, the end of the world as we know it has been predicted along with all sorts of carnage on Borwick Lane, we will have our own daily version of 'Death Race 2000.' On a more serious note it will affect us and a lot of people in the village and surrounding area, the traffic on Main Street is sure to rise and there will be no bus services until the work in Millhead is complete, roll on November.

As you know I had my two granddaughters here last week, all in all it was an enjoyable time during which I mainly hid in the Post Office while my wife worked herself to a frazzle keeping them amused every day, don't get me wrong, they spent quite a bit of time in the large open space doing cartwheels, drawing and running about. I left a fairly quite house on Tuesday afternoon and when I came back I heard what sounded like a lot of fun upstairs, on getting in the house I quickly realised it was not fun, it was uncontrolled wailing, crying and sobbing, an awful racket. I entered the room with a 'Ho, ho, ho', now this is not to be confused with a Christmas 'Ho, ho, ho', this is a Glaswegian call which on hearing if you do not desist in whatever you are doing to annoy people precedes a lot of trouble coming your way. I read the riot act of course, playing the bad cop to my wife's good cop, but only after I had promised the earth to both of them did they calm down. They were back to their normal selves the next morning as if nothing had happened, kids eh?

I had to take Eve back home on Thursday which meant my afternoon was shot, but that was not to be the worst. I got into the PO to find that having the girls and trying to get a map project finished had affected my memory and I had forgotten to do the monthly balance. I rang up the hell line thinking they would tell me to carry on and do it next month only to be told I had to do it before I served anyone that morning. I therefore had to drop everything and turn out the safe and start counting, it also meant I had to send anyone who turned up away after looking in my own 'Big Book of Excuses' and informing them the 'system was down' and my hands were tied, come back in an hour.

I then checked my emails to find that Adobe was charging me £200 to renew my Illustrator licence, doesn't time pass quickly, I need it but this hit the Anderson coffers pretty badly and I knew my wargaming fund was going to take a long time to recover. To make matters worse as I checked to see if this was right I noticed I had paid my Premier Inn invoice for the wargame weekend in November out of 'our' account instead of out of 'mine', another £200 smackers gone. Thursday was not improving.

I took Eve home and dropped her at my sons work, treating her as promised on the Tuesday night to a trip in the Batmobile but not with the roof down, too cold. On the return journey I was coming down an empty lane just outside the village when I espied a teenager almost in the middle of the road texting whoever on her phone, she did not see me and I had to veer into the opposite lane to get around her! A mobile phone is no use if you are under a car, although on second thoughts you would find a picture of the chassis on Facebook.

With sanctuary in sight I turned on to Main Street, I could see another car just getting to the only lay-by in the road and thought he will pull over and let me through as the left hand side of the road in the village is permanently out of action due to parked cars. No, he didn't, he drove past the layby by a cars length and stopped, signalling me to to reverse back to Borwick Lane, needless to say that was not going to happen, I pointed at the lay-by behind him and shook my head, that'll sort him. He eventually moved backwards slightly, other cars started to move into the lay-by but leaving room for him to get in, but no, he retired only a few feet. I then started down the road only to have to stop between him and a skip, right next to him in the driving seat, windows were wound down and I asked why had he not stopped in the lay-by, it was normal practice in the village, he was there first says he. More 'banter' was exchanged and then he suddenly told me to 'go back to Scotland and build the wall', where's the Old Bill when you need them, I was a victim of hate crime, my sense of worth had been violated, where can I get compensation, perhaps I could recoup that £400. The upshot was he eventually moved a couple of feet and I got away, but now there was a line of cars in front of him and behind him, he had completely blocked the main street. I chuckled into the rear mirror as I sped away, his face burned into my memory and hoping with all my heart that one day he needs something posted (evil laugh).

While I was driving Eve home I put the radio on for her, I caught a DJ asking someone who had phoned in what was his most awesome moment of 2016 so far, what would yours be if forced to partake in this nonsense. Well Kevin's was seeing Mary Berry (the baker) in B&Q buying a can of wasp repellent, he waxed lyrical about how his life had suddenly changed and what an exciting moment it had been for him, Mary Berry, off the telly, would you Adam and Eve it, and yes, he had immediatly texted all his family and friends so that they too could enjoy the moment. Maybe texting girl above had been replying to Kevin's red letter text.

Me? Yes I have had brushes with celebrities, I saw Shakin' Stevens treated like royalty at Abedeen airport, I barged past Stephen Hendry and his adoring fans in Menzies as I went for the latest edition of Miniature Wargames, I went to a concert organised for us by Prince Charles and heard Harry Secombe shout, sorry, sing. I also once got Mark McManus' autograph for my kids, he was Taggart in the cop show, we were in Walter McGowan's pub (he was World Flyweight Champion). In the same pub one night, I tried to tell some famous sports reporter that he had left his lights on in the car park but no one would let me through as they were in a rapt trance listening to his stories, so I went back to the corner and no doubt Archie McPherson, for it was he, got a taxi home. Only John Cumming, a man I knew well and who played for Hearts of Midlothian and Scotland and who would never have called himself a celebrity, and indeed missed the whole horrible genre, would have gotten my respect and in fact did. Mary Berry!


Will the country ever get a credible opposition to the Conservatives, Jezza is involved in a spate about train seats, I do not have a staff at my beck and call but I can book a train seat myself to ensure I get one, can't the Labour leader? And Owen Smith who wants his job continues to show he will not be elected Labour leader in a month of Sundays, he is going to block Brexit, Owen, that ship has sailed mate. Ever since Tony Blair and his lies politicians of any persuasion have shown themselves to be utterly unfit to rule the country, god help us.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Happiness and Disappointment

Well I got my latest parcel from Warlord Games yesterday afternoon, the dice thankfully were indeed the same as I had got before, sand, although that is a bit of a stretch if you ask me but there you go, mountain out of a molehill. The British dice I shall repaint as the writing is a bit dull on them, the sand dice thankfully are fine, better than the last lot which I did repaint.


I managed to finish the amendments to the Mongol Invasion maps and just could not resist building the Sdkfz 7/1, no problems at all with this and I used my extensive skills to put a magnet into the halftrack base and one on the gun, so it can swivel no problem and stay in place during movement, quite chuffed with that. The vehicle will be from the 2nd Panzer Divisions I Panzer Battalion Staff Company, namely the 3 Fliegerabwherzug.

I had to do the shop this morning and as I was not expecting many customers on a beautiful Sunny morning I took the Churchill down and began that build as well. No sooner had I started than I got customers, in fact I got more this morning than I have had in the last three Saturdays. No matter, I completed the tank just after lunch. I have chosen a Mk IV from the half dozen variants and due to the decals which come with it I have gone for the 31st Tank Brigade which supported the 15th Scottish Division for a time in Normandy. I would have liked the Scots Guards but the decals only cover the first two regiments of the 31st and the Guards not the third.

The Postie also brought me a large cylinder containing maps for a three volume book on the Iran-Iraq war which was a bit of a shock as I had not expected anything like this as I have also been commissioned to do about 30 maps on the Battle of Arras in 1917.

What he didn't bring me was some wound markers from 4Ground which were posted ten days ago according to their records. Knowing the PO as I do I suspect they are not coming, however I will hold off until I reach two weeks overdue and get back on to 4Ground, what really hurts is that I paid £5 for postage for an item which I deduce should have been 75p at the cheapest or 96p at the most. Also I know that 4Ground are very good at despatching orders and they normally take no more than a few days.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

They came on in the same old style........

God I have had a bad day and will now try and forget it while I type my report, you will hear about it on Sunday, this is when I could do with a drink as my nerves are frazzled.

Anyway, I had just about made my mind up to give the club another miss when I recieved a text from Andy inviting me to take part in a Black Powder Napoleonic game, what the hell I thought, get me out of the house, so off I trotted.

Andy and Rob enjoy the Black Powder rule sets and it does work well with Rob's Sudan scenarios, however I thought it was a poor ECW set and wouldn't touch it for ACW but then I wouldn't touch anything but Johnny Reb for that anyway, it would be interesting to see how it worked with Naps. As much as I am an admirer of the Emperor and made friends at a safe distance with the giant tortoise which knew him on St. Helena I have never really got into Napoleonic wargaming, and when I have tried it I usually retired with a sore head, really. It does look splendid though.

So on Tuesday night I found myself in charge of the British right flank with a light cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade made up of mainly Scots battalions, the centre and left were under the command of two Germans, father and son who were visiting, Daniel has been to the club in the past but not his father Hermann, who unfortunately did not speak a lot of English and was not a miniatures player. I knew right away if disaster struck Hermann was the fall guy.

The idea was that each side had to control two crossroads, one in a village and one in the open, I was opposite the one in the open, but so as I found out was the French guard units and next to them their feared heavy cavalry. As the game started I threw my light cavalry forward aggressively and mounted a nearby hill all the better to give me an advantage in the coming melees.

The brigade will advance.....
 There was what passed for snorts of derision at my attempt to take on the heavies with my lights, but what did I know, well I did know it was going to be a possible massacre for my boys, but it was either take the fight to the Frenchies or let them bring it to me. My infantry opened up into lines and moved on the crossroads and awaited the Guard, who were coming on in the same old style as Wellington was wont to say. Hermann moved on the village in a huge column and held the southern edge while the French held the north and each side plugged away at each other causing mainly nose bleeds and ear ache.

Into ze houzes.
  My cavalry now charged downhill at the Monsieurs and predictably got beat, but not by enough, they did move back but they were still there, a bit of a shock for Andy. One of  my cavalry units could not get in on the fight so instead forced an infantry battalion to go into square thus stopping them joining the advance on my Jocks, they then haired off in pursuit of some horse artillery, again stopping this from supporting the French left, huzzah lads. At the end of the game I had lost two cavalry units but so had the French!

Get into them!
  I was all set up and willing the French infantry to try and close in their attack columns, but this is where the rules let Andy down, he failed twice in a row to advance his men by failing his command roll, the bad luck continued with his shooting and his shots winged harmlessly over the heads of my stalwart troops. Why on earth would a division advancing on the enemy with hardly a casualty suddenly just stop.

Oh, they'll stand Wellington.

I held one crossroads, Herman ensured the other was in contention and Daniel and Rob had fought each other to a standstill on our left, we won and Hermann was off the hook.

A good game and I didn't come away with a headache neither did I come away any more convinced Black Powder was for me, but I appreciated the game and the work Andy and Rob put in. If I can find a route to Lancaster next week with all the road and lane closures I think it is Bolt Action.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

I Can'st Takes No More

The quote comes from Popeye, a character I could never quite take to, I think it was his taste in women which put me off, Olive Oil, come on, even after ten weeks at sea it would have to be a no, and I've done that, but thankfully the first land fall after that was Mombasa, but that's another story.

I have had almost a week with no wargaming project on the tray or table and it has got to me, so much so that I decided I needed a quadruple flak halftrack (Sdkfz 7/1) for my Germans and a Churchill tank for the British in case that Panther ever shows up in my version of Normandy. I also got two new sets of order dice, my armies have now grown to such an extent that if I get them all on the table I will need more than the original twelve. I had to actually ring Warlord as I could not find the same colour of dice I use for my Germans, I should have got plain grey or black but I didn't. Have you ever tried to explain a colour over the phone, it is not easy and although the guy on the phone tried his best it was me who eventually gave up. I did what I should have done in the beginning and looked up my original invoice, they were sand(!), I am still not sure what will arrive in the post will be the same colour as there is no way that can be described as sand.

How cool is that?
 I also checked with Aventine as to when the Byzantines will be ready, Keith himself is waiting for them and he let me know his upcoming schedule, I should guess after winter so I might have to go with something else in the meantime. I also noticed that after the Byzantines they are planning 3rd Century Romans, he really does want more money off me. When I recruited the Twelfth I really wanted 3rd C Romans not 2nd C, don't get me wrong, the Thunderbolts are my favourite army but I had wanted something different and was not convinced by the A&A figures, despite being done by the same sculptor and the fact I have seen some beautifully painted examples. I just think his work for Aventine is far better.

I managed to get to the club this week, but as my two granddaughters are here and I am still churning my way through a backlog of maps I will leave the report for now.

I see I have been tagged by Phil Robinson in his 'News from the Front' blog, I have noticed Phil's name on several forums and admired his painting style, I especially like his Dark Age stuff so do pop along and have a look, it is also a very good wargamers blog. I hope that is not as daft as it sounds. In a coincidence his backdrop is a WWI map of La Boisselle a place I have drawn several maps of for a recent Helion publication.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

View From The Window

The latest ever View and one I had intended to skip. The weather is actually very nice if windy with threatening grey clouds on the horizon. The village is very quiet with all of us dreading the closing of the road, because not only does it mean the usual rat run of Borwick Lane will be ten times worse it comes at the same time as closures on the main M6 and Lancaster routes due to the completion of the bypass. So, allied with the driving practices of the locals any journey for a while is going to be fraught with misery, we were thinking of hunkering down for the period and even getting food delivered.

The lateness of the Sunday outburst is due to a clan gathering we had in Lanark yesterday, although I am an Anderson the other and much larger side of the family are Quinn's and someone had the bright idea of reviving a practice my Gran had decades ago of having a family picnic. Instead of a field at Loch Lomond we had a hall in Lanark and around 60 people turned up, the furthest popping in from Australia. My oldest son and I had a 'road trip' to the event and stayed overnight on a couple of couches at my sisters, not a great idea but when needs must etc. There was to be beer and wine but no spirits however suspicions were aroused as several adults were a little too obsessive about their bottles of what looked like watered down coca cola and I saw one being utterly surprised as the bottle of water he picked up tasted completely different from what he was expecting. Refreshing but not the way he thought.
Wheelbarrow race, I'm in the middle doing the shoving.

The meet was a resounding success and I renewed acquaintances and met a great number of people I knew existed but had never met and never would have if the 'picnic' had not been organised. There has been cries to turn it into an annual event  and I do hope the enthusiasm will last. I also have an Anderson do in a couple of weeks in the Lake District so there definitely will not be a View that weekend, again it is about family and ensuring we do not lose touch. I'm looking forward to it, especially as quite a few of us think we are comedians.

Man up, that's my advice to all these sportsmen who now cry floods if they win or lose, we know the ladies have always been a bit partial to a tear or two but it has now become de rigueur for the blokes as well. It is everywhere, bake a decent cup cake and it's hugs and tears all round, if you get booted out of a singing contest or make a slip in that paso doble and Craig Revel Over The Top tells the truth about your performance. Cut it out.

Ed Balls is joining Strictly, we've had Vince Cable shuffling his feet and George Galloway pretending to be a cat, could you imagine Pitt the Elder, Disreali, Winston Churchill or Anthony Eden lowering themselves to such public ridicule? Politicians are entertaining enough in normal life without descending to such depths. Perhaps Ed Balls doesn't get that no matter how good a dancer he turns out he is still a rubbish politician, and that's what really counts.

Advert watching again, this time it is an attractive woman coming home from a hard day at the office, pouring a glass of wine, kicking her shoes off, dressing in a teddy and then ......... hugging another woman in similar lingerie. Did I just see that! It was for a dating app. Most gay women I have seen, and granted, apart from the media I have not seen many, they do not look like those two, they look like they would give a Stormtrooper squad a rough time while the men would have a hard time seeing off a Brownie pack.

Reality bites.

Moslem extremist Mr Choudray has after twenty years of fomenting hate against this country had his collar felt, great news, lock im up M'lud. But wait, how does a certified lawyer with no disabilities manage to draw benefits for twenty years without anyone asking why?

Jezza is in trouble again, someone ambushed him during an interview and forced him to admit he didn't know his Ant from his Dec, the baying mob rounded on him for being out of touch. I myself am not sure which one of the talentless whining Geordies is which but I can assure you I am not out of touch, and neither is Jezza, OK, he might be living in the 60's but you get the gist. My son popped Celebrity Big Brother on for ten minutes the other night while we tried to find a comfortable spot on my sisters couches and I didn't recognise any of them.

Almost done, you remember in the last View I asked about the Olympic Committee and whether it was squeaky clean, well a couple of days later Europe's top Committee member and one of his mates was arrested for illegal ticket sales. You heard it here first.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Shiny or Functional

I didn't go to the club last night, quite a few guys are on holiday and I was still euphoric about my game on the previous Thursday so decided to sit tight. Also for the first time in years I had nothing wargaming related to do, no painting, no buying online, no delving into the lead molehill, nada. Very strange feeling. There are a few civilian Dark Age bases which I could redo but that is clutching at straws and I am nowhere near ready or brave enough to start another War and Conquest army yet, and too skint to get all those new vehicles for Bolt Action.

In order to make some of the above come true I am really putting some time in on my maps, I can see the end of the tunnel with the Mongol Invasions thankfully as these have been a struggle. In the next day or so I will complete six to do with WWI as they are fairly simple and next week I hope to get a move on with the Folgore Division history. I have been told there are two more 'interesting' projects coming my way in the next couple of weeks so I look forward to them. No word yet on the 18th C stuff but I think the editor was just setting out his store and that work will come in the next few months.

So, shiny or functional, I am talking about rulebooks here, Alistair over at Wargaming Gallimaufry has just produced a review of the new Congo rules by Studio Tomahawk, I really like their Muskets and Tomahawks game and thankfully so do several guys at the club so I do not need to buy anything for that, although I did buy the rulebook just in case. Congo sounds like a great game and should be fun to play, I am sure I will get a closer look at it at the club when Stuart buys it, Stuart if you don't know buys everything, but I was intrigued enough by Alistair's comments on pricing to look it up. The book is a hardback and comes in at £34, yes £34, more than I pay for a large hardback non-fiction tome, yes you get cards and tokens etc. but at the same time you seemingly get a lot of lovely pictures which of course have nothing to do with the rules but more to do with what else you can buy.

My first over the top buy was Dux Britanniarum, it was around £20 when I bought it and is a soft back book with cards, in colour and on shiny paper, the price was put down to the production costs, however when I lost it again and paid £25 for War and Conquest the comparison between the two was chalk and cheese. The WAC book was splendid, yes there were pictures but mainly to illustrate various rule mechanisms, it was hardback and on lovely thick paper, it also had an excellent index, I felt this was worth £20 - £25. I bought the Bolt Action rulebook next, priced at £25 and although it is along the lines of the WAC book it has a lot of pictures which are, well pictures, it did however have a lot of information on how to build your army for the game but sadly lacked an index. I felt a little short changed with the £25 price tag or would have if I had not got it online for slightly less. The new Bolt Action 2.0 is £30 and there is no way that is going cheaper elsewhere for some time to come, so having invested a lot of money in BA I have shelled out the £30, I have a sneaky suspicion I will definitely feel short changed this time, but I am stuck.

Shiny of course came in with Games Workshop and it drives many of the wargame rulebooks we use today, but if the pretty pictures are merely to load up the price I would rather have less and opt for functionality and a fairer price, but hey I'm old school, perhaps that is the difference at the end of the day. For those who may point out that I can perhaps get the same thing online as an ebook or .pdf cheaper, I will just say in the end I will, kicking and screaming, cough up for a book.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Bridging the Gap

I still want a church for my WWII terrain and that should do it unless I decide to move into town, but for now I have enough buildings for the Norman countryside, what I did not have was a bridge, not only would it look good but it would come in handy for games where it was the focal point of  the scenario.

I bought some pre-painted rubbery stream sections a long time ago to use with Dux Britanniarum but only ever used them once, so I am hoping they will get more use with Bolt Action. To this end I ordered up a bridge from Sarissa Precision, they have several bridges to choose from but I stuck with the traditional stone one.

I looked online and most bridges I saw were greyish, with the odd one which was more of a sandstone, as I did not have any grey primer but did have some brown leather sitting forlornly on the shelf, I went for sandstone.

 I gave the bridge a coat of Vallejo Desert Yellow once built and primed, at this point like my buildings I gingerly dip the brush into my basing sand and this gives me a textured finish without buying a large tub of masonry paint. I then stippled it with the same paint but with a dash of green and then to finish off a dab here and there with a very dark grey. I then coated the surface in sharp sand and patiently waited for it to dry.

Once dry the decoration started, some late summer grass along with flowers and the odd tuft completed the piece. I now look forward to using it at some point.

The only thing missing to be honest is proper tiles on the top of the walls, there is a thin line of card glued to the top which represents said tiles but the top is plain. I might at some stage cut some card tiles out and lay them on the top to match the sides, that will depend on how much spare time I have and how often I use it, because it will bug me everytime I look at it.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

View From The WIndow

How are you getting on with the heatwave so far, according to the weathermen and the media who have taken their lead from them we are going to melt for the next few weeks, no doubt Burton-in Kendal will be as hot as, say Bermuda, so all you people who went to Bermuda this week should have stayed at home, ah ha! Well the heatwave must have stopped at the Watford Gap as usual like so much else in the country, or, heaven forbid, didn't actually turn up. Just because the Met Office want a hot summer to crow about it really doesn't have an affect on the weather if you just say it often enough or choose a couple of weeks in the office lottery.

So yes, it is dull and grey again, although the fields are a lovely green and at the moment visibility is all the way to the windmills, nature continues to reclaim the garage over at Washington House and the roof is a mass of green foliage now. There are several houses up for sale in the village at the moment but nothing is moving. We are all dreading the closing of the road in a few weeks, it is the number one topic in the pub, I have started to go back down on a Wednesday again, albeit for several Beck's Blue's rather than real beer, but my old friend enjoys his couple of half pints and it gets me out of the house of an afternoon.

The installation of my fibre broadband has once again been delayed, this time until August 25, I decided to give them a ring as the house down the road is being fitted but I am not. This time the traffic management excuse was not mentioned, this time it is a blockage in the conduit. It took me quite some time to tell Divyansh at the other end that the trench had been dug, re-tarred and the pull through strings attached to a pole without any of the workmen telling me they had hit problems. Divyansh asserted loudly that no matter what I thought there were blockages. I have a sneaking suspicion that the organisation of fibre broadband in the UK is in disarray and fully expect to see workmen this week at some point.

I can see, after almost six months of not seeing very well and doubting my senses I can now see perfectly. I went to the opticians around January to be told my eyes had improved and I needed a new prescription. I got my new glasses and immediately said they are blurring my vision, the woman looked in her 'Big Book of Optician Excuses' which is printed by the same publisher as the 'Big Book of Broadband Excuses', and informed me I had to 'wear them in'. I did this but was back within a month and this time there was nothing in the book so they recut the lenses. I gave my eyes another four months or so to wear in but it was no good, I went back and insisted that they were not right. This time I was given a new eye test and my eyes had not improved at all, but had reverted almost to what they were before I went for the original test, so I now have my third set of new glasses through which I can see. In January I was suffering from a spike in my diabetes and was losing weight and drinking like a fish, according to the optician this also affects your eyes, now that I am back on an even keel the original prescription was no longer valid. I can accept that.

I nearly forgot, I am being hounded by Divyansh's cousin Lakshay who is determined to get me a cheaper deal on my electricity, despite being told three times now that I am happy with my supplier and I have money to burn so don't need anything cheaper he rings back on average about every five days so desperate is he to solve my 'problem'. Even informing him politely(?) he was my only problem he continued for about ten minutes ringing me back every time I cut him off. I asked him to simply send me a cheque if he was so sure I needed money but somehow I don't think that is going to happen.

A fairly quite week due to the Olympics which like garlic to a vampire or silver to a werewolf has kept me from the television for a week now. I have of course seen the odd snippet, you cannot avoid it and marvel at the near empty stadia for most events, even when it is a popular event there are many empty places in the rows. I seem to remember this circus was originally for amateurs and professionals were not allowed, a showpiece for the achievments of mere mortals, not a place for the likes of Andy Murray and the Harlem Globetrotters?

I see Labour's anguish continues, not a fan as you know, but surely it cannot be right to join such an organisation, pay your dues and then be told you cannot have a vote for who should lead said organisation. I may be wrong but I believe both the Labour and Conservative parties are actually bankrupt or at least were not that long ago and both these outfits want to run a country while most of the time they cannot run their own clubs. Democracy, dontya just love it.

Brexit, come on, one more. The BBC programme about the vote and why it went the way it did was brilliant, I especially loved that apart from the talking head experts there were no europhiles sitting around a table crying into their gin and tonics bewailing the outcome but there were four 'Last of the Summer Wine' characters in the local surrounded by beer to represent all us out voters. This round's on me lads.

Saturday, 13 August 2016


At around 2210 hrs last night I passed the 50,000 hits on the blog and went to bed a happy chappy.

I started the blog mainly because I had given up writing wargaming articles for magazines but as I enjoyed writing about wargaming the blog allowed me to continue and gave me a new outlet over which I had full control. With all the new periods I have started over the past few years and my map business becoming almost full time the blog has become part of my 'quality time' during which I can leave the cares of the day and real life behind and lose myself in my favourite, and only, hobby.

Despite myself I do enjoy watching the counter turn and I also keep an eye on my official followers and give myself a pat on the back when that counter slips over once more. Someone else happy. I have also managed to meet several of those followers and come to know several more very well.

So a big thanks to everyone who pops on whether you are a regular viewer or not.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Vortigern Triumphant!

Because of the school holidays I had the unusual chance to fight a wargame on my half day off from the Post Office. My son decided to pop over with my granddaughter and while she and Granny did girlie things we could have a good Dark Age bash, all the more appropriate as this would be the first time his army was fielded with all his own troops, no borrowing of my reluctant warriors.

We also decided to use 7x5 instead of the usual 6x4 and put more terrain on the table as much of it does not get used from one game to the next, so I set the table up and we diced for sides, I won and deployed where I thought I would benefit most. I had the same problem I had the last time I fought Stewart, I didn't have enough room and found a big wood in the way, so much for reading a battlefield, but the extra distance between us meant I did have time to get my line to form up properly.

I went for out of my comfort zone for this battle and chose a list pertaining to what might be called late Romano-British based on forces around the time of Vortigern and his possible reliance on mercenaries. I decided to hire a bunch of Saxons, like the real guy, and got one excellent unit and one dodgy one, both had the small Saxon buckler and this would not help them against missile fire but would come into its own in melee. I knew there would not be a great many shooters turning up with the Carolingians so felt I could take this gamble, I also had to give them their own leader so I could only have one general for the British, another gamble. Vortigern brought some Comitatus troops, some Milites and a less than reliable Pedyt unit, I had some slingers but my main missile power came from a large troop of Sagittari, a new departure for me, they were expensive but I wanted to give them a shot, get it? I also took a small unit of cavalry which I hoped would be my reserve to perhaps be used more aggressively as skirmishers. The enemy had some really good infantry and at least one unit like my Pedyts, along with two blocks of cavalry, he didn't have a lot of firepower, with two medium sized sling and bow units

All our Dark Age armies end up fielding about the same amount of solid warbands with the differences being in the quality and the make up of the supporting troops. I had been beaten badly the game before so wanted to reclaim some honour.

I deployed with the archers holding my left, the idea being they would shoot anything coming close to bits and if they had to they would run from a charge, then came my battle line which would have to advance and make room for the centre, while my cavalry would indeed form skirmish and try and keep the enemy cavalry in javelin range but ready to bolt. The Carolingians formed a line of battle opposite my infantry and sure enough their cavalry would be making for my right, there was a fully formed warband opposite my archers so my plan would definitely be tested on that flank.

Carolingian deployment.
Romano-British deployment.

The battlefield.

The battle began and sure enough the Carolingians marched confidently forward while I slowly adjusted my lines to allow room for all the fighting men to deploy. My plan for the left started to bear fruit and the arrows and slingshots began to take a deadly toll, the enemy slingers were the first to run and then casualties began to mount in the ranks of the advancing warband. On the right I had to pull back the Geoguth mercenaries as it looked like the enemy cavalry would get behind me, however my horsemen managed to keep out of their way and draw them into the corner where I managed to pin them, I lost my cavalry eventually but they had done their job, the right was safe.

Carolingian cavalry advance.

Both sides move off.

Now the action turned to the centre as the Carolingians smashed into my shield walls, I had forgot that my Saxons could also use shieldwall so they were unprepared but they were veteran fighters and outclassed any opposition on the field. Possibly with one exception, Stewart has a particular unit which has been mentioned before in my reports and it has only ever been beaten once before, even if the army flees these men don't, we all have a unit like that along with the ones we cannot ever trust, and I am always wary when I see their banner. In this battle my Comitatus were up against them, elite vs elite and my heart sank when my boys were well and truly thumped in the first round and lost their shieldwall bonus, they did however stand their ground. My men had caused fourteen casualties and ten were saved! The combats ground on and I was thinking ahead to when the Comitatus would run, I could see them going and at that time possibly the Carolingian cavalry getting in my rear.

The lines make ready.
No quarter!
The second round saw the Gedriht earn their money along with my Milites they pushed back their foes, against the odds my Comitatus rallied and almost turned the tables, only narrowly losing the fight but again they held on. Stewart had by now given up on the flanks and hoped the fight would be decided in the centre and threw in his last unit. This time everyone except the Comitatus shattered the enemy and surged forward, the Comitatus not to be outdone actually managed to draw the combat against the devils guard.

The Carolingians flee.
The end.

The battle was over, a decisive victory for my allied force against the now complete Frankish army, but at the end of the game both the Comitatus and the Carolingian elites were still locked in combat, neither giving way and both down to just over half a dozen men, the Frankish king had to be held up due to his wounds. Although the game was over we decided we could not leave it a draw for two units which had performed so well during the day, so we allowed them to fight on, both stood toe to toe for another incredible three moves, as the numbers dwindled my Comitatus did break, however they outdistanced their pursuers and ..... rallied! The position of both units at the end was such that Stewart's men were left facing the mass of British archers, alone, bloodied and with no hope. Real Dark Age heroism from both units and a great story to be retold over several beers for years to come.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

More VC's!

Club night and Colonial using Black Powder, it was a big game with three aside so the rules suited fine, and luckily enough no one had a run of bad command dice so everyone was involved, more or less. We had desert merging into fertile land along the Nile where sat a town which we Mahdists had to hold, Simon took this job and sat for a good while waiting for the British to approach, meanwhile I decided to play to the audience and if I was a mad Mahdist with fanatical troops then I would not hold back and charge straight in at the first opportunity, Paul had our cavalry and camels and would support my efforts. We also decided to hit the far right of the British force and hopefully roll it up or force the centre brigade to come to Julian's aid.

The view from the town.

My mad men go in.
  I managed to surprise the British in front of me as I had been allowed to hide in the scrub and a nearby palm grove, I duly urged on my madmen to be met by a hail of lead, this stopped two warbands but the others slammed in and shortly after once I held the attention of the Suffolks in came our cavalry on their flank, despite a brave showing the Suffolks were sent packing. We now turned out attention to the Derbyshires, my skirmishers meanwhile were putting some harm on the third battalion. We were notified of dust clouds in the distance and guessed it was the British cavalry but our blood was up and we continued to hack and thrust at the Imperial infantry.
The pressure on Julian builds.
 With the Suffolks gone Julian managed to get his two remaining battalions into a square, but this was not enough to save him and again I threw my warriors at the serried ranks. Despite some hard fighting off went the Derbyshires as well just as the cavalry turned up. I was more than chuffed but things were looking dodgy now the horsemen had turned up. Ryan in the centre had now moved forward to support Julian and my skirmishers were taking a beating, on the other flank Simon poured fire into Stuarts advancing square while keeping his warbands on a tight leash, the town was still ours and darkness was closing in.

Desperate hand to hand.
What to do next.
 I had shot my bolt, by now most of my warbands had been dispersed and it seemed only a matter of time before the Imperial cavalry swept the field, but in one of those moments which wargamers will talk about for years afterwards my guys saw off a squadron of Dragoons and Paul's decidedly un-elite cavalry defeated the Household Cavalry and routed them, the cheers from the Mahdist lines could be heard in Cairo. We had effectively destroyed Julian's brigade, halted the British cavalry and as planned had prevented Ryan's brigade from joining the fight for the town.

Household cavalry about to be routed.

 Outside the town Stuart had opened up his square and tried to charge some nearby Mahdist infantry protecting some guns, but his move failed. Simon now took the fight to the British as his hordes decamped from the town and slammed into the thin brown line. The centre battalion crumbled and fled, this left the others with their flanks in the air and fanatical tribesmen waiting to take advantage. The advent of night saved what was left of the British and they withdrew from the field, it was decided later in Whitehall to award several VC's posthumously to the battalions who did not manage to escape and who were cut down to the last man as the fanatical wave of Mahdists broke around them. 
Simon breaks Stuart.

An excellent game and one which at first looked like an uphill struggle for the Mahdists, the forces were almost equal given the superiority of the British firepower and my die rolling started out very shaky indeed while Julian's was very good, but this changed as the game went on and I had my moments.  I didn't have a lot of troops left as night fell but I had performed my duty as a mad mullah and smote the infidel.

I am again painting some British, I have a light mortar, flamethrower an observer and a couple of extra Bren's on the go, that should be it for my BA forces as far as infantry are concerned, I might eventually give each side a para squad but that is a long way away. I do want more vehicles for choices but again they will have to wait for now.

I have just finished some maps for a book set during the English Civil War and have been told another project for a book on the Italian 'Folgore' Parachute Division is on the way, I am still struggling on with the Mongol invasions which are proving a challenge.