Friday, 29 December 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 19

We were moved ashore to HMS Terror for some time and given leave as the ship was put through repairs in the dockyard, at that time Singapore dockyard still looked like a proper fleet dockyard, it had several large ships alongside to support repairs, large aircraft carriers beyond their useful life at sea now depot ships. I remember being quite awed by crossing the deck of one to get ashore, a hive of activity.

We quickly established a small bar in Sembawang village as our first stop for a night on the town, as soon as you entered the dim light, it was always dark no matter what time you strolled through the door, you found a 'hostess' at your elbow, their job was to butter you up so you would buy them a drink. They never actually got a drink they instead sipped some kind of green liquid which became knows as 'sticky greens', it cost as much as a proper drink of course which was the point.

Ship Inn, Sembawang New Years Eve, 1970

Sembawang Village, the bars at least.

One of the main attractions here was that you could get everything hand made, from shoes to shirts and it didn't take forever or cost you a fortune, you could get kitted our from head to toe in a matter of days. I got a suit and a couple of shirts, one of which was so well made and comfortable it turned into my 'thousand miler' which is a garment you wear almost as default. Electrical goods were also a great buy, I got a portable Sanyo tape recorder/player which was state of the art at the time as despite being almost the size of a shoebox you could carry it, this would become an object of envy once I was back in the UK.

It wasn't all fun and I had to go on a Naval Gunfire Support course in nearby Nee Soon village where the army had a base, it was more of a jolly than anything and I loved it, I was very good at communicating with spotters, you could not afford to make a mistake when giving orders out to guns, later I would be asked to become a spotter but turned it down, life expectancy was 24 hours at best and the regime was Spartan. A friend of mine did join and he turned into a humourless machine. Apart from this however our time here was very leisurely.

The big attraction for sailors in Singapore was Boogie (Bugis) Street, it had flocks of those women who were in fact men, Kai Tai's as they were called back then, again many were there for you to buy them drinks, but most of these offered more than drinks. They also tended to hang about the only toilet in the area, a horrible, dilapilated building green with mold, most bars spilled out onto the street with basic chairs and tables and it helped navigation if you were sober, which, if you were in Boogie Street you would not be. If you managed to stay on your feet all night and see sunrise on Boogie Street you became an instant legend, I cannot recall meeting any legends. It was also a dangerous place, my mentor Lofty, a hefty lad at six feet plus did not want to leave one night and had several too many, he stood up swaying in the road and called out "I'm not leaving here without a fight!" Unfortunately for Lofty, tied up in the dockyard was the HMNZS Otago, which, true or false had been strafed by the Americans off the coast of Vietnam, and they were in a foul mood, the last I saw of Lofty was him disappearing under a heap of Moaris, he ended up in hospital and missed the ship when we sailed in early January.

The infamous toilet with a traditional dance taking place on top.
Kai Tai's

Another legend of Singapore was the large scale Scalextric type racing track at the top of the Victoria Club opposite Raffles Hotel, I ventured up there to see this marvel and sure enough there it was, it had seen better days as the 'drivers' were in the main drunken British servicemen and crashes were the order of the day, by the time I saw it is was showing its age and although it still worked it was a shadow of its former self.

Then there was the Peanut Vendor in HMS Terror, he would turn up as the bar opened, a withered old man with a small tray shouting at the top of his voice "Tiger Balm, Peeeeeanut" he kept this up until the lights went out. It was the first time I had enountered Tiger Balm, a cure for every ailment on the planet I believe. Not made from real Tigers.

The Armada Club, HMS Terror, haunt of the Peanut Vendor.

I was the instigator in the second ruckus in Singapore, on the way back from Boogie Street to the ship I fell in with two Greenies (electricians), one very drunk and ready to pass out and the other a Scouser on the same level of intake as myself. The taxi pulled up at the gate in Sembawang village which looked deserted and the driver asked for ex amount of klebies, I got out my share and asked Scouse for his, no way was he paying was the reply. A heated argument ensued with the driver shouting for his money and me shouting at Scouse for his share. I eventually got fed up, threw two thirds of the money at the driver and said this is for me and the drunk, you will have to see him for the rest, pointing at Scouse, I dragged the drunk out of the car and headed for the gate, as I looked back the street had come alive with people emerging from the shadows and I watched as Scouse run back down the road towards Singapore with about twenty enraged locals after him. He survived as I saw him the next morning in the mess, I think all he lost was his jacket in the end, lucky man. I was briefly in touch with him decades later and he still remembered the incident.

We were supposed to drop in at Hong Kong and then spend Christmas in Australia, next to America another first class run ashore for Jack Tars, but our repairs put an end to that as they are going to take a lot longer than anticipated. I am not too bothered as Singapore held enough interest for me, hundreds of bars, posh hotels, great weather and a lazy attitude had overcome us as we enjoyed ourselves to the hilt. Sadly however we will be back at sea just after New Year on our way back to Blighty having kept the Russian Bear and Yellow Peril at bay, the good news is that it seems we will be deploying to the West Indies as Guardship for six months after a quick turnaround, bring it on!


Well here we are, another year gone and me a pensioner, something which I used to think only happened to old people, and me still looking good although the inside is a train wreck. Not a bad year for me, a good holiday in the North of Scotland at the beginning with superb weather and finishing with the fabulous China trip.

I finished off my Patrician Roman army and finally settled on the Seleucids which will I suspect be my last War and Conquest army which I began in early November, it will be Spring 2018 before it will deploy in all its glory. I am hedging my bets here as I do enjoy collecting troops and painting them for these armies but despite what will no doubt be a howl of protest you do have to take stock at some point. Getting in touch with Kevin has allowed me to fight more games of WAC than I had anticipated, I hope this continues in 2018. I did not go to any WAC weekends this year and next year I am unsure, Rob Broom is planning one for March and there is another possibly in February. I do enjoy these and it is a chance to meet up with friends from the other end of the country so they are pencilled in, or will be when we get round to getting a calendar for 2018.

I managed to play some boardgames this year, which is a first for me in a long time, I eventually bought Hammer of the Scots and although it is a fine game and sexier than Robert The Bruce, the latter is still the better game in my opinion albeit needs a map update.

I have not managed to do much with Bolt Action this year despite doing some work on my terrain, the main problem for me is that I like larger games than you can have on a club evening, where you turn up with about thirty men and a motorbike, I have tanks, trucks and guns and want them on the table, a big table, but I have not managed to entice anyone interested in BA to Casa Anderson so far. I did try Chain of Command once again and once again was left disappointed, so much so I will not touch it again.

I only managed one or two games of X-Wing and slightly more of Dead Man's Hand, I would like to get a few more figures for this once Black Scorpion release their Tombstone Kickstarter range, not that I need any but I do like their style. They will not be available until April which suits me perfect.

That about wraps up 2017, what about 2018, well I have already noted that the Seleucids will be finished around Spring, I do not intend at this time to plan any further armies or forces for the year, although rebasing my skirmishers onto bigger bases is a given
. I do still have an itch for the French and Indian Wars or something involving the Jacobites, the latter has crept in since I drew maps for the battle of Sheriffmuir. I also want to do a few ACW battles and am toying with the idea of setting up a small campaign for four players. I have now fought two battles from my Dark Ages booklet so would like to do at least a couple more at some point. Kevin has several naval games and these might prove interesting. None of us know what a new year will bring but this is a kind of plan for me to work with.

Map projects are already building up for 2018, the Atlas I have mentioned, the Spanish-American War, Belgrade during WWI and Stony Point (AWI), the Franco-Prussian War and back to WWI for at least two books.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The Guard

I have just rushed on and completed my last unit for 2017, the Seleucid Royal Guard phalanx, I think I have managed this one better than the first, especially my work on the linen armour. The main colour had to be purple as we all know it was particularly Royal/Imperial during this period, also the shield pattern I chose was also purple so it all blends. I was tempted to do a bronze edge to the shields but settled on a colour, perhaps the next phalanx will have a bronze edge to the shields, we'll see.

I even managed to do the pteruges better, this time I gave them a dark wash then drybrushed with white, I had to do this a couple of times but it was far quicker than painting them individually, although I do this with the officers. I normally use Tamiya Smoke over the armour as soon as I paint it, but this time I left it until after the varnishing, I thought this would prevent me having to give the bronze a last touch up for a shine after the matt spray as the Smoke leaves a shine as well as giving depth. To be perfectly honest either way is fine as they both look good at wargaming range.

I have the figures to make up two more phalanxes of 28 men each, I think they should be finished by the end of February if not before, when I will be looking to get the rest of the army. Aventine have put back the release of their new cavalry and some foot but I am hoping they will be in the shop by February. If not I shall get the second elephant and my generals along with some civilians for Strategy Points and complete my Rally Point, by then surely I shall be able to get the cavalry. Even without these I should have 2,000 points ready for a club game by mid March at the latest.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

The Christmas Game

Club game last night and we had a large turnout, almost a full complement, our leader Matt gave a small talk on how the year has gone, the club is healthy, Dan the treasurer showed how buoyant we are and asked for ideas to spend money in 2018. We were treated not only to Julian's excellent mince pies, but cheese and biscuits, sausage rolls and a big box of Quality Street courtesy of Andy, a great start to the night.

The game was a huge Lord of the Rings skirmish, I think we had nine Good players and nine Evil players, I was reluctantly forced into being a goodie which goes against the grain, we were then told to go and collect our forces, I chose three mounted Rohan, they just looked good to me. We then headed for our deployment areas which were interspersed between Good and Evil, I had an Assassin on my right and a Mordor Troll on my left, points were given out for kills and capturing booty, which just happened to be some of the Cadburys Roses spread around the table.

Before the mayhem.
My beautiful but useless riders.

There was one of those large purple favourites just in front of my cavalry so off I went for a quick capture, this proved a two edged sword as it was high in points (60) but immensely heavy to carry, this would cut my movement down to that of a foot soldier. Sadly the treasure did not become lighter after I had eaten the sweet so I decided to drop it and go join the large fight which was developing on my left between some foot Rohrimm(?) and two trolls. As Dan's Troll hid behind a large rock we turned on Julian's, it suffered an arrow shot and my hero also managed to get a decent hack at it, in howling pain it made off towards its friend, I could see 50 easy points coming up. All of a sudden the pitter patter of tiny feet could be heard as a swarm of dwarves jumped on the monster and brought him to the ground, I howled in rage to no good, cheaters!

Our battleground.
The Trolls turn.

Rob, the Keeper of the Mince Pies, got his revenge on me as he gave our Evil foes a bit of a hand by dropping a Barrow Wight into the fray, this foul creature then froze my leader and one of my men, basically putting them out of the game as it was nearly impossible to wake them up. The Mordor Troll had come back into the game and was slaughtering our men left, right and centre, two brave souls, who had been protecting a large orange sweetie decided to leap from their fastness on to the Trolls back and kill him. One chickened out and stayed with the plunder while the other landed on the Troll but also impaled himself on one of his armoured spikes.

I had lost my first contingent and pulled more cavalry for my second, all this time the original plunder I had dropped had been fought around and ignored, as time was slowing slipping by I detached a couple of riders to pick it up, I couldn't end the game with a minus score. My new hero was as useless as my first one and took forever to kill a couple of dim witted Orcs.

You two get that 60 points!

The game ended and I had managed to glean 75 points, the winner had over 200, but I had the consolation that he was Good, so I had done my bit. There was all sorts happening around the table and laughter and banter throughout, a great evening. I even managed to get a couple of the mince pies to take home, I also got my revenge on Rob as my little group got to place a bunch of rabid Orcs or some such foul monsters right next to his last man standing, job done.


A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Monday, 18 December 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 18

Exercise Midlink was hard work for us, we were in company with the Americans and Iranians, our repairs before we left Bahrain had got us back to sea but we now found our air conditioning had to be turned off and our fresh water rationed as mechanical breakdowns still plagued us. During one night exercise an ever watchful seaman spotted a periscope which was determined to be HMS Orpheus pretending to be a Russian submarine, in fact it turned out to be a Russian submarine keeping an eye on the exercise, he was awarded two guineas, a small fortune to spend in the Naafi.

The watches had been changed for the exercise and we are doing watch on, watch off, each of six hours, we are all disgruntled to say the least. The Iranians have been less than brilliant during the exercise, the only high point with them was an attack by their hovercraft, we on the other hand have been pretty sharp, especially as we were trying to do better than HMS Eskimo who had turned up for the exercise and when it is complete will take over from us a Persian Gulf Guardship.

Exercise and handover done we say farewell to the Gulf and head east, the Gulf has never actually been boring but we have had enough of it and look forward to the fleshpots of Singapore, legendary tales abound in the messes, old salts relive dodgy memories.

At some point we arrive in Columbo, Ceylon to take on fuel, as we enter the harbour masts and funnels from at least two sunken ships litter the way in, a breakwater perhaps. We managed a run ashore in Columbo but it was as if the place was asleep, the two bars we managed to find served us in a haphazard way as if we were an annoyance rather than a chance to fleece some matelots, even the local floozies were uninterested. So after a fairly bland time we got back onboard and thankfully waved goodbye to Ceylon.

We arrived in Singapore on November 28th, we had to anchor out at first then the next morning had to de-ammunition ship, a job I hated as even being a Radio Operator you were not exempt. I was in the line at the top of a hatch just inside what was the hanger for the Wasp helicopter, 4.5 inch shells were being passed up and passed on. Now, I was 17, all skin and bone and fumbled one shell, they were heavy sods, I don't think I have ever moved so fast in my life, I caught the thing as the point hovered an inch above the steel deck. Now there was no fuse in it and I am sure it would not have went boom, but this was not what went through my mind when I dropped it. I never dropped another one.

The next thing for the crew before making our way into the naval part of the harbour was a meeting with Special Branch. The point of this exercise was to let us know how different things were here in the East and that there were all sorts of temptations waiting for we green sailors, being an RO we were especially warned against Russian agents who wanted our secret codes. I had been warned about this since joining up and had never been the victim of a honey trap yet, let alone offered money, and I never would be. The last thing I remember the speaker saying was that while frequenting some of the more popular bars "if it looked like a woman it was a man".

Three days ago I became 18, my good friends and I got drunk, which is very easy in Singapore (not now I believe), and I could now stay out all night long should I feel the need as long as I was back for 0800 to start another day fighting for freedom.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever you are..............

As you know I didn't make it to the club last week so Rob kindly put off his Muskets and Tomahawks game until this week, he didn't make it either, we had a lot of members AWOL last week it would seem.

Anyway I dragged myself from my sick bed and found myself in charge of a blood curdling mob of Woodland Indians, all beautifully painted by Rob and Stuart, I still feel like jumping into this period every time I see them. The premise was I had just completed a raid on a village and burned it to the ground, those who had survived my depredations had fled into the nearby woods, I now had to scour said woods to find them. Simon on the other hand with a hastily put together rescue party also had to make his way through the woods but this time to find and succour the fugitives.

The whole table was covered in trees and difficult ground, scattered around were lots of little markers, these markers once approached were diced for and may be nothing, or one or two of the fugitives. I had the choice of butchering them or taking them prisoner, Simon of course had to protect them and get them safely back to a holding area, game on.

I came upon several fleeing women, servant types and duly killed them, I then ran into two who could obviously handle themselves as they shot one of my braves and caused the others in his party to run. I picked up from some of the things Rob said that these two were the women from 'Last of the Mohicans' and if I killed or captured them I would have Hawkeye and his mates after me so I reluctantly let them go on their merry way. The Gods next rewarded me with a high ranking British officer, he was not going under the knife and he was led to the rear.

It was now that both sides were fairly close to each other and most of the civilians had been killed, captured or rescued, a stand of Colours had been spied but had got away only to be shot down, this looked like a high value target to both of us. I tried to get into a position to make an assault but the terrain was against me as was my shooting, after some time I had to give up and the flag disappeared back through the forest. I did manage in the last minutes of the game to bag a small party by killing the two soldiers protecting it. Simon also did not have things all his own way, he rescued a senior officer who immediately demanded to be in charge and for a time confused his men (I was given charge of this character if I beat a die roll). He also found a child who slowed his men down and a fight broke out when a drunken lout was flushed out of hiding and set about his rescuers.

At the end the scores on the doors showed a win for Simon, I could have done much better if I had not killed so many of the fugitives and merely captured them, but hey, I was in character. It was a great idea and once again showed how flexible these rules can be and how you can let your imagination run riot, with this and other scenarios I think Rob should get them published.

My next set of figures are being primed in the outhouse as we speak, I used the recommended super-superglue by someone on Facebook only to find it works no better than other super glues, he obviously has not tried to glue Aventine figures. I went back to using Bicarb as a setting agent and hey presto, job done.

It is Birthday Eve here in the Anderson household, a new holiday I have instigated as King of the Andersons and High Heid Yin of the Clan, it only pertains to the leader of course and means that I should be shown due deference as befits my position and upcoming big day.

We have our club Christmas Game next week, I am not sure what it is yet as it is under wraps, Julian, our star baker will once again be spoiling us with his mince pies. I have already let it be known that this year there should be a more equitable sharing of the goods as last year I only managed to grab one, I think my pleas have fell on deaf ears.

Monday, 11 December 2017

With no games on and suffering from manflu for the best part of a week and a half, still not over it, things have been fairly dismal recently, much like the weather. We came back from my grandson's birthday tea on Saturday having managed to travel to Northumberland and back fairly safely despite the dire warnings, with his birthday so close to Christmas this is the beginning of a few weeks of indulgence for him, with my birthday so close to Christmas I used to get a stick.

I have managed to finish my first phalanx for the Seleucids, it hasn't taken as long as I thought but I am not 100% happy with it. The shield transfers I chose were a red star on white, well not quite white, so I mixed up something to blend it in with the outer rim of the shield, then once varnish was applied this stood out so I had to go over it again with a light wash of white. I don't like painting the linen armour and the pteruges and nearly every figure has them, I have tried giving them a wash then a drybrush over the top, it works to a certain degree. I also possibly made a mistake using so much white with this unit, white is a swine to paint, it always seems to need two or three coats.

Next up is the Guard phalanx, I intend to use far more colour with this one, especially purple, this should be easier to wash than the white. I have also taken delivery of super-superglue as used in model ship building and, according to a gent on FB, should stick instantly even the awkward Aventine Miniatures metal, we shall see.

I swallowed the hype for "Six Minutes in May" which is supposed to be about the bungled Norway Campaign and Churchill's part in it at the beginning of WWII, it is in fact more a political book than a military one but I wanted the latter not the former. I also ended up with two pristine, hardback copies, I tried to send one back but the seller has ignored me, so if anyone wants to send me the postage you can have a copy.

On my return from China, where the Opium War was mentioned more than a couple of times, I bought a book on it, but again it is mainly from the political view, and interesting as it is now that I have put it down I cannot pick it up again.

I jumped in once more last week and to cheer myself up I bought "Rome: A history in seven sackings" I had no sooner read the first page than I knew I had a winner, about time.

 I have just finished another few map projects and have been contacted to work on The Spanish-American War for the beginning of 2018 and the the Franco-Prussian War later in the year, both with an author I have already worked with, there is also some work to do on a tome about the Saxon army 1721-1815 and perhaps a start on the AWI Atlas. I have two which I hope to finish the year off with in the next week or so, Gallipoli and Iran-Iraq, the former awaits the authors OK and the other is 50% done. Looking good.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Man Flu

No club this week, I am suffering from the mother of all flu's, I am like a bear with a sore head. It would seem a few of us have fallen by the wayside this week and I made the decision earlier not to go, for starters I felt lousy and secondly I did not want to spread this horror. Rob has kindly put the Muskets and Tomahawks game back until next week, hopefully I will be back to normal by then, I didn't even manage to get any maps drawn today either, I only just managed to put a smile on for my customers.

Anyway I have bravely sat through some TV and managed to finish the Skythian horse archers and get a bit further with my first pike phalanx. I have not got to grips yet with the long pikes and keep catching them and knocking figures over or on to the floor, I can forsee problems on the battlefield and fingers like pin cushions coming up. The missus has bought the other three phalanxes for me, one I have now and the other two I shall get at Christmas, I don't see me finishing this one before Christmas as I have quite a few map projects in the wings.

I got Netflix recently and so far have enjoyed what I see, I am almost finished the second season of Stranger Things, finished Narcos and the superb Godless (which I highly recommend) and have now started on Mindhunter. I bought John Douglas' book when it first came out years ago, he was one of the first profilers for the FBI, and the book was a great read if obviously horrendous in parts as it deals with serial killers. The jury is out on the show at the moment, I like it but am not yet willing to give it my seal of approval, I do wonder, again, why they have introduced a pointless gay relationship when the woman being portrayed thus is actually happily married with a family. After the success of Godless I tried Frontier, about the Hudson Bay Company, it really is at the other end of the scale, dreadful, bad acting, bad accents and an unbelievably ridiculous story.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Volo dicere ad Goth.

Once again things were left to the last minute for the club, maps to draw, customers to serve etc. Simon got in touch and suggested a War and Conquest game I know he likes Romans so it was an opportunity to get my Patricians on to the field of battle, these, like the Twelfth have a fearsome reputation and during their outings earlier this year destroyed their opposition. I really like this army. I decided however to go out on a limb, after all what is the point of having all sorts of troop types if you just use the same ones all the time? I decided to rely heavily, as they did, on Foederati for my strike force while the solid Roman infantry held the line, so to this end I took two units of Alan cavalry, expensive in a 2,000 point army but why not, I also took my Goth nobles on foot with a Goth general commanding my allied troops. The Romans consisted of three Legions and some skirmishers, I did not have a lot of missile troops as I was hoping the Alans would help here as they had bows along with a host of other weapons.

Simon had the Twelfth and took four cohorts, a large number of Auxiliary light infantry, massed archers and some cavalry. As we deployed I put my strike force on my left, the cavalry I was hoping would catch the enemy flank as they worked with the Goth foot, I hoped their archery would cause problems for the enemy. My Legions would simply hold their ground unless an opportunity arose to go forward, I was a little concerned about my right flank as Simon had the numbers there, but I would retire if I had to to give time to the left and centre.

Patricians on the left, Thunderbolts on the right.

Things looked really good as the battle began, the Roman cavalry got cold feet but instead of retiring took the opportunity to run along the length of my army and then throw themselves at some skirmishers who promptly ran away and exposed the cavalry to a charge by one of my Legions. Simon had started his reserve cohort on a march to his right, this didn't unduly worry me as I thought one of the cavalry units will catch it in the flank, another cohort came close enough for me to charge in the Goths, I stood back well satisfied. My right was under a bit of pressure but the Roman lights got tied up trying to run down my skirmishers so that left a straight unit for unit fight in the centre.

My shooting up until now had been dismal, and now my combat rolls went the same way, despite everything going for them the Goths failed to dent the enemy and spectacularly failed their morale test and legged it, the first time ever this unit has let me down. Worse was to come as both the Alan cavalry commands also failed their test and joined the rout, I did not have a left flank. Meanwhile on the right Quinta Macedonica were losing their combat, but they manfully stood their ground despite this, this gave my centre an opportunity to advance, the Anglevari hit a cohort while the Lanciarii Gallicani charged uphill into the archers who had been tormenting them all along.

Just before it all went wrong.

Oh dear.

Things got a little better as the Alans, under my withering gaze, decided to rally and ensure Simon could not ignore them and turn in and hit my centre. As the clock ticked away the Patricians got a slight win at the end of turn six, of the three combats still taking place I would have won two and Simon one, lest the dice gods saw fit otherwise, which they can do of course. If Simon's cavalry had not been so mad it would probably have ended a draw, I don't think he will try that again.

And 'Volo dicere ad Goth' is "I want a word with that Goth". I had some really dismal combat throws, Simon got no hits at one point until I reminded him he could reroll in the first round, he then promptly got three bloody kills! The Alan cavalry worked OK, I say worked but they didn't actually do much, I missed skirmishing horse archers, I think I will bring the Huns back next time.

So that is it for now, possibly another WAC game next Thursday against Kevin or maybe something else, Muskets and Tomahawks at the club, always good fun on Tuesday and during the week back to the new army and more furious painting.

I was looking at Gangs of Rome until I got so much rubbish I turned off notifications on Facebook, I wonder however if it will just be like all the other 'Gang' games but set in ancient Rome, I also do not succumb to the lore of size 10 supermodels with Herculean statistics killing everyone in sight, enough with the female characters, sheesh. The missus has just asked me what I want for Christmas and my birthday, guess .............. pikemen!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Springtime for Seleucis

On the field of battle by early Spring is now becoming a reality as I plunge forward with my new army, the other night I finished my fifth unit out of a possible total of around sixteen for the full monty or bifter as we Scots say, or we do on the West Coast. I should definitely have enough to take a small selection to the club for a game, around 2,000 points.

In order to have something to paint over the festive season in case I finish the Skythians, which I should manage, I have ordered up a pike phalanx and some officers. I intend this phalanx to be a 'normal' phalanx so it will in the main have the linen armour with the front rank only in metal. I don't know a lot about these armies but from what I have read I tend towards the rear ranks not having armour, Aventine do have some unarmoured pikemen but the rest are so nice I have decided the guard/elite phalanxes will have mainly metal armour while the others will have mainly linen.

I have just added a unit of Thorakitai which will operate on the flanks of the phalanx, these were quite different to the phalanx but able to fight in a like manner if called upon, they were armoured and carried a large oval shield along with either javelins or a long spear or possibly both. Although wearing armour they were especially adept at exploiting rough terrain, they were very close to the Thureophoroi as a troop type, my plan is to use them along with Thracians and Thureophoroi with cavalry support to protect my flanks or possibly destroy enemy flanks. For the time being they are a small unit of sixteen, depending on my experience on the field they might be given the opportunity to upgrade to twenty-four.

My granddaughter is here for the weekend and I was dragged into Lancaster for some Christmas shopping, not much as we have already got most of what we want online. It was dreadful, the car parks were like Wacky Races, it was cold, damp, crowded, not a nice way to spend an afternoon. So I decided to put a smile on my face slipped into Waterstones and got a new Batman novel, I know I could have got it online cheaper, but I feel now and again I have to support a bookshop, even Waterstones (the only one within 100 miles). I also OD'd on liquorice which is not good for me but I love, novelties, Zouts, and cartwheels along with some Nanny State 0.5% and very salty peanuts (also not good for me) for binging Netflix's The Punisher. The cartwheels in the market were 12 for £1 but so far I have had 15 in one pack and 13 in the other, result.

Kevin is busy this week so no Monday boardgame, our weekly game may also have to wait until next Saturday instead of Thursday. I should be at the club this Tuesday but no idea yet what I am doing. I have completed severalinteresting map projects and having got my feet dry I am once again off to the trenches for another sixteen maps.

Stony Point, also the template for an atlas with around 200 maps.

View From The Window

I was told a few weeks ago that negotiations on the sale of Washington House were underway, it would seem then they have come to naught as nothing more has been heard, I am told the price has been dropped considerably but I am not sure the sellers have a good idea of considerably.

I have had a large, glass corner cabinet in the shop now for at least a year, maybe two, and it has not moved, I have even tried to give it away to no avail, so with the new carpet tiles due I decided to once and for all get rid of it, so I phoned up 'Furniture Matters' a charity, to come and collect. Charlie and Fred arrived on the day and I watched as they entered the shop, stopped, and looked up and down at the cabinet rubbing their chins.

C&F: We can't take that mate.
Me: Why?
C&F: There's glass in it.
Me: Yes, it's a glass cabinet!
C&F: Is it safety glass?
Me: I don't know, I bought it when the world was not insane and you used safety glass on aeroplanes.
C&F: Our hands are tied, Health and Safety mate, innit.

I had of course known I was wasting my time, but there you go, confirmed. I then phoned a 'Man with a Van', can you get rid of a cabinet for me? No, can't do that, I would have to get a permit and then they would charge me at the tip, too much bother, that's why there is an upsurge in fly tipping you see, no, you don't say. As a last resort I phoned the St. Johns, no they didn't want it either, no call for dark wood these days, we'd just be left with it, better you are left with it, ta ra love. In a rage I broke it down and carefully packed the bits in the new car and took it to the tip, where I had to visit three different skips under the scrutiny of the Guardians of the Refuse in their luminous uniforms, in order to eventually rid myself of it.

Have you noticed now that the first thing a delivery guy and his mate do is find a reason not to deliver your goods, my new cooker from Curry's was a no no as my kitchen is, wait for it, up a set of stairs, could I vouch the stairs would hold the weight of the cooker, no, but the other one and the rest of the furniture managed to get up there no problem. We actually had to cancel the order as they would not attempt the stairs, the new outfit took theirs up no problem. The Openreach woman didn't want to put my fibre broadband in as she had to climb a ladder. The miserable so and so who came to put my new PO equipment in last week immediately said, no way, I can't get into that, it must have been put in and the counter built around it. No, the counter has been here at least 30 years, the PO equipment was put in eighteen years ago, mind you he said it as if I was someone who cared, it wouldn't be me for the highjump because the new equipment was not installed. Guess what, he did manage it once he actually tried.

My niece received a house recently and was waiting for an inspector to visit so that it could be made habitable for her, small problems if any could be fixed. She was seriously asked to sit outside the house for four weeks from 0800 to 1600 each day, excepting Saturday and Sunday of course, because the Council would not give her a time and date for an appointment. That is until my sister got in on the act, job sorted.

I was also maddened by having to deal with a banking problem this week, I phoned one bank to be told it was the other bank's problem, then I got the same from the second bank, I went too and fro at least three times. I also got to talk to people half way across the world who did not understand what I was on about. But what really took the biscuit was trying to tell the robot answering machine what my query related to in a Scottish accent which it quite obviously could not handle, it did pick up some words which were not meant for it and are universal, not Scottish. I managed to hold on to my sanity only because a kind lady pointed me in the right direction despite telling me she could not infringe the data protection act or financial regulations act to help me.

How have we turned into a nation of can't do rather than one of can do, how did we ever defeat Hitler or run an Empire, how did we turn the corner and run scared from a bunch of European nobodies whom we saved on two occasions.

I have just been notified that part of my duties as a Subpostmaster is to be on the lookout for modern slavery and if I spy any I am to report it right away, this is in keeping with the Modern Slavery Guidance for Subpostmasters booklet I am to receive in the next few weeks. I didn't know when I signed up to this I was being recruited to watch for money launderers, financial irregularities and now white slavers. I am an upstanding member of the community and naval veteran but I am not Elliot Ness.

I started watching the BBC's Detectorists when it first came out and quite enjoyed the first season, it was easy watching and quite pleasant. The second season was not as good, it had its moments but something was going awry. I have now sat and watched the third episode of the new series and our two hero's have now morphed into a couple of gutless wonders afraid of their own shadows, I have never seen such pathetic looking men in my life, no, I tell a lie, the guy in Motherland beats even these two useless articles. But back to the originals, one looks like he is ready to burst into tears at a moments notice while the other does an excellent job as a doormat for everyone to walk over. One has a wife and the other a girlfriend, how did they manage that, what on earth would a woman see in these two?

Friday, 24 November 2017

There's Always One, err no, Two

In wargaming you must have come across that guy, the one who points out that the pattern on your Greek Hoplite shield is a modern one and there are no wall paintings or old vases which show what you have painted, or the brass button on your 6mm Hussar should in fact be silver just to ruin your day and make his. He turns up everywhere, you feel his presence before you see him, he is usually alone and has an intent look about him as he scours the tables looking for points to score.

Sadly the internet has now allowed this creature a whole new way to vent his spleen at what he sees as ruining his hobby. I have fallen foul several times in the past and have suffered the slings and arrows of his and his followers ire. I once casually mentioned that most battles before the age of gunpowder tended to be fought on fairly open ground, possibly with a hill somewhere, I was immediately deluged with the names of battles which supposedly proved me to be a raving lunatic. They did in fact rather prove my theory in most cases on closer inspection. I was also nearly strung up for having the temerity to point out that a certain wargame company, in contrast to nearly every other one I have dealt with in 50 odd years, treated me abominably because my denouncers had met the guy and he was very nice! I still pass him at shows and throw him my disgusted look.

What brought this on, well I'll tell you. Now and again I pop my battle reports on TMP, it brings more hits to my blog and hopefully some people will enjoy the write up as I do with many others. The first comment was simply "Imperial Romans v Punic Carthaginians?", and your point is? His point was obviously I was an idiot, they didn't fight Carthaginians, duh. But the second comment agreeing with the first took the biscuit, "there is no excuse". Why would I need an excuse to fight a wargame with a friend on a rainy afternoon with the armies we had available, was I to tell Kevin not to bother but come back in six months when my Republican army dated for two o'clock, Tuesday afternoon, February 260 BC will be ready.

"I just brought Imperial Romans"
 I learned many years ago that to wargame the Ancient or Medieval period it was best to stay 'in period' but this is not always possible, I would not fight any of Kevin's armies with my Patrician Romans because I think their cavalry is too good for the opposition to have a chance. I also do not allow the Twelfth to bring their cataphracts to a battle against Kevin for the same reason, but the troop types in the rest of the army are fine for a clash with Greeks, Carthaginians, Macedonians etc. One of my detractors has posted over 14,000 times on TMP, he must be fuming............

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Carthage Is The New Enemy

Terrible day outside, third day of atrocious weather so it was just as well I had organised a game. It was a War and Conquest bash and instead of Greeks Kevin had brought his Carthaginians minus elephants, for now. I wasn't quite sure what I would be up against as a Carthaginian commander has a lot of choice in what to bring to the battlefield.

In the event the army was a mix of different troops, Celts, Africans, Libyans etc. there was one warband and three phalanxes along with supporting troops. I had brought what is becoming my core forces for a 3,000 point battle, two normal cohorts, two green cohorts, one auxiliary cohort, supports and a unit of Contarii as I expected at least one half decent Carthaginian cavalry unit.

Thunderbolts on the left, Carthage on the right.

The Emperor surveys the scene.

After we deployed, with Kevin again fearful of his flanks and putting terrain on both, I thought they were still vulnerable and I decided to go forward quickly with my right, my left I was not so sure about and wanted to use the hill to my advantage. I did not manage to snatch the initiative until the last two moves in the game, so my left was caught off guard as the large Celtic warband came storming forward towards my archers, they received a hail of arrows and failed their morale test spectacularly and bolted, I sighed with relief as my Lanciarii were not in position yet to harass the flank of the warband. My left was safe for the time being.

The warband flees.

Carthaginian centre advances.

Roman right races forward.

On the right my horse archers shielded the advance of my Contarii which I was sure would beat the Carthaginian cavalry given a chance, but they didn't do very much else except of course survive the enemy archery. My two green cohorts advanced swiftly and Cohors II hit the enemy to their front whil Cohors III manoeuvred for a flank charge. The enemy cavalry had decided to move to their right so things were looking very good here. Although my boys put the enemy to flight their support came through and gave me a hard time, holding up my victory here for a couple of moves.

Roman left stabilises.

In the centre I took the fight to the enemy centre rather than wait, the plan was for the flanking units to get behind the enemy while my legionaries bravely held up their opponents, I was fighting for time. I managed to win the first clash but lost the next round as numbers told against me, however I managed to stop both units from routing, it was going to be touch and go whether help would arrive in time.

Here they come!

Victory looks settled on the right.

Clash in the centre.

Meanwhile on my left the Auxiliaries had vanquished their foes and turned in to the centre, the large warband continued to suffer from missile fire but managed one last effort to take the hill, they failed in this and were swept away in the rout. I now lost both my centre units but they managed to outrun their pursuers so I might have had a chance to get them back, one at least. I smashed into the pursuers making them stop and turn back. My Contarii rode down one phalanx but I had asked too much of my Auxiliaries and they in turn were hit in the rear by the Carthaginian cavalry, it was too much and they dispersed. A look across the battlefield showed mainly Roman units closing in on what remained of the Carthaginian army, it was over.

Roman centre collapses.

Recovery and the end.
My Romans have to win the flank battles against these phalanx armies otherwise it is an uphill struggle, the Carthaginians proved a worthy foe and they can only become more dangerous, the Thunderbolts will have to be on their toes. I had a couple of turns where I could not inflict any casualties and Kevin had a few disastrous morale throws at the beginning but managed better later on, my horse archers couldn't hit a barn door but they stayed around as a shield so did their job. Cohors I had a hard time again but I cannot blame them against a phalanx, if they and the Praetorian's had held just one more turn....