Tuesday 28 February 2017

I Can See Light

I have just finished and based the first of two units of Huns for the Patricians. I cocked up and instead of priming the horses black, for some reason I stuck the riders on and primed them white, I recovered from this quite well and they were no harder to paint on the horses than off. When I come to do the nobles I think I shall prime horse and rider separate, then dry brush the horse before putting the rider on, I am not looking forward to glueing all the other bits together though.

So I now have the Goth nobles on the tray and on their way, not hard figures to paint but there are 32 of them, after that the Hun nobles and then apart from the great Aetius himself and the Rally Point the army is done and dusted, easily 3,000 points worth. I then have to make a decision on whether to add one more Roman infantry unit for use as cheap cannon fodder i.e. Limitani or some Roman cavalry in order to swap between Patrician Roman and Late Roman, which to be honest is the very same thing apart from perhaps the use of Bucellarii. The reason I am tempted with this is that I would love an excuse to buy some of those gorgeous late Roman cavalry shield transfers from Little Big Man Studios.

I have decided to give myself a bit of a chore after the army is ready, I noticed when playing with my WWII stuff a week or so ago that there were some small chips on them and paint had been removed, just the odd little piece but that bothers me. I have therefore decided to fix the chips and give them all a coat of gloss varnish then a matt one to further protect them, as being skirmish figures they are handled much more than a large army on movement trays. It should not be that odious as I only have about 70 figures for each side, British and German. Then for the rest of the year I am going to be looking at tarting up my terrain and maybe adding a couple more buildings, especially a church for Normandy.

Right, maps to get on with today and then the Legion and I march for Lancaster this evening.

Sunday 26 February 2017

View From The Window

Miserable morning, I am guessing this as I am doing my write up a day early as once again my PC is at the doctors and I am not sitting in a freezing, empty Post Office in my dressing gown on a Sunday morning. Storm Doris was kind to us here and apart from some rain everything is normal, once again our Brigadoon existence has saved us from the worst.

I was sitting in the Dentist's waiting room earlier in the week and amongst the women's magazines and the usual golf and motoring stuff, on the that subject it's the same with cards for men, why do they think we are all sportsmen, car fanatics or drunks, anyway I noticed a National Geographic and thought it would pass a few minutes, big mistake. I used to love picking these up as there was nearly always something on lost cities, empires or ancient civilisations, this one was all about, wait for it, gender! I am way out of touch on this subject, there were about ten people (all under 20) on the cover and each, according to the magazine was a different gender, ten of them and not just the usual suspects, some I had no idea existed. Some of the more eh, unusual people/person/whatever were dropped from the final cover, like the two at each end, why I wonder.

Words fail me, none of these people are male or female it would seem.

It is a week for being upset, someone, and I mean one person, complained about a T-Shirt on sale at Primark which had a design which, although to me of dubious taste, would only mean something to a fan of the TV series "The Walking Dead", but of course the store immediately took the offending article off the shelves, it has no doubt now become very popular and a collectors item. One that slipped past me involves the town just down the road, Carnforth. Carnforth holds on grimly to its fifteen minutes of fame when the station was used as a set on the film "Brief Encounter" the most important part of which was the clock on the station. The clock was tracked down, refurbished and presented to the station of which parts are now a heritage site, anyway, an old guy has been winding it up weekly for years, that is until someone waiting for a train listened in to a conversation he was having with a mate and accused him of racism. He was promptly dumped and told he could no longer set foot on heritage owned parts of the station, now the most hypocritical thing about this is that the people who dumped him, by letter, put the tools for winding the clock outwith their protected territory and expected the guy therefore to continue to wind the clock up!

Free speech but bad taste.

Champagne socialist Shami Chakrabarti, sorry Dame Chakrabarti, amazing how all these people who make the establishments lives a misery always seem to end up a part of it, was on Question Time a wee while back and disgusted me by basically saying that Joe Cox the MP's murder was a hate crime inspired by Brexit despite the guy being simply a mental case. She has been peddling this nonsense for a lot longer than everyone else and continues to do so. I had no idea who Joe Cox was and I was appalled at the way she died but I do wonder at the upcoming celebrations and bake off's.

Social Justice Warrior comes good.

Protestors, aren't you just sick of them and when did you last see a bunch of them get their way, the Greenham Common mob sat there for years and got nowhere, Donald Trump is the president, shout as much as you like, the EU is being kissed goodbye, end of. Maybe I should protest the protestors, and it always seems to be the same crowd, the kind of people you really wouldn't want to run your Parish council never mind make decisions affecting energy, government, defence or who runs the place.

A thought hit me the other day when several people brought in Amazon returns to me, they get sent to Scotland, a nation which once was a vital cog in the machinery of empire, which built a great number of the worlds ships, exported steel, built locomotives, battleships and gave the world many of its most successful inventions and now, its a collection point for unwanted parcels.

However there is one piece of good news, for me at least, a big spoonful of 'I told you so'. Ronnie Fiddler aka Jamal Udeen Al-Harith was a terrorist all along and has blown himself up in Syria, I do hope that it was only himself and not his intended target although I am unsure from the news which it is. You must remember all the goodie two-shoes jumping up and down about the unfair treatment Ronnie and his mates were getting in Guantanamo, how they were completely innocent and merely backpackers in Afghanistan, yes I have trouble with that as well. How the government of the day, they seem unsure of who that was for some reason, folded to the clamour and brought these British boys back home and gave them £20,000,000 to resettle. Now the same media outlets, the BBC in the lead as usual, are gleefully trying to hang the government for doing what they pushed for years ago.

Ronnie laughing all the way to the bank.

You would be forgiven if you watched the news last night for thinking the main story was that UKIP were 'defeated' in a by-election and the Tories won one. And here was me under the impression that you can't be defeated in an election unless you are the incumbent and that the Labour party lost a seat it has held since 1935. Not so much fake news as cherry picking news.

Oh, it is a miserable day, dry at the moment but..............

Saturday 25 February 2017

Gremlins Strike Again

Once more my main PC is away getting fixed, it worked for ten minutes with the guy up the road, then it didn't once I got it back, it was returned to him only for him to bring it back and mumble something about the graphic card. I ordered up a new graphic card and it arrived the next day. Taking the stairs two at a time I ran up and took the offending card out, it took a while as the power lead points were designed to keep the cables locked in until the Zombie Apocalypse, brute force won in the end. Two hours later the machine was still kaput, at times the monitors came up and then died, I phoned Scan up and oh so matter of factly they said the graphics card might be duff, now I paid £250 for that card and it was as nothing to them, it's a lot of money to lay out for something which they cannot guarantee will work first time. It might not be a big deal for them but it's a big deal for me.

The upshot was that still being under warranty it has gone back, it might not have been the graphic card after all, perhaps it is the motherboard, if they tell me it is fine and it comes back and doesn't work because my study is bang in the middle of a wormhole or whatever I am getting a new one, my nerves can't take it and I need to work upstairs as well as downstairs. The fallout is that the missus will get a week off until the PC comes back, because there is no need for two people in the PO and although we have worked together for almost a decade I can't draw maps with her six feet away, it also annoys her when people come in and say 'hello George' while ignoring that she is behind the counter.

Anyway up earlyish this morning and hoping that one of the pub managers comes up with some cash otherwise we will be out of money around lunchtime on Monday, he should bring enough to get us through to Tuesday when our cash is delivered, fingers crossed. This is how the modern, slimline, efficient PO works.

Anyway to get down to important matters, I gave my Huns a gloss coat this morning having completed all the horse furniture last night and sorted out the next unit for the tray, 32 Goth Nobles on foot, sounds like a lot but they are mainly covered in armour so it is no big deal, although I have run out of transfers so will order more up this morning, I am still tempted to get one more Roman unit. I have decided to have a commanders tent guarded by a couple of sentries for my rally point, I will have some shields and weapons scattered about and maybe a standing horse if I can find one suitable.

The rush map job is finished, a wee bit of touching up this morning and then I will have to move on to the lesser important one, I should have trench foot by the end of the month.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Live by the List, Die by the List

Well, as my Senior Roman Prefect might say after last night, I have met the enemy he is mine, although the victory was not quite as sweet as that for a couple of reasons. Simon asked to use Vikings against my new Patrician Romans so my Saxons put on horned helmets for the evening and joined in the fun.

WAC is an army list rules set, you can research your own army and if you disagree with the 'official' list you can pop your comments along to Rob Broom, and Rob will quite happily have a look and possibly change things to your way of liking. I am quite flexible on army lists, I research mine so am happy with what I have, I have argued successfully for some changes in the past and can play with the official lists, or the lists which my friends use for the gaming weekends, which differ at times with the official lists, or I can play with 'home improvements' when my son turns up.

Simon used one list for his army then I sent him another one at the last moment and this just confused the issue. The Viking list is one where we all have a notion of how they fought and how it should be represented on the table and so far not many of us seem to be able to agree. Thankfully I hardly ever come up against this army so apart from the historical interest it doesn't matter to me, but of course it does matter to those with Viking armies. I have my Pontius Pilate bowl of water ready.

So, opposite my boys were five infantry blocks two of which had archers in the back ranks and two were elite, I think most had 'Mixed Weapons' which corresponded to big axes, there were no skirmishers or cavalry so Simon's flanks were fragile. I had painted up my command figures for last night in order to use the Patrician Romans and had three Roman infantry units to hold the line supported by two skirmishing archer units and my strike force of Goths, Noble infantry and cavalry with their own general.

'Vikings' on the left, Romans on the right.

On deployment I could see the Viking left flank should be the target and managed to marshal the Goths opposite it, the Roman line looked a little fragile but I hoped it would hold up the enemy centre just long enough. I threw the Goths forward and Simon met me with his Renegades who had chased away some archers and then bravely ploughed into the Goth foot, they had their job cut out for them even with charging downhill. Sure enough they took horrendous casualties and fled only to be caught and dispersed later in the turn, the Goth general urged his men on against the lone Viking unit now holding the left. On the right Simon had some luck and again he sent men downhill and swept away the Anglevari, his centre now decided to test the rest of my line, just as his left was ridden down by the Noble cavalry and the Goths now free to attack his rear.

The Anglevari brace themselves.

It was now Lady Luck deserted the Vikings, the victorious unit was too busy picking up the spoils of war to turn on the Roman flank (failed command test) while the imperial shieldwalls held and in one case routed the Hirdmen and captured the enemy king, it was all over for the pagans.

The victorious Goths
The Pagan line about to break.
 My army had fought well and Plan A worked, although I did not expect to lose the Anglivari in one fell swoop, Simon's inexperience with the rules and the army showed, his dire die rolling at the end was also a factor, but I expect things will be much different next time we meet. I have another game next week against Ryan's Seleucid's which are still being painted so again it is more of a test game as Ryan, like Simon is new to the rules. I am going to take Legio XII Fulminata along and I am looking forward to getting them on the battlefield, it has been a long time.

Monday 20 February 2017

The Smooth with the Rough

I got up this morning with a ton of stuff to see to, I had a haircut booked for 09:30 but as I was up early I thought I would get a start on some maps. The monitors failed to come on, so I jiggled, poked and bashed the case and got them up, then I Googled the problem and took the advice of some eight year old from YouTube and got Windows to try and sort the problem, until Windows can change a flat on the car I won't trust it to repair anything again, sure enough I got nowhere "Windows cannot fix the fault". By this time the woman arrived to cut my hair, fuming, I sat through the ordeal. As soon as it was over I phoned the computer guy at the end of the road and asked to bring it up, it resides there now. I am almost sure it is flashed up and sending out rays sitting on his desk and he is shaking his head that the idiot at the Post Office has bothered him again. Oh, and I had the Dentist at 3.00pm, grrrrrr.

Right, the Goth cavalry and the figures for my Strategy Intervention Points are finished and very swish they look too, the former at least, I am unsure whether I will add another unit as I am beginning to think the Huns will be my go to horsemen for this army as they are more likely to be used by Aetius than Goths.

I started my non-Noble Hun cavalry a few days ago and they are lucky they are not all in the bin. The figures are very nice and the smaller horses will look like steppe ponies next to the large Goth mounts, perfect, but the bin you ask. Well the figures come in two parts in the main and are either lancers or bowmen, but you then get everything else separate, shields, bows, quivers, lassos, swords, heads, blankets, cuddly toy. I am far too clumsy to stick this stuff together and I have no patience, some of the stuff simply would not bond, well not with the other metal but it had no problem sticking to my fingers. This is one reason I will not go near plastic figures, too many parts, so at the end of the day, well two days I had a unit ready for painting, they had the barest minimum of equipment needed for the battlefield, the rest now sits in a big bag.

Now do not get the wrong impression here, the figures are Aventine and they are lovely and the examples on their site with all the paraphernalia are a wonder, you can really go to town with these figures but the building is simply not for me, I am happy to put a shield and spear on the guy, the rest I will leave to the sculptor.

I have to say a big thank you to two gentlemen who have helped me out in the last couple of days completely out of the blue. The first is David Bickley from the Tales From GHQ  blog, David has recently built the Warbases Roman Villa and was instrumental in it being offered by Warbases, they told me at Vapnartak he has been hounding them to get one on the shelf. He got to work online and gathered mosaics to make his villa the real deal, do check it out, he picked up that I had bought one and offered a complete set of his mosaics through the post, how generous is that. My villa will be on the shelf for some time yet but these lovely decorations now sit with it, so thank you David.

 The second guy is Jim, I have no idea who Jim is or what he looks like, but he phoned the other day and said that he had seen me mapping and he had some books he was going to throw out and did I want them. Now usually when I get this kind of offer in the shop I turn it down flat, but he said they were battlefield guides so I thought no harm in looking at them. He turned up today with the books while I was having my haircut, so I still have no clue who he is as the missus didn't call me. 

The guides however are superb, they are BAOR guides and the information contained within is priceless to anyone interested in warfare and cover the operations in Northwest Europe and elsewhere from the British point of view. I have drawn several maps of some of these operations for different books but should they be required in the future I am ahead of the pack. Thank you Jim.

Sunday 19 February 2017

View From The Window

Busy weekend last weekend so no View, not because I have mellowed or given up on life. It is the usual miserable wintry morning with a day of kow-towing coming up as it is the wife's birthday, I took her out for a nice lunch yesterday and a surprise visit from the boys. All did not go to plan as usual for me these days, it would seem I couldn't plan the proverbial in a brewery without the Gods throwing a spanner in the works, Graham could not bring his family as Gabrielle contracted hand, foot and mouth which is contagious and therefore had to stay at home with mum. It was snow blizzards last week if you remember. Neither myself nor my friends ever had HFM (how modern is that, you read it here first) and neither did my sons when they were growing up, where did it come from?

I see sport is on the back foot again, Lord 'Clean up' Coe has been let off the hook as although his remit was to clean up the Olympics he now seemingly was not expected to know about the extent of the corruption, better check that job description. And poor David Beckham miffed that he is not Sir David while people less deserving, in his opinion, are at work on their coats of arms, you played football mate, case closed. Not that I am enamoured of the whole honours deal once you didn't have to spend a few hours hacking away at the enemy on the battlefield.

Corruption, what corruption?
 "Tories Kill 30,000", now that got my attention, a cull on Remoaners I thought, bodies hanging from lamp posts with placards perhaps and pin striped wallahs pointing sticks, I looked out just in case. No, nothing of the kind of course, it was a figure pulled from the great big book of dubious statistics, like the tens of thousands who were going to keel over from swine flu or SARS but in the end didn't. Have you ever listened to something like "one person dies every 30 seconds from ....." if that was the case you would think you would be stepping over a corpse or several during your normal Saturday shop where you probably rub shoulders with hundreds or even thousands of people, or is this all happening somewhere else, are whole towns and cities becoming wastelands that we don't know about, unless you are a bean counter. And the 30,000, yes its rubbish.

The BBC killed the news for me last week, again, by having a special on the NHS every night, I tried ITV only to find they were concentrating on mental health, which now seems to be back at No.1 after an absence of a few years. Is it not strange that the UK is the only country which continually has health at the top of the agenda and not in a good way, yet we are told our system is the envy of the civilised and uncivilised world. It now takes me four weeks to get an appointment at the doctors and that is if I am happy not to want my own GP.

 Sir Martin Rees, Baron Ludlow, an Emeritus Professor no less is warning us that if a large asteroid hits the planet we will be wiped out, Bruce Willis beat him to it in Armegeddon.

So it comes from a movie?

I had no idea Vegans could be bloody minded did you, I thought they were wholesome through and through and could look down on the rest of us from their lofty heights, but it would seem they are just like the rest of us underneath. Well maybe not, who would have thought certain coffee's and modern technology 'exploited' humans, the owners of a cafe in Huddersfield have decided to destroy their business by being obnoxious to their customers and refusing them wi-fi along with certain drinks, I see they don't mind the technology to make the other drinks or their electric till however, or their lights or the heating. I think it is more to do with saving cash than their concern for the rest of us.

Humans not welcome.

Where do you stand on Pewdiepie which rhymes with Tweety Pie, I had never heard of this guy who seemingly makes around £12,000,000 a year and whom Disney has now dropped like a hot potato, god knows what Disney thought they got out of the guy. He is a Swedish vlogger who has made a living, like many on social media, by being a prat and a complete mystery to anyone over twelve, I looked him up and managed an excruciating one and a half minutes of one of his rants before switching off. Why would a company like Disney see any good in this clown or think he will enhance their brand, I think it does the opposite, they dropped him by the way as there is a hint of racism behind his blonde Aryan looks, which was all right for Disney until the real world got a hint of it, now he is persona non grata.

I watched a programme on prisons the other night which shocked me to be honest, well it didn't because I am an old fashioned kind of guy and would like to see prisons returned to the 1950's, but it was dreadful. The prisoners basically ran the prison as there are not enough guards to guard them properly, the French company which runs the prison trundled out the usual official line about sticking to the rules and they would look in to anything which the programme pointed out was wrong while all the time denying that cutting back on maintenance and staff in order that their profit margin stays the same is communist lies. I cannot understand why, if there is one way in and one way out you cannot stop people bringing in phones and drugs, several kilos of drugs in one instance. Search the visitors completely and if they are caught they don't get to come back, you don't have 'human rights' as a criminal you gave them up to live outside the law. Get some flak on the wall to shoot down drones, and how difficult is it to stop people throwing stuff over the walls? Drop the rehabilitation nonsense, the pool tables, the televisions and the call me sir stuff, it is a punishment and you should not want to come back once out. Oh, and ditch the private owners as well or make them do what it says on the tin.

You made the mess, you live in it.

Thursday 16 February 2017

On Track

Home alone until tomorrow, the missus has been away all week, so I have painted all my figures, no of course I haven't, but despite losing a few days at the weekend battling in Caen and on the plains of Gaul I have now got my Goth Bucellarii/Nobles complete. I am very pleased with them and they look exactly as I had pictured them, tough, well dressed, armoured cavalry, I am uncertain whether I will add normal Goth cavalry but at the moment this troop will do very well.

I may be taking the Patrician Roman's to the club on Tuesday so I have been painting some Christian types for Intervention Points as the Church was beginning to get a hold on the hierarchy of the Empire at this period. Along with these I have Senior and Junior Roman commanders and the Goth chieftain, who would have some kind of Roman military title as they enjoyed these and it enhanced their prestige with their own people. They are at the varnishing stage at the moment.

I now only have three more units in the lead pile, more Goth infantry and the Huns/Alan cavalry, I am going to take an hour or so later to get some nomad cavalry ready for the tray, I do seem to be racing ahead with these guys, they were supposed to last me until the summer.

I was given my wife's old iPad when I bought her a new mini last Christmas, and I have struggled with the thing ever since, god knows how much rubbish is on it and it takes several pressings of the button to change pages and some pages take forever to load. Yesterday I had had enough, I bought myself a mini and it arrived today, in fact I have got it up and running and will spend some time putting it the way I like this evening. You never need one of these technical marvels until you get one then it seems to become an extra arm. I check my emails on it and follow several writers that have the same view of the world as I do but articulate it better, at the same time I took out a subscription to The Spectator so I receive a digital copy as well as the written word and an archive going back to 1864ish.

I am unsure however of where I will find the time to read it, I had to shelve a large map project for a priority one only to have that too shelved for a more priority one(?). I also took almost three hours to complete a map yesterday only to press the wrong button and the thing disappeared into that vast recycle bin in the sky, I was not amused and it took the shine off buying the iPad. Looking on the bright side the work will put the Anderson Map Fortune back in the black.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Dux Bellorum (Duke of Battles)

Sunday morning was bright and sharp, which of course means it was Harry freezing, however Stewart managed to get over the A66 without a hitch and we marshalled our forces after a fry up to uphold the honour of both the North and Scotland. I was going with Romano-British and Stewart his Carolingian's, in War and Conquest world there is a cut off between the Dark Ages and what we call the Age of Warlords I was in the latter and Stewart the former and we fought armies suitable to each period as Jenny and Phil, especially Phil, have around 15+ armies between them.

My first game was against Jenny who was using Phil's Patrician Romans, the very army I am busy building at the moment, we had gone for 3,000 points and at that number the Romano-British can field an army for all contingencies. I went for two bodyguard units (Comitatus), two Milites and one Pedyt supported by two archer and one sling unit along with two Milites cavalry commands. I was relying on the Comitatus to do the damage as usual while the rest of the army took a 'wait and see' attitude, however, this time I was not going to throw my cavalry forward because I knew the Roman stuff was far superior and therefore they would constitute a mobile reserve.

The Patricians formed up with cavalry on the left, then the German Foederati followed by the Romans, one unit was put away out on the right to get around my flank. I had spotted the Bucellarii and put two missile units opposite them backed by cavalry, I also noticed that if I quickly shifted my troops to the right I could face them with infantry, it blocked my cavalry but freed one up to move to the left, battle commenced.

British on the left, Romans on the right.
Hun Bucellarii.
Battle about to commence.
The end draws near.
Carolingians vs Saxons.
The lines clash.
I followed my plan and although my first shots fell short, both stones and arrows my shooting picked up as the game went on and the Roman cavalry began to suffer, to alleviate this Jenny galloped her horse archers away as my infantry now confronted the Bucellarii, the horsemen were taking rising casualties from the missile troops and now the javelins of the Comitatus. I now had a dilemma, I had got my infantry into position against the cavalry but I was shooting them to pieces, why take the chance, albeit slim, that they would lose a combat, I chickened out and the Bucellarii too galloped away but there was only a handful left and thus no threat for the rest of the game. Meanwhile the infantry lines closed and javelins and darts flew through the air, on the right the main clash began as the Comitatus fought like lions around a small hill the rest of my brave boys stood rigid behind their shieldwalls. The pendulum tipped irrevocably in favour of the British and the enemy left broke, it was time to loose the cavalry, Jenny accepted defeat and we shook hands.

On the other table I had occasionally heard whoops of joy from Phil as his Saxons met the serried ranks of Carolingians, but as I turned around at the end I saw a dejected Phil also shaking hands with Stewart, the score was 2-0.

We lost no time changing tables, this time Stewart was fighting Jenny's Vikings and I was up against the Patricians with Phil as Magister Militum. I won the roll off to see who deployed first and as a gesture of good will I let him go ahead, funnily enough his army almost mirrored Jenny's deployment so I also formed up in the same old way with the same plan. I went forward and pressured the Roman left, I threw Strategy Intervention Points in to gain the upper hand and move first and when Phil did manage to win I used my 'Dux Bellorum' ability to force a reroll, which I then won, my right flank marched on while my left again went in to shieldwall and was positioned so that some Roman units would not be able to get into the fight when it came due to lack of space. I expected Phil would pull out his Bucellarii as Jenny had done but no, in they came pell mell, now we all know that the cavalry should not bowl over an elite formed up infantry unit, but there is always that sliver of fear that it will indeed happen and as it did happen to me in Peterborough last year I still had that sliver of fear.

Me on the left, Phil on the right.
The Roman left is under pressure.
The Romans collapse.
I needn't have been scared, the cavalry were halted then ran off, at the same time a unit of Foederati also headed for the rear, Phil now threw his whole infantry line at me, the results were disastrous for him as his units were either repelled or stopped in their tracks. At this point I had destroyed his two most expensive units and achieved my objective, but Phil's army was in a mess and had obviously lost the will to continue, we too shook hands. It was 3-0.

Jenny and Stewart were still locked in classic shieldwall style but the Vikings were gaining the upper hand, reduced to only one or two commands Stewart called it a day and again hands were shaken. The contest ended 3-1 for the North and Scotland, a great days wargaming and an excellent result for Clan Anderson.

Carolingians in the foreground, Vikings at the rear.

Dark Age slog.

I am now forging ahead with the new army having lost a few days over the weekend and last week, I want to have 2,000 points ready in a week to possibly take to the club, but I do have a busy week ahead so it might be a figure too far. As we now have a few interested people at the club I have proposed a small War and Conquest gaming day here at the PO in August for the guys at the club, they are a great opportunity to learn the rules and have some fun at the same time.

Monday 13 February 2017

On the outskirts of Caen

Phil and Jenny arrived five minutes late, which is not bad going considering journeying from the other end of the country up that one motorway, my son Stewart started off but the A66 was being its usual bloody self and he had to turn back due to snow and fog. The weather seems to have a particular bent for being atrocious whenever we or they attempt the A66.

Now, I pride myself in having both sides for whatever period I game and the terrain to match, however I was a bit surprised when Jenny said she had to pull the car around to the front and almost park at the PO door, something no one else has ever tried or managed. I then saw the reason, box after box came out the back of the car and into the PO, about an hour later we quite literally had the outskirts of Caen in the summer of '44 spread over my ping pong table. It was a beautiful set up.

It was an introduction (again) for me to Chain of Command, it was a Scottish attack on the 12th SS and we had to gain the town square to win, it looked a long way away from where I was sitting. We carried out the by now famous 'patrol phase' which at least meant we did not have to start at opposing table edges and spend all day moving instead of fighting. There was a large stone barn in the middle of the battlefield and the Germans occupied it, along with an orchard on our right flank, it was me and Jenny versus Phil. I was on the left so gingerly advanced towards the barn while Jenny made a move on the right, I of course was hit by MG42 fire almost immediately and took cover, I brought on a mortar and got a shot off and dropped some smoke which halved the German fire but the barn remained a strongpoint.

The bloody barn.
Bing, Bang...

I was in charge of three tanks and an M10, I brought the first Sherman on and I suspect it was a reconditioned one, as was the others as it happened, because it seemed to move in first gear, no sooner had it appeared than up popped a Marder III in the village and then up went the Sherman. I brought a second one in and started lobbing shells at the barn, but although I hit the troops inside I couldn't kill them, the mortar also sent a bomb into it at one point. My infantry were basically pinned as another German squad turned up behind the barn, I was feeling pretty helpless, Jenny was not having things much better on the right, although she was edging further up the road than I was. On came the third Sherman and it too fell victim to the Marder, shortly after this my remaining Sherman was also lit up, I now had infantry pinned, no armour support and not much chance of ever making the town square. Jenny made a dash on the right but the German defence was simply too well dug in and despite raining smoke on the area from her mortar her platoon was going nowhere, because as soon as it cleared there was wall to wall Hitler Youth waiting with itchy trigger fingers. I managed to bring on the M10 but it was too little too late and we called a halt as it was obvious the town would be held.

Jenny's troops bravely push forward.
The Boche waits.
Too late mate.
In the cold light of day what did I think of CoC, had I changed my mind, no I hadn't. This game flowed better than my previous couple of games and I quickly got used to the activation system, however, like the others as soon as I came up against an enemy squad with an MG and decent line of fire then everything stopped for tea. I only managed about three shots with my mortar team because I couldn't roll a 1, yes, I could have brought one of my leaders back but they were required up front. I could not believe that despite being pummelled by a Sherman, shot at by my infantry and having the odd mortar bomb dropped on them and losing half or almost half of their men along with garnering a huge amount of shock, nothing could shift the Germans from the barn. I also found the tank vs tank fire mechanism of handfuls of dice just plain strange.

At the end of the day both CoC and Bolt Action in my eyes have things wrong with them, you could possibly argue the latter more than the former but neither is perfect, but the selling point of CoC is that it portrays realistic tactics and rewards good command and control, I just do not see that. When you can have a tank and a mortar staring at a barn containing enemy troops giving your infantry a hard time and because you don't get a 1 or a 3 on a die they simply do nothing is not my idea of reality. So it is Bolt Action for me for WWII and a mental note to stop complaining and get on with playing.

I enjoyed the game more for playing with friends on a wonderful table with gorgeous toy soldiers, we retired as planned for my famous pork and chickpea curry which went down a treat and girded our loins for the coming North vs South contest the next day, my son was going to attempt the A66 again in the morning.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Shoot out in Carefree and other stuff

After the retreat from the Ostfront we have went back to basics for this weeks game, Dead Man's Hand, always a winner. I don't seem to have a lot of time to come up with scenarios these days so I fell back on an old favourite, get the baddy, Long Jim, to the jail. Simon was the Law bringing a known desperado to Carefree for justice, however the jail was at the opposite end of the street from the railway  station, hence the 'long walk'. Ryan was busy deputising a bunch of cowpokes at the jail as the train drew in. Julian with Long Jim's gang were getting some Dutch courage in the Red Dog saloon while their compadres from across the border were in the upmarket Majestic Hotel.

The game begins.

Gunfight at the graveyard.
As 'The Spider' looked out of the window of the hotel he noticed the lawmen had alighted from the train and were making their way past the small graveyard, shots were fired almost immediately, the trap had been sprung too soon. Long Jim's gang burst from the Red Dog and started slinging lead, however they had split up and soon regretted doing so as most of the lawmen made their way to the rear of the buildings trading shots with the gang members in the open.

El Arana had half a mind to go and help but decided only to put his best rifle shot on the roof while he turned towards the approaching posse hoping to out gun them. Civilians ran about in panic all along Main street getting in the way of the mayhem occasionally. The Mexicans closed in on the cowboys as the gunfire from the other end of town reached a crescendo, although putting several wounds on the enemy it was never enough to put anyone out of action and the posse soon recovered from the shock. Things now went south for the bad guys, around Hallorans Place chaos reigned and although Simon lost his two leaders his revenge almost wiped out Long Jim's gang, my sniper had been hitting these men but not fatally.

The law get the upper edge.
At last it looked like the Spiders men had the upper hand when a hysterical woman rushed down the alley ruining the line of sight and the initiative draw allowed the posse to recover before they could be killed. I had had my day, slowly but surely my companeros bit the dust even as the lone survivor from Long Jim's gang rushed towards me, it was too late, my last survivor dropped his pistols and surrendered.

The Spiders last stand.
So ended another excellent game, there had been plenty of excitement, especially between Julian and Simon while my guys seemed unable to hit the proverbial barn door. I am also losing faith in my favourite gang, the Mexicans and their fearsome(?) leader 'The Spider', however I shall continue to use them as I like them although I hope Black Scorpion bring out some new figures soon as I think the DMH guys are a bit too 'peasanty' for a ruthless gang of Latin cuthroats.

I am at the varnish stage with my Goth Bucellarii/Nobles but I won't have any pics until next week, I will say I am very pleased with them. I have now received all the figures I require, and a couple extra, for my Patrician Romans, once these are done I shall up all my other warbands to 32 figures, after which I shall get a few more units to allow me to field a slightly earlier Late Roman army than the Patrician one. And then, I have found out where to get an AA tank for the British, thanks to Andy at Tiny Hordes, so I will add that and most likely get the Tiger I can never afford to put on the table, so that is 2017 sorted.

No View this week nor maybe next week as well due to guests at Casa Anderson, I think this is it for this week as well as I have a couple of friends coming for a wargame weekend on Saturday. Phil is desperate to convert me to Chain of Command despite my experiences so far being terrible, I shall however enter the game with an open mind, we return to War and Conquest on the Sunday and I am really looking forward to that. Below is my take on our usual tournament instructions.

Chain of Command and
War & Conquest Gaming Weekend
Infamy, Infamy, they’ve all got it infamy!

Saturday and Sunday 11-12 Feb 2017


Busiest and friendliest(?)
Post Office in the
North of England

Format of the weekend:

Please arrive around Noon on the Saturday, when a sumptuous repast of tea and sandwiches will be provided, at no extra cost.

“The Generals”

Phil ‘mind how you go’ Turner – Saxons and Patrician Romans
George ‘not another customer’ Anderson – Romano-British
Jenny ‘bloody kids‘ Owens-Smith – Vikings and Patrician Romans
Stewart ‘ducking and diving, bobbing and weaving’ Anderson – Carolingians


Battle for Caen, an intro for the non-believers into the joys of Chain of Command (or so Phil says).

On completion retire to boutique dining room for prepared Ruby Murray and refreshments culminating in a visit to a local drinking establishment should time allow. Veterans of the weekends may be surprised that the food will turn up before everyone falls asleep.


Superb breakfast cooked to your liking by one of our highly trained chefs, it can be left to stand for an hour if you prefer the Premier Inn method.

Game 1
Deployment Zone:      Summer (page 155)
Deployment Method: (6) Unit by Unit (page 158)
Game Length:             Player Calls Time (page 159)

Stewart (Carolingians) v Phil (Saxons)
George (Romano-British) v Jenny (Patrician Romans)

Retiring at this point for Sunday lunch, serving what can only be described as the best steak pie this side of the planet. This will be served fresh so may incur a small wait (while the tatties boil).

Game 2
Deployment Zone:      Autumn (page 155)
Deployment Method: (5) One side deploys first (page 158)
Game Length:             Fixed Length (page 159)

Jenny (Vikings) v Stewart (Carolingians)
Phil (Patrician Romans) v George (Romano-British)

I hope to have some good battle reports for next week.