Saturday 29 December 2018

View From The Window

A couple of things have raised me from my sick bed.

In 1739 the dodgy Spaniards allegedly cut off the ear of a British sailing captain and once it became common knowledge back in Blighty we declared war, which meshed with other things and went on until 1748. In 2018 on the cusp of another year some bedraggled chancers in old speed boats defy our borders and our response is to declare war, oh silly me, a "Major Incident," that'll sort it out.

And of course, was there a drone, wasn't there a drone, might, maybe and other useless words, no war again, not even a severe warning should the culprits be found, and despite the havoc I think the playing of the Eco card would almost immediately warrant a severe telling off and a get out of jail free card. Missed your family Christmas in Aus, tough, the planet will last another two days. If a toy drone can bring us to a standstill we really should stop poking the Russians with sticks.

While I am on it, why would you get recognition for services to film? What's so important to our daily lives about film, or drama, or fashion that people so far up their own backsides should get recognition for it? It's time the Honours system and the TV Licence fee were in the Victoria and Albert.

My old drinking buddy Mark died this morning, 87, he hasn't been able to continue with our two hourly Wednesday drinking sessions for some time, he would have half a pint of lager and me two or three zero beers, not the best customers of the George Washington but always made welcome. Mark I believe was an Oxford graduate, a self made business man and half way through his life he did a 180 degree turn and became a solicitor eventually running his own firm. We became friends as he collected his daily newspaper in the morning when most were abed and we vented our spleen over the headlines for a good fifteen minutes. Later I found him walking through the village taking exercise and invited him in for drink at the George Washington, this turned into a regular weekly meet up which was good for us both, and would have been for the country if we had had any power. Sadly Mark then began to suffer from dementia and his joints failed so he could no longer make our rendezvous. I will miss the old sod and will drink a large whiskey to his memory this evening, it's the least I can do.

Friday 21 December 2018

The Last Post 2018

I was going to keep this for another week or so but as there will be no wargaming activity until the New year I thought I would get it out of the way and go Dark for a couple of weeks while I enjoy the festive season and the time off. Mind you I was surprised by two people waiting at the door this morning to post cards which now will not make Christmas, and yes, there was the one for America (cut off date 14 Dec). One, a touchy, feely type has been coming in every day for the past week, "do all your post at once!" and leave me alone, stop saying thank you every ten seconds ...... wow, need to slow down, Christmas cheer etc. My youngest granddaughter said I was not grumpy but happy and funny, she ruined that yesterday by telling the missus she only said it to make me happy. Now, how did 2018 pan out, read on.

I failed miserably to get a campaign off the ground, I wanted to get back to some ACW gaming and thought one of my mini-campaigns would be perfect, they don't last longer than the real campaign and only require two to three large battles to be fought. I needed four generals, two at a push but having asked several people at the club I could only get one club member to commit.

My other failure was to have more games at home, I have a fair amount of spare time and a lot of it could be spent playing games but it isn't. Up until half way through the year I had a regular opponent in Kevin but that has stopped. My other semi-permanent gamer, son Stewart, does not have a lot of time spare for gaming at the moment and he lives an hour and a half away, also a he has to travel the A66 so that just about cuts out travel in the Winter, it is a miserable journey in bad weather.

Despite the above I did manage three complete gaming weekends this year, one with Stewart, one with Mike Jordan and one with Matt Smith (of Wargames Table fame). All of these were excellent, good company and great games. I did get one weekend away myself at the beginning of the year but sadly it was cut short due to severe weather, a second weekend at the end did not work out.

I got to two shows, Vapnartak which has become an annual pilgrimage and FIASCO at Leed's Armouries, the former is the better of the two, but I managed to fulfill my wish list at the latter so a worthwhile journey after all.

I completed my fifth War and Conquest army this year, the Seleucids, for a change this was an army I knew next to nothing about and chose it to be an opponent for my Early Imperial Romans, yes not the same time period but easily tough enough to fight the Thunderbolts. I also decided that I had to call a halt to building armies for WAC despite having an urge for a 3rdC Roman army and my long standing wish for something Byzantine. I should now have stopped but we do not stop do we? I like the Muskets and Tomahawks skirmish game and thought this was the way forward for me but I got derailed somewhere along the line and have now committed to two large Seven Years War armies, go figure. Being awkward I also did not leap into Frederick the Great's shoes but instead decided on the Western European theater and the Duke of Brunswick v the French. My patriotism guided this choice as I wanted Union flags and red coats on the battlefield, in my mind a very small strike against anti-British sentiment in the world at large.

In 2018 I painted up approximately 350 figures, two elephants, two chariots and several vehicles, this does not include my terrain efforts on a few new buildings and the tarting up of old ones.

Now what about the future you ask, well my main efforts this year will be building up my SYW forces to the point where I can test out Black Powder and Honours of War to see which of the two rulesets I like best. I may actually use both of these, the former for large battles and the latter for smaller affairs, we will see. I will also need to get terrain to suit, if there is any of the legendary Anderson Map Fortune left after I return from Vietnam then I may commission some 18C buildings, I am still looking for suitable buildings off the shelf just in case I am skint.

 I really want to get at the very least some 'linked' games this year, whether Bolt Action or WAC, club or at home, these two periods would lend themselves to this and give some point to battles. Not that I do not enjoy stand alone battles but it would just add that cherry on the top. I have several Chain of Command campaign books which I should use in conjunction with Bolt Action but have not bothered yet, maybe this year, maybe not as I was not successful this year.

Having had several conversations with friends I am going to attempt to run a 'Grognards Weekend' in April which will be a series of War and Conquest games using armies from the Fall of Rome to 1066, Dark Ages in other words. There will be six of us so not enough to split the period into Ancient and Dark Ages as we can all field or borrow armies from the later period but not Ancients. I am going to shut the PO on the Saturday morning and have two games then one on the Sunday so everyone will get home at a decent time. There may be a possibility this will upset the odd person and may not be seen as best practice by Post Office Limited, but it's my building and anyway, Carnforth is only a short hop away (evil chuckle). There will be six of us, I could push it to eight but that may be something for the future. Matt Smith and I are also toying with the idea of a linked series of Bolt Action games for another weekend at some point covering the Western Desert through Italy and then Normandy (with luck).

I think that about wraps it up with my wish list and plans for next year, I should have all the conversion kits for X-Wing second edition after Christmas so I will be trying that out.

I have now had three people in before 1000 hrs this morning, I was not expecting any to be honest apart from that one card for the other side of the planet which always turns up and now has, but is going nowhere (evil chuckle again). So, coffee and one of Julian's mince pies as a treat in a mo, then settle back and watch some YouTube or NowTV, with hopefully only an odd interruption. See you next year.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Recce for 11th Armoured.

Managed to get some time to put the finishing touches to my Stuart light tank. I have tried where possible to keep my British vehicles part of 11th Armoured as far as decals will allow, the British marking system was a real mess as far as I can see, may have made sense at the time but oh boy.

The kit was a very easy build, nothing complicated, you get three versions to build, I went for the Mid tank as used in Normandy, not sure the 11th Armoured recce would have included these vehicles but due to a lack of info, that is what it is, it is a decent guess.

I used Vallejo Russian Uniform for the base, this was then washed with Army Painter Strong Tone followed with a dry brush of the lightened base colour, then the black sponge treatment for the edges. The tracks were done with my old favourite Vallejo Panzer Aces Track Primer, you can then weather these up any way you want, this time I gave them a bit of a brush with MIG Dark Rust. Can I just add that Panzer Aces Dark Rubber is also excellent for tyres. No stowage at the moment as I do not have anything decent left, so that is on the to do list, not that you will get a lot on a Stuart.

So, this along with the Puma and Stummel was an itch scratched. I think that is it for now re my Bolt Action forces, next year I will get a Tiger despite not needing one and a Firefly to even things up. I will also get some logistics stuff, trucks, cars etc.

Now, can I finish the French cavalry before the year is up, we'll see.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Christmas Game

Last club night of the year last night, thankfully the weather was not as miserable as it had been for most of the day. This year was again a massive skirmish game based this time on Frostgrave with the rules simplified for faster play, which is just as well as we had fourteen players and one run off his feet umpire/gamesmaster. We were also helped by several players who play the game normally.

My first duty on getting there was not to pick the best warband but to relieve our resident chef Julian of several of his mince pies to take home, my wife believes they are the best mince pies she has ever tasted so I pleaded for a few to cash in on goodwill when I got home. I swapped home made Scottish tablet for these and warned him to eat sparingly or his sugar levels would soar to Defcon 1.

We had the AGM and had to vote in a new Child Protection Officer (sheesh), which is a nod to officialdom and madness, knowing how kind the years have been to me perhaps I should bring my birth certificate just in case. I asked for more roads to be bought as we quite often literally run out of road, I was promptly designated to paint said roads.

Now to the game, I got six Gnolls, whatever they were, they looked kind of ratty to me, we had to find treasure and when it was found a card was pulled from a deck, it could be good news or inevitably bad news. Once again points were gathered by killing monsters and the troops belonging to other players, there was no prize other than bragging rights. I was in a quiet part of the table and picked up several good cards which enhanced my martial abilities, I was not seriously attacked until someone popped a Purple People Eater into the centre of my rats, this was the second most fearsome monster on the board. I killed it fairly easily and gained forty points, my exploits elsewhere earned me another twenty and I was in the second bottom band of 'winners'. Simon earned a massive 210 points. I managed to cause mayhem in one corner by dropping a Frost Giant into the fray, a mistake as it turned out as it gave out 60 points when it hit the dust. I felt sorry for mate Andy who led some Norse, he just broke the treeline and met three monsters which massacred his men, when given a second squad they met almost the same fate. A great amount of fun and banter filled the room for a few hours.

Sleepy ruins.
Frost Giant.
 We will be back on station in the New year on the 8th January, I have sorted a game of the new XWing second edition for that date, it will not be the first game of the New Year, Rob is putting on a very large Black Powder Napoleonic game on the 6th, I really must read that book now.

I didn't manage to paint anything yesterday but the Christmas 'slightly busier than a normal week' seems to be over thankfully, I won't get painting tonight either as I head off to Robin Hood with my granddaughter, "Oh yes he is" "He's behind you!" "Oh god", well she will enjoy it.

Merry Christmas to everyone who pops buy to read my musings, and a Happy New Year.

Thursday 13 December 2018

Time put to good use.

As you know I received my new Bolt Action vehicles on Monday afternoon, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I built them up almost right away, the German stuff first, I had them primed by Tuesday morning and the Stuart built in between customers by Tuesday night. I put my French cavalry to the side. It was my day off on Wednesday so I primed the Stuart and got stuck in to both German vehicles.

I have a set of German tank colours for WWII but I found out too late that they really work best in an airgun, they can be used with a brush but they are rather thin. So I have fallen back on Vallejo Model Colours, German Yellow for the main colour then Russian Green, to this can be added any decent reddish brown colour for the third element, I used Cavalry Brown. A while ago I looked at getting an airgun but cost put me off, you can get cheap versions but that would not have done for me.

A quick google will show you how diverse German camouflage was in the latter half of the war, the shade of colours can differ as well, the method of applying them was usually left to the units in the field, so they could be sprayed, brushed or even applied with wet rags. I like to show diversity so all my vehicles have different examples of camouflage schemes. The Puma was based on a real one in Normandy, it is simply green lines over the yellow base coat, I then gave it a wash with Army Painter Soft Tone. After this I used a piece of sponge dipped in black to weather the edges, once all this was finished the vehicle was given a very light drybrush with Dark Sand. At this stage I usually apply MIG Europe dry Mud to the tracks, wheels and lower extremities, but I have not done this with these two models, I may yet do this at some point. Now I add crew and stowage before giving the whole thing a spray of Tamiya matt varnish. I forgot to mention I put on the decals before the AP wash, I have had a lot of difficulty in the past with this but the use of Micro-Sol and fine tweezers has turned me into a proficient decaler(?).

I chose to use a variation of the three colours for the Stummel in a pattern which I have seen before. I would have liked more stowage hanging from the sides and will add more when I get it, probably at Vapnartak in February. I was going to order it online but the firm was going to charge me £3.99 for postage, which, as a Subpostmaster I knew was daylight robbery.

So, what does that leave for my German Army now, obviously a Tiger I at some point although I am leaning towards the cheap anti-tank hybrids which on the table top pack almost as much of a punch, albeit without the Tigers survivability. Like wargamers who need Romans, Germans need a Tiger. To balance this my British will get a Firefly. At some point in the future I would like to get some trucks, jeeps, cars etc. but these are not imperative.

I was going to start on the Stuart today but have instead decided to be lazy as I am heading south tomorrow or will be if our dilapidated railway system can take me, driving is now only a last resort for me. I will be in the town on Saturday with my sons and then heading to the Indigo at the O2 to see the Dualers, I may even have a real drink.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Jocks Wi Hae

Club last night and no Simon, which is just as well as the A6 near his house was closed off so I would have had the devil getting to him and then into Lancaster, I am not good with detours at dark-o'clock, it's the old eyes.

Anyway, it was a Muskets and Tomahawks game run by Rob, always a good game. The gist was that some American Militia along with a cannon had set up a small redoubt overlooking a river crossing which it was supposed British troops would soon be using. The British had got wind of this and had sent a force to remove the gun, the Americans were sending a force to reinforce the gun. I took the light companies of two Scots regiments, the 78th and 84th (I think) along with a small Iroquois warband, my second in command had the same type of force but no regulars, the American forces were of a similar make up.

As well as using the normal card activation arrival times were at the mercy of a normal deck of cards, I did OK with this but 2i/c Ian did not, neither did Paul who was hurrying to boost Rob at the redoubt. To confuse matters even further each unit had three markers only one of which represented the real unit, visibility was quite dire as the area was heavily wooded.

I advanced at a fairly quick pace compared to the rest of the players, I quickly ran up against some markers, I decided to throw caution to the wind and advance, if I took my time the Americans might get a decent defence line up. I put my faith in my fellow countrymen and the fact they were elite, to the skirl of the pipes they marched to their doom, the marker turned out to be American woodsmen who opened up with a devastating volley and my men dropped like autumn leaves, the survivors fled. I was crestfallen, however it was clear now that this was the only American unit to our front, Ian's Indians and mine now closed in on the riflemen as they frantically tried to reload. As tomahawks flew and the savages screeched the woodsmen retired.

My second company gets revenge for the loss of their mates.
The militia are defending the redoubt, not firing at it despite what it looks like.
 My main objective in the game was to assault the artillery redoubt, I ignored what was happening on my left and left Ian to press forward on that flank, I pushed my Jocks towards the redoubt, having lost one unit I was given a new one, this too I flung forward. Ian had now got up and we both concentrated fire on the large Militia unit defending the cannon, these part timers took heavy losses and recoiled, their friends were now turning up but concentrated on Ian's command and left me alone. Fortune favours the brave and I got a good run of cards, my boys leapt forward and cleared the redoubt of gunners and Militia in bloody hand to hand combat, a cheer went up as my men stood atop the ramparts.

The Militia begin to suffer.
The Jocks get ready for their assault.
 The American reinforcements now broke like a wave on the battlefield, we were not going to stop them we had lost too many men achieving what we had, I ordered the gun spiked and then began a withdrawal, it was now a race for the depths of the forest. We managed to carry out an orderly retreat and eventually outran our pursuers, a British win was declared, a close run thing.

As usual with Rob that was not the end, we all got a personal score for carrying out our objective, a plus for killing the enemy and a minus for our losses, I had started out badly but with the spiking of the gun racked up 69 points, sadly my heavy losses brought this right down to 15, I came in second in this race as Paul had lost hardly any troops on his way to the fight due to his late arrival. Did I mention that the gun had been firing on nearby British ships (off table) and got a point every time it hit, another cunning mechanic. So, another excellent game of M&T.

I have now primed my three new vehicles and will probably spend some time this afternoon giving them their base coat, the two German ones that is as they will more than likely be the first to see a game. I had hoped to get one next week but it is the club's Christmas Game so the pressure is off for now, I think I will also get an hour or so on the French SYW cavalry as well.

Tuesday 11 December 2018


Good day yesterday, I received several packages, the Puma from Warlord Games and the Stummel and Stuart from Rubicon. The Rubicon kits were delivered in a bag by DHL, I could tell right away the contents had been flattened as I could feel the box ends loose and the bag was  ...... flat. I opened them up and checked the sprues, these all seemed fine, nevertheless I sent an email to Rubicon informing them how they had arrived. The Puma on the other hand came in a nice sturdy box and was perfect.

I have no patience and set to with the Puma first, in my haste I forgot some springs which should have been underneath the vehicle, it was too late so as no one is likely to spot this unless they do an MOT on the armoured car, no harm, maybe a -1 on shooting. Yes it will bug me forever but I will have to live with it. Apart from that it was an easy build and it is a very clean vehicle, it is one of those that as well as being good it looks good. Because of the 50mm gun on it I suspect it is used far too aggressively on a wargame table, its primary roll was reconnaissance and the crews were told not to engage the enemy if at all possible. I was also quite impressed by the little extras in the box, a decent decal sheet, three MDF figure bases(?), and three coloured, shredded wool type pieces to represent a hit on the vehicle, flame, grey and black. A great kit.

I then turned to the Stummel, this is a two parter, you have to buy the halftrack a 251 C or a D then get the conversion kit so it runs about £28 I think. With the conversion kit you can add the 75mm short barrelled howitzer to the small 250 halftrack or the larger 251 (C or D). I don't know the logistics of bringing out a complete Stummel in a kit but £10 to me seemed a bit much considering I was only converting one halftrack. Having made my choice I have one complete conversion left for a 251 Ausf C which I shall pass on to a friend should he ever decide to upgrade a halftrack.

I know I am an old guy but I didn't find the conversion instructions easy, in fact I set about building a C until I thankfully realised my main body was a D because this would not have worked at all and I would have ruined the build. Another thing which bugs me personally is that with some Rubicon parts there are no slots or pin holes, you have to hold two pieces together until they stick, OK it is not a huge problem as the glue is pretty good and it only takes seconds but it can be fiddly. They do give you a lot of choices with their kits, you might like this, I just want a tank or whatever, I am not likely to be bothered by 'that guy' pointing out that that exhaust did not come out until 3 o'clock on 13 March '45 so my model is wrong. You get a very extensive decal sheet, better than Warlords and you get four crew figures, one is a sitting gunner who goes with two of the conversions, not mine, and the other three are standing, one guy for some reason, remember he is in the back of a halftrack, has his left arm in a very camp position (can I say that) while holding his soft cap in the other, very strange, Hans did not make it to the crew. Once complete it is a very nice vehicle and I am hoping it earns its keep on the battlefield.

I got up early this morning and both are now primed and ready to go, see, no patience.

I still have the Stuart to build, the PO has been a lot busier than usual due to the upcoming festivities and I await 'that guy' (or gal Reg) coming in on the 24th and asking if their card will get to Melbourne or Montreal in time for Christmas, I am not kidding, and I digress, I hope to build the Stuart in between customers this afternoon. It's club night and Muskets and Tomahawks, always a good time.

Thursday 6 December 2018

Why Not

It is almost Christmas and my Birthday, so despite the 'we are too old for presents' clause in my marital contract, don't panic, this doesn't kick in until your hair starts growing inward instead of outward i.e. nose and ears, I am going to do well this year. I am off to the Indigo at the O2 Arena to see the Dualers actually on my birthday, I thought I had booked it but her indoors is adamant she did, so I caved, I shall be accompanied by my sons so another plus. I also decided to get myself something or more specifically things. I have it on the best of authorities that a Brexit No Deal will not harm the fabled Anderson Map Fortune which is fairly comfortable at the moment, despite Mark "We're all doomed" Carney at the Bank of England, so hence the spending spree.

First up was a bunch of paints to replenish my stock and make sure I have enough to continue with the SYW project, I was also toying with another paint pot stack for the extra bottles I have in a box, but that can wait.

I have been kind of fired up with Bolt Action at the moment so have ordered up an M5 Stuart light tank for the British to use in a recce roll, on the opposite side I have at last gone for the Puma armoured car. As there were only about 100 of these built I felt I could not just pop one on the table, however I have learnt that three panzer divisions in Normandy had them and as my Germans are loosely based on one of them (2nd Panzer) I ordered it up. Experience on the BA tabletop against Simon's Russians has also caused me to review my troops, I need something to deal with dug in or hidden snipers and flamethrowers, something not as expensive as a real tank as our club games tend to be under 1,000 points, so I have gone for the 'Stummel' or Stumpy, an upgraded halftrack with a short barreled 75mm howitzer bolted to it, this will be very dangerous to enemy infantry. I was looking at the 75mm PAK version but it was not present in Normandy as far as I know not coming into service until late '44. Also on the plus side is the fact these kits will be a nice interlude between battalions of SYW figures.

Warlord Games Puma (let's hope it is all in the box)

Rubicon M5 Stuart.
Rubicon Stummel, you have to buy the halftrack and a conversion kit.

I put some time aside to paint up my flock of sheep courtesy of 1st Corps, you may have seen them appear on tables covering all sorts of periods, they are an inspired piece of casting. Please no wellie or Welsh jokes, the former is daft and the latter a hate crime, you have been warned.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Mind the Steppe!

With nothing to do the other night for some reason I looked at Bolt Action videos on YouTube and enjoyed some by Eccentric Man especially his piece on 'cheese' at tournaments. I doubt there are not many of you who do not know what 'cheese' is but in a nutshell it is choosing an army simply to win and playing the rules to your own advantage but in a sneaky kind of way, the player may have no affinity with his troops nor be interested in anything remotely historical. I enjoy Bolt Action with friends despite the odd blip but I would not turn up to a tournament, many do however and enjoy it, not everyone wants to win at all costs.

I digress, with my interest fired up I organised a game against Simon and as I have had a lot of fun using the scenarios from the book, despite my previous reservations, we chose Manhunt, where one side had to capture the senior officer of the other side. I won the dice off and decided to be the attacker as I had gone out of my comfort zone with a motorised force of three small veteran squads, a command halftrack, trucks, an armoured car and a Marder III, oh and a sniper. Simon was the Soviet defender and set up with half his troops in and around a small farm building, I could bring on half my troops in the first wave, everything else remained off table and would arrive as reserves. To make things interesting these reserves could arrive on any table edge not used previously by the enemy.

Early morning, somewhere in Ukraine.
Things started fairly well for me, my initial troops seemed to be doing well and began closing in on the farm, there were two large rifle squads at the farm, the officer and a flamethrower. I poured fire into a squad defending a hedge making them hunker down while Simon pushed the other into a nearby wood, this lot gave me a shock as they almost destroyed one of my small veteran squads but I managed to keep the LMG operational and it, along with some reserves wiped out the rash Soviets. At the same time Simon was having trouble bringing on his reserves, I too lost out twice but recovered much faster.

The Germans turn up.
Things start to go wrong, the squad on the hill disappear.
I now advanced to deal with the hedgerow defenders when out popped the damn flamethrower, to my surprise it did no damage but to my chagrin my squad failed its morale and dispersed, I was now down to one squad and an LMG team with which to capture the Russian commander, mission impossible. I saw one possible opportunity as my squad in the wood may have been close enough to rush the officer, sadly Simon moved him back out of range and that was it for me. The Russian reserves had now turned up but did not look like making much of an impact, the tank had a flamer on it so would have to get close to my boys, my Marder was therefore quite capable of taking it out thus giving Simon some pause. I then took the chance to charge the hedge guys with my Marder, there was a decent chance they would break as they were inexperienced, Simon however had a small run of luck and they held, I lost the Marder to an attack by the flamethrower team which I had failed to kill leaving one man to roast my tank destroyer. It  was over we were out of time, however it looked like it would be impossible for me to assault and take the commander with only one squad left and a tank bearing down on it.

Another damn flamethrower.
 There is more to the scenario and I should have put more thought into it, I brought everything on from the one table edge which did me no favours, I also suffered from 'flamer fear' so instead of acting aggressively right from the start I was far too cautious, there seems to be more flamethrowers in games of Bolt Action than were used in WWII. I again found the -2 for Down a hindrance as despite the volume of fire aimed at the guys behind the hedge it was almost impossible to get a kill. Despite all this I would not shirk from playing it again.

I liked my choice of troops, we had 900 points but I could have upped my squads with another hundred, I was disappointed how easily my veterans were taken out but this was mainly down to luck than anything else, especially failing the morale test with two sixes, almost the only thing that would have made them run, aaagh!

Elsewhere we had a large Warhammer Ancients game, also a very big ACW game using a new set of rules (Malvern Hill, probably not the best name for a set of ACW rules if you are a Reb), and Julian and Ryan continued their Frostgrave campaign.

Monday 3 December 2018

More Jocks.

I have just finished basing up my first cavalry for the Seven Years War project, naturally they were British and just as night follows day they are Scots.

The figures are Wargames Foundry, I went for these because Front Rank don't do an officer in a mitre nor a standard bearer, unless my eyes are worse than I think they are. The horses are a decent fit against FR but the figures are a bit chunkier, although I don't think this will be too noticeable in the fog of war. As nice are FR are I do admit to liking the dashing poses of these troopers, which leaves me with the difficult choice of do I get more?

These figures represent as best as possible the 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons (Scots Greys), I say this because no one could possibly make a SYW range with all the little nuances of uniform and equipment which abound in this period, especially for the cavalry. The main colours of the regiment are there as are the grenadier caps, also the flag is authentic, other pieces I fitted in as I could, for instance the yellow line should be a twin line but that is beyond me these days, even in 28mm.

I really mucked up the flag, the first I put on upside down and had to cut off (£1.75 down the drain), I also took if for granted the flagpole would have a blade and tassels, so the end was left blunt. Although some cavalry flags are shown with tassels or cravats (French) the majority do not seem to have them, also the infantry tassels which I bought are far to long to be of use. I could not ruin my last flag to put it on a spearpoint so I had to cut a point from elsewhere and stick it on, which is why it looks a tad out of place, I also have no idea why the bottom of the flagpole looks the way it does.

Having said all that I am quite chuffed with the unit and it does look like it means business, the French Royal Rousillon regiment is on the tray, primed and ready. I like the look of the twelve cavalrymen but I might do the odd regiment as eight, cheaper and quicker to get on the table.

Bolt Action has been firing me up recently, great games a few months ago with Matt and a good game the week before at the club, so I am heading to the Russian Steppes tomorrow night against Simon's Russians. Simon nearly always brings along his KV1 but I am loathe to pay points for a big cat, be it a Panther or a Tiger (don't have one at the moment but it is on my list, near the top) to confront it. I therefore bring along a Marder or maybe a Hetzer but I am now looking at what else the Germans have in their armoury, specifically the Sdkfz 251/22 which is a Hanomag with a PAK40 welded to it (something else on the list). I am also looking at some close support in the form of a 251/9, again a halftrack but with a 75mm howitzer onboard this time. What about the Allies I hear you shout, well they didn't really need to improvise the way the Germans did, however I am going to get them a Firefly so they don't feel left out. When, not sure, probably after Christmas to give me a rest from painting SYW.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

I Won My Bit

Club night again and I jumped into one of Rob's games, it was a rerun of the successful Napoleonic cavalry battle we played a few weeks ago. Once again I was one of Napoleon's favourite dashing cavalry commanders and given a brigade of the Guard along with a heavy cavalry brigade. Opposite us was a conglomeration of Russians and Austrians, I held the French right opposed by Stuart's Russians, he didn't seem very confident as his brigades were much lighter than mine, he obviously knows more about Napoleonic warfare than I do, I simply saw it as a contest between heavy and light, and of course elan of which naturally I have oodles of.

Stuart, Rob and Andy with some of their impressive numbers of cavalry.

My plan was simple, I would ignore the rest of the battle and destroy the enemy to my front, if time allowed I would turn into the centre and bring about a French victory, huzzah. Stuart played a cautious game while I thundered forward, despite not having dazzling leaders I was only held up once, there was a gun battery on my left flank which thankfully turned against the French centre and left me alone. The Austrian commander in the middle did send one unit to outflank my Guard but it didn't get very far due to the advance of the French centre. My boys were free to unleash hell.

My dragoons head for the Russian left.
 Sure enough the assault by the Guard smashed two Russian regiments and narrowly missed a third, thankfully my troopers recoiled and would be ready to come back after a severe talking to. My second brigade shook off the doldrums and thundered into two enemy batteries, French eyes rolled to the ceiling while the enemy whooped with glee, attacking guns with cavalry, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." 

The Austrians in the centre.

To everyone's surprise bar mine the gunners were sliced down where they stood and the guns captured, as the dust settled massed ranks of Russian light cavalry could be seen advancing on my bedraggled dragoons, Sacred Blue! Again my companions shielded their eyes from what was about to happen to the French right, grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory came to my mind as my troopers stopped and destroyed the Russian lights. Stuarts command was decimated and we agreed that it would seek to escape, my men took a well deserved rest.

The French centre.

Elsewhere things were not going well for us, after a promising advance in the centre Andy was now on the back foot and almost surrounded, Rob on the left had also dashed forward with elan but not enough, he had suffered grievious losses and was being forced to withdraw, Madame Guillotine awaits in Paris, while Napoleons favourite seeks out a cheeky little Beaujolais.

A flurry of horsemen.

Another good game and proof that Black Powder can handle large forces, I still have some lingering doubts about the rules and will have to read the damn book myself but they certainly work for a large club game and do ensure good fun for all.

I seem to have lost my painting mojo over the past week and did not get a lot done apart from some German road signs for Normandy and some half hearted work on the Scot's Greys. I think I have turned the corner and am now once again concentrating on the Jocks, there are so many fiddly wee bits on SYW figures.

Am I doing something wrong with my paint palette, I got the super new one and during a painting session and a few hours later it is fine, but the next day when I open it the blob of paint seems to have drawn in a lot of water and is ruined for use being reduced in consistency to a wash?

Friday 23 November 2018

Duke of Lancasters

I had to take the car to Preston yesterday, a town I would prefer not to visit, no doubt it has nice parts but for the casual visitor it just seems a sprawling mess, not one thing nor t'other as the locals might say. It has a huge concrete bus station plonked in the centre which, for me, is an eyesore but in the eyes of my betters is an architectural gem and there is a crusade to save it from demolition.

Anyway I eventually found the Autoglass shed in a shopping mall car park and handed the car over for its eye test. Because I have a modern car with all the bells and whistles you cannot simply change the windscreen, it has to be calibrated as it has cameras on it, or rather cameras which see through it. It really does get an eye test, at one point I saw the young lad hold up a large board with circles on it while the guy in the car adjusted the cameras!

The procedure takes two hours so I had time to kill, before going I noticed that Fulwood Barracks was within a ten minute walk and it had an Infantry Museum in it, so I thought I could lose an hour there. At the gate was the usual diminutive female guard in oversized 'you can see me' jacket, along with her oppo, the nearing retirement, out of condition male guard. Terrorists beware. On entering the side guardroom my years of loyal service came flooding back, as soon as I got through the door it was like I belonged, I felt an urge to shout out "Royal Navy mate, eleven and a half years!" don't mess me about, wink wink. I showed my ID and smartly answered a couple of questions then stood back against the wall at ease with my visitors pass to await an escort who would take me to the museum.

I was a bit surprised at how small the museum was, on entering the vestibule there are two large boards, one shows the family tree of the Duke of Lancasters and the other the battle honours collected by the various regiments which now make up the same. When looking at the battle honours the sheer scope of what it meant to be in the service of the British Empire hits you, there are not many parts of the globe this particular regiment and others I have no doubt set foot. I once read somewhere that we have fought against most of the countries on the planet and yes that is believable reading that board. It is not PC but I was proud of it.


The first room is the Waterloo Room and although small is packed with all manner of stuff ranging from the 17thC to modern times, weapons, parts of uniforms, drums and a lot of prints, you take a catalogue from a small table and this ties up with the exhibits and explains all. To my surprise I bumped into a Napoleonic Eagle captured at Salamanca from the French 22nd Infantry, this is the second French Eagle I have seen, the other being in Edinburgh castle, the Frenchies want that one back but are not getting it, not until the Liberals or the Greens get in at least. The second major exhibit is the Somme Room, dedicated to WWI, WWII and recent times, this is slightly larger but again has an awful lot crammed in. I was taken aback by some photographs showing the regiment in Trieste, on parade in Vienna and other places right into the 50's, I also noticed them using Universal Carriers also in the late 40's, Tunis or Egypt I think. Typical wargamer I thought I noticed one photograph marked up wrongly as 17pdr anti-tank guns when they looked like 6pdr's to me.

I spent a good hour and a half in the two rooms, I wasn't interested in the chapel or some other room they had upstairs, if for some reason you were in the vicinity and had time to kill it is worth a visit, probably not if that is the only reason you are in Preston and you have to travel a long distance, but certainly worth a detour if you are.

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Arnhem '44

Club night and Bolt Action, a very dreich night too, cold and miserable but we can't complain it has been an excellent year weather wise. Rob brought his Para's and an Arnhem scenario, a British blocking force is attempting to slow down a German push against the main Para position, at first the Germans only have infantry, as the game progresses the German forces begin to build up with armour arriving.

Rob was the Para's with Simon and I having the Germans between us, we had to capture the roads leading off the table, there were three, two houses dominated the central area and the Para's had claimed these and were happy to sit in them, a couple of other squads held the extreme flanks. It looked like we could overwhelm one flank and then attack the houses, Simon sent his halftracks racing up the road into the British position, the first was hit by a PIAT and burst into flames as the passengers disembarked to hug the ground. I was a little more cautious and approached through a large cornfield.

Simon races up the road.

All hell let loose on Simon's men stuck in the road and they began to suffer quite badly as a flamethrower also targeted them. I now rushed my troops into the wood in order to take the pressure off but I was less than successful, the Para squad in the wood hunkered down and refused to break. One of our squads in the road now routed and dispersed, the other from the lead halftrack preferred to keep their heads down. We eventually took out the menacing flamethrower but it had distracted us from finishing off the squad in the wood, a sniper was also starting to become annoying. We dispatched a squad to sort this nuisance out.

My boys to the rescue.
Para's continue to hold out.
Dutch resistance.
 German morale was not good as time after time our men refused to fire or move and simply went to ground, the frustration must have got to Simon as he flung a newly arrived squad at one of the houses in a ferocious assault, sadly his men met stalwart resistance and again our men routed and dispersed. It was proving very tough to kill the Para's. We now brought up a mortar and although it missed we began to wear down the defenders, we now got a Panther and a flak halftrack the British received some help from the Dutch Resistance (these included the cast of Where Eagles Dare). A Para jeep had also turned up and held us off from the only road we had a chance of grabbing, I shouted orders and curses at Simon's men in the road but they would not rise up and challenge the jeep. The armour arrived too late as time was up, the Para's had held us off magnificently, despite Rob's at times lousy die throws against my troops, he had no problem killing Simon's for some reason.

A good game and we managed around six turns with quite a lot of men, the Para squad in the wood which had looked so vulnerable with four German squads approaching ruined our plan and fought us to a standstill.

I never really took to Napoleonics despite being a Napoleon fan, one reason even back when I had good eyesight was the intricacies of Napoleonic uniforms, not for me thought I, I now realise I have turned to a period with possibly even more intricate uniforms. I have just finished my first artillery crews and guns for my Seven Years War project, the French were not so bad but the British gunners are very much peacocks in uniform, gunners for heaven's sake. As you know I did not use the overly large original British crews but decided I could not lose even more money so kept the smaller, thinner French crews, they fit in fine but I will go with all Front Rank crews in future, I am unsure whether to stay with Eagle Figures guns, which are very nice or again simply go with Front Rank.

Royal Artillery.
 Corps Royal de l'Artillerie

I have also completed two officers at brigade level, one British and one French, as far as I can ascertain these guys either wore their regimental uniform or whatever they pleased although the French had rules for senior officers.

I got some foot officers from Wargames Foundry some time ago and they were huge I took a chance on some of their SYW cavalry thinking that they would not be as big as they were on horses, although Front Rank do a mounted grenadier figure wearing a mitre there was no standard bearer or officer while Foundry did the lot. It really was a long shot at around £50 but it paid off, the cavalry are fine and will work well alongside Front Rank, they are a tad chunkier but I don't mind that, they are going to be the 2nd North British Dragoons (Scots Greys) and whither by design or not they have really miserable faces. The standard bearer has a really weird club looking design at the bottom of the pole, no idea what that is about. I have yet to prime the French cavalry but they are all cleaned up and ready to go.

The club, just noticed the flag is upside down, more money down the drain, aaaargh!