Wednesday, 31 January 2018


Club night and yes it was once again miserable, and very, very unlucky for me. The game was X-Wing which I have not played for a long time, I sorted out a couple of forces from the online Squadron Builder and saved them, I would print them off just before I left the house. In due time I popped on to the computer and lo and behold the lists I had saved were not there, and yes I did actually save them, I know I did. I was left with the only option to run some older lists off or I would be late to pick Simon up (excuse 1).

When we got the table set up we also realised we had not brought a space mat, things were not looking good, we used a normal mat and turned it upside down, the club has one but we couldn't find it. I chose a list recommend from the X-Wing forums (excuse 2), big mistake, it was rubbish. We faced off and within an hour I had lost three ships and was left with one which was flying scrap. Now although my force was pretty bad and I am not Darth Vader, Simon did not miss throughout the game with his attack dice (excuse 3), not once! I could have brought the Death Star and still have been beat.

We started a second game and this time I took the Rebels, once again I was shown up in both my flying and choice of forces and weapons, once again I bit space dust, I know I was rusty but last night I was just plain bad.

After my enforced lay off from painting with manflu (real this time), I have now got my mojo back, I have finished a unit of elephant escorts/javelin skirmishers along with a cavalry officer and my second in command general. I have also received at last my Thureophori light troops and these are primed and ready to go, while doing this and finishing the generals I also primed my Galatian warband so it will probably be next in the queue. I am picking up two scythed chariots from 1st Corps at York on Sunday, so along with the last phalanx in the drawer I have a small hill of lead to paint in the coming weeks. After that I hope it will be Aventine Companions and cataphracts to finish the army. I think you will see these guys on the field of battle very shortly.


I took a long hard look at my study chair of almost thirty years and decided I needed a new one, it arrived yesterday and it is the business. I have a love of my old chair much akin to Frasier's dad's chair so instead of throwing it out I stuck some tape on and it is now in the Post Office where I can now wait in comfort for the enemy to make their moves.

I popped down to Kevin's yesterday to help him put the stickers on the blocks for his new game and get a quick look at it for next Monday when we start off with Operation Barbarossa in 1941. The game is called Holdfast and is popular with those who enjoy block games, the rule book is only eight pages long and an easy read. I believe I will be defending the Motherland from the Nazi beast.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Thunder in the Ozarks

Recently a lad from Spain got in touch with the club on Facebook to say he is moving to the area and would like to pop in when he is settled. I found out he has actually moved to Carnforth just down the road, so I got in touch and offered a game. Julian has played Johnny Reb before so I decided to set up a small scenario from one of my booklets, it would be nice to get back to the Civil War. I set up the battle of Elkhorn Tavern, an early war clash with lots of poor weapons and green troops, a real bunch of amateurs doing their best for the cause on both sides with the fate of Missouri in their hands.

Julian duly turned up and we had a chin wag for a time, his main wargaming thing is L'Art de le Guerre of which I know nothing, he goes to and organises competitions and has done so all over Europe while living in Spain.

As he was sitting next to the Union side of the table he took the Federals and I took the Rebs. At first glance it looks like the Union are heavily outnumbered, which they are and widely dispersed while the Confederates have proper lines of battle and there are a lot more of them and they are bearing down on the slender Union line. The Rebs had loads of artillery at this battle but it was caught in a traffic jam on the Telegraph Road, the only decent thoroughfare in the area, and apart from the batteries deployed the rest took no part in the action so they are not there.

I had to capture the crossroads around Elkhorn Tavern and tentatively advanced my right while urging my left, the Missouri State Guard, to hot foot across the battlefield in a large outflanking movement. Julian withdrew his men skillfully and soon had several guns protecting the Tavern area with his infantry beginning to form a decent line as reserves arrived. This is what caused me to slow down on the right, many of the Federals had rifle muskets while my army struggled with smoothbores so I expected heavy casualties and my right hand brigade was rather small so I treated it with respect.

I did make an attempt to advance on the Tavern but a large regiment failed its morale and headed for the rear, I got them back but they had ruined my plan. Julian was planning to put some pressure on my right so I sent a cavalry regiment that way but they were going to take time to get there. The Guard slowly moved on but the Federal line was beginning to take shape, the terrain was against me and I cursed and urged them on. Eventually I got my line up and my artillery into a position where they could see the enemy through the trees and we traded shots, the Union having the better of the exchanges.

My right hesitates while the Guard move up.
My artillery opens up and my boys get ready to charge on the right.
I had to make a move and charged my right hand brigade in against the Union gun line while one of the regiments was in turn hit by cavalry, the rest of my line I moved up to close range where my smoothbores would be of more use and managed to do this without losing too many men. My boys swept away the Union artillery and held off the cavalry, a spectacular achievement by the small regiments, however there were still Union reinforcements arriving so holding the ground would prove difficult. The crises was almost upon us, yes you guessed it, we had run out of time, I had not factored in the pre battle pleasantries and chat as the game progressed or the fact I was a bit rusty with the rules and Julian more so, oh and missus wanted to get the evening meal on the go, normally I am prepared to starve until the game is over but I slipped up here.

The Union artillery is swept away.

The lines close.
 Julian said he was going to charge his whole line in the next move so we took twenty minutes to work out the charges in a very quick manner to see what might have happened,  well I lost a few Guard regiments so we now both had a hole in our centres. Looking at the debacle I think my guns may have held off their chargers with canister while the very small reserve regiment may have stopped some pursuers, but that was very much speculation. My troops around the Tavern would have had a hard time holding on but would at least have kept the Union reserves busy. There was at least a couple of hours play left in the game unless one side completely lost it but we did not have the time to find out, a real shame. I was happy though the way the scenario played. I had hoped to run a campaign this year based on Pea Ridge, I need four generals but so far can only find one interested who can commit.

I have a big week coming up wargaming wise, I am at Kevin's this afternoon helping him put together a large block game dealing with the Eastern Front in WWII, then X-Wing tomorrow at the club, War and Conquest on Thursday then L'Art de le Guerre on Saturday, it being only fair to play Julian's game as he played mine.

On the Sunday I am off to York and Vapnartak where I have a fairly large shopping list but the items are all fairly small, I also have to pick up some maps from one of Helion's commissioning editors who will be there.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

View From The Window

Last weekend I took a break and headed south to the capital, I stayed with No.1 son and No.2 also came for some manly bonding, to round things off my brother would also be joining us on the Saturday. I travel First Class on the train despite my wife's protestations that I am wasting money, I don't care, it is comfortable, clean and you get a snack and a drink served up, very civilised.

I met Stewart off the train and we stopped for a quick pint before heading to Graham's, he wasn't impressed by the pub and even less impressed when I told him that most of the pubs we would be visiting the next day would be more or less the same. We started off early the next day and hit the first pub, one of London's oldest 'The George' where we struggled to get to the bar, this would be par for the course over the next eight or so hours. We drank in establishments frequented by Pepys and Shakespeare while making our way eventually to Soho and the West End. Do you, like me, think that bar staff should at least smile while they are robbing you? At one point I had had enough zero beer and simply couldn't drink any more, I asked for a single rum and coke in a small glass with two pieces of ice, not the usual large tumbler filled with the polar ice cap then brimming with coke, lemonade or tonic or whatever until it was pointless putting alcohol in it. She forgot the coke and I reminded her, only to be snapped at in an Eastern European accent while she then poured my drink into a large glass and headed for the ice bucket, 'Ho' shouted I, put the small amount of coke in the small glass like I asked! The worst during the evening was the last round of the night which I got, a dishevelled, dirty, unsmiling oik took £30 from me for two gins, one tonic, a pint and a tomato juice, I didn't even get offered Lea and Perrins which was on the bar, I don't think he even looked at me during the whole transaction.

Can anyone explain why a men only night out on the town warranted a discussion on the floor of the Commons and comments from the Prime Minister. I listened in disbelief to the bile coming from women MP's, especially Yvette Cooper who nearly had a seizure as she urged all sorts of condemnation upon mankind. Now, ever since this man hating madness began with Harv I don't believe one man has actually been arrested for anything, and even if one or two have the careers and reputations of many more have been ruined on what is usually hearsay or plain laughable, he touched my hand, he asked me to twirl, his hand brushed my bum etc. And what about the language, appalled, horrified, shocked, really? What about the countless Hen nights in cities up and down the country where drunk, scantily clad women hurl abuse and sexist comments while hanging out the windows of pink cadillacs, I once saw a bunch at an airport downing pints at six in the morning with slogans on their T-shirts which made me blush, and I was in the Navy. I used to worry that homosexuality would be compulsory, but now I fear that I am going to be castrated in the near future. What next.

No.1 son went to his bank to deposit some money, the machine didn't work so he took it to the counter, the teller did not have a money counter which worked so he had to take his money back home. No, I don't get it either.

I see that the Labour Party women only short lists which were brought in to 'balance' the disparity in the parliamentary party are being attacked by male social activists because transgenders are not allowed on a women only list. You couldn't make it up.

...3,000, Labour, 564,000, Liberal .....

So, Transport for London wiped a notice about the battle of Rorke's Drift from a daily history board because one or two people complained about being offended, they had worked themselves up into a lather and decided the notice celebrated colonialism, and here was me thinking it may have celebrated some extremely brave men. I hasten to add that extending the British Empire was probably the last thing on their minds on that day in January, 1879. Now I also have no doubt TFL's action in wiping the board offended far more people than did the innocent notice, so how do they choose which 'victims' to listen to, it would seem the less of you there are the more clout you have.

And just as you thought it couldn't get worse, I was trolling through YouTube for the last few minutes last night before closing and came across, wait for it, a piece on 'Racist and Foreign' trees. I watched spellbound as several people seriously proposed getting rid of trees in California which were racist and foreign to American, including one which was described as plain nasty!

It really isn't a laughing matter.

Friday, 26 January 2018

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1971 21

We left Gan and the bats behind and arrived in Diego Suarez, Madagascar on Sunday 17th January, we were there for two days. Another mechanical breakdown meant the crew had to take turns peeling spuds for the 285 hungry mouths onboard until the peeler was fixed.

French Navy on a run ashore.
  1971 is the year of the Pig, our Chinese laundry crew along with leader Freddy, although that is probably a nom de convenience, celebrated by having their one day off. These guys work every day and make a little extra money by selling underwear, very much what we would now call 'boxer shorts' out of odd pieces of material. They would go ashore if a casino was available, otherwise they lived all their time on the ship.

Madagascar being French we had a trainload of local dignitaries turn up for cocktails, the messdecks of course had a much ruder name for such gatherings, which were all pomp and ceremony while we had to slink off ashore unseen on the aft gangway "Don't look Fiona". I got one run ashore and it was a wild one, I can remember being in a very large bar looking down on the ground floor where there was standing room only while Jack Tars and French Foreign Legionaries danced, laughed and drank with each other. We got friendly with some of them and they invited us back to their barracks to continue the party, however we were turned back at the gate by some stern faced sentries. We refuelled and were off again on the 19th.

Don't look for me, feet up in the Radio Room, or lying out in the mess.
  Another tour on the useless Beira Patrol, two of us this time, HMS Lynx is also in the area and during her six weeks only stopped one tanker, which she had to let go. We of course had competitions to keep the 'Biera Bucket' along with quiz's using the radios with Lynx and our fleet auxiliaries Resource and Tidereach, most of us simply topped up our tans for our return to Blighty.

Beira will take us into February, our 'reward' is a few days in Port Elizabeth South Africa, after that it is plain sailing for home.