Wednesday, 28 February 2018

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1971 22 - The End and another beginning.

After our second stint on the useless Beira patrol we stopped in at Port Elizabeth, South Africa for our last jolly before making our way home. Port Elizabeth was quite subdued after Singapore and all stations East, I still remember walking down the main drag in brilliant sunshine and pints of Castle beer in several pubs. The city closed down the night I got ashore as the Trogs were playing at a local venue, hosted by Roy Castle, now the Trogs by that time had pretty much had their day in the UK, but here they were a big thing, we managed to get in to the venue but left again pretty quick to wander the empty streets and eventually make our way back to the ship, almost sober for a change. Plum and I put our names down for a trip to an elephant park with a local family, needless to say we didn't see any elephants despite claims they were "there! there!" all I saw was foliage moving, to cap it all they dropped us back at the ship right after, no party, no daughters, but kind all the same. Refuel at Freetown, Sierra Leone and another few hectic days in Gib and we headed for Blighty.

We got to Plymouth and anchored off for HM Customs to pay us a visit before we could get ashore and head off on leave, we had to fill in forms as to what we had bought and where then line up for judgement, some got off lightly while others paid over a small fortune, no one asked me about my Omega watch so I was happy enough. Eventually we got alongside and I had my 'rabbits' packed ready to distribute on getting home, a painting from Mombasa, some wooden animals, a salt and pepper set from St. Helena (which I got back when my Gran died), some incense burners from Pakistan and that was about it, something for Mum and Dad and my two Grans. I had my watch and my Sanyo cassette player.

During our time away we had visited fourteen different countries, we had missed out on Australia but I doubt it would have been better than Singapore. Our helicopter flew 18,000 miles, we watched three and a half million feet of film, smoked one and a half million cigarettes and consumed quarter of million cans of beer (that's just the stuff onboard). We were away for 324 days and sailed 51,000 miles.

In April 1971 after we had all enjoyed a few weeks leave we set sail for the West Indies where we were to be the guardship for six months, a long, beautiful summer which was another great adventure for me.

A balmy day in Hamilton, Bermuda.

The tally for the full commission was 75,740 miles using 12,000 tons of diesel costing £108,000 in old days money. We fired 1,980 4.5" shells and 4,000 40mm rounds from the Bofors while the anti-submarine mortar shot 60 times. Our full tally of countries visited was 30.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Stuff and Nonesense

Well the new PC is in and so far seems fine, I have had a little bother getting it the way I want it and a couple of run ins with both Adobe and Microsoft, which have not helped but I refuse to lose anymore time on farting around as I am too busy, so I will have to live with the niggles until I explode and investigate further.

No one is mentioning the epic BBC series 'Troy: Fall of a City' so I presume it is a bummer, hyped to the ends of the earth, just like SS-GB but failing to scratch the itch. I have enjoyed the story of Troy since I was a child and every time I read the book I scream out 'leave the horse outside' but no one takes any notice, my Troy is not the Dendra armour wearing bronze warriors of history but the typical heroic Greek warriors with muscled cuirass, hoplon shields and cool helmets with long crests. So to that end I am not bothered that the actors do not conform to what people wore in 1200BC and flounce about in pieces of leather, but I do want to enjoy watching the story this time rather than read it. I cannot however give any comments on the programme as I have not brought myself to actually watch it yet, have I already condemned it or am I happy with the Troy in my head.

I have just completed binge watching 'Ozark', on Netflix, a gem of a programme I flipped past countless times as it just didn't appeal, however, stuck with nothing to make a noise in the background as I painted yet another phalanx I tried it out. It is superb, it is not very often a programme has me gasping or shaking my head in disbelief as the plot turns on a sixpence but this worked for me. Don't miss it.

I also went back to McMafia from the Beeb but as the credits rolled on the last episode I was just a tad relieved, I then went for 'Collateral' a Party Political Broadcast for the Liberal Left disguised as a police drama. Everyone in charge is female, immigrants good, Establishment bad etc. I also tried 'Julius Caesar' with Mary Beard, complete with crazy hair, yellow raincoat (not raining) and brand new rainbow trainers, but god awful history. What am I actually paying my licence for?

Anyway the good news is that my mate Kevin has given our club about a dozen boardgames, free gratis, I may have mentioned this, they are in the car and being delivered tonight. He also very kindly gave me an updated copy of 'Duel in the Dark' which is a game about the bomber offensive against Germany in WWII, it also came with nine supplements and he also threw in a spin off called 'Baby Blitz' the bombing of Britain later in the war.

This morning I ordered up some mercenary peltasts and my main general for the Seleucids, this gives me quite a large army to play with now, so still to go are the Companion cavalry and some cataphracts, I am swithering on whether to add a bunch of Thracian peltasts, with the addition of these troops I am done. Apart that is from painting up some of the spare figures to enable the phalanxes to increase in size along with the supports.

For the rest of the year I have no big plans, a rebasing of all my skirmish figures on to 25mm bases as opposed to the 20mm bases, this way the sit on hills etc. much better. Then it is on to some terrain pieces and enhancing some of the buildings I already have, both WWII and Dead Man's Hand. In three weeks I am off to Bristol for a weekend, weather permitting, of War and Conquest hosted by Rob Broom, I am taking two Roman armies, Legio XII and the Patricians, really looking forward to this if not the driving.

Friday, 23 February 2018

The Hill

We didn't get to fight a boardgame this week as I had to concentrate on some map projects which were priority but we did manage a Bolt Action game yesterday to have a break from our sword and sandal epics.

I have been busy so I dug out a Bolt Action scenario book I have (D-Day to Berlin) but have never used and decided to play Hold the Hill, loosely based on some Polish troops holding a hill would you believe. I also decided not to fill the table with buildings and roads, so I put down a rural battlefield with one ruined house, the hill and lots of hedgerows, not bocage. Both sides had four squads, some support weapons and two tanks along with a vehicle for the commanders. Each player got points for destroying an enemy unit and having troops on the hill at the end of turn six.


Kevin took the Germans and my 'Poles' were hit by a preparatory bombardment at the beginning, this caused a lot of pins, a few kills and destroyed my command vehicle, a bren gun carrier. The Germans then came on quite aggressively and aimed straight at the hill, one squad tried to manoeuvre against my left flank. I simply held the line and kept my tanks back for the first few moves while I sent my reserve squad towards the outflankers. Kevin continued to push forward with his StuG and PzIV, obviously with the idea to sending them against my tanks which were at opposite ends of the line, I did warn him a PIAT team were in the area but the he was sure it was no threat having read it was pretty useless.

I threw the PIAT team forward for a shot at close range into the PzIV's side armour, bang, a hit, sadly the monster did not blow up, it merely ground to a halt throwing a track, which now effectively gave the Germans a pillbox on the hill. The PIAT team were immediately picked on and killed, so they had no chance to finish the tank off. I was now thinking of bringing my Cromwell over to hit it in the flank. I kept my Sherman back to help my reserve squad stop Kevin's flanking move but they got the drop on me and sent them packing, the Sherman was shooting at them and a squad to the front, I was also wary of not being flanked by the StuG. The StuG however roared over the hasty defences on the hill and into my rear area where it took out my mortar, which had not been of any use throughout the battle due to my bad positioning of both it and the observer. As the end approached I tried a couple of shots at the StuG with the Cromwell which all bounced off as did a return shot from the assault gun. My Sherman I now brought on to the hill and loosed a shot at the rear of the PzIV, missed! This gave Kevin's outflankers an opportunity to fire a panzerfaust at the Sherman, sure enough it hit the rear and started a fire, down but not out thankfully.

We counted the scores on the doors and I scrapped through with three points ahead, much closer than the beginning of the game promised. One thing which gave me an advantage was that Kevin threw 'Fubar' (two sixes) three times, twice this caused squads to run to the rear but the third time it resulted in his own command unit being decimated by friendly fire from the immobilised Panzer!  This turned out to be a very good game, exciting and hard fought.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

I Feel The Pain

Back to War and Conquest last night and once again a run out for the Seleucids, this time they were up against Legio XII under the command of Simon, we went for 2,200 points this time but it proved a mistake, more later.

I managed an average Seleucid force with three phalanxes, Thureophoroi, Thorakitai, javelins, slings and Cretan archers plus the elephant, no cavalry at all this time, I couldn't spare the points to be honest. Simon sent his list to me so that I didn't have to lug too many boxes, it surprised me as it consisted of four cohorts, some skirmishers and two bolt shooters, and only seven horse archers no versatility there, my hopes rose as I realised my flanks were more than likely going to be pretty safe.

We used a little format I have for choosing terrain and I put one wood down to upset the line of sight of the Scorpions and Simon helped by putting another down, I could keep Nellie out of the way until I needed her. I put a phalanx with support on my right with the intention of tackling the cohort opposite while my Thorakitai would take out the bolt shooter on the hill, my lacklustre slingers would shield and help where they could. I also planned to attack in the centre with the remaining two phalanxes which left the elephant and  Thureophoroi to tackle the last cohort which I hoped to hit in the flank. Simon had chosen three raw cohorts but with the Centurion upgrade and a Tribune leading each their morale was going to be tough to break.


I set out to destroy the enemy skirmishers and had fair success at this if not overwhelming, my Javelins beat the slingers and my archers took down the horse archers, they also started shooting at the bolt shooter to their front and made it move. I now had to withdraw my skirmishers while the two phalanxes went into the attack. On the right I destroyed the bolt shooter on the hill and got ready to hit the cohort engaged with my phalanx in the flank, I had to run my skirmishers up against Simon's here otherwise they might have shot down the Thorakitai to the point where they would have had to test and may have run. On the left the elephant crashed into the cohort to its front while the Thureophoroi got ready to charge in support.

The whole line was now in combat and I was on the receiving end of the legionaries, at first I was winning three of the four combats, but then Cohors I turned the tables and started to knock one of the phalanxes back, the melees were taking a long while as the struggle ebbed too and fro, the Roman command, despite losing a couple of Centurions, kept their men at the front. As we approached the witching hour Simon was prepared to give me the game, at that point I was winning two fights while on the right I was just about to flank that cohort which should have put an end to their struggle, but unless you actually fight who knows. One of my phalanxes in the centre was being beaten and I think it would eventually have gone.

What with chatting and setting up we lost about an hour before we started and this, along with the extra points almost ensured we would not finish the game as it is now obvious that my Romans do not simply break and they have to be cut down to almost the last man. My dice luck wasn't bad but it wasn't brilliant either, Simon's seemed to pick up in the latter half of the game but he still had his moments, several times in combat we both failed to inflict casualties or only one. Simon's four cohorts held out a lot longer than I had thought, however there was not a lot of time to properly destroy the flanks before sending in my centre which is what I would have preferred.

I got the elephant rules wrong, again, I only struck the enemy with three strikes when it should have been five, I better buck up as the Postie has just brought my second elephant. I also have to take care and avoid the long pikes, I hit them several times leaning across the table. Bolt Action next week against Julian's Italians or DAK, not sure which, but it will be nice to command the British for a change.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Thunderbolts redeem themselves, just.

I was in two minds to once again bring out the Seleucids but decided against it as I felt the Twelfth needed the chance to gain revenge on the Carthaginians and I really want to get the Seleucids up to 3,000 points for home games. This time however the full force of the the Legion would be on display, Kevin is now past the beginner stage and that, along with the natural toughness of the Carthaginians means I have no qualms calling on all my resources.

To this end I brought four green cohorts and one Auxiliary cohort supported by archers and the Lanciarii, I weighed the cavalry arm with cataphracts, Contarii and horse archers, these were to be my strike force. Kevin brought his usual line up of African spearmen, a small Italian contingent and his huge Gaul warband, supported by javelins, archers and several cavalry units, all inferior to my own in weight. I believe he is going to paint up more of the allies but everything takes time, he also has a Pyrrhic army in his sights.

I deployed with a rather weak right which I intended to retire if need be, a solid centre of legionaries and all my heavy cavalry on my left as the ground there was more open. The enemy had a strong left and centre but the right was very weak and open, it looked like I would have to follow my plan as things looked decidedly dodgy on my right.

Rome on the left, Carthage on the right.

Kevin immediately saw the danger and turned several large spear units towards his right while removing his cavalry on that flank from my advancing heavies, the advance of his centre was soon in trouble as the Lanciarii and the cataphracts turned in to threaten his phalanx. On his left he again advanced quickly but left his Italians in the rear as a reserve, although my archers ran from a cavalry charge they were in turn destroyed by my massed archers, they then sent the javelins packing. It now looked like I could hold the right, I was sure my Auxiliaries would stop the warband long enough for the Praetorians to flank them, things were looking very good for the Thunderbolts, all was going to plan.

Kevin's archers on my left became a real pain, they fled but returned, so I had to keep my horse archers out of the battle to counter this, as they had been reduced in numbers it also meant I had to send the Lanciarii to help. Sure enough in the first clash Cohors I and the cataphracts destroyed one phalanx, the cohort then went on to hit another, this time the Contarii charged in, I was looking for another swift kill, but it didn't happen, it was a tough struggle although I eventually won, very displeased with the Contarii who, over several rounds only killed one man I think. No big deal but the Legion seemed at this point to give up trying as I had been heaping praise on them, but although the writing was on the wall the Carthaginians were not giving up easy.

Carthaginian centre begins to crumble.

On my right the Gauls turned the tables on the Auxiliaries who had been beating them, the Praetorians were prevented from joining the fight as they had to take care of some enemy cavalry. This gave the Gauls the time to defeat and pursue the Auxiliaries, Kevin now advanced his Italians and the Praetorians found themselves staring at flank attacks, they failed one charge due to the rough ground, I got the chance to send them in again and this time they made it, however they had to beat the Italians pronto to prevent the Gauls hitting them in the rear, they did not, I had lost the right flank.

Roman right in trouble.

In the centre however Cohors II and the archers were within a move of finishing off yet another fearsome fighting phalanx who stood magnificently despite being flanked, the rest of the army were about to overwhelm the last Carthaginian unit in the centre when we called it a day. I was more than pleased with the way I handled the army, my luck certainly seemed to drain away in the second half of the game though but we eventually won through after some very heavy fighting. Despite being hit in the flanks those phalanxes put up a desperate defence.

It's all over.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

East and West

A little pressed for time this week, several new map projects and another on Kursk, 1943, this will be the third and it has suddenly dawned on me it is the 75th Anniversary, hence the interest, a couple of the books are from Russian authors and one German, also one of the former may prove to be a tad controversial. No matter I am enjoying drawing these as they are mainly in colour which is no harder than black and white but somehow more rewarding.

Last week my main PC went down again, stop, start stop etc. I have had enough and ordered up a new one as I cannot trust this 'Friday afternoon' job, nothing but trouble since the day I got it, this has hit the Anderson mapping fortune hard what with the new chair, so I am entering a self imposed austerity campaign for the rest of the year. The new PC has just arrived, so a busy afternoon ahead for me.

A few days ago Kevin and I settled down to our second game of Holdfast:Eastern Front, I was the Germans this time. I cocked up the movement for the first two turns but soon got into my stride as we thundered into the Ukraine. As the campaign progressed I decided to head for Leningrad then turn south on Moscow, the winter of 1941 was a tough one on me and I could barely move my forces while the Luftwaffe closed for the winter. With the coming of Spring Army Group North plunged ahead while AG Centre wore down the Russian defences in defending the route to Moscow. By the end of the summer I had Leningrad surrounded and AG Centre could see the spires in the Red capital. However I could not shift the defenders of Leningrad in order to release two Panzer armies to reinforce the push on Moscow, Winter hit and it was obvious I was not going to take two major cities in order to win the campaign. I had made about four or five attacks on Leningrad and got nowhere, with the game over I tossed a pile of dice in disgust at my luck and if we had still been playing the city would have fallen! The winter of 41/42 had delayed me so much along with my stupidity during the first two moves that the Russians managed to get some tough defenders in the city, Kevin will be returning as the German commander in the next game.

Muskets and Tomahawks at the club last night, it was the climactic game in a series of three which began with the ambush of the British forces last year. This time we had a line of British irregular troops trying to stop Indian warbands from making off with their prisoners and booty, once again we each had a unit on either side and to stop any smart moves it was bad news if you met your opposite numbers in battle. I had a bunch of Scots led by the fearless Lt. Fraser Cameron (an ancestor of the brave Lord George Black VC, see Vapnartak report). Cameron advanced and fired on any passing warbands usually causing them to retire back into the forest, during one of these firefights he managed to rescue a young farmer from the savages. My Indians were very aggressive and caused one bunch of Rangers to recoil, this left a gap in the British line and they headed for it, Julian saw this and cunningly moved his men from across the battlefield to foil my plan. I managed to kill some of his men but they wouldn't budge, Ian now brought his Indians into play and I hid mine behind them, Ian moved the Rangers and I followed him across the river, first success for me.

If you got a group off the table you were given another, my second group sprinted down the left hand table edge pursued relentlessly by a bunch of white eyes commanded by Stuart, he would not give up and charged in hoping to destroy my warriors, but it was Stuart who lost and his men ran far enough away to enable me to get my second group of warriors off the table. Lt. Cameron meanwhile had pursued and caught the Indian chief, and although a fine warrior Cameron was deadlier and the brave man fell to a claymore swipe. The chief had been hauling a white woman along who surprised Cameron by lunging at him with a dagger, she was disarmed and set loose again in the forest, the Jocks now took it easy, sauntered back to the road and 'rescued' a wagon of corn and escorted it from the battlefield.

Roger's cosy little camp.

The 'lady' ran and was scooped up by a nearby unit of Rangers, here she joined another rescued damsel and was made a great fuss of by Roger's troops, who now hunkered down, set a fire, prepared a meal and sang a sonnet to the women, all of which gleaned him points from Rob the umpire. My squeals of indignation went unheard. As night fell we counted coup, both Roger and I had 30 points each, a toss of the die came down on my side and I was declared the winner, I don't think anyone lost as the game was great fun. I still feel that I should get troops for this.

Elsewhere we had a boardgame (Julius Ceasar), a Dark Age Saga game, and a Bloodbowl league game, eight of us played Muskets and Tomahawks.

In between everything else I have been getting up early and bedding down late to finish the next unit for the Seleucids, the Galatians. I wasn't too keen on the figures when I got them and was about to waste another £24 at Vapnartak getting Foundry Gauls to mix in, then thought better of it, I am glad I did as the unit has turned out fine, especially with the Little Big Men Transfers which are a delight for these troops. I now have a scythed chariot half done and my last phalanx primed and ready to go. I must slow down though, there is no need to hurry with these troops.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Bloody Cavalry!

The big day arrived and I led my Seleucids out this afternoon against Kevin's Carthaginians, boy did they look good, but could they fight.

As I said before I did not have my comfortable core of infantry but hoped my phalanx numbers in melee would make up for it, I took elite Cretan archers and experienced Skythian archers along with some Elephant Escorts for supports along with the elephant and a unit of Thorakitai. Looking across at the Carthaginian hordes I felt a little unsettled, there were a line of African spearmen, Italian spearmen, Numidian light cavalry, archers, javelinmen and two more units of heavier cavalry. Kevin felt confident enough to warn that my right flank looked weak, he was right but I didn't confirm it.

Carthaginians left, Seleucids right.


My plan was to win on the left, using the superior firepower of the Skythians to help this, hold in the centre and see what happens on the right, the Thorakitai were there to watch the right flank of the phalanx while I hoped the elephant would look after the left along with the cavalry. Things started out very well, on my right I used the javelins and Cretans aggressively and chased the Numidians away and destroyed the enemy javelins, on the left I shot a small unit of cavalry to death and moved on the second unit with my Macedonian heavy cavalry. I organised my left flank attack well, the cavalry countercharged the enemy and the elephant caused them to take morale checks ever turn, it was now that once again my cavalry could not beat inferior horsemen, when will they ever. I had to get the elephant into a position to flank charge and help my useless troopers, but Kevin won the initiative and charged the elephant, things were going awry, he also managed to charge two of my phalanxes. The elephant took casualties and went amok, running away from both armies in panic, never to be seen again. Over on the extreme right the Numidians came back and chased off my javelins who refused to come back, the Cretan archers pulled back only to be later picked on by the enemy archers and the light cavalry and disperse.

My left crumbles.

My phalanxes were having a real struggle against the large spear units and after a time the first one broke, my left flank now did not exist apart from the Skythians trying to dodge all the enemy units in my rear, it looked like it was all over. At this low point my right hand phalanx beat and dispersed its foes and smashed into the Italian spearmen and broke them as well, the Thorakitai also managed to chase away the enemy archers. In a titanic struggle in the centre of the battlefield my second phalanx first held then turned the tide on some African spearmen, but sadly the spearmen simply would not break, this stalwart effort on their part allowed my poor troops to get hit in the rear and disperse, this seemed particularly unfair after their brave efforts for most of the battle.

My right rescues my honour.
 As we neared the end of turn eight, a long battle for WAC, I had come back into the game from staring defeat in the face due to the efforts of my purple phalanx on the right, I could make the draw more convincing if I dispersed the last of the Carthaginian cavalry units which was teetering on the brink. I took a last shot with the Skythians who obviously decided not to bother as the game was over because they were one casualty short of my aim as the arrows fell.

The game was a tough battle for the Seleucids and once again Kevin played well admitting he now knew my tactics and was trying to put me on the back foot, his new tactics certainly seem to be having an effect. Of course I am going to moan, it is part of the enjoyment, why can my cavalry not win a fight, every time they end up being ground down until they are almost useless as the battle progresses or they simply get beat. And all this while I take care to put them into fights where their numbers or/and equipment should ensure a win. My use of the elite shooters worked at times and at others they let me down, so overall I think I will use these again, the Feigned Flight ability of the Skythians was a real boon in keeping them in the fight. The Carthaginian morale was splendid throughout this battle and saved them on several occasions, especially the cavalry from the elephant fear and that damn spear unit which must have been planted in front of my phalanx it simply would not run. This is going to be an interesting army to use, far different from the others and out of my comfort zone.

So another excellent game, Kevin is now looking at adding a Pyrrhic army to his collection, I shall look forward to that and he has threatened me with four elephants in the future with his Carthaginians. There are not as many photographs as usual because the game was so intense I forgot. And those sharp eyed among you will have noticed my Elephant Escorts were nowhere near the elephant!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

S-Day Tomorrow

I have managed to get the Seleucid Army to the point where I can get it on to the field of battle, about a month ahead of my schedule. I still have a lot of troops to add, another phalanx, Companions, cataphracts, Thracians, chariots, one more elephant along with elephant escorts and the Galatian warband (another week will see these chaps ready). After this I have some odd phalangites to paint up in order to increase the number of men in the phalanxes if required for larger games, and perhaps experience on the battlefield may require my flank troops, Thorakiti, Theurophori etc. to need upping to twenty men from sixteen, time will tell. Oh, and I have yet to get my army general.

Anyway I have decided to fight with them tomorrow, this army is quite unlike all my other armies in that it has a smaller number of large infantry formations as a core and a lot more ancillary troops, the correct use of these is important as their job is to keep the enemy at bay while the phalanx wins the day. I feel these troops are a bit on the light side at the moment although some are very well armed with javelins, thrusting spears and shields, more than a match for enemy light troops in the right circumstances. The army of course is allowed elephants, something I have never used before and which I have beaten or neutralised on nearly every occasion I have fought them, which may not bode well for my elephant.

I shall be fighting Kevin's victorious Carthaginians, flush from last weeks victory over the Twelfth, the boys wanted revenge but they will have to wait. This battle should be interesting, Kevin will be on the wrong side of a phalanx for the first time and I shall have to be on my game to win.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Barbarossa Fails

This afternoon we played Holdfast: Eastern Front at Kevin's, we played the first scenario which meant the Germans had to capture two of the following cities; Moscow, Leningrad or Stalingrad. I took the Russians and Kevin the Germans.

To capture two of these cities the Germans have to burst through the Soviet defences fairly quickly and open out into the rear areas while the Russian player has to try and maintain some kind of front rather than simply be a speed bump. Kevin burst across the border and concentrated on trying to grab Leningrad with Army Group North, I lost several armies in the border battles but could reconstitute them and bring them back as replacements, albeit with diminished capabilities. The German centre and southern groups made only tentative probes against me, while I threw my replacements and reinforcements in the path of AG North, the railway rule was a great help with these movements.

Kevin saw a chance and took it, 4th Panzer Army raced ahead for Leningrad only to have weak but effective Soviet armies cut it off from its supply lines, Stalingrad had come early to this war, I was sure I could hear the screams from the Wolfschanze in East Prussia. At the same time General Winter closed in and the Germans found it very difficult to coordinate their advances while the weather halted the Luftwaffe. Needless to say this was a boon to the defenders.

As the northern attack became bogged down AG South and AG Centre began their operations, the former taking a long time to capture Odessa while the latter was slowed by the Pripet Marshes. I managed a small counterattack in the south which also helped slow down AG South. As the summer of 1942 passed, new, full strength Russian armies began to appear and were used to strengthen the line. With the onset of Winter again about to hit the combatants it became clear the Germans could not succeed in their mission, Uncle Joe gave a sigh of relief.

We got a lot of things wrong during the game but it did come across as quite exciting and although relatively simple, or so we were told, it was again very clever in its mechanics, I especially liked the weather and the way it affected both sides differently. This would be a very good game for a club night, I was impressed and look forward to taking the Germans next week.

I have completed another unit for the Seleucids, this time they are Thureophoroi, a nice light but well armed unit which can operate on the flanks of the army and hopefully protect the phalanx, and if required take the fight to the enemy. I am now working on my Galatian warband, I think these will look good, the shield transfers are especially lovely.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Vapnartak 2018

Up early and off to York for what has become my annual show, I have now dismissed Phalanx at St. Helen's because I don't like seeing everything through a yellow haze. Quite cold but an easy run and this year I took care to park on a gravel patch so that I did not need to be pushed out of a mudhole, many others did need help as the deep mud scars in the field confirmed when we left.

I got in for free again this year being over 60, very pleased with that. I had a small list of small items I needed and I was lucky to get most of them, I made my usual cock up at Warbases, I bought plywood bases without thinking of asking for MDF, I will probably find a use for them when I start to rebase the skirmishers in my other armies but they were no good for the Seleucids, I also asked for two 60x80mm bases for my newly bought sycthed chariots, only to receive two packs of them! I thankfully found this out later and returned one although the young guy seemed put out by my explanation but nevertheless handed back the princely sum of around a quid.

My small bundle of swag.

I got the said chariots from 1st Corps as I had previously asked Michael to bring them, we both agreed that they are probably very frightening on the table but fairly useless if you understand them. I wanted them though to complete my choices for the Seleucids, they should be fun to use.

Within about 45 minutes I had everything I wanted, the place was very busy around 10.45 when we got in and it was a real struggle to get to most of the tables in order to hand my cash over, even moving between the traders was a bit of a crush in parts. I had hoped to get some Black Scorpion figures but they were not there, I am not sure they have been regulars at York, the Dice Shop were regulars but they were not there and I fancied yet another set of dice for the Seleucids, I like one set for each army.

What about wargames I hear you ask, there were about four, large, lovely games set up on the ground floor and you could take part in one of them, nothing seemed to happen on the others and there was no one to talk to. I even found it difficult to identify one as all there was was a piece of A4 pinned to the edge of the table. Up on level three were the participation games, a lot more than usual and most visually appealing albeit it on small tables.

These two fleets were very impressive.
Medieval Sharpe Practice(?)
Battle of Megiddo, WWI
Prestonpans, notice empty chairs.
Part of above.

I had time to kill while Simon scoured the trade stands so I met up with Rob and Stuart who were putting on a game set somewhere in the back of beyond around 1930ish where the British had captured a Russian spy and had to get her (yes, another bloody woman) on to a nearby train and off the end of the table while beset by all sorts, Russians, Mongols, Chinese and mercenaries. I joined the second game of the day as the British player, some others whom I knew all took enemy contingents apart from one young lad who joined in. We had about an hour of great fun, the rules were based on Donnybrook but very much simplified I think to keep the game flowing, they were a huge success as was the story telling and interruptions by the umpire Rob. The hero of the day, even the enemy were cheering him on at the end as well as trying to kill him, was Lord George Black, a daredevil of typical Empire stock. Lord Black boarded the train, ordered it in motion and at one point took over from the driver while shots peppered the cab and dastardly types tried to climb aboard, he dealt with them all while receiving a mere three scratches. The evil Russian spy, Lady Kendal, managed to evade the Jocks holding her and jump from the train, Lord Black immediately set the train on course, leapt from the cab somersaulting to within inches of the dame only to be hurled back at the last minute by an unexpected right hook. The End.

?, Rob, Julian, Stuart, well done.

The spy about to board the train while the driver gets steam up.
The fearless Lord Black disposes of another interloper on the train, while still driving!
 A great game with lovely terrain and beautiful troops, it made my day and I look forward to more adventures featuring Lord Black, sorry, Lord Black VC.