Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Thunderbolts take the field

While at FIASCO Ryan and I sorted out a game for last night, he has a large plastic Successor army but it remains largely unpainted so I offered mine for the game. This meant of course that I would bring the Twelfth, it has been about a month since the Legion saw action, maybe a bit longer so it would be nice to get them back on the field of glory.

It was a small game at 2,000 points so we could get a result in the time allotted, Ryan took two pike Phalanxes, a Galatian warband and line cataphracts supported by some Thureophoroi, skirmishers and a bolt shooter, he closed the terrain down a tad with a wood on his left while the other flank had a small hut. I took two Legionary cohorts, one normal and one recruits, well supported by Auxiliary troops, infantry, light infantry, archers and horse archers, I also took a bolt shooter just in case an elephant or two turned up, I also took the Contari, hopefully to keep any cataphracts busy.

The Romans cautiously advance.

I advanced first and climbed the small hill in my centre, I sent the light infantry to worry Ryan's left flank while I set up my archers to shoot at anything approaching the Auxiliary infantry, I sent the cavalry against his right with the intention of swinging around the flank, hopefully giving the Seleucid cavalry something to think about.

The Seleucids attack.
Steady the First!
 It quickly became apparent that the cataphracts were going to be used against my centre, so I held the Contari back, just in case of disaster, I sent the horse archers into the enemy skirmishers, wrong move, I would have been better shooting them to death as the rabble fought them to a standstill. A phalanx now charged into Cohort II, the lads held for a bit but numbers were against them, the cataphracts crashed into Cohort I, the boys held under the gaze of the Legate. Meanwhile the Galatians were suffering horribly from javelins and arrows from the Auxiliaries, so much so that when they did charge in they were quickly beaten, routed and dispersed. The Thureophoroi fled so as not be charged in the flank, they were quickly followed by my light infantry who began whittling them down, this was not war, this was murder.

The first clash.

Cohort I was now charged by the second phalanx, the tide turned and the advantage went to Rome, the Seleucid phalanx which had routed Cohort II was now taken in the flank by the Contari, more Roman troops now bore down on the centre, shortly after Seleucid morale hit the floor, it was all over. A good fight but once again the quality of the Roman support along with the fighting ability of the Legionaries on the hill ensured a Roman victory. The hill was crucial to me and the weight of my missile troops meant the Seleucids had to come forward or die where they stood. It did not help that Ryan had dreadful dice luck for the first part of the battle, it picked up then left him again, the final straw was the cataphracts routing and taking a nearby phalanx with them.

Sunday, 28 October 2018


I got a lift this morning to go to FIASCO in Leeds, Julian had very kindly volunteered his driving services to both me and Ryan, we made good time to Leeds and arrived fifteen minutes early, the doors were already open and it looked busy. There was no entrance fee this year but the Leeds Club asked for donations to several charities instead, a good idea and a generous offer.

The hall is just across the road from the Royal Armouries and between both stood a real Spitfire, it looked at bit small with the surrounding buildings towering over it but I am sure it warmed a lot of hearts on a cold morning. My first impression of the hall was that it was dark, thankfully it was not the yellow haze encountered at Phalanx but nonetheless it was a pain getting a good look at some of the traders not under one of the overhead lights, I found it especially bad in one corner where I gave up looking at tufts which I wanted and simply moved on.

There was a decent turn out of traders, many of the smaller firms had made an effort but there were also a few of the big boys, Warlord, Warbases, 1st Corps etc. I managed to fulfill completely my small list which put me out £112 or thereabouts, a lot of money for what seemed a small bag. My main purchase was Seven Years War artillery from Eagle Figures, I had seen the guns online and noticed they had the best coverage for all the armies, I just wasn't sure of the crew figures. I took along a marked stick as I did not have a Front Rank figure spare to see how they measured up, the samples shown in most cases fit perfectly, if thinner than Front Rank, I did notice that some were slightly smaller than others, however I decided this was not a big deal and if I had to I could put a piece of card underneath the base, I don't think the difference will be noticed much on the field of battle. The actual guns are lovely and I got a pack of 2 British six pounders and two French 4 pounders. The guy running the store was very helpful and talkative, if I didn't want a two gun pack he would also sell them separate, he was very enthusiastic of his ranges.

Helion & Co. had a very glossy and nice collection of books for sale, including many I had drawn the maps for, one of the men running the stall was Andrew Bamford the editor of the Atlas I am working on, I was happy to see him as we had not been properly introduced before. I think he was surprised to see me but we managed a chat on the way forward for the project, a good way to spend half an hour in between him breaking off for sales.

The wargaming side of the show was in the main small demonstration games, these covered all sorts of periods, both historical and hysterical (space age bunnies and giant kids toys). There were a few large wargames the best of which for me was a lovely Italian Wars battle, Ravenna I think. The other games were alright but nothing to write home about, once again I found the demo crowd more than willing to talk but the gamers simply ignored people hovering around their games.

Ravenna, beautiful.
Kallistra medieval game showing off their hex terrain.
Skirmish in Chechnya, looked good but never saw anyone playing it.
WWII 20mm.
They need more lights and the dark walls and ceiling didn't help.
I enjoyed my day out and enjoyed the company of both Julian and Ryan but I would hesitate to go again next year, Vapnartak I think will now become my one and only show.

My haul, the guns, a flock of sheep, some small fields, tufts, wash, white spray, grass and I could not resist the two pillboxes before I left. The guns were £40 for four and the pillboxes £12.50 for two, these were the most expensive items. Not sure about the fields but I wanted some more scatter terrain for my WWII battlefield

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Red Letter Day

Thursday turned out very well for me, I had the afternoon off from the PO and thoroughly enjoyed it, I also decided not to continue drawing maps so I took a quick feather duster over the house so that the boss would not need to do it when she came back, I can do in an hour what takes her three, how efficient is that.

Anyway just before I shut the shop I got an email from Paypal saying my money had been refunded from Wacom for the drawing display I really didn't need, I managed a small jig, it was supposed to take three weeks and they managed it in one, it now sits safely in my bank account. I am still looking at upgrading my old machine but for something more suitable and much cheaper. I also noticed some anomalies in my account, there wasn't as much in the Legendary Map Fortune as I had thought, after some sleuthing it transpired Amazon was hitting my card and not her indoors'. Ching, refund!

I sat and finished off the Late Romans and as I checked my emails and Facebook just before turning in for the night I noticed a post from Aventine, the Companions would be ready to order the next day, my cup it runneth over. So after keeping an hourly eye on Aventine's site on Friday I ordered as soon as I saw them come up, Keith has managed to get them posted out despite getting ready for his hols, great stuff, great firm.

Now, below is a couple of maps from the Atlas, anyone have any thoughts on them, at the moment only myself, the author and the editor look at them, but I thought the more the merrier, so if you feel like commenting go ahead.

 Apart from Bunker Hill which I showed earlier, we haven't touched on any large battles yet but I was wondering what people thought of the overall look?

Off to spend some money at FIASCO tomorrow.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

30 Minutes to Kill

No club last night, I am busy with maps and with the missus away I had to make my own tea, I also have the PO monthly balance today, which the missus usually does so I had preparations for that as well as I don't like to spend one minute in the office more than I have to, I don't get paid overtime. Bolshie, yes, but I have had almost twenty years working with the shower which is Post Office Limited.

Anyway, the Boss is back on Saturday so I am heading off to FIASCO at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, one of my favourite museums unlike the empty, pretentious shed which is the Imperial War Museum North. I digress, I have a small shopping list and hope to pick up some SYW inspiration from some of the traders. I normally only bother with Vapnartak at York but I am treating myself.

I have settled into a nice pace with the Celtae Seniores and might be putting the finishing touches to them over the weekend, where to go after that I wonder, maybe that extra cohort for the Twelfth or back to the SYW, probably the latter, maybe even those Companions from Aventine I still need.

I still want a new drawing tablet but have to wait until my dosh is refunded from Wacom, this is supposed to take three weeks or so which is amazing as they took it almost instantaneously, everything was nice and quick when buying but now things are going as slow as treacle, I expect more headaches before this saga is over.

Right, time to meet and greet Joe or Joanne Public.

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Only the Lonely

The missus is away for a week, left yesterday, once I closed the PO, far too many customers for a Saturday, I managed some map work and then sat down to have a couple of Canadian Club's to spoil myself as I have not had an alcoholic drink for months. I could find nothing on Netflix and settled down to 'Full Metal Jacket' what with going to Vietnam next year and reading Hastings' book, it has not stood the test of time well and looked fairly low budget especially the warfare in Hue, I gave up, I enjoyed the CC's but won't renew the bottle when it is done, which at this rate will be at least another year.

This morning against my normal practice I lay in until 1000 hrs and will continue with this laziness throughout the day with a week facing the public coming up from tomorrow morning. I will finish off a couple of maps and then sit and get on with the Celtae Seniores unit for the Patricians, I want them to stand out a bit from the other Legions as they were the fourth senior Western unit in the army.

I phoned Caliver books on Friday morning to ask what has happened to my pre-order of Black Powder 2, they guy sounded surprised I had not got it, to my surprise it arrived yesterday, so first class mail can deliver next day. He kept telling me to check with my local Post Office, I kept telling him I was the local Post Office! The book is fairly bereft of proper reviews online and I cannot say much about it not having gone through it, what did strike me is it has far too much pointless eye candy, also just under half of the book is taken up with scenarios. It looks well written and the rules do look well laid out with many helpful examples and tables, but as I say, I have not actually read it yet. Am I the only one to find the cover a bit OTT, the War and Conquest cover is the same and it hides a really well laid out and splendid set of rules where the balance between eye candy and rules is far better. Sadly it is just not popular.

I have just finished maps for a second volume on fighting Victorio and his Apaches for Helion "Horses Worn to Shadows", lots of small scale actions for John Wayne and U.S. cavalry lovers, pilgrim.

I now have about half a dozen of the AWI atlas maps done, the first tentative steps of nearly 200. I didn't enjoy the Indian maps but I am enjoying these.

Oh, and I gave up with Iggulden's book, he has taken Brutus from his well to do Patrician family and invented a complete fantasy that makes him the son of a whore taken in by Caesar's family and magically makes him fifteen years older than he really was, therefore Caesar's best pal. He also kept harking on about the Empire while the story is set in the Republic and his largest sin for me was he thinks a contubernium is ten men and not eight. A real shame as he writes well, but I cannot suspend my knowledge so easily. So I picked up Vietnam and knew before I had finished the foreword I am in for a treat.

Right, more time to waste.

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Giddy Up

Rob was back at the club as was long time member Andy who has had his hours changed so is back in the fold, both have enormous collections of wee sojers and as both now have the new Black Powder book they chose one of the new scenarios (I think this is right). The game was to be almost completely a cavalry engagement, two French infantry battalions with a gun were making their way along a road pursued by Austrian and Russian cavalry (it was 1813), French cavalry were on their way to save them. I am still waiting for my copy of BP2 but Andy picked one up for only £24 at a bookshop in a remote Yorkshire village!

I decided to be French and to my joy was given a brigade of Guard cavalry with another, average, brigade as back-up, Andy took the foot soldiers and Ian another two brigades of cavalry, at the opposite end of the table large numbers of enemy cavalry bore down on the tired French infantry trudging along the road.


The French infantry went into square immediately while we pushed the cavalry forward as fast as we could, the enemy, although in overwhelming strength, shied away from the squares but it slowed the foot down to a crawl, safety seemed a long way away. At first it seemed that not a lot was happening, I saw an opportunity and threw a Guard squadron into some Russians only to have them fail spectacularly and take the wind from my sails as they dispersed, damn palace toadies. Soon after this my men blundered again and moved where I did not want them to go and opened themselves up to some charges, I managed to survive that round somehow.

Russian cavalry.
My Guard.

Now I was close enough to see the whites of their eyes and I ordered everyone who could to engage. The next two or three turns were a whirl of charges and countercharges on both sides of the road, the poor infantry were islands in a sea of horseflesh. The Guard time and again smashed their Russian opponents who managed to just get enough of a morale score to withdraw rather than disperse, the opposite was happening over on my left, there it was the French cavalry which were being beaten and chased away rather than withdrawing in good order. As night fell the Russians managed one last, desperate charge against my exhausted troopers who had nothing left to give as they were ridden down by the fresh reserves.

What started out looking like a bit of a slow game turned into one of intense fighting and excitement right to the end. I also noticed we were all taking more interest in the rules this time rather than simply moving troops around and letting Rob do all the work, I know I was as I plan to try BP2 with my SYW armies. I did hear Rob and Andy say that there were not a lot of changes in the new edition but there is an index, not a great index, but better than nothing, more than that I cannot say, but I did enjoy the game.

I may not have got BP2 yet but I have several other books waiting in the queue just now, I have started reading Conn Iggulden's series on Julius Caesar having given up on my last foray into Roman fiction, this book is very readable but Julius is only a boy at the moment and I long for some battles, but I will continue with the series in between other books, besides they have been out for ages and I can pick them up for a song on Amazon.

I have drawn a lot of maps centered around Ypres and it has been years since I read anything on the battles in that area, I asked Helion Ypres and WWI expert Michael LoCicero what he would recommend, so I have Nick Lloyd's new history of Third Ypres standing by. While browsing I saw that Max Hastings' new book on the Vietnam War is out, I have been eagerly awaiting this tome and immediately ordered it up and it arrived within 48hrs, great stuff, it has jumped to the front of the queue. If you have not yet watched Ken Burns' documentary on the Vietnam War, I urge you to do so right away, I think it is now available on Netflix.

I took the car for servicing last Monday, four hours of my life I will not get back, only to have a stone chip the windscreen, the repair guy turned up today, with the wrong screen, but told me no matter as I would have to take it to a depot anyway (an hour away) as the screen has camera's in it and they will need to be calibrated with the new screen (two hour job). Lucky white heather anyone?

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Bob the Builder II

As usual having no patience I have bulldozed my way through my latest mini project (finalising my WWII buildings) and then some, I got the barns, Boulangerie and the new church which I have now completed, all are based and ready to be fought over. I am thinking of picking up a cheap toy at FIASCO in a few weeks and putting a wrecked vehicle in the grounds of the church, I think it needs something. I also think it looks a lot better now that it is painted, the OTT impression has been softened.

I also decided to revisit some of my other buildings, put them on better bases and add some scatter terrain, one in particularly has always bothered me. I put it on an overly large base and placed the wall in a way that would get me shot by the owner or a real builder, there was no rhyme or reason to where the gates etc. were. That base is now in the bin and the building looks a lot better, I can also now add whatever surround I want be it hedge, fence or wall. So that is it for my Normandy terrain, apart from some fencing and some fields which there is no hurry to pick up. I still have some vehicles and maybe some odd troops to add but as I said, no hurry there.

I am now going to get the new Legion started, hopefully cleaned and primed today and on the tray by tomorrow. I have actually retired the real tray apart from using it for priming, it has so many layers of paint on it it could stop a bullet, I use my study desktop now.

New map project starting today as well, a dreadful 20 odd maps which I am not looking forward to, it involves mainly desert and hills but the way it has been sent to me is quite off putting, something to do with Apaches.

Right, quite chuffed with my output on the buildings, now I only need to persuade someone to come and fight over them here at Casa Anderson.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Bob the Builder

I put the finishing touches to the Boulangerie last night on my return from an exciting afternoons shopping in Manchester, of course it is not a Boulangerie now but a Bargain Booze or the 1940's French equivalent.

I wasn't sure about adding the backyard, but decided to in the end, the top of the walls are plain so I added some slates from a piece of card I had lying around, a simple but effective trick. Friend Matt over at The Wargames Table sent me a couple of A4 sheets with all sorts of relevant signs for Normandy in 1944 so I used some of these to dress up the shop de vin. When Matt was last up I was quite taken by his little road signs and these were on the sheets so I cut a few of them out and based them up for 'atmosphere', I think they look good. I don't normally dress up the insides of my buildings but in hindsight I think I should at least spray them grey or some such, I still need the sheet 'glass' for the building but it is good to go, I am going to revisit some of my other buildings and give them a second look.


I wanted a church to finish my collection and as I mentioned before I got the Dark Ops Village Church that I had seen on Andy Duffel's blog, Tiny Hordes, I finished building it this morning. The first thing I noticed is that is is bigger than it looks, I was looking for something with a slightly smaller footprint but it fits well with my other buildings. There are no build instructions but the website links you to a video by some guy called Luke, he has those big holes in his ears, tattoo's and says 'guys' every ten words or so, despite this he was a big help. I don't have a lot of patience with MDF builds, I just scoot on as fast as I can and this normally works for me, I don't ever need elastic bands or clips of any kind, holding a particularly awkward piece for a few seconds usually suffices.

I went along with Luke on the build, but be careful if you get this building and watch Luke, it is best to put the door surround into the main church from the tower and the door frame with the hinges on it on their respective tower sides before gluing the tower together and putting it on the base. I also wondered why some of the roof panels had notches in them, but Luke doesn't mention this until the end of the video when it is too late to take them off and put them back on correctly, watch the video first. For some strange reason he also tells you when putting on the corner stones not to glue them flush with each other but only flush with the walls, this leaves a gap which doesn't make sense as these are the same stones you would see from both sides i.e. no gap. I see Andy cottoned on to this as well.

I also think the church is a bit over ornate for a village church, but at the end of the day for £28 it is a good bargain, a solid building and we will see how it paints up. Using my slap dash method I did make a slight mistake with the roof and one with the inner panels, you won't see the inside and I think I'll get away with the roof once painted and weathered.

My missus actually said if I can build houses why can't I build something for her? Women!

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Victory and Humbled all in one go

Yes the nights are fair drawing in and they take an effort to march out in, nonetheless having heard nothing from Rob (he is alive and well) Simon and I went for War and Conquest, a small 2,000 point game.

Simon likes Romans so I took the Seleucids, I managed a fair little army although I was missing flank supports but I made up for this with light troops, I had an idea Simon would go for a core of heavy infantry. He did indeed go for heavy infantry, three cohorts backed up by cataphracts, artillery and horse archers. I had two pikes and one mercenary hoplite supported by my cataphracts, an elephant and skirmishers.

As usual I kept Nelly out of the way for the first few moves while shooting up the horse archers and advancing my pikes. I very quickly overwhelmed the Roman left and then did the same to the right, this left two cohorts on their own and Simon handed over his sword. Simon doesn't play WAC very often and Ancient armies take time to learn unlike the Dark Age rabble, the Romans were a bit top heavy and could have done with a better mix of troops, especially Auxiliary infantry, but there you go. What about the new Seleucid dice I hear you say, yes, they were splendid, no worries there, also it helped that Simon did not have last weeks luck with him. I am now determined to swap out the Saxon dice.
The opening moves.
My pikes charge in.

Work on the Boulangerie goes slowly, the main building is finished, I did want to put some 'glass' windows in it but as usual had put some plastic aside but now cannot find it, I will keep my eyes open. I am working on the back yard at the moment and when that is complete I will base the building and flock it.

I have been working on the first map of the upcoming AWI atlas over the past few nights, it is about 95% complete, only 117 to go.

I ordered up a new drawing display a few days ago having had a hankering for a new shiny toy for the past year, I leapt in with two feet as usual. I received said machine yesterday and could not wait until the weekend to try it out. I spent three hours or more putting it all together, power, monitors, settings etc. only to find that sadly it is not for me. My drawings at the moment are mainly 'technical' while the machine is really for graphic artists, I am not one of those therefore it quickly became apparent that my workload would slow right down using it. So I have had to bite the bullet and send it back. It came with all sorts of cables and extras in the box, USB-C, mini display, power, USB to god knows what, it did not come however with the HDMI cable which is essential to get something on the damn screen (I had one in a drawer)! Oh, and you can imagine the wife's response to all this, I'll be lucky to get a cracker at Christmas.