Wednesday, 29 May 2019

First Kill

I had organised Wings of War for this week at the club, I wasn't sure how many would be playing but I have more than enough to let vast numbers play, another in with two feet episode. At the end of the day it was only Andy and myself, I have a number of 1v1 scenarios and chose 'The Rookie'. The idea behind this is that a couple of veterans have taken a new member to the Staffel/Squadron up for a taste of what it is like over the front, they of course have to babysit him and make sure he gets back for ham and eggs or whatever was served up in 1916. I would take the Germans with the green pilot, the flight consisted of two Albatross DIII's and one DVa, the new boy being in a DIII, Hermann Goering would be leading the flight. Being a rookie meant the youngster had not yet mastered the Immelman turn and his shooting was not up to standard but the two aces in attendance should keep him safe. Andy for the RNAS had one regular pilot and two aces flying Sopwith Camels.
No, this way!

The German flight was attacked close to the Front Line by British pilots, I decided that I would keep my flight in a tight formation in order to maximise my firepower and keep the young man safe, this was ruined right at the start as the DVa turned the opposite way from everyone else. No matter, the British had sent one Camel towards me while the other two went on a flanking maneuver so this aircraft started to take hits. As the dogfight continued the British were collecting a lot of damage cards but seemed to be able to shrug them off, an early shot wounded one of my aces but nothing serious happened to the planes.

Rookie gets his man.
Goering dodges burning Camel.

Both sides now jockeyed for position but the British were having the worst of it and found two Camels trailing flames, there were several near misses as pilots got up close and personal. The Rookie was flying very well and got the drop on one Camel pouring fire into him at close range before he managed to break off. In quick succession two British planes fell from the sky leaving only a desperately damaged Camel to fight off the three Germans. Caught in a vicious crossfire the survivor too hurtled to the ground, this victory was shared giving the Rookie 1.5 kills on his first war flight.
The End.
 A great little game and although Andy had some good luck in pulling blank damage cards my experience in the game gave me the edge. We really should play this more often with more planes, it is perfect for a club night. Elsewhere there was some 17C role playing with the Musketeers, a Saga campaign game (I have one next week) and an Age of Sigmar (I think). I have mentioned the painting of these latter figures so here are a couple of photos, not my cup of tea but the brushwork of Ryan and Julian is amazing, my pictures do not do them justice.

I was in Glasgow for the bank holiday weekend and decided to treat myself to a couple of books, I have given up with Tim Clayton's history of espionage against Napoleon, despite being one of my favourite authors I just cannot get into spying, I felt the same about Max Hastings' book a few years ago, I gave up with that as well. I picked up James Holland's new book on Normandy, a special with additional material and signed by the author himself, I have started it and thoroughly enjoying it, the sheer scope of Overlord is mind boggling. The other was a stab in the dark, I have never yet read anything I liked on the American War of Independence, and I have tried but it left me cold. Despite this I have bought the first in a trilogy covering the war and am hoping for good things, it is a hefty tome, I also got it due to my ongoing project of an Atlas for the war. I will confess however I had no idea it was a trilogy when I picked it up, grrrrrrr.

The legendary Anderson fortune has taken a hit recently so I will not be getting anything new, or nothing expensive anyway, for June. I have started on my French cavalry so will take it easy with them during the next few weeks. I have finished the British 10th Dragoons (Morduants) and a new brigadier, I am getting close to having enough troops to fight one of the scenarios in Honours of War. I made a cock up with the officer, for some reason I now have three of this figure, two are British and the other will be painted up for the French, no idea how I managed that.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Training Day II

A pleasant evening to head out to the club last night, I jumped into another Black Powder game so that Julian and Rob could hone their skills before Glasgow, I once again took charge of part of the French Guard. A simple table with the Allies ensconced behind a wall of hedges while we attempted to move them.

Julian was in the middle and Andy took our left, I had the right and sent my men forward slowly, I wanted to play my artillery on the enemy before charging home, this plan seemed to be working fine and cannonballs crashed into a large British battalion opposite me. The cannon fire was so good the British sent a small unit of skirmishers to harry my gunners but it did them no good as they fell victims to grapeshot. I was just about ready to carry out my plan when another French battalion on my left masked my guns leaving them with no targets except some British guns on a hill, not who I wanted to shoot at. No matter, I charged regardless, in Black Powder you can only fight one on one unless the units are small, and none of these were, units standing around if close enough count as supports, but them's the rules, it doesn't look right but there you go.

Now came a hint of something bad coming, my column could not break the enemy and the melee was a draw, no matter I would win the second round, but I didn't, another draw, the British support was keeping their men in the fight. I looked around in the smoke and now thought, bring the useless guns up just like the British. Off to my left Julian had pushed the enemy from the hedge and it looked like the Allied centre was about to fall, one more effort Mon brave lads.

Perhaps my French was misinterpreted but it was probably the run of dire die rolls from both myself and Julian that did for us. Within one round we had lost three battalions, I was left with only my guns who had just managed to limber up, Julian's tenacious fighters in the centre, all alone had also had enough and retired as the enemy attempted to surround them. A look across at Andy sealed our fate, he had one battalion teetering on the brink of running and some Dragoons who also looked none too keen to continue the fight. It was all over, I hope Julian's men fight better in Glasgow.

And pouf, they were gone.
 I am beginning to get the hang of Black Powder now, like most of Warlord's offerings, you have to accept them as they are or dump them and get something else. I am happy to accept them as they are, I used to be unsure about the command rolls but these seem fine unless you get a really bad run and do nothing for most of the battle, but this can happen to us all and there are ways to still move something. I am though getting worried with the ease with which troops become disordered and this can have a big effect on Plan A, B or even C if you have one. As I looked along the serried ranks I again realised that I am going to need a bigger table for my SYW games.

I really enjoyed last night, some good fun and quite a few laughs, next week it is Wings of War.

On the painting front I am getting on with my small British cavalry unit and if I were not away this weekend I would have completed it, but I am so it will be next week before that is done and I can move on to the French unit. Apart from some little bits and pieces I have managed to make no major spends this month as per my plan, I am thinking of extending this for June as well then binging in July. I am watching for Aventine's Galatians, more SYW grenadiers, some British Para's and the new stuff from Rubicon.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Partizan 2019

Despite saying I was not going to go to any wargame shows in the future after York this year I relented and volunteered to got to Partizan with Julian, Julian mentioned it first, it would be an opportunity to meet up with some people and it looked like there were a lot of actual games at the venue. I took a lot of flak from 'her indoors' for this foolish six hour round trip all on one day, I was also offended that this implied I was too old and doddery to do so safely, I offered to drive as Julian had a long day working on Saturday. I did not admit that by the time I went to bed on Saturday night I was not looking forward to the drive.

Julian arrived promptly and we set off and it was, for a change, a fine drive down in perfect weather, despite the harbingers of doom promising environmental Armageddon this weekend. I also managed to cut the journey to two and a half hours. We arrived a tad early but the queue was not huge and we only stood about for five minutes or so, the hall was very spacious and had excellent lighting, it was also very well attended but it was never crowded, you could get to the traders and wander around without a bother or hitting a backpack.

Bolt Action.
Chain of Command WWI
Russians v Ottomans, very nice layout.
 Right away I could see it was well organised, all the traders were set on the outside like a wagon lager with all the games in the middle, and to my joy there were a lot of these and although the odd dragon or green thing was in attendance most were historical, there was also a fair number of wargaming illuminati, Rick Priestly, Richard Clarke, Simon Miller, the Perry's, and Henry Hyde, there may have been more but I didn't recognise them.

The AWI game where nothing happened and no one seemed interested.
18th C game which was lovely, especially these figures and had a good talk with the owner.
Not quite sure what this was Swiss on one side and English on the other, but again engaged the public (me)
 The games on show were excellent, lovely lay outs, many of them quite large and with beautiful figures, I spent a bit of time at the tables having conversations about the games, only a couple were let down by the organisers apparent disinterest in discussing their set ups. I went past one lovely AWI game several times and bent over the table admiring the troops without anyone once engaging me in conversation, but this was made up for by others.

Edgecote, nice layout but I didn't get anyone to talk.
Different, Stalingrad, excellent discussion with the players on the game.
 I managed to meet up with both David Bickley and Phil Robinson who's excellent blogs I follow, both extremely pleasant gentlemen, I also found out that Phil had painted the Offensive Miniatures Waffen-SS which in part persuaded me to buy them. I also got a word with Simon Miller for whom I have drawn some scenario maps, another nice gent, he was helping run a huge 6mm Marston Moor game. I wanted to get a word with one of Helion's editors but he wasn't there however I talked to Andy on the stall and bumped into Charles Singleton (another editor) on the way out.

I was tempted to buy a Warlord Marder III, which is the early version with the open back but drew back at the last moment, one day, I also got some red paint and picked up two cans of Testor's Dullcote from Great Escape Games along with three more packs of tufts. I also got a good look at Empress Miniatures Volksgrenadiers, lovely models and perhaps a future enemy for my Russians when I get them.

So that's it, I lasted three hours which to be honest is enough for me at a show, no matter how good it is and Partizan was good and I will probably go again. Well done to the organisers and everyone who put on a game, great stuff.

Thursday, 16 May 2019


No club again this week, I had/volunteered to accompany the boss to a meeting at a local hospital, in between speakers the nurse made us all stand up and do some stretching etc., I hadn't signed up for physical abuse. Why is it that most speakers, despite their in depth knowledge of a subject, put you to sleep, I have been following several such on military matters on YouTube and I just give up the will to breathe.

I have not mentioned the entertainment world in an age, mainly because I went through a patch where there was nothing to watch, then all of a sudden several shows turned up which I had been following, this sadly did not do me any good. "Van Helsing", nonsense about vampires obviously, this is now too ludicrous to watch, the same fate has befallen "Zombie Nation", I know it sounds daft but both programmes have lost the plot. In my defence these were 'to paint by' programmes, I would not actually sit down and watch one on its own. I did enjoy 'Curfew' and another dystopian piece 'Black Summer' the latter had me in tears of laughter, in an episode where a poor, dumb, frightened character is hounded by one particularly obsessive zombie, this alone was worth the watch. 'Veep' is back for the last Season and there is one episode to go, this began as a very clever play on American politics written by Armando Ianucci a Glaswegian, the same guy who gave us the splendidly monstrous Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick of It'. Ianucci did not write the last two seasons and it showed, the characters became just plain nasty, crude and less clever but hey, one more to go. I have given up with the TV licence so have not been able to catch up with Line of Duty yet and will have to wait until it is on Catch Up, I can live with that, just. I have Now TV, Sky, Netflix and some other stuff which I never look at and it takes more than 30 minutes to find something which then has me reaching for the remote after ten minutes. Spoiled or is it that hard to find something good to watch. I hear shouts of Game of Thrones, yeah sure, the last season and it looks like the writers have given up and are now looking for other jobs as we rush to the end.

Books, after finishing Waterloo I moved on to 'The Last Mughal' before starting Tim Clayton's latest 'This Dark Business' on how we British did for Napoleon. I have read several books on the Indian Mutiny, there I go again, The First War of Independence(?), and you cannot escape the atrocities committed by both sides, I was surprised however at the scale of the punishment meted out to the city of Delhi and its inhabitants as recounted in the book. The fate of the last Emperor and his family was also severe, old Zafar sent to live in a squat in Rangoon, and lets not forget Napoleon chained to a rock in the middle of the Atlantic, it didn't do to upset the British back then.

My brush with the Waffen-SS is not over, my extra LMG teams turned up today but so did another two squads of soldiers, I told Offensive Miniatures that they should not send me more troops as they had done so already, just send the LMG's. I have now offered to send them back if they give me the postage, I really don't need them.

And of course this brings me to my stance against Big Tech, it didn't last long, less than 24 hrs I think, despite having no time for Zuckerberg and his outfit it suits my hobby needs, news from Groups and the Club in the main. I do hope though that the Americans will come down on him like a ton of bricks over his recent antics, but sadly I have my doubts as $74 billion make you just about invulnerable.

I hope once again to get a Bolt Action campaign off the ground soon using a Chain of Command book but using BA rules, I see they have once again sent out a bunch of errata and pages of FAQ's. I noticed recently that my French Grenadiers had the wrong top to their flag and I could not let it go so sorted that out today, I have also started the British 10th Dragoons.

I wasn't going to go to anymore shows but I am going along to Partizan with Julian on Sunday, the blurb shows a lot of actual wargames in the hall, so why not, the missus would only find something for me to do at home.

Busy with maps and really enjoying a couple of projects which are in colour.

'Bloody Streets'

'Through Adversity'

Thursday, 9 May 2019

More Painting

I have managed at last to finish my French grenadiers, a battalion of Grenadiers de France, perhaps I am not as slow as I think but having put them aside to do a bunch of WWII kits it just seems they have taken a long time. Anyway they are done now, these guys were all amalgamated into four battalions so coming from other regiments they were officer heavy and had colonel's coming out of the woodwork, so they did not carry a colonel's colour but only a battalion one. GMB who do beautiful flags give you two for your money so I will add another battalion of these guys to use up the expensive flag, the British will get another amalgamated battalion with no flag.

As you know I got two Waffen-SS squads from Offensive Miniatures recently and as my go to rules of the moment are Bolt Action I determined I needed the choice of adding another LMG to the squads, you can also add one to veteran Heer squads as well. Offensive do not do extra LMG packs but I asked anyway if they could help and they did, they fished two out of their 'spares' box and sold them to me, they provide the gunner and two assistants carrying ammo boxes, great stuff.

I had some time spare the other day and actually looked up German infantry squads, the standard in 1944 was 9 men, one NCO with SMG, one LMG with pistol, one assistant with pistol and six riflemen, at least one with a semi-auto rifle and one with a grenade launcher, these latter two weapons are not always mentioned depending on where you look. On one site there were some quotes from two veterans and they laughed at the above numbers saying there were normally around six men in the squad and they never had a second LMG. In wargames both the British and the Germans seem to sprout LMG's in the second half of the war and I just wonder why? Yes I have heard from wargamers that veterans picked up as much firepower as they could but the two German guys found the suggestion laughable. When you think about it, when Squad A turns up for replenishment and asks for double the amount of MG42 ammo because they have an extra gun what is the quartermaster likely to say to him? I also thought if something stops the LMG from firing what good would two pistols be to the squad? I was not there of course and I was just passing some time and I am not an expert on WWII infantry squads, but as a wargamer this kind of thing intrigues me.

I watched several videos on painting SS camo patterns as well as looking at guides, I settled for the Warlord written guide and this is what my first squad is based on, I think for a first effort they have come out OK. I know some painters can get all the little dots on but my eyes will not play that game and to be brutally honest unless you pick the soldier up and peer at him the overall effect of  'smudging it' when looking down on a table is absolutely fine. I did notice however that the colours used by the Warlord guide are not quite perfect for the Spring/Summer pattern, now who is the pain. The scheme uses brown, black, dark green, light green and grey, I have to admit the artist did a far better job than I could.

I have started painting the second SS squad and have gone back to basics and actually looked at the Spring pattern smock, Spring and Autumn are mentioned but Summer is not, so these will have the Spring smock as per the examples I see on the interweb. So three colours this time, brown, dark green and green, there should be lots of little dots but as above, I cannot really get away with this, there are smaller 'dots' of colour but overall these tend to blend in, which I suppose is exactly what the camo is supposed to do, no? Oh, the sharp eyed will notice the yellow binoculars, now this is the kind of detail we wargamers love,  a talking point and just waiting for 'that guy' to point it out as wrong, the Germans at times used yellow for these, remember you saw it here first.

Guess what, I have been slapped on the wrist by Facebook, I normally put my newly painted units on my FB page and within about 36 hours I was told it had been removed as the content could cause someone, somewhere distress and was against Facebook's policies. I can only think that the words Waffen-SS were the trigger for Mr. Zuckerburg's ire. So the algorithm from the Wunderkind can pick up Waffen-SS but is not clever enough to shut down terrorists, peadophiles and self harmers etc. As he now bans anyone whose opinion he doesn't like from his media platforms I think I should do the decent thing and ditch him.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

In Training for the big day

I was going to give the club a miss last night but at the eleventh hour Rob said I could take part in a 28mm Napoleonic game, it had grown from 2v2 to 3v3, so what the hell, I popped along. Rob and Julian are taking part in the Great Game in Glasgow next month which is a huge refight of Waterloo with something like 40+ players and 22,000 figures, the rules are Black Powder with amendments. So the game last night was to try out the amendments so that Rob and Julian could get to know them.

For his part Julian is taking a French Guard unit and it is lovely, it still has to be based and I am sure will be even more impressive when this is complete, Rob has Dutch troops, I did not get a close look at these as I was at the opposite end of the table but they also looked good in their serried ranks. For the game I was on the side of the bad guys, the French, and was given one of Julian's units, I was on the extreme left flank and was opposed by Andy's British Guards drawn up at the foot of a hill and more occupying a large building on the crest. These were also supported by a host of riflemen, enough to make Sharpe jealous.

All the above are Julian's beautiful troops.

As the game kicked off I decided simply to launch my guys at the hill, they did not seem too keen to do this however and it took some persuading to get them to move into charge reach, my battery of guns meanwhile targeted the English at the foot of the hill. Julian also moved cautiously on the village to his front while bringing his guns around to cover the gap between his men and mine. On the right Paul went straight at the enemy and a large fight raged through the fields to the left of the village.

Rob's Dutch, more impressive wee sojers

I managed at last to charge and knocked back the Guards and got a foothold on the hill, as the fight progressed I eventually managed, just, to get them to fall back behind the house, the forward slope was mine, I was just about to throw caution to the wind and ignore the shouted advice of those around me and assault the building when darkness fell. Julian had assaulted the village and also cleared out some of the skirmishers to his front, over on the right Paul and Stuart were still trading blows with no sure winner emerging.

Julian advances in the centre while Paul moves on the Allied left.
Just a nice shot.

The game was quite confused as we had Stuart on Version 1 (granted not a huge difference from 2), and some of us on Version 2 while Rob was also trying to work in the new amendments. I know on the day there are a host of umpires to keep the game moving but I do wonder how smoothly it will go with the numbers involved, Black Powder was designed for big games but this will be a real test. As the game used 28mm figures it also gave me a hint of what to expect when I get my own 28mm SYW armies out to play, I think I shall get that other table tennis table.

No club next week as I have to attend a meeting with the missus, I am getting the impression however that my wargaming has not really taken off yet this year and we are over a third of the way through, frightening at my age. I have missed a few club nights and apart from my recent weekend home games are just not happening. I looked around for local or localish Bolt Action players/tournaments only to find that as usual not much seems to happen north of Watford and despite social media it tends to be unsocial when looking for wargame opponents, or you get the 'love to play but I live in Lancaster Pennsylvania' nonsense.

Right, some soldiers to paint and I expect more map work this afternoon.

Thursday, 2 May 2019


Club night with three of us needing a game so I took along Dead Man's Hand and my Unforgiven (see movie of same name) inspired scenarios, the one I wanted to do needed four players, so I fell back on the second. The Sheriff had to get his prisoners to the train station, the Mexicans had arrived to collect the whore's ransom by killing said prisoners while their mates, the Cowboys, had to rescue them.

I was the Cowboys while Simon took the Law and Andy chose the Mexicans, usually my bunch but it would be interesting to see if they fought better for someone else. Simon set off along the left hand side of Main Street, the Mexicans continued to hang about the Aces High Saloon while my cowhands made some moves towards the station end of Main Street from Halloran's Bar. As one of my boys peered from the window of Halloran's a shot hit the wall, it was fired from the Aces High, damn Mexicans.

Sleepy town.
The posse moves up.

As the Law advanced a large firefight erupted in the alley between the Aces High and Rogan's Bar (seems to be a lot of bars in this town). With the Law tied up with the Mexicans I moved my guys into Main Street and started blasting whoever was closest with the intention of sneaking up on the rear of the posse and freeing my compadres. Despite all the lead flying about there was not a lot of bodies lying around. Two Mex's had moved into Rogans Bar dodging shotgun pellets and taking out a deputy, I now moved up to the windows and began a long firefight with the Mexican who had remained behind, bottles smashed, mirrors broke, tables were upturned and lead flew but it took forever to clear the bar. While this was going on the rest of the posse began to make their mark as more of Andy's men hit the dirt.

I move into Main Street.
Firefight in the alley.

Time was called, it had been good fun but Andy had almost been wiped out, Simon and I had only lost one man so far, despite Simon's protestations that he would get his prisoners away (the train could have been late and my men stood commanding Main Street) it was only fair to say the Mexicans lost (again). Again a win for this simple but enjoyable game.

I have now received my Waffen SS from Offensive Miniatures and I am more than pleased with them, lovely figures. I have now finished the Grenadiers de France and will base them over the weekend as I have to make a trip to Scotland tomorrow, I like these as well. Her indoors is a bit alarmed about the many packages that have arrived over the past two months so nothing new will be on the horizon until maybe June, by which time I shall receive the new D-Day book from Warlord, possibly some new kits from Rubicon and maybe some Galatians from Aventine. Besides, I have more than enough to keep me going till June.