Saturday, 30 January 2021

Almost as cold as Missouri

 It is bitterly cold today and the high wind does not help, I now know how those troops feel staring at each other across Wilson's Creek. I managed to get the campaign moved on a bit having finished three map projects this week or at least got the drafts off to the authors, only two left so the pressure is off. The Confederates have made a successful withdrawal during the night and the Federal commander is chagrined but determined to follow and force an engagement.

 When battle does take place it will be a fairly large engagement, these are not the size of the later armies involved in Tennessee and Virginia but from a wargame point of view still a handful, it would be perfect for a Saturday afternoon and four or more players but that is beyond the realms of possibility for some time to come, a real shame. I am now looking, like many others to running something online, War and Conquest would be the easiest to play like this and I should be ready by the time the ACW campaign finishes to give it a try, if it works I would like to expand the games to WWII or even a SYW tussle.

None of my orders for the upcoming German platoon have started to arrive so I expect next week might be busy. As I do not have a deep well of patience I am going to try and finish the 23rd Foot for next week as I cannot simply put them to the side. I have the red coats and facings done so it is now only the fiddly bits left, the lace, leatherwork and weapons etc. once these guys are done that only leaves two heavy limbers which I will put aside.

One of my readers recommended "The Red Army Handbook" by Steven Zaloga and L.S. Ness, what a great book, much like Glantz this has opened my eyes to the Red Army in WWII and banished all sorts of preconceptions I had held on the conflict, it hails from 1998 but better late than never. My thanks to Steve C.

 That's really it for now, even my entertainment has been curtailed and I have managed only one movie this week "The Dig" on Netflix about the discovery of the Sutton Hoo treasure while binge watching "Bosch" on Prime, good police dramas are hard to find these days, what with defunding etc. The movie was pleasant enough and evoked a time long gone, it was based on a novel so the screenplay took liberties with err, most of the story, there were invented characters and the usual tip of the hat to modern mores, why, it just grates. At the end of the day I would have been just as happy never to have seen it at all.

 Missus gets her vaccine jab today, no word yet for me, so some good news.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

Yet another Groundhog Week

 I have at last managed to finish my French Normandie battalion for the Seven Years War, and very pleased I am with it. The French have beautiful flags, flags and shields always attract me to an army, and although they do have the odd fancy lot most uniforms are a shade of white/grey, a lot of artwork is white while reenactors tend to be more grey. For ease of painting I use GW's Apothecary White, a white contrast paint and the finish is perfect for me. Now the British, we would be awkward, there is lace everywhere on these uniforms and it is different for each regiment, as my eyes can find this hard going I go for the 'impression' of the lace rather than getting it perfect, it looks good from three feet away so result.

 I admire those who can do the lace right, even down to the buttonholes and the painting is superb. I got a sudden rush to the brain during the week and thought, with the LMF being rather healthy at the moment, why don't I get the British painted for me. I looked at several painters but by the time I worked out the cost a battalion of 20 men was coming in at approximately £200 from getting the figures to getting them on the table. I do not begrudge people charging for what are beautiful figures, and I have some friends who although excellent painters still get troops painted for them, perhaps my roots are showing as I cannot get past that for those prices I would get four battalions on the table not one. So the lace headache will continue with the 23rd Welsh Fusiliers up next.

I kicked off my ACW campaign with high hopes but real life has intruded and I lost two commanders to an upsurge in their workloads, I was almost in the same position myself as I have had four new map projects land on my drawing table in the last two weeks. We are two days in and the Rebs have decided to put up a defence on Wilson's Creek Missouri, a storm has just blown out and Price's men are tired, wet and cold, across the water the Yanks are just as miserable but are optimistic as they deploy for action. Once I have deployment orders for both sides I shall place the troops, give a further general report to both commanders about what they can see and then hopefully let battle commence.

Rebs camped out.

 I am still waiting on my Early War Germans to come from North Star, I was told they were not mailing until the 24th, no problem as with the 23rd Foot primed and ready to go I could not put them aside to work on the Jerries, as much as I am looking forward to it. I have also decided to finish all the infantry before I move on the vehicles, not sure if I will manage this as I have a list ready for both the Russians and the Germans and also enjoy painting these as well. I really hope to make this little project last longer than my usual three or four weeks.

As I said I have had a lot of map projects thrown at me recently covering the English Civil War, Soviet Nuclear Tests/Tactics, Vietnam, WWII and the Napoleonic Wars and always in the background the Atlas.

On the entertainment front things are up and down, the televisual arts have let me down and I am reduced to looking up old films from yesteryear, Battle Beyond the Stars (dire) and Max Max (not quite as bad) along with others, anything new ticks all the diversity and inclusivity boxes to the detriment of a good story so they are all out. On that very subject I am now subscribed to The Critical Drinker, a reviewer of mainly sci-fi and comic book hero series, movies and the industry in general, I don't actually watch most of the stuff he reviews but he is so good it doesn't matter, he is also Scottish and a successful author (spy thrillers) on the side. I continue with my Expanse books and am enjoying them as an escape from reality however I have put them aside for now and have picked up a book brought in by a customer, this happens a lot and I normally let them gather dust, wipe it off and return it, but I have been very fortunate lately. This book is called A Woman In Berlin and is a diary kept from April to June 1945, seemingly it caused a stir when first published as the mass pillage and raping by the Soviets was not something to point out back then. Not something I would normally read but I decided to give it a try last night and I think it is going to be harrowing yet a good read.

Saturday, 16 January 2021


 I have changed my mind again, I am not doing a French early war army for WWII, instead I decided to add more Germans and cover the Eastern Front from 1941 to 1945. My forces at the moment are perfect for 1944/45 so a bit of work to be done, I have ordered a full platoon and an extra squad along with all the supports, mortars, MMG's, anti-tank rifles etc. from Crusader Miniatures. they were offering 20% off so I really had to get them now in order to save money. I am no expert but I think my Russian infantry will fit well from '41 until '45, just in case I need more I have pre-ordered two squads from Warlord, NKVD and Airborne due for release in February, so possibly all I need now is some Naval Infantry and Bob's my uncle or auntie or whatever he feels like on a given day.

 I will need vehicles and I have a small list for both the Germans and Russians which I shall start collecting after I have painted the infantry, I might even get the odd model before the troops are complete. On the one hand I am looking forward to this and on the other I wonder when in the name of the wee man will I get this lot on the table, I will have a lot of catching up to do.

I have also got my British battalion to take the place of the Hanovarians but I have not even opened the box yet to look at them. This is not entirely down to Covid as I am very busy with maps at the moment and am finding time for painting a luxury. I have almost completed my French battalion for the SYW and I suspect it will be getting varnished and based some time next week.

With all the excitement about Warlord's new ACW figures hitting Facebook, YouTube and the club I have been made to feel guilty about all my lovely Civil War figures languishing in their boxes. So I have decided to kick off a campaign in order to fight some battles here in Casa Anderson. I am using my own booklet on the Elkhorn Tavern Campaign from early 1861 in the West, this gives a start and end date so the campaign will not last forever. It can be played with five players, two Union and three for the Rebs, the players have to take on the roles of their characters as this campaign was plagued with large ego's from the start, this means some players may not have a starring role depending on how the campaign plays out so it can also be played with two. It is also interesting from the point of view of the armies concerned, both are overwhelmingly made up of raw recruits and many units have sub-standard weapons. The terrain is not good, the weather is atrocious and command and control of detached forces is incredibly difficult. The Federal forces have to throw the Rebels out of Missouri while the Confederates have to maintain a presence and inflict a defeat on the enemy which will see them retreat.

 I now take twenty minutes of exercise a day, OK I don't do this on the weekends but nonetheless I am making an effort. I did walk last Sunday as I was getting stir crazy, let's just say it was not wet but 'fresh'. As I neared my return mark who should come round the corner but Duncan in one of his jeeps, he hit the brakes and skidded a good 20 feet, he was going for petrol so I volunteered to accompany him and jumped in, he offered me gloves but hey I used to chase Russian warships in the North Atlantic, I was wrong, it was freezing. Nevertheless I enjoyed the drive and we stopped off to see the fabled Kettenkrad in a nearby village. I did see bits of it, it was covered in stuff in a small shed however Tony promised to get it out in the better weather. These guys gather stuff which just looks like junk to me, Tony has a couple of Jeeps and bits of jeeps, several of what I was told were engines, a large Soviet Communications van, the Kettenkrad and god knows what else in the other sheds.

I am now 68 and one month and in all that time I have never in my life bought a football top, some people are never out of football tops but not me. Now, in order to help out No.2 son I have a football top, what has Scotland got to do with football I hear you ask, no matter, in my heart there is a small nook way in the back in a dark recess which, despite years of misery still expects us to win, win something, anything.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

2021: Covid II

 Despite none of the local bookies taking my bet of a lockdown after Christmas the announcement still floored me, my enthusiasm leaked away like a very leaky thing. Covid has come ever closer since Christmas and I now know several people who have had it, some serious some not so serious and thankfully all OK, so I am taking the jab or jag as we Scot's say when our government can get it to us, breath not being held.

I finished my Christmas loot fairly quickly, two tanks for the Russians along with a truck, a truck and a tank for the Germans. The two trucks and the Valentine tank were Rubicon models and up to their usual high standard, the KV1 and the Char B1 were Warlord (Italeri) models, the former also came with the huge howitzer turret which allows a KV2 to be fielded, both these were nice kits especially the Char B1 which also came with several options on which model to field, French or German.


 Next up was a little train which a customer had given me after seeing my rail track minus a train on the gaming table for the Pegasus operations. It was a full set with a lot of extra track thrown in which will enable me to have double tracks and bends in the future should I need them. The train set itself had some very modern freight carriages which I just could not use for the 1940's, I did manage to salvage two. I weathered these along with the train and am happy they will look the business on future battlefields, yes it is a bit small but it is a little freight train and not a large workhorse, the dilapidated carriage was actually a Cadbury's boxcar!

 I have had some serious thoughts on where I am going in 2021, I had been going to build up my SYW forces by adding Hanovarians and actually have a battalion in waiting, I have gone back on this and will stay with British and French, I will add new units as the year progresses but it will not be the huge project I envisioned when I started them, the Hanovarians are going to a good home. 

So what are you going to do I hear you ask, nothing, for now, but fear not. I now have an idea forming in my head that I should move to Early World War II, I possibly mentioned this before, I am unsure what day it is, I have even got to the stage of looking for French and German figures for the period but am not ready to fully commit. It usually works that I have a bad day or Boris announces even further lockdowns and I am online like a whippet trying to cheer myself up, so watch this space.

We moved all the stuff out of our wardrobes recently in order to decorate the bedroom, a load of photos came to light and I spent some time reminiscing, I came across quite a few old wargame related photos. The American Civil War themed pictures were taken in my last home over twenty years ago when I had a huge loft in which to keep all my wargaming paraphernalia and a large 9x5 foot table, I had a heater for the winter and a velux window for air in the summer, coffee and tea making facilities with the missus even providing sandwiches, happy days.

The battle is a refight of Drewry's Bluff and there were about five or six of us, I got everyone to write an after action report and just like the real thing we were all architects of victory or let down by others, it was printed in Miniature Wargames. The 'wagon' cover I used to keep dust from my Geo-Hex and embellished with the 1st Cavalry Division logo. The large colourful array of banners and standards were some of my Wars of the Roses army, all hand painted on cloth, I should never have sold them.

 I should be working to finish the Atlas over the next few months and already I have completed map projects this month so I don't know when I will get another wargame on the table but I will have to try soon.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Farewell to all that!

 It's that time of year again, this time a look back over what has been a dreadful year, no beating about the bush here, a year which has destroyed in me the last thin thread of respect I had left for government, politicians and all sorts of other establishment institutions and downright madmen (and women Reg) bent on destroying everything I hold dear.

 That's the bad stuff out of the way what about my year in wargaming. Before the plague hit us I was doing really well with games at the club covering quite a few period and also managing regular War and Conquest games with my son, I also managed a large Napoleonic battle in Grange-over-Sands which proved very exciting despite playing with reduced lighting in the large room. As we came under increasing house arrest I turned to Solo gaming like a great many of us, I kicked this off with a couple of Naval campaigns with club members and mate Matt, I then moved on to WWII and Chain of Command and ran several small campaigns set on the Eastern Front and North West Europe, at this point I was doing more wargaming than I did when things were normal. I managed to keep up this roller coaster until just before Christmas albeit my enthusiasm hit a bump when we went into our second lockdown. 

In between my games I worked on terrain, I got extra dacha's for the Eastern Front and completed an Industrial complex for the Road to Bremen mini campaign and from out of the blue I decided I needed a ruined city for 'Berlin' games. This was a large project and was supposed to be my winter/covid time waster but I finished it in about three weeks, yes I still have the odds and ends to add for improving the look but the main work has all been done, I was very chuffed with this and want to spend more time fighting on it (when I get the chance).

I also added quite a lot of vehicles to my WWII collections and have finished off the year with even more with five sitting waiting for their paint job, the kits are mainly for late war on the Eastern Front, most of the German stuff can also be found in the West from Normandy on. More wee sojers also made it into my collections, no new periods but new recruits for some of what I have, full platoons of Volksgrenadiers and British Airborne along with civilians, Hitler Youth and Volksturm for end of the Reich scenarios. I also added several more infantry battalions to my Seven Years War troops and still have two lying in wait for the brush, although I thoroughly enjoy the battles with Honours of War, I managed one with Rob before we locked down, I need more to keep my enthusiasm up.

I do not go to many shows in a year and thankfully I made Vapnartak back in February as I took £5 and was determined to spend it all, in the event I spent several more fivers. I was going to go back to Partizan despite the drive as I enjoyed it in 2019, but obviously that did not happen and Vapnartak has already been cancelled for 2021. Perhaps Partizan will manage to open but right now I sincerely doubt that. Yes, I am a miserable old Scotsman.

So, what about the New Year, already a couple of days old. I do not have any large projects in mind although now that 'Berlin' is done I do wonder about a beach assault table, another mat, some pillboxes and defences etc.,  doesn't seem like a lot of hassle, but for now it is way at the back of my mind. I will probably add a few more battalions to the SYW collection but not in the numbers I had envisaged when I started them. I am still in thrall to WWII and am contemplating a possible move to Early War in the West with French and Germans while at the same time I might open up my Eastern Front to take in Barbarossa and the summer offensive of 1942.

Drabant Miniatures from Russia have a growing collection of Byzantine figures which are simply lovely. Many, many years ago I saw a photo of some Byzantine cavalry in a wargaming book by Phil Barker, I had no clue who the Byzantines were and it started off an interest which culminated in a visit to Constantinople, ever since I have wanted a Byzantine army. My problem was that I did not want a Belisarian period army despite my admiration for the man himself but a later one, I have not managed to tie the manufacturer down to which period he is making his figures for but they are later than Belisarius. I know it would be foolish for me to build yet another ancient army but if the cavalry look as good as the infantry I may not be able to help myself. 

So after all that what is my priority for 2021, it is simple, to play games with other people face to face, the rest is merely wishful thinking.

I really do wish you all a happier New Year.