Monday, 29 March 2021


 I got my remote game in yesterday, Phil was on time and I had made my choice of troops, I was given two forces and chose the T34/85's over the T34/76's, alongside those I got a Zis-3 howitzer, an SU57, a 120mm mortar and a T-70 light tank, to support the armour I had four squads of infantry with eight men each. My boys were to sweep the Hitlerites from their positions and break the front, in other words I had to run my army off the other end of the table having killed as many of the enemy as possible. Phil had already made it known that the Germans only had to survive for as long as possible to maybe get a draw, defeat was in the air. The defenders of the Reich had one squad of Volksgrenadiers, a Pak 40 and an infantry gun all dug in waiting the Soviet onslaught, reserves were few but available.


The terrain was very open and I decided to go all 'Zhukov' and simply throw my men at the enemy, I brought all my forces on in the first move and went hell for leather, the Pak opened up and immobilised and set fire to one of my T34's, a bad start for the Russkies, the table edge suddenly seemed a long way away. The fire was put out so the tank became a pillbox and lobbed shells at the Pak, none of which hit, I decided to keep going with the rest, I unlimbered the Zis-3 and it too shelled the anti-tank gun, the mortar had now gotten the range and shells dropped on the unlucky Pak and wiped out the crew. This was not a great loss as after the first shot the gun failed to add anything to the defence.

The full Zhukov

The Reds scent victory

 The Germans now called in their reserves, two more squads, a panzerschreck team and a Jagdpanzer IV, I held my nerve however as the tank destroyer like the Pak failed to hit anything, lady luck was smiling, although my own tanks could not penetrate the panzer's armour. No matter, my infantry were now close enough to assault the survivors of the dug in squad which had been shot up by the T34's and the T-70. Phil now sent a reserve squad to man the defences but it was caught in the open and the overwhelming amount of firepower it attracted was too much and it too was wiped out, the same fate befell the panzerschreck team who missed with their first and only shot.

The only threat now to the Russian steamroller was the Jagdpanzer, the infantry gun and one remaining squad, very soon the gun and the squad were put out of action and the T-70 ran past the panzer and took a shot at its flank at close range, it was enough to knock out the tank destroyer. It was a Russian victory, hurrah!

One lucky T-70

 Although the Russians were expected to win the game the German defence was quite considerable I thought, they mainly failed because Phil's die rolling was dire, both for shooting and morale, one of those games which will always be remembered for its dire consequences, if I had lost the T34's it would have been a hard job to get off the table. I wasn't particularly brilliant but having got close to the German line with little casualties numbers told and the defence was overwhelmed. The photographs are courtesy of Phil and it would have been a joy to play with those beautiful figures, a big thanks to Phil for hosting.

You will probably find an unbiased report on Phil's blog here at some point.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

Weather bad, food running low, morale rock bottom....

 Well it is raining, it is windy and it is grey, appropriate for most of our feelings at the moment. It is going to be a quiet day, I have been up painting stuff since about 0800 so it will be a long afternoon I think. I do have one thing to look forward to and that is a remote Bolt Action game with Phil Robinson tonight, I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out, I found War and Conquest to be easy to do remotely and if this is the same I might try a few if I can get some opposition. Nothing else to report so some ramblings below.

There is a new history of the Vikings out, written by a woman historian named Cat Jarman, from the reviews a refreshing take on the Northmen, no, it is not, it is about the Vikings I learned about and whose myths and raids caught my imagination as a young boy. Consigned to the dustbin along with the horned helmets are the legions of 'Shield-maidens'.

 A customer came in last week and mentioned that the last time he was in I had an American Civil War game on the table and that did the name Hotchkiss ring a bell, it drew a blank and I wondered if my ACW credentials had just flown out the window as I pride myself on my knowledge of this conflict. He then mentioned Jedidiah Hotchkiss and maps, the light came on, Jed Hotchkiss was a map maker for the Army of Northern Virginia and in especial Stonewall Jackson's commands, he also worked closely with Robert E. Lee. The Hotchkiss in front of me was a descendant of Jed Hotchkiss and was going, when allowed, to a family reunion at Gettysburg, his parting shot was another relative invented the Hotchkiss machine gun, an interesting morning for me.


 I started on my NKVD squad last week, these are really nice figures from Warlord Games, I was going to simply copy the colour scheme on the box until someone mentioned on Facebook about Border Guards, who were part of the NKVD having green helmets rather than blue, so my boys became Border Guards. I now have several things on the tray, I have started and almost finished the Soviet Airborne squad, again very nice figures with good action poses, these are being joined with the anti-tank dog teams and an ampulomet team. Blitzkreig rectified the armoured car problem and although I offered to send the wrong one back Paul kindly told me to keep it for the hassle it had caused, no hassle but a nice gesture. So I now have two armoured cars to paint and winging their way to me are a Marder III Ausf H, an Ig18 infantry gun and some artillery crew which I hope to use in my open topped vehicles. I still have a wishlist for 1941/42 vehicles for the Eastern Front, some tanks and transport for the Jerries and a BT tank of some sorts for the Russians.

 One parcel arrived the other day which I was not expecting and on opening found a nice gift from friend Rob Martin. Having decided not to do Hanoverian's and keep my SYW stuff to French and British I had a battalion spare, they 'deserted' to Rob and in return he sent me a lovely little vignette.


Saturday, 20 March 2021

All quiet....

 Sun is shining and it looks like a nice day ahead, I have decided this morning to do nothing but muck about, I have set myself the job of going over the 120 Atlas maps to ensure as best I can they are ready for the publisher, but I am not doing it this morning, that will be an afternoon job.

My first muck about job was to organise all my Really Useful Boxes with labels to save me moving half a dozen to find that elusive unit, 28mm metal is heavy. I got mate Colin at Charlie Foxtrot to do me inserts for my WWII troops, I forgot however that I put my leaders on hex bases and not round ones, so I just placed them on some non-stick lining, this is great for vehicles and heavy weapons but not for individuals. I got a Eureka moment and filled the round holes with round bases including a magnet so now my officers are firmly fixed in nice lines just like the troops. I do like things ship shape and Bristol fashion.

 I don't have a game sorted for this weekend because I have the maps to go over, but I want to try Bolt Action next week to see how a remote WWII game works out, so fingers crossed.

That brings me to Warlord Games, I have some issues with Warlord, I resent, and will not buy another, the way they hire a cut and paste guy when they bring out a 'Second Edition' of something and charge you a fortune for changing a couple of sentences. I also will not touch their artillery, now I can only speak about their WWII stuff, as nothing seems to fit well without taking a scalpel to it, that is if you can find the instructions. Also their quality control is in catergory all of its own, but this to many is put up with as their customer service is quite frankly superb. I tried to use a 10% off code this week but the site would not accept it, I rang them up and after a chat the young man sorted my order over the phone and by my none too accurate sums I got 25% off! I also like the way they give you a complete range including stuff which no one else will touch and kudos to them, cannot make a lot of dosh. I also like their figures, I have two new packs of Soviets now on the way and which I expect next week, against my better sense I also got a couple of those sets which I mention only Warlord seem to bother about, a glass ball shooting anti-tank mortar and anti-tank dogs. Now I don't normally go in for gimmicks but these were used during the German invasion and both quickly went out of favour, although the dogs lasted I think until '42.

 I received my Blitzkrieg order of Early War German vehicles for Barbarossa, sadly I got the wrong armoured car sent but the original has now been mailed out. These are two really nice resin models, one a Sig 33 Bison which is essentially a 10.5 cm howitzer plopped on a Panzer I chassis to provide much needed mobile artillery for the Panzer Divisions, the other much the same idea but with an anti-tank gun instead of the howitzer, a Panzerjager I. The paint job is simply panzer grey, drybrushed and weathered, very easy, not even a lot of transfers to work with. Now of course I need some artillery crew, these are not as easy to find as you would think, not without a gun at least, so far it is once again Warlord who come to the rescue as they do a nice little four man group which I think will do. I will wait for the next 10% off. I almost forgot, I finished my odds and ends for the early Jerries, officers, NCO's and extra LMG's for 1942, I also completed my PAK 36 in grey, I also have one in dunkelgelb. As much as I like Rubicon kits I just do not like their figures, the Artizan troops here look like they are at war, the Rubicon versions look like shop dummies in uniform.



I have had to cancel my intended trip to Waterloo in June. I had to weigh up whether restrictions would have been lifted enough for me to travel 'normally' and that even if the UK was clear what would be the situation in the bumbling EU re Covid. I did not want to take the chance and my mate who was going with me and was fit and healthy last year when it was cancelled is not so fit and healthy this year.

Entertainment, I have another good one, "The Bridge" on Prime, started badly and I was reaching for the remote five minutes in, but wait, the female detective is not a bad actress, she is playing the part of a person with no empathy or social skills, how did she get to be a detective then, don't ask, it works. It is set on the Mexican border and shows why Mexicans want to live in the US. A winner.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Legio XII Victrix

 Rob Broom, author of War and Conquest rules intimated he would be happy to try a game over Zoom and as the first had been successful I decided to try again. I lost two hours of my life trying to circumvent the 40 minute limit on Zoom in order to use two cameras and have a third participant, yes I could have paid £119 but hoping that the lockdown will end at some point this year I did not want to hand over my hard earned sheckles for a few months, anyway, the suits at the LMF would not have agreed.

It was Rob that came up with the idea that we use Zoom for one camera and Facetime for the other, this worked a treat as my headache retreated. Rob as usual was the Seleucid commander and I led the Thunderbolts, my boys, we went for the usual 2,500 points on a 6x4 foot table. The Twelfth mustered three cohorts, one of recruits, along with an Auxiliary cohort supported by skirmishers, a ballista and auxiliary archers (for the inevitable elephants) and some Contarii as my cavalry element. Rob went for two pike blocks, two elephants, Thracians and Companions supported by horse archers and javelins.

 Rob was aggressive from the start as his left and centre advanced at a fast pace, I was a bit worried about the movement of his Companions as all I had to halt them was my Lanciari who could be easily rode over. I was left with no choice but to attack the Purple pike block with Cohors I to get them out of the way of a flank attack, led by the Legate the prima cohort slaughtered the pikemen and soon had them on the run, a profound shock to the Seleucid King. Meanwhile the elephants crashed into the Roman line, Cohors III and Auxiliary I at first held the beasts and although the Auxiliaries came within a whisker of slaying the monster they broke under the pressure. It was now Rob who was forced to attack in order to keep up the momentum and the White pike block charged up the hill and into Cohors II.


On the Roman left I had failed to chase away the Skythians and the Contarii were losing to many men, I had to try a desperate charge but the men from the Steppes cut down Rome's finest, all was not lost as the Auxiliary archers had caught the javelinmen and routed them.

 Despite losing Auxiliary I to the elephant which then scattered my skirmishers and ran down the ballista crew, Cohors II had defeated the second pike block and dispersed them. The second elephant had routed and sped across to the Roman right enraged, heading straight for the flank of the Companions who had at last got into action and were in a desperate melee with Cohors I. The horsemen fled just before the elephant hit them, over on the left Cohors III after chasing away their elephant, smashed the Thracians who in turn ran. It was all over, a fine showing by the Thunderbolts and a sad defeat for the Seleucids.

Now the game, Rob has a reputation as a bad die roller and he just about lived up to it in this game, he hardly ever won initiative during the turns and some of his combat and saving rolls were simply dire, he was not alone however as my missile troops all proved to be useless, even my favourite Lanciari, also my heavily armoured Contarii simply refused to save any hits and died to a man for it. On the other hand my legionaries were simply unbeatable, three times Cohors I hit with 95%  of their dice, Rob made some decent saving rolls during these combats but the writing was on the wall. I missed charging the Skythians and should have hounded them from the beginning but I doubt if this would have helped the Contarii much. I learned a few things about using elephants and realised I had them wrong before, so playing the author does help. A great afternoon.

My early war German infantry are now all but done, a few to varnish and base and that's it, still looking for a sniper figure and a decent Forward Observer but they can wait. I have not got my Blitzkrieg order yet and dropped them a line, hoping to get them tomorrow, I also have no idea when in March the new Soviet squads will be turning up at my door. I did get a Warlord Panzer 38(t) on Amazon as they are out of stock at Warlord, it turned up within 24 hrs and I had it done and dusted before the sun went down. A beautiful little kit, I used my Panzer Grey for the first time and thought it was going to dry shiny as it looked to be a high gloss, no fear though and after a few hours it had turned matt, with a bit of dry brushing and weathering it turned out lovely. I also finished my 76mm infantry gun for the Soviets, I had to look up pictures of the real thing in order to build it, OK, there was not a huge amount of pieces but why not pop in a piece of paper with instructions, how lazy and annoying is that.

 I joined and watched an excellent piece of military history on the Battle of Sedgemoor 1685 during the week by the author of 'Fighting for Liberty' Steve Carter and General Jack Deverell, I enjoyed it so much I am going to order Steve's book. I also watched the Tank Museum piece on modelling, a very pleasant little video.

So what for the future apart from some early war vehicles and the Soviets, well nothing for now, I hope to try another few remote games and wonder how a WWII game would work. Mate Rob Martin is starting a WWII naval campaign in which I shall play the part of the CinC Royal Navy (natch) trying to catch Scharnhorst and I think Gneisenau as they attempt to interfere with British convoys. Another couple of SYW battalions will be on the cards but not until well into the year.

Sunday, 7 March 2021

Remote Wargaming

 Well I have done it, dipped my toe into the new technology. I suffered the usual heartache during the week when I asked the missus to help me try out my set up, for some reason, obviously just to annoy me and test my patience, it asked if I wanted to invite someone by email, I said yes, filled in the form but then could only Cancel the thing, not Send, this still happens. Trying to refrain from turning the air blue we persevered and after an hour or so I had the battlefield view on my iPad and close ups on my iPhone, so far so good.

I got in touch with Stewart and we set up a War and Conquest game for this morning, a regular game so 2,500 points and a 6x4 foot table, I would take the Saxons and Stewart the Romano-British, now the latter have a bit of an advantage in that they can have large shields but I had a plan. My plan was to use larger Warbands, so I took Frankish, yes them again, and Pict allies while boosting the numbers of the Saxon units, I also took two cavalry units which is unusual for me, I intended to use them as skirmishers but it didn't happen. The enemy had one Comitatus, one Pedyt and the rest were Milites, one with extra armour, my men were mainly unarmoured apart from the King's Gedriht and one cavalry unit.

I managed to get two pieces of terrain and put them way out on both flanks, rough ground and a small copse, Stewart only took one, a large shallow hill. My intention from the start was to fling my warbands forward and quickly engage hoping my numbers would offset the large shields, it looked like the British were going to probe my right flank with their cavalry and wait to see how that turned out.

 I thought I would be in trouble on the right so sent my left flank cavalry running that way while the rest of the army, apart from the Ceorls and the Picts who were facing the hill, ran at full tilt towards the British line. My one unit of cavalry on the right was not going to last long but I thought they would hold the enemy cavalry long enough for me to smash their infantry, especially with help on the way. Stewart advanced his line a short distance and then went into shieldwall, this meant I should be able to get my charges in first but the extra protection might stop me.


The lines crashed as I lost my cavalry, to his disgust the Kings household were held by the peasants, not a good omen, the Franks pushed their foes back but the Duguth also were held, only one shieldwall had broken, the King looked around nervously as did the Duguth with the enemy cavalry victorious on their flank and rear. A further two rounds of ferocious combat followed and slowly but surely, with mounting casualties, the Romano-British line broke. Forced now to attack the Dux sent his bodyguard down the hill and into the nervous Picts, the northerners could not stand and fled, the nearby Milites and Ceorls glowered at each other within javelin range. The second Saxon cavalry unit had done well and only just failed to fight off the enemy after being hit in the flank, however their sacrifice had ensured the Saxon infantry could slaughter their retreating foes. A Saxon win was on the cards as both household units turned to face each other and trade insults.

 The low battery lights on the iPad were blinking and the iPhone had already given up the ghost, we got three hours of play and had managed our planned six moves each. Zoom lied to me and told me that with only three participants I would have unlimited time, it kindly let me continue after warning me my 45 minutes was up, there was only three devices on the call, duh. At the end it told me it was kindly going to give me another unlimited call if I scheduled a meeting there and then, I didn't and left it hanging for now, so I will have to give this some thought quickly. If I was limited to 45 minutes that would not do as time passes very quickly when playing, so I will look at alternatives during the week. The game from Stewart's point of view went well, he saw all the action and only on the odd occasion did he have to ask about measurements. On my part only my old back was strained again having to move both sides, perhaps I should have played on my smaller 6x4 table rather than the 9x5 but the latter gives plenty of room for dice, dead guys and other paraphernalia. So a success, will I do it again before and if normality returns, probably but we will see.

In other news I finished my Early War German platoon and got started on my Russian kits, the T28, BA10, T26 and field gun, I cleaned them up and gave them all a coat of Army Painter Army Green, I am really into spraying vehicles now, it is so much easier. A wash of AP Military Shader was given to them all then rust streaks and black chippings, I also put mud on the little T26, they all turned out very nice, well I like them. I am still waiting patiently for my German stuff from Blitzkrieg, I do have the little 3.7cm PAK, built, tomorrow I am going to prime it. I have also dug out four MG34 teams and three officers/NCO's from my lead pimple so that I can have panzergrenadiers for 1942.

 I got a nice surprise this week as the editor in charge of the Atlas sent me a draft copy of the cover for the book now that it is approaching being put together for sale in the Autumn to see what I thought. I pleased to see my name alongside that of David Bonk the author. Very chuffed.

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Pea Ridge 3: Elkhorn Tavern

 After the hard fought battle at Keetsville on the 21st Price had no choice but to once again withdraw in front of a victorious enemy, Curtis' Union forces, left bloodied but unbowed, reorganised after the shock of coming close to losing the battle and followed warily. Skirmishing erupted between the Confederate rearguard and pursuing Federal cavalry but it did not stop Price arriving at Elkhorn Tavern close to midnight on the 22nd.

At Elkhorn Price was joined by James McIntosh's cavalry brigade, a large fresh volume of troops who had made their way from Fayetteville, Price ordered McIntosh to camp his troops behind what would be his left flank if the Yankee's attacked the next day, no fires were to be lit and the troops were to dismount while their horses were led to the rear, the hope being the wooded nature of the terrain would keep these men hidden from prying eyes. The army settled down with the Guard defending the Telegraph road supported by 1st Brigade to their right, both these formations were in no condition to attack and had lost numbers to desertions and captures, even asking them to defend was a tall order. Price however intended to change his fortunes and put McCulloch's men on his far right with orders to attack through the woods as soon as the action started guessing that Curtis would try one more effort to get a decisive victory. McIntosh was to hold his men until the Federals were committed to attacking the Guard then lead his men forward in a typical Confederate surprise attack.

Curtis opens the battle.

 Curtis once again went for an assault on one flank, the Rebel left, hoping to clear the fields and then the enemy on the road, this time however there was not the depth of numbers and the Union troops formed a long battle line. The troops knew that one more push would break the long suffering Confederate troops and while tired themselves, this reasoning buoyed them up for the coming fight.

The skirmishers of both sides opened the battle as did a line of Rebel batteries on their left flank in the open fields past the Tavern, the Union cavalry advanced on foot and took surprisingly little casualties, this was helped by infantry skirmishers pushing forward and bringing the artillerymen under musketry fire. The brigades of the Third division moved on the Guard while the First division lent support, on the far left Fourth division prepared to hold the Union left.

McCulloch keeps his enemy close and pressures the Union left.

Confederate gun line collapses.

 The Union right and centre forged ahead and a fierce musketry duel erupted along the line, the 8th Indiana charged wildly and routed the crews of the Confederate guns taking the pressure off the cavalry, who were now in a position to outflank the Guard. Despite everything the State Guard stood up to the heavy fire directed at them and traded shots with the better armed Federals. With a crises being reached Price played his ace in the pack, a Rebel Yell rang out from the woods to the right of the dismounted troopers as rank upon rank of grey uniforms and battleflags bore down on them. Nonetheless it looked for a moment that the storm would be weathered as the surprised cavalry shifted their positions, but it did not last and the troopers were swept away as was the 8th and 22nd Indiana infantry, all of a sudden there was no Union right flank. Curtis halted his advance and ordered reserve batteries to support Third Division.

McIntosh arrives on the Federal flank.

Union left in trouble.

McIntosh gets ready to attack Federal troopers.

Union left collapses.

 About the same time it became apparent that Confederate pressure was also building on the Union left, General Asboth had already pulled his line back but the Rebels kept pace with him and closed to get the most from their smoothbores in desperate close range fire fights. As enemy casualties mounted McCulloch ordered several charges, the Yankee line buckled under the onslaught, desperately the boys in blue tried to hold the Arkansas boys back but each time it looked like the line had been formed it once again shattered. With only his centre holding Curtis decided enough was enough and sought to get as many men away as possible, Price's troops to his front were holding and showed no intention of following so the pace of the withdrawal was picked up before the Confederate pincers cut him off from escape.

Union right collapses.

The State Guard remain solid.

Rebs everywhere on the left.

Curtis pulls back his centre.

The Texans surge forward.

 Later that evening with McCulloch and a wounded McIntosh urging a pursuit Price gave in to realities and called a halt to operations, the Texans were fresh and the Arkansas troops tired but willing however his Missouri troops had given their last ounce in the defence of the centre and now needed a complete rest after three tumultuous battles, a few hours or even a day would not be enough. Curtis, badly beaten and his own army at the end of their tether decided to retreat back into Missouri and shorten his tenuous supply line, he had swept the state of Rebels and ensured it would not join the Confederacy but the loss at Elkhorn meant a retreat and hopefully a return in the future with reinforcements.

Union plan picked up after the battle wrapped around cigars.

 And there we will leave it, how did the commanders fair, James (Price) was not given very much leeway at the beginning and was committed to fight at Flat Creek, at this stage and the way things played out he had a slim chance to inflict a defeat or at the very least hurt the Yanks. Things did not play out that way and his retreat was hounded all the way south, forcing another battle at Keetsville, having met McCulloch's Arkansas troops, this time he narrowly missed inflicting a defeat on Curtis, but was again forced to retreat. Meeting further reinforcements at Elkhorn he once again offered battle and this time the extra troops ensured a much needed victory. Fran (Curtis) always tried to get an edge in the battles and handled the first two well with massive flank attacks, this was almost his undoing at Keetsville where his weak right was smashed but his army held their nerve. His dogged pursuit of Price kept the Rebs on the back foot and the pace and the weather took a toll on them. The army had lost a number of men by the time it took the field at Elkhorn, he could have held back but with supplies dwindling and the temptation of just one more victory destroying Price and Confederate hopes in the Trans-Mississippi, he took the risk. I gave a draw in the end, Price had been kicked out of Missouri and his army too broken to take it back, however Curtis had been soundly defeated and forced to retreat north.

One of the large fields at Elkhorn, looking south.

Telegraph Road, 1994.

Elkhorn Tavern

 It turned out to be a real joy for me to fight three such excellent battles, especially the last two, I probably was more aggressive in these actions with the troops than I would be had I been fighting with them in face to face actions. The last two games were notable for the amount of charges thrown in by both sides and the amount of success many of them had, I used the officers leading from the front in most of these and was surprised at how many survived such close action with the enemy.

It only remains for me to thank both James and Fran for taking part and allowing me to get these troops out of storage and back where they belong. Sadly they could not take part in the battles but maybe next time.