Thursday, 30 December 2021

2021 and all that.

 One and a half days to go until we can kiss goodbye to another rubbish year from the Covid perspective, I could of course wax lyrical about everything which bugs me about living through this hell but I will not, suffice to say I am a different kind of sick with it all.

My wargaming year got off to a good start when I ran a WWI Naval campaign and one from the American Civil War with the help of commanders who emailed orders and deployments so that I at last got a chance to get the troops back on the battlefield after a prolonged period of R&R for them. I also took to remote gaming with Phil Robinson, Matt Smith and Rob Broom which turned out to be easy to accomplish and gave me some 'face time' with real people and led to some very good games.

With the opening of the club and the end of restrictions I managed some excellent nights covering quite a few different periods, as well as joining in with several of Rob Martin and Dan Johnson's games I pushed my own agenda and brought Bolt Action, Chain of Command, Johnny Reb II, War and Conquest and last but not least Honours of War to the club. I hope to continue this trend in 2022.

On the practical front I added several more SYW battalions to the small collection and took my WWII interests to the Eastern Front with a lot of Russians. I took the latter further than I had wanted to but couldn't stop, I expanded the Germans and Russians to cover 1941 - 1945, then with the gift of a French 1940 army I also added 1940 Germans. I also built a lot of terrain, industrial units, Eastern Front buildings and pushed the boat out on one large project, the port of St. Nazaire.


 I also decided not to fold away my large wargame table in the Post Office, so have become a bit of a talking point in the area as the guy who has 'models' in his shop, I do take umbrage to being asked about my trains, as if I am that weird. I have been the subject of a story in a local magazine, the 'Warlord of Warton' and I have several delivery men who pop in if in the area to see what is set up. What I have not garnered during the year is one person to dip their toe into the wargaming pool. Unless you count Duncan of halftrack and armoured car fame, he has joined the club and actually bought figures, but Duncan only needed a small push being half way there already.

The club has done well this year with new blood, two others including Duncan have joined and stayed, all are an asset and cover both fantasy and historical with a willingness to join in whatever is available

It has also been a good year for my cartography having now drawn over 400 maps for over 40 publications to date, I was disappointed the large atlas was not ready for publication as it carries my name along with the author's, when will it be ready, who knows.

I had decided a few months ago to put a halt to my collecting, unlike many wargamers I do not tend to buy things on a whim and once bought said piece or pieces always get painted and based before I move on to other stuff. I decided I had enough and would simply concentrate on improving what I had. This did not last long and I started looking at Byzantines for a new War and Conquest army, I even went so far as making up an army list and seeking suitable figures (800-1000AD), before doing a complete 180 and instead putting my mind to the Italian Wars. The period has always been on my radar and having been involved with Helion's Italian Wars series and seeing the eye candy on the Facebook page for the wars I decided I could not resist. As usual two feet in, I have ordered two volumes from Helion, downloaded the Furioso rules and been looking at figures. 

 So, upcoming in 2022 (at the moment) is six new SYW battalions to give me three brigades a side, I already have the figures for two of them. I then have a few things to complete, some scatter terrain and the new kits I got for Christmas along with some research before actually buying the first figures for the new project. I am also looking at the possibility of writing up a mini campaign for Chain of Command involving the crossing of the Meuse by 7th Panzer in 1940, I downloaded Hans Von Luck's memoirs to help but he barely mentions the episode, luckily the PDF only cost £2.49. So I am all set for the third year AC (After Covid).

That should have been that, however I was pointed towards an article in Wargames Illustrated entitled 'Rude Health' where the author says "The UK hobby remains doggedly white, male, and over 45. Not healthy for reasons too myriad to mention." I cannot disagree how he describes the hobby, but so what, that has been my experience for over 55 years and I do not feel the need to change it, to chase an impossible utopia of social engineering whose adherents are disappearing daily up their own backsides. Another example "many genres of the hobby are based around small forces of Europeans killing, exploiting, or otherwise subjugating people of colour." I find this a very narrow and unhelpful view of a period of wargaming, In my own periods the Germans subjugated most of Europe, the Union subjugated the Confederacy while my Saxons subjugated the Romano-British and my Romans again subjugated large parts of Europe etc. no guilt trip here. If a half Cherokee, quarter Scots and Irish, one-legged self identifying giraffe in a wheelchair turns up wanting a game I will even provide them with an army, end of.

Almost forgot, Happy New Year everyone, fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Almost the end

 Last club meeting last night and as usual we held a club game, these are just an excuse to have some fun and banter and get to savour some of Julian's home made mince pies, sadly Julian was absent, however we did manage a good fourteen members.

The game had six a side, and where you were placed was decided on which side of the river Lune you were domiciled, Northerners vs Southerners, the North were Late Romans and Byzantines while the South fielded Carthaginians and Greeks. We each had a SAGA type warband and gained points for enemy we killed and the overall winners North or South would depend on the final tally of all players. Dan had put together a back story for our Battle of Watfordium Gap as both armies fought over the ancient service station along the road.

 It's amazing how worked up and noisy a bunch of grown men can be over the roll of a die when victory or defeat lies in the lap of the Gods. My own part in the battle was not decisive but I did manage to have the only full or almost full warband left on the table at the end having vanquished several low point peasant types, elsewhere there was carnage with only the remnants of once proud forces wandering aimlessly over a devastated battlefield and many Warlord's lying amidst the corpses of their retinues.

I used up the last ounce of luck for 2021.

 I had a young lad on my right and he was in charge of a Byzantine warband up against Jimi's Greeks, it looked like he would have some trouble so as I had been successful in routing some of my enemies I sent a unit over to help. In the end it was not needed, the lad put up a spirited fight which turned into one of those incidents which will go down in wargaming history. His warlord and companions fought and died in a legendary encounter leaving poor Jimi forlorn and ruined.

 The end result was a clear win for the Northerners but also a win for all of those taking part in a great evenings entertainment. A superb feat of organisation from Dan with some help from Fran on the night to keep the game moving seamlessly.

I have an away game on the 30th, a large 10mm SYW bash which I suspect is now looking less and less likely as Boris gives way to 'the science' and the numbers of doom. It may also affect my plans for an ACW game on the 9th January, what is it again, a door stop, rain check, breakwater, I can't even be bothered to look it up.

I have started painting the 25th Foot, slowly, but getting there. The Crusader figures are nice but not as nice as Front Rank who are far better detailed, however as there is no word yet when the FR figures will be available, if they ever are, I shall continue to recruit Crusader for the last of my battalions. Having seen a bunch of Dan's Byzantine troops on the table last night I still want that Byzantine army and have penciled it in for 2023/4, how's that for confidence.

I got a visit from Charles Singleton, editor of Helion's Century of the Soldier and new wargaming series amongst other projects and had a good chat over coffee. I quizzed him over the Italian Wars volumes and the upcoming guide to the wars so I shall have a large order to send in after New Year. Charles' dad lives just up the road from me and he got me started on my cartographic journey so always a pleasure when he pops in.

The Memsahib came up with an idea for her Christmas present and then felt guilty so told me I should also get something, although there is nothing I need at this moment in time I managed to send an order off to Rubicon, doesn't do to annoy the boss.

A last word on wargamers, really nice chaps. I got a lovely wargame calendar from David Bickley and a smashing hay barn from Matt Smith, another surprise came last night when Fran handed me two MDF 15mm Gettysburg buildings from Sarissa. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, 15 December 2021

Mea Culpa

 Club last night and Seven Years War again, but this time in 28mm and a much smaller game than with Dan's legions and with Honours of War rules not Black Powder. I would be introducing the rules to Dan, Matt and Simon.

With a bit of spare time I found a scenario I could use, the French were besieging a city somewhere in the distance and had set up a heavy artillery piece to batter the walls, the British sent a force against this gun with the intention of making it inoperable. The French had seen the approach and had turned the gun around to face the attackers, they also had a Forlorn Hope (Scots Guards) behind walls on a nearby hill which was a secondary objective for the British.

Dan would hold the main hill with the gun while Matt would advance his brigade to assist the Scots, I would lead the attack on the gun position while Simon would support and possibly take the secondary objective. As I advanced I blocked the fire of our two artillery pieces until I could get safely out in front of them, Simon meanwhile moved on the Scots Guards and sent the rest of his troops forward to meet the advancing French. There was a crash of musket fire and Simon's men started to suffer, my own came under fire from the French heavy artillery as pipes played and drums beat the advance.

 Quite quickly as I pushed my men forward Simon came under increasing pressure and deadly fire, so deadly two battalions fled the field. I now managed to get my men up after some delays but again the firefight went the way of the French, as the British line shuddered Dan took the opportunity to charge my own Scots on the extreme left but was knocked back, the only piece of good luck we had last night. It was not good enough however and losing another couple of battalions the British started to withdraw with the French sensing victory. Being very close to our army morale breaking and the French having suffered at worst a few headaches I called a French win.


A very one sided affair which mainly came about by the accurate and deadly fire throughout by the French and the almost useless response by the British. It did not help either that I failed to use my two medium guns advantageously, I got a brain freeze with them, but in my defence whenever they did fire they hit nothing. The good news is the game gleaned interest from the rest of the club and Dan was pleased with the rules so I expect to do some more 28mm games at the club next year, so much to play and so little time.

 While I was setting up the game twenty minutes after arriving at the club I got a text from my car telling me it had been in a collision, I dropped everything and ran out to inspect it. Expecting the worst, maybe a door stove in or wing missing I could see nothing, so back to the club and the game. When we finished and putting the boxes in the boot I saw where it had been hit, it had been scratched at the rear near the wheel. In the daylight it proved just that, a scratch but enough I think to cost around £100 to get fixed, one of my customers has a business fixing these kinds of annoyances and is expert at it and I have used him a couple of times through the years.

My Crusader SYW figures turned up and they had indeed put in an extra couple of standard bearers for me, so gold star for them. The figures are very nice so once Christmas etc. is out of the way I think I shall order up the remaining four battalions from them. I haven't managed to get around to cleaning and priming yet, but no big hurry.

Club Christmas game next week and then that will probably be it until January, Dan is running a large Black Powder game at his place on 30 December to which I have been invited so will look forward to that. 

It's my birthday today so I am giving way to sloth, I have finished all outstanding map work so have no need to draw at the moment either, an afternoon reading and watching YouTube military lectures lies ahead, hopefully without too many customers.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

ACW and a decent movie

 American Civil War this week in the teeth of storm whatever, which simply used to be called high winds, I picked up Duncan and was a little anxious as the road to his place is rugged with trees both sides and it is also being used as a 'rat run' at the moment because the main road is closed while a workforce of Zombies complete the installation of a water pipe, three months is it now? Where's some legionaries when you need them.

I was taking Simon through Johnny Reb again, he has played a couple of times but JR needs commitment, I also introduced command and control this time and to be honest should have kept the numbers down considering it was a club night. Two Federal brigades once again fought off three of Hood's brigades. I set up once again with the Iron Brigade on my right and Cutler on the left, the troops were a bit more strung out than I liked and I really did not have anyone in reserve. Simon came on with the Texans opposite my left and Benning and Anderson taking up the rest of the line. 

 My artillery started well and the rifles took out a Reb Napoleon after which they just gave up, my Napoleon battery on the other hand did sterling work against the advancing Grey hordes. Simon played well and I had great difficulty holding my left as the Texans advanced, my line was simply too thin and it buckled, I held my centre without a problem and advanced the Iron Brigade against Anderson. Using the command and control rules meant Anderson's brigade got into a bit of trouble and it put them in a bad spot as the Union troops closed.

 Time was against us and we had to wrap up with neither side winning, the centre of both sides stood  while the left flanks of both reached a crises point, but sadly we had to end things there. I should have known better and will be more careful in the future.

 I might have bored you with my new 2022 project recently, the Byzantine army of 800-1000AD, well no more dear reader, that project has been binned for now, maybe 2024 during Lockdown 347 when they have to use numbers for variants having run out of letters. I have decided on the Italian Wars, my interest was first tweaked when someone invited me to join the Facebook page, then at FIASCO in Leeds I managed to see Yarkshire Gamers beautiful army in the flesh, it had lots of flags and I like flags. It also just happens that I have been involved with maps for two of Helion's Italian Wars publications and they have a wargamers guide on the wars in the pipeline. I also took YG's recommendation and bought 'Furioso' rules, they seem fine to me and he explains some house rules which he has tagged on on his blog. So 2022 is sorted and probably a bit of 2023 as well at this rate.

Gripping Beast have not managed to sort out their takeover of Front Rank yet and until they do they are not selling the figures. Fired with enthusiasm from my last 'Honours of War' game I decided to increase my SYW forces to three brigades a side, I ordered up troops from North Star and have had to wait a long time, no doubt they have been busy from their 'Not Salute' promotions. I got notice today they are on their way, if they are good and mix well, which I believe they will, then I shall send another order to complete the project. All I have done lately is repaint some western 4Ground fences so they will fit with my Eastern Front terrain.

It is SYW at the club next week and I have decided to take my 28mm SYW, there will be our Christmas Game the week after then a halt for the festive season. I have already penned in the 9th January for a JR game here at me casa and I know that Ed is looking at building a Viking army for War and Conquest while Charlie is recruiting more infantry for his Normans, so good news for my two favourite games.

 I had the opportunity to watch 'The Last Duel' the other night, oh and it wasn't, the last one was a couple of hundred years later, but hey, whose counting. I had actually bought the book several years ago and enjoyed it, on seeing the first trailer for the movie where the jousters wore some kind of Orc inspired half helmet I sighed, not pour moi. Well, I was wrong, yes there are a couple of things which are not quite right, but as it is the 21st Century you have to live with some, lovely glass windows on the chateau for instance, too much? The stories of the three main characters are evenly told and they all seem to be products of their time, the woman deserves sympathy while the two men are very hard to like whoevers side you take. I also found the duel itself quite exciting and will give them points for the men using not just the blades of their swords as weapons but the handles as well. A well crafted and very good movie and I cannot say that very often these days. The movie has 'bombed' according to the those in the know and the director's excuse, which I think is valid is “what we’ve got today, [are] the audiences who were brought up on these f***ing cellphones..." Don't read the reviews, watch the film and be entertained by a good story told well.

 The cartography has slowed down for now, there has been some small two or three map projects put to rest but nothing requiring a lot of work over the coming celebrations (if that is the right word with the sword of science hanging over us). I am quite glad of this to be honest and don't expect things to pick up again until January. The LMF however is bulging and just crying out for a big spend.

Oh, and Duncan has his replica SdKfz 222 back but it is under a tarpaulin and no point dragging it off in this weather, but soon I hope to explore it, I would love to drive it along main street.

Thursday, 2 December 2021

Numbers Game

 I mentioned in the last post some numbers about maps and books, this week the views on here crept past 500,000, I was quite chuffed hitting that figure. I mainly keep this going for my own good as I like writing and wargaming and this combines the two, my thanks to those of you who do pop by and I hope you enjoy my musings and the odd aside at modern life.

 This week I really could have called off the club night, it was cold, dark and raining cats and dogs when I left the house, I was also on my own as both Duncan and Simon were not requiring a lift this week. The lads from Grange were also unlikely to be there as Grange had been damaged by a storm and most of it was still without electricity three days later, a bit like how the UK will be in another five years or so. I had arranged a game with Ed so could not let the man down at the last moment.

Ed took the Romano-British forces as they do have a slight edge on the Saxons, I of course took my default army, Saxon Heptarchy. Both sides set up in two lines facing each other and I intended to sweep the British left flank away with the help of my archers while advancing to take the two hills to the my front, I managed the latter due to winning the initiative for most of the first turns, the former was beyond my light cavalry. Everything therefore depended on the main clash of both lines, because of the hills I managed to win most of the melees, although it was still a hard slog. The cavalry got tied up in a long fight with the enemy horsemen and although they eventually broke their sacrifice had not been in vain and this kept the British cavalry away from my flank. On the opposite flank my Ceorls ran from the British Pedyts but managed to make a spectacular recovery and turn the tables on the enemy, in the centre the Romano-British Dux with his Comitatus had cut through my centre but it was too late. I could have turned the battle into a simple loss for Ed rather than a complete loss by throwing my Franks uphill into his victorious Comitatus, but with the time running out and no need to lose any more men I held back, my men jeering and gesticulating against the frustrated British and their Dux.

Saxons on the left, Romano-British on the right.

The Saxons take the high ground.

The Comitatus about to break the Saxon centre.

 A good little game and a nice introduction for Ed to War and Conquest, hopefully he will try again soon.

I do not have my SYW order yet from Crusader so painted up a Referee (which you don't actually need) for Blood Bowl and tidied up and labelled some of my terrain boxes, I need to get some more Really Useful's for the latest recruits to the French and British.

I received a nice surprise from Royal Mail yesterday, usually a visit from them means something is wrong but this time I was presented with a nice food hamper, seemingly I had performed above and beyond the call of duty over the last few weeks, no, no idea here either. It also transpired that the messenger wanted to look and chat about model soldiers which was nice, he had seen the boys on the table once before. I now have a few people who pop in now and again to see what is on offer.

 In order to cheer me up after the latest tripe from what passes as a government I popped up to Duncan's for a chat and a cuppa. One of his mates was doing some kind of mechanical stuff with a jeep while Duncan was working on the fuel supply for a ZIL truck. I politely declined his offer to help with the ZIL having an artists hands and no idea what went where or why. The Sdkfz 222 replica should be back either today or by the weekend, so as soon as it is I will pop up for a look at it. Duncan has just come back from Bovington where he has been measuring up their Panzer IV for a new project to build a replica, now that would be sweet.