Saturday, 24 December 2016

Have a Cool Yule!

First of all the complements of the season to one and all! As I write this I am suffering from a very heavy cold which means that currently I am unable to taste anything (that is a bit of handicap at this time of years for sure!) and so I am feeling somewhat below par. This coincides with having no phone line (although the broadband is Ok) until 28/12 when the BT engineer will turn up.

On the plus side though I am off work until 03/01, Holly is back from University - and her 21st birthday celebrations earlier in December, and my grandson will be here tomorrow. There is also the small matter of Rogue One next week as well.

The picture above is something I am messing about with alongside the Men Who Would be Kings. In truth I have everything I need for a number of projects but it is, as ever, finding the time.

Have a great holiday, however you choose to celebrate it, and I will back in the new year.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

There and Back Again....

Hello again! After a shade over three months of 'radio silence' I am now back in the blog groove once again. Well, sort of anyhow....

If I am honest little has changed since August (my last blog entry) on the hobby front but time has proven to be a great healer. I am now much clearer in my mind as to what I want to do and so have been quietly stockpiling the necessary materials to realise my ideas. Of course translating these ideas into a physical reality is quite another thing but I have learned that it is pointless stressing over such things.

I have a couple of small scale ideas to mess around with and so the plan is to tackle one of these over the course of the Christmas holiday. For the record it is a naval project and given the size of the undertaking I am confident of completing this.

The large scale projects are slow burners for sure with the Crusades and a 19th century featuring. Both of these are 28mm and are using plastics for the figures. I am mulling over something 20th century related and have a few ideas in mind. No details as yet but you can be sure that whatever rocks up will be something a little different.

On a personal note the big news is that after a 36 year engagement Laurel and I are at last getting around to getting married next February on her birthday. This is proof positive than I can actually get around to making a decision about something - even if it does take me a while.

A bit like my projects really!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Blogging Off,,,,For now!

It has been a real struggle for me to maintain the enthusiasm to write on my blog for some time now. Work is really putting the squeeze on my spare time so the great battle reports of days gone by are sadly confined to the past. Careful readers will note that the number of entries has dwindled away to a mere trickle compared to a few years ago. It is not that I don't enjoy it - it is more a case of me feeling guilty about not having anything exciting to pass on. I have a number of things on the go but my spare time is so limited these days that something has got to give if I am to get anything done at all.

It is with this in mind that I have taken the decision to suspend my own blogging for a while - or at least until I have something worth sharing to write about. From a practical perspective it means that perhaps once a month I may put finger to keyboard - and only then if it is something really exciting.

I'll be back - I'm just not sure when....;-)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Boot Sale Dilemma


....And the cost for little lot? 50p the book, £2 for the Blu Ray and £6 for the figures. 
        The box is a little tatty but the contents are complete and on the sprues.

Another Sunday, another boot sale. The pickings for me have been a little on the light side in recent weeks (excepting last week of course) at our local 'lazybones' boot sale but today I acquired some useful bits and pieces - one of which has given me a delicious dilemma.

I am on a bit of a mission at the moment in that I replacing a number of my DVD/Blu Ray collection with the digital version. Many films now have a download code which you can use and either add the film to ITunes or Ultarviolet. This means that I can a film cheap at a boot sale and assuming the code has not been redeemed I can then download the digital version to watch at my leisure - and this is very handy for the IPad. Ultimately I will be able to stream the download onto our main TV - I can certainly do so at present via the Mac. Thus far I have some forty plus films stored in this fashion - which saves a lot of shelf space. One can actually buy the download code in some cases from EBay and I was able to get Spartacus (with Kirk Douglas), The Battle of the Five Armies and the entire James Bond collection for a fraction of the disc price.

Battleship will be very much a popcorn film but it will certainly pass some time and any film that features a battleship and Liam Neeson must have something good going for it!

The book is not my normal ancient period but I am aware that the author has written a number of acclaimed titles around the Greco Persian war so I picked this up from curiosity as much as anything. Alexander's contribution to the pages of world history is well known but this account will certainly fill a gap on the bookshelf. It may well inspire some Command and Colours Ancients games in any event!

Finally we come to the piece de resistance - a box of 28mm hard plastic Teutonic Knights produced by FireForge Games. These are unassenbled and are still on the sprues with the only damage being one of the lances having a minor bend in it. As there are plenty of options of hand weapons this would not be a major problem. I have no intention of using these as they are intended but Lion/Dragon Rampant and Saga are certainly likely candidates. The figures are beautiful and whilst this is not something I would have considered ordinarily they are crying out to be used for something. Of course it means that I will have to add the collection but luckily FireForge produce other figures that would be suitable.

Now all I need to do is to paint them....:-)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Boot Sales and Blocks


                                              From tiny acorns do mighty blocks grow....

As it is a Sunday SMWBO and I headed to our local boot sale for some retail therapy - or, to be more accurate, occasional therapy because it is only occasionally you find some retail to therapise over.....

Today was an interesting day for me as I added a copy of the above book to my collection. I did not see the TV series upon which the book is based but I confess to having a weakness for BBC 'book of the series' publications. As a rule they are good primers for the subject covered so I shall look forward to reading this in due course.

The next acquisition was rather more practical. In the picture above you can see two Jenga type blocks. That on the left formed the basis of my entire block army collection which has featured in countless games over the last couple of years (see the games folder to see what I mean). The two cavalry blocks should remind you of what I mean. If you recall I took the aforementioned blocks and had them sawn in half to form the units I needed. The block on the right comes from the two sets I picked up today and I am really pleased to get these as the size of the block will be ideal for use with Bloody Big Battles. The block measures 3" x 1" and so is an exact multiple of the suggested base size used by the rules. All I will need to do will be to get them cut - I am planning on getting a 1" square block cut off of each - and to tweak the existing labels to fit.

I should point out that the entire expenditure for this lot (and the book) was a mere £1.50.

So, block armies on a non-hexed playing area - for me that is hugely radical and no mistake!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Bloody Big Battles and Bloody Bigger Ideas

Oooohh, shiny! Something to appeal to the commander in chief in every war gamer methinks!

Following on from a conversation with my old friend Chris Hardman I decided to take the plunge and acquire a copy of Bloody Big Battles by Chris Pringle. I also ordered a copy of the scenario book for good measure. the rules are also well supported by a Yahoo group and a couple of blogs as well - Bloody Big Battles is the one that springs to mind. This rules are designed with the larger size of action in mind so should appeal to most of the megalomaniacs I know!

The rules features nine of the larger actions of the Franco Prussian War whilst the scenario book includes the Crimean War, "Austrian Decline 1859 to 1866, the Russo Turkish War as well as the Serbo Bulgarian War of 1885 and the Greco Turkish War of 1897. No surprises for guessing which of those have caught my eye....

The rules work on a scale of 1,000 men or 24 guns per square base upon which you can place as many or as few models as you like. Given the scale of the actions typically represented my first thought was to drag out the block armies and use maps drawn on paper - this would be a very cheap way to tackle it. Or I could use the blocks with 3D terrain - something that Doctor Phalanx on his blog has done - and very nice it looks to.

The rules could (and indeed have) be used up to around 1914 and I have seen a couple of battles from the Balkan War refought using them.

I have always felt that there is something rather special using a map to fight a battle with - I suppose it is the nearest one would get to being an actual commander in the field - which is probably why I enjoy board games so much. 

This set has a huge amount of potential for me especially when taken in conjunction with an idea I am currently flirting with. More of this to follow once I have digested the contents.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Return of the Native

Yours truly looking the epitome of the sartorially elegant middle-aged Englishman abroad....SWMBO had the Panama hat....(Taken by the entrance to Limassol Castle)

Well I'm back. SWMBO and I have recently returned from a two week holiday on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and boy oh boy was it warm! The first week saw temperatures north of 45 degrees whilst the second was a little cooler and averaged around 38. Needless to say copious amounts of factor 30 was used (we used some four bottles of the stuff whilst we were away) and industrial quantities of cold drinks were needed to replace the missing bodily fluids etc....

The holiday was a restful one although we managed to visit a local archeological site dating back to around 800 BC as well as the castle in Limassol (at least the outside of it - we did not have time to go inside) where Richard the Lionheart was married. We also spent a day on a 4 x4 jeep safari (actually a Land Rover Defender) which was huge fun.

The rest of the time was spent by the pool (we also had a swim up pool to the room which was very welcome) relaxing. I started to read Game of Thrones but could not get into it so settled on revisiting the Severn Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. I also listened to the soundtrack whilst doing so and there was something very appropriate about doing so in the heat we were experiencing!

It has given me a number of thoughts for the future and these will form the basis for a later blog post.


 I suspect that most gamers 'of a certain age' would have loved something like this 'back in the day'.....

Upon my arrival back in the UK I had a copy of the Airfix Battles - The Introductory Wargame to look forward to and I have to say I am very impressed with the whole thing. Already I am thinking that replacing the counters with models and '3D-ing' the maps and terrain would not be a major challenge. It certainly appears to be pitched at a different level than say, Memoir 44. I shall look forward to trying  this out in due course and I note that other theatres will be covered as well.

I have made a number of decisions about my gaming needs whilst I was away and again, these will feature in a further post in due course. For the meantime though I shall get back to sorting through a few bits and pieces and seeing what has not made the cut so to speak.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Contemplating My Naval(s)....

Work continues to dominate my life and so my gaming time has been greatly reduced. All I have been able to do is to catch up on a lot of reading although I have now completed the great Command and Colours label-fest. The next step will be organise the rules - all of these will be placed in binders in due course - and tackle the terrain question but this is not something I need to hurry.

Fast play and with lots of D6 - and not a hex in sight....

I was delighted when Osprey announced that they were going to release a set of ancient naval warfare rules and so acquiring a copy was an obvious step for me. The rules, called Poseidon's Warriors - Classical Naval Warfare 480 - 31 BC by John Lambshead, look really good. They are designed for large actions and the rules are fast play for sure. They are not even hex based....Players use squadrons - 5 vessels for the trireme era - and alternate moving these depending on the initiative.
This makes for a very interactive game and places a premium on good tactics.

The book contains not only the rules but also a naval timeline and suggested historical match ups. There is a nice selection of eye candy although if I was being picky I would have liked to have seen some models other than Rod Langtons in action. Don't get me wrong, Langton's models are lovely but my entire collection consists of Navwar models which are less detailed but are easier on the wallet. I will certainly be getting some of his terrain pieces though! My plan is now to use these rules for Salamis - so hexes will not be featuring.

Rounds out my Jutland library very nicely indeed....

The next acquisition is a couple of books concerned with Jutland. I must thank Dave Manley for recommending the Nick Jellicoe title - it really is a first class read - and I have to say I enjoyed the BBC documentary featuring the author. It also leads nicely into The Jutland Scandal. This book is really two books in one as it contains The Truth About Jutland by Rear-Admiral J.E.T Harper and also The Jutland Scandal by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon. Needless to say certain historical figures did not come out particularly well in either title - and that is a story all of its own.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Jutland: 100 years ago today

One hundred years ago today the Royal Navy and the German High Seas Fleet met in battle in the grey wastes of the North Sea. By the time the fighting had ended 25 ships had been sunk (14 British and 11 German) and some 10,003 seamen had been killed, wounded or captured (6,945 for the British and 3,058 for the Germans).

The German navy had, according to theAmerican press of the time, "Assaulted its jailer but was still in jail". The Royal Navy had not destroyed the Germans in a second Trafalgar but it ensured that the High Seas Fleet would never again try to force a conclusion in the North Sea and so instead they would look to the submarine to challenge Great Britain's command of the oceans.

It was the first and last great clash of the battle fleets before the aircraft carrier came to dominate naval warfare.

For my own part the battle has fascinated me for some thirty years and using the Avalon Hill game of Jutland enabled me to refight the operation on numerous occasions. Regular readers of the blog will no doubt remember my grandiose plans for the centenery - none of which will be realised - but unfortunately life has gotten in the way and so my ideas have been drastically scaled back.

I will extend my best wishes though to all that are taking part in anything Jutland related to commemorate the battle - for my own part I will make my rather more modest plans accordingly - and I feel sure that, whatever has been undertaken to mark the event that the participants will not forget the bravery and sacrifice of all that took part, from both sides, on that fateful day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Jutland: Less Than Two Weeks To Go

In less than two weeks time it will be the centenery of the Battle of Jutland. A quick trawl of the net reveals that various events etc are scheduled to commemorate the battle and I am sure that all of these have been carefully planned so as to be a success when they happen.

I wish I could say that my own modest contribution was as well organised - it most certainly is not although the work needed should take little more than a few hours at the keyboard. Work has really impacted on my hobby time of late so things have slid a little - actually they have slid a lot if I am honest - meaning that plans have had to be scaled back and altered from the original intention.

As mentioned previously I am looking to strip out the tactical rules from the Avalon Hill board game of the same name and use them without the strategic move option. I am looking at some four linked scenarios for the refight but of course the difficulty with this is that the first contact between the opposing sides may generate a very different outcome to what happened historically. 

Initially this concerned me but after having given it some thought I am now of the opinion that it should make for an interesting refight. I will mirror the strategic moves as they happened but with (potentially) altered forces - with the key being how the Battle Cruisers make out in the initial clash.

However it plays out though, you can rest assured that I am looking forward to it!

Sunday, 1 May 2016

The Spanish Civil War

Something a little different but of a lingering personal interest

Well, it is a sunny Sunday in May so for me it can mean only one thing - the return of the boot sale! We popped out this morning to our local boot sale and unsurprisingly given the weather and the imminent bank holiday it was packed. There was not much of immediate value but I was able to acquire a copy of the title you see above for a mere 50p.

The Spansih Civil War is a period I would be keen to dabble in in some fashion and for a variety reasons have never really gotten very far with doing so. I acquired a large selection of 1/200th scale figures produced by a firm called Wild Geese a number of years ago but have never really done anything with them. They were pretty grim figures if I am honest and I disposed of them some time ago. Of course there is now a large variety of kit available in a variety of scales so drumming up forces would not be difficult although my own thoughts for the period lie is slightly different direction - and will form another post in due course.

Henry Buckley was the Daily Telegraph's correspondent in Spainduring the Spainsh Civil War. He arrived in Spain in 1929, six years before the outbreak of the conflict, and left Spain with the remnants of the Republican forces that fled over the Pyrenees following their defeat by Franco in 1939.

Buckley was well acquainted with the main protagonists of the conflict - Juan Negrin, 'La Pasionaria' Dolores Ibarruri, Valentin Gonzalez and Enrique Lister as well as being a good friend of Ernest Hemingway and Robert Capa.

I am really looking forward to reading this and I am confident it will give me a chance to tackle a small idea I have been mulling over - again, more of this in a later post.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Jutland: The Refight

Next month sees the centenery of the Battle of Jutland. As readers of this blog will no doubt recall I have been wrestling with how best to commemorate this epic engagement via the medium of a war game (naturally!). My plans began in a grandiose fashion with a refight using 1/2400th models taking place on board HMS Belfast but practicality and logistical considerations have scaled this down somewhat. I plan to refight the battle using the Avalon Hill 'board' game of the same name and this means counters (scaled at around 1/4800th) rather than models.

I seriously considered using 1/6000th scale models for this but if I am honest the price was way over my budget so a cheaper option was needed.

I have often mentioned my fondness for the old Avalon Hill game of Jutland (designed by James Dunnigan and first released in 1967) so this was going to be the basis of the refight. The tactical rules are not perfect but they should be viewed within the context of what is essentially a strategic game. There are a number of rules additions that appeared in the old Avalon Hill General magazine and I plan to incorporate these.

I have flirted with changing the system and making it more 'naval war gamey' but you know what? I am going to leave it as it is and fight the battle(s) using what is essentially an old school system. Besides, it is now too late to consider anything more complex.

I am really looking forward to this and so next month will be very naval centric in terms of blog posts. At this stage the only decision I need to make is how to break the action up into historical scenarios for which I shall be using my modest library in the subject and also the Avalanche Press Great War at Sea board game that covers the North Sea during the period.

More to follow methinks....

Friday, 22 April 2016

Fifty Years Ago

Over a thousand pages of engrossing and enthralling military history

1966 was a good year. Aside from England winning the World Cup it also saw the publication of a very special, indeed seminal book. I am of course referring to The Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler.

The man himself - examining a rather familiar piece of headgear

As a young war gamer in the early 1970s - replete with boxes of Airfix figures and inspired by Bruce Quarrie's Airfix Magazine guide to the Napoleonic Wars (not to mention the film Waterloo) - this book represented the Holy Grail of the wars of Napoleon. I always wanted a copy of this book but on my pocket money plastic figures and paints took priority.

The first time I acquired a copy of this book was in the early 80s which was kind of ironic as by that time I had moved on from the wars of Napoleon. My first copy went with a whole pile of gaming stuff during one of my 80s domestic upheavals and so I was bereft of a copy until quite recently.

The advent of Command and Colours Napoleonics and the celebrations around the bicentenary of Waterloo has made me look at the wars of Napoleon again beyond my lifelong interest in the 1815 campaign.

I picked up a secondhand copy almost at the same time as finding a copy at a boot sale for a ridiculously small price (since passed on to Mr. Fox) and had forgotten how good a book this is. There are a myriad of titles in print that cover the various campaigns in far greater detail but this book is the one that everything else taps in to. It may be dated in the light of recent research but in my opinion if you only ever acquired one book on the campaigns of Napoleon then you would not go far wrong by adding this to your collection.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Command and Colours: The Great War

The box in all its glory - photo courtesy of Google images.

When the Plastic Soldier Company announced that they were going to produce a WW1 game in conjunction with Richard Borg of Command and Colours fame I was very interested indeed. I avoided the Kickstarter - or rather forgot about it until it was too late - and planned to take a look once the game was on the market. The game was released and my curiosity was piqued - but at the time not sufficiently to invest in a set.

If I am honest I was unsure about the subject matter of the game - after all I had little interest in the Western front after 1914, at least until the tanks made an appearance. My Great War focus has always been more towards the sideshows - the Middle East and Africa being cases in point. My Great War library has plenty of material on those theatres as well as 1914 but nothing at all from Christmas 1914 on the Western Front. Trench warfare has little appeal for me - at least I thought this was the case until my reading of much of Turkish military history changed my mind. The Turks usually fought from defensive positions and so the concept of spadework on the battlefield should not really be quite so alien to me! I suppose to an extent it is very much a perception thing - the vast slaughter on the Western Front does not make for pleasant reading nor recreating on a table top in my opinion.

How wrong am I?

I have to say that Richard Borg has achieved something of a coup with this latest version of his Command and Colours system.

I will not go into a detailed overview of the game or the rules - simply because there are far better reviews on the internet - as I doubt I would be able to add to what has already been written. Suffice it to say that there are some subtle differences to the rule system to cater for the impact of artillery, machine guns and trenches. As I mentioned the late war does not really interest me per se - at least not until the Tanks were a regular feature - until you get to the more open latter stages. Having said that, the figures are very nice indeed (aside from the care needed to cut the British infantry from their sprues) although closer to 18mm than 15mm. There is an expansion set due to be released in a couple of weeks which adds tanks - 4 x Mark V (2 each of the male and female versions), a pair of A7Vs and a brace of German 105mm guns with crews. There is also the rules and scenarios and some additional terrain tiles.

The base game uses a 12 by 11 hex grid - the extra depth no doubt to allow for multiple trench lines - and the terrain tiles unsurprisingly feature trenches - a lot of them! Artillery is not deployed on the board (which raises the question why did PSC produce both the 18 pounder and the 77mm) and is fired using a template - this should appeal to the old school gamers amongst us!

The planned expansion - photo courtesy of Kickstarter/Google Images.

I plan to get the tank expansion and am happy to dabble in the late war based on the set as it stands but for me the longevity may be an issue. If we get expansions and models for other theatres then I believe that PSC could be on to a winner.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Command and Colours: Ancients

The set that launched a thousand expansions (well half a dozen really....)

I have dabbled in ancient war games since the early 1980s. I first cut my teeth using WRG 6th edition and had many interesting games using these rules. My first two armies were Carthaginian - one in 25mm and soon after one in 15mm. The 25mm version came from my old friend Chris Hardman and was a mixture of Minifigs, Garrison and probably a few Lamming figures thrown in for good measure. When I acquired it from him all I needed to do was to round up a couple of units and tackle some rebasing and in short order it was in action.

I quickly learned that the army fought best of all when the points values were low so fighting at 1,100 points (including the general) quickly became my preferred Modus Operandi. With the 25mm army (back when 28mm was in fact 25mm) the closest I ever came to fighting anything like contemporary opposition was against Chris Hardman's Seleucids - the 'Swiss army knife' army. As I recall I fought him twice - once at Rochford when we went for 3,000 points and I was comprehensively beaten and the second time at the club when I was able to grind out a draw. Actually we called it a draw as we had run out of time and I was grateful to be offered the same!

The 15mm version did manage to fight a Republican Roman army (in fact it only fought against Republican Romans) but every game I took part in ended in a draw.

The army was great fun to use but it was difficult to win with - at least when yours truly was commanding it - as the troops it contained were fairly ordinary. It was difficult to get the momentum going with them as the troop types were so disparate that coordination was a challenge. Plus the fact I am no Hannibal....

I further dabbled with a Late Imperial Roman Army - that was great fun to use - and also a Classical Indian. I can still recall the Irregular B elephants with a general going impetuous and charging downhill into a Roman Legion - then throwing a maximum plus in the resultant melee! 

I kind of fell out of love with the period (rather I was distracted by other things) until DBA came along and most of my figure games since then have been using these rules. I owned a 15mm Numidian Army  that was fun to use - a throwback to my Carthaginian days I suppose - but have never really pushed on with the period like I did in my early days. However, all of that can now change.

Romans (in red, naturally) and Barbarians prepare to get to get to grips - or should that be Agrippina? The picture is courtesy of Google Images.

Some time ago I acquired a copy of the Richard Borg designed Command and Colours: Ancients. This has been a successful series and covers warfare in the ancient world from the time of the Hoplites until the fall of Rome. the basic game covers the Punic Wars and the expansions cover the wars of Alexander and his Successors, the rise of Rome and the end of the Hellenistic era, the wars against the various Barbarians, the wars against the Persians from the Hoplites until Imperial Rome and the final stands of the Legions. In common with the other Command and Colours games the action is card driven and the units follow the usual 4, 3 and 2 block size standard.

Aside from the official scenarios contained in the rule books the game is really well supported with a whole world of internet based goodies - rules variants, army lists, scenarios and much else besides.

I have in addition to the base game a whole pile of blocks from the expansion sets so the collection is pretty complete. With the material I have to hand I should be able to fight pretty much any kind of ancient battle and whilst this will not be my main area of endeavour it certainly gives me something a little different to dabble in. I am not expecting to go down the figure route with this as the blocks are perfectly adequate.

Hopefully I may have better luck with the Carthaginians than I ever did using figures all those years ago!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

86 Days to go....

Despite suffering from a bout of Bronchitis I have had last managed to make a start on cutting out the replacement counters for my planned Jutland refight. Thus far I have completed both the Royal Navy and the High Seas Fleet and the optional 'scaled' Light Ship counters. The latter are very important as I have mentioned previously because the counters in the original game represent formations that are too large. Having a single counter representing some 16 destroyers whilst the capital ships are individual does make for some strange tactical decisions. Under the new system the same formation would be represented by four counters - this is much better from a gaming perspective as the player would be able to make decisions about formations, station keeping etc. It will change how the rules work and this will be something I will need to test.

In the interest of easing myself back into using the core Jutland rule system - it was some 30 years ago I last used after all - I am planning to run a small test game over the next few days with the results posted to the blog.

There will be one change though and that concerns the move distance and ranges. The game as designed uses a measuring device - called the rangefinder - scaled at 20mm equalling 1,000 yards for gunfire. This means that 48cm represents 24,000 yards. For me that is a little too short so I am using 1" to a 1,000 yards. Ships move according to a special gauge with a movement factor of one point for every 2 1/2 knots. Each movement point on the gauge equals 15mm so between the movement and firing ranges there is a difference in how they work. I would prefer a uniform scale of measure so that will be my first priority.

The scenario I envisage running will pit two small forces of battle cruisers in that old standby the encounter battle.

At least fighting a game will not be interrupted by my irritating coughing - which makes painting a challenge for sure!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Of Mutual Benefit....

Following on from last post - a very brief overview of Cavalier at Tunbridge - I thought it would be a good idea to detail my half of the exchange I undertook with Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany fame. My part of the transaction was a pile of blue Hexon terrain tiles (the remaining green and desert sets are now heading north of the border) and in exchange I received rather a nice and useful selection of books. Bob is a cunning chap and I suspect that he knew EXACTLY which of his titles that he had deemed surplus to requirements would be of interest to me - and he was not wrong!

The North West Frontier in two quite different wars - one that Wellington would have been comfortable with and the other with lorries and aircraft. They have certainly made me think about revisiting the Roghan Valley!

A smattering of naval titles - all at the lower tactical end of the spectrum and therefore hugely gameable! The two that have proven to be of most interest are the small paperback on inland river transport in Mesopotamia and that wonderful book on the Konigsberg.

The rest of the rest. The three pamphlets you see are from Pallas Armata and cover the campaign in Thrace during the Balkan War whilst the three Hoyt titles speak for themselves. The Zanzibar title is also very interesting and is full of ideas for small scale actions - gunboats, landing parties and similar.

NOT from Bob but worth mentioning all the same.

The final title in this post caught my eye simple because the Lawrence connection. Sea power dominated the Red Sea and the elderly ships of the RN that were on station gave sterling service in support of the Arab Revolt. Whilst the Turks had no naval presence to speak of the potential for some cracking 'what if?' actions is huge.

I would like to thank Bob for the enormous selection of titles he conjured up and for a variety of reasons all of them have an immediate use....

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The Laugh in Cavalier

On Sunday I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the Cavalier show in Tonbridge - and in the words of Wallace and Gromit it was 'A Grand Day Out'!

The haul. There are few things in life more pleasurable than acquiring a new book (or 4).

To begin with I spent some time with Dave Lanchester helping to set up his stand. This is always good fun and is a good opportunity to see what's new in the remaindered and secondhand book world.  I must confess that it is seldom I visit Dave's stand without buying something and the three books you see in the picture (not the Turkish title) are now residing happily in the library in the man cave. Needless to say there are a number of ideas that these new acquisitions will be supporting in due course.

Caliver Books were also in attendance and after a brief catch up with Dave Ryan money duly changed hands and the Ottoman uniform title was also added to the collection. For the record I reckon that I have enough uniform material on the Turkish army from 1912 to 1923 in my collection so producing an army should not be a problem (other than painting it of course....).

I also chatted to Tony at Brigade Models and picked up a couple of packs of 1/1200th scale buildings - the Ancient Roman set and the Middle Eastern village with a couple of Mosques. The former will provide some background for the Salamis project whilst the latter ties in with my next purchase....

Tumbling Dice were also present and the painted examples of their 1/2400th scale Russo Japanese War ships (and the new American range for the Spanish War of 1898 or the Great White Fleet) are really very nice indeed. I managed to avoid buying any of these - for the moment anyhow - but I did pick up a 1/600th WW1 starter pack with German artillery. These 3mm figures are very nice indeed and although purchased as an experiment have a lot of potential for a number of ideas I am currently planning.

A gathering of Rejects with Postie keeping his hands firmly on his wallet in case One Lover Ray opts for another bacon sandwich....Big Lee striking a manly Hannibal like pose whilst Clint heartily wishes he was elsewhere....

Aside from the retail therapy (which is pleasant enough in its own right) Cavalier was also a chance to catch up with old friends and acquaintances, to chat about projects old and new and to see what kind of games were being played and displayed. One of the main orders of business for myself was meeting up with Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany fame. We had a transaction to conclude involving two boxes of blue Hexon tiles and a box of extremely useful books - which will feature in a later post. Bob and I also discussed an idea I have been toying around with and as ever his input was very useful - especially some of the names he came up with - again, more of which in a later post!

I was hoping to get some of my pictures of the games on display but for some reason the resolution was not great so I will leave that to the other bloggers that were present.

All in all it was a grand day (or in my case half a day) out with just the right balance of camaraderie, retail therapy and inspiration.

Monday, 29 February 2016

A Naval Counter Attack

I took delivery last week of several sets of counters for use with the old Avalon Hill board game Jutland. These counters are privately produced enhanced reproductions of those from the original game but with a number of added extras. To begin with the counters now have 'waves and wakes' as well as the national ensign of the ship's origin. In addition to the counters of the basic game there are also a number of sets of additional ship counters being those that featured as add one in various editions of the old AH General and Boardgamer magazine. The four additional sets comprise the following counters:

North Sea Expansion - this includes the remaining dreadnoughts of both the RN and the High Seas Fleet that served in the North Sea as well as the Harwich force and the original 6th battle squadron of pre dreadnought battleships. Also included is the later US 6th battle squadron. The Germans gain some additional cruisers including Blucher and the two ships of the Scharnhorst class as well as some other older battleships.

The rest of the rest - the North Sea completed for the entire Great War - and there are also some hypothetical vessels for both sides.

The Russian Expansion - this includes the major units of both the Baltic and the Black Sea Fleets which is very useful in conjunction with the next expansion (and includes the Ottoman Turks).

The Russian Baltic and Black Sea fleets - with the Turks for the latter

The Mediterranean Expansion - this includes the major units of the Austrian, French, Italian, Turkish and  the in theatre ships from the RN and the German navies. There are also a selection of transport/merchant counters which are useful for convoy or raiding actions i.e. Targets!

The Mediterranean. Austrians, Italians, French, Turkish and units of the RN combine to make this a personal favourite

Light Ships Expansion - this covers the original game and features counters for the light ships drawn to scale. This counters in the original game are very stylised black blobs and with the additional problem of having a single counter representing an entire flotilla of vessels. With these counters a flotilla could be represented by up to four or five counters which makes it more tactically useful (and more representative) although at the expense of some changes to the rules. Also in this picture are the original ships from Jutland for the actual battle

The reworked original counters and the far more useful scaled light ship counters. No more single counter 16 ship destroyer flotillas!

Aside from the counters there a whole host of additional scenarios - complete with the appropriate ship damage record sheets and expanded and optional rules. All in all this is a great way to fight naval battles set in the Great War without using models. The counters are very attractive but could readily be swapped for models - I am thinking 1/6000th here - if required.

Needless to say I now have the materials needed for something Jutland based for the centenary in May - all I need to do is to tailor certain aspects of the rules.

For the record I am not foregoing the use of models - I will merely be using them for lower level actions.

More to ponder methinks....

Monday, 22 February 2016

Hexgone, Hexgone - Where's my Hexgone?

I have two sets of flocked Hexon and extras for sale. There is a boxed set of Verdant Green and one of Desert (RRP £74.95) and for each colour there is 20 single flocked hexes. These are £12.95 for 10 so each colour has a retail of just over £100 - one box of 21 x 6 hex tiles and two x 10 single hexes.

I will not bore you with the rational behind this decision but suffice it to say there is one! I am looking for £55 for each set exclusive of postage which represents roughly a fifty percent bargain for anyone. Sadly overseas shipping is not really an option.

Anyone that is interested please comment with an email address and I will be in touch.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

The Great War at Sea via Avalon Hill's Jutland

The box and contents of Avalon Hill's Jutland. My own collection at present has everything except the ship counters and the box (don't ask - its a long story!)

Regular readers of this blog will doubtless recall my mentioning the various plans I had for commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in May. From the grandiose 1/2400th scale refight aboard HMS Belfast, sadly abandoned, to my current scheme - one which is far more achievable and is now my preferred choice.

I have also previously mentioned my fondness for the old Avalon Hill game of Jutland - the board game that is a tabletop system rather than being hex based. I have had some superb games with this over the years but it is not perfect. The various optional rules that appeared in the old Avalon Hill General magazine and also the Boardgamer add a suitable level of sophistication and complexity and are, in my opinion, essential. Having said that, the rules could use some additional work to make them more 'naval miniatures rules friendly' and this is something I have a number of ideas to experiment with.

The big news with this idea though is that I have ordered and am taking delivery of a number of reproduced counter sheets produced by a chap in Canada. These cover the the counters from the original game, the counters from the North Sea expansion set (which includes pretty much everything else for the North Sea), those from the Mediterranean set - featuring the Turks, Austrians, French, Italians and additional RN types - and also the 'Russian' set. The latter features both the Baltic and the Black Sea fleets. Finally, he has also produced a set of light ship counters with scaled views on them rather than the usual black blob. I was quite pleased with this as representing a destroyer flotilla of some 19 ships with a single counter (as in the original game) is a little odd in my opinion. 

All the counters now have 'waves and wakes' on them, together with the national ensign and as a result look far more attractive than the original versions. Scale wise they come out at around 1/4800th.

The significance of this purchase is quite simple - it means that I will be able to fight fleet actions in a sensible fashion on a 6ft by 4ft table. The game mechanics are simple and are designed for this scale of action and, if I am honest, using models smaller than 1/3000th is not really going to cut it for me for games of this scale.

However, I have not abandoned the use of models entirely as my cruiser/colonial ideas would suit using them very nicely - simply as there will be a lot fewer models to contend with. For this I envisage using Panzerschiffe as 1/2400th looks good although for convenience 1/3000th would suit just as well and has the huge advantage of Navwar being some thirty minutes away.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Far Seas

A very good primer for the period and with plenty of gaming ideas

I suppose it is inevitable in some ways that despite my fascination with dreadnought battleships and fleet actions I find myself increasingly looking at naval actions at a much lower level. In the context of WW1 - and ignoring the gunboat type of action for the time being - this leads to actions involving cruisers and destroyers. I must confess that some of the best naval games I have ever taken part in have not been the great slugfests between lines of battleships (although they do have a fascination all of their own) but actions involving single cruisers or small surface action groups.

In recent times - no more than a few years ago - I fought a number of actions in 1/3000th representing the Balkan Wars. The forces were not large but nevertheless gave some very good games - more so on the tabletop than in history if truth be told. 

Moving on to the Great War then we have the potential for some cracking actions - both historically and the all important 'what if'. The exploits of the German cruisers in the early years of the war - Von Spee's Far East squadron, the cruise to the Emden, the escape of the Goeben and the Breslau and the hunting down of the Konigsberg for the basis for some cracking refights - and again, the all important 'what if?'.

Going back in time to the days of the legendary Madasahatta campaign I seem to recall (and no doubt stand to be corrected) that the naval side was quite small in scale although a few dreadnoughts were involved - not so much on a squadron basis, more like a couple or so at any given point. This is the size of action that works best for me so the cruiser scaled engagements of WW1 tick a number of boxes.

With this in mind - and if I am completely honest very much on the spur of the moment - I acquired via EBay the title you see above for a give away price. It is the usual Pen and Sword style title and is an account of the exploits of the German cruisers at the start of the Great War and of the Royal Navy efforts to bring them to account. This they did but not without cost. From a naval wargame perspective the old standby of 'Hunt the Raider' is an ideal scenario generator - and given that 'hunters' were often older or less effective vessels the player has a number of challenging decisions to make in respect of how he conducts his operations.

Bryan Perrett is a well known historian and his account is a superb introduction to the subject. I have more detailed works on the period but as a one stop primer this is hard to beat. I suspect it has been remaindered which is why i was able to get it so cheap but even at the full price i would have been tempted.

Mention of this type of operation and Madasahatta in the same post was no coincidence - and if you read my post about Lawrence of Arabia recently (which I enjoyed watching again enormously) you may have an inkling of where this may be heading....

Of course I couldn't possibly comment....

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Perusing Persians

Mmmm - obscure and exotic - just how I like my wargames!

Some time ago that very nice chap Kaptain Kobold happened to mention that a friend of his has written the above tome and that it was available as a PDF from the Wargames Vault. I had a quick look and duly acquired the same and am I glad I did!

The book is quite simply simply outstanding. It contains a history of the Persian army over the period in question as well as details of the numerous battles they fought - against the Turks, Russians, British, amongst themselves and against any number of assorted petty Khanates and tribal types. There are illustration galore - many in colour - with many of the being reproductions of assorted watercolours painted by the numerous Western travellers in the region. There are also a number of very nice battle maps that could easily be turned into tabletop games and so in many ways the title is a 'one stop' reference book. I fully intend printing off a hard copy of this and am only sorry that someone has not picked it up to publish as a book - I would certainly add it to my collection!

Given the variety of opponents the Persians fought against and that the  title runs up to the war against Britain at the very end of the period covered it does present me with a rather interesting option for something Crimean War based.

There are also some rather nice figures available for the period as well - 15mm from Irregular Miniatures and 28mm from Westfalia Miniatures.  

Much to ponder here methinks.


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Ultraviolet and T.E. Lawrence

Peter O'Toole looking suitably dramatic

Way back in 2012 I received a copy of the above film on Blu-Ray for a birthday present. Needless to say given my longstanding interest in the life of Lawrence I was highly delighted. Contained within the case was the option to obtain a free digital download using a special code from Ultraviolet. I duly did this but at the time I was using my old HP netbook and try as I might I could not get the wretched thing to load or run. After several attempts I gave it up as a bad job and resigned myself to only watching the disc itself (which I have, several times, all in the name of, ahem, research....).

Imagine my delight then, when I discovered an App for my IPad which enables you to watch or download Ultraviolet films called Flickster. After a few emails to Ultraviolet to sort out my account details - email and password, you know the kind of thing - I was able to download David Lean's epic film and am now watching the same on my train journey to and from work.

As an aside watching a film set in the desert on a cold, dark and frosty morning certainly has the psychological effect of warming you up slightly!

I wonder where this could possibly be heading?

Sunday, 3 January 2016

New Year and Oldish Ideas

First of all a very happy new year to one and all! 

Like many others I shall back on the treadmill tomorrow and the holiday seems to have flown by. I have not achieved very much on the hobby front to be honest but I have managed to get some ideas together - rather I have given some form to some older ideas - and these will form the basis of this post and the activities of the coming year.


The additional bases I needed for the models have been ordered so it is merely a case of acquiring the extra models I need for this project to really get under way. I have all the Heroscape hexes I need and I have also made a start on drafting the rules for use when I refight the battle. All told there are around 60 triremes of various sorts to be painted but they will be easy enough to do once I can get to them.


I will certainly be commemorating the centenary of the battle in some form but as yet I have not decided exactly how. It may well be I will revert to using the Avalon Hill Jutland game as it is simple to put together and gives a nicely representative action.

The Caucasus

This is going to be a slow burning and long term project - mainly because I have yet to decide which pair of the four main wars I want to tackle. WW1 is a certainty but I am wrestling with the choices from the 19th century. The main protagonists are of course Russia and Turkey but there are a number of potential twists that could be applied to the mix. The Persians and assorted Asiatic tribes could readily feature and it would not be stretching a point too far to include the British Indian Empire. I need to think about this in more detail but my thoughts at the moment are very much looking towards the 1880s as a good compromise.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi

I want to tackle something from both genres if possible but only as a sideline - the list above will give me plenty to be going on with - and am keen to take a look at both Frostgrave and Dragon Rampant in due course. The size of force required for both of these is fairly modest which is a very important consideration in respect of the time I will have available.

In the meantime though I shall continue to use the block armies on an ad hoc basis as and when I need to get my gaming fix.

One thing that will need to happen though as a matter of priority is that I will once again need to have a long and hard think about what I want to hang on to as the man cave is getting a little, how shall I put it, crowded!