Sunday, 15 October 2017

View From The Window

Yes, dismal again, just like my mood at the moment. Were you among the small number in the country who enjoyed the tropical heatwave of BBQ weather yesterday before the hurricane hits, did you lounge in the area warmer than Istanbul, how do these people still have jobs at the end of the month. I have deliberately lay in a bit more than usual today as I have no plans whatsoever and the highlight of my day will be a nice fried breakfast in an hour or so, but it is early yet.

At sometime during this morning I passed 200,000 hits on here, I am quite chuffed with that, this blog managed to scratch my writing itch once I gave up on the Wargame magazines and my cartography took up the spare time which a declining customer base in the Post Office gave me. My co-author has mooted a new flag booklet for the Confederate Army of Tennessee at some point, but otherwise I shall stay with the blog.

The public don't want it, doctors don't want it, politicians don't want it, almost nobody wants it, what am I? I am an imposition on your privacy which you will be asked on a visit to any NHS outlet near you from 2019, you will be asked your sexual preferences, yes you can say no but there is a tick box for that as well, but not one for 'what the hell has this to do with my ingrown toe nail.' Oh, who does want it, the LGBT Foundation lobby group in Manchester, who are obviously out of touch as you can now add another fifteen letters to that, but the NHS are using their Joker, sorry, white flag on this one.

Why is every year now 1984?

Another surrender involves a trader in Loughborough who has been banned from the market in case her wares bring back memories of the Crusades which may upset a certain part of our population, do we have a lot of Saracens here, she sells mugs and bric a brac with Knights Templar themes. Now considering the vast majority of the public have such a grasp of history that they think Winston Churchill is a dog mascot selling insurance they might be a tad premature with this one. They didn't ban her when her mugs etc. showed Nazi memorabilia, go figure.

I read last week that we were preparing our plans for going to war with North Korea in the event the Americans pull our lead. Yes, the badly coiffured leader of that country is a nut, but what have the North Korean's ever done to us? Couldn't we just sit around the table and ask him if he seriously thinks anyone would want his country and just whom is he 'defending' it from. Besides, how stupid would it be to send an aircraft carrier with no planes and hardly enough surface ships to provide proper anti-submarine and anti-air cover to protect it.

And while we are on about the RN, not the one I was in of course it was different back then, who would have thought a woman on a submarine would have an affair with one of the officers, well just about everyone who didn't think putting women on ships and submarines was appropriate to be honest. Now we have the prospect of one of our nuclear submarines 'striking' because of some hanky panky in the wardroom, and when were matelots allowed to strike? More than one person being bolshie together could be considered mutiny in my day.

And anyway what 'special' relationship do we have with the US, it seems to have come as a shock to our ruling class that we are no more thought of, and perhaps less thought of than Papua New Guinea etc. Yes Ronnie Reagan had a soft spot for us but Obama's first act on moving in to the White House was to ditch Churchill's (the man, not the dog) statue, the defence rests M'lud.

That'll have to go.

I don't leave many reviews on TripAdvisor, I could count them on one hand, I sometimes say we will have to but I then don't get around to it, but in exceptional circumstances I will. If I had paid £38 for two nights at a hotel in Blackpool to 'celebrate' my wedding anniversary and it was really bad I would keep my mouth shut. The £19 a night price tag tells you you are not going to have your bed turned down and a Ferrerro Roche on the pillow, so why you would go to the newspapers and crow about it is beyond me.

I wonder what time Happy Hour is?

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Once More......

Having almost recovered from the holiday blues and my jet lag, things are beginning to fall into place, the Monday game at Kevin's, Tuesday at the club, Wednesday at the pub and still more gaming on Thursday afternoon.

This was the first Thursday in a while and I half expected to be facing Republican Romans but they are not quite ready yet so it was the Greeks once more, this time however we went for 3,000 points a side, not a lot but enough for at least one extra unit and some additional command figures. Because of this I set up an 8x5 table instead of 6x4, Kevin and I like to fight a simple pitched battle and do not use the objective cards, we also fight until one side is defeated.

This week the Twelfth had four legionary cohorts, one auxiliary and the usual supports, I did treat myself to a unit of Contarii heavy cavalry, the enemy had four phalanxes and a horde of light troops, Peltasts, Hill Tribes and dozens of skirmishers. I put all my strength on my left and centre while most of the support went to the right, the Greeks were fairly strong on their left but there were large gaps in the rest of the line. I saw an opportunity to hit Kevin's right while holding off the rest of his troops, a wood in the centre of his line became a hurdle for him, although I wanted to use the Contarii aggressively I was a little daunted by the amount of firepower to the front of them.

The battle got off to a shaky start as my firepower failed miserably to dent the enemy but this improved dramatically during the next few turns and the Greeks lost all their support from their left, the Contarii advanced but I never quite got close enough and the target of their ire, some Peltasts, kept managing to run away. The Hill Tribes warband was being cut to ribbons by missiles, and although it eventually, and bravely, charged, it was no real threat to my Auxiliaries who had hot footed it to my right flank. A phalanx had also been sent to help but when the Hill Tribes routed, this became the target of all my combined firepower, massed archers, slingers and horse archers and they died to a man. At the same time my cavalry at last got their chance to hit the Peltasts, the poor infantry didn't stand a chance and were ridden down.

As this was going on my left advanced as quick as possible and swept away the skirmishers and Peltasts on the Greek right, Kevin had decided to send a second phalanx to shore up his left but it left the two remaining spear blocks surrounded by Romans. I slowly fell back just enough to lead the Greeks on and then slammed into their flanks. The Praetorians hesitated long enough for me to curse them but recovered and joined the fray, the numbers told and with Cohors I closing on the Greek rear it was all over.

It is easy to say of course once the dust settles but if I had been Kevin I would have settled four phalanxes on the right between the villa and the wood and simply gone forward as fast as possible at the Cohorts opposite, I would not have advanced the left and played for time there. The maths are against the Romans if the blocks hit in phalanx but my men have only succumbed once in all our battles and even that was after a long drawn out combat. I think Kevin will do better with his Carthaginians or Successors, these armies have a much better troop choice than the Greeks and may agree more with his play style once he has had a few more games and developed one. It does take time to get to grips with an army and what it can and cannot do, I have been doing this for three years now against Kevin's few months. Anyway he can have a rest as I think the next game will be Bolt Action.

I have also changed my mind again about the new army, it is not going to be Pyrrhic, but Successor, however I am very busy with maps at the moment and some other small projects so it is looking more like December before I buy some troops, perhaps Santa will be kind.

A comment I am sure the Greeks would endorse!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Soldiers of the Queen

Another lazy night at the club for me, Rob brought along his extensive Sudan collection for a Black Powder game, not a fan of the rules but I will eat my hat as they work fine for this and we always have a tense game. My default setting here is British and Jocks, no Johnny Foreigner for me, which is just as well as I was put in charge of the 'Highland' Brigade on the British left flank.

The scenario involved an Egyptian army dug in along a wadi protecting a small village and oasis, the Imperialists had a mix, the Jocks then a French brigade and lastly an 'Indian' brigade, the deployed in that order, me on the left, the Frenchies in the centre and the Indians on the right.

To take advantage of my excellent troops I quickly formed line and advanced as fast as I could, this left my artillery behind or without a clear line of sight but it couldn't be helped. Once at close range I opened up with my Royal Marine marksmen, a misnomer as it turned out, throughout the game these crack shooters caused one casualty and eventually simply retired having given up trying. The Scots on the other hand were brilliant, I did lose the Highland Light Infantry as they recoiled from an attempt to charge the wadi, however the Black Watch made up for it and stormed in routing their opposite numbers.

The Brigade will advance!

The Seaforths now took their turn and once again to the skirl of bagpipes the brave lads grabbed more of the wadi, albeit the Black Watch helped with this attack catching the Egyptians in the flank. A hole had opened up which would allow the French to pour through and rout the remaining enemy unit holding this part of the wadi, get intae them shouted the Jocks. Despite this urging the blighters simply marched up and took station behind my hard fighting troops in the wadi! Elsewhere the gaily caparisoned continentals were having a hard time closing with the enemy, 'whit are they up tae' thought my boys. Away over on the right flank the Indians were holding their own against several assaults by Egyptian infantry, cavalry and camelry, the British cavalry on this flank turned in a wonderful performance and threw back several enemy units causing them to eventually head for Cairo. As night fell and the Royal Marines rallied back the Black Watch took more of the Wadi while some of their French allies headed for the rear hastened by the jeers of derision from my troops.

The boys take the wadi 'supported' by the French.

Another good game and plenty of excitement, it was noted that the dice gods were being particularly favourable to me last night, something which I enjoyed as I threw my troops in with abandon against the enemy. Although the battle was declared for the Allies there was still a way to go to get the Egyptians to relinquish the village and oasis, we would have had to regroup for this but I think we would have managed in the end.

Elsewhere we had a Bloodbowl game, a boardgame and a Chain of Command 1941 Eastern Front game. I kept my eye on the latter and it seemed that it took nearly three hours to move one German squad from a bit of rough ground, everything else was basically in the same places they had been at the start.

Tomorrow I have a War and Conquest game and next week we take to the skies over the Western Front. I caught this on Facebook I have never seen this guy before, Lindybeige is his name, and although I may not agree with his ideas they were excellently put forward and gave me a new way to look at an old problem. I grabbed a cuppa later in the night and watched more of his videos, very entertaining and some are thought provoking, give him a try if you have ten or twenty minutes spare.

Monday, 9 October 2017


I was invited to Kevin's this afternoon to play his latest boardgame, Tricorne which is a Command and Colours game covering the American War of Independence. Now I have read several books on this affair and it has never gripped me, much like Napoleonics, and I do wonder if I am missing something which is why I wander back now and again having forgot my disappointment the last time, only to be disappointed again.

Anyway I am assured by the blurb that it is a typical C&C game, a wargame with blocks instead of soldiers but it isn't, despite everything you will find in a wargame rule set i.e. morale, leaders, firing, movement, melee etc., but it is a fast, exciting game. The main reason it isn't a wargame, although there are games with soldiers quite like it, is that you can only do what your hand of cards allows you to do. You cannot look at the board and decide to attack with your left as that is your strongest force unless you get the cards which allow you to move/attack with your left flank, no matter how good you plan your troops will simply not move in the end unless you get those specific cards, sure you can shuffle forward but your attack will not be coordinated.  Much of what I have just said is also a result of my own prejudices against command card games, well almost all of them, there is one, I digress.

Right, how did the game go, well we fought the simplest scenario in the booklet, Bemis Heights, a small British force had been told to go and reconnoitre an American position, the Americans got wind of it and met the British with a regular force along with a large militia brigade. At first glance it looked like the British would be overwhelmed, despite this as usual I decided to attack and went forward with my left and some Grenadiers, big mistake, within a few moves I had lost the Grenadiers, I wanted to move my right flank but did not draw the right cards and anyway there was too much going on on my left so I had to use what orders I had there. Eventually the lines stabilised and I decided not to go forward and simply hold my ground.

Kevin had managed to get a victory chit by this time and it still looked like it was all over for me, but as the Yanks tried to advance I managed to shoot them up and cause them to retire time after time (good cards), pretty soon I had four chits to the enemy one. I got a good card and decided to throw an assault in and get one more, hoping this would eventually gain me the six to win. Another disaster and some good play and cards by Kevin stopped me dead, it was the Yanks who benefited and he gained another two chits.

We called a halt, neither of us had managed to get our victory conditions, I had a pretty thin line while the Continentals had lost most of their regular units and were now left with the bulk of their militia to force the day, a big ask. We started slow but by the end we were flying through the turns and another 45 minutes or so might have seen the end proper.

I have no doubt we missed some stuff, especially the value of leaders but apart from my doubts above on whether the C&C system is a real wargame, it is a good game and I look forward to another clash.