Sunday, 29 March 2015

View from the Window

Miserable morning, damp and cold with a bit of a wind out there as well, the tops of the tree's in the gap are swaying at a good pace, only the first ridge can be seen due to the almost complete murky  grey canvas behind. At least no windmills in sight, sitting over there producing enough energy to keep my doorbell alive. The owner of Eyebrow Cottage is in for a shock, two of her tyres are flat this morning, I will try and catch her later to let her know, the house next door is showing no signs of being bought.

I have had several brushes with the medical world this week, my op was cancelled and is now set for mid April at Lancaster, not a hospital which would be my first choice, but it is time to get the elbow sorted. I have also made my interest known in being a Warton Responder for the de-fibrillator which is being set up in the village, although by the time I get a call, run down to the Church Hall, and make my way to the victim, I would probably need the damn thing myself. Our local surgery now has a 'triage' system you have to navigate to see a doctor (I couldn't pick mine out of a police line up), which basically means you will see someone in two weeks unless you wander in holding your head in your lap. When I was a lad, if you were ill you went to the doctor's, no receptionist, you sat until you were called in, Eric Paterson, a lovely man, then smiled, gave you something which tasted horrible and in a week you were fine. He or his partner, around whom everyone was wary, he was a prisoner of the Japanese you see, would also turn up at your bedside at any time of the day or night should they be required, and Eric at least was still smiling. Two doctors who alone ministered to a whole town, now we here have two surgeries, god knows how many doctors and you can't see one for two weeks.

While on the subject when I was a Radio Operator offshore, on nightshift I was the stand in for the Medic, as they did not want to pay him a call out, this involved getting disturbed while I sat, feet up, watching videos, to give out copious amounts of Lemsip or paracetamol. One evening a young lad asked to see the Medic, being obtuse I told him no and that he would have to tell me what was wrong before I gave him a Lemsip or pill. He informed me he had a rash on his backside, turned around and was just about to drop his tracksuit bottoms, when quickly I shielded my eyes, told him to wait at the sickbay and reached for the tannoy to disturb the medic.

Richard III, procession and burial, huge news, and, if I am honest, it all seemed a bit tacky to me. Dick is one of those people who is above normal reason, you have to either love him or hate him, there is no in-between. The bad rep originally came from Shakespeare's play of course, something akin to Hollywood history of today, and despite his killing of others it is the killing of the Princes in the Tower which damns him in most people's eyes. I was probably attracted to Richard because years ago of course he was the underdog and his little foibles, like the hunchback, murder and usurpation of the throne were swept under the carpet as Tudor propaganda. I have never been as fanatical a supporter as some and he definitely was found in the Tower with the knife, candlestick or lead pipe. George Armstrong Custer is another figure in the same vein, you are either content that he was an ambitious fop who cared naught for his men and stupidly divided his forces and sought glory for himself at the Little Big Horn or, his actions were in line with normal US cavalry protocol when meeting Indians in the field, and there is an argument for the latter, you just have to dig to find it.

If I can get the energy up I will clean and prime some troops for the tray, put some pics of yesterday's game on a couple of forums and get on with the scenario booklet.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Invader Brought Low

Well, the big day arrived and Glyn turned up at precisely Noon as I hurried the last annoying customer out of the shop, you sit for almost two and a half hours doing nothing and they all turn up in the last 30 minutes. The table was set up, we diced for sides, I have cards made up for zone of deployment, deployment type and game length so we were off to a quick start. The armies were about even in numbers and both sent skirmishers to the flanks, we both had cavalry on one flank opposite each other, the bulk of the warriors were in the centre for both sides. Glyn had gone for the Early Saxon Kingdoms and therefore only his bodyguard troops had armour, this would cause him problems later. I too had bodyguard or Comitatus troops with armour while the rest relied on large shields where possible. My plan was to get rid of his skirmishers by charging them with my javelin armed light troops or riding them down with my skirmishing cavalry while taking the ridge in the centre of the battlefield to await developments, then possibly lead an attack with the left of my army while holding back the right.

Both sides await battle.

 The view from the British cavalry wing as the army moves cautiously forward, while the Saxons come on at a brisk pace.

The Saxon cavalry just before it moved to confront my skirmishers.

The Saxons took possession of the wood and caused me to retire my slingers, my light cavalry were charged but evaded, while my mounted Comitatus took things slow, I hoped to hit the Saxon cavalry with some missile fire before I charged them, but the fall back left the initiative with the Saxons.

I achieved my objective in the centre and stood on the ridge in shieldwall and above the enemy, the Saxons obliged by throwing themselves uphill in a violent charge.

The crisis of the battle as the Saxons are halted and pay heavily as the shieldwall holds. The Welsh now repay me for bringing them to the field by chasing and catching two Saxon warbands and dispersing them. Soon these fleeing Saxons are followed by more of their compatriots as their King is left surrounded by only his bodyguard in a sea of Britons.

The Saxon cavalry meanwhile had held my elite cavalry up for most of the game, it took this flank attack to stop them nearly beating me. I had hoped by this time my cavalry would be in the Saxon rear.

I had waited some time for this game and it was worth it, a great afternoons entertainment. Glyn's army was nicely painted and he has some lovely figures in it, you will see that his fabric flags are also superb, he gets these specially made, they are beautiful. With more experience I don't think he would have come on as boldly as he did, his men were really up against it with my warriors uphill and arrayed in shieldwall.

Friday, 27 March 2015

What do Points make...?

As you know I have a War & Conquest game on tomorrow so I spent a couple of pleasant hours last night sipping at a decent Cotes du Rhone, working out what I shall be bringing to the field of honour. I have built my armies in line with the Gravesend Wargames Club lists, because I take part in their competitions, applaud their efforts vis a vis War & Conquest and also suspect they have a greater knowledge of the period than I do. Tomorrow however, I am trying some new lists, there is not a huge difference in the armies as you might expect but there are small things which might matter a great deal in battle. There are things I like in both lists and as I am on my own small W&C island here I will probably meld the two together and add a pinch of my own preferences, but I am prepared to play with anyone's lists at the end of the day to get a game.

A lot of people hum and haw about lists and points values, some even spit blood, personally it doesn't bother me, I don't have a lot of games which use these mechanics to build an army but when I have to, I enjoy the experience. I am fielding a Romano-British army tomorrow with an Arthurian slant, I know all about the case for and against this gentleman, but there is a romantic part in all of us I suspect which thinks he did exist, not the magical guy but the succesful warlord guy at least. Anyway, I could have gone for a smaller number of men and given them better armour, weapons and larger shields, or a large army with almost no protection, I have compromised and have some rather hard, professional Comitatus both mounted and on foot, tooled up to the eyebrows, leading a larger bunch which I will be loathe to fling at the enemy.

My enemy of course will be Saxons, I think Glyn has gone for a mid Saxon force, whichever one it is there will be lots of them in big units no doubt, which is why I did not want to get too heavily outnumbered and am relying on a small strike force for shock and awe.

I have felt honour bound to bring the Taff's to the field, an undisciplined but hardy bunch according to these lists, however they might find themselves in the rear, waiting their moment rather than in the front line. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Soonter or Later

Good night at the club, but before I start let me say I did get my delayed X-Wing ships and cloak tokens, the ships as usual were nice, but I was disappointed at the Litko tokens, very small and dark with the word 'cloaked' on the surface, I suspect they could easily get overlooked on a space mat. I added some yellow paint to the etching which improved visibility but the look is too basic for me, so I will probably at some point spend a small fortune on getting better tokens, despite the fact I will only use them once in a blue moon.

Some of the guys were testing out 'To The Strongest' ancient rules and they were all set up in a 2v2 so as I was only turning up on the spur of the moment I fell back on X-Wing with Simon. During the day I took a break from drawing and watched some YouTube videos to get some tips for the game, I made up three list's two of which contained the exciting new ships. So what did I do when I got there, jumped for a build with a Tie Swarm and an Interceptor with Soonter Fel which the online snake oil salesman assured me would frighten the life out of my opponent. Needless to say it didn't, and it looked very weak against four Z95's and a Y-Wing, especially as I had stupidly followed my mentors advice and split my force, which meant Fel faced off four of them on his own. I kept Fel out of the way for a time and my Swarm managed to catch one Z95 on its own and eventually bring it down, not a bad start. We then traded ships almost on a one for one basis, somewhere in the middle of the game I had a Z95 bang to rights with four Tie's at close range, but could not get a hit on it, this I think was the turning point for me, as I ended up in a bad position and began to feel things slipping away. As the game closed I threw the towel in when I was reduced to one Tie with one hull and the Y-Wing I think had five. It was a good game, and I flew the Swarm better than I normally do and managed some nice close shooting, but overall I was not dealing out enough death and destruction. My biggest problem was the Pirate Y-Wing's blaster cannon, this thing was putting a Tie out of action with one shot, and it did it at least three times. No matter, a good game. I think however I will stick to my own devices in future rather than listen to YouTube propaganda.

I think of last night we have six players wanting to take part in the campaign, so I shall have to do my homework if I am to clear the sector of Pirates and Rebel Scum.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Come on the Boyo's

The title has nothing to do with the rugby thingy going on at the moment as I am sport impaired, but my Welsh warband has at last reached completion, it has not taken any longer to actually paint, but the time between picking up a brush has been longer due to other things. The back ranks are pretty basic but the command figures would look good in a Late Roman context perhaps, there are some neat chaps in there.

As my Romano-British are more suited to the South-West with their token 'Roman' look I wanted the Welsh to show some kind of kinship with their British cousins, therefore I added in a few oval and round shields with the Christian logo.

I also used the Army Painter brush on varnish, not as dull a finish as the spray, now that may be because I put it on over a coat of Winsor & Newton or I did not shake it enough, as I do notice that some of the troops are dull, but others have a slight satin look. So next time I shall only use the AP stuff and shake it a lot harder to see how things go. I do like the way it allows the armour to keep its metal sheen.

Next up on the tray is a Duguth unit, 24 warriors, this will finish my foot soldiers for the Saxons leaving only a cavalry unit to be done.

The week has changed dramatically for me, my operation was cancelled last night, so I am awaiting news this morning to see when it will be re-scheduled. So once again it will be a last minute thing for the club and therefore more X-Wing, I was supposed to be heading south for a large ECW game on Sunday but that also has been postponed, so I am left with Saturday's Dark Age game.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

View from the Window

I am a tad late this morning as I am suffering from Man Flu and can't shake it, it isn't the virulent strain which incapacitates us men and turns us into insufferable monsters, but a more insidious strain which will not leave me. I have attacked it for several days now with Day & Night tablets, and while they have made life bearable, the minute I stop, thinking I have recovered, my nose turns into a waterfall and my mouth becomes as dry as the bottom of an Arab's flipflop. Or should that be the footware of a middle eastern gentleman who may own camels or goats, I get so confused these days.

Anyway, what's outside the window......sunshine, so much of it I have had to pull the blind down. I still have a sneaking suspicion it is the cold sunshine, the stuff that lures you out with promises of warmth but for some reason your core temperature doesn't get anywhere near toasty. The view in the gap between Washington House and Eyebrow Cottage is fair, I can just make out traffic on the M6, Ingleborough however is still misted up.

The big thing this week of course was the Solar Eclipse, as I was up already, it being my day in the PO, I did not have to make a special effort, but I was looking forward to seeing something. The low, dull grey cloud, killed my enthusiasm. Sure enough it went slightly darker at around 0920 hrs, but not much more than many a day here in the Lakes. To rub salt in the wound about a couple of hours later we had beautiful sunshine. As I watched the news showing me what I had missed it made me wonder that even today, as school children giggled and adults paid a fortune to travel to remote parts of the far North to get the best view, other parts of the world were wondering what they had done to anger the gods. It’s a funny old world.

While we are on about the Universe my missus wondered whether she saw a UFO hovering over the village last week, at first I thought it might have been my delayed X-Wing ships, but no. A night or so later a very low flying small aircraft passed over our roof as we parked the car, guess what, it looked a bit like the UFO. It always baffles me that a civilisation which has mastered the Warp or Hyperdrive or can bend space to travel unimaginable distances before teatime, decide to set their Sat-Nav for the remotest and dumbest parts of our planet. They do not want to kidnap Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Stephen Hawking, no, they want to grab Elmer Bumpass or Doris Smith, who left school with nothing but their legs, and just happened to be out in the middle of the woods that night at 3am without a meaningful explanation. And what do they do with them when they get them, according to most of these poor unfortunates, they stick something in their eyes or their backside. If you want to get knowledge of something or someone I suspect the worst thing to do is head for their nether regions. 

That's it for now, I am away to look for a recipe for 'tatty scones' as I have some mash left over from last night. Things may be a bit slack over the next week due to the op, but I shall endeavour to keep you up to speed on the big weekend game.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Now you see it, now you don't...

I got my Tie Phantoms yesterday and had them painted in minutes. I have mentioned before that I buy painted models and then re-paint them, obviously I think I can paint better than someone on a conveyer belt or however they are done, and I want my stuff to be unique. I have learned my lesson with X-Wing and will not be repainting my new ships, apart from the Phantoms of course, OK, when I get time they may get a wash and a touch up, but that's all.

My first effort at painting the cloaking device in action.

My Second!

I am a trifle put out as I had expected the other ships today, but patience is not one of my virtues these days. So, maybe tomorrow, grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I almost forgot, one ray of sunshine, some kind gentleman in Finland I believe, bought all nine of my ACW scenario/campaign booklets last night, if you read this, thank you.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Boba, Boba, Boom

We were supposed to be fighting off vile zombies last night but due to unforeseen circumstances we were reduced to two in number so we quickly changed tack and went with X-Wing. Simon has possibly re-mortgaged his house to build his fleets so quickly, so he brought some of his new Scum & Villainy ships to the table, I shook off the Dark Side and went with Rebels as I don't play them enough. I made some lists up in the short time between closing the PO and taking off for the club and when I got there decided to go with four X-Wings, Biggs with a hull upgrade, Garven Dreis, Tarn Mison with an R2 and a Rookie. Do they just take a Scrabble set, throw some tiles down, arrange and hey presto, a pilot? Simon went for two Vipers, his all time favourite ship I believe, and Boba Fett.

We both split our forces for the first game, but I quickly joined my squadron up again and went after the Vipers, Boba mucked around in the rear and fell way behind. The Vipers saw the danger too late and started taking hits, they tried to manoeuvre away but the X-Wings stayed close on their tails, the Rookie managing some excellent hit scores. Boba came thundering through the asteroid belt to their aid and then found he had to shoot at Biggs, leaving the other X-Wings to take out the Vipers. No doubt there is more to them but they did seem a might fragile, but I suppose anything with four X-Wings shooting at it would seem fragile. First round to the Rebels.

I stayed with my squad for the second game while Simon rearranged Boba's outfit. I stayed in close formation and headed straight for the Firespray, Simon split but came on nonetheless, the Vipers navigating some asteroids. The shooting started at fairly close range and Boba began to suffer, then he pulled the rabbit out of the hat, for every enemy ship at close range he could reroll one attack or defence die. My plan began to fall apart as the Vipers joined the fray, however I stuck like glue to Boba, mistake really with the die roll attribute, shooting at Vipers in between. When we called time Boba was down to one hull point with an untouched Viper on the flank and two X-Wings on his tail, but one had no shields and the other only one. If I remember correctly we called a draw, it would have been nice to have played it out. Two great games and the Rookie was man of the match for me.

 Vipers, looking very elegant.

 X-Wings, looking dangerous.

 The Vipers turn away.

 They turn back, but it is too late as the X-Wings close in.

 Nearly the end of the second game, I should have stayed away.

 Simon has put together an X-Wing campaign and I got my intro pack last night, a very professional looking booklet complete with a map and background story, we hope to kick this off in the next couple of weeks. Because of my new ships I have decided to be Imperials.

No club next week as I shall be recuperating from my hospital trauma and making life hell for my live in carer, the missus. I have a large War & Conquest game organised for the 28th and am wondering if it would be a tad too much to ask the missus to move my troops around?

I am not having much luck with my orders at the moment, the roads are still some way off and Boardgame Extras had no Tie Phantoms available and seem somewhat slower than usual at sending my new ships and cloak tokens. I went elsewhere for the Phantoms and am expecting them today as I have had notice of despatch.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

View from the Window

It's a clearish day, I can see the first ridge and it's green, overall outside has that dirty grey tint to it, the pavements, roads etc. as though they all need a good wash. And it is cold, I don't like being cold, I don't suppose anyone does but if it was up to me, we still wouldn't have a clue what it looked like at the North and South Poles. Brave men.

I have a fascination with disaster, some of my favourites are Captain Scott, the Titanic, Isandlwana and The Little Big Horn. I will return to them every now and then when a new book comes out or a TV documentary finds the answer to the 'mystery'. I am eternally grateful to Channel 4 for pointing out that it was an iceberg that doomed the Titanic and that it was a magazine explosion which sunk the Hood for instance, and all that rare information crammed into a mere two hours. And I think it is the same channel which is awash with the 'truth', the truth about Richard III, the truth about the Vikings, it is almost a public service, they should get a medal.

Mercedes, and before them BMW, keep sending me their magazines, it would seem I live the life of Riley (said Irishman never existed by the way), simply because I have or had one of their cars. It is taken as read I spend my time in places like Monaco, Dubai, Singapore, have lunch on fantastical yachts with the two blondes on the front sipping champagne, now there's a job, or I am Marlin fishing off Hawaii. I had a chance to see Mr Abromovich's ex, the yacht Pelorus in Abu Dhabi a year or so back, and was left in no uncertain terms where I stand in the lifestyle stakes, it was simply one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen made by man.

I have to surrender myself to the tender mercies of the NHS a week on Tuesday, I will be 'going under the knife' with an operation on my left arm to loosen a trapped nerve. I will more than likely need the same on my right arm but that is nowhere near as bad at the moment. I have been waiting over 18 months on this operation and am only having it now because of a cancellation. The whole thing takes about half an hour I am told and I shall be inconvenienced for only one day, well, I will take that with a pinch of salt. Lucozade and grapes will not be required, do you remember the days when if you went to hospital for anything at all, people brought you Lucozade and grapes, that was the only time anyone bought Lucozade, for the sick, and it only came in one flavour, which was Yuk!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

The Postman always knocks.........

My dour agent of the Royal Mail always knocks, just when I am having my lunch usually, as I now get my mail at around 12:30 from the 'improved' service, instead of 0800 hrs when it was unimproved. He refuses to try and put my mail in the box, instead he knows I am in and knocks to save himself the effort.

Despite this I was happy to see him yesterday, he brought me my new paints and varnish, a new book, and some of that wargame stuff I needed and could not be without. He knows I wargame and has seen the odd game in the shop and figures on the tray when I was not drawing maps, he and his mate make the usual moronic comments, "can you drop a nuclear bomb" etc. And this from a guy who collects Star Wars figures, the old ones.

My son pointed me in the direction of Ultra-Pro Pro-Binder, an unimaginative name, for keeping my X-Wing cards in rather than a plastic bag, they work a treat and look pretty neat, I like things to look neat and tidy as you know. I also received my Walking Dead Volume Eleven, you would be forgiven thinking I had a thing for Zombies, what with buying Zombicide recently, but I don't, I like comics, oops, graphic novels. I also started collecting this series and now cannot stop, it is not the best artwork in the world but the story lines are far better than the TV series. So I am putting down "Went the Day Well" about Waterloo for a few days, the parts about the battle are good, but when he comes back to the same time in the UK telling me about all sorts of characters who were big in their day and that someone with a university education might know, then I quickly flip the pages.

I have also finished the maps for Nick Dorrell's book "Marlborough's Other Army", I worked too hard on these the other day as I was on a time limit, and gave myself the mother of all headaches, but I am pleased with them, and more to the point, so is Nick. I have one more map to do this morning and one tomorrow for two other projects and they are off the slate, see, tidy again.

This is one of the maps, the Battle of Saragossa, I am quite chuffed with this as I tried to give it clean lines while maintaining the 18th C. look of the original.
So, I am off to the PO for three hours, hoping no one comes in and I can at last order up those required X-Wing ships and do some mapping. Richard Branson I am not.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

My Guilty Secret

I have just watched the first episode of the new season of Vikings, I dismissed this offering a long time ago when I was asked to believe that the local Earl had no clue that land lay to the west of his hovels and that he could only continue to raid to the east. I then discovered the Dark Ages and felt compelled to give it another chance. Much of it is pure rubbish, the shield maidens pandering to ‘Girl Power’, the ridiculous haircuts, and the renaissance helmets worn by a great many of the Saxons. But, I like it. I find it ‘atmospheric’, the opening titles are superb, haunting music, crashing seas and macabre visuals of drowning men. Then there are the larger than life characters, chief among my favourites is King Ecgbert of Wessex, the cad Leslie Phillips made king, a man who exudes what will eventually become Britishness. I do hope he prospers.

I sometimes wonder where my ‘line in the sand’ is drawn with regard to history on TV or film, I can quite happily lose myself for an hour with Vikings, all the time hoping someone will kill Loki, and enjoy Wolf Hall, 300, and, may the gods forgive me, Spartacus, the one with buckets of blood. But I quickly threw out The Borgia’s, Rome, and The White Queen”, the former two had ‘atmosphere’ but it was obviously the wrong kind, the third only needed the line “Infamy, infamy they’ve all got it in for me” and you had “Carry On the Wars of the Roses”.

I have almost wrecked my eyes doing maps today, so I must call a halt, grab an ice cold cider, “Old Rascal” as nowhere local does a good Normandy cider, sit down and catch up with Ragnar, or maybe Jim Gordon in Gotham, Harvey Specter  at Pearson, Specter and Litt, or Saul Goodman, I am spoiled for choice just now. Anyway, cheers!