Sunday, 31 May 2015

View from the Window

The view last weekend was beautiful, a sunny forest clearing, birds singing among the tall trees, the hot tub sizzling in the background the empty champagne bottles waiting for the cleaners, this morning guess what, it's raining. It is not only raining but pouring it down and it is being made worse by the wind, it is grey and I can't see anything past Washington House, it's like one of those dreadful horror movies where you expect some long dead pirates or zombies to come at you.

I notice that there is a shedful of those movies still being made costing at least £40 by the look of the trailers. How is it that no matter how slow the zombie/monster is and how fast the victim/hero or more likely these days the heroine, or is that out now as well and everyone is a hero like everyone is an actor. I digress, the victim leaps away at a startling rate of knots only to find on turning the corner the zombie is right there, having taken a shortcut, or they sneak out of one room and make for the safety of the third floor only to find the zombie or whatever now behind the door as they close it. And of course the dumbest thing to do is "Let's split up and go look around", or as I once saw in a movie which had a mad axeman running around in a forest, on hearing a scrapping noise outside the lady of the house slips into a pink negligee and 5" heels and steps outside uttering "who's there?" If you are female and good looking or were good at sport at college and gave the nerds a hard time, beware, you ain't getting the bus home.

What ever happened to patience? I dropped the missus off at the station for an early train to London the other day and went round to the supermarket for some tomato juice, I start my day off now with a spicy tomato juice, but I was two minutes early so I sat in the car. There were two people stood at the shop door and a few in cars like me, 0800 hrs came and no one was to be seen, one of the standing people moved over put his hand to the glass and peered in, the other one started fidgeting, the car people looked at their watches. A minute passed, 0801, now both standers were peering in, watches were again checked in the cars. An employee turned up at the door, but on the wrong side, she was immediately questioned by the standers who pointed at their watches and the sign with the opening time of 0800 on it. The standers had now become comrades in arms, they were suffering together, the supermarket was treating them as numbers not human beings, it was 0802 hrs. The driver next to me had had enough, two minutes was taking the mick, he roared out of the car park, while I found myself going through in my mind the email the supermarket was going to get about how tardy they were at opening the bleedin' place, making me sit here for just ages! Wait, a shadowy form at the doors, talking into a bluetooth thing on her ear, click, click, the standers march in glowering at the woman, it was 0803.

The Gemans have a great word  "schadenfreude" it means pleasure derived from the misery of others, wunderbar! I revelled in schadenfreude this week when all those FIFA officials had their collars felt, hiding behind bed sheets as they were popped into police limo's to take them away for questioning. I particularly enjoyed their spokesperson squirming while informing everyone from his empty conference table that nothing was wrong and of course the said prisoners were innocent and the FBI had it all wrong. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to work out that the outfit is as bent as a nine-bob-note and particularly its leader, Mr. Blatter and has been for years, and if you missed all that the choice of Qatar as host for the World Cup should have made the penny drop. Don't get me wrong, I have no interest in sport whatsoever and could not hazard a guess at how many men are in a football team but I do like to see the mighty fall and the baddies get their just deserts, which after all does not happen very often these days when people can literally get away with murder because of their fame, contacts or the amount of money they have.

Ok, I will give you the tomato juice recipe, dash of Tabasco, dash of Lea & Perrins, pinch of salt, some ground black pepper, a shake of Aramat (it should be onion granules but I can't get them here in the North), and a small glug of cider vinegar, stir and enjoy. The missus tells me that tomato juice is one of the 'superfoods' so I feel that now I drink it I should at least be able to cut out exercise otherwise what is the point of a 'superfood'. We are also going back to basics, real butter, the cows have to be grass fed, real milk, no namby pamby watered down rubbish, the stuff with a little crown of cream on, delivered from the local farm by a milkman! So called vegetable oils from things which are not vegetables by the way, are out, olive oil and natural beef dripping is in, oh and any kind of farmed fish is also finished. In other words all the stuff we ate when I were lad, mmmmmm.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Where's the Wargaming?

Actual wargaming is still on the back burner for now and believe me, I feel as frustrated as you do, after a glut of wargaming a couple of weekends ago I am now in gamers limbo. The family visit is almost finished and although they are away for a week, the upcoming club night is out as I should be recovering from surgery. I know you are bored with it, but I am milking this for everything I can get, I am going for an Oscar, "ow, ow, no you sit down dear, I'll get my own cold beer, ow, ow".

The roads have arrived! Were they worth the wait, probably, although as soon as I saw them I thought I should have got at least one more 3' straight length, I also thought the 90 degree turn a tad harsh for an old road, I tried to look online to see if I had missed a less tight turn but the site has been hacked and I could not get through. The point is moot anyway as I do not feel like waiting another ten weeks for something which in hindsight was a treat and not a necessity. They are fairly sturdy pieces but the actual edges I can see becoming crinkled, you can see one already if you look close, but this can be covered with lichen or small stones. I hope to get at least one good game in before I go on holiday in June so you can get the full effect of the mats and new terrain.

The new project is on track, I got my first bunch of bases yesterday, great turn around from Warbases as usual, and as usual I mucked it up and forgot a few close order bases which I needed to complete the order, back to the drawing board there. I have also been told by Keith at Aventine my order is on the way and should land on Monday, but with Parcelfarce you never know, I will then join the legions of wargamers with a lead mountain on standby.

Because I have chosen to base my Legion in the East I have been looking at the soil and general topography around ancient sites in the Middle East and have come up with my colour palette for dry, arid sand. I also bought some grass tufts and bushes to decorate the new bases, these are a tad expensive at nearly £4.00 a shot, however I find the tufts much better looking and easier to handle than the strip where you pull the stuff off with tweezers. Also the company I use, Model Scenery Supplies posts the order within an hour or so of getting my email, the product itself is from Footpath.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Ready Steady ...... GO!

I have been busy over the last few days immersing myself in the minutiae and excitement of starting a new wargame army, I have settled on a period, the second half of the Second Century AD. I had wanted to base my Romans on the Crises of the Third Century and although there are figures available I just could not resist the earlier legionaries of Aventine Miniatures. Having decided this I do not have very many emperors to choose from, so I am pretty much stuck with Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus or the general Avidius Cassius as my main characters, all of whom were pretty decent warriors.

The range I went for offers a large variety in their legionaries, you can have lorica segmentata, mail or lamellar armour, some have extra armour on their right arm, others have greaves and there are several different helmet styles. You can also choose from two different shield types, the normal rectangular shield or an oval one, by the end of this period I believe the oval was becoming more popular. I had an idea to mix in the occasional oval for a more campaign look but when I realised I would have to buy another transfer sheet of twelve designs and only use maybe three or four I took a leap back. If I had all my cohorts with the same design it would have been fine but I want them all to have different shields patterns. I may yet weaken for one of the cohorts.

Before I ordered I had to know what my army was going to look like, so to this end I have come up with the forces below.

Roman Army 150 - 200AD

Army Standard
24 Praetorians x 1
24 Veteran Legionaries x 1
24 Regular Legionaries x 2
24 Auxiliary Infantry x 1
16 Auxiliary Light Infantry x 1
20 Auxiliary Archers x 1
12 Balearic Slingers x 1
12 Auxiliary Cavalry x 1
12 Auxiliary Horse Archers x 1
12 Contarii x 1
12 Cataphracts x 1
2 or 3 Ballistae

This amounts to about 3000+ points if I take all the upgrades and officers, it has a nice core of solid infantry, with what I think is some excellent supports. The Auxiliary light infantry, archers and cavalry can skirmish or fight in close order, excellent units to take out enemy skirmishers, add in the horse archers and my skirmishers will be a force to reckon with on their own. Then the cavalry, small in number but dangerous, especially the cataphracts. So all in I think it is a well balanced force which has the capability to take on any enemy.

So that I don’t get bored painting I am getting away from my usual way of doing things and mixing them up, my first order is for Praetorians, Legionaries, Auxiliaries, archers and cataphracts along with some officers, almost half the army.

Having the army is only one part of War & Conquest, everyone I know tarts their forces up with small ingenious vignettes for their rally points and the same level of commitment is given to their push and shove and strategic initiative markers, I have seen slave girls, sacrifices, looters, senators, druids and dogs to name just some. I will have to come up with something better than the legionary tents I have at the moment, although I do have Roman civilians for SIP’s.

I have completed my last Romano-British foot unit today, so will get the Saxon cavalry started over the weekend, I just wonder if I can hold off on the Romans until after my hols.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Game Mats

I have been away for the weekend with my family and half of them will be staying with us off and on for the next couple of weeks, a week today I go under the knife for the operation which I should have had six months ago, but which was cancelled for all sorts of reasons. I will believe my trapped nerve is being fixed when I feel cold steel.

As I mentioned before I went away my mats arrived from the EU, it's good for something then, and very pleased I am with them. The main mat will be used mainly for my War & Conquest and Dux Britanniarum games at the moment and is 6' x 4', the material is very like a mouse mat and is fairly heavy and robust, it lays flat once rolled out with no curling corners, it is also non slip. Looking from above it has the appearance of a hill with slopes leading to rough ground in two corners, I am not a fan of the dark brown rough ground, the arid stuff is fine but the other seems out of place to me and the line is too sharp, if it blended in better it would look more realistic. I have just had a thought that perhaps it is meant to be a dry riverbed, now that I look at it it seems the likeliest explanation, no matter, it is something which can be lived with and given the overall quality it is a small, personal quibble.

 The mat laid out for a game.
 A close up with troops in place, pretty good if you ask me.

 Close up of the rocky area in top corner.
Space Mat.

I treated myself to the space mat for X-Wing as the one I have, although good quality, has to be tacked down and curls, this one doesn't.

I would highly recommend these mats for a quick, mobile and elegant battlefield, if you follow the blog you will have seen a picture of their desert mat, that is on my list of things I cannot live without, especially as I have decided my Romans will be based in the East. You can find them here Gamemat.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Red letter Day

In three hours I head off to Centre Parcs near Penrith, an hour up the road, to sit in a queue for another hour before I actually get in to the resort as it is a Bank Holiday and I am arriving at the wrong time. The family have already left and as I feel a strong sense of duty to my customer, sorry, customers, I will go when the PO shuts. So no 'View from the Window' this Sunday for my regular readers, I will say this as an aside to last week's tirade, National Grid are fascists, there, that's out of the way.

Image result for red letter

Why is it a Red Letter day, well for a start I got an email from TerrainMat this morning, my roads are at last on the way, looking forward to getting them next week. I also received my two mats from Game Mat in Czechoslovakia, one 6x4 for normal gaming and one 3x3 for X-Wing, I will review all this stuff with pictures next week. I have just put the last corrections to the 118 maps for Barbarossa Derailed and promptly received another commission to do with airship attacks on the UK in WWI.

 I am also enjoying getting ready for the start of my Roman Army, I have a few books coming and have stocked up my paint tray, I am now at the point of choosing the figures. It gives me tremendous pleasure looking at new soldiers, deciding which one's to use, trying to figure out which mix will make my guys stand out and best reflect my own ideas. I have also had to decided whether the troops will be from the West or East, this of course will be reflected on the bases more than anything else, I normally simply grass the bases with a smattering of tufts, stones and flowers, but I have made my mind up these guys are from the East, so a desert/arid base this time. The bulk of the army will be from Aventine Miniatures and Keith at Aventine kindly answered a bunch of questions I had a few days ago, I have more for him before I actually commit to buying, which will happen in the next week or so as I cannot hold in my enthusiasm for much longer. Only one unit of Saxons left to finish, the skirmishers don't count, yippee.

And there is more good news, well for me obviously, not sure the missus will be chuffed, I am going to go for Late Sassanid after the Romans, and while I was talking to Keith he mentioned that next year there could be Belisarian Byzantine on the table as opponents for the Aventine Sassanids. Like the Romans I have always wanted a Byzantine army, probably more so but I never thought my generalship could handle such a complex and flexible force, that is no longer true, not that I am much more of a general but under the W&C rules I think I can manage. So, like the motorway to Manchester Airport as far as I am concerned there will be delays to normal life until 2017!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Club Night

I missed the club last week as I went to see comedian Kevin Bridges. My own experience with Mr. Bridges is that he is either great or rubbish and I have seen both sides, the last being great, hence we booked the tickets, sadly I did not get or ignored the pertinent information that it was a 'warm up' gig, so we got fifty minutes of Kevin practicing stuff people used to do in front of the mirror or with their mates or family before asking other people to pay for it, not that some of it wasn't funny. I am sure the real gig will be a big improvement, Mea Culpa.

Anyway as I have family over I wasn't expecting to get a free pass to the club last night, but I did, so I went. Simon had organised some games for our X-Wing campaign and as I had captured a Rebel pilot last time I got news of some containers the Rebels required and was able to ambush them with a slightly superior force. I had one Firespray 31 tooled up with a heavy laser cannon and an escort of four Tie fighters, the Rebels had four X-Wings, however they came on in two groups which gave me a further edge. The combination worked very well, the laser cannon destroyed the X-Wing's shields and the firepower of the Tie's usually ensured a quick kill. I saved three of the containers and found the parts to build a Y-Wing bomber and a new astro-mech in two of them and a pile of rotting food in the other. It was a very successful mission for the Empire. The other game involved an attack on two space factories which were churning out Tie fighters, bog standard without a paint job, even as they were under attack, it looked like a very interesting game, full marks to Simon for ingenuity.

The Imperials about to clean up.

Third National W&C Tournament

I have just had confirmation that the Third War and Conquest Tournament will take place in November at the Foundry premises near Newark, which is great news for me as I am still on a high from the last battles just over a week or so ago. I am going to put my neck on the line again and lead a borrowed Greek army with which I have no experience rather than take one of my Dark Age armies as my battles with the Romans turned out to be great fun.

I took a leap going to the first tournament as I knew no one and had only played two practice games, I now feel that if there is a tournament then I am going go hell or high water, obviously I wouldn't argue with the missus, but apart from that, count me in.

If you are thinking of going and would like more info, then Phil will happily fill you in or you can email me through my CombatCartography site.

Here are the details hot off the press:

Gravesend Wargamers Club
War & Conquest National Tournament

Saturday and Sunday 14th – 15th November 2015

The Carriage Court
Stoke Hall
Church Lane
East Stoke
Notts NG23 5QF

The themes of the weekend are the armies of the Dark Ages in the West and the World of the Greeks

2500 point armies from any Dark Age army that fought in Western Europe,
2500 point armies from the Greek City States, Spartans or any of their enemies

If you fancy a weekend of gaming and good company, please get in contact with us via email at or telephone 07794908204.

The cost is £25 for the 2 days, with lunch provided on both days.

If you would like to know more about the Gravesend Wargamers Club please follow this link:

We look forward to seeing you and enjoying a few games of War & Conquest together.