Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Avant!

Club night and I had no idea what I was playing, Rob had asked us the previous week if we would like to take part in a 'mystery' game as we could not make our minds up what to play, so I said yes as Rob has excellent organising skills.

On turning up we were given the background to the game which was based on a real event and had already proved itself, Rob had took it to the Hammerhead participation game show and it had been well received. In 1914 during the battle of the Marne a French cavalry unit had got up to ten miles or so behind the German lines, it was night time and they were tired, hungry and many of the horses were exhausted, the French it would seem did not treat their horses well. Just as they were about to turn back a local farmer told them that in a field nearby were several German flying machines, the cavalry set out to attack them. With typical élan they went pell mell for the planes and the troops guarding them, the attack was a success, but the noise had attracted the attention of many more Germans and the cavalry eventually had to split up into smaller groups as it withdrew, many of whom changed into civilian attire in order to escape. The actual write up had much more information on what happened along with pictures of the main players and deserves a wider audience.


In our game we had four officers commanding four troops or squadrons, I was the overall commander and led the reserve which was mounted, only one other troop was mounted as these were the only decent horses left. Myself and another troop followed the road and were soon within sight of the enemy aircraft and unfortunately a machine gun, the fire from this gun made us veer to the left, where we chased away the small number of Boche at the site and started to attack the planes with whatever we could find. Meanwhile the other troop on foot had a hard time finding their way until they eventually came across a small stream and followed it to the action, they turned up just as the last Germans fled and also set about dismantling the planes. The real honour went to Stuart's mounted men, they ignored the planes and moved towards the lights coming from a nearby château, from where more Germans were debarking. Stuart charged into and over these unfortunates and despite casualties and losing his officer turned and galloped up the road taking out more Germans as he went, with French troopers dropping along the route. As they retreated with only a handful of men they came up behind the bothersome German machine gun crew we had all been steering clear of and immediately attacked, the brave souls were cut down to a man, but had got rid of even more Germans before doing so. Our umpire shook his head in awe.

 We hear about the Boche flying machines.

The first shots as we see each other through the dark.

Stuart's supermen and their first victims, the machine gun crew fumble to set up.


The planes go up in smoke.

As dawn approached the survivors found themselves holed up in a small hamlet as the Germans closed in, with seemingly no prospect of relief or escape however they began to sell themselves dearly. Just as the French fire began to dwindle due to a lack of ammunition and losses began to mount, another French force arrived but before they could take cover were roughly handled by German machine guns. It was at this point we called a halt, no doubt German artillery was on the way but our brave troopers had upheld the honour of France so we surrendered with our heads held high.

The last stand.

An interesting game and the fact it had actually happened only added to the pleasure, a nice piece of work.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

View from the Window

The weather gods are toying with us again, I held off washing the Batmobile on Friday as I could smell rain in the air, I don't know about your area but here you get granules of the Sahara desert or wherever in the rain so it isn't worth washing anything. I did manage to pop out Saturday morning and give my pride and joy a quick once over as we were out for the day. Anyway after two lousy days this morning it is beautiful, not a cloud in a clear blue sky, I could see an enemy dust cloud coming from miles away, even the ghastly windmills are standing proud. Having said that there is a smattering of frost on the cars, but I suspect that will not last long.

No road traffic accidents to report this week and there are actually parking spaces out there this morning which is unusual as this village was only ever meant for horses and carts and the occasional stagecoach, cars have a hard time here. This I think was one reason for the demise of the shop side of my business, people here now refuse to walk to the local shop or school even though both places are no further than a good ten minute stroll from any end of the village, and the ironic thing is people come from all over Lancashire and beyond to walk in this area. They didn't use the shop either, professional walkers carry everything with them in their rucksack, it is like Dr. Who's Tardis in there, if they have an accident I would expect them to pull out a fully functioning operating theatre if there are more than two of them. They do at times support the local landlord, James at the "George Washington" (still the Black Bull to locals), taking three hours to drink one cup of tea, yes you guessed it, with six straws.

Whilst perusing my emails for the umpteenth time the other day the subject of one stood out, "Worst Scenario" it shouted at me, now having just published a scenario book and put all the others into a Spring sale I began the rebuttal in my head as I clicked for further info from this scoundrel. You can imagine my relief at finding out that it was nothing to do with my writing, but merely the incredibly unlucky Laurence Eisenberg (hints at Breaking Bad there?), who was stuck in Istanbul having had his passport and all his money stolen by ISIS, while his poor, sick mother was lying on a life support machine back in Blighty. Laurence was adamant that he would pay me back for funding his return to the green, green grass of home and that his mother would forever offer prayers for my salvation. What did I do, what could anyone with a heart do, anyone who has felt a mothers love, I ignored him that's what I did. He can languish with Elizabeth in Madrid and Tony in Rome, another pair of life's unfortunates. He was way off the mark thinking I would help him.


I have been in Istanbul but went to see Constantinople, the city has a pull on my interest much like the Titanic, Hastings and other things I have mentioned. I stayed in the old city a five minute walk from Hagia Sophia, the site of the Hippodrome, the underground caverns and other remnants of New Rome. I also managed to walk along and stand beside the famous triple walls, sadly all but ignored by the city authorities. Constantinople was huge for an ancient/medieval city and as you drive in through the walls to get to your hotel you get a sense of the awe visitors must have got all those years ago.


Thursday, 23 April 2015

Reading Material

The rest of my goodies have turned up, and a couple of other things which I 'needed' this week. I watched "Guardians of the Universe" while at a loose end last week and enjoyed it so much I ordered up three volumes of the comic to get me up to speed. Comic time lines seem to be highly complex and don't seem to match up most of the time, so this is the 'new' Guardians started a few years back collected into the three volumes, so, like my Walking Dead collections I am bang up to date, unlike my Batman stuff. Did I do the right thing, or was I just carried away with the movie, the jury is out at the moment. I told you about the spy documentary on BBC iPlayer, I have seen the second episode and it has impressed and angered me so much I bought the book.


I took out a Slingshot subscription to see what it was like these days, I used to be a member decades ago and wrote quite a bit on medieval armies, especially the Scots and received a prize for a trilogy on Robert the Bruce. I renewed hoping to see some Dark Age, Late Roman pieces, and this issue has something on the latter, I also have the back issues CD and will trawl that at some point to reminisce and maybe get some information which will prove helpful when I get around to doing those Romans.

Why do I have Wargames Illustrated when I have given up on wargaming magazines, well I want to sell my Wars of the Roses figures and there is a contact number in the back, that is the only reason and I hope it works out, looking at the lovely pictures and adverts will probably pass a pleasant cup of tea.

I am not reading as much as I used to, although when I think about it that is not entirely true, I get the Spectator magazine weekly and that takes up a bit of time getting through it before the next one pops through the door. I am of course getting through the comics and picking away at Slingshot, the real book at the side of my bed is about Operation Sealion, only it isn't, it is about how we prepared ourselves for it, the thinking behind our defences and on the other hand, the reasons the Germans didn't bother in the end. It is well enough written but hasn't really grabbed me yet. One of my favourite authors, Max Hastings is researching a book on Vietnam, I look forward to that, not that I have a particular liking for the Vietnam War, but I do think Max writes good history. Strangely enough my next map project is eleven maps covering the 1972 Easter Offensive in said war.

My reading habits are in such disarray that I am thinking of once again dabbling in fiction, historical of course, someone, I can't for the life of me remember who, mentioned a book on Romans fighting in the East against the Sassanids I believe, but I cannot remember the authors name, it is not Scarrow, I get the impression there are several on the subject, and the author may also be a wargamer, does this ring a bell with anyone?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Based on Mortimers Cross

There was a try out of 'Maurice' last night which left three of us at a loose end, so I volunteered to put on a Wars of the Roses game using Poleaxed 2, I would umpire as best I could as I do not play the game often enough to be completely au fait with all the mechanics. Granted there are not a lot, but there are subtleties which should not be forgotten, no doubt I did. Anyway I went for a scenario based on Mortimers Cross and as with all those movies, it was very loosely based on the real story. As Rob and Paul had not played before I evened up the sides as the Lancastrians would otherwise have had too hard a struggle to win, the Yorkists still had a small edge but nothing as drastic as in the real action.

There was a river on one flank and hills on the other as far as we can tell, so the table edges represented both, it would be quicker to pack away. The Lancastrians simply marched forward loosing arrows as they went, the Yorkists wanted to threaten two of the enemy battles while throwing their main battle forward, possibly for a quick victory then a flank roll up. Thomas Howard spoiled this as he went pell mell for the enemy line without waiting for his peers.

 The Yorkist line minus Thomas Howard who has advanced ahead of his friends.

 Thomas Howard way out in front about to make a fearless charge.

 The rest of the army catches up and a general melee ensues.

 An incredibly vicious fight for such a small battle, Blount is the first casualty, but as he gasps his last breath his men surge forward and capture a badly wounded Percy then rout his retinue.
As the general melee continues more commanders die, De la Pole, John Howard and army commander the Earl of March on the Yorkist side, Blount, Grey and Owen Tudor on the Lancastrian. Roos is the luckiest man of the day as twice his armour saves him from death.

The only Yorkist success of the day, De la Pole wins the centre, but the army loses both flanks.

The opening phase of the battle as both sides face off and the end as the Yorkist flanks disintegrate.

The scenario was taken from The Poleaxed Source Book and the coats of arms used on the map from Heraldic Banners of the Wars of the Roses, both Lance and Longbow Society books, and both excellent material for wargamers.If you do know the battle and the names of the commanders do not add up, then I substitute my own guys for the real ones as it is easier then to recognise who is who on the battlefield, I also put the coats of arms on the casualty sheets.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

View from the Window



While I sit here quietly contemplating the day ahead I can hear the birds singing their hearts out, it is dry and I can see all the way to Ingleborough this morning, but like me the day hasn't quite woken up yet so I have no idea what is coming. I have seen two separate young couples go buy holding hands, one of which I know and they seem an odd pairing, but love is blind no doubt. Also trundling by every now and again at this early hour are trucks or vans with big trailers loaded with what look to me like wrecked cars. Warton has a stock car racing circuit which has obviously now opened for the year, so anyone traversing our narrow street this morning could find themselves calling their insurance. I have been here some sixteen years and never been once, I really should make the effort to see what all the fuss is about. The badly wrecked car from last week looked worse than it was, the front of the Peugeot is all plastic and all that was required was a couple of guys to push it back into place, the lady was left holding a few larger pieces of plastic from somewhere underneath but brushed it off and continues to drive around in it. Remind me never to buy a Peugeot.

Image result for social media cartoons

So, the big 5,000 hits. I generally dislike social media while recognising in some cases it is useful, like if you want to overthrow your government etc. I have a Facebook page but only got one to log in to X-Wing Squad Builder, I also have a Linkedin account from which I hoped to get some business, but as with Facebook all I get is requests from people totally unknown to me and who share none of my interests, why do they even bother getting in touch. Anyway despite all this you do get drawn in, I check my emails, or lack of them at least once or twice every hour or when I am passing the study and I am not that well connected, I am lucky if I get a couple of personal emails a day. I do the same on here, I check the counter almost as much as I check the emails, "ah, up to 2004 from 2003 two hours ago, magic", it's mad, and it is addictive.

I also find it interesting where the hits come from and wonder if it is indicative of the wargame hobby, the UK is numero uno followed closely by the US, all the rest, on here at least, are way behind, a good smattering of Europeans and then 'the rest of the world'. I am surprised there are not more from Canada and Australia, I can't for the life of me but feel sorry for the one guy in Mongolia, I don't think even Games Workshop would have a yurt there, although they do probably have a legal presence. I got one from Ecuador this morning, good on you mate, another notch on the flag board. Another surprise, am I too easily surprised, is Russia, I get quite a lot of hits from the Motherland.

Image result for Old Spice

I just chucked out an empty bottle of Lynx shower gel yesterday, my dad used Lynx and it always seemed that it didn't quite fit in his bathroom, he couldn't possibly have believed the TV adverts could he, did he think that he would be mobbed by beautiful young women as he made his way to the betting shop? I just used it because it was buy one get one free, honest. Men simply did not use that kind of stuff when I were a lad, in fact you didn't become a man until you got that first bottle of Old Spice aftershave, it was like a coming of age ceremony. I got through most of my life with just one bottle of aftershave at a time, a bottle of Head and Shoulders and a bar of soap, yes I did renew them obviously. I knew however things had changed when one Christmas at the Trafford Centre I saw two large, menacing, tattooed skinheads deep in conversation at a perfume counter getting advice on which moisturiser to use. In the Navy we called all these products 'Foo Foo', I now have a choice of  Foo Foo, expensive aftershaves, balms and the almost de rigueur L'Occitane. Now who is doing a deal on Lynx this week, maybe the old man knew something I don't ............... you never know.

Friday, 17 April 2015

"Standards" Published

I have spent the night putting the finishing touches to my Dark Age booklet and it is now on Wargame Vault and I have had a test download done so we are cooking with gas.

Here is the sales blurb:

“The Struggle of Standards”
The above is a scenario booklet for large Dark Age battles from 577AD to 1066AD, it features eight battles which give nine scenarios. There is a brief introduction to the Dark Ages and the armies which fought across Britain and Ireland during that period, you will meet Romano-British, Picts, Irish, Welsh, Northumbrians, Mercians, Saxons and Vikings. Also you will meet the leaders, warlords and kings who were never shy at drawing cold steel, for honour, greed or property.


You can get it here : 


So, after four and a half months this is another project I can put to bed, check the page above on the battle of Heavenfield if you want to get a flavour of the booklet. This calls for a nice bottle of wine, but it will have to wait until tomorrow when I can relax.

5,000!




I am a bit rushed at the moment, a lot to do this weekend, so passing the 5,000 mark on here went unnoticed until now. My thanks to all who have come here to read my musings.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Eureka

I was hoping I would have some of my recent purchases to show you, but most of them are still winging there way here. I did get some Vallejo Paints and a piece of kit for my paint shaker, see below.

Before I get to the good bit, if you have access to BBC iPlayer and you have not already seen these documentaries, I recommend you get some nibbles, some beers or wine, put your feet up and enjoy them: Scotland's War at Sea, which actually covers the complete Naval war during WWI; Kim Philby Part 1, one of the famous defectors from MI6, an unbelievably arrogant monster. The last surprised me, it was Reggie Yates' Russia, I thought here we go again, a young, hip pseudo-journalist being given air time, I was completely wrong, the programme was enthralling, and Mr. Yates must be one of the bravest men I have ever seen, it was superb and frightening.

So, now to the Eureka moment. I have managed to take a video of my good self, put it on the PC, then put it on the blog with a hearty slap on the back. It was not without a tad of frustration at a couple of points but my son put me right and you can see my efforts below. Isn't technology wonderful. Make up! Lights! Action...........

video


Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Gunfight

The lads I usually play with were having a large Chain of Command game last night, so that was me out, however I got a call from Simon who wanted to try out Dead Man's Hand. I packed up a relatively small 'town', I have far too many buildings and the boxes are large and cumbersome, I thought I had covered everything but forgot all the street 'debris', the wagons, barrels, boxes, sacks etc. so the place looks a little bare.


Nevertheless we set up the first scene, I had to keep Judge Barker alive and see off his pursuers who were hell bent on making him pay for hanging their buddy. Meeting a hail of lead on Main Street the deputies pulled the judge into cover and ended up sheltering behind the Aces High Saloon, unfortunately they ended up trapped here as the baddies closed in, one by one the deputies went down until eventually the Judge, slowed by an old war wound, took two shotgun barrels to the chest.

 

The action at the rear of the Aces, only the Judge and one deputy remain alive.


The witness surrounded by the new posse. I forgot the wagon with horses!


The Law was now on the back foot as the gang, fuelled with whiskey from the Aces and flushed with success decided to take out the only witness to their leaders foul deeds. The surviving lawman had quickly deputised some citizens and began a dangerous walk through Main Street to get him to the train station. Sure enough no sooner had they started than a fusillade of rifle shots brought down the lead deputy, two more stayed in the wagon with the witness while the other two ran for the backstreets to close on the assassins firing from the grocery store. The wagon continued and the occupants took several flesh wounds, but Jed and Wayne had managed to get to the back of the store and surprised Miguel by firing through the window, the store owner now made his presence felt and shakily fired off a shot at the outlaw, he missed and was sent to an early grave by a wounded and angry Miguel. This action however stopped Miguel exiting the building and he died to a well timed shotgun blast, shortly after another of the badmen at the side of the store also bit the dust.


The long walk.

The outlaws fire began to slacken as they quickly sobered up, they decided to try one quick rush on the wagon, but before they could do this, the Law did the same, jumping from the wagon and abandoning the witness they closed with the hesitant criminals. Seeing another of their compadres gunned down the rest decided they had had enough and promptly fled the scene.


Monday, 13 April 2015

Aquila non capit muscus

I am starting to get into character for the big bash in just over three weeks, hence the Latin, I have at last decided on my army, or rather what I am going to use of Phil's, it will be next year before my own Italian steamroller will be ready for battle. I am a bit of a plodder with my armies, the sword and spear type at least, I like to have a line of solid infantry as a base and then shock cavalry to deliver the killing blow, this always worked well with my Feudal English and 14th C. French. I am however usually in awe of Classical armies, all those specialised skirmishers or heavy skirmishers, chariots, elephants, light cavalry etc. all having to work together to a plan, a normally complicated plan, give me five big schiltroms any day. To this end I have in true Roman style stayed with what works (hopefully), much like many Roman generals did, many of whom lost doing this when up against someone who used their brains.



To this end I have chosen a solid line of Legionaries, no fancy Praetorians as I decided the morale of the normal line infantry will be fine with the odd officer around, as will the so-called raw legionaries, backing them up I have five units with which I normally have no idea about, especially the light cavalry skirmishers. These units I hope will overwhelm and kill the enemy skirmishers or die on my flanks while the heavies win the battle.

Early Imperial Romans for May:



Legate + 1 extra SIP
Tribune + 1 extra SIP
Army Standard
3 x 24 Regular Legionaries
2 x 24 Raw Legionaries
12 x Aux Light Cav.
12 x Horse Archers
12 x Aux Slings
18 x Aux light Infantry with light armour and javelin
12 Aux archers with light armour

A lot more support troops than I like, however I have to take at least 25% of the army costs as such. I managed to come in 12 out of 14 last time, which believe me having only played two games previously I was pretty happy about, I still haven't played a huge number of W&C games but I hope to better that score if only for my personal honour.

I have finished another map project, I don't know the name of the book but it is about tank warfare during WWI and shortly after. 


 Next up is three small maps for a tome analysing British air superiority in the Far East during WWII.