Monday, 29 February 2016

War and Conquest Swindon Weekend 1

Another weekend of wargaming mayhem is over, I returned a few hours ago from 'down South', packed away the wargaming paraphernalia, had lunch and am finally sitting doing nothing, mind you I didn't do much apart from sitting during the four hour journey home. The journey down took over five hours because a bunch of truckers were driving within spitting distance of each other and one of them must have slowed down, because four of them were all disabled at the side of the road, cutting the motorway down to one lane and causing a tailback for tens of miles. No one was hurt.

My satnav told me the local Holiday Inn Express was the Premier Inn, the guy on reception put me straight with a strange look and pointed to the real Premier Inn, I was not the only one to fall foul of this mix up. Anyway around eight I was ensconced in the bar and renewed contact with friends as they turned up, there were twenty signed up at one point but that had dwindled to thirteen, it meant some juggling so everyone could play four games each in their chosen category, Dark Ages or Enemies of Rome, but it was all managed with enthusiasm, good humour and the help of a volunteer new player on the Sunday, well done Steve.

The hall was in a small village and was a perfect venue, we had plenty of room and a small kitchen for endless tea and coffee's along with a well supplied lunch buffet on both days for which a big thanks must go to the organiser, Jenny, we even had tea biscuits, salad and fruit, a huge improvement on our last supplier.

Reputations still intact, we begin to set up.

For my army I had chosen a core of three cohorts, one veteran with an Auxiliary cohort in reserve, my flanks were to be held by my Contarii and Auxiliary cavalry while slingers, Lanciarii and horse archers would skirmish, the Lanciarii I would use to kill other skirmishers. The Emperor and two of his most trusted centurions took command.

My first game was against Jenny's Celts, I had been disappointed in my last fight with them using Phil Turner's Romans but I hoped my own Romans would prove better fighters and avenge their friends. I got the same objective, to destroy her two most expensive units, and Jenny deployed them on the same flank as last time, so the battle took the same course, I moved forward aggressively all along the line. The skirmishers on my flanks did alright, especially on my right against the enemy chariots, my horse archers pinned them and then my Lanciarii hit them in the flank and wiped them out, just as they were despatching the last of the charioteers a look over their shoulders filled them with dread. The main lines had met and my cohorts were very quickly despatched and dispersed, I lost my main fighting force in less time than you can throw a pilum. It was game over for the Twelfth, decimation awaited. I thought having despatched the chariots I had the opportunity to get on the Celts flank but the punishment my legionaries took was shocking and all three routed and could not outrun their pursuers, Jenny won convincingly and the score was 45 to 7. My tactics were not brilliant but the battle simply called for slaughter, sadly it was my men who were slaughtered.

The sharp end of the Twelfth.
We move on the Celts, I still high hopes at this stage.
I was supposed to fight Sertorian Romans next but my opponent was involved in a long drawn out struggle and as I was at a loose end until it finished I was offered a game against Adam Poole's Vikings, it was unhistorical but we went ahead. This time I had to capture the enemy general, I also had to deploy my army first, I never win the roll for this. As fate would have it Adam's general was in a front line unit of Hirdmen, I had my legionaries opposite him albeit they were not veterans but I had faith. Adam also elected to keep some troops off table so his front line was well outnumbered and my spirits rose. Once again my flankers despatched their opposite numbers in rapid succession while my cohorts bore down on Adams thin brown line, a speed bump at best thought I, Adam himself voiced his concern the game was nearly over. Sadly I could not convert hits into kills and at the same time I could not stop the Vikings killing me, my morale held up as I always managed to rally my troops but each time there were less and less of them to stand up to further charges. Near the end my die rolling became even worse, everyone around the table nodded in agreement and I raised my eyes to the heavens and cursed the gods. I did manage to get something out of this battle losing 14 to 24. There was a bit of tactical flare to this game and I thought I handled it well in the beginning, but my failure to inflict kills while receiving large amounts of them meant a slow but sure descent into defeat.

Parade ground precision.

The 'weak' Vikings.

One of the things which I believe went against the 'Thunderbolts' was the number of veteran/fanatical units in both the armies I faced, there is no reason in WAC to take rubbish troops, I know no one wants to take the dross but it should be represented, it is one thing to take a bunch of elite vets on a raid but to marshal an army for a do or die fight is another thing. This is an historical observation and in no way let's me off the hook for not fighting better or coming up with an infallible Plan A.

One of the Dark Age games.
 We of course met up again at the bar later and I was confronted with a faux cocktail as I had taken a glass of white wine the preceding night with my dinner and seemingly this is not what hard drinking, hard fighting wargamers admit to drinking, never mind ordering in front of their peers. My major sin being that I actually knew it was rubbish white wine!

So, a great day meeting old friends and talking to new ones, and despite my losses I enjoyed both games but will admit to being disappointed with the 'Thunderbolts', I ended the day second from the bottom of the ladder and wondered what the morrow would bring.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

With the Jocks

I spent the day with an interesting Jock, Randall Nicol, ex-Scots Guards and author of the upcoming book "Till the Trumpet Sounds Again: The Scots Guards 1914-19". I have thirty-two maps to draw for this project and typical of an ex-Guards officer Randall wanted to make sure I understood what was required and that he had provided all the information I needed. He told me he was arriving at a local railway station from Edinburgh with a suitcase of information and to my horror he did indeed arrive with a suitcase, as I have completed just over half the maps I wondered what could possibly require a suitcase.

Randall turned out to be a complete gentleman and I enjoyed my time with him, he is passionate about his book and the Guards, as you would be if you were one of the six people in charge of recording the regiments history and making sense of the wealth of information contained in the museum. He helped me make sense of the images and instructions I have for the second half of the maps and entertained me with anecdotes about the personnel in his book along with showing me many photographs of the Jocks at war and the personalities mentioned. You read in histories about the 'regimental family' and Randall talked about the officers and soldiers as if he knew them personally as indeed he does through their personal letters and diaries. He pointed out one young officer who had arrived at the front aged nineteen and who would be killed two months after the photograph had been taken, as he looked over the maps and pointed to places like 'the Brewery', 'Sunken Road' and 'Signpost Lane' he simply uttered the word 'frightful' to indicate the ferocity of the fighting.

He also brought along several large reproduction maps of the areas where the regiment fought, these are about three feet long by two feet wide and were supposed to be sold to the public but were not popular, he very kindly gave me one showing the area around Maricourt on the Somme and I intend to get it framed and will hang it in my wargame room when that plan comes to fruition. He also very kindly left his copy of 'Topography of Armageddon' which contains large amounts of maps of British trench lines and is one of those books which once you pick it up you can easily lose all sense of time as you are transported back to that fateful ground.

We finished off with a couple of pints in the local, alcohol free for me as I was driving him back to the station and discussed war, history, books and historians, many of whom he knows personally or has met. By coincidence I have already produced maps for a book by one of his friends, General Anthony Leask, a small world.

All my lovely new paints arrived today, thirty bottles only three of which are doublers, result, I had to get some seconds as it was four paint sets which turned up, so three was acceptable, my son may use them. That puts my count up to about 80 bottles, it doesn't look like that amount. I will be back at the tray next week in order to complete another Carolingian mounted Milites unit, after that I will be getting my WWII figures. I have an urge however to get a couple of vehicles first to have some fun.

I am off to a War and Conquest tournament near Swindon on Friday run by a couple of friends, I will be leading the 'Thunderbolts' against Celts, Germans, Romans and Masai, yes Masai. Rob Broom has the Masai army and as he wrote the rules I am not one to argue, I am sure whatever it is it will be fun.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

View From The Window

No, it is a Saturday, no View last week and there won't be one next week so I thought I would make the effort today before I leave as I won't be back until tomorrow night. It is miserable outside as usual, wet, damp, misty and all round stay in bed weather, unfortunately I am on duty on a Saturday morning so here I am bright eyed and bushy tailed. There is a man with a flamethrower outside the house today, this is remarkable for two things, first being the flamethrower and the second the man wielding it has been there since 0750 am on a Saturday!

Almost two weeks ago they started digging up the village to put in super-super fast broadband, their words not mine. The first lot dug a hole opposite the PO, put up barriers, closed Main Street down to one lane as if a village road made for coach and horses wasn't bad enough, then left for a week. I did not see anything else being done, no one in the bottom of it with wires or tools, then they came back and filled it in. This week they dug a trench right outside the PO, at first I thought they were here to lend support to my neighbours wall as every time I looked out of the shop they were leaning against it. They were faster this time and the disruption lasted only a few days and they were gone, but here is the lone stranger back annoying everyone still abed with his noisy flamethrower, and on a Saturday!

The other side of the street has had super fast broadband for over a year now as has other parts of the village here and there, our wait must have been worth it if we are getting super-super fast broadband, we'll see.

Depending on what you read our valiant Prime Minister has got his deal on Europe, but it's not what the small print says or what he indeed promised, also it seems that if we vote to stay in the 'deal' will not be ratified by the EU parliament and therefore one of the biggest cons ever perpetrated on the British people. With all the scaremongering going on it makes you wonder how we survived pre 1975 without it.

I take it you missed the bit about the Speaker of the House of Commons, the creepy Mr. Bercow abusing his expenses, £2,000 dinners for his cronies and the same kind of amount on bespoke beeswax candles among other things, what's wrong with John Lewis'. This is the person who was voted in to put a curb on MP's expenses, we can put the white flag up on that one.

Smug or what?
I think the worst thing I got up to when a lad was knock on someone's door or fling a snowball at it and run, this stopped when one guy chased me all the way back to my aunt's house with murder in his eyes. Nowadays we have idiots pointing lasers at aircraft as they take off or land, one pilot recently had to return after take off to get medical treatment, when I was offshore we made a radio announcement when using lasers for people not to look directly at the platform using it, dangerous stuff. Lasers are no longer the stuff of science fiction and you can buy them as easily as a pen, I have one myself for checking firing angles during a wargame, it is not a direct beam but a horizontal one. Why on earth would you come up with the idea that it would be a great wheeze to point it at an airplane, and you don't need something from Goldfinger, a small pointer the size of a pen is enough to beam out to the stratosphere. The same thing goes for morons who think it's fun to send their drones over airports, this too is becoming more frequent.

 My mindset is firmly rooted around the sixties and not the hippy free love (which wasn't), peace man sixties, but the real nitty gritty sixties of working class people so I find it increasingly mind boggling where we have ended up. Children as young as five can now express that they are not happy who they are and a whole range of experts and therapists are there to expedite their transformation into the opposite sex, at what age then do they start chopping and rearranging body parts to facilitate this. And hell mend you if you don't fall into line. The latest thing I picked up on is that children who do not do what they are told in school or who tell a teacher to 'eff off, are not to blame for their actions, it is a symptom of PAD (pathological demand avoidance). So something which to you and me may seem like some snotty, aggressive, moron, hell bent on learning nothing and making life a misery for a teacher is now a medical condition, bless their heart.

Hello Sailor.
 Still at least the Luvvies are doing their bit for the immigration crises, the Globe Theatre group have been performing Hamlet in refugee camps around the world, even in Calais where real knives became a show stopper. Could they have picked a more dour and depressing play than Hamlet to lighten the souls of these poor people, I am sure the Penguins of Madagascar would have gone down much better and at least raised a smile.

Is this a dagger I see before me ........ I'm outta here.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Two Feet In, SIr!

I am now fully committed to Bolt Action not having received the rulebook, bought one soldier or looked down the barrel of a medium anti-tank gun. I finished off some maps this morning and have given the afternoon over to perusing what I am going to need in the future and hoping to have it all at hand when I do buy the guys at the sharp end.

First up are the paints, in between serving annoying customers braving the pouring rain to come and annoy me I settled behind my screens and got started, I get most of my paint from Emodels as they are extremely efficient and swift with their orders and generally a decent price. Colours for the infantry was fairly painless as I bought two Vallejo sets, one German and one British.
  The colours for the vehicles was not so straightforward, some sets factor in SRF and some don't, you have no idea what SRF is then let me enlighten you, it means that if you paint your little tank in the correct colour, because it is little it will be wrong when looked at, so some manufacturers now proudly proclaim that their paint now looks perfect on a little tank due to built in SRF. Maybe you already knew that, I didn't and I wonder if it bothers wargamers as opposed to military modellers, I suspect not.

The range of paints and accessories available is astounding, you can have five shades of the one green to get your tank just perfect or you can cover it in European mud as opposed to Saharan mud and your mud can be dry or wet, you can spill oil and grease on the engine covers, you can give wooden parts mould. I was under the mistaken belief there was only one kind of rust, but no, there are huge variations, burnt out vehicle rust, abandoned vehicle rust, winter rust and plain old rust, no, there is no plain old rust.

I like to get the best kit possible and I immediately thought of an airbrush, but that was a step too far even for me, there are vehicles in Bolt Action of course but not enough that I could justify buying an airbrush. I have a sneaking suspicion it would turn out too 'footery' for me anyway and way too much effort for the odd vehicle, so I am sticking with brushes.

So what have I ended up with for my two hour surfing, as I mentioned above the two infantry sets and a basic vehicle set all from Vallejo along with their Russian Uniform green for my British vehicles. I settled on Ammo by MIG for the rest, which was a struggle as I like everything tidy and all my other stuff is Vallejo, yes I am a nut. From Ammo I got the late war German tank camouflage set with SRF naturally, and a rust for tracks along with a dark rust for general weathering and some European dry rough mud.

I also got in touch with Warbases today and got them to make me a couple of custom movement trays so that I can use my Dux Britanniarum troops as extra units should I require them for WAC, which I mentioned before. This way I do not have to struggle to remove them from the pennies I superglued them to, it can be done but it is tough going and they should still be on a more or less 'official' frontage for WAC. I will however have to change the Romano-British shield patterns as they are basically more like Late Romans at the moment. Warbases are terrific to deal with, I only wanted two of the trays and it is no problem for them.

So, we are off and running, there is nothing quite as exciting as starting a new period and the anticipation of all that lovely stuff arriving.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Way Forward

With only my son's cavalry on the tray and nothing of my own to do I have been deliberating on what's next. I have decided to put the Sassanids on hold and instead await Aventine's Byzantine range which should be complete by the end of the year, the reason I put that timeline on is that they like to do a comprehensive range with many choices and I would rather wait for the whole lot. Besides, I have three WAC armies and I can have a lot of fun with them in the tournaments and against my son while I wait.

Now that I am free from the shackles which I bound myself in vis a vis the new army, I had to make a decision between Bolt Action or Muskets and Tomahawks, it hasn't been easy as both are supported well by many wargame companies, selling everything from figures and vehicles to buildings and terrain all first rate. I also feel it would be a nice challenge to paint the figures. Do I really need another period, no, am I going to do one, yes.

And the winner is .................... Bolt Action.

I suppose it is a bit like every wargamer wants a Roman army, every wargamer at some time has played or is playing WWII, I was no exception, I started my serious wargaming with WWII and will now pick up where I left off, albeit with better figures, better vehicles, better everything really, and years of experience behind me.

I ordered up the rule book this morning along with the books on the German and British armies and managed to save myself almost twenty pounds by ordering through Amazon, even with the postage. I am going to concentrate on the latter half of 1944 from D-Day onwards, getting the bulk of my Germans from Artizan and the British from Crusader, along with recommendations from my friend Matt at The Wargames Table. I shall also keep my eye on Andy Duffell at Tiny Hordes, who, although he is a Chain of Command player in the main has some great WWII eye candy plus ideas and tutorials on his site.

I am looking online now for anything Bolt Action, watching YouTube painting guides, AAR's and searching for resources and reviews, I am a long way from seeking out opponents but that will come later. I have played at the club but only a couple of intro games, hopefully in the future this will improve. I am desperate to get going now I have made my mind up, but I have to be patient, I still have two units of cavalry to paint and two tournaments to attend, as well as Salute, now that would be an opportunity to pick some stuff up.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Gone in a Flash

I didn't make the club last night, Simon called off and it was one of the coldest and most miserable nights of the year so far so I stayed in and watched some TV.

I have been watching series two of The Flash and up until now I have enjoyed it but my interest is waning, the non-character Iris West has been joined by another cliche, a long lost brother who again brings nothing to the show or the plot. I can suspend belief as much as the next man but when Flash, the fastest man on the planet remember, can be eluded by the criminal simply walking out the door you have to question your sanity or are they questioning my gullibility?

Dickensian continues to enthral me and the episode where Honoria gives birth really knocked me for six, a fantastic series, I only hope that those deserving of being put in their place are, otherwise I shall feel cheated, yet entertained.

I am also catching up with Suits, but like The Flash it has a couple of things which are beginning to bug me, but it is Season Five so not bad going. It would seem to be a top lawyer all you have to do is put some paper in a folder, toss it aggressively across the table and watch your opponents take the whole lot in in 30 nanoseconds, then about fifteen minutes later you are on the receiving end of a thrown folder and off we go again. Oh yes the other thing, Louis Litt, I like Louis but his character now seems to be nothing short of Bernie Winters, if you have ever seen Bernie Winters you would know what I mean.

I continue with Modern Family despite Sophia Vegara's increasingly ridiculous over the top accent. Gotham looks like it is having one of those annoying breaks which seem a feature of American serials now. I am saving up our home grown Happy Valley as I enjoyed the last one and will watch several episodes at once. I am patiently awaiting Walking Dead and Better Call Saul and Silicon Valley.

I have not watched a decent movie in an age, I tried Macbeth but you have to be in the mood for Shakespeare and I wasn't, I have Trumbo about American communists and the whole McCarthy thing, it looks good but it has to be savoured alone as it is not for the missus.

I have not managed a good read either for a while but then again I have not been reading as much as I normally do. I think I have hit lucky with 'Fighters in the Shadows' a new history of the French Resistance, very much an eye opener so far.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Franks Triumphant!

I packed and checked and rechecked everything needed for my away game my memory not being what it was, I left the rules and dice at home last time and had to do a u-turn to get them. That little escapade nearly gave Lawyers4U some business, long story. Anyway I set off early so no View last week, there may not be one next week either as I am taking my wife away for her birthday to a plush new hotel and restaurant.

I arrived in time despite a rough ride over the A66 which had had some snow, and we set up, it was my Romano-British versus Stewart's Western Franks (Carolingians), I had painted up a cavalry unit for him and he had a new foot unit to add to the one he had already, so things are going forward with this interesting army. We decided to fight a pitched battle rather than choose a random objective card, I managed to keep both my terrain pieces, a large gentle hill and a small piece of uneven ground, Stewart as usual went for empty spaces, one of which he had to discard.

Romano-British deployment.
Frankish deployment.

As the Frankish cavalry are much better than mine I put my Comitatus cavalry and Saxon infantry on my left to advance and take the high ground, hoping a charge from this would give me an edge, my other cavalry were held in reserve while my infantry would go forward and hopefully get into shieldwall before the clash. Stewart had obviously decided to go for my left while keeping his infantry back to see what would happen, his lone cavalry unit opposing my right was going to just be annoying and force me to use my reserve cavalry to counter it.

The Comitatus and Saxons take the hill.

The armies manoeuvre.
 The battle opened as described above, my men got the hill and Stewart, not being a seasoned wargamer of many years like me put his faith in his newly painted Milites and charged uphill into my Comitatus. My plan was working, my large Saxon warband would soon put paid to the other flimsy horsemen while my Comitatus would thunder over their opponents. No, that didn't happen, it was my cavalry which disappeared under the hooves while the Milites got behind my left. My infantry were now within javelin range of the enemy and this forced several Frankish units to charge me, I was not in shieldwall, just one more move was all I needed, but I didn't get it. Despite this I had more men fighting as I stood my ground, this was to no avail, I couldn't win a goldfish. I quickly lost two units including my Dux, another mob fled in sympathy, things were unravelling fast. The flimsy cavalry slammed into the Saxons and pinned them, much to my chagrin, what is it with me and mercenaries, am I not paying them enough?

My centre goes and my Dux is captured.

Damn mercenaries, you just can't trust them.
At this point any of my units actually still fighting were just about to get hit in the rear or flank so I put a brave face on and called it a day. Stewart of course was over the moon as all three of his home grown units had won, this is the kind of thing bloodfueds are made of as I swear my boys will be back.

Bad news travels fast.
The game was a disappointment for me, not the playing of it but the half hearted effort of my troops. I had expected my Milites to do a lot better, especially as Stewart had charged in, this gave me double the amount of men in the first round and at the best I managed draws while Stewart twice managed to kill five men in combats, I could not match this kind of slaughter. We joked that his Liberi only had loincloths as armour but it must have been tough cloth because I couldn't shift them either. With the loss of several units the remainder had no flank or rear protection and disaster was staring them in the face, hence I threw the towel in. I can only think they were teaching me a lesson as I have not commanded them personally for some time and have given most of my attention recently to the Romans.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Chess and Sassanids

The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the same gentleman who said it was alright to eat your wife if you came over a bit peckish and there was nothing in the pantry, has now informed his followers that Chess is evil and a harbinger of hatred and they should keep away from it, just as well I don't know any chess players.

I have at last started researching the Sassanid army, and it will come as no surprise that it is heavily armoured cavalry backed by horse archers, the real questions come with the infantry. Some Roman generals praised their discipline while others, notably Belisarius, scoffed at them and labeled them mere peasants and farmers, worthless peasants and farmers to boot. Although there is no doubt that the bulk of the Persian infantry lacked staying power and were at a disadvantage in hand to hand combat there were exceptions. The 'Immortals' were a bodyguard unit for the Shah and Daylami mercenaries were highly thought of, both these troop types I suspect were armoured and of a higher morale than the vast bulk of foot. Foot archers as well are mentioned as elite as are tribal slingers and javelin men from the outer reaches and mountains of the Sassanid Empire.

One setback for the Persians was their reliance on their leader maintaining his presence on the battlefield, if he left, was wounded or worse killed, then even if on the brink of victory the army would turn and flee.

So far then my army would look much like most Sassanid armies but I do want to add the choice of armoured infantry, not many, possibly only one unit of Immortals and one of Daylami, or the choice of one or the other. I have two reasons for this, one is that there is evidence for them albeit scarce and the other is that Aventine do armoured figures which are beautiful.

The latest figures for the Aventine range have just been released, just have a look at this general.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Viva El Arana!

Club night and with nothing arranged Simon and I went for another game of Dead man's Hand, we could have done the previous bank raid but changing sides, however I managed to have a bit of spare time over my lunch break and did a quick Google for Wild West scenarios. I found one which seemed to fit the bill, the Mexicans from the previous failed raid were holed up in a more or less abandoned part of Carefree and had spent the previous night drowning their sorrows. The gang lay about the almost deserted part of town which had seen better days before Carefree moved a few miles west. The Law in Carefree got wind of this and decided to pay an early morning visit to the shanty town.

The Law tiptoes into town.
As the Sheriff and his posse arrived on the outskirts they split into two and moved towards Mike Holloran's Place, with the alarm raised they could see several of El Arana's gang around the building, other members were nowhere to be seen. As they approached bullets began to fly, the Red Dog Saloon provided a good position to fire into the square and cover Holloran's where two riflemen were taking pot-shots at any lawman who showed his face. The bandito on the roof proved especially lethal as the Law took the first casualty.

A snipers view of the action.
Despite drawing first blood The Spider was being trapped in the corner as the lawmen moved in, by now both sides had lost some men. Luckily for the outlaws two gang members who had been sleeping it off in the old Wells Fargo office woke up and surprised the Marshall and his men from behind as they had not checked the building on the way to Hollorans. The Marshall's attempt to rush the defunct bank building now failed and the survivors withdrew to the Doctors shack under a hail of lead.

Look behind you.
Grasping his chance and with a couple more of the sleeping gang members joining him The Spider rushed the Doctors and shot down the remaining defenders. At this moment the Sheriff and his group assaulted Holloran's to get rid of the annoying rifleman, but at the very last minute our hero leapt from the roof into the yard and was off with bullets kicking up dust all around. One lucky Mexican.

The Law finally clear Holloran's Place.
With the Marshall dead and only three of his posse left the Sheriff decided to grab his horses and make for Carefree.

The scenario involved a boss, a gunslinger and eight others for each side, however the Mexicans had to roll for each figure and only on a 4+ could they be placed on the table, anywhere the player wished before the game proper started. After this any figures which did not make it on would again throw at the beginning of a turn and again required 4+ to arrive, but this time they had to be placed within an inch of a door or in a building. This hopefully would simulate the surprise element and their sore heads. If either side lost their leader they would lose the game or if they failed a 'big nerve test' due to casualties they could also lose the game.

The game went very well, I was The Spider and managed to get six men on at the start, however as Simon came on at a fast pace I had to keep my leader out of harms way, hence I was cornered at first, I got two more in turn two and the remainder on turn three. I 'ambushed' one group of lawmen as I decided that as the Wells Fargo building had not been entered by anyone then the two men in there could not have been spotted, this turned the tide in that part of town as the good guys were overwhelmed and mown down by some excellent close range firefights, and my handy rooftop sniper who took out the Marshall. Simon desperately wanted to kill the sniper, he managed to get two men on the roof alongside him but I managed to activate first, the Sheriff took a 'quick shot' as my man leapt from the roof but he missed, exciting stuff. I was luckier at shooting than Simon but I only managed to win the initiative once in the whole game. This is an excellent skirmish game which is deceptively simple.

Not sure yet what we will play next week, there is an X-Wing game coming up but it is two weeks away not one, Dropzone commander may be on the cards, but in the meantime I have my Dark Age game to play on Sunday. Elsewhere last night was an AWI boardgame, a Bloodbowl match and a large Frostgrave game with some beautiful terrain, yes I know, I should have taken a picture, I really should.

Monday, 8 February 2016


I have painted this unit in record time which is unusual in that they are cavalry, lovely on the table but a chore to paint as it always feels like the horses are simply an add on, something which you cannot avoid, which you can't of course but you know what I mean. I have seen some beautiful horses on wargame tables, I keep mine simple, the odd black horse with the rest being Bays with black legs, manes and tails, I also give every horse a bit of white. Perhaps one day I shall attempt a white (grey) horse, although I have managed Strawberry Roan before.

 As usual with the Dark Ages if you get interested and start looking for information you find there isn't a lot and espeically not what we wargamers require. I believe my son's Franks are around 900AD therefore some of the figures are classic Carolingian, with that faux-Roman look and their unique headgear while others are more 'modern' with a look that becomes synonymous with the Normans. It is a nice mix.

I have another twelve figures standing by, but I have a large map project to complete so they will not be completed as quick as these guys. I cannot deliver them until next Sunday when they will be required on the field of battle so the basing will have to wait.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

View From The Window

Not as pleasant a view as last week, but then it is seasonal and dry at the moment after a pile of rain yesterday, it is cold and grey but clear, I can see the useless windmills in the distance below the scudding clouds. Nothing stirs yet as I seem to be back to normal and it is early for a Sunday. The lake at the bottom of the village has gone, however the unlucky people down there won't be back in their homes for several months yet.

The kitchen saga continues, most of the units are in but the worktops have to be cut to fit and they take a week, then the plumbing and electricity all have to be connected, even then we cannot break the bottle of champagne. Our painter cannot do his job until March when he virtually does the rest of the house as the lime plaster is still drying but should be ready by then.

You know the missus gave me stick for not taking an interest, well it got a lot worse. On our half day last week I received orders to accompany her to check out the paint we didn't get the week before, fair enough, an hour at the most then back in the house duty done. As we approached the motorway black plumes of smoke could be seen, "some farmer is in trouble" says I, thinking an outbuilding or some farmer stuff in the fields was on fire. We had just joined the motorway and managed two hundred yards before hitting a wall of traffic, up ahead was a camper van in flames, giving not a jot for the occupants I cursed that we could not turn around and would be stuck here for ages as fire engines and police cars sped past. What is a camper van some of you may ask, that is what you buy when you won't shell out for a hotel room. In India the offending article would have been shoved into a monsoon ditch and normal service would have been resumed in minutes, not here.

Half an hour or so later we were waved on, the occupants were fine by the way but all that was left of the van was the four wheels. We got to the paint store which had been shut on our previous expedition to find he only had white in the range madam required, he was then given a lecture on how useless that was to someone who wanted Harvest Yellow. Just as we were about to leave he mentioned his store in Kendal would have it, my heart sank, now we would be heading into darkest Cumbria. Storm Tom, Dick or Harry was just beginning to get into its stride as I battled up the motorway, I then fought my way through the middle of Kendal where the traffic was horrendous only to follow the SatNav to a barrier across the road which would have been a struggle for a certain giant ape. The only road in the town which had been closed was the one we needed to get down, I could almost see our destination as could the SatNav lady who would shout at us and wonder how stupid the driver was for the next hour as we traversed the area trying to get to the shop. We eventually gave up and headed for the hospital where the missus had an appointment.

I dropped her at the entrance in the pouring rain and headed to the nearby supermarket to get something for my dinner, I got back in about fifteen minutes to find a drenched Fury whose appointment had been knocked back and therefore useless to her and had scoured the car park for me, oops.

After she had calmed down I used my charm to suggest we stop at a chipshop so she could get a bite to eat before heading out that night, we got there to find it was closed for renovations, running out of time we went to Tesco and got a couple of microwavable ready meals. On eventually getting back to base we found the one she had chosen had a hole in it and the contents were now resting in the bottom of the bag, the bad luck continued as her teabag then ripped as she prepared a calming cup of Rosy Lee. You gotta laugh eh? No, I wouldn't have dared to raise a lip, five hours and our free afternoon all for naught and still no paint, I shudder to think what lies ahead next Thursday.

What about this naming of storms we now have, if they keep naming every rain shower or gust of wind then we will run out of the alphabet by the end of February.

I got a woman in the other day, a large imperious looking individual, a no nonsense type whom I took an immediate dislike to, I think I have seen her use our facilities twice in the last sixteen years, despite this I put on my customer face and proceeded with the transaction. I want to post this and get a proof of posting, sure, I completed everything, gave her the slip of paper and watched her walk away, only to halt about four feet from the desk. Uh Oh. She comes back and snaps, you have not put the address on, yes I have, no I cannot see it, well it is there believe me, right there, the postcode and the first line of the address, I cannot see it (again). I blurted out do you have glasses, bingo, I was right on the button but she informed me they were at home!

Anything serious this week? Of course there is but much of it concerns our partners in the EU and you already know where I stand on that, I will only say that if anyone is undecided on how to vote they should have watched the arrogant performance of some unelected EU apparatchik, I cannot remember his name, on the Daily Politics last week, who virtually said if we don't do what the rest want we will be fined? Fined!

There was one more thing which got me this week, I watch The Flash on TV, and there is a character in the series, Iris West, who is really superfluous to the show, annoys everyone and people who have too much spare time, fans, have been moaning about this. None of this has anything to do with the actress's talents merely the scriptwriting and storyline. However MoviesofColor website, yes I wondered too, declares it is because she is black, the rest of the black actors must be a different black because their characters don't get stick. There is not one black person I dislike but there are bucketloads of white dudes I don't like, does that make me a racist?

Friday, 5 February 2016


Things are very quiet at the moment, I didn't go to the club this week I had other things to see to and to be honest with the miserable weather and living with kitchen fitters all day I just could not muster the enthusiasm, so I sank into the chair had some wine and caught up with The Blacklist.

I am painting furiously at the moment, I picked up the 24 cavalry from my son last weekend and twelve of them are within a few hours of being complete, although he will be doing the basing so that they blend with the rest of his army. He has to be in his office overseeing upgrading of the firm's PC's a week on Sunday, so we are taking the opportunity to have another game as most of his day will be spent sitting around. This time I am leading my Romano-British as he has had two bloody noses at the hands of Legio XII, this will be a better match up and should give him a better idea how his army will fare against other Dark Age forces rather than the might of Imperial Rome.

Vapnartak is taking place in York this Sunday, again I am half-hearted about going, I do not need anything but I am sure I would pick something up in the terrain line, or maybe a few gunslingers for Dead Man's Hand. I now remember that I need a new water tower for my town, I filled the one I had with a kind of plastic water, it has now seeped into the mdf and destroyed my tower, so I will need one of those at some point, and instead of being a clever clogs I'll leave it empty this time.

February will buck up, there is the game above in just over a week, DMH at the club next Tuesday, X-Wing on the 23rd then the big event, the War and Conquest tournament in Swindon where the 'Thunderbolts' will have to be on their mettle. As far as I know I will be up against other Romans, Celts and Germans.

Map projects are coming thick and fast, I have just completed a set on CIA operations in Guetamala.

Monday, 1 February 2016

We arra Romans (The Thunderbolts win again)

I am old enough to remember the Roman skit from Billy Connolly's first comedy album, and it seemed appropriate yesterday as you will find later. I spent a very enjoyable day with my grandchildren on Saturday, enjoyed a lovely meal and stayed over in an excellent little inn, fortified with the full English I picked up my son Stewart for our game in the meeting room of his workplace. Another 'training game' he with a mocked up Western Frank army from my Saxons and me with my Romans.

Stewart had indeed changed his army from our last encounter, he had three cavalry units this time backed up with some elite infantry along with some axemen and only two units of the lower orders, he had also brought along his first home grown unit of infantry, it would be interesting to see how they would perform. I had only tweaked my army slightly, I lost some of the skirmishers and took a Legate rather than the Emperor to save points and bring my Cataphracts to the table, the backbone of the army remained three cohorts of infantry, one being veterans.

The Twelfth prepares.
 There isn't a terrain deploying system in War and Conquest apart from fairly commonsense suggestions but we need something better, Stewart obviously wanted an open battlefield while I wanted to cut it down. Any army fighting a battle will try and make sure the terrain favours its fighting style but as wargamers we need something which is fair to both sides. I dug out my old WRG books and as I used that system for ten years it should fit the bill. The table size gave us two terrain pieces each, before placing you dice for the piece and depending on the score you either have to discard it, place it in a specific place or place it anywhere. Stewart took two open areas and got to keep them, I had boggy ground and broken ground, the bog went but I shortened the left flank with the broken ground. I do think there should be more hills albeit it gentle not crags or mountains but we will see how things go in one or two more battles. I had come up with a dice system but it is too erratic, you can have nothing or too much.

The Franks deployed with a heavy cavalry left flank supported by infantry behind, an infantry centre and a unit of cavalry way out on the right, he had drawn Test of Strength which meant he had to get a unit into my deployment area while having no enemy units in his. I think this is what the lone cavalry unit was for while the rest of his army held me off. I got Take and Hold, which meant I had to take the centre of the table while keeping the enemy at least six inches away for a whole turn, my plan therefore was to advance the infantry while keeping an eye on the lone cavalry unit, my horse archers hopefully would add some casualties to the enemy horse before the cavalry clashed.

The armies face off.

As the battle opened I advanced my skirmishers and they took a beating and fled for the rear, I managed to stop them leaving the field and when they came back they were sent to the left to destroy the annoying lone cavalry which they eventually chased away with heavy losses. My horse archers got nowhere either, were charged and also made for the rear, these too were rallied and came back to support my Auxiliary cavalry. My infantry took the centre being helped by Stewart's plan to hold, game over in two moves! That wasn't going to fly so we simply decided to continue the game as a normal battle.

The cavalry melee.
The Frank cavalry came on determined to sweep mine away, they hit the cataphracts first but despite being elite they got halted and then slowly but surely lost the fight as they lost men, the cataphracts seemed unphased. The second Frankish unit smashed into my Auxiliary cavalry, it looked like a fait accompli but no, the Auxiliaries held and actually won the first round of combat, in the second the horse archers joined in with a glancing attack which brought more Franks down and then a heroic effort by the Auxiliaries wiped them out. In the centre the infantry had clashed, the enemy skirmishers were sent packing along with two battle formations, the only bright spot for Stewart was that his own unit had beaten my veterans and captured my Legate. Just as he was celebrating the cavalry fighting the cataphracts broke and the armoured Romans hit the remaining Frank infantry in the flank and also sent them packing. Game over for real this time.

The Roman infantry advance.

How was the game from a wargaming point of view, well I am not a fan of the objective cards but have to know them for the tournaments and only occasionally do you get a daft result which ends the game without any bloodletting whatsoever. Stewart's plan to harry my flanks while holding off the better Roman infantry was sound, but this meant it would have been disaster for him to contend the centre as he wanted to have the infantry fight as late as possible. I suspect we may drop the objective cards for home games in the future. He had trouble killing the cataphracts and bad luck against the Auxiliaries which he should have beaten, their die rolling was exceptional as was the glancing attack. My skirmishers lost out big time, I should have given them light armour or shields but forgot, I won't next time. I used the Praetorians as my veteran cohort to get them on the table, and as usual I was disappointed that my elite unit ran away and my Legate was captured, but in hindsight I asked too much of them against Stewart's elite spearmen, but I will keep my eye on them.

The End.

Perhaps the Romans are a tad too much for a Dark Age army to contend with with their myriad choices of troops for every occasion, next time I shall pit my Saxons against the Franks, also Stewart should have more of his own men by then, perhaps they will fight better, I hope not.