Sunday, 20 August 2017

All Greek To Me

Bit of a hectic time recently so no View this morning, I was on the M25, I made the right choice leaving early because instead of the five and a half hours which the journey down took, I got home in three hours forty-five.

This battle was actually fought last Thursday afternoon but I have not had a minute since then, Kevin turned up with his very own Greek City States army, always a great moment getting an army on to the battlefield for the first time. He had brought three large hoplite units, a large warband of Hill Tribes and a unit of Peltasts, to support these he had a small light cavalry command and three lots of skirmishers, one Cretan archers, experts in missile fire. I didn't want to go all heavy on his first outing so took a 'normal' Roman force from the Twelfth, a Praetorian cohort and two regular cohorts with my new Auxiliary cohort as a support along with some auxiliary cavalry, my light troops consisted of some archers, horse-archers and my Lanciarii. Oh, and I also brought along two bolt-shooters

I was a bit wary of the 'phalanx' rule which toughens up the hoplite units quite a bit so decided to hit his flanks while keeping the centre back until it was needed. This plan was helped somewhat in that I knew if I neutralised the Greek skirmishers then there was no threat to my cavalry and Kevin's lights would not stand up to them, on my right it was a different matter the very large warband held this flank along with the Cretan's. I met this threat with Cohors II and my bolt shooters while I aimed to take care of the archers with the Lanciarii.

The battle went as I expected, I quickly destroyed the Greek right and this gave Kevin pause with one of his hoplite units now that Roman cavalry could not be ignored, he had managed to sneak one hoplite unit forward and it began to advance on my Auxiliaries. I miscalculated the distance and the Greeks ploughed into my green unit, my boys fought well and stood for at least three turns before routing, I couldn't really ask any more of them. On my right the warband suffered from the bolt shooters as it hesitated on a nearby hill before charging the Lanciari, who escaped, and then slamming into Cohors II, I was confident about this fight and sure enough the Warband ran and were dispersed in short shrift, both Greek flanks were now in the air.

The Hill Tribes meet an unmoveable object (Cohors II)

A hoplite unit was sent to stop Cohors II so this left an opening for me in the centre, I had lost the Lanciarii but the Cretan's and another skirmish unit had gone, Kevin now depended on his Peltasts holding their ground but the weight of the Roman attack was against this. Cohors I defeated the Peltasts twice but they kept managing to flee and rally, but the eventual outcome was a foregone conclusion.
The crises point.

The Romans about to claim victory.

This left one bunch of hoplites against whom my cavalry and Praetorians advanced, Kevin turned into the cavalry but shortly after this Cohors II magnificently defeated their enemy and the Peltasts eventually dispersed. With only one success on the battlefield Kevin yielded his sword.

A good afternoon and a delight to see Kevin's army, I think I got off lucky and some hesitation in the centre caused by the danger to their flanks sort of threw the Greeks off a tad. Kevin has gone back to the drawing board and I will perhaps introduce some heavy cavalry next time.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Prussia '44

The family weekend was a success, the weather was not too promising but it came good for Saturday and especially Sunday, our sports day, which only went to prove if you are an old geezer like me you should not try to pretend you are a young gazelle.

Unsure of what was happening for club night I rang Simon and he said he would like to try out some ideas for Bolt Action, smaller forces and more realistic scenarios, so that was fine by me and only meant popping two boxes in the car.

As we pondered what we would do I mentioned an idea about having a bridge set for demolition, but the troops tasked with this had to await the last of their retreating friends before doing so. I got the idea that the game should also be an infantry only clash from a post on Tales from GHQ, Simon had already thought of that so we were in agreement. We decided that a small number of Pioneers supported by one squad and an MMG were in situ around the bridge, if possible the bridge would not be blown until the rest of the force, coming down the road, were across and safe. If something happened to the Pioneers and the infantry had to blow the bridge then they would need to make a die roll, not having the expertise of the Pioneers. The Russians could dismantle the explosives if they spent a full move on the bridge doing nothing else.

We established where the Russians would arrive and one squad had managed to sneak across the river so that the defenders were assaulted from both sides, the German MMG opened up on the first Russians to appear and knocked them back into the woods, a good start. This went south when the second Soviet squad opened up and took out the MMG, my main defence, on the west side of the river there was now only the small group of Pioneers left, my squad in the east had two more enemy squads coming at them so could not go to their aid.

Despite taking some losses the Pioneers nonetheless held the Russians off, but they weren't going to last, I thought of retreating them but it would be a dodgy move and would leave them exposed, however they failed their order test so they stayed put. The Russians on the east bank aggressively assaulted my squad in a nearby house, my brave boys fought them off, then the sound of truck engines could be heard as the remaining Germans arrived, it was looking bad for the Soviets. Within a short time the Russian forces on the east bank were eliminated, but on the west bank they had now destroyed the Pioneers and taken the house commanding the bridge. I moved towards the house but hesitated with my second squad, this gave Simon the opportunity to rush at the bridge. The game hung in the balance, I turned all my firepower on the men scrambling over the stonework, 20+ shots and only four kills, the Russians managed to tear up the Pioneers handy work and I lost the bridge.

A tense and exciting game considering the forces were both around 550-600 points on a small table with a scenario almost made up as we went along.

War and Conquest action tomorrow, Kevin will be bringing his Greek City States army for its first outing and I will get the Thunderbolts out, this will be a tough challenge for the Twelfth and my own skills, I must work on my pre-battle speech.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Glan Gathering

I am off to our annual meet up of the Anderson Clan tomorrow, I am closing the PO until Monday, I have warned my two regulars so I can leave with a clear conscience, I don't much care to be honest, I had four customers this morning and all they wanted was money, no letters, no parcels.

We will eat and drink, we will play old fashioned games, sing, argue and shed a tear for our departed parents while taking a walk down memory lane. I hope the weather is kind to us for the egg and spoon, three-legged race and that one where you stand in a sack amongst others.

There will be no View this week for those who enjoy my ranting.

So, have a good weekend because I certainly will.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Interesting Night

I took a lazy approach to last nights club night, I tend to do now and again as I work in the shop all day, drawing maps and then run about daft trying to sort everything out in half an hour. So I texted Andy and was told there was a Black Powder American War of Independence game on but Rob was not coming, I booked a couple of slots for Simon and I. When we turned up Rob was there and it was Stuart running a 'Land of the Free' game, not BP.

The game was a trial for the rules, published by Osprey, of course. It was probably a tad large for a first game but the troops looked nice, I especially liked Stuart's resplendent redcoats with their large yellow flags. I was not the British for a change in this game, I just happened to be sat where the 'enemy' was setting up, so I took two French 'groups', I was also given the job of CinC while harbouring thoughts of a poisoned chalice.

The game did not really get very far, new rules and one player had to leave half way through but there was enough action to get an overall feel of what the rules were aiming to achieve. Fast play for big battles I think is the idea, you get so many movement and combat actions to spend with each unit, once these are done you move on to the next one. If you time things correctly you can deliver a devastating blow to the enemy lines which the poor sods can do nothing about, so it is a brutal set of rules, the combat mechanics are very simple, perhaps too simple if you do not like your battles in broad strokes. We also have yet another initiative system, this time each side activates a group at a time until all the groups on both sides have had a turn, no big deal for me because everything gets a turn.

By the time we called a draw we were getting the hang of movement and firing, no doubt there is more to the rules, there has to be as the book is not the usual small Osprey offering but a large, hardback tome, complete with advanced rules and scenarios, it is also a decent price for these days. No, I won't be starting a new period.

I surprised Julian when he turned up and challenged him on his selling off of his Late Roman troops, the nucleus of an army, Julian is to wargaming what Del Boy is to Trotters Inc. He explained some complex wheeling and dealing which netted him a full cowboy town and the troops to start an Early Imperial Roman army with the cash he garnered from the sale, he can now sell some of his own cowboy town, no, I don't get it either.

Julian's trading acumen also benefitted Ryan who was spotted with a very large bag of Victrix Greek cavalry and a smaller one of archers. I am told the cavalry can be Macedonian, Successor or Greek, I have no idea of the differences but that must be an excellent selling point, I had a quick look inside the bag and the figures and horses especially looked excellent.

I wonder if metal figures will become a thing of the past, if plastic keeps targetting the main troop types i.e. hoplites, legionaries etc. will that mean the metal firms will not survive merely selling support troops while their core troops sit on the shelf made redundant by plastic. You cannot fault the excellence and price of most or all of the plastic figures, interesting times ahead. I wonder what the actual economics are for the manufacturers between metal and plastic.

Stuart, who ran the game last night, as well as buying everything connected with wargaming is the proud owner of a 3D printer. I noticed little white Y shapes on the table and wondered what they were for. As units got ready to move these little 45 degree thingys were popped on to the base, they show the angle clearly and immediately, what a superb idea with a myriad uses. Well done that man.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

View From The Window

Yes, it's raining again. Last week we had rain the like of which I had never seen before, as I sat watching something on the telly, an unusual occurrence these days, I decided to get up and look out the back door, luckily I did. The drain was blocked and the water was starting to build up ready to flood the living room, I had to quickly step out into the storm, rip the lid off and try and clear some of the leaves etc. within a few seconds I was sodden but the water started to subside, I should have known better, this has almost happened before, the last time there was a frog in the drain, yeuch. Job done I went and popped into the shower only to hear the missus shouting that we had another tsunami heading our way, I threw on my Speedos, no, the shorts not the budgie smugglers, and out I went again armed with a soup ladle to get at the grit in the drain. Luckily for me the drain is surrounded by wall and outhouse, so no embarrassing YouTube footage, not that you would have seen anything through the constant downpour. I now check the drain continually. One of the authors I have recently worked with lives just north of Capetown, South Africa, and is living out of buckets hoping the next rainy season will bring much needed water, he can have some of ours.

The lessons of Brexit have been completely lost on our leaders, whether you were remain or leave one of the overriding reasons was that we had had enough of them knowing what we wanted better than we did. Now we have the morons allowing adults, and I use the term loosely, deciding their own gender on a whim and it becomes official, they are going ahead with a massively expensive rail link which hardly anyone wants or believes in while a good road is becoming a thing of the past, and now they are banning petrol cars from 2040! The best selling electric car does not do what it says on the tin and gets a subsidy of £4,500 so you will buy it, if something works why does it need a subsidy? And here's a good one, you don't get the batteries with it! You have to lease them at £80 a month or buy them for £5,000 and don't forget the unmentioned colossal problem of how do we get the electricity to power all this in 2040 when we are unsure we have enough now.

And if that is not enough proof we are led by lunatics then while most motoring organisations are clamouring for an increase in motorway speeds to 80mph, the government wants to try out 60mph on sections of the M1 in the name of cutting emissions which have just topped gender issues as flavour of the month, however I predict gender will be back at No.1 again next week.
If, like me you think that we are super arrogant thinking that we can control the planet and cool it down etc., then the next item really takes a huge step for mankind. Nasa are looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to not only protect the Earth, but all the other planets we cannot get to. I do hope he/she/it works out plans in case the 102nd Fleet of the Galactic Evil Imperial Empire turns up one day.

Have you been following the case of the 'Three Musketeer' jihadis, actually there were four of them in the dock, sentenced last week for planning to further the peaceful Islamisation of the country by killing people. Well they decided they would not turn up in court to hear the sentence, when was that an option, what is the point of bringing down the heavy hand of the law when you let the offender lie back on his bunk with two fingers up to the system. They should have been dragged all the way to the dock then dragged all the way back again.

Want to pay £90 for a small carrot with foam on the top, then jump on to the taster menu bandwagon. I tried one of these in what was for a week or more the best restaurant in the UK which is near here. The first dish was based loosely on a kebab, the waiter turned up and with a flurry set down two huge dazzlingly white plates in front of us, in the centre was a small jug of yogurt and pinned on the end of what looked like a stainless steel torture implement was a piece of meat no larger than a malteser. The second 'dish' was a small square of polenta and so it went on. When asked if I would like the cheese board I immediately said yes, I was cut a sliver of Lanarkshire Blue and given a grape and a small organic cracker pounded and cooked in the old barn near the compost heap, to my horror this was not included in the taster, I had been hustled to the tune of £12. You have been warned.

Mmmm, couldn't eat another bite ......

There is a silver lining, the National Trust, you know, that organisation set up to look after the moral fibre of the nation as well as the odd old house, tried to jump on the gay wave this week in the mistaken belief we all are, by ordering its volunteers at Felbrigg Hall, see that, volunteers, to wear rainbow badges while deciding to 'out' the dead owner who kept his sexuality to himself while alive. Real life hit back at last and they have been shamed into reversing their decision, a small step for mankind ............

Friday, 4 August 2017

Saxons II: No Mercy

 I couldn't make the club this week so to get my weekly fix I offered Kevin another game as he had intimated that he wanted to try some different tactics. He used the same army list as previously while I decided to beef up everything I could, so I had two elite Gedriht units and some armoured Duguth warriors, gone were the Picts.

We lined up unit by unit and I noticed that Kevin's right was weak, so I put a Gedriht unit opposite, the rest of the plan was to hold the centre until I was ready to attack while keeping an eye on my right. The Saxons do not have a lot of skirmishers, which I think is historical but it nevertheless is a bind on the wargame table, I had decided to take a bunch of javelin armed lights this time as they are always left behind for bowmen, I wanted to hunt enemy skirmishers with them.

Romano-British on the left, Saxons on the right.

The game started well, I took some missile casualties on my left while dishing out some on my right, I did manage to rout a large unit of bowmen with the javelins but it rallied later and came back for a time before leaving for good. My attack on the British  right went well although I failed to catch the routers which meant in essence that my unit here was out of action for the rest of the battle as it had to keep chasing the none too keen enemy.

The Saxons watch confusion in the British ranks.

Meanwhile Kevin had made a very successful assault on my right, I lost my light cavalry to his mounted Comitatus which then went on to charge in and over my Ceorls, this left one unit of Duguth facing defeat as its flank now looked very dodgy. All was not lost however, just as the British seemed on the cusp of victory I knocked out several more units in the centre and this time caught them, as in the last battle it was up to Kevin's foot Comitatus to hold so that he could polish off my right. Sadly for him the unit had already lost men to missiles and as my killers followed their king downhill they savagely cut down the British Dux's companions, the rout of their leader and his men allowed me to turn my reserves towards my dodgy right. I also managed to get the last initiative and go first, this meant it was all over for the British.

The British centre and right in trouble.

The javelin armed skirmishers had done very well, and they managed to stay alive as they used a small copse of trees to shield them as they advanced. Kevin's points poured into his mounted Comitatus actually worked against the Saxons as they really have no counter for this heavy cavalry and unless lucky enough to get decent infantry into them can only harass them for the duration hoping they fall victim to missiles.

I think our next game will be in two weeks or so with some luck, if Kevin's Greeks are ready then it will be time to march out the Twelfth, looking forward to that.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

HMS Tartar 4th Commission 1970 12

Settling in to life in the Gulf, it is very hot and we are on 'tropical routine' which means we start at 7am and finish at Noon with only a 15 minute 'stand easy' for a cuppa, we have found an enterprising Arab on the jetty with a little hut who sells bottles of cold pop (goffas, a goffa is a big wave) and little rolls with some kind of meat in them. This guy is straight out of a Carry On film and fits their stereotype of a dodgy Johnny Foreigner down to the ground, he was always around when we walked along the jetty on our way to Jufair offering a lift, no one took him up on it.

Jufair handled our communications so if you were not duty watch the rest of the day was yours from 12, this normally consisted of heading off to the base swimming pool and a lazy afternoon with a few beers. There was only one attractive girl at that swimming pool, the daughter of one of the army blokes, she became the girlfriend of a young cook on the Tartar, I met that very cook ten years later on my first oil platform, small world. We did make the odd trip into the capital Manama and it was just what I expected an Arab town to look like from my experiences of Beau Geste movies, walls, big gates, dusty streets, no pubs, coffee shops and blokes holding hands. As with most stops Manama had its special Naval interest, not a bar this time but little books called AFO's 'Admiralty Fleet Orders' these were small Mills and Boon sized publications which contained sexually explicit stories which would have had no problem getting banned in any civilised country.

Pool at Jufair
 One thing I did enjoy here was a trip into town of an evening for kebabs, we found a little room in a back street with wooden tables and a 'chef' cooking pieces of lamb on a brazier outside skewered on bicycle spokes, this was served with flat bread, spring onions, pieces of lemon and a glass of water, all for a dinar or less, I still long for that taste again.

 There was one hotel which we frequented now and again where you could drink, the Moons Plaza, this was quite a tad fancier than I had been used to, perhaps one of the first 'posh' hotels I ever drank in. It was memorable for me due to several things, an introduction to Canadian Club, I tried Lobster Thermidor and didn't like it, enjoyed the best chicken noodle soup I ever ate and for the first time in my life tried to sneak out without paying the bill. The idea to sneak out was John Hill's, the killick bunting (leading seaman signaller), we made our way out one at a time and took shelter outside behind a nearby wall, grinning and sniggering until two large bouncers came to the hotel front door holding a terrified Plum Humphries by the scruff of the neck with said captive pleading for us to return. Nonchalantly explaining we had popped out for a breath of fresh air we paid up, it didn't stop us going back.

JD, Plum, Me, Lil, Tomo, Lofty at the Moons Plaza.
 Most of our time though was spent at the NAAFI bar in HMS Jufair, the drinks were much cheaper and the measures were doubles, we took to drinking games, which of course were usually ruined by people deliberately getting things wrong to quaff the large concoction sitting in the middle of the table, which was fine by me. One I remember was particularly deadly, you threw a die and the person who got the seventh one, came up with a recipe, the fourteenth one bought it and the twenty-first one drank it. One particular night Dave Richmond had to drink a beverage containing a large number of clear spirits, for the rest of the evening Dave sat in a kind of coma with tears running down his face in complete silence.