Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Faith Restored - Partizan

Well, Partizan last Sunday certainly did the trick.
After the disappointment of Salute (in my eyes at least), the turnout of "proper" historical demo games at Partizan was right up my street. A real tonic, just when I was starting to wonder if I was in a completely different hobby, out of step with the rest of the wargaming world.
It was as if the "Old Guard" (and I say that with all due respect), had been ordered in to save the day, with the names running the games being in many cases the same guys who were running games at Partizan 20+ years ago. The Perries, messrs Andrews and Morrison, Barry Hilton, Graham Cummings, and so on.

Here are just a few images (I know I'm late to the party as many pics have already appeared elsewhere, but...)

Starting with Graham Cummings' game featuring his own Crann Tara range of figures. Excellent game, Graham.

Next, Aly Morrison and Dave Andrews' WWI masterpiece...

The Perries' Napoleonic affair in the desert sun.

Steve Jones' Bunker Hill game.

Apologies to the games I didn't get round to photographing. I was so engrossed in the positive atmosphere and chatting away with fellow gamers all day that I often simply failed to get my phone out to snap the pics.

The whole day was refreshing, and I was particularly delighted to meet up with wargaming pals who I hadn't seen for a number of years venturing south from Scotland.
One of those fellows was Steve Shaw. Now, Steve was the guy who designed the master figure for my mid-18th century infantryman for the Pils-Holstein project. And it just so happens that only last week I was over at Griffin collecting almost 500 fresh castings, this time including some cavalry too.

This represents the move into the second phase of the project.
And coincidentally, I'd already agreed that I'll put on a game at Partizan II in August, so Pils-Holstein will finally get a public airing! After the inspiration of the past weekend, I'm really looking forward to it. Based on the quality of games seen at Sunday's show, I'd better get my act together, and "up my game!"

All the best for now...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Terrain and Re-enactment

In short, that's what I've been up to. Terrain and re-enactment.

I haven't made much terrain in quite a while, but decided that I needed to rectify this with the prospect of a display game at a show later in the year. So I've been visiting Homebase for the requisite materials, and getting very conversant with different shades of green paint!

I've booked to be at Salute this coming weekend.
I've got a few items to buy, a couple of people to meet, but mostly it's a "list-free" roam around excel... dangerous!

Other news: I had a very pleasant meeting recently with fellow hobbyist Steve at a rather nice little pub in The Cotswolds (The Plough in Stretton-on-Fosse - it being equidistant for our get-togethers). Three hours of putting the wargaming world to right culminated in a possible collaboration on a new horse and musket project. We're at the embryonic planning phase... that exciting bit where manufacturers' lists are studied, uniform references poured over, and orders of battle drawn up. Rules have been discussed, and I think we're getting close to the fateful moment when little lead men are ordered!

Meanwhile, yesterday saw the start of the re-enactment season, with a muster at Basing House.
Dianne came along and snapped a few images... more of which can be seen on my King's Dragoone blog.

Above: forming up in the pub car park! Some of us arrived very early to form up, and took our time over it!

Above: "Give Fire!" I'm on the extreme left of the block.

Below: we had a little powder left over at the end of the event, so myself and a couple of fellow dragoons from the regiment returned to the field to loose off some shots.  Here we are seen in the post-volley smokey haze, reloading. On the right is Rob Grace whose name will be familiar to some wargamers, then yours truly in centre, and Bob on the left of picture.

Like I said, more over on the King's Dragoone blog.

That's all for now. See some of you at Salute, no doubt. I'll be the one with no list, but bags of goodies! Probably!!


Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Local history

"Walking is the Best possible exercise.
Habituate yourself to walk very far."
Thomas Jefferson.

On my walks, since moving into our new home around 18 months ago, there are a number of points of interest.
We live about three-quarters of a mile from the picturesque village of Berkswell, Warwickshire.
When working from home, the regular lunchtime stroll takes us across fields, down the hill and into the village (sometimes stopping at The Bear Inn for refreshment!!).

I decided to take a few iPhone snaps of items of historical interest, and share them, for no particular reason!

Above: the local Church.
Below: the information sign in the village gives details on some points of interest.

The Well, from which the village gets it's name.
Pronounced "Burk's well", as opposed to "Bark's well" - many people think it's pronounced like "Berkshire" which is the mistake that marks you out as an outsider round these parts!

Above: Notice anything strange about the Stocks on the village green? Have a close look...
Below: Canon captured from the Russians in the Crimea in 1855.

Beow: picturesque little thatched cottage. Lovely!

This coming weekend I'm heading to WMMS at Alumwell.
And ... I have a list.
I've even done some pre-ordering!

I may also be loading some very old (1970s) stuff onto the bring n buy - I've got three 15mm ancients armies that are simply sitting at the back of a cupboard when they could be doing battle on someone's table, along with a bundle of 25mm fantasy stuff, some books, and a few oddments.

Anyway, I may see you there.

Oh, and yes... I believe there are some Prussian infantry, clothed, and about to make their way south from the brush of D Jarvis, esquire. Looking forward to their arrival.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Royal Ecossais, Prussian Grenadiers and The Bishop of Pilsner

Following the text-heavy nature of the previous post, I'll keep this one short, and just let the pictures do the talking...

One of the characters often seen accompanying the Pils-Holstein forces of the mid-18th century is The Bishop of Pilsner (a certain Athanasius Gruber):

 ... and here he is seen attended by Prussian Grenadier battalion 5/20 - Jung Billerbeck.
Grenadiers painted by David Jarvis


And, finally for today, a further addition to the 18th century collection, The Royal Ecossais.
Figures painted by Mark Allen, as were the flags.

Note the inclusion of a piper in this regiment.

As everyone knows, many of them kept their blue bonnets following the '45 and wore them for the Pils-Holstein Campaign.
Well, that's what I'm imagining anyway.
Cheers for now...

Friday, 10 February 2017

"Ops Normal"

Since I haven't surfaced on this blog for a while, I thought I'd just pop up and say "Ops Normal!" (with a nod and a wink to those servicemen who know the meaning of that term)... for the rest, suffice to say: all's well, and nothing really to report....
... or so I thought...

In fact, there's quite a lot been going on in my wargaming head.

Yesterday, I met up with Mark Allen, that well-known "sell-brush" (to adapt a Game of Thrones term). Packages were exchanged, needless to say, and I have further parcels to deliver to him over the next day or so!
All good news for the future!!

Butterflies abound
Whilst my 18th century Pils Holstein collection grows continually, my own flutterings have led elsewhere, but I don't feel so bad about that.
Because, I notice even the most ardent "one-period hobbyists" can butterfly occasionally.
For example, I was delighted to see that on his blog recenty John Ray, a man who would decry the merest sniff of anything outside a ten year focus, has announced he is making Polish Winged Hussars whose zenith (and Viennese swansong) was a century earlier than the rest of his collection. Fantastic news... seeing John get into the earlier (pike and shot) period is an enticing prospect, and I can't wait to see what transpires.

Rampant Lament.
I indicated previously that I was looking at the various Rampant rules.
I looked.
In fact, I like the rules.
And Dan Mersey has produced a neatly nuanced set of mechanisms.
On the fantasy front, I decided to stick with the ethos Dan suggests... namely to use existing figures. I have boxfuls of stuff from the 70s and 80s that will do just fine, if ever I fancy a game.

And now, the latest in this pantheon of rules, The Pikeman's Lament, has appeared.
I haven't bought, read, or played them...
But, somehow, from what I've read about them and gleaned elsewhere, the trick appears to have been missed.
There seems to be a leaning towards representing a sort of very scaled down version of the full armies of the period - so people are talking about forces comprising 12 pikemen, 2 sleeves of 12 shot, 6 cavalrymen and a gun etc, and that this is representative of forces of the period.
Surely, the sorts of 17th century ambuscades, ambushes, alarums, and general affairs of the size this particular suite of rules applies to would have focused on the role of small parties of musketeers, cavalry and Dragoons... so, for example, bodies of pikemen would seldom be involved in such affairs. Forces made up purely of a company of commanded shot, or a troop of dragoons would seem more in keeping.
In fact, why not call them "Dragoons Rampant" (or if you insist, "Dragoones Rampant"), and really capture that essence of the raids, skirmishes and small encounters of the period!!
I don't think these rules should be used for refighting Marston Moor, in the same way that Sharpe Practice is not a set fit to do Waterloo, or at least as I understand it. We all know what can go wrong when the words 'Sharpe' and 'Waterloo' are used together, as anyone who witnessed that particular episode of our favourite "Chosen Man's" TV exploits will attest!

As I say, I haven't bought, read, or played The Pikeman's Lament. I probably won't, I don't think.
So all of the above should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Anyway, just my tuppence.

Vapnartak, York
I was unable to attend this year, but scouring the net for show reports was very interesting. Most talked about the shopping experience, and very few focused on the games on show.
Over the years, many have been critical of those games that appear at shows; all shows, not just Vappa.
People either criticise them, on the one hand, for not engaging with the public, or, on the other hand, for not actually playing the games ( "it was just a static display, and there's no place for that at a wargaming show"!). In some cases, I'm sure there are grounds for these observations. But, the fact is, if you are short on manpower, both playing the game, and having enough people to chat to those who stop at the table can be a challenging juggling act. It's worth noting that many games are put on by one/ two/ three men bands, not by large clubs. I would go as far as to say that, over the years, the most impressive displays have been the results of small teams of chaps who put in many hours of labour to present their modelling, painting, and creative skills. These have been the candy between the pages of the wargames press for many years. Perhaps the real reason people criticise the efforts of others can be found in the Salvador Dali quote: "The temperature gauge of success is the jealousy of the malcontents!"
Personally, I applaud anyone who these days puts their head above the parapet to be "judged" by all-comers. For a race of "judges" is exactly what we have become. A look at the TV schedules will confirm that. Sad indeed.

Anyway, I won't be put off, and I still plan to take a display on the road to a show later this year. Not sure what game yet, but I'm working on it.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

League of Orcsburg

Every second Christmas, I re-read The Hobbit.
Have done so for years.
It gives me a warm, comforting feeling, a sense that all's well with the world.

Add to that, the arrival of Dragon Rampant, and a holiday "clear out" of some of the deepest recesses of the unpainted figures cupboard, and the inevitable happened.

I played roleplaying (AD&D) way back in the 70s, had some figures that haven't seen the light of day since then and also had a few bits n bobs I'd picked up in the 80s.

Amongst the boxes were old Minifigs, Valley of the Four Winds, Ral Partha, Chronicle, Citadel (including the Fantasy Tribes range) and a whole host of other stuff.

Above: a gaggle of goblinoids.

I've always wanted to do something Tolkeinesque, with minimal magic, and a very dark age style to it.

Now, whether I'll pursue this any further, who knows (those Vendel figures are rather tempting though), but over the past couple of days I thought I would just see what I could muster for a 24-point Dwarf force and a 24-point Orcish/ Gobliny force.

Above: Durin's folk... various manufacturers, plus a "Wise Old Man Of The Woods" from Minifigs "Valley of The Four Winds" range.

Decided that the Dwarves are ok (I'll reorganise them into 12-man units as per the rules). Some of the bad guys, on the other hand, needed a little repaint. I decided to go with the green Orcs look, although I think if I were to rehash this totally, I would do differently.

Anyway, at least the brushes have been active, between the odd dram, and the leftover turkey.

Back to normal next week, and normal service will be resumed, I'm sure.

Monday, 2 January 2017

HNY - and credit where credit's due...

Happy New Year!
Don't worry, I'm not going to do an over-blown review of 2016/ looking forward to 2017 style post.
Just a quick couple of points.

But first...
Credit where credit's due!

I was wandering around WHSmith, Leamington, in the twilight, numberless days between Christmas and New Year, and stumbled upon the latest magazine offerings (or at least, WSS and MinWarg).

And, what ho!
Lo and behold! There's my figures on front page of WSS, and inside too on p.27 (my buildings), and on p.30 my French infantry ...
But wait.
What's that?!
It's in an article about a Marlburian game... Grimsby Club... Ramilles...?
Surely not! My figures are mid-18th century, not early.
Could I be mistaken?
I recognised the photos immediately, for it was the game Graham Cummings organised for AMG forum members to put on at Partizan a couple of years ago. A refight(mid-18th Century style) of Ligny.
And, yes, those were definitely my French figures, my buildings, and Graham's teddy bear fur terrain. But not a mention... of either of us.

The article credits The Grimsby Club, and these are part of the Ramilles article. I know for a fact that Paul Robinson of said club has some great stuff for the period which would have made perfect photos for the article. In fact, one such photo is there.

Oh well, I suppose to the editor they're all just figures in tricornes after all... albeit they're 50 years apart.
... oh how I laughed... in Richard Clarke's discussion column in the magazine the final two sentences read:
"Just so some corporation can boost their profit margin. Isn't it about time historical wargaming got real again?"


Annoyed about this?
You bet I was.
But not for the lack of a name check. No, I've had plenty of those in my hobby lifetime.
No... annoyed that seeing pictures of my figures made me buy the magazine, for posterity.
I wasted several quid on that pile of ....

But, the universe has a way of balancing things up, doesn't it...
In my inbox pops an email from Greg and Stokes, with the first of their new Wargamer's Notes Quarterly PDFs.
And in the editorial, doffing their caps to my old Classic Wargamer's Journal, I'm described, along with Don Featherstone, as a "hobby giant!"
I think that's being rather generous.
But thanks guys. I'm very flattered.

Anyway, onto 2016/ 2017.

In 2016 I painted over 300+ figures. Whilst this is not back to the halcyon days of regularly knocking out 700 plus, it is a surprising total as I thought it was nowhere near that amount, until I counted up the other day.
On the gaming front, 2016 was still light, but I'm not too worried about that.

In 2017, I've got a few things to work on...

More Pils Holstein 18th century stuff... I'm doing a display game at a show later in the year, so I've got lots to produce.

Macedonians... need to finish this army for War & Conquest.

Colonials... will potter along with this, maybe have a couple more solo games and see where it goes.

And, finally, a fresh new project.
Again just a potter along/ tinker - not going too Rampant on it. But yes, it is Rampant. I like the rules (Lion, and yes, Dragon), so may see some activity here!

Here's to a prosperous 2017, and may you all enjoy your hobby in the year to come...