Friday, 24 May 2019

U Turn? Moi? A Marlburian Reverse

Spencer Smith Grenadiers painted by the redoubtable Iain Burt (whom I have not seen for many a year but I am sure he will not mind me showing these quite exquisite figures!)

Most readers of this blog will know me as a level headed, stable and focused chap - always tackling new projects with an eye for detail and seeing them through to completion....

Then I woke up....(and I can almost picture the multitude of raised eyebrows!).

Whilst I am having a minor break from sorting out the vast unpainted collection of Eric Knowles I have been able to sit back, pause, draw breath and think about the next phase of my own particular brand of wargaming madness.

You will recall that in return for my efforts with this undertaking Bill, Eric's son, had very kindly offered me some of the figures for my own use and after much chopping and changing of my mind I settled on the Minifigs portion - mainly because I thought this would be the part of the collection that would be hardest to dispose. Up to a point this is true but I have certainly made some inroads into the collection - especially for the Seven Years War and the English Civil War. I would say that half of the former and all of the latter have been accounted for and so the main bulk of what is left is for the Marlburian period with a smattering of Napoleonics.

My plan was to make use of the Marlburians (of which there is a prodigious quantity) for my planned Balkanesque set up for circa 1710 to 1720. I am now not so sure I want to do this, at least using Minifigs 25mm figures anyway. For sure there is plenty of choice of figures and any shortfall could be readily addressed by an order or two to Caliver Books who currently own and produce Minifigs. I have had this nagging feeling of 'doing it because I can rather because I should' or to be more accurate, 'doing it because all the raw material has been handed to me on a plate regardless of whether or not I actually wanted it!' I am certainly not being  ungrateful at Bill's incredible generosity but I keep asking myself do I like the period enough to invest the time and energy needed to realise it on the tabletop.

The answer is probably not and so I have taken the decision to add the Marlburians to the disposal pile. I feel better in myself having decided this as receiving this unexpected windfall in terms of huge quantities of figures at no cost sat a little uneasily on my conscience.

There is a postscript though. The one thing that rummaging through all this 18th century material has done is to remind me that it is a period I really need to do something with and indeed, I certainly have an ongoing interest in many facets of it - anything from 1740 to 1780 really. If I am to tackle a project in this period (actually that should be 'when' rather than 'if') then I have my own ideas on the matter and for a variety of reasons using Spencer Smith figures is very much at the heart of it.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

For God and Kaiser

A great 600 page plus doorstop of a tome and an excellent overview of the armies of Austria from the Thirty Years War until 1918.

I will freely admit that I am a huge fan of the BalkanWargamer blog. The reason is very simple as the blog is chock full of information about the military history of my favourite part of the world – The Balkans themselves and the surrounding area. I should also point out the BalkanDave – the author of the blog – is an all round top bloke aside from being a veritable goldmine of information about the region.

Recently he reviewed the above book on his blog (see the link in the previous paragraph) and so following on from this I decided that it would be a good investment for the library. BalkanDave has a far better knowledge of the area than I and so I was confident that it would be a worthwhile acquisition. I was certainly not disappointed! 

Austria, along with Russia, has maintained a frontier with the Ottoman Turkish Empire for pretty much all of the period the book covers so it was inevitable that I would need to look at 'the other side of the hill' to place my planned armies into the proper context. The Minifigs Marlburian component of Eric's collection has a reasonable number of Austrian figures therein and I plan to use these against the Turks in due course so having some reading material about the period, albeit very much from an overview perspective, was a necessity.

I have always considered the Austrians to have something of the underdog about them in the various wars they took part in - seemingly slow to start but getting better as events unfolded. Diverse, colourful and a list of opponents that featured just about everybody means that the Austrians will work rather nicely as a protagonist in my planned early 18th century Balkan set up.

Now that I own the hardback version I am sorely tempted to get the Kindle edition for the daily commute and my forthcoming holiday - it would certainly be easier to carry around!

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 29

The classic Command and Colours game of WW2 combat....

Once again the weekend was a busy one but I have managed to get rather a lot done. As expected most of the time was spent with the ongoing disposal of the collection of Eric’s collection but even in that I had a couple of satisfying successes. To begin with the last of the Seven Years War Front Rank figures are going to be heading for a new home and I have also found buyers for the Minifigs ECW component. Eric routinely used the ECW to bolster his late 17th century armies so floppy hatted pikemen were the order of the day. I also have a potential buyer for the Essex, Dixon and Hinchliffe Ottoman Turks and Poles. This will enable me to free up a couple of crates so I will be able to head of my holiday in three weeks safe in the knowledge that the the disposal of this part of the collection is well in hand.

Upon my return from my travels Eric's WW2 and Marlburian painted armies will be next on the list, followed by his library and collection of 1:1200th scale ships.

....and its Great War cousin 

For my own part the need to get a game in is becoming more and more pressing and so I have taken the decision to fall back on that old standby of Memoir 44 and its first world war cousin, The Great War. I came across a very useful files section on the Memoir 44 Facebook group. Essentially there are some potted campaign PDFs that include a brief overview of the campaign itself and then a list of scenarios from all sources that can be found on the official Memoir 44 website (you have to register a copy of the base game to access the full content). The campaign specific PDF found in the files section of the Facebook group lists all the scenarios available in historical order so players merely download the scenarios as per the list and then fight the battles. Simple for sure but a very handy resource for those of us where time is at a premium.

Naturally both of the above would lead me quite seamlessly into Portable Wargame territory in due course. For the moment though, just opening the box and setting up a game has a an attraction all of its own although my long term plan is to '3D' the above with both terrain and models.

One more project then....

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Pausing to Catch One's Breath....

Not so much a full commercial break but more of a 'treading water' exercise

I had a long chat with Bill this morning concerning Eric's collection and I am happy to say that he is delighted with progress so far. I was able to tell him that I had probably cleared out at least a third of the unpainted late 17th and 18th century figures with roughly half the remainder being Minifigs with the rest Dixon, Essex, Hinchliffe, Greenwood and Ball etc. The remaining figures span the entire period from the English Civil/Thirty Years War up to the Napoleonic Wars with the former being used for late 17th century militia types and the latter for imagi-nation purposes. For the most part this lot (excluding the Minifigs) will be bulk listed for 'as cheap as chips' prices on eBay on a 'sold as seen' basis. I may well be taking a few crates of figures to COW in July but have yet to make a final decision on this.

This brief interlude (I am going away for a couple weeks just after Broadside in June) will enable me to sort a few things out, not least of which is planning for the next phases of the disposal of Eric's collection. Bill will be the one doing the work over the next few weeks as he will be sorting out the unpainted 20mm WW2 metal collection (around a dozen crates worth), the painted 18th century armies, the 1:1200th scale fleets and Eric's extensive library. Crucially Bill is looking to get the remaining parts of Eric's collection under one roof - his main place of residence - rather than having it split between two houses.

The plan is for the two of us to have big catch up towards the end of next month (with beers) to plan the next phase.

In the interim period I need to ensure that all the units being listed are photographed and assigned an ID number. I have drafted a template for the description and will make sure that all readers of the blog will know when it all goes live. Using the Buy it Now option means that once the units are listed they are listed they will stay on the site until sold which will take a weight off my shoulders for sure as I then only need to post out as and when needed.

The above task, preparing for listing, is easy to do but again is rather time consuming. The big advantage I have though is that I have 4 weeks to ready it all - there is roughly a hundred units or so - with pictures etc. Luckily I can spread this out and even find some time for my own 'stuff', of which the new command blocks are the obvious choice.

Although I am still working on Eric's collection it will be scaled down for a while which will enable me to draw breath and tackle some of my own bits and pieces before the next onslaught!

Monday, 13 May 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 28

I have never seen a copy of this and nor do I intend buying one but it certainly looks like the kind of book I would really enjoy!

This weekend saw some fairly significant moves in the man cave. I managed to package up nearly 50 Kg of unpainted metal across 7 parcels - all heading to the same place I hasten to add - which is now winging its way to its new home. I also filled up half a large recycling bin with old Hinchliffe, Greenwood and Ball and Alberken figure boxes - all of which carried the dust of ages and scribbled notes - so at last I can see the floor in the man cave! With a couple of exceptions everything else can be re-crated and stored far less intrusively under my gaming table. Once this is done I can then hoover, dust and polish - a fact of which SWMBO has, ahem, encouraged me to do although to be fair she has a point as the entire loft looked liked something out of Steptoe's Yard!

There was thing I had overlooked. Whilst moving crates around and repacking some of the remaining units I rediscovered the Seven Years War Hanoverian army Eric had acquired. Judging by the figures used  - the customary multiple manufacturers Eric routinely employed - I am of the opinion that this is one of his earlier armies as there are a number of Minifigs S Range types present. Some are even partially painted. I shall be taking a closer look this evening and will post to the blog if there is anything interesting.

Flags for the memory (there are two sheets of the above). Rather than regimental standards I opted to use national flags. In many cases this means two or even three variants. The eagle eyed will not the use of the revolutionary war flag for the US of A with the circular 13 stars. I have the more usual version already.

Around the middle of last week a small order from Tony at Brigade Models arrived in the shape of a couple of flag sheets he kindly prepared for me. These are going to be used for the command blocks with my block armies (not the WW1 German Naval Ensign though - this the normal size I use for my ship models) in conjunction with a number for identification purposes. If you recall my plan was to use a quarter size block (roughly 15mm wide x 12mm high x 20mm deep) as a command block complete with a flag to show the orientation of the unit. Having the unit number will help with identification when using a roster to record casualties. Now that I have the flags I can press on with this stage which will mean I can use the blocks 'off the grid' so to speak although Tony has made such a good job of them I am thinking they will be used on grid as well.

This will be a simple job but it is one that I can tackle easily enough. Having the unit flags with numbers will make the battle reports far more easy to follow and will also add to the personality of the armies represented. This in turn will enhance the gaming experience. There are slightly more flags than I have blocks for but I have more than sufficient for my current needs and can get extras cut should the need arise.

The one standard I will be sticking to though is that block number 1 will always be the army commander.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey

I like to think that the picture above shows me valiantly resisting the lure of a new boardgame/book/range of figures/set of rules but the sad truth is a little different....

It is hard to believe that ten years ago to the very minute I posted my very first blog entry! What an incredible, epic and Homeric journey it has been and no mistake!

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey: The Wargaming Bit

I took the opportunity to take a look back over the decade to see what I was up to and how everything has developed - or not, as the case may be. I would say that the biggest single 'project' was without a doubt the block armies. I have used these for many periods and I am certainly pleased that I persevered with them. They are now one of my wargaming staples.

I have made a virtue of what I call frugal wargaming (the block armies are a very good example of this) and so tales of my boot sale and charity shop  acquisitions have been a continuous feature and to this day there is nothing like the feeling you get when you score a book or some other piece of gaming kit for mere pennies - even better when you sell it on via eBay for a healthy profit, thereby enabling some serious expenditure to take place whilst avoiding the admonishing looks of SWMBO at yet more money being spent!

Then there was the great ACW warship scratch building programme using balsa, assorted pieces of timber and plastic card - 50 odd vessels built for use along the rivers and swampy bayous of the US of A. This was enormous fun to do and I certainly learned a lot about building models other than from a plastic kit! For a variety of reasons though, these went the way of the Dodo but I shall be making some more ACW models in support of the Kurz and Allison project although not as many as previously and also at a larger scale.

Naval wargames have featured a lot and my various navies (and scales) have waxed and waned over the decade. Plans for ancient galleys were made and unrealised and lots of ideas for WW2 actions featured at various points. Then of course there was the whole Jutland thing - where I certainly missed the boat, so to speak. Currently I have a number of 1:2400th scale Tumbling Dice ships waiting for a 1914 style campaign and have some long distance plans for the ancients once more, as well as some 'wind and water' style games. Cruel Seas came and went and if I have learned anything from that experience it is that trying to add a little dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl of a rule set is destined to failure when set against the needs of big business.

Some aerial activity has featured but not for a while although I hope to rectify this at some point. I had a lot of fun with Angels 20 and Wings of Glory is always good for a laugh. Funnily enough I never seem to have gotten past Air Force, Dauntless, Richthofen's War, Wings and Air War for my air combat games - similarly with Ship 'O the Line, Jutland and Bismarck for the naval dimension. Perhaps my fascination with grid based wargames stems from my board gaming roots - who knows?

My land based games seemed to have mainly fought on a gridded basis and this has given me a lot of pleasure. I have seen the ingenuity of others take the Command and Colours system designed by Richard Borg and then stretch it more directions you could possibly imagine. I like the original board games and all the various figure based variants - they emphasise the 'game with soldiers' approach to the hobby rather than the uber-detailed simulation style, both of which I enjoy as the mood suits. I would say that the game side resonates rather more with me these days!

A Decade of A Wargaming Odyssey: The Wargaming People Bit

One of the most priceless benefits I have accrued over the life of A wargaming Odyssey is of course the people. I have made countless new friends over the last decade as well as forging closer ties with older ones and indeed, have even met a few of them! Their comments, emails, encouragement, ribbing and suggestions have been a continual source of support for which I am both hugely grateful for and am humbled by. I cannot pretend to be the most prolific painter, gamer or modeller on the planet but I love the part of our hobby universe that I inhabit. The fact that people extend me the courtesy of dropping in and out occasionally is a prize beyond value.

In closing this post I would like to sincerely thank everybody that has contributed over the last ten years and I hope to be able to continue my butterfly like progress over the next ten. I was mildly amused to read the contents of my very first blog post - especially given the projects content - so for your delectation:

Laying the Foundations 

Here's to the next 10!

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 27

Hawker Hunter ground attack FGA.9 as deployed to the Middle East during the Aden Emergency

Later than usual this week but for a very good reason! The Canadian branch of the family consisting of my brother in law and his wife are in the UK on a visit and so we were entertaining them over the bank holiday weekend.

I have mentioned previously but my brother in law, Gordie, is an ex paratrooper that initially served with 3 Para before transferring to the pathfinder unit of 1 Para. During his 11 years under arms he served during the Radfan campaign as a GPMG gunner and is always willing to talk about his experiences. He freely admits to enjoying his time with the colours and maintains contact with many of his ex comrades in arms. Time and the rigours of service have left their physical mark on him and so back, knee and ankle problems are the common lot of the ex paratrooper! As a pathfinder - incidentally serving alongside the S.A.S - Gordie was involved with HALO drops from around 20,000 feet. He has a professional respect for the RAF and regaled me with tales of when he undertaking parachute training at an RAF base - apparently the standard of RAF cuisine was far higher than that within the Parachute regiment! He also told me about the air support received from RAF ground attack Hawker Hunter FGA.9s during the campaign and how effective it was - especially the nose full of 30mm Aden!

Naturally the three days we spent with Gordie and Diane were not entirely given over to matters military and so we went out on a couple of trips, dined out and had a really good time. The invitation to visit them in Vancouver is something we will have to seriously consider!

The great packaging of the figures winging their way to their new owners continues with the plan to ship on Saturday. It is not difficult to do but it is time consuming. The good news though is that I will at last be able to see the floor of the man cave!

My order to Spencer Smith will be on its way today for the last of the ACW figures and I have also taken the opportunity to sort out the 1:2400 scale ships I have from Tumbling Dice. I am itching to get a game in at some point so all this sorting out has served to heighten my enthusiasm so I may well be rolling some dice over the coming weekend.

I am not sure what with though!