Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Greeks and Persians

Some classic Greek history and all in hardback.

I mentioned previously about making use of my Christmas Amazon gift card and the picture above shows just some of the haul. The two WRG books were a little on the indulgent side as they are both hardback versions (I also have the Dark Ages and the Crusades title on a similar basis) and printed to order but with secondhand prices for the armies title coming out at more expensive that the version I purchased I do not feel quite do bad! Warfleets of Antiquity also has a copy of Richard Nelson’s hex based fleet action rules contained therein and of which a stripped down version were used in his book on Salamis.

The big hardback in the centre is a great fusion of ancient writing - mainly Herodotus - and modern interpretation and covers the entire period of the war from Marathon onwards.

The likelihood of me raising armies for this period is remote but the naval side is a different matter. If I went down that particular path then Tumbling Dice would once again feature and the rules of choice would be hex based.

Where we are and Where we are going

Not out until May but certainly one I am looking out for. The author was responsible for the hugely successful Gaslands post-apocalyptic car combat rules so they should definitely be worth a look. 

As you would have seen from my previous two posts it has been a pretty busy  but successful weekend. I have roughly another 5 or 6 boxes of material to go through but for the most part this is artillery and as you might imagine, it is on an Eric scale! There are guns of course – ranging from battalion pieces up to huge siege mortars. There are all manner of limbers and these are both horse and ox drawn as well a number of ammunition and general baggage wagons. The pictures for these will be up on the blog next weekend.

Sorting through these was actually quite therapeutic and certainly now I have a handle on what there is as well detailed notes it will (and indeed has) make the disposal of the same a whole lot easier. There has already been some interest expressed on certain elements so the boxes should not be around for much longer all being well.

The figures I have represent the last of Erics 18th century collection so next up will be WW2 and the humongous amount of material that Eric had for this. There are not only figures but also a vast array of vehicles, not to mention terrain. It will be a huge undertaking for sure.

My new Deep Cut mat is currently being prepared and so should be with me by the end of the month. I have started readying the final batch of figures for my 30mm ACW Spencer Smith set up and I am also organising some of the terrain I will need. There is a development in respect of the ships for this project and it looks very much like they will around sooner rather than later meaning I will need to get a move on in respect of the rules I am planning to use. There is also the small matter of the gazillion labels I need to start applying to the assorted wooden Command and Colours blocks.

I am picking up the Del Prado Napoleonic collection at the end of next week which will mean a substantial amount of rebasing as I have settled on using individual bases. The collection will essentially be replicating the blocks from Command and Colours Napoleonics but naturally they will be usable with other rules. There is some excess built into the collection and so I am confident that Bob Cordery and I will be able to spend many happy hours swapping figures from the similar surplus he also has!

I will have some work to do with my various Sci Fi games but only to get them ready to use so no painting at this stage. I notice that there is s et of deep space combat rules due out from Osprey by the chap that wrote the highly popular Gaslands post-apocalyptic car racing rules. I believe they are called something like One Billion Suns – that should incentivize me to look at my Red Alert collection!

The War in the Pacific is something that has come at me from pretty much out of nowhere and I blame that very nice chap Trebian for this. His recently released book ‘Its getting a bit Chile’ covering the war from 1879 to 1883 is really good and contains not only an excellent set of rules but sufficient background material to get one started in the period. I have sufficient excess Spencer Smith kepi wearing ACW types to form the nucleus of a modest set up of something that is not only a little different but also would not take a lot to put together. His book is also now available as a PDF from the Wargames Vault as well which is very handy indeed and of course my thoughts would also include the Portable Wargame, a couple of the Dan Mersey sets as well as the naval dimension. Unusually for me I really fancy painting some figures up for this period but it will be a while before I do. Something for later in the year perhaps.

My plan for WW2 gaming using Heroes of Normandie received a welcome boost in that I have worked out exactly what I will need and from the figures perspective it is very modest indeed. I am looking at around 50 figures a side which will include infantry, command, machine guns, mortars, infantry anti-tank weapons and gun crews. All of these will be based individually which is very much my preferred option at present. I will need to add around half a dozen or so vehicles a side (although probably more for variety) and these I am looking forward to tackling as it has been an age since I assembled a tank kit.

All in all then it will be a busy year but there are some definite end points in there. The main thing though is that I want to get some games in using figures ideally but Command and Colours blocks if needs be. I can’t wait!

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Eric’s Painted 18th Century Collection....Part 2

I took full advantage of the blue sky and occasional sunshine to sort out the next batch of figures from the painted remnants of Eric’s 18th century collection. I reckon there are now around 5 boxes worth left but these are mainly artillery. I cannot remember the last time I saw so many pieces of artillery in one place but then that was Eric - he worked on the basis that quantity has a quality all of its own!

As usual if anyone is interested in any of the items depicted then let me know quoting the picture number and the unit or units in question. Remember that I am unable to break down units into individual figures and also that I will try and organise gun crews etc for the artillery. Either leave a comment (ideally with an email address) or drop me an email at roguejedi@btinternet.com. Please note that some of these will some TLC as there are a few paint chips and unseated horsemen to contend with as well as the odd bent weapon....

6. Austrian 1680 to Seven Years War. Licaner Light Infantry, Hussars, Guns and teams, Grenz Hussars and Tyrolean Jäger and Landwehr

7. Prussian Seven Years War. 13 Guns and limbers, 45 gunners and 4 mounted command.

8. Prussian Seven Years War. 14 Guns and limbers, 42 gunners, 2 wagons, 44th Fusiliers, Kleist Freikorps and Jägers

9. Prussian Seven Years War. Dragoons regiments number 5 and 11 (with dismounts, Cuirassiers regiments number 1 and 5, Von Kleist Uhlans and Horse Grenadiers and Jäger Zu Pferde plus some mounted Generals.

10. Bavarian and Prussian 1680 to 1720. Prussian Liebgarde plus battalion guns, Bavarian Karabinier regiments Bartels and Polen and infantry regiment Lutzelberg.

11. Papal/Venetian horse and Dragoons

12. British Royal Marines and rather a lot of assorted ship’s crew!

As mentioned I have around 5 more boxes to sort out but from what I have seen these are mostly artillery and engineers etc. I am sure that Bill has a couple of other boxes but I will need to check with him.

Saturday, 11 January 2020

Eric’s Painted 18th Century Collection....Part 1

A small unit that escaped from the great Higgins/Hinton Hunt cull of last year being used as Dutch guard cavalry unit

I have made a start on organising the remnants of Eric’s late 17th and 18th century collection and as expected it has been time consuming but rewarding experience. So far I have sorted out five boxes of figures which represents roughly a quarter of the total. The first thing that struck me was just how big a part of his collection consisted of Hinton Hunt and Higgins. These have all gone so the remnants consist of various editions of Minifigs, Hinchliffe, Garrison and some that I have been unable to identify. For many of the units Eric stuck a small label on the underside with the name of the unit written on it which has proven to be really helpful. The remnants are an interesting and eclectic mix and there is certainly sufficient to raise some Portable Wargame sized forces - probably on an imagi-nation basis.

1. Prussian Light Cavalry Seven Years War. Hussar regiments 1, 5 and 7 and a unit of Bosniak Lancers

2. 1680 to 1720 French Artillery. 12 guns and limbers, 4 wagons, 11 drivers and 51 gunners.

3. 1680 to 1720 Cavalry. French Cuirassiers du Ros, Musketeers, Grenadiers a Cheval and British 6th Horse.

4. 1680 to 1720 Dutch. Infantry regiments Scheltinga and Van Freihem together with artillery and the Garde de Voet.

5. 1680 to 1720 Dutch. 4th Scots regiment and 10 guns, 6 limbers, 3 wagons and 39 gunners.

Still to be sorted is the remaining Prussian Seven Years War, the Austrians and the Bavarians and then there s the small matter of the ‘remnants of the remnants’ which appears to be largely an obscene amount of artillery and various engineering items. 

Should anyone be interested in anything shown above and would like to know more please drop me a line and I will be happy to help. What I can say is that prices are very reasonable but please do not ask me to break units up.

Friday, 10 January 2020

War of the Pacific 1879 - 1884

Worth it for the title alone! Table top rules for the War in the Pacific 1879 to 1884 written by Graham Evans (aka Trebian). For a far more detailed summary of the book you could do no better than read Bob Cordery’s blog.

Three blog posts in a single day? I will have to check the last time I managed to do that but I reckon it was a good while ago!

The final part of my Christmas Amazon gift card from the offspring was a copy of the newly released set of rules you see above.

As mentioned above there is little I can add to what Bob has written as a summary of the book so I will throw in a couple of observations and general thoughts.

I really like the approach that the author has taken with these rules and indeed the book itself in that even if the war was completely unknown to you (and I suspect that may well be the case with many gamers) this book will give you the basics you need to build upon. There is a potted history of the war and information about the combatants and the assorted weaponry in use. All this is nicely wrapped up in the rules the author has developed which also include game related ratings of the principle commanders as well as a couple of historical battles to think about.

There are some flags and a quick reference sheet that you are able to copy for your own use, a modest bibliography and a really useful uniform guide that features rather a lot of kepi wearing types....

The author, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at COW 2019, has done a magnificent job with this book and it is, by his own admission, very much a labour of love and it definitely shows. He has taken a little known war and wrapped his arms around it and produced a set of theatre specific rules with enough extras to ensure that the table top action will have that all important flavour. It is quite simply a superb piece of work.

Where my thoughts are heading

Now what possibly could be my interest in this war given my recent championing of the merits of downsizing? Well, how about this for a bonkers idea? I have a couple of dozen or so kepi wearing 30mm ACW Spencer Smith figures that could be pressed into service as the armies are generally very small and whilst the rules suggest bases of three infantry I reckon I could use a single figure per base.  A four base infantry unit also coincides with the standard size used with the Portable Wargame and three such units would work with either Rebels and Patriots or The Men Who Would be Kings.

The period would make for a colourful ‘side hustle’ for me as I really like the idea of using these rules with 30mm ‘old school’ figures. I reckon that I have sufficient figures to do this so will endeavour to research the period in more detail. It will be a way off but could be something rather different and of course there is also the naval dimension to consider (and naturally I am!).

Once again many thanks to Graham for this wonderful piece of work that I highly recommend!

A Mats Problem

Artist's impression of the 'Green Grass' coloured mat from those awfully nice people at Deep Cut Studios

Unfortunately my gaming mat from Deep Cut Studios did not arrive before Christmas but it has now. I cannot fault the material – I went for the ‘mouse mat’ option - but there are a couple of issues with it. To begin with I ordered the colour option described as ‘meadow’. Deep Cut sent me a picture of what it would look like with the superimposed grid and I was pretty happy with the resultant ‘artist’s impression’. The mat duly arrived and the first thing that struck me was how dark it looked. I have yet to see the mat under natural daylight (this time of year I do not see my house in daylight!) but it looks quite oppressive and rather than being a meadow looks rather more like a shaded wooded copse or similar. I expect I would have gotten used to it but then another problem surfaced. The grid had been printed on the mat so that it was not square with the edges. This has the effect of cutting off by degrees a portion of each hex along the long edge of the mat. It is not much but it is noticeable. This was the risk when printing a grid to the edge of the material I suspect. In a nutshell it was slightly wonky, to use a highly detailed and technical term.

I contacted Deep Cut and explained the issue to them and I have to say their customer service is absolutely top drawer. Not only are they going to send me a replacement free of charge but they are also going to increase the mat size slightly (from 48” x 32.5” to 54” by 36”) meaning that the 13 x 9 hex grid will have a small border and they are also going to change the colour to grass green from the original meadow - which was a cheeky request I made, not expecting a positive response (it was changing the original order after all).

The faulty mat – which is perfectly serviceable, albeit slightly skewed – they asked me to destroy which seems a waste. With my natural cunning and inventiveness (who am I kidding?) I have already earmarked a use for it.

The replacement mat should be with me in a week or so which has, ironically, done me a little bit of a favour as I wanted to sneak in a cheeky game using it this weekend. Instead I will focus on the rather more pressing task of sorting out Eric’s painted 18th century stuff.

Thanks for the Memoir-y

The series that launched a thousand wargamers (I suspect!) - an omnibus edition of three stories from the Commando Comic series.

I mentioned recently about my decision to offload my Memoir 44 collection. This was not a decision taken lightly but retaining it would have acted as a handbrake on what I want to get out of my gaming of WW2. It is not that Memoir 44 is in anyway a bad game, far from it, but for me it appears to be neither fish nor fowl in respect of the type of actions represented. It is a personal thing but my WW2 is firmly rooted at a one for one scale of operations and has been since the early 1970s. I have tried all of the current ‘big 3’ WW2 rule sets (again, this is purely my opinion) Rapid Fire, Bolt Action and Chain of Command but for one reason or another they never really ‘did it’ for me although Rapid Fire was a lot of fun.

Mention of the early days of my WW2 gaming cannot be made without reference to the inspiration that fired my imagination. Late 1960s war films, Commando comic books and Airfix figures and models were a heady cocktail (or was that the polystyrene glue or enamel paint fumes talking?) and provided me with a relative smorgasbord of gaming potential that was finally realised on a more formal footing by the book Battle: Practical Wargames by Charles Grant.

Fast forward to now and where I am currently sitting. My recent decision to revisit those periods that I originally started with but with the added advantage of years of experience also included WW2 and my attachment to this period manifests itself in many ways – land based games but also naval and aerial. I enjoy games from man to man skirmishes up to whole campaigns but there is a slight problem of perception. With the best will in the world a model tank (I am talking about 20mm here) on the table top looks exactly like a model tank i.e. one unit. Similarly, a fireteam of four nervous infantrymen crouched behind a hedge and desperately hoping that the opposition do not find them looks exactly like four figures crouched behind a lichen hedge on the table top desperately hoping that the opposition do not find them. The visual ‘look’ is that of a skirmish and whilst gamers will happily call 24 Napoleonic infantry figures deployed shoulder to shoulder a battalion I do not feel it translates as well for WW2. For sure I have played games where a base of figures represents anything from a platoon up to a regiment but these can feel as though the level of abstraction has been extended further than is comfortable – with Memoir ’44 being a good example. There is a disconnect between what we see and what is being represented and this disconnect varies to a lesser or greater degree depending on the type of combat being represented.

Ordinarily I have no such qualms adopting such an ‘extended abstraction approach’ when using a grid based system. “But Memoir ’44 is exactly that!” I hear you say. True enough – but it does not sit well with me. It feels very much like the levels of abstraction used have been extended to the point of making the action on the game board appear almost sterile and therefore devoid of flavour. To use that old saying it is ‘neither fish nor fowl’ – in trying to be a game that travels from battalion up to divisional level depending on the scenario it is very much a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ – but make no mistake, it is fun to play.

One of the first things that Bob Cordery did when we were discussing Memoir ’44 a number of years ago was to add in as units such things as mortars, machine guns, anti-tank guns, engineers and similar other WW2 essentials. This was for his Memoir of Battle rule set that is still one of my favourites alongside the Portable Wargame. When I eventually get around to organising some WW2 forces and models these would be right up there as my ‘go to’ sets. The key thing here is that I want a WW2 tactical game that features the full panoply of WW2 hardware and where I have to make decisions about when to take a tank hull down or move an infantryman with a bazooka into the top floor of a ruined French cottage. Above all, I want this experience to be fun. Fun as in cliched WW2 Commando comic fused with Hollywood film fun.

In the meantime though I found myself slightly bereft of material for gaming anything WW2 related so, after some research, I opted to pick up a copy of the Devil Pig games highly acclaimed tactical WW2 board game called Heroes of Normandie.

The base game....

....and the contents therein. Production values are very high indeed and the geomorphic mapboards are a delight. the base game includes US and German forces but there are a number of expansions including not only other formations for the core set but also the British and even French civilians and resistance (very handy for Vercours or similar and I am saying this only once....)

Ok then, let’s be completely honest about this – this is a game that owes its inspiration to Hollywood war films so will probably offend the purist but what the heck? It looks like a load of fun and if it serves to remind me of just why I got into WW2 in the first place then bring it on I say. Seriously though, it is game to enjoy at a low tactical level with no pretensions to be a detailed simulation of WW2 tactical combat. If I want that I would look to any of the far more serious games covering the topic  and in any event, at the higher operational level when one is using whole battalions or even brigades/division/corps then board games would be the way to go for me.

The plan would be to replace the game counters (which are very nice indeed) with models and there are not many of these to have to worry about. I would say roughly a platoon with some support and half a dozen or so assorted vehicles. At this level the resultant collection could very happily drop into use with the Portable Wargame. On the face of it, the Portable wargame would appear to be similar in concept to Memoir '44 in respect of scale but for me there is the the crucial difference of it being recognisably more, how shall I put it? WW2 wargamey.

There are a number of expansions to the base game which feature additional units for the US and Germans and introducing the British, French civilians and resistance and a whole raft of additional terrain and scenarios. There is also a Heroes of Stalingrad expansion as well as a Cthulu version!

The only decision I now need to make it whether or not to use 15mm or 20mm figures in support - in the interest of historical accuracy (meaning how I used to game WW2) my feeling is that the latter scale will emerge victorious. Who knows? I may even opt for plastic figures once again!