Saturday, 11 October 2014

4, 3, 2....The Devil May Care

My word how time flies! Since my last post on 28/09 a few things have been on the go but it has been largely underwhelming on the gaming front - much planning and thinking of great thoughts has been the order of the day - with little else to show for it.

Not a bad read - although even for me it is a little cliche-ridden!

I have been extensively gaming albeit in a rather unusual fashion. One of the chaps at the office introduced me to a very good Chess 'app' - Chess with Friends by Zynga - and I have been playing him relentlessly for some time now. I expect most gamers have (or are still playing) played Chess at some point and there are obvious war game connections. It as been challenging and a good work out for the grey matter - so much so that I dusted off a couple of Chess books I have in the collection - so in the absence of a wargame will suffice for my gaming fix for the time being.

I allowed myself the luxury of reading Sebastien Faulks James Bond novel - Devil May Care - and have to say that whilst I enjoyed it (being a huge Bond fan) it did seem to almost catalogue elements of every Bond story written - even using much of the same phraseology - which did grate after a while. It is a good story though and I would recommend it.

The '4, 3, 2' of the title is a reference to the way I shall be organising my 10/12mm collections and represents the ratio of foot to horse to guns I shall be using. I have opted to use 4 bases for infantry, 3 for cavalry and 2 for artillery - which is of course the system in use for pretty much all the Command and Colours system.

I have also been thinking about my ancients 'fix'. If you recall I posted on many occasions about the Greek and Persian war - culminating in Salamis as the naval option. Whilst I like the idea to tackling the armies using figures it is becoming less likely that I will. I have a couple of ideas in mind - the second Punic War for one - but I am having some serious thoughts about the wars of the late Roman Republic - the century leading up to AD. The reasons are compelling - multiple opponents ranging from the usual Celtic and Germanic hordes via Eastern armies and a whole host in between, not to mention the civil war(s). As ever, 10/12mm will be the scale of choice.

I have been pondering the whole Lion Rampant/Cross and Crescent idea and am looking to the El Cid period although the Perry late medieval plastic look really nice....;-)

No progress on the ships sadly although I have all that I need from the capital ship perspective. Time and enthusiasm have been a premium recently but I shall persevere.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Birthday travels and Books galore

The Church Oast at Herne Hill - our base for two nights

Today is my 54th birthday and for the last couple of days (well Thursday and Friday to be exact, with the return on Saturday morning) SWMBO and I have been staying in a converted Oast House in the heart of the North Kent countryside. We stayed in the tiny village of Herne Hill which is within easy distance of Faversham (the home of the Shepherd Neame brewery), Whitstable (famed of its Oysters) and of course, Canterbury -famous for being, well, Canterbury. We had a super time traveling around, eating some delicious food and enjoying the hospitality of the 700 year old Red Lion public house - located around 2 minutes from where we were staying.

The church from which the Oast takes its name - directly opposite where we were staying in fact. Its claim to fame is that it has buried within its ground some of the victims of the Battle of Bossenden Wood in 1838 - the last 'battle' fought on British soil.

The village green. The church is directly behind from where this picture was taken with the Red Lion in the distance. Note the Oak tree on the right.

The Red Lion -  every bit as good as it looks. The food was outstanding!

One of the many 'ye olde worlde type building' for which Canterbury is renowned

The main entrance to Canterbury Cathedral. Sadly we did not have time to have a look around but it is certainly one for the future. I have visited previously - back in around 1972 as I recall!

Birthday booty. Really pleased with this little haul for a variety of reasons - needless to say the project list has not gotten even more problematic....;-)

Whilst on our travels we visited a number of secondhand bookshops and the odd charity shop and so I am now the proud owner of the three titles you see above. I should point out that the Barbarossa title actually came from the Canterbury branch of the Works and I was really pleased to get this - especially as it was only £6.99 rather than the £30 cover price. Essentially is is a slightly revised and expanded version of the three Osprey campaign titles covering Barbarossa being the North, Centre and Southern sectors. The Blandford was most welcome and I was also pleased to pick up the Sharpe Companion - both of which for a couple of ideas I have kicking around. All in all then, the last few days have been very relaxing and enjoyable - with a great mixture of good food and drink, history, scenery, new books and most of all the chance to get away for a couple of days with my beloved!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

"....And so the Cid rode out of the gates of history....

....and into legend"

Just before the final scene....

El Cid is one of my favourite films and it is probably no surprise that I have often contemplated how best to game the period. There are some trulylovely figures available in 28mm his period - 11th century Spain - but given my usual aversion to such things I have managed to avoid getting involved in that particular scale - my painting skills would struggle to do the models justice in any event. Luckily those awfully nice people at Hat have come to the rescue with some 28mm hard plastic figures for the period that are relatively basic detail wise and so well within my modest skills with a brush. I shall be acquiring some tomorrow at Skirmish in Sidcup all being well.

Moors in Spain, Crusades and much more beside....

My curiosity for this period and gaming the same has been picqued by the whole Saga approach - large skirmish level really - especially the part that does not involve huge numbers of models and, via the additional set you see above, covers the era I am particularly interestd in. The new Osprey set - Lion Rampant - are also geared around games of around 40 to 60 figures a side and so are well within my capabilities.

Two such forces could also be used for anything DBA/HOTT related as well as Command and Colours.

The book you see above about El Cid is really good and I also have the title by the same author on Spartacus. I am a sucker for the historical Hollywood approach to epic battles and so my liking for the latter as well should come as no surprise! My holiday reading when In Andalucia was the Moors in Spain by Stanley Lane Poole and that also served to get the creative juices going.

I now own 40 of these shell splashes although surely they indicate misses rather than hits...?

Matters nautical have not been neglected though as I took delievery of some splash markers from Litko in the US. They are rather nice and are posed artfully alongside the German battle cruiser Seydlitz - presumably before her customary battering at the hands of the RN....

Saturday, 13 September 2014

It was a sale that grew in the selling....

The last of the 20mm WW1 Middle Eastern collection has finally been sold and so at last I am able to report about the plans and acquisition arising from this. I have a number of projects that need some bits and pieces to finish them off and so this has been, for the most part, attended to. The main beneficiaries are as follows:
  • The Jutland project. I have ordered the RN armoured cruisers and also the representative light cruisers for both sides. I have decided to go with formation bases for the light cruiser units - usually depicted with a single model and with a couple of models for the destroyer forces.
  • Saga. This is very much a long term project and I have acquired both the basic rules, one of the expansions and the Crusades version. The latter is probably going to be the main focus although the idea of some Vikings is a an attractive one. I plan to tackle these in 28mm to take advantage of some of the really nice plastic figures around although the Crusades version may see me raiding the Hat hard plastic 28mm 'El Cid' period figures (plus the fact thay would be less problemstic on the painting front!). Of course I needed to acquire some reading material to go with this latest bout of insanity....
  • 10/12mm figures. I have laid in the figures requred for a specific set up - both armies - and will be discussing this further in a later blog post. It is slightly unusual in respect of the choice of period and came about in a rather unexpected fashion. Dare I say it but this could actually be described as am 'Ooh shiny' moment. Again, I needed to add some reading material to the collection in support of the models.
  • Sci Fi. I picked up a set of rules I had my eye on - and am very glad I did. Alien Squad Leader can best be described as a fusion of HOTT and the Blitzkreig Commander series of rules and they look like a lot of fun. I have assorted bits and pieces suitable for use with these rules already in the collection so it will be a cheap, quick and easy set up to organise.
  • Hexon. This one has already been mentioned previously but by and away is the biggest single purchase thus far.
Do I have any regrets about offloading an entire collection as soon as I have? Not really, although packing the last of the models did give me pause for thought. It was a hugely impressive collection for sure. From a practical point of view though, the disposal of the collection - and remember that originally I only intended offloading a portion of it - has enabled me to complete (or at least further advance) a number of projects that would have otherwise had to wait.

The Skirmish Show at Sidcup next week should enable me to complete a couple of ideas and so I am really looking forward to it.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Running through treacle

I have been a little out of sorts lately. I have been lethargic, woolly-headed and with occasional bouts of feverishness. I have also not been sleeping particularly well and my back and ankle (both old injuries - and neither being particularly dramatic!) have been acting up which has not helped. Everything is an effort and needless to say very little progress has been made with anything - I am feeling particularly 'wrung out' and so am now at home from week until next week and with instructions to just chill out.

Hopefully some rest and downtime will enable me to shake off the doldrums and regain my former joie de vivre!

Gotta love a bargain! Not bad for £2 all in

In the meantime though I did manage though to get to a boot sale last Sunday and picked up the three books you see above. The WW2 German Special Forces title was the best of what was left as the chap was selling three titles for £2 but I was very pleased with the tank book and the WW2 naval title. I cannot see me gaming anything in the German Special Forces category but one never knows.

Rather pleased with this one and I am quite fond of the rest of the series as well.

The other book I acquired fills a gap in the WW1 collection in that it is a rather nice uniform guide - chock full of colour plates. I am sure there are more detailed works around but considering I am planning on using 10/12mm figures for this project much of the finer points would be lost - meaning I shan't be bothering to paint them as I certainly would not be able to see them at table ranges!

I am sure I shall return to my usual form in due course but for now I am just going to spend a couple of days pottering and letting my thoughts - if I have any that is - wander to wherever.

Friday, 29 August 2014

1914 to 1916

Perhaps 'Rearguard then Retreat' may have been more appropriate as a title  - Jerry Murland sets out to examine the smaller actions of the retreat by the BEF in 1914.

The final title in my modest acquisition program arrived a couple of days ago and so, barring a good uniform reference for the Great War, the 1914 section of the library is complete. By no stretch of the imagination can half a dozen titles be described as comprehensive coverage of a period (especially one so well written about as early 1914 on the Western Front) but it will suffice for my purposes. I may add the odd Osprey title but that should be it for the time being.

The latest title is Retreat and Rearguard - The BEF's actiona from Mons to the Marne by Jerry Murland (ISBN 978 1 84884 391 2) and published by Pen and Sword. The author has made a point of detailing the smaller actions fought during the retreat which is valuable material for the gamer - especially one like myself who routinely enjoys lopsided actions on the tabletop! I am looking forward to reading this and am confident it will give me plenty of information and inspiration for any number of rearguard type actions.

N Gauge plans are slowly being finalised in respect of this period and I will post once I have settled on what is happening.

Moving forward a couple of years and to the cold and grey North Sea I have finally made a start on the last batch of capital ships for the Jutland project. The first batch will be the British battle cruisers of the Invncible and Indefatigable classes. Five of these were at Jutland but I have all six - H.M.A.S. Australia will be featured (obviously not at Jutland) and she will be accompanying the two light cruisers I have and the half a dozen destroyers. These are with a long term 'hunt the German raiding group' idea in mind.

I hope to have these finished over the weekend and will be sure to post pictures once they are ready.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Palm Trees and the Mons Star

I am quite sure that you would not often see the two subjects of the title mentioned in the same post but I never was one to shy away from the obscure or the odd!

Not bad for what is supposed to be a cake decoration!

The palm trees arrived from the USA and very nice they look as well. They satnd roughly 3 1/2" tall and the plan is to base them on the round wooden bases that I use for my other trees and to give them a basic paint job. I did buy rather more than I needed though so if anybody wants a pack (there are 10 bases each of two trees) then let me know - I can think of at least one of my readers that would be interested!

An inspiring addition to the library - his book on the Franco Prussian war - A Day of Battle - is another superb title.

Keeping on with the 1914 theme of my current reading I managed to track down a copy of the classic account of the BEF retreat - The Mons Star by David Ascoli. I have read this book a number of times and it is a cracking account of the overall campaign from the British perspective. It complements Riding the Retreat very nicely and the third title I have en route will finish off the section in my library devoted to this phase of the Great War.

There is a hidden agenda behind all this 1914 'stuff' which will probably not come as a surprise to anyone that reads this blog - full details will be forthcoming in due course.