Thursday, 19 April 2018

Shining a Torch....

 
Picked up at Salute and a valuable resource for my plans.


I mentioned in my last post about the WW2 land side and how best I would be tackling it. The main rules I shall be using are Rommel, Battlegroup and of course the Portable Wargame. The one thing I did not mention though is what I would be gaming as effectively there are two scales in play. I have been thinking about this a lot and so have decided that Rommel - which will using a 1/300th and 1/600th fusion of models - will be used for actions set in the late war, either Western or Eastern front. Battlegroup however, will be used for the desert via Tunisia.

My reasons for choosing Tunisia for the Battlegroup option rather than the earlier period in the desert are many but certainly one of the main ones being because I can add the Americans in to the usual mix of British/Commonwealth, German and Italian forces. There is also a very good selection of kits available for all sides and it also means I can use the infantry figures from Axis and Allies (of which I have a huge number!).

 
The theatre of operations - seapower played a decisive part in the outcome of the campaign.
 
 
Mention of the kit or even kits for the period is an important one for me as I have had a hankering to make some models for some time. Tracked vehicles are not the holy terror of years gone by with rubber tracks and a gazillion road wheels to fix in place - Armourfast and the Plastic Soldier Company have seen to that - so I am looking forward to this part of the project. The scale of games in Battlegroup is such that I will not need great carparks of vehicles to have some interesting actions and besides, what's not to like about any campaign where Lee/Grant and Tiger tanks appear!
 
The Tunisian Campaign has a lot of potential for me in terms of gaming and the variety of kit in use and so I am confident it will provide me with plenty of things to think about when I get to it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Mind blowing, Decisions....

Following on from my post of yesterday I planned to spend some time yesterday evening sorting through the bits and pieces I have for the WW2 and ACW projects to get a little clarity around how I shall be doing what I will be doing so to speak.

Thanks to a three hour train journey home (plastic sheeting on the overhead power lines) and having to sort out some hassles with SWMBO's phone I was not able to get anything meaningful done.

The situation I find myself in at present in respect of the project list is not an onerous one by any means but it does need some thought and planning.

ACW

I am happy to use the block armies on a gridded playing area for the foreseeable future. I may get some figures painted for this but this is so far in the future that I am not even thinking about it! In any event I have no idea as to what scale figures I would use.

The naval side is limited to painting the models and deciding what rules to use. This will feature sooner rather than later but not until I have squared away some WW2 bits and pieces.

Taken as a whole then I am quite happy with the ACW and how it fits into my overall scheme of things. The critical point is that I have the wherewithal to fight some games using the block armies straight off the bat so to speak. If pushed I could drip feed some ACW ship painting into the mix but my preference would be to tackle the 40 odd models as a complete project rather than doing small pieces at odd times.

WW2

The ships will come first and my plans to draft a set of rules to use with them have been parked. as it currently stands the British and Germans will be tackled first followed by the Italians (I have yet to get these at the time of writing). The Pacific fleets will follow but I have no timetable for when.

The land side is a little more complex in that I really want to tackle both Rommel and Battlegroup Tobruk/Torch. Rommel will be on the micro side - a fusion of 1/300th and 1/600th models - whilst Battlegroup will be using something larger, probably 20mm as I have a hankering to 'bash some kits'. Rommel may get the nod first as I can readily use the block armies supported by the Axis and Allies models. When I get to the figure stage for this I will be using the 1/600th models from Tumbling Dice. This is a particularly thorny subject for me at present as I am not sure which to do first and keep vacillating between Ronmel and Battlegroup although the former is currently in pole position

The aerial dimension will be tackled at some point but I am unsure when this will be. It is rather a large project in any event and so is likely to be broken down into theatre specific chunks.

OGRE and Sci Fi in general

This is a small and self-contained project that can be slotted in where needed. I have a small quantity of  'Mechs awaiting attention but again, they would be very easy to slot in as required.

Congo and The Men who would be Kings

Again, I am planning on these being fairly self-contained and low level in terms of figures needed. I am unsure what scale I shall be using and I have a few novel ideas I am toying with as to what to use. No hurry with this but I would like to think I would be looking seriously at these by the end of the year.

Summary

There is a saying along the lines of 'no plan survives beyond the first contact with the enemy' or something similar. This is true but I find it really helpful to at least have some kind of a framework to work to. The list above is quite helpful in that the 'chunks' are relatively bite-sized and so for me quite manageable. There is plenty of variety and options to explore which is very important when one is so easily distracted. If I can stick with the first two on the list in the way I plan to tackle them I will certainly get a number of things dealt with but more importantly, I will be able to get some games in again.




Tuesday, 17 April 2018

19th Century Breakdown....Here it comes


 
The Battle of Chancellorsville 1863 as per the Battle Cry scenario using my block armies and Heroscape
 
I spent an enjoyable evening yesterday thumbing through the recently acquired four volumes of Battles and Leaders as well as revisiting the box of Peter Pig ACW ship models I have. I have everything I need for this part of the ACW project – even scenery – so have little or no excuse for not tackling it (and offering up a silent prayer of thanks that I still have them in my collection) but my main focus is the WW2 project. There are even some new rules for the period by the indefatigable Dave Manley that I may take a look at – they are designed to be fast play and there is also a campaign system to boot. There is plenty of scope within the period for some interesting games and with the campaign option as well it is even more attractive. I suspect though that land based games will feature first of all using the block armies and my Heroscape terrain. I can lift scenarios straight from the Battle Cry rulebook in the short term but Battles and Leaders will provide plenty of smaller actions to tackle.  
As I now have some storage on the ground floor I may relocate some of my gaming collection for this – namely the blue and grey blocks, the terrain, some Heroscape tiles and my dice/marker box. I already have a foldaway table of 3ft by 2ft which will be more than sufficient to set up a 13 x 9 Command and Colours playing area using Heroscape tiles. I could even knock up a Portable Wargame board with 2” squares if needed. Either of those options would work well although I will need to represent units with single blocks rather than using the famous 4, 3 and 2 approach. I have done this in the past and marked hits using the counters from a travel version of the game Othello. These are black one side and white the other. The white side represents a single hit and the black is two. An infantry unit with two hits suffered would have two white counters and a third hit would flip one over to its black side so that it would be showing one white and one back counter. Luckily the counters are small enough to sit happily on the blocks. I have used this method before and it looks fine. 
In the short term then my wargames world looks something like this. I am painting WW2 warships for naval gaming but intend fighting land battles set in the ACW using blocks. I have the land side to consider for Rommel/Battlegroup WW2 and then the ships for the ACW. To add to this I have the OGRE miniatures (very self-contained) and also Congo/The Men Who Would be Kings. On the face of it that is a fairly modest list but the big advantage is that there is sufficient variety contained therein to stop me getting bored. 
For me this looks hellishly reasonable and even, dare I say it, relatively achievable.



Monday, 16 April 2018

Saying hello to an old, new friend....

 
A project tipping point - more scenarios than one could shake a 1861 Springfield Rifled Musket at!


In my last post I mentioned that I had been after a set of Battles and Leaders for some time. This is true up to a point. I wanted a set ages ago and then decided - somewhat rashly as it turns out - that I was severing my ties with the ACW entirely. So I did. All of the books I had acquired as well as the models and boardgames were all disposed of and so the Blue and the Grey had disappeared from my consciousness.

Or had it?

I have enjoyed a love/hate relationship with the ACW over the years (mainly due to some horrible rule sets that prompted my somewhat hasty disposals) but have grown to realise (again) that as a wargames period it offers much to commend it. It is well supported with books, rules, figures and board games to start with and so getting into the period would be very easy. It could be tackled as cheaply or as expensively as required and most importantly offers a large variety of challenging scenarios to game. Critically though, it includes viable combined arms style operations along the rivers and coastline.

 
The Battle of Fort Duvet on the Yahoo River

 
Scratchbuilt models of the USS Essex and CSS Arkansas trade blows - the latter came second and was duly sunk.

 
As the Union forces advanced so the USS Carondelet and the Essex attempt to engage the Fort Duvet on the Blueberry Bend.


Back in the early days of this blog - when I was going through my ACW 'love' phase as opposed to the 'hate' version - I embarked on a massive scratchbuilding program to churn out some ACW ships for use on the rivers and swampy bayous in conjunction with the block armies and actually fought some very good games using them with Attack on Fort Duvet, 1862 being a good example (God was that really 5 years ago?!). Whilst the ships have gone (and have been replaced with Peter Pig 1/600th models) the block armies have remained.

For a variety of reasons though I am unlikely to tackle the second half of the 19th century from a European perspective - my interest in the continent effectively ends in 1815 (even allowing for the Russo-Turkish War) - but I am interested in warfare during the period. I could tackle colonial small wars stuff for sure (and fully intend doing so - hence Congo and The Men Who Would Be Kings) but the war that ticks most of my boxes in respect of scale and scope is therefore, by a process of elimination, the ACW. The wars in South America could have offered an alternative but for some reason do not engage me in quite the same way as the war between the states.

I came to this conclusion over a period of about 18 months and so at the end of last year I made my first tentative foray back into the period by acquiring a copy of John Keegan's book on the American Civil War as a primer. I still had a selection of Peter Pig ACW ships and a pile of their 3mm troop blocks (very nearly disposed of in the 'cull'), not to mention their Hammerin' Iron riverine naval rules so that would represent a start.

For the land side I am thinking that the wooden block armies will suffice to begin with although I would like to tackle some figures at some point - this would be a long way off though.

As it stands then I have the models for the naval side, metal troop blocks for the armies should I wish and the ready to use wooden block armies. I could fight land battles immediately if I wished which is ironic in that the WW2 project is front and centre of my efforts at present. Painting the ships would make for a nice change from the WW2 stuff if required though.

So what of Battles and Leaders then?

Well, from the minor flirting with the ACW once again occasioned by John Keegan's book my surprise acquisition of the above series courtesy of Dave Lanchester at Salute has moved the ACW back in from the shadows to sit along side the WW2 project. This will serve initially as an alternative period for when my notoriously short attention span starts flagging and a distraction is needed. Without a doubt the inspiration Battles and Leaders will provide is immeasurable and so I am sure it will generate many ideas.

I never expected to be coming home with this collection from a wargames show but now that I have I am glad that I have - I am sure it will spur me on to accord the period the attention it deserves - I am a sucker for historical accounts from participants et al as they really add to the flavour of what one is trying to game in my opinion. At the very least it will serve as a reminder of why I should game this period rather than be put off by mere sets of rules.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Salute and Sa-Loot

Well I have finally done it. I have been to Salute at the Excel.


The theme of Salute 2018 was WW1 and smack in the centre of things was this rather nice not quite full sized tank

By virtue of the fact I was helping Dave Lanchester set up his stall (although most of the work had been done of Friday afternoon) I arrived at the Excel a little after 7am. I was carrying two heavy bags full of books and so Daves’ book stall seemed to be miles away from the car park - not only that I did not have a map of the venue (I must have been the only person in the Western Hemisphere that did not!) so it was hugely fortunate that Dave and Lynne arrived at the entrance at the same moment I did. Our transaction was speedily concluded (more of which later) and the final touches to the setting up was completed fairly quickly and so I was free to have a wander around before the fun started.

I would like to say that I took loads of pictures and spoke with many gamers, traders and friends old and new but taking each part in turn I would say a few, a few again, quite a few and a few more. If I am honest I was overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the event. The lighting for the place did not seem very conducive to taking pictures (I managed a few though) and it felt rather warm inside as well. The floor caused a few of us older types some problems - my old ankle injury which has impacted on the rest of my leg over the last 30 years - being covered concrete and so with little ‘give’and by the time I left at a little after 1pm I was delighted to sit down in the car for the drive home. In fact as I writing this my left leg still feels like it has run a marathon and my ankle has adopted its customary level of swollen malevolence....

I was able to take part in the annual bloggers meet up - my first - and so it was great fun talking to Bob Cordery, Tamsin Piper, Big Lee, One Lover Ray and Posty (of reject fame) not to mention Dave from Suffolk and Carl from Hitting on a Double 1 (and I now know why he used that title for his blog!). Apologies to any I may have missed out.



Andy Callan with some of the paper armies set up for battle




A closer view of the action and a very nice looking set of 18th century types deployed for battle


I had a chat with Andy Callan about bargain wargames - using Jenga blocks (a subject dear to my heart) and Axis and Allies miniatures, not to mention Risk figures and assorted odds and ends. It was nice to talk about using items other than models with a kindred spirit. Peter Dennis arrived and so the conversation turned to the quite outstanding paper soldiers being used and featuring in a number of publications. They are something I may well investigate.


Dan Mersey demonstrating Red Alert - the next PSC/Richard Borg collaboration featuring deep space battles using the Command and Colours system



A closer view of the action. The game will be coming to a kick starter near you soon....

I also had a long chat with Dan Mersey (of Lion/Dragon Rampant, The Men Who Would be Kings and others) who was demonstrating a forthcoming Richard Borg Command and Colours deep space combat game called Red Alert. The Plastic Soldier Company will be launching this on kickstarter soon and it looks a cracker.

I also had a quick chat with Ron Weaver of the Continental Wars Society and he was telling me how he had managed to get his set of rules for the game they were hosting down to a single side of A5 card. I was very impressed by this so I challenged him to see if he could go to a standard index card next time....

I mentioned that I did not take many pictures of games so hear is a selection of those that I did. 


An action set in Italy featuring a convent and rampaging Garibaldists. Chris Hardman and Messrs. Francis and Weston set this one up and very nice it looked as well.


Part of the Lake Tanganyika/African Queen game with the African Queen featuring above....


...and Mimi and Tou Tou going forth against the Kingani



Plastic Soldier Company put on the above game to coincide with the launch of Battlegroup Torch - the latest supplement in the Battlegroup series covering North Africa up to the fall of Tunisia.


Wings of War WW1 aerial - and a very impressive collection of models. Look closely and you can see Snoopy in his Red Baron guise...

I did not get he chance to credit the clubs in question for the games above for which I apologise but anyone that has a show guide could probably find out!

As far as the Salute loot was concerned (the Sa-loot of the title) I was able get that which I wanted, that which I had been after for some time and finally, something that I had half a hankering for that appeared, as if by magic and at a great price.


From the top Battles and Leaders, The War in East Africa, some Tumbling Dice 1/600th figures and a single City gunboat from Peter Pig. 

The books were from Dave Lanchester and I have been after a set of Battles and Leaders for an age. I am a great fan of reading contemporary or near contemporary accounts of battles and this is a great set covering the war between the states. The War in East Africa is the fourth volume in the series covering the Mediterranean and Middle East and is a compilation of official reports covering the area mentioned. As a ‘sideshow’ naturally it is something I would be interested in....



Battlegroup Torch with a complementary 1/72nd scale Stuart/Honey (this was part of the shopping plan) and finally a copy of Congo - skirmishes set in the Heart of Africa or rather as we would imagine them to be so suitable for anything along the lines of King Soloman’s Mines or similar.

I am planning something ‘Battlegroup’ related at some point and the desert will be my first choice in a larger scale. I would be able to make use of the infantry from my Axis and Allies collections. Throw in a few kits and we are good to go.

Congo is something I have been pondering for a while as it is something a little different and not too figure intensive. The rules feature some stunning Foundry figures in use (actually that is where I got them from) but I am thinking again about 20mm. Having said that I reckon that the sets  available from Foundry would also make good forces for The Men Who Would be Kings. Something to think about for the future anyway.

Summing it all up then I would say I had a great day. For sure it was tiring and I hurt in places I forgot I had but meeting up with friends old and new as well as the chance to see some quite stunning games and to tackle the all important retail therapy Salute certainly ticked all the boxes. 

Would I go again? 

Absolutely!





Thursday, 12 April 2018

Saluting an old friend

This coming Saturday sees the annual Salute wargames show in London organised by the South London Warlords. It is a huge show - the biggest event of the UK wargames calendar - but is not one that I have attended since back in the day when it was held at Kensington Town Hall. I vaguely remember going to Olympia once but since then I have never been.

All that is in the past though as this Saturday I shall be going to Salute for the first time at the Excel Centre in London.

My reasons for not going in the past have tended to focus on the size of the show - I have to fight through crowds of people commuting to and from work all week so doing the same at the weekend is not something I am enthusiastic about - and the overall cost of the day. Drive up and park for the day and buy your ticket in advance and bang - £30 gone already, not to mention the cost of the petrol so call it £40 all in. I am by no means tight but that is a big chunk of money when you factor in the inevitable trade stand spend. The mention of the financials is by no means a criticism - it is just that the cost represents a big chunk of the wargaming budget that I could readily use elsewhere.

Many of my gaming friends regularly go (and in spite of the crowds and cost element - perhaps they are more dedicated than I!) and the show draws a huge amount of the 'bloggeratti' and so I have bowed to the inevitable and will be attending for my usual half a day.

I am actually really looking forward to this show - despite my usual misgivings - and so have built up a modest war chest - there are a few items I have earmarked for purchase in advance - and there is even some 'Ooh shiny' funds to hand as well.

So what is on the list then? Well I will be heading to pick up a copy of Battlegroup Torch from the Plastic Soldier Company to begin with. Peter Pig will be relieving me of some cash as, I suspect, will Dave Lanchester. Tumbling Dice will be seeing me, as will Caliver Books. Finally, I may have a mosey on by the Perrys.

I shall look forward to the legendary 'bloggers meet up' and hope to see friends old and new so if you see me say hello.

See you there.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Joined up thinking....

 
The picture from the original post - and although I mentioned the point about the figure size being nearer 5mm than 3mm I had not quite made the connection - for which read on....


Way back in the middle of last year I posted the following blog entry - 1/600th Thoughts and the Portable Wargame. At the time I was messing around with the Perry Travel Battle set and the Tumbling Dice 1/600th scale troops produced in support of their extensive range of aircraft.

Aside from the fact that my 'ideas' have moved on quite a lot since then I had rather neglected both of  the above. As a result of the recent man cave reorganisation the figures found themselves in close proximity to the Axis and Allies vehicle pile and I suddenly realised that there was an answer to a question I had not even asked!

The Tumbling Dice 1/600th infantry look pretty good alongside the Axis and Allies vehicles and so in one fell swoop I have solved the thorny question of how I was going to tackle this - or rather what I was going to tackle this with. I like the Tumbling Dice figures as they are really generic and can be used for just about any nation you want. In fact, I would go so far as to say they could readily be used for the Horse, Musket and Rifle era if you were not too picky on the details.

I need to plan this in a little more detail and I certainly do not have enough figures for the grand scheme of things but I reckon this is a good idea - and it would certainly look better than using the blocks alongside the vehicles.

But what of your WW2 naval project that assured everyone was coming first and had priority over everything else?

What indeed.

I have not hit a buffer with this although progress has not been anything like as fast as I would have liked. I shall be tackling the models but the rules will be shelved for the time being for a very simple reason.

Bob Cordery recently returned from a cruise and during the trip was a busy chap indeed. In fact, to use his own words it was A Productive Fortnight. With what currently has up his sleeve I have decided to hang fire with my own naval rule efforts as I am thinking that his plans to go up to 1920 will give me plenty of scope to extend them to 1945.

This is of course entirely a personal thing but as I have often said (and has been proven by others on many occasions) the core mechanisms of the entire Portable Wargame concept are so sound that any amount of tinkering can be undertaken without destroying the spirit of the rules.

It also means that I would be able to seamlessly Portable Wargame WW2 not only on land and in the air but also at sea.

I am really excited about this.

Monday, 9 April 2018

OGRE the hills and Fire away....

OGRE Miniatures set 1 - set 2 is now available as well as a rather nice looking battle box set


I have always enjoyed the Sci Fi game of OGRE by Steve Jackson. Ever since it first came out (along with the companion/expansion game G.E.V) as a small budget price game contained in a box not much larger than a smart phone it has followed me around.

For those that are unfamiliar with OGRE it is a very simple game in which the basic, classic scenario pits a single OGRE against a variety of opposition unit types. The victory conditions are very simple - the OGRE player has to destroy the enemy command post whilst the defenders have to stop the OGRE.

The OGRE is a self aware cyber tank armed like a battleship and able to engage multiple targets. The defenders have an array of power armoured infantry, heavy tanks, missile tanks, howitzers and G.E.V.

There have been a number of versions of the game and also some miniatures rules to support the metal models that were available to support them. These now command some high prices and so when Steve Jackson games launched a kick starter project to release the models in plastic I was highly delighted. I did not take part in the kick start project (I did not need to as it was funded very early on) but have finally gotten around to acquiring a set of the miniatures - and very nice they are indeed!

 
The classic OGRE - this is the Mark V version and is scaled for (roughly) 1/285th and comes in 9cm long!
 
OGRE is played on a hexed grid and whilst I have the current version of the game with the 3D card OGRE models (and very nice they look as well) I always wanted to tackle the game using models Given the size of the playing are used it would not be practical to use a hex that the models fit on - I am thinking Hexon here - so I am planning to use Hersoscape tiles to model the classis OGRE battlefield. Although the OGRE model above would take up two hexes Steve Jackson has already addressed this problem very early on in the games' history. Essentially the OGRE only occupies the leading hex and so all measurements for movement and firing are directed there. Using Hexon would be an option but it would take up too much room in the man cave so a smaller option would the preferred choice. As you can see from the picture below this is very much in the desert, post nuclear apocalyptic style of terrain so constructing something similar would also be useful for my planned WW2 desert adventures.
 
 
 
The classic OGRE battlefield. Later editions of the game included other terrain types - usually (as I recall) as an overlay.



 
The box set of miniatures are of course usable for other Sci Fi based games and I do not expect them to be solely used for OGRE. I will acquire the second set and can see myself buying more of them but for now I will content myself with what I have - and very nice it is as well.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




Finished at last....and a reward

Sadly that does not refer to any of my gaming projects - rather it is the grand bedroom swap that has been underway for the last three weekends.

I will not bore you with all the details but suffice it to say weekend one was buying all the material required and starting the furniture merry-go-round. Weekend two - the Easter long weekend - was the preparation, filling and decorating and finally, the weekend just gone, saw the newly acquired Ikea units assembled, the rooms organised the new occupants settling in.

Basically my son and daughter have swapped rooms and as a result of this I have gained a new table and an additional shelf for my storage units in the man cave whilst losing a small cupboard.

I am pleased we have finished it all and so it means I can get back to something like normality - especially some gaming related items that I simply have not had the time to do.

Mention of the small cupboard I lost and the table I gained in the man cave is quite significant because the cupboard (which is now in son's bedroom) has now taken quite of bit of 'stuff' out of its sister unit downstairs - the contents of which were my grandsons (it was his toy cupboard for when he visits). This means that I can move some of my modelling/painting kit downstairs so it is far more readily available.

The table I gained for the man cave will replace the 3ft by 2ft fold up table that I was using as a painting station but it was really a little on the small side. the foldable table will be relocated downstairs and used when needed for painting.

I am really pleased about the final outcome of all this household manoeuvring as I can, at last, get on with some stuff without having to decamp to the loft (domestic harmony of course being all important....). The man cave will of course continue to be the main point of storage for my stuff and the solo games I will be fighting.

The only other news I have is something I never thought I would do....

I AM GOING TO SALUTE....

(Well I deserve a treat for all the domestic upheaval of recent weeks!)

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Revisiting Rommel via Axis and Allies

 
A very nice set of rules and there is a whole heap of useful material available on the Sam Mustafa website


Way back in September of last year I acquired a copy of Rommel by Sam Mustafa. These are a grid-based operational level set of WW2 rules. At the time I was thinking about 3mm using the models produced by Tumbling Dice (of which I have supply lurking in the man cave) and half sized squares (in the rules they use 6" squares so a 6ft by 4ft table will be 8 x 12) - mainly because I already have some boards gridded up using 3" squares for my Portable Wargames.

Fast forward some six months (gosh, that went quickly!) and I am now knee deep in my Axis and Allies WW2 project that has given me rather a lot of 1:300th -1:285th scale tanks and artillery. These are quite basic and generic looking models (and by generic I mean that, for example, the Sherman looks like a Sherman but you would struggle to pin it down to a specific mark of that iconic tank) but they would work very nicely with Rommel using the smaller playing area.

I have yet to decide about infantry as originally for the Portable Wargame style games I envisaged using the appropriate units from my block armies but for Rommel figures would look better. I have a vast number of 20mm Axis and Allies 20mm figures that I want to use so may well dip into them.

Given the scale of the actions fought using Rommel a lot of low level detail is abstracted and this extends to equipment and weaponry. I have absolutely no problem with this and so using the Axis and Allies Boardgame pieces, as well as those available from Historical Boardgaming, means that I can get extra mileage out of the models above and beyond my planned Portable Wargame adventures.

Much to ponder methinks....





Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Historical Boardgaming and Axis and Allies

 
HMS Warspite from the Axis and Allies Pacific 2nd Edition game.


I have to say that I am very impressed with the service from Historical Boardgaming as the order I placed with them last week has arrived this morning!

If you recall I wanted to add some additional ships to the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine, simply because the available range from the various editions of Axis and Allies is very limited. I will be honest I was a little apprehensive about how the Historical Boardgame original pieces would compare with the Axis and Allies types but I needn't have worried, they are fine alongside each other and will mix in quite happily. I would say that the Historical Boardgaming pieces are probably more detailed but not outlandishly so.

The plastic used can best be described as a rigid polythene - very similar to that used in the pieces from the game Power by Spears Games - so will take painting and basing readily enough. I noticed that a couple of the KGVs have a little warp in the hull but I suspect that is nothing the old 'hot water bending technique' could not fix. In any event I am only planning to use 3 out of the 5 models.


The real thing entering the Grand Harbour of Malta during the 1930s. Note the aircraft recognition stripes on B turret - as I recall this was adopted during the period of the Spanish Civil War.


The tribal class destroyer is a nice model as is HMS Warspite - both of these are from the Axis and Allies Pacific game and are used to represent the ANZAC forces. The S class destroyer I already have and so the RN will have eight of each. The sole German destroyer is a Type 1934 Maas class although Historical Boardgaming do feature a Narvik class should I fancy some of them.

The biggest omission from the Axis and Allies ship range is that there are no light cruisers. Historical Boardgaming include a few but surprisingly none for the Royal Navy. I may look to do something about this in due course but for now I have sufficient material to give a number of interesting games.

One of the things that occurred to me was the option of using commercially available ranges to cover those ships not currently available. If there is something that I desperately need I could go down that route I suppose but if I am honest it kind of defeats the object of what I am attempting to do - namely produce a WW2 gaming set up using the contents from boardgames.

I now have all that I need to tackle the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine so no more excuses - on with the painting!

....And finish the rules naturally!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

The Challenge of my Naval

A KGV class battleship. These come in packs of 5 models for US$ 3.45 which is not too bad. I did not really need the whole class (there were of course 5 ships - KGV, Prince of Wales, Duke of York, Anson and Howe) but hey ho....


It has been a busy Easter weekend at Chez Crook - largely due to the decorating of one of the bedrooms. It was a straightforward enough job but as is the way with these things it was the preparation that took the time. It is now complete so all we are waiting on is the carpet and some furniture so that what passes for normality in our house can resume. As the weather was atrocious for the four days being inside was no great hardship!

As a result of the above I was not able to get much done hobby-wise although yesterday made up for it and so I spent most of the day in the man cave.

Apart from sorting out books, modelling material and some games I also managed to revisit the WW2 naval rules currently being drafted for use with the Axis and Allies models. In respect of the models I finally got around to working out what the scales are for the separate types - remember they have been produced to be virtually the same size across each type (roughly 5 to 6 cms). The most accurate in terms of scale - by which I means the closest to an 'actual' common scale - are the destroyers and come out as near as makes little difference to 1/2400th. The cruisers are around 1/3800th whilst the carriers and battleships are around 1/4200th. I am not fussed about the differences although the purist may take exception, then again if I was a purist I would not be using these models in the first place....

I placed a small order from Historical Boardgaming for a number of ships to round out the Royal Navy and the Kriegsmarine. The Royal Navy will be receiving the following:

1 x pack of KGV battleships (5 models in all)
4 x HMS Warspite
3 x S class destroyer
9 x Tribal class destroyer

The Germans will be receiving the following:

1 x pack of Graf Spee 'pocket battleships' (again, 5 models in all)

The packs referred to are the models produced by Historical Boardgaming for their Global Conflict series of games. This is a similar type of game to Axis and Allies and covers the period 1936 to 1945. there is a separate Spanish Civil War expansion and the company are currently play testing a version for 1861.

I was also able to spend some time looking at the rules I have been working on for the WW2 naval set up and as a result I have changed a couple of things.

The biggest change is that I have removed notional ship types from the rules. That's right, no more differences between cruisers, battleships and destroyers.

This is not as extreme as it seems and the rationale is quite simple. If you recall I was basing ship statistics around a base number with better or worse vessels gaining or losing a point - the old DBM 'superior' or 'inferior' mechanism. I was working on the basis that a typical battleship would be rated at 4, a cruiser at 3 and a destroyer at 2. I must confess that I found this to be a little restrictive in practise and so I am now experimenting with a system whereby each category a ship is rated in - protection, main, secondary, AA, torpedoes and speed - is assigned the appropriate value from a range of 1 to 6.

In reality this approach will mean that historical ship types will tend to polarise around certain values so the differences will be obvious.

Once the order has arrived the plan is to tackle the RN and the Germans first, followed by the Italians although these have yet to be ordered. As a quick fix I may well give the Germans some extra opposition in the shape of the Soviet Navy for a change whilst I am organising the Italians.

The big Pacific fleets will be tackled last of all as I need to get some additional ships as well as rather a lot of aircraft.

Monday, 26 March 2018

The Great Axis and Allies Sort Out

 
Axis and Allies - a game underway


I finally got the chance to sit down and sort out all the sets of Axis and Allies I own - together with a rather large selection recently acquired from Tim Gow of Megablitz and More fame. Tim had acquired a box full of Axis and Allies miniatures that were mixed and having no longer any need for the same offered them to your truly. An exchange was duly agreed and so the collection needing sorting consisted of the following:

1 x 2004 edition
2 x 1941 edition
1 x 1942 original version
1 x 1942 second edition

From Tim as near as I can tell the collection consisted of three sets. I think they are the following:

1 x Original Milton Bradley 1980s version (very generic models)
1 x D Day edition (contains some very useful bunkers and some P47 Thunderbolts)
1 x 1942 original version

Given that theses sets average around 370 pieces each (except for the two 1941 edition at 160 each) you can see the scale of the task.

I sorted all the pieces into national types and each nation was assigned a storage box, similar to those that the block armies reside in. I also made sure that national equipment stayed with its home nation. For example all of the Sumner and Fletcher class destroyers are stored with the US collection and the British have all the copies of HMS Hood.

There are numerous examples of types that I have more of than can reasonably used - HMS Hood being an example as I have 12 of them. The British also have rather a lot of Spitfires and four engine bombers - the Halifax mainly but also a dozen Lancaster bombers. The US P40 is a useful addition and will serve with the Russians and the RAF. The surfeit of single engine fighters is good because it means theatre specific paint jobs will be the order of the day. The main German tank is the Panther which is shame but again, there are sufficient to able to have fun with camouflage schemes. The good old Sherman will of course be used with the British and the Russians although they have plenty of 76mm armed T34 tanks. The Japanese tank looks like a dead ringer for a Panzer 38(t) so I suspect these may feature at some point.

I also have a huge amount of 20mm infantry for each of the combatant nations. These figures are typical of the national type so you have a jackbooted German, a Russian with a SMG and British infantryman in 8th Army shorts. The Japanese entry is looks suitably menacing with a fixed bayonet whilst the GI looks very 'Commando comic' with his rifle across his chest and advancing purposefully.

These could be readily used for a game and indeed, it would not be too much hassle to paint them. I intend doing this at some point but that is a project in itself as I would need to add support and vehicles etc to make full use of them. It is on the cards but I have no idea when as the first order of business remains the naval dimension.

For the present I have pretty much all that I need so the order to Historical Boardgames is a lot easier to organise. For the most part it is ships but I will also be adding in some land transport, trucks and similar. Other than that it is about as far as I need to go.

Many thanks once again to Tim Gow for thinking of me.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Finally facing my Waterloo....(Again!)

 
They came on in the same old style....


I blame that fellow Bob Cordery. No sooner had he posted on his blog - Wargaming Miscellany - about the 20th March being the anniversary of the start of the Hundred Days campaign in 1815 (coinciding with watching the film Waterloo again) than I thought to myself 'Wow! That is a good idea!' and duly downloaded my ITunes copy to watch on the train.

There is little to be said about the film and I am pretty sure I could not anything new to the general opinion of it among the wargaming fraternity.

It did jog a lot of very happy memories for me though - more so given my recent reorganisation of the man cave and my collections. I kept the 1815 section of my library intact and if pushed into corner would happily dabble in the period again in some fashion. My fondness for the campaign has been a constant companion over the years and whilst other periods have come and gone it has remained - lurking in the background for sure but always there.

Back in the day (early to mid 1970s) my British army for 1815 consisted of the following and was exclusively Airfix 20mm plastic figures:

1 x Guard battalion
2 x Highland battalions
4 x Line battalions
1 x Rifles battalion (converted line infantry)
1 x Brunswick Jager battalion (paint conversion from some Confederate infantry)

1 x Regiment of Heavy Dragoons (converted from French Cuirassiers)
1 x Hussar

2 x Foot batteries (gunners converted from line infantry)
1 x Horse battery

Originally the units were organised as per the Airfix Magazine Guide by Bruce Quarrie on the Napoleonic Wars so the guard and highland regiments were 30 figures and the other infantry were 20 strong. Cavalry were 12 figures and the artillery was a gun and four gunners. So, 222 foot, 30 mounted (including 6 mounted officers/general - again conversions) and three guns in total.

I fought many dramatic actions with these figures against my friends French Army but sadly there are no surviving photos.

I thought about the size of the forces I raised and am quite impressed with what I achieved - I also enjoyed the process as well - and so am a little disappointed with myself at my now legendary reluctance to paint anything organic. Who knows? Perhaps this minor foray into the recesses of my wargaming memory might galvanise me into some form of action - stranger things have happened....

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

"It was just my Imagi-nation (once again)....Running away with me...."*


 
FW 190 A3 in Turkish markings. This is my favourite German fighter of the war although I must confess to having a liking for the Me 109 G series....
 

* With apologies to any Motown fans....

I now have a lot of Axis and Allies game pieces. When I say a lot I mean around 7 sets worth so there is a prodigious amount of plastic to play around with. Initially I was looking at purely historical forces - meaning some acquisitions from Historical Boardgames to round out the naval forces was needed - and certainly these will feature but I was struck by the amount of material that would be, well, spare.

The solution came to hand quite unexpectedly and as is usual in these cases, I was left kicking myself as to why I had not thought about it previously.

Some while ago I had a brief flirtation with the Turkish army of WW2. I had notions of a scenario whereby the Turks had thrown in their lot with Germany and that a German 'Asia Korp' had been sent to bolster the Turkish Army and was engaged in the Caucasus. there was even a couple of blog posts on the subject as I recall.

Historically of course Turkey opted to remain neutral despite being courted by both the allies and the axis - she was simply not in a fit state economically to engage in a modern war.

The scenario I envisaged to a certain extent mirrored that of the Germans supporting the Italians in the desert and for sure, the advantages to Germany of having the Turks as allies would be many (and was probably why Churchill was so relieved with the Turks 'Ally friendly' neutrality). Although Germany supplied the Turks with some Panzers and aircraft - they really liked the FW190 - the government were able to keep them at arm's length for the duration of the war. Indeed the provision of the tanks mentioned - 56 Pzr 3 J/H and 14 Pzr 4 G - was accompanied by some none-too-subtle prompting during March to May 1943 for the Turks to attack Russia.

Had Turkey thrown in their lot with the Germans the effects could have been far reaching. To begin with the Russians would have a belligerent Turkey on and behind their Southern flank - launching an offensive to coincide with Operation Zitadelle - the Kursk operation. This would have forced the Soviets to keep substantial forces away from the main fight against the Germans. The British would have to ensure that sufficient forces were deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean to counter any potential Turkish moves in the Middle East. This in turn would have had an impact on the Western Mediterranean.

Luckily it never took place but what a 'what if?'

This leads me back to the opening paragraph in that I have an enormous amount of spare kit from the Axis and Allies sets I have been acquiring. A lot of this could be pressed into service to bolster the Turkish armed forces for operations against the Russians and indeed, the use of a German 'Asia Korp' alongside the better known 'Afrika Korp' means that the US supported British forces could be caught between the two.

The more I think about this the more interesting it seems.

Something to ponder methinks.

As a postscript to the supply of German material the Allies responded by shipping to Turkey 25 M4 tanks, 220 M3 tanks, 180 Valentines and 150 Mark 6 Light Tanks as well as a goodly selection of aircraft.

Turkey eventually threw in their lot with the allies and declared war on Germany in February 1945.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

The Look of the Thing

Whilst visiting Wayland Games for club night last Wednesday evening I had a little time before the denizens of SEEMs arrived. I was not stopping long - merely to catch up with Mr Fox - as a busy day at work and a few domestic issues meant that I was not really on top form. I wanted to show Mr Fox the Axis and Allies model of HMS Hood so he could see what they are like. You may recall seeing this in a previous post - it is a nice model albeit a little ‘heavy’ looking in respect of the top hamper - but I wanted an independent opinion.

Whilst waiting around I found myself (oh look - there I am....) next to a vaguely seascaped table that measured 6ft by 4ft so I decided to see just how the model looked from a scale perspective.


The Mighty ‘Ood’ in all its pre-painted plasticness.

The above was the close up whilst the following picture shows her deployed as though in an engagement. I wanted to see how this size of model would look on the tabletop and so I was pleasantly surprised to see that it looked OK. I have used 1/3000th scale ships over the years equally successfully - I am of course talking about the ‘look of the thing’ - and for me the key criteria is the illusion of distance. Using smaller models makes the distances look bigger somehow which serves to make the ‘abstractness’ more believable.



There she is once again.

I have pretty much all that I need for phase one of the Axis and Allies naval set up in respect of models - I have a small order going to Historical Boardgaming for some bits and pieces - and so now the real work of painting and finalising the rules can continue.

I am pleased though with my impromptu experiment because it has in many ways justified my decision about the models I am using.

Plenty more to do though!



Monday, 12 March 2018

Paul Hague: The Circle is now Complete....

 
The first edition of Paul Hague's series on naval wargames - and one of my favourite wargames books.

 
I would not call this a sequel - more like a themed collection of ideas that expand elements of the first edition.
 
 
I have owned the first edition of Paul Hague's Sea Battles in Miniature for some time now and indeed, have fought some cracking actions using the WW1 set back in the early 1980s. I had seen the follow up volume around but for one reason or another had never gotten around to adding it to my collection.
 
All that changed as a result of a phone call with Mr Fox a couple of weeks ago as he had a copy that was no longer required and would I care to take it off him? The deal was speedily concluded and so I am now the proud owner of a copy of Naval Wargaming.
 
There are some nice ideas contained in its pages - I like the dreadnought based damage section although it is wholly unsuitable for what I am currently developing as it is better suited to small scale actions. There is a submarine warfare section that looks interesting as well as a large scale ancient galley hex based set of rules and something for the large battles of the 17th century.
 
 
All in all then it was a pleasure to add this to the collection for completeness sake; my thanks to Mr Fox for thinking of me!



Sunday, 11 March 2018

Thoughts on Battleships

As mentioned in my previous post I am now the proud owner of rather a large number of HMS Hood models and also Kongo class battle cruisers. The former is actually a rather nice model although to my eye it looks a little heavy in the upper works. This is not a problem though as I am sure she will paint up nicely. It is a shame though that whilst the QE and R class battleships are available there is no KGV. Luckily there is one obtainable from Historical Boardgaming so I suspect my forthcoming order will include a few!


A Kongo class battle cruiser in the van closely followed by HMS Hood.

The Japanese navy in the Axis and Allies world is represented by the above (of which there were four) and the mighty Yamato. Based on an email exchange with Bob Cordery (and it is something I will check with my copy of Conway’s) I may be able to convert a Hood into a Nagato by replacing the bridge with the Pagoda from one of the Kongo. It is certainly something to think about and as long as the overall profile looks OK it will suffice.

I have plenty of Hoods to experiment with after all....



Friday, 9 March 2018

Axis and Allies: 1941

I took delivery yesterday of two copies of the Axis and Allies: 1941 WW2 strategic level board game as part of my WW2 project. These two are in addition to the original 2004 edition and the revised 1942 version. As usual I was only interested in the miniatures as I have planned many uses for these.

The 1941 edition of the Axis and Allies game is a hugely popular, almost introductory version of the game. It has been designed to an inexpensive version of the ‘fuller’ editions and so a number of cost cutting measures are in place. To begin with cardboard counters are used for the strength chips and the miniatures count is down at 160 rather than the 370 for the 1942 version. The choice of miniatures is also quite limited although they are all new sculpts (except for the infantry figures) not seen in other versions.

For the Allies (which are for the purposes of the game are the UK, USSR and the USA) their heavy bomber is the Lancaster, the fighter is the P40, the battleship is HMS Hood, the carrier is the Soviet unfinished ship with an unpronounceable name, the destroyer is the USS Sumner and the merchantman is a UK Fort class. For the armour they have a JS 2. For the Axis (being the German and Japanese) the heavy bomber is a Heinkel 111 and the fighter is the FW190. The battleship is a Kongo class and the carrier is the Akagi. The destroyer is an Akitzuki class and the merchantman is a generic ‘Maru’ type. Finally, the tank is a Tiger 1.


The selection of models. I have used the UK and Japanese colours as they tend to show up better in the photographs. Of course I forgot the carriers....The infantry figures are the same as for the other games in the series.

I have now acquired copies of the original 2004 edition, the 1942 set and the two 1941 copies. The extra bits I need I can get from Historical Boardgaming - this will be the Italians and the other ships and aircraft (from the two 1940 sets) and the all important transport models for the land forces. The models are OK and will for in nicely with the existing collection and the forces are coming together nicely.

The P40 is very useful as I can use it for the RAF in the desert and also for the Russians. The FW190 could, bu dint of some careful filing and painting could be used for some radial engined fighters from Russia and Japan. Some of the other fighters could also be converted in a similar way. The merchantmen are particularly useful and so AMCs and commerce raiders will feature in due course. Some of the other ships also lend themselves to conversions with the advantage that as they are fairly basic detail-wise any chopping about will not be so problematic.

So all in all then the project is taking shape nicely and I have a good selection of ships to be going along with. It would not be a problem adding some missing types from some commercial ranges - Navwar for one or perhaps C in C for 1/4800th scale models.

Best I get busy then....


Monday, 5 March 2018

WW2 At Sea in the Mediterranean

 
 
Helping to flesh out the naval section of my Mediterranean library. My 'new' copy was cheap but is ex library. I don't mind that but if I am honest I would not have bought it had it been described as such as I prefer normal copies rather than former library types. Picky I know but hey ho!


It never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to fall into the old wargaming trap of project creep. You know the thing - first a new set of rules and a modest shopping list, then something related pops up and before you know it the whole thing has grown way beyond what was originally intended.

I like to think I am a leading authority on this curious phenomena as I am constantly suffering from it! Take my recent acquisitions at Cavalier. One cannot think about combat in the desert in WW2 without considering the naval dimension. No problem there as I had already factored this in with the Axis and Allies ships available from Historical Boardgaming (they produce some of the additional RN types - I am thinking HMS Warspite - as well as the Italians) but I wanted some more information on the war at sea. To be accurate I wanted to refresh my memory as I used to game the theatre using the Axis and Allies: War at Sea collectable miniatures with Mr Fox, whom it must be said is partial to the odd Italian.

I can only assume that my copy is hiding in the same place as the two Conways that have vanished into the ether because I could not lay hands on it anywhere. Luckily EBay came to the rescue for the princely sum of £3.50 so I now have it back in the collection although I will look to get a tidier version in due course.

The Italians in Axis and Allies only feature as a separate power in the 1940 Europe edition (and the special Global version I believe) and the models available are as follows:

Littorio (BB)
Aquila (CV)
Zara (CA)
Soldati (DD)
Marconi (SS)

P108 (Bomber)
SM79 (Bomber/Torpedo Bomber)
C202 (Fighter)

75/32 (Field Gun)
M15/42 (Tank)

Again, the list is by no means definitive but it covers the basics and so will suffice to begin with.

Friday, 2 March 2018

The Rational Grid

 
For a fuller description of the types of grid that can used for wargames you could no better than to read Bob Cordery's book.

Work on the WW2 naval rules continues apace and I am close to being able to run a play test. I have a grid I shall use but it is not a square grid as such – rather it is an offset square grid as supplied with the Axis and Allies collectable miniatures game. As supplied the grid was too small to use with the models from the game (which are scaled at 1:1800th) and so back in the day I drew an offset square grid on a large sheet with 9” squares. It was ideal for use at the club and we fought many exciting actions on it with the larger models. Obviously this cloth would be too large for home use – at least for my home anyway - and so now it belongs to SEEMS. The maps that came with the original game I had laminated and still own. The squares are around 3 1/2” across and are perfect for use with the Axis and Allies ships I am currently working on.
 

 
Axis and Allies: War at Sea - the collectable miniatures game. The maps included are double sided but you get the idea of what I mean about the size of the map squares and the ships.
 

 

 
The usual 'brick wall' offset grid. From a perception thing it would appear to be well suited to the 'linear' age of warfare - primarily the horse and musket era.
 

 
Rotate the brick wall ninety degrees and the orientation of the grid changes. To me seems to more useful for the defence in depth approach of modern warfare.

 

 The offset square grid is an interesting beast for sure. There have been a number of blog posts about the advantages and disadvantages of various grids – Bob Cordery also covers their use in his Portable Wargame series of books – but I personally think the offset square grid has traditionally been the poor relation of the hexed and conventional square versions. I know that they have featured with some ancient naval rules and I seem to recall a set based on the Russian Civil War using the offset grid but that is about it (and I stand to be corrected). I believe that depending on you orientate the grid (horizontally or vertically) you can better represent the battlefield of your chosen period. I think that using such a grid horizontally (like a brick wall) suits the ‘linear’ or traditional horse and musket period very nicely whilst if you use the same thing vertically you appear to have a greater sense of depth and so would be better suited to the mechanised period. Another advantage of the offset square grid is the ease of making terrain based on the edges of the squares – it is easier to cut right angles than the sixty degree versions of the hexes! 

This is certainly something I will experiment with in due course but for now the WW2 naval must take priority.

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Alternatives to Hexon and Heroscape



Apologies for the poor quality picture as it was downloaded from the net. I have a pack of the 3" transfers acquired around 30 years ago.... 
 
Back in the 1980s I recall being strangely attracted to the possibilities of using a grid based gaming set up for my wargames. I seem to remember a set of Napoleonic rules I was flirting with that used a figure scale of 125:1 so battalions came in at around 5 or 6 figures that were designed with hexes in mind. The rules have long gone and I cannot remember what they were called but I remember buying them from the old Games Centre in London's West End (Hanway Street IIRC). They were an American rule set of that I am certain.

Anyway, to cut a long story short I purchased a couple of packs of the above (again, from the Games Centre - back in the days when Dave Ryan, Jon Sutherland and the late Joe Dever worked there) with the plan to 'hex' a couple of felt cloths. the version I purchased was the 3" size and the 25mm figures I wanted to use for the rules mentioned fitted perfectly. I had not thought about terrain at all but I did get a cloth - a 7 x 5 ft green felt one - done. The trick with the iron on transfer was all in the preparation in that you needed to pin the sheets together VERY carefully before ironing them. You also had to make sure the hexes lined up properly so there were no gaps present. After the success of the green cloth I tried a blue version but that went horribly wrong and so I scrapped it.

The green cloth has long gone but I kept the remaining pack and a half of the transfers for posterity. Fast forward to today and, assuming that that the print has not perished, I am going to reuse it.

Back in the day the transfers were pretty successful and the one thing I was worried about was the print itself  'cracking' when the cloth was folded. Luckily it never did but I am mindful of the fact that as they are the age they are this might be an issue. At the time I used a 7 x 5ft cloth so that I could place hills underneath it so that the hexes forming the hills were obvious - it worked pretty well with the advantage that the cloth could also be used on its non hexed side.

The plan now is to use a smaller playing area - no bigger than 4 x 3ft - so I shall take a look at my cloth supplies to see what works best. At this stage I am looking at covering three small cloths - green, sand and blue - so there should be plenty left over to cover them with. I need to experiment first of all given the age of the transfers although they are still available (at least the 1" hex version is) from Noble Knight games in the US of A.



Sunday, 25 February 2018

Cavalier - The Gift that keeps on giving....


Not a spur of the moment thing - at least the rules were not - and the two books complete complete a trilogy with a similar title that covers naval operations in the Mediterranean. There is a good deal of information to be gleaned from official reports from the commanders in the field so to speak which helps to gain a greater insight into what took place and why.

It is the last weekend in February which can only mean one thing - the Cavalier show in Tonbridge, Kent. I always enjoy this show for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is the first show of the season for me (well the first that I would go to!), secondly, it is not too huge so you have a reasonable chance of seeing everything and finally, it is actually not a bad hour or so drive to get there. It is also a chance to catch up with old friends and to ‘splash the cash’ if required.

I spent the early part of the show helping Dave Lanchester of Dave Lanchester Military Books and his wife Lynne setting up their stall - which seemed to be doing a roaring trade by mid morning. I parted with some cash whilst here in support of a cunning plan I am working - more of which later. I was able to meet up with a number of the ‘Blogeratti’ so to speak - mainly Postie’s Rejects in the shape of Postie, Big Lee and Ray, all of whom were on top form. I also caught up with Henry Hyde in order to thank him for something that will feature in his forthcoming 18th century ‘not quite India’ campaign. You will have to wait and see what it is in due course.

The games were many and varied and the one that really caught my eye was the 54mm Portable Wargame - it looked very stylised but was quite superb and it has certainly given me something else to think about. SEEMS put on a Tanks! Game with some very nice looking models. The redoubtable Mr Fox was busy keeping this in order. There was a nice WW2 aerial game with a table mat of the Grand Harbour in Malta using the Check Your 6! Rules - these are a set I would like to try at some point although I really enjoy Axis and Allies: Angels 20. Another game that caught my eye was a representation of the Zeebrugge Raid with a very nice model of HMS Vindictive around four feet long!

The Bring and Buy was very busy with the crowds three or four deep. There were some interesting bits and pieces up for grabs but nothing that I wanted to fight through the crowds for. 

The Battlegroup rules and series of campaign specific supplements are well known and very popular. They are designed for both 15 and 20mm models but could readily be adapted for other scales. I have always had a soft spot for the war in Africa and given the fact that I am also looking at WW1 in the desert as well there are some practical advantages in respect of terrain acquisition and such like. Besides, I am not entirely divorced from the idea of making some kits for the period. It would be fairly low level, perhaps a troop a side with a modest amount of support - even I could tackle that. It would certainly make a nice alternative to the larger and more operational scale of games I am planning.

The two books are a two part set covering the official reports and dispatches from the various commanders in the Mediterranean theatre. The reports cover everything from the war against the Italians through to the arrival of the Africa Korps  and the great battles of Rommel. They also cover Crete, Tunisia and Operation Torch. There is a lot of information contained in these books and they are a valuable resource to get a fuller understanding of what happened and why. Being official reports they are somewhat dry so next I will look to get something a little more narrative in nature.

I must apologise for the lack of show photos  - I took some on my phone but they did not come out very well so I did not bother uploading them. I expect that a good few will surface on various blogs in due course.