Monday, 10 June 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 32

One lover Ray and Dave from the legendary Postie's Rejects with their quite superb Battle of Killiecrankie 1689 game in 15mm. Ray produced the figures (by Essex) for both sides and they looked quite superb.

Rather a large Sitrep this week for a couple of reasons. To begin with there is a lot to tell and also because I am going to away for a couple of weeks as SWMBO and I are heading to Cuba.

Yesterday, the 9th of June, saw yours truly in attendance at Broadside in Sittingbourne in Kent. Regular readers of the blog will no doubt recall my usual modus operandi at the shows I attend - I tend to arrive early to help Dave Lanchester set up his secondhand book stall (he usually takes money off me as well - and yesterday was no exception!) and am usually heading for home early afternoon. Yesterday was a little different in that I had a lot of 'business' to attend to so my visit ended around 11:30. For business read 'selling and passing on bits and pieces and collecting a couple of pre-orders'.

This was speedily concluded and so I was able to chat to a few people - gamers, traders and bloggers - and also to conduct a brisk tour of the trade stands.

Courtesy of the Foundry stand - one of two sets of rules I purchsed from them for £5 a volume with the other being....

....specifically devoted to the Greek Myths.

I have been after this edition of Paddy Griffith's book for an age and that very nice Mr Lanchester duly obliged with a copy.

A 1:1200th scale Russian Village produced by Brigade Models and the redoubtable Tony Francis (who also prints my flags for me!).

The two rules sets were acquired for some ideas I have had kicking around and I suspect that of the two it is the only the Greek version that will be used at intended. For £5 each though it hardly caused the wallet to wince! The Griffith title has come at a very opportune time in respect of my ACW project so is a very welcome addition indeed. The Russian village has been earmarked for something Rommel/Memoir 44/Portable Wargame related.

As far as the games on show were concerned I can only apologise for not taking more pictures that the one of Killiecrankie - that was before the show opened - but I simply did not have the time. The show got very crowded quite early on which would have made it tricky (at least for me with a phone). I was disappointed not to get any shots of Messrs. Fox and Harbron of SEEMS running a Zulu Wars 'The Men Who Would Be Kings' game with everything being provided by the aforementioned Mr. Fox. The game was being set up when I embarked on my travels and when I returned the first Zulu Impi had taken a devastating volley judging by the number of empty spaces on the unit base!

As is usually the way at wargames shows I was lucky enough to be able to meet with and speak to a number of the 'Blogeratti' with a special mention to both Bob Cordery And Ray Rousell for the lengthy chats we had and also to Big Lee and Tamsin. Lee was telling me all about his plans for his 6mm armies and so i shall be following these with great interest.

It was a flying visit to be sure but I am very pleased I went. the show seemed to have a lot more visitors than previously although I have not been for the last three or four years due to usually being on holiday. It is hoped that the success of the day will encourage the organisers to repeat the show in future years.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

We are where we are....

Command and Colours in space

One of the things that was very much on my 'to do' list during the lull in the great disposal was for me to reacquaint myself with my project pile. In many ways it was a case of saying hello to some old friends and goodbye to some others but it was a job worth doing. It has been some 6 months or so since I was able to do anything meaningful for myself - not that I have minded - and the time away has certainly given me plenty of opportunity to think about things.

The 'main event' for this year will be the 30mm Spencer Smith ACW project, loosely based on Kurz and Allison. The land element of this is actually well in hand for reasons that will appear in a post in due course so I shall be looking to the naval side upon my return from holiday. The figures for this project will mirror the contents of the Avalon Hill/Hasbro Command and Colours ACW game of Battle Cry so each side will have 40 infantry, 9 cavalry, 3 mounted commanders and 3 guns each with two gun crew. These will be based individually and are all painted in flat, gloss colours with plain painted bases. In short, 'old school shiny'.

For the most part the rules I will be using with these will be hex or square based (Command and Colours, the Portable Wargame or even MoB) although I will have the option to use A Gentlemen's War or even Rebels and Patriots on the tabletop. I plan to add to the collection in due course, albeit in a modest way.

The supporting case of 'side hustles' is a mixed bag but all of which have the advantage of being virtually fully resourced. These include the following:

ACW naval
WW1 naval - Avalon Hill Jutland or 1:2400th models
WW2 naval - Avalon Hill Bismarck or 1:4800th models
Red Alert - Command and Colours in space
The Great War/Rommel/Memoir 44/Portable Wargame WW2
WW1 Aerial - Avalon Hill Richthofen's War

The last three of the above can be readily satisfied in the short term simply by playing them straight out of the box although I am keen to 'model' them at some point. At a push I could also game the WW1 and 2 naval straight from the box using Jutland and the assorted variants I have and Bismarck.

There are some other bits and pieces but these have been consigned to the back burner as the above is really the most likely to be tackled in some fashion. I have deliberately kept the list quite tight and with as much boardgame overlap as possible so at least in the absence of models I can still enjoy a game or two.

Monday, 3 June 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 31

Indeed it does....

A productive week for sure. The grand sort out of the man cave is underway and the crates of Eric's figures have been condensed down into 8 from the original 18. This has been a massive piece of work and though I say so myself I am quite pleased with the results to date. Full half of what is left is Minifigs with the remainder being a mix of Essex, Dixon, Hinchliffe and others. Eric's WW2 and other collections will be up next but that will not be until the middle of July.

Not what you would usually find on this blog but never say never....(and at £1 for the hardback version to good to turn down!)

Yesterday SWMBO and I, accompanied by my daughter, headed out to our local boot sale where I acquired a pristine hardback copy of the above. If I am honest the pickings at out local boot sale have been slim recently as more and more traders seem to be appearing there. This is a common phenomena as when a boot sale becomes more and more popular so more and more traders move in which in turn squeezes out the private sellers. Eventually what was a great boot sale turns into a rather poor quality market.

I have little interest in the above which seems like a kind of cross between Warhammer and Battletech but I know that the local Wayland games supports it and there is also at least one gamer I know of from the club. As is usual with these things I tend to offer it up for sale at the club for what I paid for it and if there are no takers then eBay it is.

The Spencer Smith 30mm ACW Kurz and Allison project has had a major shot in the arm which will feature in a later post. Suffice it to say I have had a lot of time saved for me which means I can move on to the naval part of the proceedings. You may recall I am planning on making around a dozen or so ships which will be larger than the previous models. I am also making some of these dual purpose so they can be readily used by either side by the simple expedient of changing the flag.

I am going to invest in a hexed battle mat rather than Hexon although with the hexes a similar size (4" across the flat sides). I plan to get three in total - one for sea games, one for desert and one for a generic farmland set up. Expensive but easier to set up and set down.

The only other thing that happened this week was of course preparing for Broadside in Sittingbourne, Kent next weekend. I shall be making my usual flying visit with books and figures in tow and am looking forward to catching up with friends old and new.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The Weekly Sitrep....Number 30

I have often started the Sitrep with the phrase 'It has been a busy week/weekend (delete as applicable)' but the last seven days have been exceptionally so! To begin with I have finally packed and posted the last of the Front Rank/Foundry 25mm late 17th and 18th century figures from Eric's collection as well as some of the Minifigs Seven Years War and ECW figures. A large number of Essex, Dixon and Hinchliffe Turkish and Polish figures are also heading out the door - some 18 Kg of unpainted metal! I reckon I have accounted for just under half the figures which is pretty good going and, as mentioned previously, I am now looking forward to having a tidy up in the man cave and to be able to catch up on some of my own bits and pieces.

On Sunday SWMBO and I undertook our annual boot sale which was reasonably successful although it seemed like a lot of hard work this year as we were both feeling it the next day, as well as getting a light dusting of sunburn!

Broadside, the wargames show organised by the Milton Hundred Wargames Club and held at Sittingbourne in Kent, is in a couple of weeks (09/06 to be exact) and I am looking forward to going this. I enjoy this show but have missed it in recent years as it has coincided with my holiday. This year we are going after the show - two days to be exact - so it is a win, win as far as I can see! I do not have a shopping list for the show but I will have a modest war chest to use. I suspect that Dave Lanchester and his marvellous book stall will see some of it as he usually does!

Without a doubt the biggest news of my week was taking delivery of some painted Spencer Smith ACW figures from Bob the Old Painter and so making plans involving these wonderful figures has assumed a far more prominent place in the project list. I even went so far as to buy a pack of large sized craft sticks to jig some figures up with - painting figures? Me? Whatever next....?

In the interests of getting a gaming played I have been looking long and hard at my Memoir 44 collection to achieve this. I would not use the Memoir 44 rules for this although I would certainly make use of the scenarios. I suspect that the Portable Wargame will feature and the plan is to tackle something at the weekend. I rather fancy taking a look at the 1941 Crete campaign file I have downloaded. Then of course there is also the Vercours Campaign of 1944 as another option.

I noticed that Dan Mersey of the hugely popular 'Rampant' series of rules is working on a Sci-Fi set which is great news and will give me a chance to dust off some suitable bits and pieces I have lurking around - more of which in a future post.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

The Largesse of Wargamers

The Union Infantry and their mounted commander. Apologies for the poor quality of the pictures as the light was not as strong as I thought!

The Zouaves. Repainting the baggy trousers with a blue and white stripe will be sufficient to pass muster for the Tigers methinks although the headgear is a little awry.

The Confederate Infantry, Mounted Commander and the Cavalry.

The painted plastic contingent.

The unpainted plastic contingent

In my experience most wargamers are a generous lot. I am quite sure that any reader of this blog has at one time or another either given or received something of interest - usually as the result of a particular project lying forgotten and unloved in the dark recesses of a cupboard somewhere. We have all been there at some point.

So it was that a chance remark set in chain the motion of events that led to yours truly taking delivery of the the material you see in the pictures above.

The figures are all Spencer Smith 30mm ACW figures and the collection consists of the following:

Metal figures

1 x Union infantry regiment of 20 figures (painted and based)
1 x Confederate infantry regiment of 20 figures (painted  and based)
1 x Zouave infantry regiment of 20 figures (painted)
1 x Confederate cavalry regiment of 6 figures (painted)
1 x Union General
1 x Confederate General
2 x Cannon (semi painted)
3 x Confederate gunners (painted)
3 x Union gunners (semi painted)

Plastic figures (yes, that is correct - PLASTIC Spencer Smith figures!)

20 x Confederate infantry (plastic, painted)
43 x Infantry in kepi (plastic, unpainted)

On many levels this is an incredible piece of good fortune. The painted portion of the collection (and I am not including the plastics in this) could easily be used for something Portable Wargame related with a little tweak here and there. The first thing would be to rebase the figures and also to repaint the the bases themselves. I will also need to finish the paint jobs on the on the two guns and the Union gun crew. I will also tweak a couple of paint jobs so 3 of the cavalry may well become Union troopers and half of the Zouave unit will become Confederate - the Louisiana Tigers probably. It would not take too much work to get the figures to Kurz and Allison standard which is another area I will need to take a closer look at.

Working on the 4 figure infantry, 3 figure cavalry and 2 gunners and a gun Command and Colours type standard unit sizes means that I could, with a little work have a force for each side of 7 x 4 figure infantry (5 infantry and 2 Zouave), 1 x 3 figure cavalry unit, a mounted General and a gun with two crew. Now an army of 9 units and a general is a little on the small size, even by my standards, so adding to the collection to bring it up to the strength I planned would not be too problematic as I have the figures already and the painting style is EXACTLY the look I am aiming for.

One thing that has really struck me whilst experimenting with various permutations of organisation and basing etc is the fact that using armies of the scale and size I am planning is absolutely fine. I realise that seems like rather a strange comment given my fondness for the Command and Colours and the Portable Wargame ‘one figure equals one strength point’ standard but seeing it as part of one’s own collection gives the concept a degree of ‘realness’. In my case it means the system I have invested so much in (not specifically in monetary terms) looks absolutely perfect for my needs and so I can embark on my planned small scale armies with a clear conscience. They look the part in every respect.

The gentleman responsible for this much appreciated piece of generosity is none other than Bob the Old Painter to whom I must extend my most grateful thanks. Bob and I have never met personally (although should that ever happen the beers will certainly be on me!) and our contact has been via our respective blogs, emails and more latterly the odd phone call. Bob is proper ‘Old School’ in his wargaming and if you take a look at his blog you will see what he has been up to recently - including painting some very nice Seven Years War Minifigs British Infantry. I wonder where he got those from?

In many ways the receipt of these figures has, for me, served to close a theoretical door and opened a practical one - and the possibilities are enormous.

So once again many thanks to Bob the Old Painter for this quite wonderful and hugely inspiring gift!

Friday, 24 May 2019

U Turn? Moi? A Marlburian Reverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

For God and Kaiser

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

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

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

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

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

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