Sunday, 17 November 2019

Pining for Georgia

Bargain of the day - 8 trees for a pound in two sizes. They are around 7mm thick with the ruler alongside for scale.

Today could have been one of frustration - I will not bore you with the details - but for a pleasing win courtesy of the Works. SWMBO and I headed off to Basildon for some bits and pieces - mainly Christmas related but with a built in browse around as well - and as is my custom when over there I always make a point of stopping in the Works. There was little on the book front to tempt me but I a quick glance at the arts and crafts section led me to the packet above.

The big trees are 6cm whilst their smaller brethren are 3cm. Both are the same thickness - 7mm. For my Spencer Smith project these are ideal (I purchased 5 packs but probably should have gotten some more - I will try the Rayleigh branch (no pun intended!) to get another 3 packs methinks.

I wanted 2D trees as the table footprint is minimal which is an important consideration when using a grid. I am in two minds about how to base these. I am tempted to use the idea below with four trees on a 4” by 1” deep base for some of them and to also to base a few up individually. The advantage of this idea is that the base could be deployed along the grid side nearest the enemy meaning that any troops deployed in the square would be largely invisible to the enemy thereby providing an element of ‘the fog of war’. The individual trees could be used to add a little local colour rather than representing wooded or forested areas.

Rebels lurking in a wood of good Georgia Pine

Obviously the trees will need painting but even for me these should be pretty straightforward. All I need to do now is to get some similarly styled buildings, again with the 2D idea in mind, and work on the scenic aspect of my ACW project will really move along.

I am sure that the purist will point out that the Georgia Pine does not really look like a Christmas tree but such things do not bother me and in any event, these will also work well for the Russian Front!

Saturday, 16 November 2019

American Civil War Afloat

Published by the Naval Institute Press ISBN 1-59114-882-0

I reckon that for now I have pretty much all the material I need for the naval side of my ACW project. In addition to a couple of titles on the ships and the two volumes by Jack Coombe (Thunder along the Mississippi and Gunfire Around the Gulf) there are also some sections contained in Battles and Leaders and a number of Osprey titles. There is also the Kindle based Gulf and Inland Waters by Mahan - available for free from Project Gutenberg - which is a good read.

Despite all of that I was missing a good overall history of the naval side of the Civil War so when I spotted the above I figured it would be a good way to address this. I can safely say I was not wrong as this book is really rather good.

To give you a flavour here are the contents.

1. The Union and Confederate Navies: Organisation, Personnel and Shipboard Life
2. Resources, Facilities, Warships and Naval Ordnance
3. Union and Confederate Naval Strategies and the Start of the War
4. The Blockade and Early Atlantic Coastal Operations
5. Early Union Riverine Warfare in the West
6. The First Clash of Ironclads
7. Union Operations on the Lower Mississippi: The Capture of New Orleans
8. Union Riverine Warfare Continued: Vicksburg
9. Union Operations against Charleston 1863
10. Unconventional Weapons: The Torpedo and The Submarine
11. The Commerce Raiders
12. The Red River Campaign
13. The End of the War: Coastal Operations
14. Conclusion

There are also notes, a glossary and an extensive bibliography to support the above which is always useful. As a one volume overview of naval warfare in the American Civil War this certainly ticks all the boxes.

There are a couple of other titles it would be handy to include in the naval section of my ACW library  but for now I have more than sufficient to be going on with. I have the models I need and merely need a single packet of MDF bases (currently on order) to crack on with the painting. As far as rules go I have a number of options to explore - some old friends with some newer stuff and the odd homegrown option.

This will be a lot of fun.

Friday, 15 November 2019

WW1 in the Middle East

Sand, camels, palm trees, Arabs, Aussies, lots of cavalry (including yeomanry), armoured cars, biplanes and THAT film, not to mention the Lighthorsemen....What’s not to like? 

The Great War in the Middle East and the Mediterranean has long been of interest, specifically the two Arab revolts - that of the Senussi early in the war and that of the Bedouin Arabs in the latter part. For the wargamer both theatres have much to commend them. The forces involved tend to be small in size and there is colour aplenty in the shape of the tribal armies. These are important considerations for the time and cash poor wargamer with a taste for the exotic!  Although the two revolts have taken up much research time for me over the years the one area that I did not really get into in quite the same way was of course the main focus of the war in the area -  the Turkish attempts on the Suez Canal and the subsequent Allied push to Jerusalem. I freely admit to ‘dabbling on the periphery’ of this in so much as where the main event impacted on the sideshows and indeed, a number of years ago I purchased a collection in 20mm geared very much towards the same. I was always diverted away though by the exploits of Peter O’Toole, I mean Lawrence of Arabia, so the ‘big show’ never really captured the imagination to quite the same extent. Inevitably the collection was broken up and sold on.

I came across the above titles during one of my occasional rambles over the internet and with the pressing need to satisfy the knowledge gap for Portable Wargame reasons providing the flimsiest of justification, I promptly snapped them up.

Over the two volumes the books cover the war from 1914 to 1917 (one wonders if there will be a third volume) and feature a lot of very useful material. There are maps and orders of battle and a nice selection of photographs. For me the big attraction of these tow books is that they tackle the war in the region as a whole rather than as separate entities. One of the points that cropped up was the fact hat the Senussi revolt featured tribesmen supported by Turks against the Imperial forces whilst in Arabia it was tribesmen supported by Imperial forces against the Turks. I shall enjoy reading these two titles and indeed in some ways it will help with my projected Indian Ocean campaign. 

Now here is the thing. I own two unpainted Irregular Miniatures Portable Wargame sized forces - one Turkish and one Arab - that would certainly suffice for the Arab Revolt. I would want to add some specialist units to the Arabs - French artillery, British machine guns and armoured cars and possibly some air support for both sides - but the set up is pretty much OK as is in the short term. I am now of the opinion that sticking solely with the Revolt may be a little shortsighted in the long term. In a nutshell the Revolt was one of raids and sabotage which makes for some great wargame scenarios but I am not convinced that such actions would maintain sufficient interest over time. With this in mind I will need to raise a 15mm Imperial force to include yeomanry cavalry, Australians and armoured cars. This would enable me to fight in a number of ways as each force would be able to fight any of the other forces (as they did historically if one is not to picky about the Arabs being used) and in the case of the Arabs even amongst themselves. It would give me a lot more flexibility for sure.

Time to start looking at catalogues again methinks....

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Solving a Hexagonal Dilemma

A Plastic Quilting Hexagon Template. The bold lines feature a hole on each angle to mark the material with a pen.

After the success of my brainwave of adding a square grid to half a Games Workshop gaming mat my thoughts turned naturally to doing the same thing with the other half but using hexes. This was going to be potentially a whole new world of pain to produce and so my thoughts have been directed to all manner of DIY solutions. I was doing some Google Fu on the subject when I came across the above item that is used by the quilting fraternity.

The above clear plastic template enable the user to plot the angles of hexagons from 1" across the flat side up to 5". This is an ingenious device that, for the price of a cup of coffee, is going to save me a lot of hassle. All I would need to do is to plot the hex angles and then simply join the dots. It will mean a much tidier finish and also I will be marking out lines in a far more controllable fashion.

The points on the mat will be marked quite finely but the lines will be thicker. One could even just make the points bolder and dispense with lines altogether but that is an option I will not be using as it does not bother seeing grid lines.

My template is on order so as soon as it arrives I can get to work. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

My Terrain of Thought

An old picture of the mark 2 block armies - the interim set. I have used the Town in a Bag buildings on many occasions but will need something a little larger to go with the 30mm collection. I have always liked the style of these buildings so something similar but larger would be ideal for my purposes (and also vaguely American looking although the church is not too bad!).

Now that I have settled on the grid size to use with the ACW collection I am at last in a position to think about suitable terrain. This will be very much from the ground up (not sure if that qualifies as a particularly bad pun….) and includes just about everything – buildings, trees, hedges, walls/fences, hills, roads and rivers. I will also need to consider fieldworks.

In keeping with the whole ‘old school’ look I am planning to tackle as much of  this on a DIY basis if I can. This is really going to take me back to my early days in the hobby and to be honest, I am rather looking forward to it. I am leaning towards using a 2D/3D approach for buildings and woods so that the grid square has stylised 2D images around the perimeter so that troops can be deployed on the inside. This will be important as I want to avoid the huge table footprint that ‘scale’ models have. In effect these areas will be almost cartoon like. Linear obstacles – hedges, fences and walls or barricades (including mealie bags) - can be to scale.

I am rather looking forward to this part of the project as it will give me the opportunity to complement the look of the figures that Old Painter Bob has painted for me. This will mean a homemade and old school look about things so expect to see craft sticks of assorted sized, green scouring cloths, sandpaper, foam board and other odds and ends in use!

This is the second post I have written with the same title as follows:


but much of what I was thinking about in respect of the terrain to go with my block armies is equally applicable to my 30mm ACW project (and is equally applicable to my next 'old school' adventure).

Sunday, 10 November 2019

On The Grid

In all its glory - my new 4ft x 3ft square grid playing mat

It has been a busy weekend with the domestic round but I was able to solve a rather pressing problem. I have mentioned about about my grid dilemmas, rather I have mentioned about the size of the grid areas themselves and also whether or not to go squared or hexed. I looked at some commercially available mats and the cost was sufficient to give one careful food for thought.  I am happy to say that I have solved the problem in a rather novel way.

A couple of years ago, as the result of one of his occasional reorganisations, I was gifted a couple of vinyl Games Workshop gaming mats by Bob Cordery. There was a green mat and a sand, desert version. These were sized at a shade over 6ft x 4ft. I could have used these as they are but I decided that as my ideal playing area is 4ft x 3ft that it would be an idea to cut them in half and grid one of them.

If there are any Games Workshop disciples reading this then apologies for this apparent act of desecration....

The Letraset pen I used - the pointed cap covers the pointed end whilst the flat cap covers the chiselled end

Some time ago (about three years as I recall, maybe longer) I purchased as couple of high quality permanent marker pens made by Letraset from a local art shop. These are double ended - a broad chisel end and a fine point - and come from quite a large range of colours. I have used them for a couple of things but today was their biggest test yet. The forest green pen I used to grid the 4ft x 3ft mat with 4” squares giving me a 12 x 9 playing area.

I am really pleased I did this - I may even hex the the other half - and using a 4” square with the 30mm figures is perfect. I can deploy a 4 figure infantry unit in line within a square and the whole look is far less crowded than using the 3” version (I shall use that with 15mm figures).

I can now start planning terrain pieces to go with this set up but for now I will need to improvise. I have a couple of novel ideas for this which will feature in a later post.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

A Barbary Interlude

Part of my research into the naval side of the war of 1812 touched on the Americans and their wars against the Barbary Coast. Naturally the prospect of anything touching on the Ottoman Empire or the constituent parts of it was always going to be of interest and so my research led me to acquiring a copy of the above title.

The story of the Karamanlis family, that threw off the Ottoman yoke and were the rulers of what is now Libya for some 120 odd years, is one of intrigue, internal and external conflicts and the latter included Britain, France and the USA. The armed forces of the Karamanlis were paid for by piracy, slavery, bribery, extortion and all manner of dubious practices and the story was enriched by The appearance of some colourful characters that could have been straight out of a pantomime.

I have only just started reading this but already the creative juices are flowing. I reckon there is plenty of scope for all manner of punitive expeditions, combined operations, raids and similar. The naval side would feature the usual low level stuff - frigates, brigs, sloops etc whilst such things as Xebecs make an appearance - both sail and oared varieties.

I have already decided that the naval side will again in 1:2400th and this ‘sideshow of a sideshow’ represents a minor addition to the 1812 collection. Tumbling Dice produce all the models I would need so as is usual, all I need is a slot in the project list.