Friday 28 June 2019

Thoughts on Three Cuban Wars

Cuban Cavalry (more accurately mounted infantry) charging with their fearsome Machetes. The Machete has almost iconic status in Cuban history but the reality is that whilst they were widely used and were very useful for hacking through rough terrain (and indeed are still in use on the farms we saw) their combat value was small although psychologically they would put the fear of God into raw Spanish infantry!

Before our recent trip to Cuba and, as is my custom when travelling abroad, I had a quick look at the island from the perspective of potential gaming projects. Naturally my initial thoughts headed towards the Spanish American War but after some casual Google trawling I came up with some other bits and pieces.

In recent years of course Fidel Castro features prominently - the revolution would make for some interesting guerrilla style games or even a Portable Wargame style mini-campaign - but is was the earlier wars starting in 1868 that really caught my eye. The Cuban War of  Independence 1895 to 1898 (remember the Americans only arrived for the final phase of the conflict) also has much potential and featured a number of commanders that served in the previous 1868 Ten Year's War and the following 1879 'Little War'.

I noticed whilst catching up on blog posts that an enterprising gamer has already thought about the Ten Years' War and has raised a Cuban force using converted Perry ACW figures which look quite superb. Glenn's Wargaming Blog also feature a set of rules designed specifically for the period which look very interesting.

The above conflicts feature all the usual elements of Colonial gaming - raids, ambushes, punitive expeditions and so would be ideal for the Portable Wargame or Rebels and Patriots/The Men Who Would Be Kings.

Something to look at in a small way.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

The Return of Our Man in Havana

A rather colourful 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air (with a Hyundai engine!) which we hired complete with a driver for the day. The air conditioning was very welcome in the 40 degree heat

Hola Amigos! I am writing this after having been travelling for some 18 hours or so with a 5 hour time difference so apologies in advance for the somewhat haphazard nature of the post.

I enjoyed Our Man in Havana (the film is up next, starring Obi Wan, sorry, I meant of course Alec Guiness). Sadly the Panama hat did not survive the holiday

Laurel and I have just returned from a quite wonderful two weeks in Cuba, staying at a place called Guardalavaca which is part of the Holguin province. There was not a great deal of obvious material for the blog although I was rather taken with the idea of pirates and the 1868 revolt against Spain - of which there was a very small museum in Holguin city itself that we visited (sadly no pictures but the highlight was a 42mm Hotchkiss gun dated from the Spanish American War). There was also the rather surprising physical similarity of the terrain and coastal region with much of Ian Fleming's Caribbean based James Bond Stories.

Bird pest control Cuban style. I was reminded of the quote attributed to the Duke of Wellington when asked by Queen Victoria about how to deal with bird pests at the Great Exhibition - "Sparrow hawks Ma'am"

I have acquired rather a taste for one of Coba's best known exports - not cigars but Rum. We were told all about the Bacardi story but Cuba had the last laugh in this respect as they still make certain Rums using the old Bacardi equipment and recipe. It is just as good, if not better and a whole lot cheaper! There are two main beers we encountered of I much preferred the stronger variety.

Some of the hotel Rum selection - the Red Bull would be needed to cope with the routine double shifts that many of the bar staff work

Cristal is the island mainstay but I really preferred the stronger Bucanero

We did not go to Havana as it was a 10 hour road trip or a two hour £800 trip away but make no mistake, we will go back to Cuba at some point - even after Laurel discovered that her favourite bottle of perfume had been taken from the suitcase on our way home....

The obligatory beach shot and no, that is not yours truly on the right....(my attempt at emerging from the sea, Daniel Craig style was not hugely successful....)

Once the jet lag has evened itself out I will post about the gaming ideas I came up with whilst we were away but for now something to eat and a catch up with life in the real world.

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.