Friday 31 January 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 6

A mounted Prussian commander sans the 40mm by 20mm MDF base he was originally on. He will soon be acquainted with his new 50mm by 25mm pill shaped base.

After a pretty grim week I am at last (I think) feeling a little more with it. The cough is still there and the throat is a little sore but not as angry as earlier in the week. I still ache and am a little feverish but I reckon I am on the mend. I certainly feel a little better in myself.

The chap you see above is one of the first figures I have removed from their MDF base following an overnight soak. The two units I had in soak were based one on card and the other on MDF. The cardboard bases come away far more easily as you would expect but the MDF is a slightly more tricky proposition. I found that after its soaking the MDF tended to peel away in layers which is fine. I will need to careful though and remember to bend the base and not the figure. For those figures that had flock applied I will need to use something like an old toothbrush or one of those small inter dental brushes - especially for the cavalry - and again, exercise a degree of caution.

I am not going to rush this part of the process and am expecting to spend several months on it. I shall also be attending to any minor repairs and addressing the modest paint conversions I am planning.

On a separate note

There are a number of friends that read the blog that are currently awaiting parcels from yours truly. To these stalwart denizens I can only apologise for the delay but I am confident that normal service will be resumed shortly so many thanks for your patience during my illness.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 5

The first of the collection in soak to get the bases off. Prussian Dragoons and command. I have a further 14 or so of these fellows.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel in that whilst my chest feels like a punchbag after a sparring session with Rocky my head does not feel quite so cotton wool filled. It means I can concentrate rather more and whilst the cough is still giving me spots before my eyes and upper body aches and pains the like of which even the incredible Hulk would have groused at; I can start looking at things in a little more detail.

The armies I will be raising will be relatively modest in size but with sufficient variety of units and excess numbers to make life interesting. One thing I had not thought about was the size of games I would be undertaking. Way back in the days of the block armies and a 13 x o hexed grid I used to work on the basis that around a dozen units a side enabled a really good game to be fought. This would often translate into half a dozen or so infantry units, a couple of cavalry units and perhaps a gun or two. The standard size of playing area was usually 12 x 8 or 13 x 9. Around 15 for 16 units a side would be realistically about as large as one would like to go.

The armies I am working on would be probably be around one and half times the size mentioned  – remember this is based on a lot of playing experience using the grid sizes mentioned – which will give me plenty of variety of variety.

This is not an approach I had considered previously for this period as in many ways old habits die hard – 20 to 24 figure infantry units and a dozen or so cavalry seems almost obligatory for the period and it is a hard habit to get out of. Using the Command and Colours/Portable Wargame standard for units means that I can fully utilise small numbers of figures which is an important consideration with such a collection as that of the Del Prado range.

The famous Command and Colours/Portable Wargame standard of 4, 3 and 2 figures will be varied slightly as a number of mounted units are of 4 blocks and the artillery are of 3.

The first task to be undertaken will be to get the figures off their bases and so the first batch are now quietly soaking away. Conventional wisdom is to leave them for around twenty four hours to soften them up so lets see how that works out.

Assuming all goes well with the first batch I can then mobilise a couple more of the boxes I am using so that more figures can be soaked at a time.

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 4

The dreaded lurgy has taken an even stronger grip and so my general level of malaise has dropped several notches lower. Funny thing is though that whilst any attempt at concentrating properly on reading material is doomed to failure, rummaging through figures is oddly therapeutic and to be honest is about all I am good for at the moment!

French infantry and artillery. The small piles are figures that have yet to be based but that have been placed with the appropriate units.

I have now gone through the last of the box files and as suspected the French army is not only the largest but is also the closest to being ‘match fit’. For sure there is a lot work in respect of rebasing but overall it is in pretty good shape and needs less adding to it.

French cavalry including both Guard and line with the former represented by Horse Grenadiers, two types of Lancer - Dutch and Polish and Chasseurs a Cheval. Line has more Cuirassiers than is healthy but also adds some Dragoons and Carabiniers

There are a lot of MDF bases in evidence which will all require soaking off and the underside of the figure bases will then need some filing. The plan is to gloss varnish the figures and to paint and matt varnish the figures and MDF bases I will be using in the same green as for the ACW figures. As mentioned previously I have identified a few potential paint conversions which will add to the selection of units available. With the ‘unit’ sizes being small this will be an easily managed process and I am quite looking forward to it.

Russian Cavalry from the Relive Austerlitz range which sadly was not released in the UK

The one thing that has become more and more obvious as I waded through the box files of figures is that my planned organisation will be going pretty much by the board. For the most part the armies will be largely representational with regimental identities being limited to those troops that were unique – Scot’s Greys, 95th rifles, Old Guard etc. The default unit size will be based around Command and Colours so anything from 3 to 5 for infantry and cavalry and 2 or 3 for artillery. If there are sufficient figures of a single type to make up larger formations for use with other rules (I am thinking of Rebels and Patriots here with 12/16 figure infantry units and, I believe 6 figure mounted) it will be more by chance than design.

Now that the preliminary sort out has been completed I can see where the shortfalls are and so will be able to plan to address these. I can also get a feel for how large the respective contingents will be once the gaps have been filled. I will also need to get an order in to Warbases for the requisite bases as my current stock will not be enough.

Despite feeling particularly grim I am quite pleased with myself for getting this lot done. I am also pleased that the extra figures I will need to get are at a low level.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 3

With a head that feels like it is stuffed with cotton wool I am certainly not operating at anything like peak efficiency. However I have continued the sorting out process of my Del Prado Napoleonic collection - in truth I do not feel much like doing anything else.

Prussian infantry along with Belgians and a small unit of Brunswickers

The British

British cavalry and artillery

As I work my way through the collection I have seen a number of possible paint conversions that will help to expand the available troops. These will be quite small jobs but they will give me a greater variety of troops to use.

By fat and away the largest job will be removing the bases which are for the most part MDF. I am thinking that overnight soaking will be the way to go so I intend making a start on this at the weekend, By then I would sorted out the French as well and they will feature in the next post.

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 2

Prussian cavalry - Dragoons and Hussars with a gun and crew in attendance (and apologies for the tray!

I am feeling wretched. The horrible chesty cough/head cold/sore throat that afflicted our son and daughter over the Christmas holidays and that I thought I had swerved has taken hold. the timing could not have been worse as as sure as the sun comes up I will guarantee that my beloved will get it just in time for her birthday and our wedding anniversary next month. For now though, it will be industrial quantities of hot lemon and honey, loads of drugs, several layers of blankets/jumpers/duvets and binge watching Netflix.

My get up and go has got up and gone but last night I made a tentative start on sorting out the Del Prado collection and believe me, even that was an effort.

The picture you above is of the Prussian cavalry with a sole artillery piece and crew. There is also one of my pill shaped cavalry bases.

The cavalry featured shared a box with the accompanying infantry as well as the Belgian and Brunswick contingent. For the Prussians there are some three dozen or so Landwehr types and a couple of mounted commanders. It would be enough to make a start on a representative Prussian army but I will need to add to it to get it to where I want it to be.

There are a dozen Brunswick infantry and some three dozen or so Belgian infantry in blue tunics. It would be easy to paint convert a unit of Belgian light infantry chasseurs from these fellows which i will probably do. There is also a nice unit of Dutch-Belgian Carabiniers.

This early in the process of renovation I have already realised that there will be a number of units that will be represented solely on a Command and Colours basis which will mean the odd 4 infantry or cavalry figures. A good example is the British Lifeguards. This mounted unit is 8 figures strong whereas the C and C version is three blocks. I plan to paint convert half the unit into the Blues when I get to the British.

It is very early days yet but already I have a definite idea of the shape this project will take and hat I will need to achieve it.

Monday 27 January 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 1

The unit mix from the Command and Colours: Napoleonic base game. Later expansions add to the selection available with the French gaining quite a few extra as well as additional troop types.

Ok then, let's check the basics. Reference books - check, rules - check, playing surface - check, terrain - needs some work, figures - needs a lot of work, storage - needs some work, entertainment value - HUGE!

That pretty much sums up where I am at in respect of the 1815 collection with of course the main work being the organising and basing of the collection. After a couple of cursory experiments I have settled on using the same standard as for the ACW collection although initially I was a little concerned that the figures would look a little lost on the bases - 25mm circular for foot figures and 25mm x 50mm for the mounted and pill shaped in their configuration. Guns will not be on bases.

Wrong period but right basing - the standard I shall be using for the Napoleonic collection

The first order of business will be to sort the figures into the units that Old Painter Bob had assigned them to. I can then look at what there is in respect of my own organisation.

The plan is that I will mirror closely the units mix in each of the Command and Colours: Napoleonic sets on the basis of one figure equalling one block. Ideally I want to extend that to reflect at a higher level the organisation of units from Charge! as I fully intend using the rules 'off the grid' and for a variety of other rule sets.

Taking the above picture as a rough guide one can see that, for example, there are 10 units of 4 blocks each for the French in respect of their line infantry. Under my system this would translate into 40 figures. Now I know for a fact that later expansions add to this so if I based my French line infantry on 48 figures - which is the rank and file component for a basic Charge! infantry regiment (not the advanced version) - I would be close to where I need to be. Extra figures like officers, musicians and standard bearers will feature but these will be generic as far as possible rather than for specific units.

My overall aim is to have a selection of Napoleonic armies that are representative rather than unit specific. As long as it looks right then it will be right.

It will not be possible to align the collection specifically to either the C and C set up or to that of Charge! - I will not be using as much artillery for one thing - but for the key components I will try to get as close as practical where I can.

After having sorted through the figures I will then be able to see what I can organise from stock so to speak and I will also have a better idea of what shortfalls there are and so can take steps to address these. Luckily I know a fellow Del Prado enthusiast that will be able to help!

There will be (hopefully) much horse trading taking place!

Sunday 26 January 2020

A Grand Day Out

Friday just gone saw me making the 80 odd mile journey to visit Old Painter Bob at his home to conduct some wargame related business. It was the first time I had met him and I am only sorry I had not done so a whole lot sooner!

The drive to his house was straightforward enough (although I did miss his turning during the first pass!) and as pulled up he was waiting at his front door to greet me. Introductions followed and then the task of decanting a whole pile of assorted bits and pieces from Eric’s collection in my car was speedily concluded and the items heading in the other direction were duly set to one side. After a welcoming cup of tea (Mrs Old Painter Bob and the family hound providing tea and cake in the case of the former and a questing nose and ferociously wagging tail in the case of the latter) we got down to the serious business of the day - wargames armies.

I will leave details of Old Painter Bob’s part of the bargain to him but for my part it consisted of the acquisition of a humongous collection of Del Prado 25mm Relive Waterloo range of Napoleonics - primarily for the 1815 campaign although with some Russians from the Austerlitz equivalent. This lot comes in at a little over 600 pieces The pictures below do not do it justice as it was very much an ongoing project. My role will be to bring order to the chaos and to realise a 40 year old dream of fielding 25mm armies for the final campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

A selection of French commanders including Rod Steiger, sorry Napoleon....

French Cavalry including rather a lot of Cuirassiers and those wonderful looking Carabiniers

Russian Cavalry and artillery

Mostly Prussians and Dutch Belgians

The British

Mostly French Infantry and artillery 

I should mention that the above are the figures in their respective boxes after a rather torturous drive home and before any major reorganisation has taken place.

I had the opportunity to discuss gaming in general and also to take a look at Old Painter Bob’s extensive collections and this was indeed a real treat. Everything from ancients to the Cold War in scales from 1:300th up to 54mm and stored in boxes and drawers everywhere - mostly in his operations room. I say mostly because if you looked closely enough you could see the odd tray of figures tucked away in odd corners of the house (ssh, don’t tell anyone!) I believe that the late Stuart Asquith mentioned about how he enjoyed seeing how other gamers did what they did and for me this was certainly true. There were highlights too numerous to mention - you see his blog for pictures of what he does and how he does it - but I was very impressed with his Napoleonic and Crimean collections as well as his Airfix based WW2 desert and ACW set up. It all seemed very organised but with a healthy dose of seemingly occasional chaos to keep things honest. 

Old Painter Bob appears to be at that rewarding stage of his wargames career of knowing what is his gaming sweet spot and so it shines like a beacon through his entire collection. This only comes with experience and so we talked about games and rules gone by and how we got to where we are now. It was both stimulating and thought provoking to hear.

The remainder of my ACW Spencer Smith figures were handed over and he will be making a start on them shortly which means I can complete that particular project - particularly as another component of this arrived on Friday, more of which in the next post.

After a very enjoyable light lunch we repaired to the study where Old Painter Bob talked me through his library and mightily impressive this was. It is not the largest I have seen but it has a really good coverage and for sure there were more than a couple of titles I would like for my own collection.

The day was coming to a end all too quickly - the time flew by - when a few surprise items were added to my car boot full of Del Prado Napoleonic figures in the shape of the items below.

Full of useful tips and techniques for warship modelling

Surplus to Old Painter Bob’s requirements but these 1:1200th models are lovely to look at and I am now duty bound to do something with them!

Really delighted with this strategic level naval wargame which will serve as a scenario generator for tabletop tactical battles

I was delighted to receive these items and I am sure that they will be extremely useful with my naval adventures.

We are fortunate in our hobby in that for the most part we are able to interact with kindred spirits in a friendly and generous way. Not only from the perspective of material items but also the generosity of time and of sharing knowledge and enthusiasm. As I drove home from Old Painter Bob’s house I was left feeling both humbled and honoured by the experience and delighted to have at last met this throughly decent fellow. I hope to repeat the experience at some point and maybe even get a game in.

I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Old Painter Bob and his good lady as well as the family tail wagger for their hospitality, an excellent light lunch and the opportunity to spend some quality time talking about our hobby.

It was a grand day out.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Return of the Mat

A small force of Rebels reconnoitre their new playing surface

It has been a busy couple of days with the highlight being my visit to the home of that thoroughly decent chap, Old Painter Bob to conduct a fairly substantial transaction. This will feature in more detail in my blog post of tomorrow but suffice to say it will be worth the wait!

Earlier in the week my replacement may from Deep Cut Studios arrived and I have to say I am delighted with it. The 4” hexes work really well with the ACW collection on its ‘1 figure, 1 block’ basis and this has heavily influenced my thinking around the Del Prado Napoleonic collection, more of which in a later post.

This was one of three really good things to happen this week which after the hassles of earlier was most welcome.

I am now back to my usual sunny disposition....:-)

Thursday 23 January 2020

"That Fate had been more discriminating"

I know they were old and in need of renewal but I could have done without them prematurely giving up the ghost!

It has been a challenging week of niggles. Individually they are small beer for the most part but when several happen in quick succession even the most die-hard optimist would feel slightly aggrieved, borderline paranoid even. To begin with a couple of books I had ordered from a well-respected second hand dealer failed to arrive. Failed to arrive as in disappeared into the ether – they should have been with me three weeks ago. The dealer has refunded me in full but it is a hollow victory as not only have we both lost out on the books in question the dealer is also out of pocket.

My LinkedIn account for work was hacked. This has proven to be a royal pain in the head. Last Friday a spurious ‘business proposal’ was sent to a couple of hundred random people with a dubious link embedded in it. A veritable deluge of replies came in to me from people asking about the proposal, all of whom I had to advise that this was a spoof message. I even drafted a couple of posts on the subject in the hope that people would read it and understand what had taken place but to no avail. Naturally I reported this to LinkedIn themselves but all they appeared to do was to restrict my account for a couple of days (which in the world of recruitment is like having your right arm cut off!) as they had noticed ‘suspicious activity’ on my account – too bloody right there was!

I was at a work related conference yesterday morning and had just set up our trade stand when the right army of my glasses decided that it was going to part company with the rest of the frame. I would not have minded if it was just the screw falling out but no, the hinge itself had disintegrated. Worse still it was not something I could jury rig easily. I am short sighted and whilst painting and modelling or reading are no problem anything beyond two feet away is a murky  blur. Clearly this would mean driving would be problematic and as I am due to travel out tomorrow by car this was certainly in jeopardy. In my experience being able to see whilst negotiating the M25 during the rush hour is generally considered to be a good idea…. Luckily I discovered a spare pair at home  (the prescription before the last one if you please but still quite usable) so visibility has been restored, albeit not as efficiently as previously. I am due for an eye check next month in any event so these will have to do until then although I was fortunate enough to get a much sooner appointment. The sooner appointment meant a few short notice changes which is a pain to be sure but sadly unavoidable!

A parcel containing a special commission arrived during the only 20 minutes the house was unoccupied earlier in the week and so will have to be delivered again – luckily I was able to book it in for tomorrow otherwise it would have meant a trip to the local sorting office on Saturday morning – never a good idea as parking is problematic at best.

A welcome addition to my small Crusades section in the man cave library

Despite all the above hassle there are some good things that have happened this week. To begin with my copy of Crusaders by Dan Jones arrived, courtesy of my Amazon Christmas gift card. Just the thing to inspire the Risk based Crusader armies in due course. I suspect I will be watching the Kingdom of Heaven (special edition) again before long. I rather like the author’s writing style and am always a fan of any writing that involves the extensive use of anecdotes from those that were there.

The replacement gaming mat arrived from Deep Cut and it is far better than the original version. I will get a picture of it for the weekend. Now that we have agreed the format I need I am looking to order a desert style mat and one featuring a seascape. An indulgence I know but I will also get three of their carrying cases to store and transport the mats in.

Tomorrow will see me collecting the Del Prado Napoleonic collection as well as delivering a substantial chunk of goodies from the collection of Eric Knowles which I am really looking forward to. My plans for the collection may well change very slightly – no details just yet as I need to check a few things first – but whatever shape they finally settle at I will have a first class collection that I will be sure to get a lot of enjoyment and pleasure from.

So you can see, it has been an eventful week in many ways, some good, some bad but I suppose all part of life’s rich pageant I suppose – and a bonus point if you can tell me where the portion of a quotation came from that I used for the title of this post!

Saturday 18 January 2020

Eric’s Painted 18th Century Collection....Part 3

With a clear blue sky and with light streaming in to the man cave I was able to get the remaining boxes of painted models from Eric’s 18th century collection photographed and organised prior to disposal. The results you can see below.

13. Artillery. 12 guns, 12 limbers, 12 horses, 4 riders and 22 gunners. There are also what looks like two Victorian siege mortars with a dozen gunners (top right)

14. Austrian Artillery. 5 guns, 12 limbers, 16 horses, 2 wagons (plastic), 16 gunners and a couple of what appear to be Petards.

15. French Artillery. 8 guns, 10 oxen, 8 limbers, 8 horses, 2 mounted and 4 foot drivers, 2 ammunition wagons, 12 sappers, 23 gunners and 48 figure fusilier regiment including sappers and artificers.

16. Bavarian Siege and Garrison artillery. 35 gunners, 6 guns, 2 mortars, 10 horses, 8 oxen and an ammunition wagon

17. Bavarian Artillery. 10 guns, 14 limbers, 20 horses, 1 wagon (plastic) and 35 gunners.

There is a further box of artillery and also a whole pile of bridging equipment and wagons etc. The collection over the three posts probably looks a little uneven but you musts appreciate that a massive chunk of it - the Hinton Hunt and Higgins portion - has already gone and so what you are seeing are the remnants.

Once again if anyone is interested in any of the above then please let me know - just quote the picture number and the items and I can then work something out. For the sake of clarity a gun will come with a limber and four gunners. I will not break units up but prices are very reasonable.

With the exception of the Ottoman Turks this represents the last of Eric’s 18th century collection and for me it has been something of a trip down memory lane. Many of the figures I have seen in action and indeed have commanded at some point or another. It has been a very labour intensive but rewarding task and, much like Eric did way back in wargaming formative years, has taught me much - especially about the value of focus.

Tuesday 14 January 2020

Greeks and Persians

Some classic Greek history and all in hardback.

I mentioned previously about making use of my Christmas Amazon gift card and the picture above shows just some of the haul. The two WRG books were a little on the indulgent side as they are both hardback versions (I also have the Dark Ages and the Crusades title on a similar basis) and printed to order but with secondhand prices for the armies title coming out at more expensive that the version I purchased I do not feel quite do bad! Warfleets of Antiquity also has a copy of Richard Nelson’s hex based fleet action rules contained therein and of which a stripped down version were used in his book on Salamis.

The big hardback in the centre is a great fusion of ancient writing - mainly Herodotus - and modern interpretation and covers the entire period of the war from Marathon onwards.

The likelihood of me raising armies for this period is remote but the naval side is a different matter. If I went down that particular path then Tumbling Dice would once again feature and the rules of choice would be hex based.

Where we are and Where we are going

Not out until May but certainly one I am looking out for. The author was responsible for the hugely successful Gaslands post-apocalyptic car combat rules so they should definitely be worth a look. 

As you would have seen from my previous two posts it has been a pretty busy  but successful weekend. I have roughly another 5 or 6 boxes of material to go through but for the most part this is artillery and as you might imagine, it is on an Eric scale! There are guns of course – ranging from battalion pieces up to huge siege mortars. There are all manner of limbers and these are both horse and ox drawn as well a number of ammunition and general baggage wagons. The pictures for these will be up on the blog next weekend.

Sorting through these was actually quite therapeutic and certainly now I have a handle on what there is as well detailed notes it will (and indeed has) make the disposal of the same a whole lot easier. There has already been some interest expressed on certain elements so the boxes should not be around for much longer all being well.

The figures I have represent the last of Erics 18th century collection so next up will be WW2 and the humongous amount of material that Eric had for this. There are not only figures but also a vast array of vehicles, not to mention terrain. It will be a huge undertaking for sure.

My new Deep Cut mat is currently being prepared and so should be with me by the end of the month. I have started readying the final batch of figures for my 30mm ACW Spencer Smith set up and I am also organising some of the terrain I will need. There is a development in respect of the ships for this project and it looks very much like they will around sooner rather than later meaning I will need to get a move on in respect of the rules I am planning to use. There is also the small matter of the gazillion labels I need to start applying to the assorted wooden Command and Colours blocks.

I am picking up the Del Prado Napoleonic collection at the end of next week which will mean a substantial amount of rebasing as I have settled on using individual bases. The collection will essentially be replicating the blocks from Command and Colours Napoleonics but naturally they will be usable with other rules. There is some excess built into the collection and so I am confident that Bob Cordery and I will be able to spend many happy hours swapping figures from the similar surplus he also has!

I will have some work to do with my various Sci Fi games but only to get them ready to use so no painting at this stage. I notice that there is s et of deep space combat rules due out from Osprey by the chap that wrote the highly popular Gaslands post-apocalyptic car racing rules. I believe they are called something like One Billion Suns – that should incentivize me to look at my Red Alert collection!

The War in the Pacific is something that has come at me from pretty much out of nowhere and I blame that very nice chap Trebian for this. His recently released book ‘Its getting a bit Chile’ covering the war from 1879 to 1883 is really good and contains not only an excellent set of rules but sufficient background material to get one started in the period. I have sufficient excess Spencer Smith kepi wearing ACW types to form the nucleus of a modest set up of something that is not only a little different but also would not take a lot to put together. His book is also now available as a PDF from the Wargames Vault as well which is very handy indeed and of course my thoughts would also include the Portable Wargame, a couple of the Dan Mersey sets as well as the naval dimension. Unusually for me I really fancy painting some figures up for this period but it will be a while before I do. Something for later in the year perhaps.

My plan for WW2 gaming using Heroes of Normandie received a welcome boost in that I have worked out exactly what I will need and from the figures perspective it is very modest indeed. I am looking at around 50 figures a side which will include infantry, command, machine guns, mortars, infantry anti-tank weapons and gun crews. All of these will be based individually which is very much my preferred option at present. I will need to add around half a dozen or so vehicles a side (although probably more for variety) and these I am looking forward to tackling as it has been an age since I assembled a tank kit.

All in all then it will be a busy year but there are some definite end points in there. The main thing though is that I want to get some games in using figures ideally but Command and Colours blocks if needs be. I can’t wait!

Sunday 12 January 2020

Eric’s Painted 18th Century Collection....Part 2

I took full advantage of the blue sky and occasional sunshine to sort out the next batch of figures from the painted remnants of Eric’s 18th century collection. I reckon there are now around 5 boxes worth left but these are mainly artillery. I cannot remember the last time I saw so many pieces of artillery in one place but then that was Eric - he worked on the basis that quantity has a quality all of its own!

As usual if anyone is interested in any of the items depicted then let me know quoting the picture number and the unit or units in question. Remember that I am unable to break down units into individual figures and also that I will try and organise gun crews etc for the artillery. Either leave a comment (ideally with an email address) or drop me an email at Please note that some of these will some TLC as there are a few paint chips and unseated horsemen to contend with as well as the odd bent weapon....

6. Austrian 1680 to Seven Years War. Licaner Light Infantry, Hussars, Guns and teams, Grenz Hussars and Tyrolean Jäger and Landwehr

7. Prussian Seven Years War. 13 Guns and limbers, 45 gunners and 4 mounted command.

8. Prussian Seven Years War. 14 Guns and limbers, 42 gunners, 2 wagons, 44th Fusiliers, Kleist Freikorps and Jägers

9. Prussian Seven Years War. Dragoons regiments number 5 and 11 (with dismounts, Cuirassiers regiments number 1 and 5, Von Kleist Uhlans and Horse Grenadiers and Jäger Zu Pferde plus some mounted Generals.

10. Bavarian and Prussian 1680 to 1720. Prussian Liebgarde plus battalion guns, Bavarian Karabinier regiments Bartels and Polen and infantry regiment Lutzelberg.

11. Papal/Venetian horse and Dragoons

12. British Royal Marines and rather a lot of assorted ship’s crew!

As mentioned I have around 5 more boxes to sort out but from what I have seen these are mostly artillery and engineers etc. I am sure that Bill has a couple of other boxes but I will need to check with him.

Saturday 11 January 2020

Eric’s Painted 18th Century Collection....Part 1

A small unit that escaped from the great Higgins/Hinton Hunt cull of last year being used as Dutch guard cavalry unit

I have made a start on organising the remnants of Eric’s late 17th and 18th century collection and as expected it has been time consuming but rewarding experience. So far I have sorted out five boxes of figures which represents roughly a quarter of the total. The first thing that struck me was just how big a part of his collection consisted of Hinton Hunt and Higgins. These have all gone so the remnants consist of various editions of Minifigs, Hinchliffe, Garrison and some that I have been unable to identify. For many of the units Eric stuck a small label on the underside with the name of the unit written on it which has proven to be really helpful. The remnants are an interesting and eclectic mix and there is certainly sufficient to raise some Portable Wargame sized forces - probably on an imagi-nation basis.

1. Prussian Light Cavalry Seven Years War. Hussar regiments 1, 5 and 7 and a unit of Bosniak Lancers

2. 1680 to 1720 French Artillery. 12 guns and limbers, 4 wagons, 11 drivers and 51 gunners.

3. 1680 to 1720 Cavalry. French Cuirassiers du Ros, Musketeers, Grenadiers a Cheval and British 6th Horse.

4. 1680 to 1720 Dutch. Infantry regiments Scheltinga and Van Freihem together with artillery and the Garde de Voet.

5. 1680 to 1720 Dutch. 4th Scots regiment and 10 guns, 6 limbers, 3 wagons and 39 gunners.

Still to be sorted is the remaining Prussian Seven Years War, the Austrians and the Bavarians and then there s the small matter of the ‘remnants of the remnants’ which appears to be largely an obscene amount of artillery and various engineering items. 

Should anyone be interested in anything shown above and would like to know more please drop me a line and I will be happy to help. What I can say is that prices are very reasonable but please do not ask me to break units up.

Friday 10 January 2020

War of the Pacific 1879 - 1884

Worth it for the title alone! Table top rules for the War in the Pacific 1879 to 1884 written by Graham Evans (aka Trebian). For a far more detailed summary of the book you could do no better than read Bob Cordery’s blog.

Three blog posts in a single day? I will have to check the last time I managed to do that but I reckon it was a good while ago!

The final part of my Christmas Amazon gift card from the offspring was a copy of the newly released set of rules you see above.

As mentioned above there is little I can add to what Bob has written as a summary of the book so I will throw in a couple of observations and general thoughts.

I really like the approach that the author has taken with these rules and indeed the book itself in that even if the war was completely unknown to you (and I suspect that may well be the case with many gamers) this book will give you the basics you need to build upon. There is a potted history of the war and information about the combatants and the assorted weaponry in use. All this is nicely wrapped up in the rules the author has developed which also include game related ratings of the principle commanders as well as a couple of historical battles to think about.

There are some flags and a quick reference sheet that you are able to copy for your own use, a modest bibliography and a really useful uniform guide that features rather a lot of kepi wearing types....

The author, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at COW 2019, has done a magnificent job with this book and it is, by his own admission, very much a labour of love and it definitely shows. He has taken a little known war and wrapped his arms around it and produced a set of theatre specific rules with enough extras to ensure that the table top action will have that all important flavour. It is quite simply a superb piece of work.

Where my thoughts are heading

Now what possibly could be my interest in this war given my recent championing of the merits of downsizing? Well, how about this for a bonkers idea? I have a couple of dozen or so kepi wearing 30mm ACW Spencer Smith figures that could be pressed into service as the armies are generally very small and whilst the rules suggest bases of three infantry I reckon I could use a single figure per base.  A four base infantry unit also coincides with the standard size used with the Portable Wargame and three such units would work with either Rebels and Patriots or The Men Who Would be Kings.

The period would make for a colourful ‘side hustle’ for me as I really like the idea of using these rules with 30mm ‘old school’ figures. I reckon that I have sufficient figures to do this so will endeavour to research the period in more detail. It will be a way off but could be something rather different and of course there is also the naval dimension to consider (and naturally I am!).

Once again many thanks to Graham for this wonderful piece of work that I highly recommend!

A Mats Problem

Artist's impression of the 'Green Grass' coloured mat from those awfully nice people at Deep Cut Studios

Unfortunately my gaming mat from Deep Cut Studios did not arrive before Christmas but it has now. I cannot fault the material – I went for the ‘mouse mat’ option - but there are a couple of issues with it. To begin with I ordered the colour option described as ‘meadow’. Deep Cut sent me a picture of what it would look like with the superimposed grid and I was pretty happy with the resultant ‘artist’s impression’. The mat duly arrived and the first thing that struck me was how dark it looked. I have yet to see the mat under natural daylight (this time of year I do not see my house in daylight!) but it looks quite oppressive and rather than being a meadow looks rather more like a shaded wooded copse or similar. I expect I would have gotten used to it but then another problem surfaced. The grid had been printed on the mat so that it was not square with the edges. This has the effect of cutting off by degrees a portion of each hex along the long edge of the mat. It is not much but it is noticeable. This was the risk when printing a grid to the edge of the material I suspect. In a nutshell it was slightly wonky, to use a highly detailed and technical term.

I contacted Deep Cut and explained the issue to them and I have to say their customer service is absolutely top drawer. Not only are they going to send me a replacement free of charge but they are also going to increase the mat size slightly (from 48” x 32.5” to 54” by 36”) meaning that the 13 x 9 hex grid will have a small border and they are also going to change the colour to grass green from the original meadow - which was a cheeky request I made, not expecting a positive response (it was changing the original order after all).

The faulty mat – which is perfectly serviceable, albeit slightly skewed – they asked me to destroy which seems a waste. With my natural cunning and inventiveness (who am I kidding?) I have already earmarked a use for it.

The replacement mat should be with me in a week or so which has, ironically, done me a little bit of a favour as I wanted to sneak in a cheeky game using it this weekend. Instead I will focus on the rather more pressing task of sorting out Eric’s painted 18th century stuff.

Thanks for the Memoir-y

The series that launched a thousand wargamers (I suspect!) - an omnibus edition of three stories from the Commando Comic series.

I mentioned recently about my decision to offload my Memoir 44 collection. This was not a decision taken lightly but retaining it would have acted as a handbrake on what I want to get out of my gaming of WW2. It is not that Memoir 44 is in anyway a bad game, far from it, but for me it appears to be neither fish nor fowl in respect of the type of actions represented. It is a personal thing but my WW2 is firmly rooted at a one for one scale of operations and has been since the early 1970s. I have tried all of the current ‘big 3’ WW2 rule sets (again, this is purely my opinion) Rapid Fire, Bolt Action and Chain of Command but for one reason or another they never really ‘did it’ for me although Rapid Fire was a lot of fun.

Mention of the early days of my WW2 gaming cannot be made without reference to the inspiration that fired my imagination. Late 1960s war films, Commando comic books and Airfix figures and models were a heady cocktail (or was that the polystyrene glue or enamel paint fumes talking?) and provided me with a relative smorgasbord of gaming potential that was finally realised on a more formal footing by the book Battle: Practical Wargames by Charles Grant.

Fast forward to now and where I am currently sitting. My recent decision to revisit those periods that I originally started with but with the added advantage of years of experience also included WW2 and my attachment to this period manifests itself in many ways – land based games but also naval and aerial. I enjoy games from man to man skirmishes up to whole campaigns but there is a slight problem of perception. With the best will in the world a model tank (I am talking about 20mm here) on the table top looks exactly like a model tank i.e. one unit. Similarly, a fireteam of four nervous infantrymen crouched behind a hedge and desperately hoping that the opposition do not find them looks exactly like four figures crouched behind a lichen hedge on the table top desperately hoping that the opposition do not find them. The visual ‘look’ is that of a skirmish and whilst gamers will happily call 24 Napoleonic infantry figures deployed shoulder to shoulder a battalion I do not feel it translates as well for WW2. For sure I have played games where a base of figures represents anything from a platoon up to a regiment but these can feel as though the level of abstraction has been extended further than is comfortable – with Memoir ’44 being a good example. There is a disconnect between what we see and what is being represented and this disconnect varies to a lesser or greater degree depending on the type of combat being represented.

Ordinarily I have no such qualms adopting such an ‘extended abstraction approach’ when using a grid based system. “But Memoir ’44 is exactly that!” I hear you say. True enough – but it does not sit well with me. It feels very much like the levels of abstraction used have been extended to the point of making the action on the game board appear almost sterile and therefore devoid of flavour. To use that old saying it is ‘neither fish nor fowl’ – in trying to be a game that travels from battalion up to divisional level depending on the scenario it is very much a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’ – but make no mistake, it is fun to play.

One of the first things that Bob Cordery did when we were discussing Memoir ’44 a number of years ago was to add in as units such things as mortars, machine guns, anti-tank guns, engineers and similar other WW2 essentials. This was for his Memoir of Battle rule set that is still one of my favourites alongside the Portable Wargame. When I eventually get around to organising some WW2 forces and models these would be right up there as my ‘go to’ sets. The key thing here is that I want a WW2 tactical game that features the full panoply of WW2 hardware and where I have to make decisions about when to take a tank hull down or move an infantryman with a bazooka into the top floor of a ruined French cottage. Above all, I want this experience to be fun. Fun as in cliched WW2 Commando comic fused with Hollywood film fun.

In the meantime though I found myself slightly bereft of material for gaming anything WW2 related so, after some research, I opted to pick up a copy of the Devil Pig games highly acclaimed tactical WW2 board game called Heroes of Normandie.

The base game....

....and the contents therein. Production values are very high indeed and the geomorphic mapboards are a delight. the base game includes US and German forces but there are a number of expansions including not only other formations for the core set but also the British and even French civilians and resistance (very handy for Vercours or similar and I am saying this only once....)

Ok then, let’s be completely honest about this – this is a game that owes its inspiration to Hollywood war films so will probably offend the purist but what the heck? It looks like a load of fun and if it serves to remind me of just why I got into WW2 in the first place then bring it on I say. Seriously though, it is game to enjoy at a low tactical level with no pretensions to be a detailed simulation of WW2 tactical combat. If I want that I would look to any of the far more serious games covering the topic  and in any event, at the higher operational level when one is using whole battalions or even brigades/division/corps then board games would be the way to go for me.

The plan would be to replace the game counters (which are very nice indeed) with models and there are not many of these to have to worry about. I would say roughly a platoon with some support and half a dozen or so assorted vehicles. At this level the resultant collection could very happily drop into use with the Portable Wargame. On the face of it, the Portable wargame would appear to be similar in concept to Memoir '44 in respect of scale but for me there is the the crucial difference of it being recognisably more, how shall I put it? WW2 wargamey.

There are a number of expansions to the base game which feature additional units for the US and Germans and introducing the British, French civilians and resistance and a whole raft of additional terrain and scenarios. There is also a Heroes of Stalingrad expansion as well as a Cthulu version!

The only decision I now need to make it whether or not to use 15mm or 20mm figures in support - in the interest of historical accuracy (meaning how I used to game WW2) my feeling is that the latter scale will emerge victorious. Who knows? I may even opt for plastic figures once again!

Thursday 9 January 2020

Risking it all on a Crusade

One of the better versions of Risk and should anyone need any of the components (other than the figures that is) then let me know!

A game in progress with Saracens fighting Northern barbarians over France

The figures from each of the four sets

As a certain Lord of the Sith once said: “The circle is now complete…”or rather it is slightly more closed than previously! Some time ago I picked up at a very good price a couple of sets of the board game Risk – the highly acclaimed version set in the Middle Ages. As is common with this type of purchase I did not really buy it for the game itself, rather it was as a source of figures. There are four armies in this version of the game and each has a set of unique figures and also siege weapons. Each army has a cavalry figure, a close combat infantryman and one armed with a bow/crossbow. The siege equipment consists of a trebuchet, a ballista, a battering ram and a catapult. The figures themselves are moulded in hard polythene and are true 20mm and rather nice although in single poses. I would say – and I am certainly no expert on the period – that are designed to be 12th century types which is rather handy.

I have mentioned previously that I had acquired a copy of the latest release from the Command and Colours stable covering the start of the Medieval period. Working on the basis that one would need the base game to be able to use the inevitable expansions I am happy to sit on this until we get to the Arab Conquests or, better still, the Crusades. Suddenly the acquisition of these figures begins to make a modicum of sense.

The figures are very generic looking and cover what appears to be the following armies:

Middle Eastern – Saracen for want of a better description
Northern – These look like Vikings or generic Hollywood barbarians.
Frankish – Western European typical crusader types.
Eastern – Russian/Byzantine

The number of figures within each force now stands at 48 cavalry, 140 close combat infantry and 48 missile troops. There is also around 8 of each of the siege weapons. These numbers are well in excess of what I envisage using but it does mean that there is plenty of choice available as well as the potential for conversions.

Now here is the thing. I managed to pick up another couple of sets of the figures for a very good price meaning that for each set I now have four games worth. I have a long term plan with these and when I say long term I doubt if I will get to this before next year but that is not a problem. I want to organise at least a pair of armies using these figures  - Frankish and Saracen being he obvious choice – for use with the Command and Colours: Medieval system as well as others. In fact it would not be beyond the realms of possibility to go full on imagi-nation and to also incorporate some fantasy elements. Like I said, this is very much a long term plan so there will not be any noticeable progress with it for some time. There are a couple of bits and pieces I would like to add to the figures I have but nothing major and I reckon the occasional rummage at a boot sale may well do the trick. I will also need to think about a few conversions for things like commanders etc. the key thing is that I really do not want to point a lot of money at this project, hence the acquisition of sets of Risk figures.

I have not painted this type of plastic figure for decades so it will be an interesting experience for sure but without the fumes and resulting headaches of yesteryear!