Monday, 31 August 2020
50p for the very smart hardback title and 20p for the travel edition of Othello - with 15mm squares you may think it is a little on the small side for a Portable Wargame but I couldn’t possibly comment....It is magnetic and complete with 52 black and white counters that are very useful for relatively inconspicuous hit markers.
I have now purchased this magazine for two months running and I cannot remember the last time I did that! The main reason for getting this edition is for the set of rules by that very nice Mr. Andy Callan - needless to say there is a cunning plan....
The sobering conclusion I meant ironed at the start of this very brief post concerns the gaming gentlemen from whom I recently acquired the 1:3000th WW1 collection and copy of the Avalon Hill game, Jutland. He had been seriously ill for some time and has finally lost his battle. I never met with him personally although we spoke on the phone quite recently and despite his illness his passion for our hobby shone through. I had hoped to get a game in using his collection so he could see it in action but sadly was unable to get anything organised in time in the man cave for various reasons.
What I am going to do though, is to celebrate his collection and his life with a game in the next few days that will appear on the blog.
I only hope that if he is looking down from that great wargames club in the sky he will forgive the delay and enjoy the game in any event.
Thursday, 27 August 2020
Japanese Type 97 Tank Chi-Ha. I remember building the Airfix kit of this many, many years ago
A selection of codes from the Frontline 20mm Japanese range....
....including the sword wielding officer and a rather stout ‘knee’ mortar.
The range covers all the basics of infantry, support weapons, command and various personality types including the inevitable sword wielding officer, banzai charging types and ‘knee mortars’.
My modus operandi with this lot is quite simple. I shall be raising a force of around 50 or so riflemen with support weapons and gun crews etc bringing the overall total to around 100 figures in total. This will also be the size of the 14th Army and after having had a look through Eric’s collection this is slightly less than a quarter of the whole!
I have the artillery I need for the 14th Army and a quick look at the Irregular Miniatures Really Useful Gun range will furnish me with what I need for the Japanese.
I shall be adding a smattering of vehicles in due course - who can resist the lure of some Japanese armour? - and for buildings I reckon that something from any of the Vietnam ranges would work although I do not expect to be needing many of them.
After a period of sorting out an immense of amount of Eric related stuff it will be good to get back to attending to some of my own bits and pieces in earnest. The Del Prado collection and the Spencer Smith 30mm ACW set up has been staring at me as if to guilt trip me into action with them - and they would be quite right to do so!
I shall look to attend to the Burma front later in the year once the priority stuff has been tackled and it will be something to look forward to.
Tuesday, 25 August 2020
The 2019 revised edition of the book first published in 1964 tells the story of the son of an Irishman fleeing to Catholic Europe and rising to high rank in the Austrian Army. Published by Helion but I got my copy during the Naval and Military Press summer sale.
For me the only drag would of course be painting the figures....
There are number of solutions to this dilemma and realistically the only one that would be viable for me would be painting the figures myself and luckily there is a wonderful selection available from Spencer Smith in 30mm that would be just the ticket. This is if should I wish to explore something during the Tricorne era in the traditional manner. I have certainly not dismissed this idea and so the Grand Duchy of Artois and the Electorate of Kronenbourg may yet see the light of day but for the movement. Have something rather more radical to experiment with.
In terms of the periods of interest there are many. I rather like the French and Indian War along with Clive’s adventures in India, the various Jacobite rebellions and I have also looked at the American Revolution. Of the four the former would be most likely to ever see the light of day but to be honest I would prefer something a little more, for want of a better word, regular. I am not so keen on the Seven Years War in Europe but the slightly earlier War of the Austrian Succession ticks the requisite number of boxes. If I am honest the main one these being that the uniforms tended to be of a simpler cut meaning easier to paint!
In 30mm using Spencer Smith there is a dedicated range for this period based on the classic 18th century range and the figures therein, especially the cavalry, are far better than the original versions but still with that old school charm. I mentioned ‘something rather more radical’ so it should come as no surprise to mention that I have a modest set up read to paint using 1:600th scale troops.
Guilty as charged M’Lud - I have my very own lead mountain albeit more like a lead speed bump given the size of the figures!
The book at the top of this post was a little lockdown treat and I am really pleased to have acquired it. Von Browne was very highly regarded by the Austrians and the book covers his campaigns very nicely with events in Italy and against the Prussians during the Seven Years War. Interestingly it also looks at the perennial Turkish question along the borders of the empire with that of the Ottomans.
One of my all time favourite films - great story, beautifully shot but s-l-o-w!
Wonderfully inspiring and with my recent borrowing of the soundtrack to the film Barry Lyndon (many thanks Mr Fox - much appreciated) I am experiencing something of a ‘fighting Irishmen abroad during the 18th century’ distraction at the moment BUT.....the Del Prado Napoleonic need some TLC as do the 30mm ACW Spencer Smiths, not to mention the gazillion counters that need cutting out.
These must come first but in the meantime I will play and enjoy the aforementioned soundtrack....
Purely for recreational purposes to be sure....
Sunday, 23 August 2020
It is not Napoleonic but it does have a bearing on this post
I have to say that sorting out this portion of Eric’s overall collection has not been a pleasurable experience! Frankly it is a mess. There are jumbled units, figures off bases and guns, crews and limbers residing in separate boxes. Throw in the usual Eric mixture of manufacturers - usually within the same unit - move on from the period in question (as Eric did), dispose of a big chunk of it, put the remnants into boxes and store, throw in several house moves and voila! You have me reduced to a gibbering wreck ‘Trying to make some of it all, when you see it makes no sense at all.....’ I should point out that in no way am I blaming anybody for this, least of all Eric, but time and circumstance have conspired to make a pig’s breakfast of what must have been originally a truly magnificent collection.
It has been a real effort to sort this lot out but I think I am finally getting a handle on it. In truth a lot of bits and pieces are moving on to their new homes but there is still a fair amount of stuff left. Luckily this can be partially offset by the fact that my Del Prado collection can make use of the old and unloved - a quick rebase, a touch where needed and lashings of gloss varnish Will hide a multitude of sins! I have been wading through what I thought was the last of it - the aforementioned and thrice cursed artillery - when I came across a box of cavalry, specifically French Cavalry.
Line Lancers, two regiments of Dragoons (note the 24 figure unit - proper ‘old school’!) and some Hussars
More Hussars and some Line Chasseurs a Cheval and one of the numerous mounted command figures
These appear to be a mixture of Lamming and Minifigs S Range and despite the prolonged period of storage are not in bad shape at all - certainly nothing a dab of superglue here and there, a rebase and lashings of gloss varnish wouldn’t put right. Assuming that no buyers can be found for them then I shall take a few figures from each to add to my Del Prado collection - bearing in mind that my cavalry units are anything from 2 to 5 figures strong. I have to say that I am quite excited at the prospect of adding a few of Eric’s figures to me collection and it would be good to see them take to the tabletop once again.
Now the photo at the head of this post is that of a book I have read many times in the past but have been without a copy until very recently. It is quite superb and it is a theatre I would like to explore in rather more detail. Eric served in Burma from late 1944 I believe and during his retirement years when his wargaming moved into WW2, he amassed some truly Eric sized armies. The painted collection - which Bill assures me is enormous - will be the next up for disposal but there was also a fair amount of unpainted stuff. Eric was very fastidious at organising his units and so boxes of figures with the name of the unit and all the required figures was a major help when I was sorting it all out.
The last unpainted army of his was for a 1944 14th army and in true Eric tradition this is complete with the usual range of manufacturers, all the appropriate supporting arms and organised down to platoon/section level. His rules of choice were, I believe, Rapid Fire which are a very ‘Eric’ style set.
Where do I come in?
Well, I have been looking out for a WW2 project that would not be too armour heavy and would be a little off the mainstream. I wanted primarily an infantry style set up so the theatre certainly ticks that particular box. For vehicles there are of course those wonderful Japanese tanks as well M3s amongst others for the allies. The fighting was intense, brutal, up close and personal and with little quarter asked or given. Horrible stuff in respect of history and very challenging to work effectively on the tabletop. For my tank battle fix I would naturally be looking at Europe and 1:600th - the desert would be fun but everything I have is for the former.
To be honest I could take an expanded Portable Wargame sized force out of the number of figures that Eric had amassed with it scarcely making a dent in the entire collection and so this is my plan. I have some Japanese on order and will think about the vehicles in due course. The Japanese force will be key as they can take on plenty of other armies so the prospect of tying this in ultimately with island hopping and Flat Top (bring on the US) is a compelling one.
It would also be in a small way a tribute to the man that made this all possible.
More to follow in due course.
Wednesday, 19 August 2020
A mystery unit that after investigation turned out to be French Garde D’Honneur. In my Napoleonic set up there are 2 or 3 units worth present!
The uniform plate from volume 2 of the Funcken Napoleonic titles
The figures that are left over seem to be a mixture of classic Minifigs and Hinchliffe although some others are present - Lamming for example. There is a lot of stuff that to be honest is probably beyond saving but given that this collection has for the most part been in storage for nigh on fifty years and has undergone numerous house moves it is hardly surprising. The figures that remain that I shall be using will be rebased, refurbished where needed - mainly dusting - and given lashings of gloss varnish. It will be good to get some of these veteran warriors on the tabletop once again.
The rather dashing unit at the top of this post - the Garde D’Honneur had a rather short service life being raised in 1813 and disbanded the following year. They were originally the sons of the wealthy and ‘nobility’ that volunteered to help address the crippling losses that the cavalry sustained during 1812. The volunteers supplied their own mounts and equipment and initially there were around 15,000 of them bringing some 20,000 horses. Originally they were known as Lifeguards but thanks to a high rate of desertion this was downgraded to Garde D’Honneur. They served with the Imperial Guard but did not have guard status. Although not around for 1815 this is a lovely looking unit that is too good not to use!
Monday, 17 August 2020
Elements of the Royal Navy....
....and their High Seas Fleet opposition - and a couple of stray Frenchmen!
I will outline my thought processes behind each collection and how I tend to make use of this wide variety of scales. For the record I will not be looking at 1:1800th although 1:2400th may well be an option at some point. I should also mention that I fully intend using a table top with a maximum size of 6ft by 4ft.
This is the scale of the collector and the models available tend to be expensive although there are a few cheap alternatives that can be used - M.Y. Miniatures have a small range for the period and there are also some plastic kits - Airfix and Revell. With a battleship being 6” long or more it follows that using only a few models a side would make sense in the available sense. This is good in another way as it would keep the expenditure down. I have said that I am keen to make use of the Turks once again so with a few selected purchases it would be all I need.
My newly acquired collection in this scale will work for large actions and small so has a lot of practical versatility. It also has the advantage of there being a huge amount of material available from Navwar (which is only half and hour up the road from me!). The only drawback for me is that the models are a little on the small side but this is largely offset by the huge variety that can be called upon.
I have no intention in using models for this scale but I do have a huge number of counters derived from the Avalon Hill game Jutland. This is the scale for large actions and to be honest, I can see me using this scale exclusively at this level.
These 1:1200th models appeared in one of the boxes of 18th century infantry that I collected from Bill as part of the very first batch from his father’s collection. These must have been acquired after the conclusion of the campaign as they certainly never appeared during the fighting
Invincible class battle cruisers
Koenig class battleships
Helgoland class battleships
There are a few rivers to cross before I would be ready to roll either model option out but it does not hurt to have a plan in place. The thing with the 1:1200th option is that using the available range of plastic kits available - Airfix, I am looking at you! - There is a lot of fun to be had just chopping them about, using the bits and pieces, and seeing what comes out!
Sunday, 16 August 2020
Large 25mm and painted quite superbly (although not by Eric) a vignette of the last stand of the Old Guard at Waterloo - possibly Hinchliffe?
There is plenty of artillery and this means guns, crews and limber teams but all are mixed up. In true Eric tradition his crews are made up of figures from a variety of manufacturers and indeed, off various scales.
The cavalry is in shocking order with figures jumbled up, damaged in various ways and with units spread across several boxes.
There is a fair amount of infantry but how many Old Guard Grenadiers, British Guards in bearskins, 95th riflemen, Nassauers and Brunswick jägers can one readily use!
Having said all that there are a few gems that I have uncovered (currently being ‘transacted’) and it these that form the picture section of this post.
These all appear to be 30mm and I have a feeling they were sculpted by Barry Minot (he and Eric were good friends by all accounts)
There may be a couple of other similar figures yet to be uncovered but this all looks very diorama like. I am not sure what would be the best way to tackle these in respect of the disposal thereof but they are certainly lovely to look at albeit of a rather somber subject matter.
Wednesday, 12 August 2020
I scored a copy of this sometime ago but it went as part of one of my periodic reorganisations and I regretted it almost straightaway. Acquiring it for a second time for the princely sum of 50p (And in better condition!) means that hopefully I will not make the same mistake again!
It has been blisteringly hot in the house despite fans and open doors and windows! In order to cool down we have made a couple of trips out in an effort to get some fresh air and one of these trips was to our local boot sale. It is quite well organised now after a slightly shaky start, with a one way system in place and single row aisles, but still some people found the concept of social distancing or even going via the correct route challenging. There was not a great deal on offer that would interest me other than the above which I was pleased to be able to add, for the second time, to the library. It will come in handy to help contextualise the Sharpe novels - I have not read all of them, nor have I watched all the TV series - in their historical setting. One of the hinges it will also help to inspire will be the Peninsula side of the Del Prado collection although this will be primarily aimed at the 1812 and later period.
The largesse of the wargaming community is well known and I am fairly confident that many readers of this blog would have at some point in their gaming careers been both the recipient and the benefactor of such acts of generosity. For the most part these acts in my experience tend to be when a project has been long abandoned or else some immediate support is required for a particular undertaking. Sadly in some cases it can also arise due to ill health or even death - and these are both categories I have some first hand experiences with in respect of dealing with collections requiring disposal of as a result of either.
A wonderful box of nautical niceties! I will be reworking the bases and there are a couple of pieces of touching up to address but nothing major. The copy of Jutland by Avalon Hill is bringing up the rear.
I have just taken delivery of a partially complete copy of the Avalon Hill board game of Jutland as well as some very nicely painted WW1 1:3000th scale warships for the British and Germans. These arrived courtesy of a gamer who is currently ‘putting their affairs in order’ as the result of serious, indeed terminal, illness. The gentleman in question is the gaming friend of a friend of whom I had heard of but had never met nor even spoken with. I have now spoken with him and it was both a humbling and sobering experience. His passion for wargaming shone through and his hope is that his collections will continue to be enjoyed after he has gone to that great Wargames convention in the sky. He asked for no monies for these models - just a donation to charity (I know which one and it struck a chord with him so we were certainly on the same page in that respect!) of an affordable amount and such is the thoughtfulness of him that he is fully aware of the potentially trying financial circumstances that may be in play during the present time.
How do I feel about all this?
In truth I feel humble and yet in a sense deeply inspired. I only hope that when my time eventually rolls around that I will have a similar level of fortitude.
My grateful thanks are extended to him and so I hope that my gaming efforts with his collection will in due course honour his memory.
A selection of battle cruisers - for the Germans the notable absentee is S.M.S. Seydlitz
I will be sorting the collection out and at present it looks like a very good representation of most of the major classes of dreadnoughts possessed by the two navies during the Great War. There is a selection of cruisers and smaller stuff, destroyers and the like, as well as some merchantmen, monitors, seaplane tenders and even a few submarines. I would certainly look to add to the collection as the mood takes me but at this stage the only thing I need to do would be a rebase and some very minor touching up here and there.
German battle cruisers with some air cover!
My gratitude for this collection is immense and I will be posting a fuller fleet review once the temperature in the man cave has dropped at least 10 to 15 degrees!
Tuesday, 4 August 2020
Sharpe’s Throne of the Rings - you have got to (King’s) hand it to Sean Bean - he has been in three epics and survived only one of them!
I have a chequered history with this series and the books upon the TV series is based. I missed it when it was out as it was on a SKY channel we did not have. By the time it was more readily available the real world was up to something like season 5. We watched season 1 and then it was no longer available to us. This happened a number of times until eventually the whole thing finished so SWMBO decided to download the whole lot for us to catch up with.
This was a good idea or so it seemed. The entire 8 seasons was downloaded in glorious HD BUT, following a SKY price hike we decided to bin the HD channels as, to be honest, we did not watch sufficient HD channels to warrant the additional expenditure. The only problem with this was that we found out later that as we had cancelled our HD subscription we were then unable to watch any HD downloads! Every time we went to watch an episode a warning message would appear telling us that in order to watch the following programme we would need to upgrade our subscription! SWMBO then went on to delete all the HD versions in order to download the SD equivalents.
We are now working our way through the entire series and am now halfway through season 5.
I have yet to read the books although I did make a start with the first volume on holiday a few years ago. I really could not get into it at the time and, as I recall, I opted to read the Seven Pillars of Wisdom as an easier option....
The base game includes forces for both Houses Stark and Lannister but expansions are available for additional figures for the above as well many of the other combatants and heroes of Westeros. Would I buy this? I would certainly like to but I would also want a lot of the expansions and the cost would be astronomical. To be honest I would struggle to justify the expense.
However, and I must confess that this has rather passed me by, there is another option available for fighting battles set in Westeros, albeit not as all encompassing as the game above but with a very high design pedigree.
This has been around for a while and there a number of expansions available for it but it does not have the coverage of A Song of Ice and Fire
I am of course referring to Battles of Westeros published by Fantasy Flight Games, modelled on the Command and Colours rule system devised by Richard Borg for his fantasy game Battlelore. I was able to pick a secondhand copy of the above and at first glance it looks really good. There is plenty of GOT flavour so it does not just feel like a medieval battle and the components are top notch. The board is sturdy and all the game counters are of thick card, including the terrain cards. It is card driven in the same way that all Command and Colours games are and these can include the leadership traits of the commanders depicted. As you might expect Stark and Lannister feature in the core set and I have managed to track down a couple of the expansions - The Wardens of the North and House Baratheon.
Painted version of the House Lannister figures and....
....those of House Stark.
The rules and the scenario book
My first impression of this is that it is a more, dare I say it, period specific Command and Colours set in that there is flavour aplenty with the rules and game mechanisms.
The figures in the base game are crying out to be painted and certainly this will satisfy my hankering for something medieval and fantasy-ish or should that be fantasy and medieval-ish? The figures are also based individually so there is always the possibility of the Portable WarGame of Thrones....
In closing, this is a pick up and put down mini side hustle of a project - I am really enjoying the TV series and will certainly attempt the books again - that I can dip in and out of as the mood takes. With the additional expansions there will be sufficient variety to extend the shelf life of the game and of course, there is always the possibility of using the figures elsewhere. The Portable Wargame for sure but also Dan Mersey’s Dragon Rampant as well as Hordes of The Things.
Monday, 3 August 2020
I know I have used this picture before but I am rather pleased with it! Incidentally, the guns for this were metal and as I recall Eric had a source for these. Needless to say these were used extensively!
It is funny how after some forty odd years I can still recall much of the fun associated with the WW1 South East Asia naval campaign that Eric Knowles devised and ran using Fletcher Pratt as the rules of choice - on a table top.
I will let that sink in a little.
The table we routinely used at Eric’s house to fight the games arising from the campaign was around 7ft by 5ft which, as any naval gamer with experience of using Fletcher Pratt rules will testify is way too small a playing area. Yet we used it and fought actions up to fleet sized. The result was glorious levels of close proximity carnage and the amount of shipping that was sunk would give any self respecting marine insurance broker sleepless nights! It was enormous fun though, albeit in an anarchic, cartoon kind of way.
I took the whole thing very seriously though with the ship building, order writing and the overall strategic situation - which after some spectacular Central Powers defeats was precarious for the Turks in the extreme.
The campaign fizzled out around about early 1915 as the ship losses for the Central Powers were so heavy that Eric was forced to keep adding ever more powerful and outlandish ships to the navies - which also included the Allies so we had the Bismarck and Tirpitz appearing at Christmas 1914 whilst the Royal Navy acquired the Ark Royal....
Even Eric’s legendary inventiveness and well developed sense of creativity struggled to keep up with demand so the campaign drifted off into the wargaming sunset.
I am looking forward to when Bill unveils the remaining fleets as there are some fantastic models still to be seen. I only hope that they have survived the interim period of storage in good order.
Fast forward to today and what do you do with a forty year old imagi-navy? It would be great to get some games in using elements of the forces available from way back when, even in 1:1200th. To be honest it would not bother me using models of this scale on the table top as most naval games are an exercise in abstraction anyway. Something grid based would work well and if the models look too close to one another it is not the end of the world. I can happily deploy a 6ft by 4ft playing area in the man cave and so as long I don’t think about running Jutland in that scale it could work. In many ways it would be little different to using 1:1800th scale models as long as the number of models on the table was kept to a sensible level - certainly nothing like the tabletop traffic jams we used to get ‘back in the day’!
Some of the very best games we played during Eric’s campaign were using up to around half a dozen models or so a side and so I am thinking that even using a grid on a 6ft by 4ft this would be a good workable size to aim at.
Some time ago I acquired from Old Painter Bob a selection of 1:1200th WW2 assembled and painted ships as well as some still in kit form. I was wondering how best to use these and so tacking on the Turks (and Austrians) will give me some more variety and would form the basis of a interesting set up.
In truth I used to really enjoy messing about with plastic ship kits - not so much building them as per the box but using them as the basis for something else!
So aside from the rebasing of the Turks and the basing of the Austrians (I may touch up the paintwork on these) I have an easily organised mini project more or less good to go. It will certainly help to scratch my naval itch for sure.
More to follow with this methinks!