Monday 31 January 2022

Unexpectedly Catching Up….Part 2

 Now I wonder what this could be? An odd piece of MDF (34cm square) used as the basis for a 3 x 3 Fast Play Portable Wargame using the block armies perhaps? For the record the corner squares are 11cm whilst the central square is 12 cm. I am undecided about using the double or single sized block option for this at the moment

Well I did not see that one coming! After ten days straight visiting Laurel in hospital and taking the required daily Lateral Flow Test, this morning, for the first time during the pandemic, I tested positive!

I take medication for my blood pressure which has the side effect of giving me an irritating dry cough. This has been aggravated by wearing a face mask for several hours at the hospital so I did not pay much mind to it. Yesterday I experienced the symptoms of a head cold - I had a bit of headache, a scratchy throat and a streaming nose but certainly did not think it was anything more. I was genuinely surprised at the test result. I shall be isolating for 5 days followed by (hopefully) two clear tests which means that I will then be allowed back into the world. My daughter tested positive at the same time so two of us are down with it after having safely avoided it for some two years or so.

Of course the concern is have I passed it on to Laurel whilst unaware I was infected. Only time will tell with that and given that I was fully masked for the duration of my visits hopefully this will have sufficed.

Laurel is making slow progress but things are gradually coming ‘back online’ so the next step will be for her to be admitted into a residential rehab facility. Contrary to what Amy Winehouse said it was definitely  ‘yes, yes, yes’ when asked about rehab rather than a ‘no, no, no’. As anyone that knows her would testify, Laurel is a pretty active person and so ANYTHING that can get her back and functioning sooner rather than later would be most welcome.

Rome was not built in a day and all that.

Work have deemed me to be off sick for the week (despite the fact that my job is fully remote) so I find myself with effectively 4 and half days in which I can do what I like. Assuming I can focus on anything for a reasonable amount of time I intend taking full advantage of it! Reading is a little challenging and writing will be in fits and starts but there are a number of things I can do.

ACW ships. I have a further mast building session to undertake which is wonderfully therapeutic. The masts you see will be for one of the two sloops (top left) and I will need a further set of these plus the two mizzen masts. The bottom left is the additional frigate. Note the ship in the bottom centre - destined to be the U.S.S. Ozark.

On the subject of matters MDF related I have a selection of models from TT Games to build. These are spaceships and there are four races in total, each of a dozen ships. These are very simple models - I would describe them as being first generation MDF types - with the largest being around 40mm long. The thing I like about these is that they could easily be used as the usual battleship, cruiser and destroyer types or as star fighters which is how I plan to use them with Wiley Games Starfighters rules from their well known ‘Fistful’ series.

Simple models to put together and for around £14 for 48 models plus rules, game tokens and scenery an absolute bargain in my book!

The core set and the expansion - Portable Starship Wargames anyone?

Mention of matters Sci fi related has reminded me of Stargrave from the Frostgrave family. Quarantine 37 is a supplement for the base game with a solo system contained therein. I have some figures lurking about that could be pressed into service for a laugh but we shall see.

Skirmishes and adventures across a ravaged universe yadda, yadda, yadda but definitely with the ‘Pew, Pew’ factor!

Of course one of the things I shall be looking at for definite is the whole 3 x 3 Fast Play Portable Wargame  concept. From an original idea by Mark Cordone this has spawned a whole heap of ideas from gamers across the blogosphere. I have a few of my own but want to try the raw set first before I start tinkering but if this works for me then I will even less excuse for not painting some figures than I have already!

Make no mistake, I would rather be visiting the hospital at the moment but it would be remiss of me not to take advantage of the time available in some way - as long as I am able to do so.

BTW my last blog post had just shy of 2,000 page views. Methinks some bots have been busy!

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Big Wings, Little Wings in a Cardboard Box….

On a wing and a prayer….

 I have been a fan of aerial wargames for many years although primarily via the medium of the board game. Without exception these have been plane to plane based games as have the few forays I have made into using miniatures. I have tried and owned models for Wings of Glory (WW1) and Angels 20 (WW2) and have often thought about using 1:600th models but aside from buying a few packs from Tumbling Dice (which were inevitably sold on as the enthusiasm waned) I never really pursued it.

I mentioned that virtually all the aerial games I have played have focussed on plane to plane combat which is fine and works very nicely indeed. I have taken part in some cracking games at this level however I have always fancied tackling aerial combat at a higher level (no pun intended, oh well then, if you insist). I rather liked the idea of massed bomber raids with squadrons being deployed rather then the usual solution of calling a dozen aircraft a bomber stream. The Wing Leader series of board games allows you to do exactly that.

The back of the box showing a section of the map board and counters deployed during a game

I had an eye on this for some time but for one reason or another it passed me by which, as events turned out, was probably a good thing as the second edition had rather a lot of revisions from the first including the aircraft data cards. Anyway, a chap on one the Facebook groups I use was selling a copy of the second edition Wing Leader: Victories which covers the years 1940 to 1942 in what proved to be pristine condition. The counters were punched with the corners clipped and everything was neatly bagged and sorted. It was at a price I could not refuse and was delighted when it arrived, just before Laurel went into hospital.

Rules and the scenarios of which there is really diverse selection of geographical match ups and of varying complexity

The production quality is really good although I was disappointed with the paper map playing surface - I have a pathological aversion to these so will see about getting a rather more durable alternative - but understand that the follow up game, Wing Leader: Supremacy covering the later war period has a mounted map board so when I get around to getting a copy (and don’t worry - I certainly shall be!) It will serve for both games.

An example aircraft card and two types of counters - flights at the top and a squadron underneath. The fact that this is one of favourite WW2 German aircraft has nothing to do with the selection of this type for the picture….

The game uses a square grid and the aircraft are deployed on a side profile basis. The edge of the map is the ground/sea and height goes up in 1,000 foot increments. Both players sit on the same side of the playing area. All the usual stuff you would expect in an aerial game is included - height advantage, sun position, clouds, flak, targets etc - but with a higher level emphasis for command. The smallest unit is a flight represented by a single aircraft picture whilst the two image counters are for squadrons. There is allowances for fighter doctrine - tight or loose, radio nets and ground control.

I am really looking forward to giving this spin and there is no shortage of aircraft types for me to play around with for the early war period as well as very nice selection of scenarios ranging from the Battle of France and Britain through to Stalingrad airlifts, Flying Tigers, Malta, the Pacific and the desert. 

I am going to really enjoy this but first of all it is back to the hospital!

Saturday 22 January 2022

‘’Der Tag’’ plus 2

S.M.S. Seydlitz before she had the anti-torpedo nets removed and the royal pasting she received at the Battle of Jutland. Come to mention it you could also add in Dogger Bank!

 Just a quick update on the situation thus far. Firstly, to all that have sent emails I thank you hugely - they are really very much appreciated. I am writing this post so that everyone knows what is what at the same time but I will reply individually when I am able and time permits.

Laurel was in surgery for some 7 1/2 hours and early indications are that the entire tumour has been successfully removed (and is currently being lab tested). She is battered, bruised, very tired and us currently barely able to move her left leg but this is normal in these cases. She is also on industrial quantities of medication up to and including morphine. I spent 4 1/2 hours with her yesterday and will be up at the hospital again today (with a cheeky detour en route that will feature as a separate blog post).

Thank you all once again for the support and good wishes - you really are the best of people!

Monday 17 January 2022

Battlefleet - Volume 38, No. 2 and ‘Der Tag’ Take 2

58 pages of naval wargaming goodness - but the last ever printed edition

 This will be probably be the last post for a while due to ‘Der Tag’ on Thursday - we are now isolating following Laurel’s pre op Covid swab this morning - so it was rather pleasing to be temporarily shutting up shop, so to speak, on a high!

The contents therein

Battlefleet is of course the journal of the Naval Wargames Society and the issue you see above is the final printed version that will be published. I was delighted to have an article included about my ACW collection  - most of which has been has been seen on the blog at some point - and was also pleased to see another ACW article which I may well try myself.

My small Warbases order arrived so my movement trays now have their small d6s for recording strength points - all I need to do now is to paint the trays and organise the magnetic strip. The trays will be used before that though as the bare MDF itself is not that bad to look at. Also in the package was some additional hull templates - the largest size I use, both the plain hull and also the main deck with holes for masts and a notch for the bowsprit.

There are two of each and at present the mast deck is not glued in place as I shall be painting it separately

I was so inspired by the arrival of my Warbases order (little things and all that!) that I immediately slapped some glue on to some hulls that have been lurking around in a barely started condition on the modelling desk. They have moved up from barely started to started so that may be where my next building project takes me. As a little piece of fun, and with no prizes on offer other than the accolade if correct, do you have any idea what these they may be shaping up to be?

See you all on the other side.

Thursday 13 January 2022

A Frigate, a pair of Sloops and an Ironclad Gunboat

A Union ‘old navy’ frigate, a ‘new navy sloop (soon to be getting some more guns) and a City class gunboat. I shall be adding a further one of each of the above - mainly because I can!

As the DEFCON status gets cranked up - Laurel is having her pre op Covid swab on Monday so we are then isolating until ‘Der Tag’ on 20th January - I have been making best use of the unexpectedly spare time I seem to have. There is not a lot of it to be fair but it is better than nowt and I need to strike whilst the iron is hot so to speak.

Aside from some long outstanding bits and pieces of parcel packing (I am fortunate in having some very patient friends….) I have also managed to complete the labelling of my Command and Colours Samurai Battles game which I am hoping to give a run out over the weekend. I have also been looking again at the the ACW naval collection and, perhaps inevitably, making further plans.

At the last time of asking I had more or less settled on the remaining types I would be building and indeed,  seven of them are currently under construction. I had worked out what the final two models would be which would bring the collection up to sixty models.

That was the original plan but….

I am going to add a further four models to the set up. With this in mind a small order was sent to Warbases for some hull templates and other bits and pieces. The plan is to now build three extra models for the Union and one for the Confederacy. The Union will gain a frigate, a modern sloop and a further City class gunboat (I have already built a pair of these) whilst the CSA will gain a further commerce raiding sloop.

The Confederates will be getting another one of these for commerce raiding.

Of the four additional vessels the one I am least looking forward to building is the City class gunboat as building casemates using my technique is an onerous task and involves rather a lot of filing. When built though, she will bring the strength of the Union river ironclad contingent to six vessels - three City class, the U.S.S. Benton, U.S.S. Essex and the soon to be built U.S.S. Ozark. The Union blue water fleet will have a a pair of frigates, two old and two new sloops.

Project creep? Moi? You may think that….but I couldn’t possibly comment….

Saturday 8 January 2022

Unexpectedly Catching Up

The assembled bases. The larger of the two is 3” by 1 1/2” whilst the smaller is 1 1/2” square. Note the raised triangle along the leading edge in the centre - this denotes the unit facing - and the dice frame along the rear edge. The dice frame will be to denote the strength of the unit. I intend placing a strip of steel paper along the space by the dice frame so that an identification label can be added as required depending on what the blocks are being used for.

 Had things gone to plan today would have been the third day that Laurel was in hospital and I suspect I would have been ‘hither and thither’ on one domestic errand or another or, more likely, ‘fretting and fussing’! The postponement of her operation has, in effect, given me in effect a couple of spare weekends - spare being relative of course as the usual weekend domestic round still needs to be maintained - or, more accurately, some spare time of my own.

I have not been idle. There has been much parcel packing accompanied by the inevitable ‘thinking of great thoughts’ as well as some long outstanding modelling tasks attended to. 

I have decided to split the final ACW ships into two batches - mainly because the first four models are pretty similar in construction - as it makes it rather more manageable to fit in the construction into the odd moments that become available during the day. This in turn gave me the opportunity to see what bits and pieces I need to order from Warbases by way of replenishing my stock of hull components. I also need to get some 7mm d6s for use with the movement trays you see above which I finally managed to get assembled. 

Built at last - 30 of each size. The idea behind this is that I can use less blocks to represent a unit meaning that some can be freed up to be repurposed in additional colours.

I am really excited about these trays as it means that using the block armies on a non gridded playing surface is viable. Originally I planned to have two sets of these - one verdant and one desert coloured - but am now thinking that having just a single set in a neutral dusty earth shade would work for both setting. I could even leave them as they are but that option does not really appeal!

I also took another look in the Command and Colours Samurai Battles box and am looking forward to getting it ready for the tabletop.

Finally, I reorganised some of my rules folders so that the Balkan naval war supplement for David Manley’s Broadside and Salvo and the PDF of The First Balkan War 1912 - 1913: The War at Sea by A. J. Martins are all in one place. I also now have a second folder for the ironclad era - one containing David Manley’s Dahlgren and Colombiad and the ACW campaign supplement whilst the second contains the supplements for the Lissa campaign, the Boshin War, the Russo Turkish War and the War in the Pacific. My printed copies of the rules for Air Force, Dauntless and the Expansion set together with the rules for Axis and Allies: Angels 20 and all the in house stuff I prepared for them, especially around crew quality and pilot/aircraft special abilities are all now in a new folder as well.

Individually these are small ‘wins’ but they are wins nevertheless and so should be savoured as such. 

All in all then, not too bad a day despite the dreadful weather!

Tuesday 4 January 2022

Operation Postponed

Hot off the press (rather, hot off the phone!) - Laurel’s surgery scheduled for the 6th January has been postponed until 20th January due to the neurosurgeon being unwell.

Yes it will mean a further Covid swab and 3 day isolation….

Three steps forward and two back! 

Saturday 1 January 2022

New Year, New (and old) Projects and Getting Ready

Firstly, I hope you all had a merry Christmas and that 2022 will prove to be a happier new year! 

I was not expecting to be posting anything on the blog until the latter part of January but felt obliged to on the back of what has been a very nice Christmas and new year. It was just the four of us for Christmas but everyone made a real effort of lighten the mood bearing in mind Laurel’s impending surgery and the recent loss of her brother. For the most part we ate too much, probably drank too much and played lots of games but most importantly of all did it as a family. My son and daughter have surpassed themselves in terms of mucking in (they always do in any event but went above and beyond this Christmas) and my son in particular certainly channelled his inner Gordon Ramsey in respect of his culinary endeavours. “God bless us every one!” As Tiny Tim said indeed!

New Year’s Eve was spent at a friends house and without exception we were all pleased to see the back of 2021!

The new book at the top of the picture and the other two titles from my Burma collection

The seasonal haul was outstanding (I am truly blessed) as my daughter got me a copy of Robert Lyman’s latest work: A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma and Britain 1941 - 1945 by way of a change from my usual Amazon gift card. She had heard me mention about this title previously and so quietly squirrelled away the information for Christmas. I have developed something of a fascination with the Burma campaign and naturally this features prominently in Lyman’s work. I have a couple of other titles in the collection and am looking to acquired Slim’s Defeat into Victory at some point. I would certainly like to game it in some way but this is a while away yet.

Command and Colours - Samurai style. Let the labelling commence!

Covers not only the battle itself but the preceding political shenanigans - we are deep in James Clavell’s Shogun territory for sure!

My son went down the Amazon gift card route (with the addition of a litre bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin and a very nice Chianti - no liver or Fava beans though….) with a piece of sage advice. “Get something you would not do ordinarily” he said. Not being one to disappoint I opted to get a copy of Samurai Battles - the Command and Colours game by Richard Borg and the book you see above about the battle of Sekigahara. This is a period of Japanese history I was first introduced to vis James Clavell’s novel Shogun. Combine this with far too many days taking part in a Bushido role playing campaign back in the early 1980s and seeing Akira Kurisawa’s magnificent film of the Seven Samurai it was only a matter of time before my resistance crumbled!

In many ways I have a strange relationship with the Command and Colours series. Overall I enjoy them hugely but some are certainly better than others in terms of gameplay and flavour. What I particularly like about this game is that it is self contained and with plenty of the all important period feel. You only need the game itself and you are all set - none of this buying a gazillion expansions to complete the series - although I will now need to flesh out the library with a few select titles. For the Samurai in general then one needs only to look at the prodigious output of Dr. Stephen  Turnbull (most of which are available from Osprey) which should satisfy most of what I am likely to need. Would I use figures? Bonkers as it may seem and in total defiance to the answer most would have expected I am not averse to using figures although I should qualify that by saying that it would depend on whether it not I can get a hold of a copy of the Milton Bradley game Shogun. The figures therein would suffice for a couple of armies augmented by some 1:72nd scale Cavalry (Archduke Piccolo I am looking at you for this idea!). Again, this would be way down the batting order as I have so many other things to tackle first. Having said that perhaps something 6mm or 10mm may be a viable alternative.

Posed specifically for this post and in the hope that seeing them semi-complete will serve to inspire the final push! The masts are not fixed in place yet and naturally there are deck fittings, pilot houses, ‘walking beams’, guns and flagstaffs to fashion.

On the subject of tackling other things first I have been able to spend a little time working on the ACW ships. My trusty Dremel was gainfully employed in drilling out fourteen mast holes so seven of the nine models I am working on at least now have somewhere to step their masts rather than on my modelling tray! For the record these are not glued in as I always paint them before stepping them - it makes it a whole lot easier to get to the deck, ahem, detail…..

I have given a lot of thought to the other two models as I have the other seven of nine (Star Trek fans of a certain vintage will get the reference) ‘dialled in’. I am more or less set on one of them - the U.S.S. Ozark - but am still debating the final model for the Union. However, I am fighting off the urge to build some more steam and sail types!

In other news….

We are mostly all set for when Laurel goes into hospital on the 6th so for the next couple of days all will be a frenzy in the house as we get as much done as possible beforehand. We have already packed away the tree and decorations and even the fridge looks relatively normal after the demise of the chilled portion of the festive comestibles. The wine cellar has been barely touched though and I still have plenty of mince pies, a brace of Christmas puddings and a Panettone to get through, not to mention industrial quantities of chocolate in various guises. With the contents of a fully stocked freezer and a son who delights in creative cooking we should certainly be dining well during the Memsahib’s absence - especially as my own culinary expertise is rather modest by comparison….

We had a long chat with the neurosurgeon on Christmas Eve and he was both very helpful and endlessly patient. Make no mistake, although the procedure is straightforward (to a neurosurgeon perhaps - it still looks hellishly involved) and he is confident that a complete recovery will be the outcome one still approaches these things with a certain degree of trepidation - and I am not even the patient!

Now that the initial shock has subsided (to be replaced with something akin to a barely acceptable level of apprehension) we, or more especially Laurel, is understandably nervous but she is keeping herself busy by way of distraction - and to be honest so am I!

Happy New Year one and all - look for my next post at the end of the month then hopefully normal service  will be resumed.