Tuesday 30 August 2022

Warships in Plastic for a Change

Airfix Magazine Guide Number 7

My attempts at 1:600th scale ship modelling have never been hugely successful and I can count on one hand the number of such models I have built over the years! That being said, I am a sucker for reading about detailed ship modelling and for sure there is always something one can takeaway and incorporate in one’s own efforts. 

The Airfix Magazine Guide series of books needs little introduction from me and for gamers of a certain vintage they bring back many memories. In my case Bruce Quarrie’s Napoleonic Wargaming - the orange covered edition - was my first introduction into gaming beyond Charge and the Wargame. It inspired an Airfix 1815 Alied army and many games large and small when I was a teenager on the Isle of Sheppey back in the early 1970s.

The book you see above is not one I have owned and it came to me courtesy of that very nice chap David in Suffolk.  

David and I (there seems to be a lot of Davids in our hobby - I know of at least 6!) have something of a shared history in that we are both from similar parts of the world and remember both of the model shops that used to be in Sittingbourne, Kent (his memory of this being rather better than mine!). Anyways, the book is a cracking little title and whilst I may not be rushing off to build anything full hulled and 1:600th scale there are a number of plastic 1:1200th scale model kits I have that would benefit from some of the tips contained within its pages. It would have certainly been very handy to have during the great shipbuilding program occasioned by Eric Knowles WW1 naval campaign all those years ago. David of course is now the owner of a few of Eric’s Seven Years war models so there is a kind of circularity in all this!

Given that MDF seems to be my usual material for ship building these days one could be forgiven for thinking that this book would be of limited value to me but not so. I have a few plastic ideas to play around with so I am confident it will be a handy title to dip into - there are certainly some very useful conversion and detailing techniques mentioned, all good stuff.

I am really pleased to have a copy of this book and so many, many thanks to David once again for passing this on and yes, (as per his note) I will be sure to lend it to Bob Cordery in due course!

Saturday 27 August 2022

Taking to the Skies


A 2 1/2D interwar style biplane as featured in the montage of photographs marking the release of Mark Copplestone’s Little Soldiers 30mm range. The model was made of 1.5mm basswood.

I have mentioned recently of my fondness for aerial games and that my timely acquisition of a rather nicely hexed blue cloth has kind of spurred me to look more closely at the idea. Another ‘prompt’ - as if I needed one - was occasioned by the acquisition of a copy of the Two Fat Lardies WW1 aerial rules - Algernon pulls it off (Bag the Hun are the WW2 version). An interesting exchange of emails with that all round good guy and painter of a bewildering array of aircraft and ships - I reckon he must have Tumbling Dice on speed dial - none other than Jim Jackaman, kind of nudged me along into one of my more bonkers brainstorms - MDF aircraft modelled similarly to the one you see above.

Oh yes indeedy! Shades of the Blue Max and Aces High with a dash of Dawn Patrol

I am thinking that perhaps 1:144th or thereabouts would be quite a good scale to see about ‘MDFing’ in some way - this would also have the virtue of being relatively compact in terms of table space but large enough for some decent paint jobs (with the added bonus of being completely flat surfaces - essential for a mediocre painter like me!). 

Obviously WW2 types would be simpler to construct - I am thinking along the lines of something akin to those cheap expanded foam gliders often given as old school stocking fillers at Christmas, you know the ones where you slot the wings through the fuselage - although at this stage the idea of something with a gull wing configuration (Stukas or Corsairs for example) is proving to be something of a mental challenge. WW1 types are doable for sure but would need some careful planning in respect of what goes where - fixed undercarriage and struts will be fiddly for sure.

Whilst I do not plan to conduct 1,000 bomber raids or such like I reckon there is some potential for games of around half a dozen or so aircraft a side - my hexed cloth would not take many more models than that methinks - which would be a lot of fun. I am also thinking that any such aircraft should be relatively inexpensive.

I need to sit down and think about this in more detail and bounce the idea off Martin at Warbases in respect of feasibility. Is this an unexpected rabbit hole I seem to be sleepwalking into? Possibly, but if it works then it will scratch a certain itch for sure. 

Tally ho and all that!

Thursday 25 August 2022

Hexing the Square….

The new cloth with a very familiar looking and somewhat theatrically staged scenario - familiar in that it is the set up of the game before last that I have yet to fight….

The arrival of my new blue hexed Hotz Mat has given me much to think about. It is going to be hugely useful for a variety of naval and aerial ideas and of course, given that the hexes are 4” across the flat sides it means that I can readily tap into the range of terrain pieces available from Kallistra in their Hexon range. 

So where does this leave the square based ACW rules? 

Where indeed.

I had always planned for the rules to be usable on both a square or a hexed playing surface with the former being my preferred choice - for two reasons really, the use of eight directions for movement etc and for the pure nostalgic value occasioned by the use of the old age of sail rules Ship ‘O the Line.

A close up for no other reason other than because I can….

Try as I might I have really struggled to get squares to work for the rules as written with the biggest issue being the use of diagonals. With the increase in complexity of weapons available and where they were fitted on a given ship I was having major issues trying to get firing arcs properly configured - an issue I never really solved satisfactorily. I am confident that the rules are pretty much a done deal systems wise but I am thinking that reverting to hexes will make life a whole lot easier and in many ways more relatable to their Gridded Naval Wargames forebears. To begin with firing arcs will be a whole lot easier to factor in. Reverting to hexes may seem like a seismic shift but in reality it would be very easy to  execute and more importantly it would mean that I can get the rules finished far more easily!

It would be easy to say that perhaps I should have gone with hexes in the first place and saved myself a whole heap of effort but hindsight is a wonderful thing and besides, one should fully explore an option before discarding it.

In many ways this decision augurs well for future naval projects especially for the age of sail when I get to it. For rules for this period I could simply use those from Wooden Ships and Iron Men which were after all derived from the square based Ship ‘O The Line miniatures set.

For now though, I need to adjust the rules slightly and also look to get the remaining models built. For the latter what should be my final ACW model component order from Warbases has been duly submitted so work will resume in earnest once the bits and pieces have arrived.

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Two Shades of Blue (Mat)

Taken in direct sunlight on the patio….

….and in the lounge at the farthest point from any natural light

Really pleased with this! For the second time in what seemed like an age I successfully snagged a bargain on eBay in the shade of a Hotz felt gaming mat. This is in a mode blue colour and has a white hex grid printed on it with the hexes being 4” across the flat sides and the area itself 13 x 9 hexes (sound familiar? It should as this is the size of a typical Command and Colours board).

The blue itself is interesting as it looks quite different depending on the lighting used - as you can see in the two pictures above. Either way it is a really welcome addition to the collection and will be used for both naval and aerial games, occasionally even at the same time!

The 4” hex size will also be ideal for use with my ACW models although as written the rules are designed for squares. 

I may need to ever so slightly rethink that….

Or maybe not…

One thing that did cross my mind though, is that the hexed surface will be ideal for a straight translation of the rules from Wooden Ships and Iron Men for the age of sail in due course.

Either way I am sure I will get plenty of use out of it and for £11.50 (excluding postage) it was a bargain!

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Of Wind and Water….

The set that morphed into Avalon Hill’s award-winning board game: Wooden Ships and Iron Men. Many happy hours were spent gaming using these rules and I still have the scar to prove it….

Now that the light is definitely at the end of the tunnel (and no, it not someone walking towards me with a torch!) in respect of the ACW naval project my thoughts have been looking long and hard at what comes next, at least as far as warships are concerned. I am rather spoilt for choice and indeed, the challenge is choosing what to do from the vast array of options I have available. Post the ACW I plan to tackle the War in the Pacific as this is something that can be organised relatively easily and will only require a dozen or so models. After that it will be whatever takes my fancy but there are a couple of options I am looking at and have mentioned previously.

Predreadnoughts will feature at some point but I am unsure about the best way of tackling this, hence the lack of urgency. I am tempted by the  full on imagi-nation option but am mindful of my plans for Madasahatta. It would make sense tying in what I decide to build with this project rather than making ships up as I go along - I certainly would not want to be building effectively a pair of quite similar collections - one historical and one hysterical!

I am seriously looking at Lake Tanganyika and East Africa during the Great War. This has the attraction of being fairly compact in terms of numbers and it will allow me to tackle some something a little more mainstream - I am referring of course to that naval wargame staple of the ‘hunt the raider’ scenario. Plenty to ponder there and to be honest given the potential size of the Madasahatta undertaking, it would make sense to think about East Africa first.

How often does ‘sense’ feature when planning a wargames project?!

Another option, and to be honest this was a relatively late entry into the lists, is something from the age of sail. Inspired by the building of the assorted fully masted warships for the ACW project, I rather fancy tackling something from the age of sail - in this case the Napoleonic era - but am currently undecided as to what to do. One of the options I am considering involves the lower level stuff - frigates and smaller - and would feature combined operations. In 20mm plastic Hat Industries produce such things as Royal Marines, ships crew and naval artillery and if looking at the Spanish peninsular there are also Guerrillas  available. Raids on the Eastern and Southern seaboard of Spain would be fruitful field to explore and would give me the chance to tackle some Napoleonic land actions as well as on the high seas.

The ships themselves would be straightforward to build once I have the hull template organised. Naturally this will be a little more detailed than those for the ACW but I am keen to work to a similar looking ‘simple’ style. Sails should be straightforward enough and indeed, when I met up with Martin ‘Warbases’ Murray at Salute last year he mentioned that he would be able to produce these as required - all I would need to do would be to specify the shape and size. Painting ‘chequerboard’ gun ports etc would be simple enough using the pre cut hull template technique I used for the frigates and sloops of the US civil war navy. The stern galleries I am still thinking about but I have a couple of ideas to play around with. Similarly the ornately painted bows of the period have given me pause for thought but again, I think I have a workable solution. Overall the models will need rather more work than the ACW types but with careful forethought the same building technique of layered MDF should work well enough. 

The original rules also contained a supplement designed for use with ships of the Armada period. My thanks to Mr. Fox for the copy of this.

As far as rules are concerned then my ‘go to set’ will be Ship ‘O The Line although I am already thinking about a stripped back version - mainly to avoid the whole order writing thing. There are other sets available and ironically my number one choice really works better with squadron sized engagements of larger ships (hence the title) - smaller ships tend to be rather too small in terms of effect. 

There is also a very handy Armada period supplement so if I fancied chasing down Spanish Galleons etc at least I would only need to learn a single rule set although Galleys and Galleons works really well for this period. 

Yes, I have been thinking about ships for this period as well…

Monday 22 August 2022

On Days Like These….

The C.S.S. Mississippi - a beast and a half for sure but like many Confederate designs, woefully underpowered and resource heavy.

 For a variety of reasons this has not been one of our better weekends. Aside from being ‘a man down’ (actually a woman down or rather a person down!) as Holly is currently sampling the delights of Amsterdam on a short break with her friend it has been frustrating for Laurel as various parts of officialdom are proving to be somewhat tiresome. Nothing major, but suffice it to say that it served to dampen the mood somewhat. With Holly away it meant that her chores were shared between my son and myself which left correspondingly little time to get much done on the gaming/modelling front. Again, nothing major, merely time consuming.

However, all was not lost as I was finally able to put pen to paper and get the last plans drawn up for Warbases for the final few models for the ACW collection. In truth there was also some other bits and pieces I needed from Martin and Diane so that is all now in place. 

The C.S.S. Selma - note the framework designed to strengthen the hull (and one of the pieces I an getting Warbases to laser cut for me - actually two pieces!)

I finally decided that the double enders I am building will be replaced with models using a more representative hull form. The two that are currently under construction will be morphed into something else. Also to be built is the large Confederate ironclad the C.S.S. Mississippi and the C.S.S. Selma. The latter I viewed as a bit of a challenge but it will be a nice way to sign off on the collection!

I was also rather please to have won something on eBay - and at a really good price. I shall be taking delivery later this week of a hexed light blue felt cloth produced by Hotz Mats - the hexes are marked in white and whilst I do have the hex size (I reckon around 3” across the flat sides - the seller was unable to confirm as the mat WIP currently in another house) it is roughly 9 by 13. I plan to use this for both naval and aerial games and so am rather pleased to have picked this up for £14 including postage!

Saturday 20 August 2022

An Unexpected, Expected Surprise….

A smorgasbord of useful WW2 15mm kit courtesy of that all round good fellow, the legend that is Archduke Piccolo!

I have said it before and will say it again - wargamers can be the most generous of folks! That wargaming doyen, Bon vivant, wit and raconteur from the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ - Archduke Piccolo - was having a little bit of a tidy up when he happened to mention that he had some bits and pieces that were surplus to requirements from the old Axis and Allies Miniatures Game including not only a selection of 15mm vehicles but also the rules, game cards and the maps. To cut a long story short and following an exchange of emails the bits and bobs were duly packed up and sent on their several thousand mile journey to little old me - and  they arrived  safely this morning.

All I can say is Wow! There are sufficient vehicles (scaled at 15mm) for a couple of forces - primarily late war German and Western allied but with a couple of other bits from Russia, France, Japan, Poland and Italy.

The German force is the largest and as befits 1944 is a real grab bag of kit ranging from a Panther to a Goliath via some Pzr 4s and assorted other vehicles with a few infantry figures for good measure. The US have a selection of tanks and infantry whilst the British have anti tank guns (6 and 17 pdr), some infantry and a couple of recce vehicles. The others comprise a French tank (which could readily be repainted for the Germans in 1944), a Russian armoured car and a truck mounted Katyusha rocket battery (possibly repainted for the allies - did the US use truck amounted rocket artillery?) , a brace of Italian mortars, some Japanese anti tank guns and the ubiquitous ‘knee’ mortar and a sole Polish infantryman. Oh, and I forgot to mention the rather handy Me 262 jet fighter!

I have a modest selection of other Axis and Allies bits and pieces that I will add these to and so will have a reasonable selection of vehicles at the very least.

What I was really taken with though, and this was the unexpected part, was the four map sheets. These are a lot smaller than the versions I have and appear to have been made on rather more durable paper. Running out at 6 hexes by 8 (the hexes are 2” across the flat sides with a sheet being 10 1/2” x 16”) the map sheets are double sided so there are an impressive variety of terrain types to configure in a number of ways. I shall be getting these laminated in due course (like as soon as possible!) but what a superbly useful  selection of playing areas in a handy size - ideal for Portable Wargame style actions or small scale and more detailed affairs. They look something this:

The maps and with apologies for the large creases - I suspect these have been lurking in a folded condition for quite some time - but these will be flattened out when laminated.

I am thinking that these maps will suit any number of periods and are ideal for a quick or small game when used individually. They can of course be combined in a huge number of combinations. 

I can readily see me using these for 18th and 19th century games (imagi-nations perhaps?) as well as for WW1 and WW2. As for scale, well 15mm would be the go to but I am thinking that smaller may be a good option - even as far down at 3mm. For now though, and using the Axis and Allies stuff, I shall be sticking to WW2 - all I need to do is to get the rules organised and yes, I have a few ideas to play around with!

Once again many thanks to the good Archduke Piccolo - this may well be the catalyst for a whole raft of ideas!

Tuesday 16 August 2022

The Final Countdown

Part of growing series of 3D print files produced by David Manley and available from the Wargames Vault. I have a number of these pictures as they are an invaluable resource for the budding model making.

Following on from my previous post I have sat down and taken stock of where I am at in respect of the ACW project. I have started on the tweaks required with the rules and have also sat down and looked at the remaining models I will need to build. I rather surprised myself when I took stock of the models I nee to build - there are far more of them than I thought! I have a dozen ships to make and then it will be mortar rafts and flatboats. The latter will be used as towed transports whilst the mortar rafts will be used on a scenario specific basis - mainly as targets!

I was also taking a look at the models I was planning to retire and now reckon that some minor refurbishment should get them up to the required standard. I also have a number of gun barrels to add to some of the gunboats.

All in all there is still some work required to complete the project but I have at least identified what needs doing and overall it does not appear to be too intimidating - especially as there are currently ten ships at various stages of construction currently underway.

Another task I will need to address concerns the playing area - I need to spot grid a cloth I have earmarked.

It is all finally coming together!

Sunday 14 August 2022

Return to the Missenhitti River….Game Number 74

One of my ‘go to’ books on naval wargames - and the inspiration for much of my ACW project

When I set out to develop what would be in effect an advanced set of Bob Cordery’s ACW rules in his book Gridded Naval Wargames little did I realise what a protracted process it has turned out to be! The core system I am satisfied with but the firing/damage mechanism has given me no end of frustration. I have tried several variations on a theme with results that have been OK but that have always seemed to lack the ‘Cordery-esque simplicity’ of the original to a lesser or greater degree. After what seemed like quite a while I revisited Bob’s book and the answer more or less presented itself - actually it was whilst laying awake at 3am during a very hot night but his book kind of reinforced the idea!

The system now is very close to Bob’s original but with the added chrome I wanted in respect of varying gun/armour combinations. Essentially a ship x number of gun dice that can fire in a given arc. The number of gun dice is reduced by range (smoothbores and rifles are different) and the standard 1, 2 or 3 are a miss, 4 or 5 are a single potential hit and a 6 is two potential hits. Damage rolls are based on the same d6 convention as the ‘to hit roll’ except the number of d6 rolled is based on the number of potential hits scored. It is possible for the adjusted damage roll to equal more than 6 due to the gun penetration vs armour modifier so in this case a further d6 roll is made with the chance of scoring an additional damage point being equal to or less than the excess. For example the firing player scores a single potential hit which requires a damage roll. Let us say he rolls a three to which is added a plus 4 (this would be something like like a monitor firing at an unarmoured wooden ship) making 7 in all. Taking the 6 as 2 points of damage their leaves a 1 (7 - 6 = 1). This means that an extra d6 is rolled needing a 1 to score an additional damage point. One could also use this when rolling to hit as there is a plus one modifier per gun dice when firing at point blank range (1 square).

In a nutshell the firing player rolls to hit and then rolls to convert the hits into damage points with the chance of scoring additional damage depending on how powerful his artillery is against the target type. 

The opening of the original engagement. 

I wanted to try this out and so rather than fighting game number 73 (which, never fear, I shall revisit) I opted instead to try something different. With this in mind I decided to refight the battle from Bob’ s book to see how the results compared. Once again then, we go back to the Missenhitti River where the Union monitor the U.S.S. Admonisher is attempting to force a conclusion with the newly built Confederate ironclad the C.S.S. Missenhitti.

The Ships

U.S.S. Admonisher - Speed 3, Hull Factor 3, Armour Factor 4, Damage Points 9, Gun Factor (T) 3, Penetration Factor 3

C.S.S. Missenhitti - Speed 3, Hull Factor 3, Armour Factor 3, Damage Points 9, Gun Factor (FW) 2 Penetration Factor 3 (R), (P, S) Gun Factor 2, Penetration Factor 3 (R) and Gun Factor (AW) 2, Penetration Factor 3 (R). Ram Bow.

The Initial Starting Positions

U.S.S. Admonisher (top right) and the C.S.S. Missenhitti (bottom left) move to engage.

Turn 1. No firing and the initiative rolls are 2 for the Union and 4 for the Confederates who opt to allow the Union to move first.

End of Turn 1. Mindful of the shorter range of his heavy smoothbore guns the captain of the Admonisher attempted to close the range to the Confederate ironclad who in turn was content to maintain a watching brief over her adversary.

Turn 2. Both ships opened fire at a range of 4. The U.S.S. Admonisher rolled a single d6 to hit scoring a 5 meaning a single damage roll. Her penetration factor of 3 nullified the armour factor of 3 so a straight d6 was rolled scoring a 2 for no effect. The Confederate rifles rolled 2d6 to hit at that ranger scoring a 3 and a  5 for a single damage roll. Her penetration factor of 3 is not enough to overcome the armour factor of 4 so the damage roll suffers a minus 1 modifier. The roll was a 4 reduced to 3 meaning no effect.

Initiative was 4 for the Union and 1 for the Confederates so the Union allowed the Confederates to move first.

End of Turn 2. The Confederate ironclad appears to be content to keep the Union ship at arms length - presumably to maintain the superiority of range her rifles give her - but the Union ship is intent on closing the range.

Turn 3. Both ships open fire at range 3, each rolling 2d6 to hit. The Union roll a miserable 1 and 2 whilst the Confederates rolls a 2 and a 4 meaning one damage roll, again at a net minus 1 modifier. The roll of 1 failed to register.

Initiative was 2 for the Union and 4 for the Confederates so the Union ship was asked to move first.

End of Turn 3. Both sides now seemed intent on closing the range which should favour the Union but does the Confederate captain have a trick up his sleeve?

Turn 4. Both ships continued firing at each other as fast as the guns could be loaded. Again in each case the range was 2 and each ship rolled 2d6 to hit. The Union scored a 3 and a 4 meaning one damage roll whilst the Confederates scored a 3 and 5 which again meant a single damage roll. The Union roll was a s straight d6 and scored a 3 for no effect whilst the Confederates rolled a d6 with a minus one modifier. They rolled a 4 which was reduced to 3 meaning once again no effect. Both ships were scoring hits but not  causing any damage.

Initiative was 6 for the Union and 5 for the Confederate. The Union Captain, mindful of his opponents ram, opted to move first.

End of Turn 4. By virtue of some canny manoeuvring the Union captain was able to maintain the range against his opponent whilst keeping a careful eye open for any possibility the enemy would attempt to ram him.

Turn 5. Again both sides opened fire at a range of 2 meaning 2d6 to hit for each. Each scored a single hit but the damage rolls were abysmally low - a 1 for the Union and a 2 for the Confederates!

Initiative was 5 for the Union and 6 for the Confederates who opted to allow the Union to move first.

End of Turn 5. Still the circling continues with neither side able to secure an advantage. Any damage inflicted could be potentially decisive although so far most gunfire has been largely ineffective - hits are being scored but the armour has been doing its job.

Turn 6. Again the guns roared out - 2d6 each at a range of 2. Whilst the Union ship missed entirely the Confederates rolled a 6 and a 3 so the 6 means two damage rolls, each at a minus 1. A 6 and 5 came up which become a 5 and a 4 meaning 2 points of damage on the U.S.S. Admonisher - first blood to the Confederates!

Initiative was 4 for the Union and 2 for the Confederates. The Union moved first.

End of Turn 6. Despite the damage received the U.S.S. Admonisher was galvanised into action as she swung around as tightly as she was able in order to engage the Confederate ironclad at point blank range. The C.S.S. Missenhitti followed suit and so both ships were heading towards one another and meaning business!

Turn 7. At range one both ships opened fire. The Union ship would roll 3d6 whilst the the Confederates would roll 2. In addition a plus 1 modifier to each hit dice is applied. The Confederate ship, perhaps taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of the enemy warship at such close range missed entirely - she rolled a 1 and a 2 whilst the Union rolled a magnificent 4, 5 and a 6! These became a 5, a 6 and a 7 meaning that there was a chance of a further hit (7 - 6 = 1). The roll of 3 was too much as a 1 was required. Nevertheless there were 5 damage rolls to make - each of a straight d6 roll. The 5d6 came up with a 6, a 4, a 3 and a pair of 2s meaning three points of damage in all.

Initiative was 1 for the Union and 4 for the Confederates.The Confederates opted to move first.


End of Turn 7. The Confederate ship was unable to gain a favourable ramming position and so continued to turn with her opponent, hoping to be able to open the range slightly. The Union ship dogged her every move as once again her guns made ready.

Turn 8. At point blank range once agin both ships opened fire. This time the Union scored a par of hits whilst the Confederates score three after rolling a 4 and 6. The Union scored a single point against the Confederate ship whilst in return her three d6 rolls came up with three 4s - each of which had a minus one meaning no damage inflicted!

Indicative was 6 for the Union and 5 for the Confederates. The union opted to move first.

End of Turn 8. The close range circling continues with the advantage swaying between the two adversaries. Thus far the Union had the better of the engagement but it was still too close to call.

Turn 9. Both sides fired at point blank range (meaning a plus 1 modifier per gun dice) with the Union rolling a pair of 6s and a 5 and the Confederates a pair of 5s! This meant that the Union was rolling for 6 damage points and the Confederate for 4 - either way this could be decisive. The Union scored 4 damage points rolling a 5, three 4s, a 3 and a 1. The Confederates rolled a 6, a 4, a 2 and 1 meaning a single point of damage scored (bear in mind the minus one modifier).

At this point the C.S.S. Missenhitti was down to a single remaining damage point so she would have to break off the action as best as she could, assuming her critical hit roll allowed. This then came up as a 6 meaning that she had caught fire!

At this point I called a halt to the action and so the picture for the end of turn 8 was how it ended. Fortunately both ships were facing away from each other and towards their own start lines!

The Union had ensured that the Confederate ironclad would not be able to threaten the great fleet of transports and gunboats being assembled along the Missenhitti and also that the damage she had suffered would mean a lengthy period of repair - assuming such facilities were available at the modest river port of Pratt’s Landing. The U.S.S. Admonisher had fought a gallant action but would also need extensive repair work before she could resume her station. One thing was certain though, the Confederates had been both fortunate to escape and unfortunate to have engaged such a tactically adept opponent. 


This was rather an absorbing action and in many ways reflected the first great ironclad clash at Hampton Roads in 1862. Both ships were slow and with similar speeds. The Union had weight of fire but shorter reach whilst the Confederate had a longer range but less ‘punch’. It was only when the Union were able to get to point blank range that they could employ their advantage to best effect. The Confederate ship could have attempted a ram attack but the only occasion she was able to do so was not in an optimum position. 

I am satisfied with the firing and damage rolls and believe that this version best follows on from Bob’s original. All I need to do now is to tabulate the firing dice deduction by range - one table for smoothbores and one for rifles - and also to tidy up the firing arcs. I reckon then I will have gone about as far as I can - the play testers may think otherwise though!

Once again I am indebted to Bob Cordery for the inspiration his book Gridded Naval Wargames has provided and I hope that this action is a worthy follow up!

Saturday 6 August 2022

War in The Land of the Rising Sun

The Japanese gaming options - old and new. Command and Colours for the tactical battles using the figures from Shogun with the board game providing the strategic backdrop. An idea for latter methinks….

After a selective search over a couple of months or so and assisted by some of my customary wheeling and dealing, I was finally able to source a copy of the old Milton Bradley board game Shogun, complete with slightly over 400 1:72nd scale hard plastic figures. Aside from being an excellent strategic game, the figures are rather nice in a way that appeals to the reluctant painter - modest levels of detail and stylistically ‘simple’ looking!

The figures in the game - there are five colours with the Ronin figure in Grey - they can be used by any faction, hence the neutral colour - and the solitary Ninja in black (naturally)

There are a number of ideas floating around with the acquisition of this game. To begin with there is the the traditional ‘age of war’ - the late 16th century - which is the focus of the board game. There is also the ‘Last Samurai’ to consider. Now I know that the film took a number Hollywood style historical liberties but as a visual spectacle for me it ticks all of my unworthy Western perceptions of the Samurai!

In keeping with my 1:72nd fetish I have an idea that will address a couple of things. I am now looking for a copy of the Eagle Games ACW game - similar to their War in the Age of Imperialism - as the kepi wearing infantryman could, at a pinch and with some paint conversion, serve as Japanese regular infantry as well as Union and Confederate types.

All of these ideas are very much Portable Wargame facing and the challenge of using cheapish and simple  figures to realise these ideas is one that I will relish.

On the subject of International Naval Wargames Day….

There is an after action report to follow - you will be able to see how Captain Butler got on - but that will be for tomorrow.

Tuesday 2 August 2022

Finding the Last Samurai….

Now just what is this latest bout of insanity about? Another supplement from the indefatigable David Manley available from the Wargames Vault

Despite the inevitable Hollywood historical liberties taken with the 2003 film The Last Samurai starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, it was and remains a superbly entertaining and visually impressive film. From what I have worked out it seems like the film was a kind of fusion of elements from the earlier Boshin War and the later Satsuma rebellion. Be that as it may it was a cracking film!

My knowledge of the period is sketchy at best but it certainly appeals to the romantic in me - probably for all the wrong Hollywood inspired reasons! The idea of massed Samurai fighting in traditional style against a modern army has all the prerequisites of a game I would enjoy - mainly due to the asymmetric nature of the forces involved. Having said that the ‘rebels’ were not short of firepower per se although much of it was not quite premier league standard. As for fighting in full on Samurai regalia well lets just it looked great in the film…. For the earlier Boshin War there is also a naval dimension to consider which would not require much to either set up or to extend into the latter rebellion.

The land side would be in theory relatively straightforward to organise - especially if one was not too precious about historical accuracy. I actually think that just raising the forces a la The Last Samurai would give an entertaining game - almost Colonial like in many ways.

It is a period that I would like to learn more about so as to see exactly what history was lost from the film and who knows? Maybe something to go with the ships may be in order - and yes, there is a diabolically cunning plan afoot….

You probably know what is coming next….

….probably not quite in the way you envisaged it though….

In other news….

The three ACW ships have been sealed prior to undercoating and painting. The former I will do tomorrow so the painting proper will commence on Thursday. Expect a review over the weekend!

Monday 1 August 2022

Fitted Out…Nearly!

Component parts for each of the three ships. The two Union ships are at the top of the picture - the Frigate on the left and the sloop on the right - with the Confederate sloop at the bottom.

My new ‘modelling time’ regime appears to be working well. Essentially, during the week I am now able to spend early evenings - around half an hour or so - up in the man cave before relaxing with the Memsahib and Netflix or similar. 

This evening my efforts were directed at the hulls and the deck fittings. These are quite basic and are usually limited to random hatch covers or gun mounts. I also now add a square to mount the funnel on - simply because it looks better than having the funnel merely stuck straight on the deck. Gun barrels are added right at the very end once the model has been assembled and painted.

The next step will be to seal the component parts prior to undercoating and painting. If I crack on I should be able to have these finished by the end of the week which will be a kind of milestone in a way as this will be the last of the fully rigged models for the project.

Let that sink in for a while….