A quick update as to the progress on the above title. The final text has been passed over to the editor in chief for some cosmetic formatting tweaks and then it it over to the proofreader for him to work his magic. All being well it should be available very soon but in the meantime, here are a couple of tasters:
This is a long running and continuing journey around a collection of ideas, projects, games, models and a variety of wargaming related themes from my own imagination and from others. As I have been described as having the attention span of a forgetful goldfish you can rest assured the resulting subject matter will be diverse and (usually) entertaining! "He lived in a frenzy of enthusiasm — but nothing lasted for long with him".
Wednesday, 30 November 2022
Tuesday, 29 November 2022
Cossacks, Polish Lancers and Zulus
The front of the box….
….and the rear. Note the blocks and the map detail - very useful for the budding Portable Wargamer looking for a readily usable map of the region….
You may recall a while ago I picked up a copy of the above board game which covers the Polish - Soviet War 1919 - 1920. This is a card driven block based game that uses a map that is town to town based rather than using hexes - rather like Columbia Games 1815 game Napoleon. It looks really good fun and is designed for two to four players. Given rather more pressing priorities - ACW ships and the final work for the Portable Ironclads Wargame - the game has sat on the shelf awaiting some attention. At this stage the two card decks - one for the Poles and one for the Soviets - are still in their shrink wrap, the counters are unpunched and the blocks have yet to be labelled. I had also made a mental note to read up on the war in order to add some historical context. There are a couple of Osprey titles covering the war - both of which are on the Christmas list - but I seemed to recall seeing the book below in a branch of Waterstones some years ago and so after a little digging was able to track down a copy via eBay for the princely sum of £4.21 including postage.
A small A5 sized hardback edition by Adam Zamoyski - I reckon with the brace of Osprey titles currently on my Christmas list and the useful notes on the war contained in the game above I will have pretty much everything I need for a Portable Wargame experience.
One of the ‘long way down the road’ projects I am planning is a late 19th century Colonial style set up using the figures included in the board game War in the Age of Imperialism by Eagle Games. The basic European style infantry figure (of which there are a couple of hundred in the box!) is pretty close to a Zulu War British infantryman in a standing firing pose. I added a box of Hat Industry Zulu War British Infantry Command, together with their very nice Colonial artillery and the inevitable Gatling gun set. Ideally I wanted to get the Hat Industry Unmarried Zulu boxed set containing 60 figures but this is as rare as hen’s teeth at present. The ESCI and also Call to Arms Zulus are nice albeit a little fiddly in terms of assembly. To be honest I kind of parked the idea for the time being as I figured that hopefully when I am ready to pull the trigger they will be more readily available.
The contents of a most welcome Jiffy bag! Bob mentioned that the shields and spears were missing but that is not too much of a problem and is easily rectified. I was particularly pleased with the number of riflemen included for reasons that will soon become apparent….
Anyways, a chance exchange of emails with the painting machine that is Bob the Old Painter ended up with a small Jiffy bag arriving of some ESCI Zulu War figures to get me started with. I mentioned to him that I had a cunning plan with these and so now can unveil the beginnings of an idea.
The tribal figure included in War in the Age of Imperialism is a splendid looking fellow but there are only 16 of them - hardly enough for a Impi! Well, the plan I am thinking about is to use the above in conjunction with the aforementioned tribal figure to set up an African tribal imagi-nation called tentatively the Mazuti. This is a fusion of the Masai, Zulu and Ashanti types. The army will have fierce warband style warriors backed by skirmishing firearms equipped warriors and some as yet to be organised mounted types. The Mazuti empire will be based in central Africa but will have an outlet to the sea but again, I have not gotten as far as planning it out yet.
That is the kernel of the plan though but it will be a while before anything tangible happens with it. Or maybe not….
My thanks to Bob for the figures and rest assured they will be used in one way or another!
Friday, 25 November 2022
Time is your greatest adversary….
Two pairs operating in a welded wing formation - I wonder where they could possible be heading and why?
I will say no more. Ok, then I will. No clues but a teaser of the action being played out for the Portable Ironclads Wargame. Trust me, so far it has been great fun. I cannot see any of those pulling 10g though….
Wednesday, 23 November 2022
War in the East - an Absolute War
The front of the box….
….and the back
I recently acquired a couple of secondhand boardgames at a very good price and in excellent condition - particularly the subject of this post as it was unpunched and still in the shrink wrap. One of the pair has been earmarked as a Christmas present so I am not at liberty to divulge any details but the other one is now ‘in the public domain’ so to speak.
The Russian Front in WW2 needs no introduction from me as a topic of wargaming interest and indeed, over the years I have fought games on the subject from all levels from skirmishes up to strategic boardgames. The above definitely falls into the latter category and it has piqued my curiosity in many ways.
The nicely rendered map board - note the use of areas rather than the more usual hexes.
To begin with, the map uses areas for movement rather than hexes which, along with a low counter density, makes for a pleasantly spacious and uncluttered playing surface. There are no dice for combat resolution, instead cards are used which also add specific tactical or strategic options. I must admit that having played the old Avalon Hill classic Russian Campaign many times I will interested to see how the approach in this game works out. I should also mention that the solitaire suitability is quite good as well.
The two counter sheets - the top features the units whilst the bottom are various game markers
Production wise the game is top drawer. A fully mounted map board and oversized full colour counters add to the look of the thing and the rules and playbook seem fairly straightforward although somewhat illogically the basic game rules require some of the regular rules to work properly - a point made on BoardGameGeek. For all that it is something I shall look forward to setting up and tackling in due course - a world away from 19th century ironclads for sure!
Sunday, 20 November 2022
In Karma Waters….
U.S.S. Carondelet on the left, U.S.S. St.Louis in the centre and the U.S.S. Louisville on the right - the traffic light flotilla….
Partially inspired by Boy George and Culture Club and their hit single Karma Chameleon I present the trio of City class ironclad gunboats sporting funnel bands of “Red, gold and green….red, gold and gree-ee-een…!” Well the video was based on a riverboat set during the 19th century so it had a certain whimsical appeal to me….
The C.S.S. Mississippi - once again she was underpowered, incomplete and eventually burned to avoid being captured by Union forces. Her very existence, along with the C.S.S. Louisiana, influenced Union strategic thinking as their deterrent value was substantial
On a more serious note the above trio of ironclads have also been commissioned. A brace of the C.S.S. Atlanta - one with each flag so the Union get to use her as well (and they did!) and the C.S.S. Mississippi - a rather large casemate ironclad being at the same time as the C.S.S. Louisiana. The brace of Atlantas still need to have a spar torpedo assembly fitted.
Next up are three more fully masted types before we head back down into gunboat territory and the final brace of ironclads - a pair of C.S.S. Tennessees, one for each side.
Friday, 18 November 2022
The Final, final additions….
To paraphrase the eminent archaeologist Dr. Indiana Jones - “Octagons, why’d it have to be octagons….!”
I think it is fair to say that the ACW project has very much been a good example of project creep! I shall be drawing a line under it once the final batch of models have been completed but, inevitably, there has been a minor twist in the tale. The batch of 15 models that I have been working towards completing has now morphed into 17, simply because I have decided to add two copies of the C.S.S. Tennessee to the collection. Why two models? Well, after she was captured at Mobile Bay the Union repaired and recommissioned her so having two models, one under each flag, makes sense (at least to me anyway!). This will take the collection to 72 scratch built models - and there are still holes in the respective fleets!
There is a certain irony in this as when I originally embarked on this project - we are now in the third autumn of its duration - the plan was to build around a dozen models that were designed to be generic and with the option to swap flags as required. So here we now are - building duplicates of models instead of swapping flags to allow for captures and with a collection six times the size of the original plan!
Meanwhile the other four ironclads have been varnished prior to final assembly and flags (and painting funnel bands for the City class) and so will be making their appearance shortly.
Stay tuned, as they say….
Thursday, 17 November 2022
Still Moving Along (and with the Gnawing idea in tow….)
The current state of play. Just a few pieces of tidying up to send to and then the final assembly, varnishing and the all important raising of the respective ensigns are all that remain. Next up will be the three on the right - the masts are assembled and ready to go (and have been for weeks now) and then we are left with eight to go.
‘Twas a dark and stormy night’ - at least that is how it sounded in the man cave this evening as the rain lashed against the windows and the wind picked up. We had the mists earlier in the week and so are currently waiting on the ‘mellow fruitfulness’ to arrive - Autumn is definitely here methinks!
I had a good session with the paintbrushes in the man cave which meant that the armour colour was added to the four ironclads. All that now remains is for some tidying up of the odd area of overpainting and then the final assembly can take place. These four will definitely be ready for action at the weekend. Nearly that is, in the case of the pair of Atlantas. I say nearly because for these two I have yet to work out how best to model the spar torpedo they carried. I will certainly be adding this but my early attempts have so far ended up looking way too ‘heavy’ for the model. Once I have this worked out it will be simple enough to add them later.
The gnawing idea continues to tease me. It is one of those that absolutely has no logic to it but then again, how many wargames projects have? That was a rhetorical question! Seriously though, It is something that would require a subtle rethink of my building process - you would have probably guessed that it is a naval endeavour - but, and this is the issue I am grappling with, it would open up something else if I pursued it, something that is definitely on the ‘to do’ list.
I am quietly hoping that I can weather the storm of enthusiasm over this idea so that what passes for normality in my world will resume. Time will tell.
Monday, 14 November 2022
Painting and the Gnawing Idea
Once the ironclads are finished the frigate and sloops (the three on the right) will be ‘deck finished’ - including varnishing - prior to the masts being added. The craft strip contains funnels, pilot houses and a paddle box for the City class gunboat (on the left) waiting to join her two sister ships (at the top of the picture).
As is now my custom I retired to the man cave for a little brushwork this evening and whilst it may not seem like much I was pleased with the progress. The four ironclads now have their woodwork painted and all the deck fixtures have been second coated. The next stage will be the armour and the final assembly followed by varnishing and the ensigns. I also took the opportunity to go over the green funnel bands of the U.S.S. Louisville (top left of the picture) so they are now more obviously, well, green. For the record the next ship in this class will have yellow funnel bands.
Work on the battle report continues apace and I hope to be fighting the planned action this weekend, by which time the ironclads should have been commissioned.
The gnawing idea continues to gnaw - no details as yet but it will require a similar approach a to that of the ACW and industrial quantities of MDF….
Sunday, 13 November 2022
Pictures, Painting and an Idea
A brace of City class ironclad gunboats - in this case the U.S.S. Carondelet (with the red funnel stripe) and the U.S.S. Louisville (sporting green funnel stripes). Note the octagonal pilot house - not angled as per the historical original but a closer representation than the square block I used previously!
I was able to spend some time in the man cave this afternoon tackling a couple of bits and pieces in relation to the forthcoming Portable Ironclads Wargame book. I needed to get a couple of pictures organised to support one particular chapter and also for the front cover. This was great fun to do and the results are currently with Bob for his perusal. I also managed to get some work in on the seven ships currently being painted. The four ironclads have their decks painted so the armoured bits and pieces are next. As part of this I was also able to refurbish the pair of City class gunboats I had built some time ago. They now have an octagonal pilot house although it is not sloped as per the original. It does look a lot better though. There is one more currently being painted so there will be three of these ‘Pook’s Turtles’ in the collection. The three ships with a full sailing rig will be next, shortly followed by more gunboats for either side.
I have also nailed down some more details for the battle report that will feature in the book and am looking forward to fighting it and writing about the resultant mayhem.
Now about the idea….
Saturday, 12 November 2022
The Battle of Lissa 1866
A welcome addition to the library and possibly the inspiration for another project? You may think so….I couldn’t possibly comment…. :-)
When I first saw the above book advertised my curiosity was naturally piqued! It is very much a book of two halves in that the first is devoted to the evolution of the ironclad warship including the introduction of steam engines, shell firing artillery and armour spanning the period from the end of the Napoleonic Wars via the Crimean War and the ACW up to the battle of Lissa itself. The second half covers the Italian and Austrian fleets and the campaign and battle itself.
Needless to say for this period the indefatigable David Manley has published an excellent set of rules and a campaign supplement for Lissa - the rules are called Broadside and Ram and are a step up from Dahlgren and Colombiad in that they are designed for fleet level actions rather than lower level.
The prospect of building the fleets for this is a tempting one but to be frank I am quite close to being ‘ironcladed out’ so will pass on it for now - but it may feature at some point and in a different way from the ACW project.
So….back to the models and writing!
Thursday, 10 November 2022
The Magnificent Seven
From left to right there is a frigate, two sloops, the C.S.S. Mississippi, a pair of C.S.S. Atlantas and a City class ironclad with two painted sisters at the rear, awaiting their new pilot houses. The wooden strip at the top of the picture contains the funnel, pilot houses and the paddle box for the City class. These are mounted on double-sided tape for ease of handling whilst being painted.
No, not the film - nor the Samurai version, magnificent though it is! I am of course referring to the seven models in the picture above. These seven models, once completed, means that there are eight left to go of which four are next under the brush, three are under construction and one exists as an idea!
I was able to get the hatches painted and also the hull white lining on the two sloops but time ran away with me in respect of sealing the masts. No matter, I shall attend to them tomorrow, along with the decks. There is a fair amount of work remaining as far as painting is concerned but it is all manageable and more importantly, I am looking forward to it.
Who would have thought it? Me looking forward to painting something….
It’s All in Black and White….
Tuesday, 8 November 2022
Marking One’s Card
That is the hard bit finished - now preparation for the painting.
To be strictly accurate in this particular case my card has already been marked - simply because Warbases have done so! Aside from bespoke MDF pieces they also have a very useful sideline in cutting 1mm thick grey cardboard - the type of thing that is usually backing a notebook or writing pad. The sizes I have found incredibly useful - not to mention saving a huge amount of time - are the 5mm square, 10mm x 5mm, 10mm sure and 20mm by 10mm. All of these have featured in the models built thus far, usually as gun port covered or hatches.
C.S.S. Atlanta - note the spar torpedo assembly in the side profile picture
Yesterday evening, after another busy day with work stuff, I retired to the man cave after dinner to add the aforementioned card 5mm squares to the pair of Atlantas and the City Class gunboat. There were 33 in all, 15 for the City class and 9 each for the two Atlantas. My usual method is to pencil in where the lowest part of the gun port will be and use the roof of the casemate as a reference point when sighting them on opposite sides. This was all well and good with the symmetrical arrangement of the City class, less so with the Atlantas. The Confederate ship appears to have had three equally space gunports along her starboard side looking forwards whilst the port side had two slightly more forward and one to the aft. No matter, it all added to the fun! One thing I do have to think about for the Atlantas is the spar torpedo assembly. I do not want this deployed as it would make the model far too long so the plan is to build this in the travelling position which appears to be straight up at ninety degrees to the hull, possibly angled out at forty five degrees. I need to think about this and some more Google Fu will doubtless be needed.
The plan for today is sealing and undercoating so all four (including the previously readied C.S.S. Mississippi) of the final batch of casemate ironclads will be ready to paint.
Sunday, 6 November 2022
Just in Case, Mate….
Four casemate ironclads currently under construction - the two painted City class gunboats On the right) are currently waiting on their new octagonal pilot houses.
After having accrued rather a lot of brownie points on Saturday I was able to spend some time in the man cave working on the remaining models. The brushes stayed in their jar so centre stage were the knives, assorted files, pencil and ruler, my trusty bradawl, steel ruler and two types of adhesive. It was the turn of the casemates for three ships - two C.S.S. Atlanta and a City class gunboat.
My technique for building casemates is an exercise in brute force. A central block of the appropriate size then has the four sides angled up against them. The brute force element is the filing and shaping of the angles - and this is vigorous work indeed!
All was going well until one of the casemate sides of one of the Atlantas split along the grain just as I was filing it into position.
Oh flip I said. Oh shake my fist in anger I ejaculated! After much muttering under my breath and roundly cursing a cruel fate, I set about replacing the damaged side - this involved measuring out and cutting a new piece, all this after removing the glue etc from the original effort. It was swiftly done and after much flam and paradiddle the new piece was securely in place. All’s well that ended well but it did put me a little behind as I had intended to get the gunports and hatches in place as well but sadly time was against me.
The sealing and undercoating will follow and then of course, the final painting.
Saturday, 5 November 2022
Planning for the Final Chapter(s)
The Rayleigh shipyard in action. Sort of. I shall close of the casemates tomorrow and then it is adding gunports and hatches. Funnels, pilot houses and flagstaffs are painted off the model and added later.
It has been an insanely busy week with work and the usual domestic round. I say usual domestic round because it is now usual following Laurel’s surgery. Whilst the children do what they can when they can due to work that is largely confined to the weekends. So it falls on my shoulders to tackle the usual weekly routine stuff that previously would have been Laurel’s domain. I am not doing everything but still a fair amount, simply due to what Laurel is unable to do being still largely wheelchair and walking frame bound. For her, standing for any length of time is a challenge and quite unsettling as her left leg still tends to have a mind of its own and decides to give up the ghost at odd moments. Needless to say I tend to fret about her like some kind of mother hen whilst she is perambulating - usually without any need but one never knows! We have a catch up with the neurosurgeon at the end of the month so can see where she is against the plan so to speak.
Anyhow, all this has wreaked havoc with my time, especially as work has been flat out.
I am no nearer finishing the models than the last time I wrote although I was able to undercoat the C.S.S. Mississippi - that is as far as I have got! Actually that is not strictly true as I also managed to get the casemate sides for the two models of the C.S.S. Atlanta and the final City class gunboat cut out and assembled. I also took the opportunity to remove the box-like pilot houses for the two City class I had previously built. The reason for this is quite simple - I now have the correct octagonally shaped versions although without the angled sides. When the one I am building is finished I will have three of them, so along with the U.S.S. Essex and the U.S.S. Benton I have a pretty powerful squadron for use along the rivers.
What I have done though, is to have decided to split the battle report into two chapters. The first will cover the scenario from the perspective of the scenario and the rules whilst the second will cover the battle itself. For the latter the plan is to write it largely as a battle report (complete with the obligatory purple prose!) with only the occasional reference to the rules. I was looking back over some of my blog battle reports and they are quite variable in terms of the amount of rules or of the narrative displayed. Writing the battle as an action rather than an exercise in the use of the rules will make it rather more interesting methinks although I shall reference certain rules where appropriate.
I also need to take a couple of additional pictures to support the existing chapters so will look to get that done tomorrow.
Tuesday, 1 November 2022
Planning for the Final Chapter
I have completed as far as possible all of the text for the Portable Ironclads Wargame with the exception of the battle report which will also be included. Originally I had planned to include two or three such reports of increasing complexity but this is no longer viable, mainly as I no longer have the time available to do this properly. I have settled on one action and hope that I can make it sufficiently interesting/inspiring for those that have persevered with the project.
It is fair to say though that this is something I am really looking forward to doing! Thus far I have nothing concrete decided upon although an idea has been gradually coalescing for a scenario. Including a battle report seems to be trickier than I first imagined mainly due to wanting to strike a balance between playability and the need to use as many facets of the rules as one can for illustrative purposes. It is a conundrum for sure, but a pleasant albeit challenging one to have.
Thoughts about the Battle
The action will definitely be taking place on the rivers rather than being coastal or high seas based. It will not be a historical refight of anything, rather it will be a typical, ‘based upon’ style of action. My thinking at present runs along the lines of a small Union force tasked with neutralising a small Rebel fort that is rumoured to be supported by an ironclad and other naval assets. This would involve around half a dozen ships or so and a fort - perhaps with some offshore defences. The trick here is not to get it too complicated as it could then potentially run on for too long. I will set a game turn limit in order to force the pace slightly. For the Union time will be their greatest adversary….
Provisionally the Union will have a monitor and an ironclad gunboat with a couple of side wheelers to make up the numbers. The Rebels will have a casemate ironclad and a gunboat along with the fort etc.
I am two minds as to how to best to write up the action. I would prefer to go down the battle report approach, describing it as though it was an actual battle rather than a rule description exercise. I suspect that the final draft will have elements of both especially given my fondness for the occasional bout of rather florid purple prose!
This is where my thoughts are currently headed and in order to get the battle fought and the write up written I really need to get a wriggle on.
Time is my greatest adversary….