Friday 30 December 2022

Christmas and Looking Forwards

The two volumes of Samurai Armies of the Late Sengoku period are absolutely superb - they are rather like Ospreys on steroids - and Lion Rampant would be my choice of rules for the large scale skirmish style of game. Mr Fox very kindly sent me an army list of Japanese troop types for use with Lion Rampant and these will be perfect for my needs (he really is a great chap!). The other two Osprey titles are in support of my plan for a Russo/Polish style set up based on the board game ‘Strike of the Eagle’.

No dice and blocks for units and cards. A quite superb map, top quality components and just the ticket for the budding Japanese overlord!

The Memsahib struck gold with this one!

I have had a great Christmas, albeit rather more busy than expected! There has been an unending round of domestic chores - the ones that cannot be easily fitted into a working week - that have now been successfully completed and one rather large personal project, more of which later in this post.

The family surpassed themselves on the prezzie front and so two of my projects for next year have been very nicely supported. I have previously mentioned about a Samurai project of one sort or another. I have the wherewithal to tackle this in two scales - 20mm via Shogun and 28mm via Warlord Games - along with potentially a naval dimension. I am still very much at the planning stage with this and in truth it has not gotten past the ‘I want to do something Samurai related - either Shogun or Last Samurai based’ stage but we shall see!

The Russo/Polish War is not something I would ordinarily be thinking about but it has a lot of potential in a number of ways - at least from the perspective of how I would game it. Strike of the Eagle by Academy Games is a block based ‘point to point’ card based game that looks really good and translating the blocks into figures would not be to much of a challenge methinks. I have a few ideas about this that I will detail in a further post.

A place for everything and everything in its place….for now at least!

The man cave was due a major reorganisation and general tidy up and so I was able to undertake this gargantuan task and over the course of a couple of days completed it. The amount of old rubbish that has been consigned to the recycling (or non recycling) was an impressive three bags worth but I feel a whole better for having a clean and tidy workspace after the ACW shipbuilding frenzy.

I have of course been thinking about the Portable Ironclads Wargame and the next steps and to be sure, there are few ideas I am playing around with. For now though, I want to enjoy a few games, finish the last six models and think about 2023 and what comes next.

Wishing you all a very happy news year!

Tuesday 27 December 2022

The Return of the Seven

The Union gained an “Old Navy” frigate and a modern sloop. the collection now has two frigates, two old and two new sloops.

The Confederates gain a new commerce raiding sloop and four ocean going gunboats - ideal for coastal operations.

After a couple of minor varnish dramas and some fiddly touching up, the next seven ships for the ACW collection are now completed and ready to join their respective fleets. I set myself a goal of finishing the final six models before the end of the year but somehow think I am not going to make that! Still, after all is said and done the collection now sits at sixty six models with enough diversity of types to satisfy a wide range of potential scenarios.

If I am honest I think that I may have overstretched myself with this lot - working on three or four models at a time is probably more than sufficient - as seven ships really took a lot longer than if I had worked on them as a three and a four. Still, they are completed and will be seeing service soon….

Sales of the Portable Ironclads Wargame continue at a steady rate so many, many thanks to all that have supported this endeavour. I hope that the wait was worth it!

Saturday 24 December 2022

“I Saw Seven Ships Come Sailing By….”

I was hoping to get them flagged and varnished before Christmas but time was against me. The two at the top are both for the Union - another frigate and a sloop. For the Confederates there is a commerce raiding sloop and four gunboats - these are more coastal/seagoing types with the two with white paddle boxes being earmarked for something rather special in the new year….

Not quite the Three Ships of the famous Christmas Carol but in honour of the festive season it was the best I could do at short notice!

The latest additions to the ACW collection consist of a frigate and sloop for the Union and a sloop and four gunboats for the Confederates. I have six more models to build - three of which are half built anyway - and that will be it for now for the main combatants. I will look to build some mortar rafts and flat boats next month but anything more exotic will have to wait. I want to fight a few games with the rules and am looking to get a larger cloth organised to do so. I am also looking forward to getting some terrain pieces made.

It has been quite a year. Laurel and her major surgery, yours truly adjusting to working from home in a new job coupled with caring duties, my daughter dislocating her knee last weekend and the small matter of completing and getting published The Portable Ironclads Wargame. Phew, and then some! Mercifully I have gotten over the four week long chesty cough that really knocked the stuffing out of me and so am looking forward to Christmas with the family and just kicking back with some good food and drink, some trashy TV, some family board games and thinking about nothing much.

However you choose to spend the Christmas season I wish you peace and goodwill and hope to see you all in the new year!

Merry Christmas.

All the best,


Tuesday 20 December 2022

Forests of Masts and Spars

Work in progress

Progress thus far at this stage has been pleasurably easy - no rush, just dabbling as and when the domestic schedule permits - and so I am now at the tipping point of the seven models you see above. The guns will be mounted this evening (they are the white sticks - top left by the superglue) after having been painted and then the hulls are complete. The cutting mat at the top contains the masts for the three fully rigged types (the three hulls on the left of the picture) whilst the masts for the four other gunboats are currently placed in a hull template for ease of handling whilst painting. I will varnish the completed hulls first before adding the masts as it protects the finish during the sometimes quite physical tussle involved in placing the masts.

Should all be done by Christmas in any event.

Sunday 18 December 2022

Last Steps, First Steps

Waiting on fitting out and then it will be the great mast fest to finish off. The sailing rig for all of these is assembled and so merely needs painting and fixing in place - this is not difficult, just time consuming. You can just about make out the next three models in the top right of the picture, the final two have yet to be started.

Now that the Portable Ironclads Wargame is out in the world and the last of the models I wanted to build are close to completion I am now thinking more and more about what comes next. I have mentioned previously that I have a number of options to think and so it is simply a case of deciding which one and then cracking on with it. In the meantime though, I certainly want to get a few games in whilst finalising plans and from choice these will probably be very different to what I will eventually be settling down with.

I want get my Samurai head on for next year so the boxes of 28mm and 20mm figures will get some attention although this will not be hitting the tabletop until the middle of the year at least. Methinks I will be very much going back to school in respect of painting figures as my technique has not evolved since about 1972!

For now though, there is the small matter of a dozen ACW ships that have been earmarked for the collection. Seven of these are very well advanced as you can see in the picture above. Of these there are three for the Union and four for the Confederates. Of the final five the Union get a single models whilst the Confederates get the rest. This little lot will take the collection to 72 in all. I will need to build some mortar rafts and possibly some flatboats but that can wait until the new year as a kind of tidying up exercise.

Onwards and upwards as they say!

Thursday 15 December 2022

It’s Here!

The softback version - I shall be getting a hardback in due course. Really impressed how it has come out!

My copy of The Portable Ironclads Wargame arrived today - many thanks Bob - and I am hugely impressed at how it looks! Seeing something that began as an idea and turned via scribbled notes, Word documents, emails and PDFs into a physical published copy is a truly great feeling!

It is a curious business this publishing lark. Ordinarily one would submit the text and then get some author’s copies for final review before ‘pulling the trigger’. We (Bob and I) were advised that these copies would not be available until January which was a blow as we wanted to go to print in time for Christmas. We were fairly confident that all was well with the book (famous last words!) and so went to press ahead of the arrival of the author’s copies. The upshot of this is that the book can be purchased and hopefully enjoyed before the author has sight of it - a fact the Bob rectified by the simple expedient of ordering a couple of copies - one of which is above. I am really pleased he did! The larger format works very nicely with the rules and text - bear in mind that everything I prepared was via my iPad - and the pictures look very attractive indeed. I am really pleased with how it has turned out.

I have plans for taking the concept forward in time but for now I am looking forward to seeing how gamers find the book and seeing what they do with the rules. For now though, I have a few models to finish off for the ACW collection so will look to do this over the Christmas break as I have now finished work until January. I would love to be able to say that I am looking forward to the rest but the Memsahib has other ideas on the subject….

Tuesday 13 December 2022

The Portable Ironclads Wargame - Published!


It took a while but we finally got there!

At long last and after several minor speed bumps along the way I am at last delighted to say that the Portable Ironclads Wargame is now available!

The details of the book are as follows and yes, it is available via Amazon:


Hardback:        ISBN 979 8 3673 7158 1 (Price = £19.99)

Paperback:      ISBN 979 8 3673 6389 0 (Price = £9.99)

Kindle and PDF (Price = £4.99)

The PDF version is available via the Wargames Vault (click the link to find it)

The book contains the following:

  • Contents
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Acknowledgements
  • A short history of the development of the early ironclads
  • Wars in which ironclads saw action
    • American Civil War
    • The Second Schleswig War
    • The Chincha Islands War
    • The Third Italian War of Independence/Seven Weeks War
    • The War of the Triple Alliance/The Paraguayan War
    • The Boshin War
    • The Russo-Turkish War
    • The Peruvian Civil War
    • The War of the Pacific
  • Designer’s Notes – How I got to Where I got to and Why!
  • The Fundamental Rules of Wargaming
    • The First Rule of Wargaming
    • The Spirit of the Wargame
    • If in doubt ...
  • The Rules
    • Sequence of Play
    • Combat Resolution Overview
    • The Rule of 1 and 6 – Gunnery or Ramming Attacks
    • Firing
    • Movement
    • Ram Attacks
    • Mines and Spar Torpedoes
    • Damage and Sinking
    • Forts, Shore Batteries, and Offshore Defences
    • Ship Specifications
  • Examples of Ship Specifications: The American Civil War
    • Union Ships
    • Confederate Ships
    • Generic Vessels
  • Examples of the rules in action
    • Firing Arcs and Firing
    • Ramming
  • The Rules in Action – More Trouble along the Missenhitti
    • Introduction
    • Six months later …
    • Setting the Scene
    • Dramatis Personae
    • Blueberry Bend, at the Confluence of the Missenhitti and Yahoo Rivers … November 1863
    • In conclusion
  • Modelling the warships of the American Civil War
  • A Review of the Fleets
    • The Union Fleet
    • The Confederate Fleet
  • Final Thoughts, Further Thoughts, Errors, and Omissions
  • Bibliography and sources of information
I am beyond excited about this and wish to thank Bob Cordery for all of his efforts in helping me get this over the line - especially given the events of this year with Laurel and more recently my daughter who managed, two days ago, to dislocate her knee!

The list of people I want to thank also includes David Manley, Angus Konstam, Arthur Harmon, Alan Saunders, Simon Wilson, Mike Haught and everyone that has followed this project for the last two years. The support and good wishes I have received has been truly inspiring and I am very appreciative of all of it - especially when my attention and enthusiasm has been flagging.

It has been an epic journey for me and I hope to make this the first of a number of titles so watch this space and many thanks once again!

Saturday 10 December 2022

Preparing for Action….Portable Ironclads Wargame Style

Given that the Portable Ironclads Wargame has been proofread and amended - just a couple of additional tweaks to have it ready for the grand order of the proof copies - I have been spending some time working on the remaining models and planning some additional refurbishments. The painting modelling tray currently looks something currently looks something like this:

A cryptic shot of the work station. The grey hull and the pair to the right are destined for the South whilst the others are headed North. Note the models under construction on the left.

After an exchange of messages with that very nice chap and authority on the armoured warships of the South, John Wallis, I shall be refurbishing some of the Confederate casemate ironclads into closer historical ships rather than generic. Of the six models I have built in this category four can be readily adapted by the simple expectant of removing some gunports or repositioning the existing ones. This will actually be quite easy to do and so over my Christmas break I shall get them duly repurposed.

The original six models.

These two need the gunports removed entirely and the newer smaller sized versions added.

The left hand model merely needs to have a pair of gunports removed and some of the decking painted over. The one on the right I need to think about but I have a few ideas.

The other refurbishments are chiefly confined to adding gun barrels to deck mountings which are easy enough to do, albeit a little fiddly. These will receive some attention after the remaining models that are currently being built are finished.

The Portable Ironclads Wargame

Not to long go now! 

Wednesday 7 December 2022

The Portable Ironclads Wargame

As mentioned in my previous post I wanted to share a quick update in respect of the Portable Ironclads Wargame.

This is the draft cover for the book - it may well be different in its final version - and it will be available in hardback, softback and digital form.

At the time of writing the book is being proofread with the expectation it will be heading off for the printing of proof copies in the next week or so. Assuming all is well it should be available fairly soon after that. Be still, my beating heart….

Am I excited by this? 



Thursday 1 December 2022

“The Road Goes Ever on and on….”

The tree in its customary position - still more prezzies to go underneath!

It is a curious feeling. All the text for the Portable Ironclads Wargame is being edited and there are only another dozen ships left to build and then, for now at least, it is done. It has been my constant companion for over two years - at least this version has - and I know I need to draw a line under it and tackle something else. Therein lies the problem. I have so many things in various stages of planning that it is difficult to decide which way to go and for me that means the likelihood of a poor decision being made! 

If I am honest I think my immediate ‘post ironclad’ aim is to really get some games in. I am not fussed as to which as I feel as though I need to binge on a wide selection of stuff to gain a recalibrations of focus. I will set some boundaries though - to start with I will not be looking to start anything that is new, new!

I have more than enough ‘stuff’ to work with so all I need to do is to ‘shake the snow globe’ and see how this settles down and in what direction. I do not feel the urge to explore anything outside of what I have already set down previously but I do need to work out the best direction to take in whatever direction I end up taking.

In the meantime though, preparations in Maison Crook for the festive season are under way and so the decorations went up last weekend. The Memsahib assisted with the tree from her chair - she has to rely on that and her frame as standing for long periods is very taxing for her. It is nearly a year since her surgery and needless to say it has been a long and tiring, painful and stressful time for her and the adjustments to most areas of our lives have been far reaching. The overriding concern is how much she will recover and how long it will take. She was supposed to have a consultation with her neurosurgeon last week to see how things are against the plan but this has been cancelled and rearranged for a later date.

Work has been insanely busy and I an also suffering from a miserable head cold so am looking forward to using up some holiday time later in the month. In fact I am off from 15/12 until the new year so I hope to recharge and refresh the brain cells for the new year. 

I am signing off for a couple of weeks, only until I have some news about the Portable Ironclads Wargame, and then it will business as usual. 

See you all soon!