Sunday 26 February 2023

The Wargamer’s Strategy of the Indirect Approach

Gotta love an over the top looking cinematic style rule book!

I am absolutely convinced that most wargamers are proficient in the art of buying things with the aim of using them for something different! I have been undertaking a low level disposal program and as a result have built up a modest war chest for, you've guessed it, other projects....

I have previously mentioned about Stargrave, Xenos Rampant, the ‘Fistful’ series and also Five Parsecs from Home - all Sci Fi related and very ‘Space Opera’ rather than ‘gritty’. The game you see above - Siege of the Citadel in the Mutant Chronicles range - contains a shed load of material - over forty figures (28mm scale and moulded in hardish plastic), seven double sided map boards and a 3D central section so eight areas in total to fight over, all the cards  and dice etc required, together with a selection of scenarios, a campaign and some solo rules. The whole thing cost £40 and I reckon this is an absolute bargain - mainly for use with the other rulesets mentioned!

The back story of the game itself features several huge galaxy spanning corporations competing against each other and the ‘Dark Legion’ - a hell-spawned undead horde of monsters and such like and occupiers of the aforementioned citadel - think Space Hulk or similar. It looks like fun and I will certainly give it a go, especially with the solo option.

The bad guys

There is enough of a variety of figures to furnish a couple of Xenos Rampant forces as well as a good crew for Stargrave. All in all then,I like to think that this is a pretty sound investment that will indirectly furnish me with a few good options.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame

Ironclads in action during a recent game.

Since the publication of the Portable Ironclads Wargame I have been in something of funk regarding what comes next. It was always my intention to add to the title but I never really had any concrete ideas about what to add. I thought about a series of campaign specific supplements supported by more ship building - nothing wrong with that idea - but decided against that in the way originally considered. There is a plan B for that particular idea which I will outline at a later date. I finally settled on Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame as a kind of ‘blooper reel/outtake/extras’ type of publication which will not only expand on the original by way of optional and advanced rules but will also look at some of the mechanisms that for a variety of reasons did not make the published version.

I experimented with a number of ideas beforehand, particularly with firing mechanisms and these are all largely self contained in that you could readily replace the existing version with them without any major impact. I described the original rules as being very much a toolkit and by offering the alternatives the player can use whichever works best for them. Another option concerns the use of a square grid rather than hexagonal. This has rather more impact and would need to be tidied up considerably before unleashing on the unsuspecting gaming public!

In my mind’s eye I see Developing the Portable Ironclads Wargame as being in two halves. The first covers the aforementioned alternatives that were trialled extensively during the design phase. The second half will be a selection of optional and advanced rules and will include an action fought using some of these - and I am quite excited about this particular part!

Finally, I will also include a far more comprehensive ship listing for the ACW.

When this is finished (and much of the material exists already and merely needs ordering and tidying up) I  reckon all I will be left to do is to enjoy some other periods and make a few more models, as well as getting some games in.

As for the plan B, watch this space but not too carefully as this will be slightly further down the road….

I will say no more.

Thursday 16 February 2023

A Smorgasbord of Boardgames….Part 1

This will a picture heavy post for the simple reason there is an awful lot to show! A collection of boardgames has found its way into my hands and whilst there are a few I am hanging on to the vast majority are up for grabs. The gamer in question is downsizing his collection due to an impending house move. The games range from the Romans up to WW2 and are hex and counter and block types, strategic and tactical. Everything in the pictures below has been listed on a couple of Facebook marketplace groups but given that not everyone uses that I figures showing them here would be a good idea. They are not expensive and in many cases have not even been punched out. If there is anything that takes your fancy post a comment or if you prefer email me directly on: where I can go into detail about condition and prices etc.

I am happy to ship overseas but be warned, at present this is incredibly expensive especially as I will only post out tracked and insured.

So, without further ado, here we go.

The top two are unpunched

All of these Vae Victis titles have the English rules and are unpunched

Waterloo 200 does not have the blocks labelled

This is a monster with a strategic campaign game and a square gridded battle board for the tactical side

1806 has its blocks labelled whilst the game bottom right has not had the unit counters cut out

All counters have been punched out and bagged whilst the blocks for Prussia’s Defiant Dtand have been labelled.

The next post will feature the remaining games.

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Livin’ For the Weekend….

An old model adorning the mantelpiece in one of the tea rooms. No one could tell me anything about it but that it had been in the house for as far back as anyone could remember. Note the turret/gun houses with gun barrels facing all four points of the compass

It has been a busy but thoroughly enjoyable weekend! Yesterday, the 13th, was Laurel’s birthday and our wedding anniversary and so the celebrations started on Saturday. We visited some friends of ours that live in Maldon and enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea at Mrs Salisbury’s Team Rooms - there was so much to eat that the cakes inevitably came home with us in a box and indeed, were not finished until yesterday! 

The eatables with Laurel looking very warily at the firework display! The sandwich selection consisted of Tuna crunch (cucumber and peppers), ham off the bone with mustard and cheese with mango chutney - all were very tasty indeed! Note the wallpaper design consisting of a lot of balloons with various means of propulsion - my thoughts wandered to using the designs, adding some weaponry and making a game out of it….

Gotta love a scone with jam and cream - note the shape of the scone which, had it survived being eaten my yours truly, would have been quite apt for Valentine’s Day!

The big event of the weekend was our overnight stay at the Roslin Hotel in Thorpe Bay - just along the coast from Southend. This was a big deal as it was the first time that Laurel and I have been away since her surgery in January last year. The hotel is not cheap but fortunately for us the stay was a present from Laurel’s sister - and what a wonderful present it turned into! We were only there for one night but opted to make use of the spa facilities and so whilst Laurel had a lower leg massage and pedicure yours truly opted for a head, neck, shoulder and back massage, courtesy of a young Polish lady by the name of Anna. She was short and slightly built but was incredibly strong and so managed to unknot knots that I didn’t realise I had. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I felt incredibly loose-limbed afterwards.

A Tiramisu house brick

I hoovered this up as I was always Torte to finish my food….

The Roast Beef of old England

Gotta love a Prawn Cocktail - especially one as well made as this!

Included in the package - described as the ‘Sunday Special’ - was a three course traditional Sunday roast which turned out to be probably the best Sunday roast we have ever eaten out. We opted to have the same starter which was an old school prawn cocktail except this was anything but. Set on a bed of avocado purée, topped with lettuce and cucumber and with  a prodigious quantity of prawns in rose Marie sauce and sprinkled with smoked paprika it was simply delicious. The roast beef main course was served with all the usual trimmings - roast potatoes, cauliflower cheese with a hint of mustard, puréed carrots and swede, cabbage and Yorkshire pudding. All cooked to perfection and served piping hot. The homemade horseradish sauce was hotter than expected for sure! Deserts were a Tiramisu for Laurel - the size of a house brick and after the culinary onslaught of the previous course she barely managed to eat a half of it - and a chocolate and hazelnut torts with a cherry sauce and vanilla ice cream for me. 

Not quite the Mediterranean but easy on the eye nevertheless….

Monday morning dawned bright and sunny and so the view from the balcony was a pleasant one to wake up to (Sunday had been uniformly grey and drizzly). We had a full English breakfast so as to avoid needing lunch and checked out at eleven to head for home. 

Squirrelus Giganticus….

Monday afternoon, as it was such a nice day we took the decision to go to the local nature reserve at Hullbridge to feed the squirrels - not that they needed much in the way of feeding judging by the size of the above specimen!

As is the tradition in our house whoever’s birthday it is gets to choose the takeaway - invariably Turkish or Indian - so with the family we sat down to an Indian yesterday evening and so our wonderful birthday and wedding anniversary gastronomic weekend came to a close.

It was fantastic - and much needed! 

Monday 6 February 2023

Wargamer’s Block(s)

The block types as they stand. Those nine on the left with number ten at the head are the traditional horse and musket types - infantry, cavalry and artillery with black bands for heavy and white for light types - whilst the five on the right are machine guns, mortars, anti tank artillery, wheeled vehicles and armour.

I slowly seem to be emerging from the cold induced lethargy of recent weeks and so one of the projects that is on the ‘to do’ list appears to be nagging me for some attention! I am of course referring to the planned repurposing/refurbishing of my block armies - an example of which you see in the picture above.

I am more than happy with these - at least for the classic ‘horse and musket’ period - and as you may recall I have sets available in red, blue, green, light grey and brown as well as those above. As well as these seven colours I also have a mixed set that I use primarily for tribal types for Colonial era games.

The full ‘Army Khaki’ set. Each section contains six blocks except for the two sections by the handle (on the right) which contain three apiece. The red, green and blue set have machine guns but no other ‘modern’ types. They also have more standard infantry and cavalry blocks.

I am keen to upgrade the ‘modern types’ in some way and thinking about this led me to consider how I use the entire collection. The units you see are effectively a ‘Jenga’ style block cut in two and with a self adhesive label designating the type stuck on the top. Originally my plan was to use them for Command and Colours/Portable Wargame style games on either square or hexed grids. One block would represent a strength point and so a combat loss meant the removal of a block from the unit. It worked ridiculously well and I have fought a substantial number of games using them.

Sometime ago I had the beginnings of an idea to use a selection of MDF shapes to designate units that were equipped with a specific weapon type. For example, a unit of infantry archers would have a bow and arrow token placed on the unit somehow. On the face of it the idea was a sound one but hen I had visions of vast numbers of tokens falling off units and confusion on the tabletop abounding. I have not binned the idea but I have been rethinking it. 

For both the pre gunpowder and mechanised periods I need to be able to more effectively represent specific troop/weapon types and the idea I ask pursuing will free up a number of blocks that can be repurposed into another set. It is quite radical and will involve copious amounts of MDF but I think I am onto something. No details for now but I shall be positing the designs in due course so you can see where my head is at.

Saturday 4 February 2023

Busy Doing Nothing….

WW2 on the Eastern Front - about as far away from 19th century Ironclads as you could get!

The back of the box

The theatre of war - note the use of geographical areas rather than the more traditional hexes

Large counters and relatively few of them make the game rather attractive for the time/enthusiasm challenged gamer!

Since my last post I have been stricken with a dreadful chesty cough and cold. As a result of this, along with ongoing dramas at work and a lack of sleep has meant that I have been doing very little gaming related - even my initial wave of enthusiasm after receiving the Battleships book seems to have abated. I am feeling rather better than a week ago but the gaming lethargy is still present. I was planning to go to Cavalier at Tonbridge at the end of the month but due to other commitments this is now off the table.

I have no shortage of ideas to play around and for sure I will get to them in due course but for now the most realistic option for me is to take a look at my board game inventory. Fortunately I have a few to experiment with and being able to leave any such undertaking set up in the man cave makes it even more attractive as I can dip ‘in and out’ as the enthusiasm fluctuates (which it is at present!).

Absolute War covers the Eastern front during WW2 at a strategic level and the subject has given me many great games over the year - both board and table based. I have no immediate plans to do anything using models - maybe something in 2 or 3mm possibly - but never say never…

I may have to watch Cross of Iron again, purely for research purposes naturally….