Saturday, 28 February 2015

Ritual

The online version of the Oxford Dictionary defines 'ritual' as being:
Noun
  • Religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order
  • Prescribed order for performing a ritual ceremony, especially one characteristic of a particular religion or Church
  • Series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone
Adjective
  • Relating to or done as a religious or solemn rite
  • (Of an action) arising from convention or habit
Now I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a Freemason, and as such I regularly take part in Masonic rituals. On Monday I am attending a meeting of the London Lodge of which I am a member, and have a minor part to play in the ritual of Installing a new Worshipful Master as head of that Lodge. I have 'volunteered' to deliver what is know as 'The Address to the Brethren', which is the very last piece of the ritual of Installation. The problem is that despite all my efforts, I cannot seem to be able to learn it!

I must explain that I am originally – and still remain – a Hertfordshire Mason. In Hertfordshire the 'Address' is always delivered by a senior Grand Officer (e.g. the Provincial Grand Master, his Assistant, or one of his Deputies) and as I do not occupy one of those important offices, I would not be expected to know it. In London things are done differently, and the 'Address' is usually delivered by someone who is a Past Master and relatively senior within a Lodge.

At present I know the opening part of the ritual ... and I know the end. It is the bit in the middle that I seem to be having trouble with ... and however much I try, I just cannot get the words to 'stick'. The ritual was written in the early part of the nineteenth century, and contains some long sentences with several clauses. This makes it difficult to learn, but I know that if I could get the rhythm of the words right, the rest will follow.

I intend to spend as much of today (and probably tomorrow as well) trying to learn this piece of ritual. In theory I could just read it out ... but I am now determined to learn it. It has become a mountain that I need to climb, if only for my own satisfaction!

Friday, 27 February 2015

Nugget 278

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N278) from the printer yesterday afternoon, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments tomorrow.


I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.


IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent to members by post and email as soon as they re-subscribe.

VERY IMPORTANT: All the residential places at the 2015 Conference of Wargamers (COW2015) have now been booked. There are still non-residential places available, and these can be booked via the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Blücher

I recently visited arthur1815 and whilst I was there I had a chance to look at his copy of Sam Mustafa's latest rules, BLÜCHER. I must admit that I was very impressed by what I saw. The rules were very well laid out, the diagrams were clear, and there were plenty of illustrative examples. Furthermore there were very few photographs of figures in the book, and those that were included were there for a reason and not just eye-candy or to pad the book out. The book was also a hardback with a proper binding, and printed on very good quality paper. All-in-all it struck me as being a good quality and attractive product. Arthur1815 and I tried out the free, downloadable campaign maps (the SCHARNHORST MAP SYSTEM) and both felt that it both simple and worked very well indeed.

Some days later I had an exchange of emails with David Crook (who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog) in which he extolled the virtues of BLÜCHER. He made the very valid point that as I was finally doing something with my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures, what I needed was a decent set of appropriate wargames rules. He advised my to buy BLÜCHER ... and he supported his advice by mentioning that they were the first Napoleonic wargames rules that he had read that treated the Ottoman Army with equal importance as the other armies of the period.

In the face of such overwhelming logic (well it was about as persuasive as it needed to be bearing in mind that I already like the look of the rules!!), I bought a copy ... and it arrived in today's post.


I haven't had much time to look though the rules as yet, but they certainly look as good as I remembered. I particularly like the idea that you don't actually need to base the figures you use on a particular size of base as long as the bases you do use are of a consistent width. The latter fact is important because all measurements are made in base-widths. (It struck me immediately that this should make the rules work well on a grid ... but I think that I need to read them thoroughly before going down that particular route!)

The situation with regard to my first real foray into Napoleonic wargaming is looking good. I have a book of rules that I think will meet all my needs, I have a collection of appropriate figures that I am gradually getting ready, and I have a simple campaign system that I can use. All that's left is for me to put some suitable martial music on the CD player ... and off I go!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Prussians are coming!

Not so much coming ... as arrived!

I finally finished basing the Prussian Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures that I own ... although I have a few more that I bought recently on eBay that are yet to arrive.

Prussian Infantry


Prussian Cavalry


Prussian Artillery


Note: They are currently using 'borrowed' British ordnance. I hope to replace this with appropriate Prussian artillery pieces in due course.

Prussian Generals and Officers


I have gloss varnished the figures to protect them from minor damage and painted the bases with Humbrol Matt Grass Green enamel paint because I like the Toy Soldier/Old School 'look' that is a result.

I am rather pleased with the way these Prussian figures have turned out, and I am looking forward to doing the next batch of figures from my collection.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Nugget 278

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the draft of the latest issue last night. I have printed the original copy this morning and I plan to take it to the printer later today. This means that I should be able to collect it from them on Thursday, and I hope to be able to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Friday or Saturday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed should do so as soon as possible. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent by post and email to members when they re-subscribe.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Back to bases ...

Strictly speaking I haven't been basing figures today ... I have been preparing some to be based.

To date I have based almost all of my Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic Prussian infantry figures (I have three spare figures) and prepared my Prussian artillery figures for basing ... and today I have been touching up any damage on my Prussian cavalry figures prior to varnishing them later this evening. With luck I will be able glue them to their bases at some point during tomorrow morning, and once the glue has cured I will then finish them off by painting the bases with Humbrol Matt Grass Green enamel paint.

I have been working on the slow-burn, non-priority project for some weeks (since 5th February, to be precise), doing little bits as and when I could. As a result I have not suffered from that lack of interest or lethargy that sometimes strikes when one is working on a large project, and I have made better progress than I hoped that I would.

Once the Prussians are finished I hope to move on to the 'odds and sods' that form part of my collection. These include Brunswickers (all infantry) and Dutch-Belgians (Belgian infantry and Dutch cavalry), both of whom fought on the Allied side at Waterloo.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Barbarossa Mini-campaign: Battle No.3: Triple line

Having beaten off the determined Russian counter-attack, the somewhat weakened Germans continued their advance into Soviet territory. By this stage Russian resistance was weak, and the Germans knew that if they were to reach Moscow before the snows of Winter arrived, they had to push on and destroy all remaining Russian forces.

This was the third battle of my Barbarossa Mini-campaign.

Triple Line
This battle used Scenario 26 from Neil Thomas's ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. The Germans had six units and the Russians had four units.

The Germans had:
  • Three Infantry Units (= 12 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Tank Unit (= 3 Strength Points)
Note: The German will become exhausted when they have lost 11 Strength Points.

The Russians had:
  • Two Infantry Units (= 8 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
Note: The Russians will become exhausted when they have lost 7 Strength Points but as they are defending and will obey Stalin's 'Not one step back!' order, this will not seriously effect them.

The terrain looked like this:


Note: In the original scenario the defenders do not have any fieldworks, trenches etc. For this battle I decided that the second line of defenders would have had time to dig in, and I have therefore allowed them a line of trenches.

The battle began when the leading German units entered the battlefield.


The Russians were already in their defences ... waiting.


They did not have to wait long. The German Tank Unit moved forward and engaged the Russian Infantry Unit that was guarding the bridge, forcing it to retire.


The Germans then moved their Artillery Unit onto the battlefield.


Having clearer away the bridge's defenders, the German Tank Unit advanced across it and fired for a second time at the same Russian Infantry Unit, inflicting 25% casualties upon it and forcing it to fall back yet again.


The right-hand German Infantry Unit moved towards the bridge to support the advancing Tank Unit ...


... as did the German Machine Gun Unit.


The Russian Artillery Unit opened fire on the German Tank Unit ... and hit it.


Whilst this was happening the foremost Russian Infantry Unit advanced into the woods near the river as this enable them to threaten any German units moving forward over the bridge.


The German Tank Unit moved across the front of the Russian trenches and engaged the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit. Despite being in trenches, the Russian Infantry Unit lost 25% of its initial strength.


The leading German Infantry Unit advanced across the bridge, but was unable to fire at any of the Russian defenders.


The Russian Machine Gun Unit fired at the leading German Infantry Unit and hit it.


The German Infantry Unit was then fired upon by the Russian Infantry Unit that was in the woods, and although no casualties were inflicted, the German Infantry Unit was forced to retreat onto the bridge.


The Russian Artillery Unit fired for a second time at the German Tank Unit ... and destroyed it!


Despite the loss of the Tank Unit, the Germans pushed forward in the hope of achieving a quick and decisive victory.

First the German Infantry Unit on the bridge moved forward and into the woods on its right.


Secondly the German Machine Gun Unit moved forward on to the bridge, ...


... and the remaining German Infantry Unit entered the battlefield.


The Russians failed to respond to this movement, and the German continued to press forward.

Fighting broke out in the woods near the bridge, and resulted in further losses for the Russian Infantry Unit therein.


The German Machine Gun Unit advanced and opened fire on its opposite number in the Russian trenches ... and inflicted casualties on them.


One of the other German Infantry Units reached the bridge and began to cross it ...


... followed by the German Artillery Unit.


The fighting in the woods continued, although this resulted in losses for the Germans rather than the Russians.


These losses were offset when the Russian Machine Gun Unit lost further casualties at the hands of its German counterpart.


The combat in the woods was finally resolved when the Russian Infantry Unit was forced to retire, but the cost was heavy and the German Infantry Unit was destroyed.


The retreating Russian Infantry Unit was engaged by the German Machine Gun Unit, and forced to fall back even further.


Unfortunately for the Germans, the fact that the German Machine Gun Unit had not moved resulted in a traffic jam by the bridge, with units lining up to cross.


In order to clear the way for other units to cross the bridge, the German Machine Gun Unit moved to its left and fired at the Russian Infantry Unit that was in the trenches. This resulted in further losses for the Russian Infantry Unit.


The leading German Infantry Unit moved across the bridge and engaged the Russian Machine Gun Unit ... but with no effect.


The situation then suddenly swung in favour of the Russians. The Russian Artillery Unit fired at the leading German Infantry Unit and inflicted 50% losses upon it.


The German Infantry Unit was then fired at by the Russian Machine Gun Unit ... and wiped out!


At this point the Germans had almost become exhausted, and it was obvious that they would be unable to prise the Russians out of their defences without further reinforcements. The German Machine Gun Unit therefore withdrew to the other side of the bridge, where the Germans began to form a defence line.


This was the final battle of my mini-campaign. The Germans had won the first two battles, but the final one was drawn, leaving the Russians bruised but unbeaten and the Germans seriously in need of further troops. As happened in the real Operation Barbarossa, the Germans had pushed just a little too far and the Russians were able to dig in and hold out.

I rather enjoyed the whole process of the mini-campaign. It gave the flavour of a much large campaign without becoming too tedious. The outcome of the battles was reasonably realistic and all the battles were fun to fight. Although I fought them as solo wargames, my playing card-driven unit activation system ensured that I could not favour either side and the combat system (which is almost entirely drawn from Richard Borg's MEMOIR '44) produced reasonably balanced results that were also unpredictable.

I will certainly use this mini-campaign structure again, and I thoroughly recommend it to other wargamers who fight solo wargames or who do not have easy access to a wargames club where they can take part in a campaign.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 383

The March issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post this morning, and I although I have yet to read it in detail, it looks like being yet another excellent issue.


The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Teddy O'Rorke: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Tyrell's crisp attack: Skirmishing on the Isle of Wight, 1377 by Dan Mersey
  • Mongol campaigns in Syria: Part 3: The Battle of Al Salamiyya by Mick Sayce
  • Gravelines: Wargaming with Vauban fortresses: part 4 by Henry Hyde
  • Command challenge: Paddling in the Piave by Steve Jones
  • The sands of Sudan: Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing by Carlo Pagano
  • Wednesday night fight: Borney-Colombey 1870 by Dave Tuck
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Recce
  • The Featherstone Annual Tribute by Henry Hyde
I particularly liked:
  • 'The Wargamer's Project Process' section and flowchart that is included in Neil Shuck's Forward observer (I know the various stages of the process very well indeed)
  • Steve Jones's Command challenge scenario 'Paddling in the Piave' as he demonstrates how an historical scenario set in 1809 can be adaptable to several other periods
  • Brad Harmer's tribute to the work of the late game designer John Hill

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Barbarossa Mini-campaign: Battle No.2: Late arrivals

Once the Germans had broken through the Russian front-line they advanced as rapidly as they could into Soviet territory. The Russian response was to send all available units forward to meet the invaders, to defeat them, and then to throw them back across the border.

This was the second battle of my Barbarossa Mini-campaign.

Late Arrivals
This battle used Scenario 10 from Neil Thomas's ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. Both sides had six units available to take part in the battle.

The Germans had:
  • Three Infantry Units (= 12 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • Two Tank Units (= 6 Strength Points)
Note: The German will become exhausted when they have lost 11 Strength Points.

The Russians had:
  • Four Infantry Units (one of which was Militia) (= 15 Strength Points)
  • One Anti-tank Gun Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Tank Unit (= 3 Strength Points)
Note: The Russians will become exhausted when they have lost 10 Strength Points.

The terrain looked like this:


The leading German troops had outstripped their supporting units and had halted in order for them to catch up. The Russians were already rushing reinforcements forward to stem the German advance, and a clash was inevitable. It was know that the German support units were moving up the road that ran through the built-up area in the corner of the wargaming board nearest the camera, and that the Russian troops would be arriving via the same road but from the opposite corner. The hill was deemed to be unclimbable and was regarded as impassable terrain.

The battle began when the first Russian units (led by their Tank Unit) entered the battlefield. The Russian Tank Unit immediately engaged the German Tank Unit ...


... and missed!

The Germans responded by moving their Machine Gun Unit out onto their right-hand flank whilst their Tank Unit fired at the Russian Tank Unit and forced it to withdraw.


Further Russian units arrived on the battlefield ...


... and this enabled the Russians to move forward.


The Russian Tank Unit's fire forced the German Tank Unit to withdraw down the road towards the built-up area ...


... whilst the Russian Anti-tank Unit was able to open fire on the German Machine Gun Unit and inflict 50% casualties on it.


At this point the first of the German support troops arrived, and this enabled the Germans to begin counter-attacking.


The German Tank Unit fired at the Russian Tank Unit and reduced its effectiveness by 33% ...


... and the German Machine Gun Unit was able to return fire upon the Russian Anti-tank Gun Unit and kill half of its gunners.


The duel between the two Tank Units continued ...


... but no further damage was caused.

A Russian Infantry Unit had moved forward and engaged the German Machine Gun Unit, but it was equally unsuccessful.


Events then began to favour the Germans when their Tank Unit was able to hit the Russian Tank Unit twice ... knocking it out.


The German Machine Gun Unit switched target and fired at the Russian Infantry Unit, but was unable to hit it.


The German Tank Unit now moved forward and forced the foremost Russian Infantry Unit to fall back.


This success was followed up by the two German Infantry Units, which advanced on either flank of the Tank Unit.


The Russians responded by moving their Anti-tank Gun Unit into the woods (thus giving it some protection) and forming a road block with their Infantry Units.


The left-hand German Infantry Unit fired at the Russian Infantry Unit in the centre of the roadblock, inflicting 50% casualties upon it.


The German Machine Gun Unit also engaged this Russian Infantry Unit, and reduced to 25% of its original strength.


The German Tank Unit chose to fire at another of the Russian Infantry Units ... with devastating effect.


At this point the Russians had reached their Exhaustion Level (they had lost 10 Strength Points) but were still in a position to defend ... which they chose to do.

(Once a side reaches its Exhaustion Level it cannot take any offensive actions such as advance, but may either retreat or fight on in the hope that they will exhaust their opponent. In this case Stalin's 'Not one step back!' order seems to have been obeyed.)

The Russians quickly proved that they were unwilling to give up their positions. The Anti-tank Unit fired at and hit the German Tank Unit ...


... and the Russian Militia Infantry Unit moved forward to support the Russian front-line.


At the same time the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit engaged the nearby German Infantry Unit and caused it to suffer 25% casualties.


The Germans reacted by moving their right-hand Infantry Unit forward, ...


... bringing further troops onto the battlefield, ...


... and wiping out the Infantry Unit in the centre of the Russian front-line.


In the hope that they could stem the German advance, the Russian Anti-tank Unit fired at the leading German Tank Unit and forced it to fall back.


The left-hand Russian Infantry Unit engaged the German Machine Gun Unit at long range, but their fire was ineffective.


The German response was vigorous and effective. The leading German Tank Unit moved forward and engaged the Russian Anti-tank Gun Unit ... and destroyed it!


The second German Tank Unit also advanced and engaged the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit. The latter was already reduced to 25% of it original strength, and this attack wiped it out.


The left-hand German Infantry Unit also moved forward and fired at the Russian Militia Infantry Unit, but the range was long and the German Unit's fire was ineffective.


The left-hand German Infantry Unit moved forward again, and this time its fire reduced the strength of the Russian Militia Infantry Unit by 33%.


The undamaged German Tank Unit advance and engaged the remaining Russian Infantry Unit, which it forced to retreat.


Both the Russian Infantry Units then fired at the nearest German Infantry Unit. The Russian Militia Infantry Unit's fire had no effect ...


... but the Russian Infantry Unit's fire did inflict a 25% loss upon the German Infantry Unit.


It was now only a matter of time before the Germans prevailed ... and when the end did come, it came very swiftly.

The right-hand German Tank Unit moved forward and fired at the remaining Russian Infantry Unit, inflicting 25% casualties on it


The left-hand German Tank Unit followed suit, and forced the Russian Infantry Unit to retreat.


Soon afterwards the leading German Infantry Unit engaged the Russian Militia Infantry ... and wiped it out!


The sole remaining Russian Infantry Unit was destroyed moments later when the left-hand German Tank Unit advanced yet again and fired at the Russian Unit.


The Germans had won the battle ... but at a cost. Its units were spread out all over the battlefield, and if the Russians were able to mount a counter-attack, the Germans could easily be pushed back. The Russians had also suffered casualties that might be difficult to replace if the campaign was to be a prolonged one.

At the end of the fighting the battlefield looked like this:


This battle was set up on Sunday night and fought in several short sessions on Monday and Tuesday. One of the joys of using the card-driven unit activation system is that it is possible to leave a battle in situ and return to it without having to worry as to which side had the initiative or whose turn it was to move their units next.

It was a real 'ding-dong' battle, and although the Russians ultimately lost, they had held up the German advance and inflicted a significant number of casualties.