Saturday, 24 January 2015

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 158

Yesterday's post included the latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society).

The articles included in this issue are:
  • An unusual war memorial by Dan Allen
  • Stellenbosch or Courts Martial: The problem of disciplining senior officers during the Anglo-Boer War by Andrew Winrow
  • 'Exemplary service': The 44th Regiment in the Crimea by Major Frank Clark
  • C.J.W. Grant VC and Manipur by Chris Kempton
  • Book Reviews by Dr Roger T. Stearn
  • Bandmaster William Clark, 1st Bn. The East Surrey Regiment: Errata
  • About the VMS
There are a very eclectic collection of articles in this issue. I will be particularly interested to read about the role of the 44th Regiment in the Crimea as I was brought up in South East Essex, the Regiment's old recruiting ground.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Going Loco: Part 14: Painted locomotives

I have now finished painting the last of my toy train set conversions. These are two 0-6-0 locomotives ...

... and one 0-4-0 locomotive.

They were painted with Humbrol matt enamel paint (Black No.33).

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 382

The February issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in the post this morning, and I have spent a couple of very relaxing hours reading it.

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
  • Hanky planky: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Debacle on the Danube: Designing a campaign game by Steve Jones
  • Gravelines: Wargaming with Vauban fortresses: part 3 by Henry Hyde
  • Hammerhead 2015: Official Show Guide
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Mongol campaigns in Syria: Part 1: The Battle of Hims, 1281 by Mick Sayce
  • Passing the torch by Mike Hobbs
  • Rapid Fire is 21: How a ruleset can remain popular for decades by Richard Marsh
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Recce
  • The Featherstone Annual Tribute by Henry Hyde
The first thing that struck me as I read through this issue was the fact that RAPID FIRE was celebrating its twenty first year in print. I must admit that I had not realised that it had been around for quite so long, and although I have never used them (I prefer to fight my World War II wargames at a slightly higher command level), I did find them inspirational.

Other items of note are:
  • A mention of Conrad Kinch's JOY AND FORGETFULNESS blog in the World Wide Wargaming section
  • Conrad Kinch's own Send three and fourpence section, which looks at ways in which limited ammunition supply can be represented on the tabletop
  • Steve Jones's Debacle on the Danube article, which describes how he set up this particular wargames campaign and that includes a description of how he created his campaign map, the Orders of Battle of both sides, and his simple campaign rules. Lots of useful and informative stuff.
Yet another excellent issue of what has become my favourite wargames magazine.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Going Loco: Part 13: Painted wagons

I have now finished painting my three high-sided wagons ...

... and five flat-bed wagons.

They were painted with Humbrol matt enamel paints (Desert Yellow No.93 and Black No.33).

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A recreation of Lieutenant Chamberlain's Game of Naval Blockade

As I mentioned in my recent blog entry, some years ago I recreated Lieutenant Chamberlain's GAME OF NAVAL BLOCKADE and demonstrated it at SALUTE. I subsequently took it along to a naval wargames event organised by John Curry aboard HMS Belfast, and today I found two of the photographs that I took of the game in use.

The game was designed to be set up quickly ... and if the necessity arose (i.e. a call for all hands to go to their Action Stations) a game could be stopped and put away by the simple expedient of folding the board along its centre – with the ship models, islands, and rocks inside – and tipping the whole lot into a convenient draw in the wardroom.

Now that is a truly portable wargame!

Monday, 19 January 2015

A simple Ironclad vs. Ironclad wargame

Whilst reading the latest addition to the 'History of Wargaming' Project – OVER OPEN SIGHTS: EARLY NAVAL WARGAMING RULES 1873-1904: EARLY WARGAMES VOLUME 4 – I began thinking about the possibility of designing a simple Ironclad vs. Ironclad wargame. Captain (later Admiral) Colomb's THE DUEL: A NAVAL WARGAME rules were far too complex to be a starting point for my needs, but Lieutenant Chamberlain's GAME OF NAVAL BLOCKADE rules – which I have previously used and demonstrated at SALUTE – struck me as being much closer to my requirements.

Lieutenant Chamberlain's rules use a 20 x 20 squared grid, but I wanted to use my Hexon II hexes ... and I don't have enough to create a hexagonal grid that is anywhere near to being that big. Therefore my first major change was to reduce the range of the armament carried by the opposing ships so that they would have room to manoeuvre before being able to open fire on each other.

The second major change I made was to allocate each ship a flotation value. (I am going to use flotation values of 20 for each ship in my play-test.) In Lieutenant Chamberlain's rules ships can only be sunk by ramming (they were written at the height of the era when the ram was seen as being the Ironclad's main weapon) but I wanted my ship's to sink if they were repeatedly hit by gunfire.

The Game Apparatus
  1. A dice marked as specified in Rule 12;
  2. A dice cup;
  3. A playing board (12 x 10 hexed grid);
  4. Two Ironclads armed with one bow  gun, one gun on each broadside and one stern gun;
  5. Islands and/or rocks (Optional ... but no more than a maximum of three of each).
The Rules of The Game
  1. Choose sides by tossing a coin. The winner selects which of the two Ironclads they wish to command. The vessels are then placed as follows:
    One Ironclad in one of the hexes in the centre of the North edge of the board, heading South;
    One Ironclad in one of the hexes in the centre of the South edge of the board, heading North.
  2. If islands and/or rocks are to be used, the player who won the toss up places the islands and/or rocks, aligned with the hexes marked on the board, as follows:
      not less than two clear hexes from the North or South edge of the board) AND,
      not less than one clear hex from the other edges of the board AND,
      not less than one clear hex from each other.
      As for Islands but may be closer to the North or South edge of the board (i.e. not less than one clear hex away from the North or South edge of the board).
    • The first move is made by the player who lost the toss.
    • Move one hex at a time, alternately, except as specified by Rules 15 and 16.
    • Stopping is not allowed, except when disabled. (See Rule 15)
    • Course may be altered by six points, to Port or Starboard, each turn (i.e. 60 degrees) at the beginning of the turn.
    • The speed of the two ships is equal, except when disabled.
    • Going astern is never allowed, even to avoid being rammed.
    • One side wins if sinks its opponent before it gains open sea (i.e. by moving on to any hex on the opposing edge of the board).
    • The Armament of the ships is as follows:
        A bow gun, with an arc of 60 degrees either side of the fire and aft line;
        One gun on each broadside, with a 120 degree arc of fire (i.e. 60 degrees from the fore and aft line);
        A stern gun, with an arc of 60 degrees either side of the fire and aft line.
    • Ships are in range when separated by five or less clear hexes.
    • The Firing Dice is marked as follows:
        One side marked D4 (for Disabled and four flotation points are lost);
        One side marked H2 (for Hit and two flotation points are lost);
        One side marked H1 (for Hit and one flotation point is lost);
        Three sides marked M (for Miss).
    • Ships moving and in range may fire any guns that bear. Ships move before firing.
      • Ships may fire over rocks but not islands. Use a ruler to establish whether the line of fire is blocked by any intervening island.
      • A Disabled ship stops and the other immediately moves three hexes, altering course as required. No firing is allowed by either side during this movement. If the moving ship finishes on the same square as the Disabled ship, the latter has been rammed. (See Rule 16) Otherwise the Disabled ship is brought back into action, moving one square straight ahead, firing as normal if any guns bear.
      • Note:
          Ships are temporarily Disabled only, unless they are rammed;
          Disabled ships have sufficient way to alter course once;
          A ship disabling its opponent twice in a turn, inflicts the loss of eight flotation points, but only gets one ramming attempt.
      • Successful ramming wins the game as the rammed ship is deemed to sink. The only exception is when the ramming is head on (i.e. the ships are bow-to-bow). Ships cannot be rammed head on; they may only be rammed in the side or stern.
      • Hits reduce a ship's flotation value. When a ship's flotation value is reduced to zero (0) it sinks.

      These are by no means a perfect set of rules for an Ironclad vs. Ironclad battle ... but I think that they will be worth play-testing.

      Sunday, 18 January 2015

      Going Loco: Part 12: Painted armoured train and railway gun

      I have now finished painting the first of my toy train set conversions, the armoured train (an armoured locomotive and two armoured wagons) ...

      ... and the railway gun (0-4-0 locomotive and railway gun).

      They were painted with Humbrol matt enamel paint (Cockpit Green No.78).

      Saturday, 17 January 2015

      New Spanish Civil War book from Osprey

      Last year I bought a copy of Alejandro de Quesada's THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR 1936-39 (1): NATIONALIST FORCES. The book was illustrated by Stephen Walsh and published by Osprey Publishing as part of their 'Men-at-Arms' series No.495 (ISBN 978 1 78200 782 1).

      The companion volume about the Republican forces has just been published, and a copy arrived in today's post.

      THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR 1936-39 (2): REPUBLICAN FORCES has also been written by Alejandro de Quesada and illustrated by Stephen Walsh, and is published by Osprey Publishing as 'Men-at-Arms' No.498 (ISBN 978 1 78200 785 2).

      I must admit that I have not wargamed the Spanish Civil war for quite a long time, but reading this book has rekindled my interest. Whether that turns into anything more concrete remains to be seen ... but you never know!

      Friday, 16 January 2015

      ConSim guest session at King's College, London

      Yesterday – for the second year running – I attended the ConSim guest session at King's College, London. The session was chaired by Professor Phil Sabin and the main guest was a Major Tom Mouat, who works at the Defence University, Shrivenham. (I have known Tom Mouat for over thirty years, and he is a very informative and entertaining speaker as well as being a very experienced wargame designer.)

      After a brief introduction entitled 'Professional Utility of Wargames' by Phil Sabin, Major Mouat made a presentation entitled 'Wargaming in the UK MOD'. As usual with any talk done by Tom, this was informative, incisive, and witty.

      After a short break each of the 'guests' (including me) briefly introduced ourselves. We were particularly asked to give advice to the fledgling wargame designers. Mine covered three main points:
      • Wargame design requires that you ...
        • Always have clear Aims and Objectives as these will define your ...
        • Specification, which in turn evolves into your ...
        • Initial design. This should be rigorously ...
        • Play-tested as this will help you to ...
        • Refine your Final Design.
        • Once the final design is completed, resist the temptation to tinker with your completed project!
      • Simplify, simplify, simplify!
      • Always remember that the Outcomes should define the Processes/Mechanisms and Inputs you use and not the other way around.
      After each of the 'guests' had spoken, the students had the opportunity to ask questions and the 'guests' were invited to make suggestions/comments as to possible solutions or avenues that the students might wish to follow. The session ended with most of the attendees continuing the discussions informally. In my case I spent about thirty minutes talking to one student about their wargame ... and I think that my advice was of some help to them.

      I will certainly go to future ConSim guest sessions if I am invited as I find them help me to reflect upon what I have learnt from the wargames that I have played and designed.

      Thursday, 15 January 2015

      Going Loco: Part 11: The painting begins

      Over the past few days I have been undercoating/priming my completed toy train set conversions. As I don't have access to anywhere I can use spray primer, I have had to do this by hand using a paintbrush.

      Yesterday I decided to begin painting the green topcoat on the armoured locomotive, the two armoured wagons, and the railway gun. I used Humbrol matt enamel No.78 (Cockpit Green), and despite stirring the paint for the best part of five minutes before using it, it dried with a satin rather than a matt or flat finish. This is extremely frustrating but not irretrievable ... so I am going to have a second attempt today ... after stirring the paint for even longer!