Sunday, 29 November 2015

Building modular fortifications: Part 1 - The raw materials

Despite several attempts to find my existing model fortifications, I just cannot seem to find them anywhere in my wargames room. I have therefore decided to make some replacements, and in doing so to make them modular so that they can be arranged in a variety of different layouts to suit my wargaming needs.

Because I don't want this project to be too costly, I looked around to see what raw materials I had available to use. Luckily this did not take long, and within a matter of minutes I had a pile of 50mm x 50mm MDF figures bases and 50mm long sections of pine on my worktable. The MDF bases were bought some time ago from a leading supplier, and to date I have been using them as bases for my 25/28mm pre-painted Del Prado Napoleonic cavalry. The lengths of pine were from a game called 'Tumbling Towers' (a copy of Jenga) and cost £1.00 for a boxful of 39 pieces.

I intend to glue the lengths of pine to the MDF bases to form the walls and towers of my new fortifications, and because they are all going to be in units of 50mm, the bulk of my 15mm-scale Colonial figures (which are mounted on 40mm-wide multi-figure bases) will fit on them quite nicely.

I expect that it will take a several days to build my new fortifications, and I will write blog entries about my progress as and when it is appropriate.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Slow but sure progress

I had hoped to have fought my planned Colonial wargame by now ... but sorting out the things I want to use has taken me a bit longer than I expected.

Firstly I could not find the particular version of Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules that I wanted to use. I wrote them back in 2013, and thought that they were safely saved in one of the files on my computer. What I found was the version for use with a hexed grid, but not the version for a squared grid. In the end I am having to write them afresh, based on the hex grid version.

Secondly I cannot find the fortifications that I wanted to use to represent the walls of the city that is being attacked. I have searched high and low for them in my wargames/toy room, but I just cannot find them. I have therefore decided to build some new ones from scratch, and I expect that this will take me several days.

Thirdly I cannot find the sand-coloured cloth that I intended to use to cover my tabletop. It is already marked out in a squared grid, with large dots marking the corners of the grid squares. I know that it is somewhere in my wargames/toy room because I saw it during my recent sort out ... but I have obviously put it somewhere 'safe' and cannot remember where! (Its my age, you know!)

Once all these irritating but minor inconveniences have been overcome, I will be able to fight my wargame. It is now just a case of how long it will take to overcome them, and will I manage it before I lose my temper!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Nugget 285

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N285) from the printer today, and I intend to post it out to members of Wargame Developments tomorrow morning.

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

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Connections Australia 2015

I received an email today from Todd Mason, one of the organisers of Connections Australia 2015 conference. (The other two organisers are Mariana Zafeirakopoulos and Marcus Carter.) The event will be held in the Steve Howard Lecture Theatre, Interaction Design Lab, Level 5, Doug McDonell Building, at the University of Melbourne on the 14th and 15th December 2015.

The program looks like this:

14th December

10.00 – 11.00: Session 1: State of Play
  • Connections International: Rex Brynen (McGill University)
  • MORS Professional Wargaming Initiative: Marcus Tregenza (Land Simulation, Experimentation and Wargaming, Defence Science and Technology Group)
  • Emergency Management COA Planning: Dereck Chong (University of Melbourne)
11.00 – 11.30: Break

11.30 – 13.30: Session 2: Computer Simulation
  • Defence Experimentation and Wargaming: Marcus Tregenza (Land Simulation, Experimentation and Wargaming, Defence Science and Technology Group)
  • Emerging Technology: Marcus Carter (University of Melbourne)
  • Virtual Paramedic: Justin Dunlop (Ambulance Victoria)
  • Visualisation of Natural Disasters: Mahesh Prakash (CSIRO)
13.30 – 14.30: Lunch

14.30 – 16.00: Session 3: Board and Map Games
  • Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game: Rex Brynen (McGill University)
  • State Library of Victoria – Chess Collection: Jan McDonald (State Library of Victoria)
  • Gallipoli Map Kriegsspiel: Roger Lee (Army History Unit)
16.00 – 16.30: Break

16.30 – 18.00: Session 4: Human Dimensions
  • Emergo Train: Emergency Response Training: Ambulance Victoria
  • Human Factors in Games: Peter Hayes
  • Bringing Wargaming into the Boardroom: Paul Fitton
19 00 onwards: Dinner

15th December

09.00 – 10.30: Session 1a
  • Isis crisis Matrix Game COA gaming (DSTG)
10.30 – 11.00: Break

11.00 – 12.30: Session 1b
  • Isis crisis Matrix Game COA gaming (DSTG)
12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

13.30 – 15.00: Session 2a
  • Aftershock Game Development Workshop (based on last year's activity)
15 00 – 15.30: Break

15.30 – 17.00: Session 2b
  • Aftershock Game Development Workshop (based on last year's activity)
This looks like it is going to be a very interesting conference, and I really regret not being able to go.

If any of my regular blog readers who live in Australia are interested in going, I understand that you can register via Eventbrite. According to the information on the Connections Australia webpage:
'There will be no cost for conference attendance, however a gold coin donation to cover tea and coffee would be appreciated. No meals will be provided (other than coffee, tea and biscuits etc.).'
That sounds very reasonable to me!

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Colonial inspiration!

I have been fumbling about for some inspiration for my first tabletop battle in some time ... and then I came across some pictures that I had used in a blog entry that I wrote quite some time ago.

The pictures are of one of Joseph Morschauser's wargames, and they were featured in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE. From the description in an article about his wargame that Joseph Morschauser sent to Donald Featherstone, and which the latter published in WARGAMER'S NEWSLETTER: No.66 (September 1967), they appear to show an attack by British troops on the Great Wall of Morobad, which surrounded the city of that name.

These photographs have given me an idea for a scenario, and I hope to use it for my forthcoming wargame.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Child 44

Sue and I finally managed to get around to watching the DVD of the film CHILD 44. The story is based (very loosely) on the story of the hunt for Andrei Chikatilo, a Soviet serial killer who is thought to have killed more than 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990.

The film is based on Tom Rob Smith's book of the same title which is set during the last day's of Stalin's regime in Soviet Russia. The film's makers took great pains to try to capture the 'look' of the period, and I must admit that I found it reasonably convincing, as was the atmosphere of continual uncertainty as to who one could or could not trust.

The cast includes:
  • Tom Hardy (as Leo Demidov, former war hero and member of the MGB who is disgraced and sent to Volsk)
  • Noomi Rapace (as Raisa Demidova, Leo's wife, who is a school teacher)
  • Joel Kinnaman (as Vasili Nikitin, a former soldier who is Leo's main rival in the MGB)
  • Gary Oldman (as General Nesterov, head of the Militia in Volsk)
  • Vincent Cassel (as Major Kuzmin, Leo's superior officer in the MGB)
  • Jason Clarke (as Anatoly Brodsky, a veterinary surgeon who is accused of being a British spy, and who names Raisa as one of his contacts when he is tortured)
  • Paddy Considine (as Vladimir Malevich, a former Soviet Army surgeon who works in a tractor factory)
  • Fares Fares (as Alexei Andreyev, also a former war hero, who is Leo friend and a fellow officer in the MGB)
  • Charles Dance (as Major Grachev, Major Kuzim's replacement)
  • Tara Fitzgerald (as Inessa Nesterov, General Nesterov's wife)
One interesting aspect of the film is that its opening scenes depict the fighting inside the Reichstag building in Berlin, and the staged raising of the Soviet Red Flag over the building after it had been captured.

When it was released, this film got a lot of bad reviews, but I felt that although it strayed somewhat from the plot of the book, which was itself considerably different from the original story of the hunt for Andrei Chikatilo (the story of this hunt for a serial killer is told exceptionally well in the film CITIZEN X), I enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in life in Stalin's Russia.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Nugget 285

The editor of THE NUGGET has done a wonderful job yet again, and this afternoon he sent me the draft of the latest issue of THE NUGGET. I intend to check it and print it this evening, and I hope to be able to take it to the printer tomorrow morning. I should then be able collect it from them by Friday, and to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by no later the following Monday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out with the NUGGET 283 to all subscribers who had not yet re-subscribed.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Books, books ... and more books!

When I sorted out my wargames room, I also 'pruned' my collection of books. I ended up with a largish pile of books that I put into cardboard boxes and shoved to one side until I had time to deal with them.

Thanks to the bad weather that we have had today (including the first short-lived flurries of winter snow early this morning) I had to time to start this task this morning ... and I have just finished cataloguing what I am getting rid of. Luckily I know someone who deals in second-hand military books, and I am hoping that he will take my surplus off my hands and possibly even convert them into a bit of cash that I can spend on new wargaming projects. If there is anything that he doesn't want, I will try to sell it via eBay, although I may well see if any of my regular blog readers might be interested in buying any of them first.

Now that is done I can begin to think about fighting a tabletop battle (or two) to get my wargaming pulse racing again.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 392

The December issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in today's post and I managed to have a quick read it this afternoon.

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
  • Positively bristling: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Snowfall – spy-fi ski action: Exciting off-piste events for alpine games by Marcus Wheeler
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • The Stono Slave Rebellion: Upheaval in South Carolina, 1739 by Jim Webster
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • The Peloponnesian War: A game of strategy and tactics in Ancient Greece by Mike Haran
  • King of the battlefield: Thoughts on artillery by Franz Ehart
  • Making hay: Pastoral bliss on the wargames table by Tony Harwood
  • Cádiz for wargamers: A fistful of fortifications by Henry Hyde
  • SELWG 2015 by John Treadaway and Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
My favourite article in this issue was Henry Hyde's Cádiz for wargamers. Having been to Cádiz many times I have managed to walk around the city's fortifications and to spend time in the Castillo de Santa Catalina and the Castillo de San Sebastian as well as visiting the still very impressive city gateway. As Henry mentions in his Briefing, the food is excellent, and Sue and I particularly enjoyed eating in the small restaurant that is situated on the eastern side of the Cathedral Square.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sorting things out

I managed to spend quite a bit of time this afternoon and this evening sorting through my collections of wargame figures ... and I now have a reasonable understanding of what I am going to have to get rid of and what I need to re-base.

In the former category are my 20mm-scale early twentieth century colonial figures. They are lovely figures that I bought ready-painted from David Crook, and when I bought them I had lots of plans as to how I was going to use them ... but these have come to naught, and they are currently just occupying storage space that I could use for other projects.

On the re-basing front I have two projects that I could embark upon. The first is my 20mm-scale Megablitz collection, in which the foot figures are mounted on non-standard bases. (They should be on bases that are approximately 40mm x 40mm but mine are bases that are 50mm x 35mm. This does not make them totally unusable with other people's Megablitz stuff, but it is a task that I have been thinking about undertaking for a long time.) The second is my 15mm-scale Austro-Prussian collection, which is currently mounted on thin metal bases that are not compatible with my other 15mm-scale stuff.

Of these two possible re-basing projects, the latter would be the most sensible to undertake first ... but as the need to do either is not particularly pressing I could look at doing something else first ... and that would be to varnish and base the remaining Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures that I own. These are almost all from the Battle of Austerlitz range rather than the Waterloo range that I originally started out with, and comprise some French Infantry (that could be used as Reserves or Veterans) and enough Russian figures to constitute a small army.

Doing the latter would mean that I would have pretty well completed my collection of Napoleonic figures, although I have a sneaking feeling that I may well add to it in the future. For example I don't have an Austrian or a Spanish army in my collection as yet, and if suitable figures came my way I might well be tempted to buy them.

But before I do any of the above, I need to fight a tabletop battle or two to get my wargaming pulse racing again. Looking back I don't seem to have pushed any wargames figures around on the tabletop since the middle of September (the last wargame I took part in was actually the Funny Little Wars re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo on a lawn in central London), and that seems to have been a very long gap. With luck I should be able to remedy this situation within the next week or so ... and then I can get my teeth into a new project or two.