Thursday, 20 October 2016

Some opponents for my 'fine fellows': French Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs

I had intended to take a short break from my Napoleonic project ... but I hadn't cleared away all my painting gear and the storage box of yet-to-be-renovated French figures was on my tabletop ... so my good intentions came to naught.

As I already had several units of French Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in my collection, I decided to do a paint-conversion on some suitable figures in the storage box so that they would be a passable representation of the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs. The main differences in the uniforms are that the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs have:
  • No metal plate on the front of the bearskin
  • No embroidered fabric panel in the top of the bearskin
  • A bearskin plume that is red over green
  • Epaulettes that are green with red fringes
These changes were quite easy to include when I renovated the figures, and the results can be seen below.

These figures will serve alongside the Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in an Imperial Guard Infantry Division in my collection.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Maps from The Shadow Campaign books

I am always on the lookout for maps that might be suitable for use in wargames, and Django Wexler's THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS books contain several very useful ones.

In THE THOUSAND NAMES the map shows that part of the Vordan colony of Khandar in which the fighting takes place.

In THE SHADOW THRONE and THE PRICE OF VALOUR the action switches to Vordan, its neighbouring countries, and its capital, Vordan City, ...

... and in THE GUNS OF EMPIRE the map covers the area of Murnsk that the Vordans invade.

(The map names the area as Mursk but I suspect that it a typographical error as the country is referred to as Murnsk throughout the books.)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

As a child I was lucky enough to have THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS read to me. (When I was a child in Junior school, teachers used to read stories to their class at the end of every day, and one year I had a teacher who read us THE HOBBIT followed by the recently-published LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.)

This early exposure to fantasy fiction rather soured my view of other books in the genre, especially after I re-read Tolkein's books when I was at college in the early 1970s. I suppose it was a case of 'I've read the best, why bother with the rest?' I have tried reading other fantasy novels - including EMPIRE OF FEAR by Brian Stableford, which features Edmund Cordery as one of its main protagonists - but until recently most seemed to be pale imitations of Tolkein's books.

(One book that did stand out as being an exception to this was JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke. It is set in an alternative/fantasy version of England during the Napoleonic era.)

My attitude to fantasy fiction changed when I chanced upon the short story THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler.

It was the first of his series of books that form THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. (I understand that they classed as being 'Musket and Magic' fantasy books.) Since then I have read each of books in the series as they have been published:

The stories are set in a time somewhat akin to the end of the eighteenth/beginning on the nineteenth century, and other than the magic element (and some more adult themes that probably make them unsuitable for younger readers) they can be read as the 'histories' of a number of imagi-nations. There are some obvious parallels with European history at that time (e.g. a revolution against a repressive regime; the invasion of a Russia-like country and the impact of fighting during its winter) and from slightly later (e.g. a colonial campaign in an Egypt-like colony). I understand that the writer – Django Wexler – has used European history to inspire elements of the plots in his books and that he is also a wargamer ... which might account for the way in which the battles that are featured in the stories are described.

Monday, 17 October 2016

My Napoleonic British Army

There are 230 figures in my British Napoleonic Army, and they are organised into five Infantry Divisions and three Cavalry Brigades plus several unattached units that will be used to reinforce any expeditionary force, for home defence, and for garrison duty.

The First Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (1st and 2nd Foot Guards and 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (1st Rifles), an Artillery unit (1st Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (2nd Rifles), an Artillery unit (2nd Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third (Highland) Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (8th (Highland), 9th (Highland), 10th (Highland), and 11th (Highland) Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (3rd Rifles), an Artillery unit (3rd Field Artillery Battery), and an officer on foot.

The Fourth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (4th Rifles), an Artillery unit (4th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Fifth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd Foot Guards, 5th Infantry, 12th (Highland), and 17th Infantry Regiments), an Artillery unit (5th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

(I have christened this Division 'The Orphans' as they are a mixture of all the Infantry Regiments that I had left over when I was organising my British Army.)

The First (Heavy) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Horse Guards), an Artillery unit (1st Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second (Light) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (2nd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st Dragoons and 3rd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (3rd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The rest of the British Army is made up of the following units:
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Highland), 4th (Highland) and 5th (Highland) Militia Infantry Regiments
  • 4th Horse Artillery Battery
  • 6th and 7th Field Artillery Batteries
  • The Commander-in-Chief and numerous supernumerary officers

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A new kid on the block?

A couple of days ago Greg Horne (The Duchy of Alzheim) and Stokes Schwartz (The Grand Duchy of Stollen) announced that they intend to publish a new, free wargames publication entitled THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK. They hope that each quarterly issue will include:
  • Three or four battle reports and/or scenarios per issue;
  • ‘How to ...’ articles;
  • Articles on game or campaign mechanisms;
  • Miscellaneous ‘fun’ articles.
The new publication will not include advertisements, articles aimed at supporting a particular game system or set of rules, reviews, potted historical articles, or what the editors refer to as wargames-related ‘navel-gazing’. It will be published in PDF format.

I’m always willing to support anything that helps to ‘spread the word’ when it comes to wargaming, and this publication will certainly be getting my support. In fact I’ve already signed up to be a recipient and may well offer them the odd article or two. If you are interested in receiving THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK or writing for it, contact them via the following link.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

My final batch of 'fine fellows' is finished!

I have finally finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the British figures in my Napoleonic collection. They comprise of a second unit of Horse Guards, a third unit of Light Dragoons, and three Mounted officers.

One of the latter is a slightly repainted model of the Duke of Wellington. I did this so that I can use the figure to represent a different officer.

The next thing that I want to do before I begin work on the additional French figures in my collection is to organise my British Army into Divisions and Brigades.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th October 1936

The Popular Army established a system of Commissars (Political officers) for each unit.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Sad news

I have only just picked up the news that Jeff Hudelson (who was well-known by his tag, Bluebear Jeff, and for his excellent blogs, including Saxe-Bearstein) died on 2nd October after a long battle against cancer.

My condolences – and those of all wargamers who knew Jeff personally or via the Internet – go to his family. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.

Wally Simon's Skirmish Secrets of Wargame Design

Not long ago Russ Lockwood contacted me and asked if I would like review copy of the latest in the series of books he is publishing. They are all compendiums of articles written by the late Wally Simon, and Russ has edited them into variously themed volumes. The volume that he sent me – No.6 – was entitled WALLY SIMON'S SKIRMISH SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A TABLETOP TOOLKIT OF IDEAS, ANALYSIS, AND RULE MECHANICS.

The book costs $19.00, is published by Lockwood Projects, and is available from On Military Matters (USA and World) and Caliver Books (UK and Europe). It is soft bound with a card cover and has 44 pages.

The contents of the book are as follows:
  • Gladiators Behaving Badly: Bluffing, Buffers, and a Quick Arena Campaign
  • Goin' Command: Falklands Raid: Stealth, Detection, and Demolition
  • Victorian Colonial Skirmish Rules: Attributes, Cards, and D100s
  • Samurai Skirmish: Archery, Windage, and Melee Bands
  • Von Vorren's Machine Gun Duel: WWII East front Skirmish
  • House-to-House Modern Skirmish: Reaction Deck, Wounded, and Response Deck
  • Swath Fire: Volley Fire Variation: For Muskets Through Lasers
  • Bash and Crash Medieval Melee: Agility, Strength, and Reactions
  • Command and Control Cards: Activation with a Twist
  • Hey Pilgrim! You Forgot Your Popgun: Wild, Wild West Shootout Rules
  • Zgroshk Modern Skirmish: Clocking, Wounds, and Reserves
  • Ragnar's Viking Raid: Fast, Simple, and Chartless Rules
  • 23rd Century Urban Uprising: Dicing, reaction, and Rally Rules
  • About the Editor
Before I begin my review, I must make one thing apparent. I've never enjoyed skirmish wargames ... and so I came to this book with a jaundiced point-of-view. I was therefore more than pleasantly surprised by what I found inside ... skirmish wargames that not only made sense to me, but which were also fun! Furthermore each chapter contained different ideas and mechanisms that I felt that I could easily adapt for my own purposes. I particularly liked Von Vorren's Machine Gun Duel and Zgroshk Modern Skirmish, both of which I could see myself staging and using with friends if there was not enough time or space to set up a normal wargame.

However, the chapter that really gave me a lot of things to think about was also the shortest. Command and Control Cards: Activation with a Twist uses a standard set of playing cards to activate each unit – something that I have experimented with myself in the past – and to determine how far they can move when they are activated. The latter is something that I had never considered doing before ... but I can see it being very useful in some of the solo wargames that I fight.

As I have already stated, this is the sixth volume of Wally Simon's work that Russ Lockwood has edited. The others are:
  • WALLY SIMON's SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 1)
  • WALLY SIMON's MORE SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 2)
  • WALLY SIMON's SOLO SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 3)
  • WALLY SIMON's CAMPAIGN SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: Volume 4: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 4)
  • WALLY SIMON's MASTER SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: Volume 5: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 5)
I must admit that I am very tempted to buy copies of these books, and especially Volumes 3 and 4. Christmas is coming, and they might make a nice little present for me to buy myself!

A note about Wally Simon: Wally Simon was one of the early driving forces behind tabletop wargaming in the United States. He was a prolific writer of wargame rules, the prime mover in Potomac Wargamers, and the editor/published the POTOMAC WARGAMERS REVIEW from the 1970s until it ceased publication in August 2002. Wally was one of the founder members of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS), and its first meeting took place in his basement in 1981.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

There and back again: Our postponed visit to the National Archives

Sue and I originally planned to go to the National Archives last week ... but went to Canterbury and Herne Bay in Kent instead. As we wanted to try to complete our research into the military career of William Richardson, we decided to go to the Archives today.

We left home at 9.00am ... and by 9.05am the Satnav had notified us that our planned route was subject to massive delays! Luckily it gave us several alternative routes, and the one we selected enabled us to reach the Archives just before 11.00am.

We spent four hours looking through numerous documents, but despite our best endeavours we found no trace of William Richardson in any of them ... which was not the disaster it might at first appear to be. It proved that he was not demoted from his rank of Battalion Sergeant Major from the time he was promoted until his retirement.

The journey home started well ... but the closer we got to home, the worse the traffic became. We managed to find a couple of shortcuts that got us around the worst of the hold ups, but it still took us nearly two and a half hours to get home.

(The traffic problems were caused by the closure of one of the Dartford Tunnels. This caused a massive tailback on the counter-clockwise part of the M25 and the eastbound A2, which in turn resulted in huge traffic jams at almost every major road junction in South East London.)

As part of its commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, the National Archives has commissioned a number of sculptures by Canadian artist Ian Kirkpatrick. The sculptures are made from cardboard, and are designed to pack flat so that they can be assembled very quickly to create an almost instant exhibition.

As can be seen from the photographs that can be seen below, the designs are heavily influenced by the commercial packaging used during the war.

During our visit I saw two of the sculptures; BRITANNIA and BLAST.


This sculpture represents the role played by women during the First World War, and depicts Britannia atop a Mk V Tank holding a shell made by women in a munitions factory. It also makes reference to the Suffragettes.


The figure depicted in this sculpture is a machine gunner in a helmet and gas mask firing a Vickers Heavy Machine Gun.

The name of the sculpture makes reference to the magazine published by the Vorticist movement before the outbreak of the war.