Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Magazine Review

A recent trip to my local branch of WHSmith gave me the opportunity to buy the latest copies of each of the main glossy wargames magazines that are widely available in the UK. As two of them have changed hands – and styles – quite recently I thought that I would look at all three and make some comments.

Miniature Wargames (October 2009 – Number 318)

This issue covers:
  • Show Reports on Historicon 2009 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania) and Battlegroup South 2009 (Bovington, Dorset) – Lots of photos of wargames (and people playing wargames) with a well-written commentary about both shows
  • Air War 1941 –This is a short scenario for an air battle using the ‘CHECK YOUR 6!’ rules accompanied by a report of how the scenario played out
  • The War of the Successors Part 4: The Naval Actions – A mainly historical article with ideas on how to refight the naval aspects of the War as a campaign
  • Towton 1461 – An historical article with a section that explains how the battle could be re-fought as a wargame
  • Dunkeld 1689 – Another mainly historical article with a short section that explains how the battle might be re-created as a wargame
  • Assault on the Bettel Berg 1809 – This article includes a short description of the battle and a scenario that was originally published in BATTLES FOR EMPIRE – NAPOLEONIC WARGAME SCENARIOS 1807 – 1809 by James R Arnold and Ralph R Reinersten
  • Byte the Bullet: Computers at Eggmuhl – a short article about a computer-moderated figure game that was featured at Historicon 2009
  • Salem Church 1863 – Yet another historical article with a section about how to re-fight the battle on the tabletop
  • Dark Horizons – This is a new section in the magazine; it covers all aspects of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Alternative History wargaming
  • A Dark Age Watchtower Made Simple – A well illustrated ‘how to’ article
  • Reconnaissance Report & Diary
  • Figure Reviews
  • Book Reviews
All-in-all, this magazine has not changed a great deal since Ian Dickie handed it over to its new owner and editor. Its photos tend to look less staged than in other magazines and its layout has been updated. From my own point-of-view there was not a lot in this issue for me – my interests being much more orientated towards the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Wargames Illustrated (October 2009 – Number 264)

This issue is billed as a World War One special and covers:
  • The Western Front 1914 – 1915 – An historical overview of the first seventeen months of the First World War
  • The Successors – An introductory historical article that outlines the main protagonists in and events of the wars that followed the death of Alexander the Great
  • Airborne Landing Rules – A short historical article about the major airborne landings that took place during World War II and a set of rules – designed to be used with the FLAMES OF WAR rules system – on how to recreate them
  • Attack Everything! – An historical article (and a scenario for the WINGS OF WAR rules) about Lieutenant Hawker’s attack on the Zeppelin shed at Gontrode on 19th April 1915
  • Late Medieval Irish Armies – An well illustrated article that describes the main types of troops found in the Irish armies of the late Middle Ages
  • Zeppelin Hanger - A ‘how to’ article about building a Zeppelin shed
  • Eyes and Ears – Another historical ‘tie-in’ article for the FLAMES OF WAR rules system, this time about the role of reconnaissance units in the American, German, British, and Russian Armies
  • Reno’s assault at Little Big Horn – An historical article with a section that explains how the battle could be re-fought as a wargame
  • The Big Push – Another historical article – this time about the Battle of Loos – with a section that explains how a part of the battle can be recreated as a wargame
  • Spotlight – A review of a range of plastic fantasy figures that have recently been launched by Mantic Games
  • St. Oedenrode – A scenario for a FLAMES OF WAR wargame involving elements of the 101st US Airborne Division and a German Fallschirmjäger Kampfgruppe
  • Painting a WW1 Highland Officer – A ‘how to’ article about painting a 28mm Scottish Infantry Officer
  • Historicon ’09 Show Report Part 2 – An article that mainly covers the speakers who presented sessions at Historicon ’09, including Scott Bowden, First Sgt. (Ret) Matthew Eversmann, US Army, René Chartrand, David Glanz, Keith Rocco, and Todd Fisher (winner of the Scruby Award for 2009)
  • The problem of trenches – An article that discussed the problems of recreating trenches on the table top as well as suggesting how the problems can be solved
  • How to customise your scenery – A short, well illustrated ‘how to’ article that show the reader how to improve commercially produced pieces of terrain
  • Rules Roundup – This article reviews all the major wargames rules that cover World War One and that are currently available.
  • Club Focus – This spotlights the activities of Golf Company (a wargames group based in Columbus, Ohio) who are part of the Game Korps wargames organisation
  • Reviews
This is a much thicker magazine than Miniature Wargames (116 pages as against 72 pages in MW), but it does appear to be dominated by commercial ‘tie-ins’, especially with FLAMES OF WAR. This is hardly surprising bearing in mind who now owns the title, but I do find this somewhat of a distraction. That said, I did find more things of personal interest to me within its pages, and I do like the layout and use of photos, maps, and colour illustrations.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy (September 2009 – Number 47)

This issue includes a boardgame about the Battle of Quatre Bras as well as:
  • News – This covers the Alpha Ares Games Days 2009, the Third Atlántica Juegos Impetus Tournament, and the new Spanish wargames company, Cosas Wargame
  • Miniatures Review – A very well illustrated guide to newly released wargames figures
  • Publications – A short review of SNAPPY NAPPY and the 2nd edition of BATTLEGROUP PANZERGRENADIER
  • Impetus Hispanicus – A review of the recently published IMPETUS Ancients wargames rules (written by Lorenzo Sartori) and details about the 2009 Impetus Tournaments that have taken place in Spain
  • Zama, Scipio in Africa, 204 – 202 B.C. – An historical article that covers the background to the Battle of Zama
  • Recreating Zama with FoG and Impetus – A pair of articles that explain how the Battle of Zama can be refought using either the FIELD OF GLORY or IMPETUS rules systems
  • WW2. Race in the dark – An historical article about the Battle of the Bulge and the fighting around Bastogne
  • Clean this boil out! Scenario FoW – A short scenario for a FLAMES OF WAR battle between elements of the 101st US Airborne Division and 15th, 26th, and 2nd Panzer Divisions on Christmas Day, 1944
  • Dossier – Quatre Bras 1815
    • ¿Que voulez-vous que je fasse?, The Battle of Quatre Bras – A blow-by-blow account of the battle told in the form of despatches from the major commanders
    • The “Forgotten Men” of Quatre Bras – An article about the role of the Dutch-Belgian forces that took part in the battle
    • The Frenchies are coming! – A short campaign game that puts the players into the role of a battery or cavalry squadron in the French Army that is advancing upon Quatre Bras
  • Interview with … El Mercenario – A interview with Javier and David Gomez, who form the EL MERCENARIO painting team
  • Step-by-step – The second part of a ‘how to’ article about the construction and painting of a Northern Spanish hermitage
  • Virtual War – a review of the latest computer-based wargames
This is the thinnest of the three magazine (it only has 66 pages) and the translation into English can be a little quirky at times; however there is something very endearing about it, and of the three I have reviewed, this is the one I actually look forward to reading most. The boardgame that came with this issue is very nicely presented, and although I will not play it, the map will no doubt be very useful at some time in the future.

Conclusions

There is no outstanding 'winner' amongst these three major wargames magazines as far as I am concerned. They all have their weaknesses and their strengths, and I will probably continue to buy them each month if there is at least one article that interests me in an issue. That said, if I was only able to buy one of them, it would probably be Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy because I like its slight eccentricity and quirkiness as well as its coverage of the somewhat too often neglected European wargaming scene.

When Empires Clash! – Colonial Wars: A progress report

Having finally developed a layout that I like, I have begun to draft the revised draft of the Colonial version of my WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! rules.

So far I have been working on the General Rules section, and I have made the following changes:
  • The addition of two sets of numbered ‘chits’ – one set for each side – to the list of equipment needed to fight battles using the rules
  • European and European-style infantry will be allowed to form a small tactical square within a single grid square by placing the stands back-to-back
The activation ‘chits’ will be used by each side to indicate the order in which units will be activated during their turn, and are a development of an idea put forward by two of the people who have play-tested the rules. Likewise the suggestion that European and European-style infantry be allowed to form small tactical squares came from play-tester feedback.

These additions show how important play-testing is in the development of a set of rules.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

25,000 hits!

Another milestone was reached today when this blog had its 25,000th 'hit'.

I had no idea when I started this blog that it would be as popular with readers as it has become ... so thanks to everyone who reads my blog, and an especial thanks to those of you who take the time to send me comments.

I wonder how long will it be before it reaches 50,000?

Monday, 28 September 2009

Donald Featherstone's Lost Tales

Just over a year ago the first book I made a blog entry about was the reprint of Donald Featherstone's WARGAMES. Today John Curry sent me a preview copy of the latest book to be published in his HISTORY OF WARGAMING PROJECT – DONALD FEATHERSTONE'S LOST TALES (ISBN 978 1 4092 9431 3).


This book is a compilation of various articles, monographs, and wargames rules that Don has written over the years. Some saw the light of day on the pages of the old WARGAMERS NEWSLETTER, whilst others have been hitherto unknown. The fact that James F Dunnigan has written the foreword indicates the seminal nature of Don’s contribution to wargaming.

The book includes the following sections and chapters:
  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Section 1: Modern Wargaming – How it all Began
  • Section 2: My War – Sergeant Featherstone 7893763
  • Section 3: Wargaming Rules
    • Rules for Ancient Wargames, 300BC – AD500
    • Medieval Rules by Tony Bath
    • God for Harry, England and St. George! Wargames Rules for the Medieval period
    • Rules for the English Civil War
    • Rules for the 1750 period in Europe by Tony Bath
    • Napoleonic Rules
    • American Civil War Rules
    • Rules for the late 19th Century (Including Colonial Wars against Natives)
    • 1917 German South West Africa including Rules for early Tanks, Armoured Cars etc.
    • A simplified set of World War II Rules
  • Section 4: Battle Rules
    • Realistic Rules for Wargaming the Peninsular War
    • Realistic Rules for the Gallic and Punic Wars
  • The Holy Grail of Wargaming
  • Appendix: A Short History of the 51st Battalion Royal Tank Regiment
This is truly a book not to be missed by anyone with an interest in wargaming, particularly ‘Old School Wargaming’, and I thoroughly recommend it.

I don’t have a price for this book, but it should be available soon from John Curry Events, Lulu, Amazon, and Waterstone’s.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

I saw it ... and could not resist buying it!

Having written about Rudi Geuden's website in general and his latest project – ‘To Arms!’ – in particular, I just could not resist buying a copy of Osprey’s THE BELGIAN ARMY IN WORLD WAR I (MAA No. 452; ISBN 978 1 84603 448 0; Price £9.99/$17.95) when I saw it today in the local bookshop.

The book is written by Ronald Pawly and Pierre Lierneux, and illustrated by Patrice Courcelle. Its chapter titles are:
  • Historical Background
  • The Military Situation in 1914
  • Invasion
  • Rebuilding the Army
  • The Watch on the Yser, 1915 – 17
  • Liberation
  • The Belgian Air Force
  • The Appearance of the Belgian Infantryman
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Plate Commentaries
I have yet to read the book, but a quick flick through seems to indicate that it is well up to the usual standards of Osprey’s MEN-AT-ARMS series.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Driving … can give you time to think

I do some of my best thinking … whilst I am driving.

Don’t get me wrong … I concentrate on what I am doing when I am driving … but for some reason it is often whilst I am driving that my subconscious seems to be able to process all the possible solutions to a problem … and suddenly an answer comes into my mind!

This happened today. As it was Saturday my wife and I had the weekly shopping to do as well as paying a visit to my father – who lives in South East Essex – and to my father-in-law – who lives in North East Kent. As a result I spent quite a lot of time today driving along the main roads of Kent and Essex.

As will be obvious from my earlier blog entry of today, I have been having problems with choosing a layout for the next draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! It has been occupying a lot of my thoughts – and time – over the past few days, and I could not seem to find a solution.

On the drive back from Kent earlier this evening it suddenly struck me that rather than try to sort out a layout for the full version of the rules, why didn't I experiment with the Colonial version first. If I could get that right, the full version would be much easier to do … and this is the course of action I have decided upon.

Decision made! … and work on the latest draft of WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! – COLONIAL VARIANT starts tomorrow!

When Empires Clash! – A few minor hiccups with the layout

I have been experimenting with several different layouts for the latest draft of the rules, but none seem to work quite how I want them to.

I am dithering between having a simple sidebar tab that readers will be able to use to find a particular section in the rules, and just using simple headings at the top of each page. The former looks nicer, but if readers want to print their copy of the rules back-to-back (i.e. on both sides of a piece of paper), the sidebar has to be switched from the left to the right side of the page or visa versa depending upon the page number; the latter layout is easier to produce, but the facility that would allow readers to quickly ‘thumb through’ the rules may be lost or seriously impaired.

I am still undecided as to which style of layout I should choose. I have had suggestions from regular readers of my blog regarding both options … and as I have said, I have experimented with several different layouts this week. Until I make my final decision, progress on the new draft is somewhat stymied.

Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Rudi Geudens – The Universal General

If you have never heard of Rudi Geudens or have never visited his website – The Universal General – you have been missing out.

Rudi is a Belgian wargamer and wargame designer par excellence, and I often visit his website to get a bit of inspiration when mine is beginning to flag. Today was such a day … and during my latest visit I discovered that Rudi and his group have begun work on a very interesting campaign set in the late 1930s. It is similar to the one that is currently very popular in the UK – A Very British Civil War – but is set in Belgium.

‘To Arms!’ examines what might have happened if Belgium had had a similar constitutional crisis, and as is typical of everything that Rudi does, it comes with an excellent background booklet.

Rudi has lots of different free wargames rules available via his other website, The Antwerp Fusiliers. Many of these rules use a hexed grid or Hexon II hexes – hence my particular interest in his wargames designs – and are based on developed versions of Richard Borg’s BATTLE CRY rules.

Pictures of one of the battles fought as part of Rudi's Afriboria Campaign using his hex-based Colonial wargames rules.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

When Empires Clash! – Work begins on the layout

Before going to work this morning I managed to spend an hour playing around with different layouts for the latest draft of these rules. In the end I have gone for one that will put a section tab along the outer edge of each page so that it will easy for readers to flip through the rules to find the relevant section they want to consult.

A sample page from the current draft of the rules. It shows how the section tab at the outer edge of the page should make it easier for readers to find a particular section that they want to read.
It is also my intention to use as many photographic and diagrammatic illustrations as possible to explain the nuances of the rules. This will all take time, but should result in a much easier-to-use set of rules.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

When Empires Clash! – Back to basics

Having read through all the feedback I have had from the various people who have play-tested the rules, I have come to the conclusion that I need to clarify – in my own mind – what I am trying to achieve.

My design parameters are:
  • To write a set of wargames rules that can be used for solo and/or face-to-face battles
  • To write a set of wargames rules that use simple but subtle mechanisms that an average player can memorise by the end of the third turn
  • To make it possible for battles to be fought to a conclusion in a relatively short period of time – one to two hours duration being the goal
  • To use a gridded battlefield (either squares – as in the existing version of the rules – or hexes) so that the pace of play is speeded up
  • To use a wargames battlefield that can fit onto a 3 foot x 4 foot table, and yet still leaves space around the edge of the tabletop for all the detritus that is usually associated with a wargame
  • To make the creation of the armies need to fight battles with these rules as easy and/or cheap as possible so that people will be encouraged to create more than one army
  • To present the rules in such a way that users have no difficulty in interpreting what each rule means
  • To make the rules as user friendly as possible
Some of the above may seem to be a case of ‘stating the obvious’, but clarity of purpose at this stage is vitally important if I am to develop these rules any further. I know that they work; what I need to do is to make them work better.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

When Empires Clash! – Work on the new draft has started!

I have spent quite some time today answering a number of questions that have been raised by Jim Wright about various aspects of the WHEN EMPIRES CLASH! rules, and this has been excellent preparation for me before I begin work later today on the latest draft of the rules.

I have also had several requests to incorporate additional armies in the ‘Army Lists’, and I hope to be able to do so. Interestingly the requests have been for:
  • Red Cloud’s War (1866 – 1868)
  • The Lakota War or Great Sioux War (1876 – 1877)
  • The Italo-Turkish War (1911 – 1912)
  • The Balkan Wars (1912 – 1913)
These include some of the more esoteric wars of the last 150 years, but they are, nonetheless, interesting ones.

Friday, 18 September 2009

One year on and 250 blog entries later …

As I sat down to write today’s blog entry I realised that it is exactly a year since I started. During that time I have made two hundred and forty nine blog entries – this is the two hundredth and fiftieth – and my blog seems to be reasonably popular with readers as it is currently averaging over one hundred ‘hits’ per day.

Has it turned out the way I expected?

Not quite.

In my first blog I wrote that:
I intend to share my thoughts on wargaming (and other related matters that crop up) with a wider audience ... probably much to the relief of my wife and wargaming colleagues. So watch this space ... and come prepared to be bored!
I had not realised how much writing down my thoughts about wargaming would spur me on to actually ‘do something’ rather than just ‘think about doing something’. Having written it down I felt obliged to do it. It has – as a result – been a great spur to my wargaming.

Secondly, I had not realised how much the comments from the people who read my blog would encourage me to ‘get things done’. It is very difficult to not finish a set of wargames rules that you have said that you are writing when there are people out there who want to read and try them!

Thirdly, I had not realised how big the blogging community was and that I would end up looking at what other wargaming bloggers were writing at least once per day – and how much I would find it so interesting!

One year on and I find that my wargaming projects over the past year have included:
  • The ‘Nostalgia’ Project (and the related but as yet still hazy imagi-nation of Opeland)
  • The creation of a back-history and maps for the imagi-nation of Laurania
  • The development of a generic set of late 19th/early 20th century rules that use a battlefield that is gridded into squares – WHEN EMPIRES CLASH!
  • Writing a set of operational-level rules for the Eastern Front, and explaining how I went about designing them to meet my specific requirements
  • Buying TABLE TOP BATTLES – and my development of them for other historical periods – all of which contributed so much to the previous two projects
  • Helping Richard Brooks to develop SOLFERINO IN TWENTY (later THIRTY) MINUTES
  • Developing an existing set of World War II wargames rules into RED FLAGS AND IRON CROSSES – TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED; without my blog these have remained just an idea and not a reality (and would not, therefore, have been included in the reprint of Donald Featherstone’s WARGAMING AIRBORNE OPERATIONS)
  • Writing (and blogging about writing) REDCOATS AND NATIVES – TARRED AND FEATHERSTONED, which did much to resurrect my somewhat moribund interest in colonial wargaming
That is quite a lot to have done in twelve months, even though I say it myself!

So where to next?

I don't know ... but I am looking forward to finding out!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

When Empires Clash! – Revised edition on the way

I have had some very useful feedback from readers who have downloaded the rules and have been using them.

As a result I am about to begin the process of revising the rules so that users will find them easier to read and understand. I expect that this process will take several weeks; in the meantime I will try to keep readers up-to-date with the progress I am making.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Laurania – New article added to my Imagi-nations website

I have added a new article about Laurania’s National Symbol – the Lauranian Eagle – and the country’s various flags to my Imagi-nations website.

It contains the same information covered by my blog entries of 6th September, 8th September, and 13th September, but has been re-written, re-ordered, and additional text and flag designs have been added.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

The flags of Laurania

The earliest recorded instance of a uniquely Lauranian identifying marker can be found in the diary of Gulio Montebranca. He records hearing the story of Flavius Maximus Molarius’s request that the Bishop of Torracastra bless the Eagle – later known as the Lauranian Eagle – that his troops were about to carry into battle against the Visigoths.


There is some debate as to whether or not this was actually a vexillum, but by the time of the Crusades the Lauranians taking part did so under the Lauranian version of the Cross of Saint George. This led to some confusion on the battlefield, as this was very similar to the banner carried by the Knights Templar, and thus was born the Cross of Laurania. This was originally square, with the Cross of Saint George outlined in black.

It is conjectured that the black was added to serve as a memorial to all those Lauranians who had died defending the Holy Land, but it is more likely that it was added to ensure that there was no further confusion with the banners of the Knights Templar. At some stage a plain Lauranian Eagle was added to the canton …

… but this replaced by the version that incorporated the Cross of Saint George.

This remained Laurania’s flag until the conquest of Laurania by the Ottomans.

The Ottomans banned the display of any Lauranian symbols, especially the Lauranian Eagle. The flag was, however, used by Lauranian troops serving in émigré regiments in the Austrian and Russian armies during the eighteenth centuries.

When Laurania was invaded and 'liberated' by French troops during the Revolutionary Wars, a new flag was adopted to mark its change of status. Following the example of the French Tricolor, the Lauranians began using a blue, white, and green tricolor with a Lauranian Eagle at its centre. The colours signified the blue of the Lauranian Sea, the white of the snow on its mountains, and the green fertility of its soil.

The units of the Lauranian Legion (La Legion Lauranienne) that was raised by the French also adopted a new style of regimental flag. It was oblong in shape (the ratio of its sides were 2:3) and was blue, white, and green. It also carried the Lauranian Eagle at its centre surrounded by the name of the unit.

This style of regimental flag was replaced in 1804 with a squarer, more ornate flag that was similar in design to the flags carried by French and Italian troops.

After Napoleon’s fall the new Principality of Laurania adopted a flag design based on the Cross of Laurania. It was oblong in shape (the ratio of its sides were 2:3) and had the Lauranian Eagle, surmounted by a princely crown, within a shield at its centre.

After the 1848 Revolution the design of the Lauranian Eagle was changed slightly. The crown was omitted, the shield was replaced by an oval, and a scroll bearing the letters PPL (standing for Pro Populo Lauranio) was added.

This flag remains in use to this day, and is the basis of many other flags flown in Laurania, including the Naval Ensign. The ensign flown by the ships of the Lauranian Navy is the Lauranian flag with the addition of a gold anchor in the canton.

The regiments of the Lauranian Army all carry a square regimental standard that is based on the current Lauranian flag. In addition to the Lauranian Eagle within an oval at its centre, it has a scroll beneath the Eagle upon which the number and name of the regiment is displayed.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Napoleonic Wargaming

Napoleonic wargaming was never something that I particularly 'got into'. That is not to say that I have not tried; in fact at one time I owned quite a large French Napoleonic Army that contained numerous infantry, cavalry, and artillery units, including some Allied contingents. The problem seemed to be that the people I wargamed with at the time were only interested in fighting large battles, and my troops never seemed to fit in with the club's plans. In the end I left the club ... and eventually sold my collection.

A few years ago I began collecting the BATTLE OF WATERLOO series that was published by Del Prado. Each issue had a short booklet that described some aspect of the Napoleonic Wars in general or the Battle of Waterloo in particular. It was accompanied by a selection of pre-painted 25mm figures, and as a result I acquired a small collection of figures that represent units drawn from the various nations that took part in the Battle of Waterloo.

This collection has been sitting in storage in my wargames room ever since. When Paul Leniston started his Napoleonic Wargaming blog some time ago, I toyed with the idea of actually fighting some Napoleonic battles with my figures, especially as Paul's rules seemed to fit in with many of my own ideas about wargames design. Other projects then came along, and this idea was sidelined for the time being. It has not, however, been forgotten, and some of the recent work I have been doing with regard to writing the back-history of Laurania has resurrected the project somewhat.

Another reason is the publication of Neil Thomas's book entitled NAPOLEONIC WARGAMING (ISBN 978 0 7524 5130 5. Price £16.99. Published by THE HISTORY PRESS).

I already own his book WARGAMING: AN INTRODUCTION, and although it contains rules that do not quite fit in with my style of wargaming, they are very workable and well thought-out. I expected the same from this book, and I was not disappointed. The book is divided into three parts and three appendices:
  • Part One: Historical background
    • 1. The Old Regimes
    • 2. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars
  • Part Two: The Art of Napoleonic Warfare
    • 3. Napoleonic Strategy
    • 4. Napoleonic Tactics
  • Part Three: The Napoleonic Wargame
    • 5. Wargaming the Napoleonic Wars
    • 6. Napoleonic Wargames Rules
    • 7. Napoleonic Wargames Armies
    • 8. Napoleonic Wargames Battles
    • 9. The Wargame in Action
  • Appendix 1: Bibliography
  • Appendix 2: Figure Sizes, Scales and Prices
  • Appendix 3: Useful Addresses
What I like about this book is the fact that everything that someone starting out new to Napoleonic wargaming needs to know is here. It is a basic primer, but it does not set out to be anything other than that. I also like the author's attitude to his rules. For example he writes with regard to basing one's figures that 'The widths and depths provided below are suggestions only – there is absolutely no need to re-base existing wargames armies in order to play these rules, although base widths should ideally be consistent.'

Bravo for common sense!

My collection of pre-painted model buildings

Over the past two years I have been collecting small, pre-painted resin buildings that might be suitable for wargaming. I have bought most of my collection in Croatia, although this year I was able to add some building from Greece and Denmark.

For the first time I sat down to day to catalogue what I actually owned, and here are individual examples of the buildings I have bought in Croatia (the number above each building indicates how many of each model that I own).








Note: The figure of a 15mm scale Essex Egyptian Officer has been included in each picture to give some idea of the size of each building.

In total there are forty two model buildings in my collection of Croatian buildings, to which can be added the six buildings bought in Greece, the six town houses acquired in Denmark, and the two dock/landing stages that were purchased in Croatia. Incidentally, the two towers that I bought at the same time as the two dock/landing stages turned out to be made of Plaster of Paris, and are already showing signs that they will not stand up to the rigours of the wargames battlefield.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Nugget 228

After several unavoidable delays that included problems with the desktop publishing program used to create THE NUGGET, NUGGET 228 has been printed and is now on its way to members of Wargame Developments.

A complimentary CD-ROM has been included with the copy of NUGGET 228 that has been sent to all full members who did not attend COW2009. The CD-ROM contains a free copy of JCOVE (Joint Combat Operations Virtual Environment) VBS2 [Lite].

The PDF version of NUGGET 228 will be available online on the Wargame Developments website for e-members sometime tomorrow.

This is the last issue of this subscription year, and a renewal reminder has been sent to both full members and e-members who have not already resubscribed.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Order of Battle series – Further volumes arrive

When I got back from work this evening I was very pleased to find that the latest two volumes of the ORDER OF BATTLE series had been delivered. They are:
  • ORDER OF BATTLE – THE RED ARMY IN WWII by David Porter
  • ORDER OF BATTLE – WESTERN ALLIED FORCES IN WWII by Michael E Haskew
They follow the now familiar layout used in the previous ORDER OF BATTLE books, and although they do not contain highly detailed ORBATs, they are good basic primers.


ORDER OF BATTLE – WESTERN ALLIED FORCES IN WWII is particularly useful as it covers:
  • The pre-war British and Commonwealth armies
  • The Polish Army of 1939
  • The Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, and Belgian armies of 1940
  • The French Army of 1940
  • The British Expeditionary Force of 1940
  • The British Army in the Eastern Mediterranean, East Africa, and North Africa from 1940 to 1943
  • The Allied armies in North Africa from 1942 to 1943
  • The Yugoslav and Greek armies of 1941
  • The Balkan partisan armies from 1942 to 1945
  • The Allied armies in Italy from 1943 to 1945
  • The Allied armies in North West Europe from 1943 to 1945
Both books look like they will provide me with lots of reading over the next few weeks as well as some ideas for future wargames.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Lauranian Eagle – Errata

The last two paragraphs of my blog entry of Sunday 6th September 2009 should read as follows:

This design remained unchanged until the 1848 Revolution, after which the crown was removed and replaced by a scroll with the letters PPL on it. This was the motto of the Republican movement and stands for Pro Populo Lauranio (For the People of Laurania).

This alludes to the scroll that formed part of every Roman Eagle. These carried the letters SPQR (standing for Senatus Populusque Romanus [‘The Senate and People of Rome’ or ‘The Senate and Roman People’]), and it is in keeping with their 'Roman' tradition that such a scroll be incorporated into the current design of the Lauranian Eagle.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Distance can be measured by –

I have found another small ‘gem’ of information in A PRIMER FOR HORSE, FIELD & MOUNTAIN ARTILLERY by Captain T. H. Lloyd, RA. It concerns the various methods gunners can use to measure distances.
(1) Pacing. – An ordinary pace is about 30 inches, but every man should know the number of inches of his own ordinary walking pace, and also the paces of his horse.

(2) Time. – The time it takes to get over a distance at a certain speed. A dismounted man taking paces of 30 inches, will walk about 3 miles in an hour. A mounted man should know the time his horse takes to walk, trot, or gallop over a certain distance. At a full gallop the strides of a horse should be counted; the strides of most horses equal about 4 yards.

(3) Sound. – Multiply the interval between the flash and report of a gun in seconds by 370, the result will be the distance the gun is from you in yards.

This method necessitates a watch with a second-hand, and for accuracy two men must work together, one marking the flash, the other noting the number of seconds that elapse before the sound is heard. An observer may find out without a watch by counting the beats of his pulse, allowing 304 yds. for each beat.

When facing the sun, objects seem nearer than when the back is to it.

Objects dimly seen at evening, in the early morning, or when the weather is foggy or misty, appear more distant and larger than reality.

The glittering of the sun upon the arms of troops in motion indicates the direction of the march. If the rays are perpendicular they are moving directly towards you; if slanting from left to right downwards they are moving to your right and vice versa. If the rays are intermittent and varied, they are moving away from you. In dry weather cavalry can be distinguished in their march from infantry by the dust forming a high light cloud, that of infantry being lower and denser, that of artillery and train even more dense; the number of carriages in a column of route may sometimes be counted by breaks in the cloud.

Oooops!

I hang my head in shame! I got the Latin motto on the Lauranian Eagle wrong!

It has been pointed out to me that Senatus Populus Que Romanus does NOT translate as ‘For the Senate and people of Rome’; it means ‘The Senate and People of Rome’ or ‘The Senate and Roman People. Therefore PQL (Populus Que Lauranus) does not mean ‘For the people of Laurania’.

My only excuse for making this mistake is that I failed my Latin 'O' Level in 1966 because I was just not very good at it! In fact I was so bad that my Latin master once wrote on my end of year report that I 'tended to lose consciousness too easily' (you fall asleep ONCE and they never let you forget it!).

Now anyone can make a mistake … as I did … but … my surname is Cordery … and Mathurin Cordery (1479-1564) was a French scholar and educator who wrote Latin textbooks, one of which was still in use in schools in the late eighteenth century! It is even rumoured that Benjamin Franklin owned a copy and advocated its use at the University of Pennsylvania.

What an embarrassment I am to my family name!

I will make sure that I get the translation of ‘For the people of Laurania’ right, change the Lauranian Eagle accordingly, and publish the corrected version later this week.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

The Lauranian Eagle

Every since Laurania formed part of the Roman Empire, the Lauranian Eagle has been the national symbol.

It was carried into battle against the Visigoths by the troops of Flavius Maximus Molarius and was emblazoned on the banners of the Lauranians who took part in the Crusades.

It was during the period of the Crusades that St George was adopted as the patron saint of Laurania, and to commemorate this a red cross against a white background was added to the Eagle. In this form it was incorporated into the battle flags carried by Roberto Molara's army in its many battles against the Ottoman invaders.

Under the Ottomans the wearing of the Lauranian Eagle was punishable by death, but it was featured in the canton of every battle flag carried by the émigré Lauranian regiments serving in the Austrian and Russian armies during the eighteenth century. When the French recruited the Lauranian Legion during the Napoleonic Wars, the Lauranian Eagle was carried with pride on the flag of each of the Legionary units.

After the fall of Napoleon and the creation of the Principality of Laurania, a crown was added to the Eagle to signify the change in the country's status.

This design remained unchanged until the 1848 Revolution, after which the crown was removed and replaced by a scroll with the letters PQL on it. This was the motto of the Republican movement and stands for Populus Que Lauranus (For the people of Laurania).

This alludes to the scroll that formed part of every Roman Eagle. These carried the letters SPQR (standing for Senatus Populus Que Romanus [For the Senate and people of Rome]), and it is in keeping with their 'Roman' tradition that such a scroll be incorporated into the current design of the Lauranian Eagle.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Imagi-nations

I have now finished writing the history of Laurania, and it is available in PDF format for readers to download.

To make it easy for readers to find, I have created a simple one-page website entitled IMAGI-NATIONS. It is my intention to add information about Laurania and any other imagi-nations I develop to this page as and when I can.

So far the website includes:

Friday, 4 September 2009

The History of Laurania until 1900

I have finished drafting my back-history for Laurania. It now covers the following topics:
  • Pre-history
  • Roman Laurania
  • The collapse of the Roman Empire and the Visigoth invasion
  • The Dark Ages
  • The Ottoman invasion
  • Three centuries of Ottoman rule
  • The 1848 Revolution
  • The First Republic
  • The 1883 Civil War
  • The Second Republic
  • The 1888 Revolution
  • The Third Republic
This is slightly different from what I originally intended to cover, but it does give readers the opportunity to get a feeling for how the country developed.

Once I have proof read the draft I hope to make it available in PDF format later today or early tomorrow.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

70 years on

It is just after 11.00am, which makes it almost exactly 70 years since Neville Chamberlain said the following words:
I am speaking to you from the cabinet room of 10 Downing St. This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.

You can imagine what a bitter blow it is to me that all my long struggle to win peace has failed. Yet I cannot believe that there is anything more, or anything different, that I could have done, and that would have been more successful. Up to the very last it would have been quite possible to have arranged a peaceful and honourable settlement between Germany and Poland. But Hitler would not have it; he had evidently made up his mind to attack Poland whatever happened. And although he now says he put forward reasonable proposals which were rejected by the Poles, that is not a true statement. The proposals were never shown to the Poles, nor to us. And though they were announced in the German broadcast on Thursday night, Hitler did not wait to hear comments on them but ordered his troops to cross the Polish frontier the next morning.

His action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can only be stopped by force, and we and France are today in fulfillment of our obligations going to the aid of Poland who is so bravely resisting this wicked and unprovoked attack upon her people. We have a clear conscience, we have done all that any country could do to establish peace, but a situation in which no word given by Germany's ruler could be trusted, and no people or country could feel itself safe, had become intolerable. And now that we have resolved to finish it, I know that you will all play your parts with calmness and courage.
Today is a day when we should all try to remember those who gave their lives in the name of freedom and who served their country during those long, dark years.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Laurania – Latest news

I dug out my old HISTORY OF LAURANIA computer file yesterday and have been working on extending the back-history I had begun to write some time ago. So far I have covered:
  • Pre-history
  • Roman Laurania
  • The collapse of the Roman Empire and the Visigoth invasion
  • The Dark Ages
  • The Ottoman invasion
  • Independence
  • The 1848 Revolution
  • The First Republic
  • The 1883 Civil War
I have also begun work on the next two sections:
  • The Second Republic
  • The 1888 Revolution
My intention is to complete the history of Laurania up to the end of the nineteenth century; thereafter events will be determined by any campaigns that I might choose to run.

I also found the Lauranian dictionary that I created to help me to write my history, and I have already added a few new words today.

I hope to complete the above history and dictionary by the end of the week, and to make them available to interested parties as PDFs.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

I have been on an … Adriatic Cruise

Despite – or in spite of – the current ‘credit crunch’, my wife and I have been away on another cruise … this time to the Adriatic. The problem of connecting to the Internet from our ship – P&O’s MV AURORA – was the same as on our previous cruise, and yet again I have used my small laptop to create this blog ‘as it happened’

Day 1 – 14th August 2009 – Southampton

We boarded MV AURORA soon after one o’clock in the afternoon, and after having a drink and eating a small lunch we were able to go to our cabin to unpack. Unfortunately our luggage had not arrived, and we spent a rather fretful hour or so waiting for it to be delivered. It eventually arrived just before the safety briefing was due to take place, and we finally managed to unpack after ‘sail away’. The latter took place to the accompaniment of a small jazz band that played ANCHORS AWEIGH as we cast off.

Day 2 – 15th August 2009 – At sea

Most of the day was spent transiting the Bay of Biscay, which was very smooth. In fact it was so calm that we were able to ‘spot’ a large pod of dolphins that accompanied the ship for over an hour.

This morning I began reading a detective novel set in 1911. It is DEATH ON A BRANCH LINE (by Andrew Martin) and is the fifth in a series of novels about Jim Stringer, who works as a detective for the Railway Police in Yorkshire. I have already read the first four books, which are:
  • THE NECROPOLIS RAILWAY
  • THE BLACKPOOL HIGHFLYER
  • THE LOST LUGGAGE PORTER
  • MURDER AT DEVIATION JUNCTION
Of particular interest to the wargamer is the fact that one of the characters – a stationmaster of a small rural station – recreates the battles of Britain’s colonial wars in which the York and Lancaster Regiment took part with model soldiers on a tabletop in the railway station office. The battle featured in the book is the Battle of Tamai, and at one point in the book the stationmaster explains that he paints all the figures himself, using a sable brush. Whilst I have not been reading, eating, and sleeping I have been giving some thought to my ‘Nostalgia’ project. So far these have been rather random, but I am now beginning to put ideas down on paper with the intention of blogging them in due course. Day 3 – 16th August 2009 – At sea I finished reading DEATH ON A BRANCH LINE this evening. The story concerns the murder of a local landowner whose son has been convicted of committing the crime and who is about to be hung. The landowner’s other son does not believe that his brother is the real murderer. He is also something of a genius when it comes to railway timetables and is one of the people responsible for creating the national railway mobilisation timetables, a set of secret documents that the Germans would want to get hold of at any price. The story deals with the detection of the real murderer and the protection of the secret documents. The book does impart something of the spy hysteria that gripped Britain during the period, and the short explanation of the need for a coordinated national railway mobilisation timetable makes one realise how important such things were at a time when a country’s ability to wage war depended so much on its railway system. Day 4 – 17th August 2009 – Cadiz (Spain) I understood that Cadiz was a major Spanish naval base, but other than a few references to Spain’s part in the Battle of Trafalgar, I saw nothing vaguely naval during our time ashore there. For the first time this year we experienced hot – rather than warm – weather and we spent the morning wandering around the streets of the old town. We did a bit of ‘retail therapy’, but confined our purchases to a few souvenirs. I did find one shop that sold models, but as one finds so often today, there was nothing unusual or unique on sale. I have begun to re-read Antony Beevor’s STALINGRAD, having read D-DAY: THE BATTLE FOR NORMANY quite recently. I first read STALINGRAD it when it was published in 1998, and had forgotten how good a book it was. Its use of quotes from letters and diaries gives a very personal flavour to the story he tells. This is no ‘dry’ history book and he deserves his reputation for being one of the best current British writers of military history. Day 5 – 18th August 2009 – At sea Spurred on by my continued reading of STALINGRAD, and wanting to move my ‘Nostalgia’ project forward, I have been doing some serious thinking about how to develop this project. At about 4.30pm (local time) the ship was ‘buzzed’ by a Westland Lynx helicopter of the Portuguese Navy. As MV AURORA was off the northern coast of Algeria at the time, I assumed that the helicopter was from a Portuguese frigate operating somewhere in the area. This assumption was further supported when – at about 5.00pm (local time) – I saw the silhouette of a frigate-sized warship on the horizon. Its outline resembled that of the current Portuguese frigates of the Vasco da Gama class, so it is fairly safe to assume this was the ship that the helicopter was operating from. Day 6 – 19th August 2009 – At sea I spent most of the morning reading STALINGRAD, and have reached the point where Operation Uranus is about to begin. I like Antony Beevor’s writing style, and find it very easy – and quite compulsive – to read. Day 7 – 20th August 2009 – Cephalonia (Greece) We went ashore for a couple of hours and wandered around the town of Argostóli, the island’s capital. Because of the earthquake that devastated the town in the 1990s, most of it has had to be rebuilt in the local style; it therefore has the look of a new town but follows its original town plan. We also visited some souvenir shops during our walk, and I was able to buy several ready-painted 1:300th scale models of typical Greek buildings. They were relatively inexpensive – between 2.50 and 1.20 Euros – and although I did not have any particular idea as to when or how I might use them – just like those I bought in Copenhagen during our last cruise – they were a bargain. After our return to MV AURORA I managed to get access to the Internet and made a blog entry on both of my blogs; I then spent the afternoon reading STALINGRAD. Day 8 – 21st August 2009 – Dubrovnik (Croatia) Because there were three other cruise liners in port, we had to use the ship’s tender into the main port area, where we travelled to the Old Town – the Grad – by shuttle bus. The journey time was nearly an hour, and the temperature was well over 30° centigrade. The town was very crowded and we had to almost fight our way through the crowds at times. Despite the crowds we were able to do some ‘retail therapy’ and I was able to buy some ready-painted 1:300th scale models of typical Croatian buildings to go with the Greek ones I bought yesterday. The prices were slightly more expensive – 3 or 4 Euros for larger buildings – but were still good value. I will look out for different building to add to the collection when we visit Korcula in two day’s time. We spent just under two hours in Dubrovnik, and then made our way back to the shuttle bus pick-up point. This proved more difficult that expected, as we had to pass through the Pile Gate (Pile is pronounced Pee-lay). This is very narrow, and the crowd was so dense that it took us over ten minutes to go about ten metres. Once through the gate we were able to move quite easily, and it demonstrated why medieval towns often had such narrow gates as part of their defences! I have continued to read STALINGRAD but as we are in Venice tomorrow I suspect that further reading will have to go onto the back burner until after we visit Corfu. Day 9 – 22nd August 2009 – Venice (Italy) We sailed into Venice early this morning and were alongside our berth by 8.30am. During the sail-in I was able to take lots of photographs, including some of the coastal defences originally built by the Doges and subsequently improved and extended. We travelled into the centre of the city – the water’s edge by the London Palace Hotel near St Mark’s Square to be exact – by vaporetto. These are the local waterbuses that vie with the water-taxis for high-speed transit around the city. Neither type of water-transport seem to follow any ‘rules-of-the-road’, dodging in between each other and the other vessels – including very large cruise liners – that use Venice’s main waterways. We spent several hours walking around the streets and alleys of central Venice, buying a few souvenirs and having a drink in a Venetian café next to the Canal Grande and just down from the Rialto Bridge. Needless to say, there was no news on the Rialto! By the time we got back to MV AURORA the temperature was again well over 30° centigrade. After a very welcome shower and a short snooze we sailed out of Venice and set sail for Korcula in Croatia. There has been news of major fires raging across parts of Greece, and it has been rumoured that we may have to miss our stop at Corfu. This will be a pity as Corfu – along with Cephalonia and the other Ionia Islands – was British from the end of the Napoleonic Wars until the 1860s. In fact the British influence can still be seen in Corfu as they play cricket in the centre of the town on most weekends during the Sumner. Day 10 – 23rd August 2009 – Korcula (Croatia) After an overnight storm on our way to Korcula, we arrived and anchored in mid-channel by 8.00am. After a light breakfast we went ashore by tender. Korcula is a typical Venetian-style walled town. The Old Town is built on a small hill, and a defensive wall originally surrounded it. The main towers still remain and the original walls have been incorporated into the houses that form the boundary of the Old Town. No vehicles are allowed into the Old Town, and most of the streets are only wide enough for three or four people to walk along them side-by-side. Since my last visit the town’s links with Marco Polo have begun to be exploited. A small museum has been set up in the building that has been identified as his ‘home’, and an associated shop selling Marco Polo-related items has been opened. It was here that I managed to buy some more ready-painted 1:300th scale models of typical local buildings. The range stocked by this shop appeared to be unique – I have seen nothing like them in any of the other souvenir shops in Croatia – and I bought two defensive towers and two different harbour quaysides. These will be ideal for wargaming as they are suitable for most parts of Europe up until the early part of the twentieth century. I also manage to buy some additional ready-painted 1:300th scale models of local buildings similar to those I had already bought in Dubrovnik. Despite the fires raging in parts of Greece, we are going to Corfu next, and should be there early tomorrow morning. Day 11 – 24th August 2009 – Corfu (Greece) We moored alongside the main quay at 8.00am after a fairly uneventful run from Korcula. There had been some rain during the night, and when we got off it was to an overcast sky and high humidity. The shuttle bus dropped us off at the entrance to the Old Fort, and after inspecting the two ‘gate guardians’ – a pair of French cannons from the 1790s that were mounted on garrison carriages – we set off for a walk around the area of the town nearest the Old Fort. This seemed to be entirely made up of shops, hotels, cafés, and restaurants. Most of the shops sold local souvenirs and handicrafts, jewellery, or clothes. There was very little on sale that tempted us to indulge in some ‘retail therapy’, and with rising humidity making it very uncomfortable we decided to return to the ship. As a result I was able to spend some time finishing reading STALINGRAD. It is the second time that I have read this book – I read it when it was first published in 1998 – and it was as good the second time as it had been the first time. It reminded me why I like re-fighting the battles of the Eastern Front using MEGABLITZ; there are very few other rules systems that give players the ‘feel’ of the large-scale operations such as the ‘Little Saturn’ offensive and Manstein’s attempts to break through to relieve Paulus’s beleaguered 6th Army. I have now started to read the second of Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer novels that I have brought with me. It is entitled THE LAST TRAIN TO SCARBOROUGH and so far it seems to be about the search for a missing person. Having read all the other Jim Stringer novels I suspect that there will be at least one murder to be solved along the way. Day 12 – 25th August 2009 – At sea We have spent most of the day sailing around the south of the Italian mainland and Sicily. The weather has been hot, but the sea breeze has kept it from being too uncomfortable. I have spent most of the day reading THE LAST TRAIN TO SCARBOROUGH, and I expect to finish it tomorrow. Day 13 – 26th August 2009 – At sea The weather has been cooler today, which is somewhat surprising as we are off the coast of North Africa where a hot wind usually blows straight off the Sahara out to sea. I finished reading THE LAST TRAIN TO SCARBOROUGH this afternoon and as I assumed before I started, there was a murder to be solved – in fact there were two and several attempted murders as well. Day 14 – 27th August 2009 – Gibraltar We rose early so that we could see the sun rise over Gibraltar as we sailed into the harbour. We followed in MV VENTURA – the most recent addition to the P&O fleet – and both ships moored along opposite sides of the same pier. Our ship berthed just after 8.00am, and after a leisurely breakfast we went ashore. First stop was the 100-ton gun at Rosia Bay. This is one of two such guns that were emplaced in Gibraltar as part of its coastal defences. They were built by Armstrongs, and were bought – along with two that were sent to be part of Malta’s coastal defences – in response to the sale of similar guns to Italy. The existing gun is emplaced in the ‘Napier of Magdala’ battery above Rosia Bay, and covers the approaches to Gibraltar harbour and the seaward side of the Royal Navy’s dockyard. It is said to have had sufficient range to hit any ship trying to enter the harbour and targets on the Spanish mainland opposite. It was not, however, capable of rapid deployment, and took two hours to prepare before it could open fire. Once it was ready, it could then fire once every five minutes. Attempts to fire faster were made, but these resulted in the barrel beginning to split. On the way back to Main Street – the main shopping street on Gibraltar – we passed the Trafalgar Cemetery, where those who were injured during the Battle of Trafalgar and died subsequently are buried. We then passed through an archway, where a large, well-preserved, rifled muzzle-loading cannon confronted us. We then spent time indulging in some ‘retail therapy’ along Main Street. I resisted the temptation to buy some of the excellent photos of warships that were on sale in a specialist photographer, although my wife did manage to buy some of the things that she wanted. Due to the pavement and road outside the Governor’s residence being dug up, there was no military guard outside and hence there was no guard change to watch. In addition there was no obvious Royal Navy presence in the dockyard – such as a frigate or destroyer – and I was rather disappointed that the photo opportunities that I had the last time I visited Gibraltar were unavailable this time. By the time we returned to the ship at about 2.00pm, MV VENTURA had sailed and her berth was occupied by Cunard’s latest ship, RMS QUEEN VICTORIA. We set sail for the UK at 6.00pm, and within a few hours we were through the Straights of Gibraltar and off the southern coast of Spain and Portugal. Day 15 – 28th August 2009 – At sea During the night the weather took a decided turn for the worse, and by the morning the ship was battling her way home through Force 7 winds and a typical Atlantic swell. The RMS QUEEN VICTORIA, which had set sail from Gibraltar sometime after MV AURORA, had caught up with our ship during the night and spent much of the day some way off on the starboard side. She seemed to be making a slightly higher speed than our ship, and slowly overtook us during the day. However by 11.00pm we had – in turn – overtaken her, and were making 21 knots despite the Force 8 winds and increasingly violent swell. Because of the poor weather I spent a lot of time reading the last book that I brought with me, ARTHUR & GEORGE by Julian Barnes. It is a fictionalised account of the lives of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – one of my favourite authors – and George Edalji. The latter was a solicitor who was wrongly convicted of mutilating animals, and the book tells how – after a considerable legal fight – Conan Doyle helped to get the conviction overturned. I also spent time looking at whether or not it was possible to convert my WHEN EMPIRES CLASHED! wargames rules so that they could be used with the Heroscape hex terrain that I own. The terrain is made up of 40mm hexes rather than 50mm squares, and although such a conversion seemed very feasible when I began to examine this possibility, I realised that I needed to do some practical experiments with the terrain and figure bases before proceeding any further. Day 16 – 29th August 2009 – At sea The poor weather continued throughout the night and into the early morning. There was no sign of RMS QUEEN VICTORIA when we got up – either we had made better speed during the night or she took a different course to Southampton. The weather improved during the late morning, and by lunchtime the wind was only Force 3 and the seas were only moderate. I spent some time reading more of Julian Barnes’s ARTHUR & GEORGE, which is turning into even more of a true-life crime story than I had imagined. Most of the afternoon was spent packing ready for disembarkation tomorrow morning. As the ship continued to make at least 21 knots throughout the day, we expect to dock at Southampton on time. Day 17 – 30th August 2009 – Southampton We docked ahead of schedule and were off-loaded and leaving the car park by 10.30am. We had a good run back home on the M3 and M25, and despite a slight diversion to buy some much needed food, were back home by just before 1.30pm.