Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Will I get a chance to wargame soon?

Whilst I was driving back from Herne Bay this afternoon (Yes! You guessed right! My wife and I have yet again been doing some more house clearing today!) I began to think about the last time I actually managed to fight a wargame; not write blog entries about wargaming; not plan a wargame; not write a new draft of some wargames rules; not sort out my toy/wargames room; no ... actually fight a wargame.

The answer is ... longer ago that I thought. In actual fact it was Wednesday 7th September ... nearly three months ago! No wonder that I am feeling a bit jaded and in need of my wargaming 'fix'.

Mind you, my wife and I have had a lot of things to deal with since September, and it is little wonder that I have not been able to set aside enough time to actually get some terrain and figures together and fight a battle. That said, we seem to be coming to the end of that period of our lives, and the prospects are beginning to look a bit brighter. I hope to get my toy/wargames room sorted out by this time next week ... and then I hope to celebrate with a wargame!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Work on my toy/wargames room continues

Now that I have just about got the storage system sorted out, I am now turning my attention to what I know will be a much more drawn out part of this big 'sort out' ... the books!

These are currently stored in IKEA bookcases that cover two walls of my toy/wargames room plus about a metre of a third wall. They were originally arranged by theme (e.g. all the naval books were kept together) but over time this has become somewhat confused. Over the past few years books have tended to be put on shelves that had space and not necessarily together with books covering similar or related topics. The big 'sort out' should go some way to remedying this.

I may well end up with some books that are surplus to requirements. If I do I will probably dispose of them via eBay or as gifts. Any revenue generated by the sale of books will be ‘recycled’ to pay for future wargames projects … I hope!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Memoir of Battle revisited

The arrival of the COMMAND & COLORS: NAPOLEONIC dice in this morning's post spurred me on to actually redraft my MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules into a similar format to that I used for the latest version of the PORTABLE WARGAME 2 rules.

The new draft of MEMOIR OF BATTLE is downloadable in PDF format from here.

Recent purchases

I recently mentioned that whilst I was in Norfolk I bought some model aircraft made in China and sold in the UK by Red Box Toy Factory Limited under the trade name 'Motor Max Sky Wings'. I bought a pack each (for £2.99 each) of two single-engined Yokosuka D4Y Suisei dive-bombers and twin-engined Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu fighters.


They look generic enough to me to be usable as single and twin-engined bombers in wargames set in the late 1930s and early 1940s ... and that is how I plan to use them.

This morning's post brought I further purchase, this time from overseas. Some time ago I decided that I would like to revisit my MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules, and that it might not be a bad idea to get some additional pre-marked dice. As I could not find a supply of any spare BATTLE CRY! or MEMOIR '44 dice I opted to buy five sets of COMMAND & COLORS: NAPOLEONICS dice from Valley Games.


Despite reading some pretty poor reviews about these dice I decided to take a risk and order some ... and I am quite satisfied with what was delivered. They will certainly be suitable for what I have in mind, and have saved me the bother of having to try to make my own sets of dice. (I have sufficient blank dice but not the patience to mark them up with suitable symbols.)

Inspiration drawn from other wargamers: Robbie Rodiss's Spencer Smith Cavalry

I recently mentioned that I had been sent some very nicely painted Seven Years War Spencer Smith Miniatures (both plastic and metal). They had been sent to me by Robbie Rodiss (AKA rob3rod) of the Independent Wargames Group, and I promised that once I had enough space on my wargames table that I would photograph them.

Well here they are!



I have not played any wargames set in the eighteenth century for a very long time ... but these figures have certainly encouraged me to think about doing so ... but not in the near future!

Yet again, thank you Robbie for these wonderful figures.

Medals ... are now mounted

Yesterday was very busy, but this morning I decided that come-what-may I was going to mount my father's and my maternal grandfather's medals in some small display frames that I had.

I labelled each display frame with the recipient's name and rank as well as listing the medals each had been awarded.


In addition I added some details of his service record to my father's display frame as well as his National Fire Service badge and the regimental badge worn by the officers of 53rd (Worcestershire Yeomanry) Airlanding Light Regiment, Royal Artillery.


Saturday, 26 November 2011

Medals

One of the things that my father gave me before his dementia reached the state that it is now in was his World War II medals (and unit patches). He also gave me my maternal grandfather's medals as well, and it was only this evening that I was actually able to sit down and look at both sets of medals in detail. The results were very interesting.


My father's medals are the War Medal 1939-1945 and the France and Germany Star. The NFS badge came from his time as a volunteer fireman in the National Fire Service (he served as a volunteer before being 'called up'), and the reproduction Airborne patches are reminders of his time as a member of 6th Airborne Division. The Chindit patch was given to him after his post-war service in Burma (he did not serve with the Chindits but did later serve with the Chin Hills Battalion) and the 'Charging Elephant' was the symbol of the 4th Army Corps, to which he was posted but which was disbanded before he joined it.


My maternal grandfather's medals illustrate both the length and variety of his services. He was a per-war Territorial Sergeant Major in the Royal Artillery, and served in France as part of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force). He was wounded during the retreat to Dunkirk, and was lucky enough to be amongst those who were evacuated.

Once he had recovered from his wounds he became a Ship's Regimental Sergeant Major. He joined a small group of senior Army Warrant Officers who served aboard troopships. Their role was to provide a permanent on-board Army presence on the troopships, and their job was both administrative and disciplinary. As a result of this service, my grandfather was awarded a fairly unusual set of medals. These include:
  • The War Medal 1939-1945
  • The 1939-1945 Star
  • The Italy Star
  • The Atlantic Star
  • The Burma Star
  • The Pacific Star (which I don't think that he should have been awarded as he already qualified for the Burma Star. What he should have been awarded was a clasp to the Burma Star.)
I hope to put these medals into a couple of small cases that I can have on display somewhere in my home. They will serve to remind me of both my father's and grandfather's military service during World War II.

Lofty ambitions?

My wife and I spent most of today in Herne Bay, sorting out my father-in-law's bungalow. My main job was to begin the process of clearing the loft ... which turned out to be no easy task.

Luckily my father-in-law had had the loft space boarded over and fitted with a light ... although I did not realise the latter until I climbed up into the very dark loft and trod on the light's cable. Once I had found the cable I quickly found the plug that had to be plugged into the nearest power socket (which was in the kitchen) to provide the power for the light.

Once the light was on I saw the magnitude of my task. Besides the six large suitcases and two travel bags – some of which still seemed to be full – I found a door(!), a large toolbox full of ancient tools, more used tins of paint than I could be bothered to count, eight carrier bags full of empty jam jars, several dismantled flat-pack wardrobes and cupboards, several old curtains and window blinds, a boxful of old photographs and pictures, and a large amount of old curtain track and fittings.

With my wife's help I got almost everything except the door and the flat-pack furniture down from the loft. We then sorted through it all, and most of it was consigned to the garage for disposal. (I foresee several trips to the local refuse and recycling centre in the very near future.)

I hope to complete clearing the loft sometime next week ... but next time I will try to remember to take some sort of heating into the loft because is was very cold up there today ... and the weather was quite mild today for the time of year.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Lost ... and Found!

As my wife and I did not make it to Herne Bay today, I decided to spend some more time sorting out my toy/wargames room. During the course of the afternoon I opened a large storage box that was at the bottom of a pile of boxes I had not yet begun to sort through ... and found that it was full of unpainted 15mm and 20mm-scale figures. I had not realised that I still owned these figures as I thought that I had got rid of them nearly ten years ago.

In amongst the figures were a large number of 20mm-scale Jacklex figures including 1904-era Russians, American Civil War figures in Kepis, rifle-armed Tribesmen, and Colonial gunners. There were also other 20mm-scale Colonial figures from Tumbling Dice Miniatures and an unidentified manufacturer (possibly B&B Miniatures?).

This discovery has placed me in somewhat of a quandary. I had planned to use Spencer Smith Miniatures for my imagi-world project, but the discovery of these 20mm-scale figures means that I already have a large number of highly suitable figures ... and it would be a great shame not to use them.

Having a cracking time ...

My wife and I decided to spend today sorting out some of the cupboards in my father-in-law's bungalow in Herne Bay. After breakfast we set off by car to drive to north east Kent ... but we had only driven as far as Gravesend when a stone hit the bottom on the windscreen on the driver's side of the car and caused a crack.

The stone had been thrown up by a passing car, and normally these just chip the glass. Such damage in inconvenient but repairable. Unfortunately this was not a chip but a full-blown crack which started out about three inches long but which quickly grew. At that point we decided that the best course of action was to go home before the crack extended right across the windscreen.

On the way back we stopped off at the local Autoglass depot, who arranged for the damage to be repaired tomorrow morning. They could not do the repair today because they do not keep windscreens for Mazda Tributes in stock, but they were able to order one for first thing tomorrow morning. The repair should take about an hour to complete, but I will not be able to drive for another hour after that in order for the the fixative to harden. My insurance excess for windscreen damage is £100.00, and I will have to pay this when the repair has been completed. This sounds quite a lot to pay, but the actual cost of the repair would be considerably more if I was not covered by my car insurance.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Building draw units

I have spent several hours today building eight wooden IKEA three-draw storage units. I bought these some years ago when I first contemplated reorganising my toy/wargames room, but I never got around to putting them together. The units were fairly easy to put together although I did manage to hit my hand several times with the hammer.


The storage draws are ideal for storing complete wargames units, and each draw can hold several hundred 15mm figures or a couple of Megablitz Russian Infantry Corps/German Infantry Divisions.


At present the bottoms of the draws do not have any steel paper fixed to them, but I hope to add some as soon as I can. Although the storage units are not likely to be used to transport figures to 'away' games, I like to affix magnetic tape to the bottom of multi-figure and vehicle bases and this ensures that the bases do not move about in the draws when the storage units need to be moved.

Considerate parking ... I don't think so!

Last night I had to get something from my car, which was parked on the hard standing outside my house. When I opened my front door I realised that someone had parked their car across the dropped curb access to the hard standing, and that both my wife's car and mine were blocked in.


This happens very occasionally, and the 'offenders' are usually vans who have only stopped to make a delivery ... but last night the vehicle was a private car with a Newcastle registration number plate. It had obviously been parked for some time as it was covered in dew. What increased my annoyance at this example of inconsiderate parking was the fact that there was plenty of vacant space elsewhere along the road.

The car was gone when I woke up this morning, and I hope that it will not return in the near future.

PS. It appears that a presenter on a recent television programme announced that parking across the dropped curb access to a hard standing was not an offence if no vehicle was blocked in as a result. My research indicates that they were wrong, and that the driver could have been fined and had penalty points added to their driving licence.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Reading old blog entries

Before I went to Norfolk last weekend, I transferred PDF versions of the compilations I had made of my 2008, 2009, and 2010 blog entries to my iPad. During any spare moments I had over the weekend I read through what I had written ... and I was surprised at the number and scope of wargames rules I have written – and battles I have fought – over the past four years. I also realised how much each new set of rules built upon the work and concepts that were developed in earlier rules.

One project that I had planned for early next year was to develop a 'modern' version of my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 ... but the 4-inch/10cm hex version of Joseph Morschauser's 'Modern' Period Wargames Rules that I wrote some time ago (and had forgotten that I had written!) already meets most of my requirements. All it should need is a little tweaking and some changes to the layout to make them ideal for my purposes.

Yet another case of looking backwards in order to go forwards.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I have been to ... North West Norfolk

My wife and I have just returned from Old Hunstanton in North West Norfolk. We decided to go there at the last minute in order to finish the break that we began some weeks ago, and which had to be cut short when my father-in-law fell over and had to be rushed to hospital. His subsequent death has meant that since then we seem to have done nothing together except deal with the aftermath of his death, and we were in desperate need of a short break to recharge our batteries.

For the last three days we have been staying at the ‘Le Strange Arms Hotel’, Old Hunstanton.


We have stayed there many times before, and it is an excellent base from which to visit the northern and western parts of Norfolk. It is also very well known for its outstanding food and services, and as you can probably guess, we both rather overindulged ourselves.

During this particular stay we visited the centre of Hunstanton and nearby Heacham as well as King's Lynn. Despite the fact that the number of shops in the centre of Hunstanton is quite small, my wife found two pairs of shoes to buy. In Heacham she found a shop that specialises in selling items such as glassware, table decorations, cushions, vases, and candlesticks and she was able to purchase a set of table decorations that she needs for a retirement party that she is organising.

My 'retail therapy' had to wait until we visited King's Lynn, where the local toy shop proved to have a number of die-cast model aircraft on sale. These are made in China and sold in the UK by Red Box Toy Factory Limited under the trade name 'Motor Max Sky Wings'. I managed to buy two packs (for £2.99 each), each of which contained two versions of the same aircraft. The models represent single-engined Yokosuka D4Y Suisei dive-bombers and twin-engined Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu fighters.

Both sets of aircraft are painted in Japanese markings, but are fairly generic in outline and should be usable as single and twin-engined bombers in wargames set in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Synchronicity strikes again!

Having written two Chaco War-related blog entries in the past few days it should not really have been much of a surprise when the postman delivered the latest Osprey Men-at-Arms book this morning; its title is THE CHACO WAR 1932-35: SOUTH AMERICA'S GREATEST MODERN CONFLICT.


The book has been written by Alejandro de Quesda and Phillip Jowett, and illustrated by Ramiro Bujeiro. It is No.474 in Osprey's Men-at-Arms series (ISBN 978 1 84908 416 1) and follows the usual format of being 48 pages long, including 8 pages of colour illustrations.

This is no definitive history of the conflict, but it is an excellent starting point for anyone who wants to find out more about the Chaco War. The short bibliography has some very good suggestions for those who want to read more about the war, but most are written in Spanish and this may be a problem. That said, the two English language books that are included in the bibliography are well worth reading; I know, because I have copies on my bookshelves!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Inspiration drawn from other wargamers: Further examples of Nick Huband's modelling skills

Further to Nick Huband's excellent battle report featured in a recent blog entry, he has very kindly sent me some more photographs of some of his models. I find them awe inspiring ... and I suspect that many of my regular blog readers will also be impressed.

The first two photographs are of Nick's Battle of Meerkat (which is a fictionalised version of the famous Battle of Mirbat). It features members of the SAS (supported by direct fire from a 25-pounder Field Howitzer and strafing from a BAE Strikemaster) fighting off hordes of Arab insurgents.



The final three photographs are of some of the items Nick has modelled for his Chaco War battles. They include a water truck (converted from a Zvezda Zis-5 truck), a wonderful well (including a beautiful model of a hand-pump), and a Paraguayan Fighter aircraft.




Just seeing these models makes me want to try to emulate his efforts ... and to try wargaming my own version of the Chaco War as soon as possible!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Portable Wargame ... in the Chaco!

Back in September Nick Huband – who is also a long-time member of Wargame Developments – sent me a short report (with a stunning photograph) about a battle from the Chaco War that he fought using an earlier version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

At the time he promised to send me a more detailed battle report ... and it arrived today!

ENCOUNTER IN THE CHACO
by Nick Huband

Opposing forces
Bolivia:
6 x Infantry stands
1 x Machine Gun stand
1 x Carden Lloyd tankette stand
1 x Mountain Gun stand
1 x Command stand

Paraguay:
6 x Infantry stands
1 x Machine Gun stand
1 x Mortar stand
1 x Command stand

Special rules
  • The tankette counts as an armoured car as it can readily be knocked out by infantry.
  • The mountain gun counts as an infantry gun.
  • Pinned troops may not fire and require 2 pips to unpin.
  • Bolivia gets one less activation dice than Paraguay as the Bolivian Army was generally less tactically flexible than its opponents.
  • Break point at 50% casualties.
  • The aircraft is for decoration only (until I can write some rules).

Initial set up
The scenario is quite simple, a meeting engagement between two opposing advance guards. Both side’s objective is to push the other back.


Move 1
Bolivia activates first. Their tankette moves straight down the road supported by infantry and a machine gun.
Paraguay now starts to feel their way round the Bolivian left flank.

Move 2
The Bolivian advance continues with their mountain gun firing ineffectually in support.
Inspired leadership (10 pips!) allows the Paraguayan right flank to continue to advance, meanwhile infantry and a machine gun move forward on the left to try to stop the Bolivian tankette.


Move 3
The Paraguayans seize the initiative and continue their push into the Bolivian’s left flank. On the other flank, infantry and machine guns open up on the Bolivian forces, knocking out their machine gun. The Paraguayan mortar tries to knock out the tankette and (unsurprisingly) fails.
In the centre the Bolivians continue to move forward and on their left flank open fire on the advancing Paraguayans pinning one unit.


Move 4
Machetes raised, the Paraguayans on the left flank try to close with the Bolivians but are beaten off with casualties. In the centre however the Paraguayans successfully ambush the tankette knocking it out but losing a unit of infantry in the process.

Move 5
The Paraguayans persist in their attack on the right but their forces are dangerously isolated and the Paraguayan CO is killed in a brave (foolhardy) attempt to restart the attack.

Move 6
The Bolivians infantry on the left now counterattack the shaken Paraguayans. A close quarter firefight causes casualties on both sides leaving both the attackers and defenders exhausted.


At this point a quick calculation showed that both sides had suffered in excess of 50% casualties so both sides fell back to await reinforcement to continue the attack.

Comments
An entertaining game playing to the strengths of the Portable Wargame. Both sides could be enthusiastic but were poorly trained and equipped. The typical Chaco terrain of brush and trees limited the influence of machine guns and tanks. Numbers and effects of artillery were limited, although I feel that direct fire could be more effective. Firing directly, there is less chance of an error in bearing although still chances of errors in range so could the following chart be used?


I need to think about the effects of command elements, their loss results in one less activation dice but perhaps this should be balanced by an increased close combat value? For this type of game, I envisage the units as platoons with the officer commanding the force being a battalion commander equivalent with the opportunity of him influencing the action directly (“H” Jones in 1982).

The game was highly entertaining with the outcome in doubt right up to the last moves. I try to play solo games without too much overthinking (as can be seen by the rather impetuous Paraguayan attack at the end). An advantage with the Chaco War is that I have no emotional attachment to either side, although I confess a sneaking admiration for any army that can dress its troops like old-fashioned milkmen!

- o 0 o -

My thanks got to Nick for sharing this battle report with me and the regular blog readers. His comments are very helpful, and will assist me to develop the next version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

Thank you Robbie!

My wife frequently buys stuff from eBay ... but uses my account as she doesn't see the point of setting up her own. She recently ordered a couple of things and so, when the postman delivered a parcel with my name on it, I did not bother to open it as I thought that it was probably for her.

When she got home from work this evening she was really enthusiastic about the fact that a parcel had arrive ... but confused as it did not seem to be the right size or shape to be what she had ordered. When she opened it a letter fell out ... and everything became clear! The parcel was not for my wife ... it actually was for me!

So what was in the parcel? Some very nicely painted Seven Years War Spencer Smith Miniatures (both plastic and metal). They had been sent to me by Robbie (AKA rob3rod) of the Independent Wargames Group.

I will photograph these very nice figures as soon as my wargames table is no longer under a pile of stuff that is in the middle of being sorted ... but in the meantime I would like to publicly thank Robbie for sending me these figures.

Thanks mate! It was a great gift from one wargamer to another!

A giant 3D jigsaw

At one point yesterday I had so much stuff spread all over the floor and table in my wargames/toy room that I actually did not have room to stand up without risking treading on something. It was like having a giant 3D jigsaw, where all the pieces were spread out and I had yet to start putting it together.

The present situation is – if I continue with my analogy – that I have put the edges of the jigsaw together and have sorted out all the pieces with sky on them ... and I am just about to start adding those pieces to the jigsaw. With luck – and some hard work – the sky will be completed today and then I can begin adding the other pieces. I would like to get this all finished by Saturday ... but I doubt that I will.

Never mind if I don't keep to my time plan ... at least I feel that I am beginning to make progress.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

It still looks a mess but ...

To the casual observer my wargames/toy room looks even more chaotic than it did this time yesterday, but the truth of the matter is that I now have a much better idea about what I actually have ... and I am beginning to formulate ideas about where and how things are going to be stored. I am also beginning the process of cataloguing my collection of wargames figures, vehicles and terrain, and once that is complete I will be in a much better position to decide what I will want to keep and what I will need to re-home or dispose of.

With a bit of luck I should have the reorganisation of the storage system well underway by tomorrow evening, although I suspect that it will take me a lot longer to everything exactly as I want it to be.

Monday, 14 November 2011

It looks worse than it is ...

Clearing my father's house and contemplating having to do the same to my father-in-law's bungalow has made me realise that I absolutely MUST give serious thought to sorting out my wargames/toy room. I started doing this in September, but circumstances – and a general lack of motivation – have meant that I have made little progress ... until now.

So today I have gone at it with a will ... and at the moment it looks like an absolute tip. There are things everywhere, and it looks totally disorganised. However I now have a much clearer idea about what I have stored in my room ... and what I need to think about keeping and what might need to be disposed of.

This is both a therapeutic and a disheartening process, but it needs to be done if I am to make – and maintain – serious progress on the projects that are really important to me. I need to free up some storage space and to 'declutter' so that my collection is manageable for the immediate future and remains manageable for years to come.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Memoir of Battle revisited

This afternoon I was looking through my file of 'work in progress' documents that I keep next to my personal computer when I found a copy of the last draft of my MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules. It struck me that they needed tidying up ... and that is exactly what I have done. I used a similar format to that I used in the most recent draft of my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 rules, and although I say it myself, they look much better as a result.

I am not sure if I will use these rules at some time in the future, but I did find the process rather therapeutic and it helped raise my spirits.

Having a back-up ... that works!

When I created the back-up of my main Blogger blog on WordPress everything seemed fine. The process was very simple and proceeded without a hitch ... or so I thought! It was only when I looked closer that I realised that some of the comments had been imported but the link to the blog entry they referred to was broken.

I attempted to fix this problem, but this proved impossible to achieve. In the end I had to delete the entire blog and repeat the process, this time successfully. I suspect that the problem occurred because my Internet connection was broken at some point during the importation of the data from one blog to the other. This has happened several times of late and I have yet to discover the reason why.

I have also noticed that some of the earliest blog entries have 'lost' part of their formatting during the importation process, but this is not a serious problem and I should be able to restore the formatting at a later date, should I so desire it.

Remembrance Day

My wife and I went to a service of Remembrance this morning. We chose to go to the service in Dartford because we could not find any definite details about any that were taking place closer to our home.

Just after 10.30am we joined a group of several hundred around the War Memorial in Dartford Park, and we were in time to see the local minister, choir, and various dignitaries process into the park. The service began with the singing of the hymn 'Eternal Father, Strong to save', and was followed by a series of prayers and readings. At 11.00am a maroon was fired to indicate the start of the two-minute silence, and a second maroon was fired to signify its end. A bugler then sounded 'The Last Post', followed by 'Reveille'. The service concluded with the Lord's Prayer and the singing of 'Jerusalem', followed by the first two verses of 'The National Anthem'.


The attendees came from all sorts of different age groups and organisations, and I saw the banner of the local branch of the Burma Star Association as well as those of the Royal British Legion, the Royal Air Force Association, and the Scouts. The guard of honour was provided by the local Sea Cadets and the music was played by the local Salvation Army Band.

Considering that it is nearly the middle of November the weather was very pleasant. The sun shone, and there was hardly a cloud in the sky. It was a very moving service, and I doubt that there was a dry eye anywhere in the park, especially when 'The Last Post' was sounded.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Brick Wall

I had all sorts of things that I planned to do today, but I have just not done any of them. I have hit the proverbial emotional and physical brick wall.

I suppose that I should have expected it. Over the past few weeks my wife and I have had to deal with my father-in-law's death and it's aftermath as well as the final stages of selling my father's house. We are both feeling very tired and I am certainly exhibiting 'flu-like symptoms ... a sure-fire indicator that we are in need of a rest.

We plan to have a few days rest in the very near future, but in the meantime we have to accept that we need to ease up a bit and allow our minds and bodies to recover. I am hoping that as the day goes on and I feel a bit more motivated I might actually start work on cleaning up and basing my Spencer Smith Miniatures ... but I don't want to start until I feel ready to prepare them properly.

Having a back-up

When I gave up teaching History, I switched over to teaching ICT (Information Communication Technology). One of the things that we had to try to get out students to understand was the need to always have a back-up copy of everything that they did ... just in case. Almost all of them saw no need to do so ... until that fateful day when something was inadvertently erased.

I have always tried to practice what I have preached, and I do keep both an electronic and a hard copy of all of my blog entries. I know that this sounds somewhat anally retentive, but on at least one occasion it has meant that entries that were 'lost' could be recovered.

Yesterday I took the process one step further and created an online back-up of this blog. I chose a different blog host – WordPress – to ensure that if Blogger was not available for some reason, I could continue to blog. The back-up is also called Wargaming Miscellany, and I have imported the entire contents of my blog to it.


An interesting by-product of this duplication is the difference in onscreen appearance of both versions of the blog ... and I don't just mean differences in font and colour scheme. For example the WordPress version of my blog has an iPad-friendly display that presents the blog in the same way as an app is displayed and this is very different from the way the same blog appears on Blogger.

Friday, 11 November 2011

David Crook's 'A Punitive Expedition' battle report

As I mentioned in a recent blog entry, David Crook has used the imagi-world of 1891 that I created as the background to a wargame he has recently fought. He has written a long and very interesting battle report on his blog – A Wargaming Odyssey – and has given permission for me to feature the photographs of his battle – The Battle of Keder Sirte – here.

The Battle of Keder Sirte

The Fezian forces occupy the high ground (top left of the photographs) and await the attack of the larger Rusland force (advancing from the right of the photographs).








David fought this battle using a slightly modified version of the first edition of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

Today is the day that we remember all those who have served their country and paid the ultimate price for that service.


Lest we forget.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

My Spencer Smith Miniatures have arrived!

Amongst the post that has just been delivered was a small parcel from Peter Johnstone at Spencer Smith Miniatures ... and I am now the proud owner of my first batch of American Civil War figures.

The figures are exactly as I hoped they would be; in fact they are better! They need a bit of work before I can begin painting them (i.e. they are not flash free and will need a little trimming and filing) but probably not much more than figures from other manufacturers.

The most telling comments in their favour came from my wife. She said that she thought that I should have far less trouble painting them then the other, smaller-scale figures I have painted over the past few years ... and that they did not have big heads like almost all my existing wargames figures!

Nugget 248

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N248) out to members of Wargame Developments this morning, and with luck it should be delivered to them by the beginning of the week.


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


I have also sent the password that will open the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to all members of Wargame Developments, but if you have forgotten or mislaid it, please contact me by email.

This is the second THE NUGGET of the subscription year and if you have not already resubscribed, you can do so by post (please make cheques payable to WARGAME DEVELOPMENTS) or via the PayPal button on the Wargame Developments website.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

You are never too old for puzzles ...

My wife and I have had a rather busy and sometimes very difficult time over the past few weeks, and we have tried to keep our spirits up by buying each other small and unexpected treats every so often. Today my wife bought me a puzzle ... and it kept me amused and diverted for over an hour.

The puzzle took the form of an aircraft carrier and a load of tiny model aircraft. The aircraft carrier took me about ten minutes to put together, but the aircraft were much more fiddly and they took a lot longer to assemble.


I must admit that this is not something that I would have bought myself ... but I am glad that my wife bought it for me. As I was making the various parts of the puzzle I kept thinking of wargaming applications that they could be put to. For example, a carrier vs. carrier game where real damage could be inflicted on a carrier that was caught undefended.

If other types of warship were available the models would be ideal for a Fletcher Pratt-style naval wargame fought on a large floor, but with the proviso that navies could only field those ships that they could assemble from scratch within a certain time ... and that time would not be very long! Perhaps this could be a game for a future COW (Conference of Wargamers)?

The Imagi-world of 1891: The background to 'A Punitive Expedition'

David Crook, whose is a very regular reader of this blog (and writer of his own, A Wargaming Odyssey), has recently been using the imagi-world of 1891 as the background to one of his own wargames. So far he has written a very interesting scenario, and with luck he should be fighting the first battle of a little-known punitive expedition by the Empire of Rusland against the Sublime Sultanate of Fezia.

All the preliminary information relating to this punitive expedition can be found at:
It will be nice to see how this first battle set in the imagi-world of 1891 turns out, and I will certainly read David's battle report with interest.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Wargames rules on my iPad2

I have just spent the last ten minutes transferring several of my sets of wargames rules over to my iPad2. The process was very simple, and I wish that I had learned how to do it before as it will make life so much easier for me in future.

All I had to do was to make sure that the rules I wanted to transfer from my personal computer to my iPad2 were in PDF format, and then it was a case of 'click and drag' from the relevant folders to the 'Books' folder in iTunes on my personal computer. I then synchronised iTunes with my iPad2 ... and they appeared in the iBooks library.

It really was that simple!

Inspiration drawn from other wargamers: Luke Hunter's Spencer Smith figures

Another regular blog reader - Luke Hunter - has also appreciated the benefits of the range of 30mm figures sold by Peter Johnstone of Spencer Smith Miniatures, and has recently bought and painted his first unit. He kindly sent me some photographs of his newly painted regiment, and has given me permission to feature them on my blog ... so here they are!






Luke has painted his figures in the same style as the figures that are featured in CHARGE! ... and I think that they look great! Well done Luke; I look forward to seeing more photos of your expanding SSM army in due course.

PS. I also received an email from Peter Johnstone of Spencer Smith Miniatures to tell me that my order was ready to be posted, and that it should be with me soon. I can hardly wait to stop writing about Spencer Smith Miniatures and to start painting them!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Funeral today

My father-in-law's funeral takes place this afternoon at 3.15pm.

My wife and I will be accompanying the coffin to the crematorium as part of a small funeral cortège. As the cortège reaches the gates we will be met by a piper who will walk in front of the hearse as it drives from the gates to the chapel. During this procession he will play a lament, and this will continue until the coffin has been carried into the chapel and the mourners are seated.

The service will be a simple one. After the officiating clergyman has begun the service with the Welcome and Gathering prayer, he will read Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the bar’. He will then address the mourners and I will deliver the Eulogy on behalf of my wife and I. The mourners will then take part in prayers and sing ‘Jerusalem’. Because my father-in-law was a former solder, his coffin will be draped with the Union Flag and the Last Post will be played just before the Committal. This will be followed by the Reveille, and we will process out of the chapel to the sound of the piper playing ‘Flower of Scotland’.

I wrote the Eulogy yesterday morning, and it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to write. In fact I found it more difficult to write than the Eulogy I wrote for my own mother’s funeral. To try to encapsulate the story of a man’s life in an oration that lasts no more than five minutes is not an easy one, and when that man lived for so long – and my father-in-law lived for ninety six years – the task is extremely difficult. I hope that I managed to do him justice. My wife thinks so, and that it probably the most important thing.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Imagi-world begins to develop a life of its own!

I have known David Crook since the 1980s when we both took part in Eric Knowles's 'Madasahatta Campaign'. We both share an interest in late nineteenth/early twentieth century land and naval wargaming, and I was not surprised that he showed an interest in the imagi-world I have been developing over the past few weeks.

David has now used the imagi-world of 1891 as a background for a campaign of his own. He has written a very interesting scenario that will probably see the Empire of Rusland mount a punitive expedition across the border with the Sublime Sultanate of Kezia.

The full background to the scenario can be found on David's blog, A Wargaming Miscellany.

Tanks!: Some simple rules for tank combat

Yesterday Alan Abbey – a former pupil of mine from many years ago (more than either of us would care to mention!) and now a leading light in The Milton Hundred Wargames Club – sent me a draft copy of some very simple tank combat rules that he has written.

It appears that Alan had been talking to Tracy at Armourfast about the lack of suitable wargames rules for young people. She was eager to spread the word about the benefits of wargaming as an educational tool (she is a school governor when she is not running Armourfast) as she thought that it had applications in Art, Maths, English, and History. She also felt that it was useful for developing reading and inter-personal skills.

As a result of this conversation Alan was inspired to write a set of rules that children could use to fight battles with their model tanks. Tracy has now tested the rules out with a class of children from the school where she is head of the governing body, and they were so successful that she now intends to give them away at wargames shows to any children who express an interest.


The rules are entitled TANKS! and are actually quite simple and sophisticated at the same time. Measurement for movement and weapon range is done using the top of the box that the Armourfast model comes in. Each tank’s movement is measured in multiples of short box-top edges and its firing range is measured in multiple of long box-top edges. (I thought that this was a very simple but effective method; no rulers are required!) Each tank type has a different value (e.g. A basic Sherman can move and fire five box-top edges but a Pzkpfw IV can move and fire six box-top edges) and the firing rules use a D6 die to determine whether or not a target has been ‘hit’. The rules take into account target visibility and the range at which the tank is firing at the target.


Once a target is ‘hit’ its destruction is determined by both players throwing the same number of dice as their tank can fire in box-top edges. Each player then lines up their dice in order of dice score, and the two lines of dice are compared. The highest dice score in each pair of dice is the winner, and if the firing side wins more pairs than the target side the target is destroyed. If the target side wins or it is a draw, the target tank survives the ‘hit’ and can continue to fight on.

The rules also contain some ideas for more experienced players to use. These include rules for firing at side armour rather than frontal armour and for damaging tanks that are ‘hit’ but not destroyed.

I think that these rules are an excellent starting point for youngsters who show an interest in wargaming, and both Alan and Tracy are to be commended for this initiative.

Well done to both of you!

PS. I understand that Alan’s late eighteenth/early nineteenth century naval wargames rules – BLOOD, BILGE AND IRON BALLS – are due for publication before Christmas. As soon as I get any further information I will mention it in a blog entry.

Note: The illustrations shown above are all taken from the Armourfast website and are © Armourfast.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Imagi-world blog

In order to provide a backup for any blog entries I write about my imagi-world I have created a dedicated blog about it here.


This will mean that anyone who just wants to follow the development of the imagi-world project will be able to do so without having to read all the other entries on this blog.

Latest book from Foundry arrives!

I have been very busy over the last few days and this is the first opportunity I have had to mention that the latest book from Foundry Books has been delivered. It is ARMIES OF THE 19TH CENTURY: ASIA - JAPAN AND KOREA, and it was written by Ian Heath (ISBN 978 1 901543 23 4).


As the following example pages show, the arrival of this book was very timely as it will help me to develop information about my imagi-world equivalent to Japan, the Empire of Jippon.



I have already begun to read this book because of its relevance to my current project ... and I am seriously thinking about looking for my DVD of THE LAST SAMURAI to watch as well!

Friday, 4 November 2011

Nugget 248

I took the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N248) to the printers this morning and I hope to collect it next Wednesday. If everything goes according to plan it should be posted out to members of Wargame Developments by the following Friday.

I will make the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT available for all members to download from the Wargame Developments website as soon as I can after THE NUGGET has been posted.

This is the second THE NUGGET of the new subscription year. If you were a member of Wargame Developments and have not yet resubscribed, you can do so by post (please make cheques payable to WARGAME DEVELOPMENTS) or via the PayPal button on the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Inspiration drawn from other wargamers: Jim Duncan's Spencer Smith figures

I took the plunge and sent an order to Spencer Smith Miniatures this morning. I ordered enough figures to create a couple of small wargames armies that I can use with my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 or MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules.

No sooner had I sent my order off than Jim Duncan sent me some photographs of his painted American Civil War Spencer Smith figures ... and seeing them confirmed in my mind that I had made a good choice. His figures are exactly how I want mine to look when they are painted.

Jim very kindly agreed that I could use his photographs on my blog ... so here they are!







A truly inspiring set of photographs of some wonderful wargames figures. I look forward to painting mine as soon as I can after they are delivered.