Sunday, 28 May 2017

Developing The Portable Wargame: Almost there!

I have finally finished writing and illustrating the DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME, and it is now being proof-read prior to publication. It is currently 128 pages long and contains three full sets of rules and 82 illustrations.

The contents remains pretty well as they were in my last update, and looks like this:
  • Introduction
    • Acknowledgements
  • Pinning and Unpinning Units
  • The Two Kills Option
  • Army Lists, Balanced, and Unbalanced Forces
    • Army Lists: Some generic examples
    • Army Lists: A pair of historically-based examples
    • Balanced Forces: The 40 SPs per side method
    • Balance Forces: The randomly-generated number of SPs per side method
    • Unbalance Forces: The randomly-generated number of SPs per side method
    • Elite, Average, and Poor quality units
    • Fortifications, fieldworks, and prepared defences
  • Big Board – and Small Board – Gridded Wargames
  • A few observations about Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Army Lists for The Portable Wargame: Ancient Army Lists
    • Tactical Formations
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some example from the Ancients Rules
  • A few observations about the Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Adding another dimension: Some thoughts about Air Combat Rules
    • Types of Aircraft
    • Aircraft Arcs-of Fire
    • Turning
  • Portable Wargame: Air Combat Rules
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some examples from the Air Combat Rules
  • Simple Mini-Campaigns
    • An example of a mini-campaign: 'Long live the Revolution!'
  • Scenarios
  • Bibliography
  • Endnotes
To give a bit of flavour of what the new book will contain, here are a few of the illustrations I have used, with their original captions:

Figure 27: The same wedge formation as that shown immediately above, but on a hexed grid. The wedge formation is the one of the tactical formations that is easier to reproduce on a hexed grid rather than a squared grid.
Figure 29: The same Barbarian army in wedge formation as that shown immediately above, but on a hexed grid.
Figure 47: Let battle commence! The War Elephant unit has moved into contact with an enemy Heavy Infantry unit.
Figure 67: An example of a point-to-point campaign map of the Waterloo Campaign (1815). The forces involved move from one point to another.
Figure 75: The leader of the Revolutionaries prepares to fight to the last surrounded by his loyal troops.
Figure 82: A hexed grid version of the original Sittingbad map, modified to represent Sittingrad during the Rusland Civil War.
With luck the book should be ready for publication at some time during June or early July.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Vive l'Empereur! Finally, some more French Artillery figures are added to the collection!

Finally – and after a few diversions and distractions along the way – I've managed to finish renovating, varnishing, and basing some more French Artillery figures to add to my Napoleonic collection.

Hopefully the next batch (which is probably going to be French Horse Artillery and Veteran Artillery figures) will be completed in somewhat less time.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Nugget 300

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N300) from the printer today, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments over the coming weekend.

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.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year ... and is the three hundredth to be published. This is an important milestone in the history of Wargame Developments and THE NUGGET, and this issue will be published just a month before the 38th annual COW (Conference of Wargamers) takes place at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

I have been to ... Mark Masons' Hall, St. James's, London

Every so often Sue and I like to go out to lunch ... and yesterday we went to the carvery restaurant at Mark Masons' Hall, 86 St James's Street, St. James's, London.

We have been there several times before, and because I registered with 86 St James (the catering arm of Mark Masons' Hall) I get notification of special offers for lunch. Yesterday was one of the days when lunch was 30% off its usual price ... so Sue and I decided to book.

We had booked lunch for 1.30pm, and left home just before midday. The local 244 bus took us to Woolwich Arsenal Station, where we caught a South Eastern train to Cannon Street Station. (We had hoped to go directly to Charing Cross Station, but the train that we were due to catch was delayed, and then the service was going to be terminated at London Bridge Station. Cannon Street seemed like a better option ... and choosing to use it turned out to be the right decision to make.)

From Cannon Street Station we travelled by London Underground to St. James's Park Underground Station. At Westminster a group of musicians got on the train, and entertained us with some live music between stops!

On leaving St. James's Park Underground Station we walked up Queen Anne's Gate, ...

... crossed over Birdcage Walk, and into St. James's Park.

Our route took us across the bridge over the Serpentine ...

... from where we had excellent views of Westminster ...

... and Buckingham Palace in the distance.

We continued to walk through St. James's Park ...

... and then across The Mall.

We saw two female Metropolitan Police officers from the Mounted Branch on patrol in The Mall ... and they kindly stopped still long enough for me to take a photograph.

Sue and I then made our way up Marlborough Street ...

... and past St. James's Palace ... which was being guarded by members of the RAF Regiment.

From there it was but a very short walk to 86 St. James's Street. (Mark Masons' Hall is the building with the Union Flag flying at half-mast as a sign of respect to those who died in the recent terrorist attack in Manchester.)

We had reached 86 St. James's Street in plenty of time to have a drink in the Second Floor bar.

Just before 1.30pm we made our way down to the First Floor, where the carvery restaurant is situated.

The meal comprised three courses. The starters are a selection of hors d'oeuvres from a trolley the waitresses wheel to your table, after which you go up to the carvery to select the main course you want to eat. Yesterday the choices were beef, pork, and salmon. As can be seen from the following photograph, I decided to have the slimmers lunch!

The desserts are also brought to your table on a trolley, and one can finish with either tea of coffee. The total cost of our meals (including drinks) was less than £50.00 ... and we both left feeling rather full!

We decided to walk back to Westminster to try to catch the Thames Clipper service that goes along the River Thames to Woolwich. We strolled down Pall Mall ...

... until we reached Waterloo Place.

We then turned right and made our way down towards The Mall. Along the way we passed a statue of King Edward VII (who was know as 'Edward the Caresser' because of the number of other men's wives that he enjoyed 'entertaining'!) ...

... and the column atop of which is a statue of the Duke of York. (He was the second eldest son of George III, and became a professional soldier. The famous nursery rhyme, 'The Grand Old Duke of York' was written to mock his lack of success in the 1799 military campaign in the Netherlands.)

We crossed The Mall close to the Royal Artillery Memorial ...

... and then paid our respects at the National Police Memorial.

From there our route took us past Horse Guards Parade (which has been prepared for the Queen's Birthday Parade AKA Trooping the Colour), ...

... the Guards Monument, ...

... and the statue of Clive of India.

After turning up Great George Street ...

... we soon reached Parliament Square.

We continued on towards Westminster Bridge ...

... from where we had an excellent view of our destination, Westminster Pier.

Sue and I walked down the steps to the Pier, only to discover that the first Thames Clipper to Woolwich was not going to run for another hour and a half. Despite the fact that we were both feeling tired and rather hot, we decided to take the Underground from Westminster Station back to Cannon Street Station, where we were able to catch the 4.07pm train to Woolwich Arsenal Station.

On reaching Woolwich we took one look at the massive queues at the bus stop ... and walked across the road to the taxi rank. Some ten minutes later we were home, still feeling very full, rather tired, and in great need of a cold drink and a hot shower!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Warship 2017

The latest copy of WARSHIP was delivered last Friday. This is Volume XXXIX of this annual publication, and it is edited by John Jordan and published by Conway (ISBN 978 1 8944 6472 0).

This year's edition of the annual includes:
  • Editorial by John Jordan
  • The Japanese Battleships Kawachi and Settsu by Kathrin Milanovich
  • The British Armour Plate Pool Agreement of 1903 by David Boursnell
  • From Eritrea to Courbet by John Jordan
  • DDL: The Australian Light Destroyer Project of the early 1970s by Mark Briggs
  • From Elba to Europa by Michele Cosentino
  • Modern Mine Countermeasures by Conrad Waters
  • The Light Aircraft Carrier Ibuki Class by Hans Lengerer
  • HACS: Debacle or Just In Time? by Peter Marland
  • HMS Surrey: Britain's Last Treaty Cruiser by David Murfin
  • After the Kaiser: The Imperial German Navy's Light Cruisers after 1918 by Aidan Dodson
  • The US Navy's Last Monitors by A D Baker III
  • Warship Notes
  • Naval Books of the Year
  • Warship Gallery
Yet again this year's annual is full of interesting really articles, and I look forward to reading them over the next few days and weeks. In particular I want to spend some time reading Aidan Dodson's After the Kaiser: The Imperial German Navy's Light Cruisers after 1918. It is often forgotten that quite a few of the Light Cruisers that Germany built before and during the First World War were still in service – albeit in secondary roles – during the Second World War. For example, the former SMS Niobe became the Croatian Navy cruiser and training ship Dalmacija after serving in Yugoslav Navy as Dalmacija, then the Royal Italian Navy as Cattaro (she was seized after the invasion of Yugoslavia), then in the Kriegsmarine as Niobe for a second time, before being handed over to the Croatians! ...

... and SMS Ancona ended its life as a Flak Ship with Naval Flak Group 233 in and around Wilhelmshaven.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Another tragedy

My wife and I were getting ready to go to bed last night when the first news of an 'incident' in Manchester began to feature on the two main news channels. The situation was somewhat confused, and we both hoped that whatever the cause, it would turn out to be nothing serious.

We were both wrong.

When we woke up at 7.30am this morning and saw the news, we were both saddened to find that at least twenty two people (including the bomber) are dead, and nearly sixty people were seriously injured.

I cannot conceive of what would induce someone to think that killing oneself – and a lot of innocent people – with a bomb is going to change a single thing in this world other than to cause massive grief and sorrow to the families of the victims. This has been shown time and time again ... and yet despite this some people still think that self-immolation that causes the deaths of others serves some sort of higher cause. In my opinion, it does not.

Needless to say our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of everyone who was killed or injured in this incident, and we offer our support to all of those who have been affected by it, whether they were event attendees or responders.

It has been pointed out in the media that yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, South East London, and the two incidents have been tentatively linked.

As I live only about a mile from the scene of the murder, I was aware of the fact that at some time during the past week the memorial to Lee had been vandalised, and that yesterday there was a ceremony at the memorial in remembrance of him. I hope against hope that the date chosen for yesterday's attack was purely coincidental, as is the fact that Lee came from Middleton in Greater Manchester.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Nugget 300

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me on Saturday, and I am taking it to the printer later today. This should mean that it will be printed and posted out to members of Wargame Developments by the end of the week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year ... and is the three hundredth to be published. This is an important milestone in the history of Wargame Developments and THE NUGGET, and this issue will be published just a month before the 38th annual COW (Conference of Wargamers) takes place at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Scenarios for All Ages

Whilst writing the chapter about scenarios for my forthcoming DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book, I realised that I had somehow 'lost' my copy of Charles Stuart Grant and Stuart Asquith's SCENARIOS FOR ALL AGES.

This book was published by CSG Publications (Wargaming) in 1996 (ISBN 0 9525146 5 6) and is still available from John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project ... which is where I bought my replacement copy.

The book contains fifty two different scenarios, many of which are convertible for use with THE PORTABLE WARGAME. This is an excellent book, and now that Charles Stuart Grant's earlier SCENARIOS FOR WARGAMERS and PROGRAMMED WARGAMES SCENARIOS only seem to be available on the second-hand market at quite ridiculous prices, it serves as an easily available and affordable source of scenarios for wargamers.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 410

The May issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered a few days ago, but I have been so busy that I have only just managed to read through it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: 'Get to the chopper!': A chat and a game with Brian Kenny, AvP (Alien vs. Predator) Unleashed Team by Conrad Kinch
  • Rules of Engagement: Asymmetric Warfare on the North West Frontier and modern conflicts by Andy Copestake
  • Some you win, some Zulus: A card-based system for producing the element of surprise in late nineteenth century colonial wargames by Andrew Rolph
  • Recce!: An Airfix Battles scenario by Alan Paull
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • The Army of Gondolin: Painting a realistic Elven army (Part One) by Graham Green
    • Designing ulterior motives: A chat with the author of the latest add-on to Frostgrave by John Treadaway and Joe McCullough
  • Salute 2017: Show report by John Treadaway
  • Recce
  • Big Boys' Toys: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: Falkirk District Wargames Club by Douglas Thompson
  • Club Directory
I was rather disappointed with this issue, and it pretty well confirmed my decision to cancel my subscription when it is next due. The only two articles I really enjoyed reading were those written by Andrew Rolph and Alan Paul (both of whom I have met at recent COWs) ... and when I saw that one article in the Darker Horizons section was subtitled 'Painting a realistic Eleven army', I nearly fell off my chair!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Retail therapy ... at Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop

As I reported in yesterday's blog entry, I drove our visitor to North Greenwich underground station via Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop. There we were both able to indulge in some retail therapy, and I came away with a copy of an AFTER THE BATTLE magazine ...

... and a book entitled GUIDE TO SIEGE WARGAMING by Stuart Asquith.

The former covers the four Battles of Kharkov as well as containing articles about Battery Maxim Gorkii I and re-enacting Operation Anglo. Stuart Asquith's book was one of a series published under the aegis of MILITARY MODELLING magazine by Argus Books (ISBN 1 85486 009 7) in 1990. Although I have owned the others in this series, this was one I had never bough before, and it was on sale at what I thought was a bargain price ... so I bought it!

I thoroughly recommend that anyone visiting this part of south east London should pay a visit to Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop. It is usually open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and can be found at 5 Falconwood Parade, Welling, Kent, DA16 2PL.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Here's hoping for a restful few days!

The last four days have been a bit busy with lots of non-wargaming activity, but with a bit of luck I hope that the next few days will be a little less hectic.

On Sunday Sue and I spent the morning at the Bluewater Shopping Centre, where I had an eye test. The results were encouraging (my eyesight has not degenerated very much over the past ten years) but I did end up buying two new pairs of glasses; one for normal every-day wear and one for close work such as reading and painting toy soldiers.

On Monday morning we went looking new sofa for our conservatory. Our search involved a visit to Orpinton in Kent which proved to be fruitless. After lunch I then went up to Freemasons Hall in Central London to attend a meeting of the London Lodge of which I am a member. This started at 4.00pm and ended at just after 6.00pm, which gave us plenty of time to get to the Kingsway Hall Hotel for a pre-dinner drink. The after meeting dinner ended by 9.00pm, and after an uneventful journey I was home at 10.00pm.

The hunt for a new sofa continued on Tuesday morning. We began by visiting a couple of furniture stores in Chatham, Kent, but yet again our efforts went unrewarded. After lunch we concentrated our search in Charlton in South East London where we finally found what we were looking for. I just about managed to load the new sofa into the back of my car to get it home, and had managed to unload it by the time I had to leave to go to Cheshunt for a Lodge Committee Meeting followed by a Lodge of Instruction meeting.

By early on Wednesday morning the new sofa was in its place in our conservatory, and well before midday Sue and I were in a supermarket in Welling, Kent, buying some much-needed food supplies. We had eaten lunch at home by 1.30pm, and an hour or so later I was on my way to North Greenwich underground station to pick up an old friend and fellow Freemason prior to us going to a Lodge Meeting in Cheshunt. We were held up by a combination of bad weather, heavy traffic and vehicle breakdowns, and we did not arrive at the Halsey Masonic Centre until 4.35pm ... only to find that quite a few other attendees had also been delayed.

The meeting was an Installation, and I did my small part in helping to place another old friend into the Chair of my Mother Lodge. There was a special surprise for me towards the end of the meeting when the current Provincial Grand Orator presented me with the dress and undress aprons he has worn for the past eight years. I will therefore be able to wear them with pride when I am formally invested as his replacement in September.

The journey home from Cheshunt was somewhat less fraught than the journey there, and my guest and I reached home not long after 10.30pm. We then spent the next hour having a relaxing chat and a drink, but by midnight we were all feeling very tired, and not long afterwards everyone was in bed and asleep. We were all awake by 8.00am, and by 9.30pm we had all eaten a very pleasant cooked breakfast. Our guest took his leave just after 11.00am, and I drove him to North Greenwich underground station via the Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop, where we stopped for a spell of retail therapy. I was back home by just after 12.30am, and after a short break for a drink, Sue and I went out into our garden to fix one of the bird feeder stations which had fallen over during a rainstorm.

With a bit of luck we should now be able to relax a bit for a day or so, and I may even manage to do some more work on my DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th May 1937

After the resignation of Largo Caballero, Dr Juan Negrin (a Socialist) became Prime Minister.

Dr Juan Negrin.
His new Government was dominated by Communists.