Monday, 21 January 2019

Platonic solids ... look very fmiliar

I've been doing a bit of research about the Platonic solids for a forthcoming Masonic lecture ... and discovered something that I did not know.

A Platonic solid is a regular, convex polyhedron that can be constructed from congruent, regular polygons. Furthermore, Platonic solids can be tessellated with other solids of the same type and size with no void space between them.

There are five solids that meet the criteria shown above and are Platonic solids. These are:
  • The tetrahedron
  • The cube
  • The octahedron
  • The dodecahedron
  • The icosahedron

These are, of course, the shapes of the D4, D6, D8, D12, and D20 dice ... and before I began my research, I had not realised that they were known as Platonic solids.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Writing, talking, and re-basing

I seem to have been rather busy this week, and have spent my time writing, talking, and re-basing figures.

On the writing front, I've been ploughing on with the second volume of MASTERS AT WAR, and have written about fifty percent of the book so far. With a book like this, doing thorough research beforehand means that the actual process of writing the text is relatively easy if time consuming. Once that is done, finding suitable illustrations that will help to flesh out the text is the next task ... and when that is over, it has to be proof read. With luck the book will be finished by the end of February and published so afterwards.

The period after Christmas is always one when I get an upsurge in requests by Masonic Lodges for speakers, and part of my duties as Hertfordshire's Provincial Grand Orator* is to co-ordinate and fulfil those requests. Luckily, I have a team of volunteers who help by delivering a range of talks that they have written, but I usually end up doing about half of them myself. On Tuesday this week I was in St Albans talking about Rabbie Burns (who was a Freemason, and whose body of work contains quite a few Masonic verses) and next week I will be in Cheshunt doing a talk about the origin of certain aspects of Holy Royal Arch masonry. Before delivering a talk, I go through it and make sure that any additional research I have done is added and the whole thing reads well.

As a break from all this I have been re-basing some of my 20mm-scale figures. Most of them were on individual square plywood bases, and I decided to re-base them on round metal bases. (The new bases are one pence pieces. These are made of copper-coated steel and are cheaper to use than buying steel washers of the same size. Being steel, they easily will attach themselves to the magnetic sheets I use to line my figure storage boxes.)

It is not too difficult to remove the old plywood bases. I stand the figures upright in a plastic storage tray that has about 2cm of water in it, and leave them for 24 to 48 hours. The water slowly seeps into the wood, which can then be carefully removed from the base of the figure by twisting the two opposite sides of the base in different directions. The figure usually pops off the base quite easily, and can then be cleaned up and dried before it is stuck on its new metal base. I have been doing them in batches of about a dozen figures at a time, and now have approximately eighty ready to be renovated and varnished before their new bases are painted green to match the Hexon II terrain and felt cloths I will be using them on.

*The abbreviation of my Masonic rank is ProvGOrat. My wife thinks that this is quite hilarious ... and I must admit that I can see her point.

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Nugget 314

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET (N314) from the printer yesterday and posted it out to members this morning. It has also been uploaded to the website so that it can be read online.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you when the last issue of THE NUGGET for 2017-2018 was posted out. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Miniature Wargames 430

The last few days have been a bit hectic, and I have only just been able to read the latest issue of this magazine.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: How not to write a wargame scenario: The Battle of the Alma: Part One by Conrad Kinch
  • Jerusalem is lost!: Wargaming the Crusade Period by Dave Tuck, with photographs by Malc Johnston
  • Poltava: Ukraine 8 July 1709 by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Diane Sutherland
  • Scale Compromise: Cold War Micro armour for middle age eyes by Glyn Marsh, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Rangers of Shadow Deep: An introduction to the system by Joseph A McCullough, with photographs by John Treadaway and Kevin Dallimore
    • Kromlech: Adding detail: an interview with the manufacturer by James Dyson, with photographs by Kromlech
  • Club Spotlight: 1066 and all that: The Editor and the theft of England by John Treadaway
  • Blackmail, Nags & Dags: Skirmishing on the English and Scottish Borders in the 16th Century by Chris Swan, with photographs by John Treadaway and Chris Swan
  • Recce
  • Distinctly Danish: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Directory
As usual, Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence was a good read, and Glyn Marsh's Scale Compromise makes a good case for using 1:200th-scale models and figures to recreate Cold War battles on Hexon terrain.

I was also intrigued by the Danish field boundaries modelled by Diane Sutherland. Whilst reading about the 1st and 2nd Schleswig Wars, field boundaries (which I understand are called 'nicks') seem to have been used by the combatants as cover. It was my understanding that they were banks of earth with hedges on top of them ... but the boundaries she has modelled are wattle fences atop banks of stones. This is certainly something worth looking into in more detail, if only to satisfy my own curiosity.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Nugget 314

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue to me on Sunday evening and I will be taking it to the printer later this morning. With luck it should be ready for me to collect by Thursday or Friday so that I can post it out to members by the weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you when the last issue of THE NUGGET for 2017-2018 was posted out. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Happy Birthday ... Wikipedia!

On 15th January 2001, Wikipedia came on line for the first time!

If Wikipedia was a person in the UK, they would be an adult, would be able to vote, and could buy an alcoholic drink in a public house.

Wikipedia was launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, and its name is a portmanteau word that combines the words wiki (which is derived from the Hawaiian word for quick) and encyclopaedia. Wales and Sanger had previously been involved in the development of Nupedia, an earlier online encyclopaedia that operated from October 1999 until 26th September 2003.

Monday, 14 January 2019

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame is now available to buy from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Far sooner than I expected, Amazon and Barnes & Noble have the hardback and softback editions of THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME on sale.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Another Napoleonic battle

Almost as soon as I had made reference to the two earlier battle reports that appeared on the Heretical Wargaming blog, a third was published.

This was a re-fight of THE BATTLE OF HELMSTEDT ...

... the battle used in THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book to show how the division-level rules worked.

This battle report featured the elegant gridded tabletop that has been created by JWH and 6mm-scale figures from his collection. Yet again, this blog entry ends with what I consider to be a very fair and balanced commentary on the rules.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Heretical Wargaming.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Progress, progress, progress ...

It's not quite the middle of the month, and I am already working my way towards finishing work on my next (non-wargaming) book. It is entitled MASTERS AT WAR VOLUME 2: 1920 to 1970, and will relate the life histories of some of the members of the Hertfordshire Masters' Lodge No.4090, particularly their military careers.

The research was pretty well complete last year, although new information is constantly turning up. So far I have written about six of the people whose stories I am going to cover, including one who commanded Birmingham's 50,000-strong Home Guard when it was set up, another who was Chief Instructor at the War Dog Training School, and a third whose service in the Middle East and Greece was described in the London Gazette as ‘gallant and distinguished’, for which he received a Mention in Despatches.

I have found that writing can be quite tiring if you spend too much time doing it without a break, so when I do have a bit of spare time, I've also been doing some preparatory work for the re-basing some of my 20mm-scale World War II figures. At this stage this mainly involves taking the figures off their existing bases and cleaning them up. When that has been done, I will repair any damage to their paintwork, varnish them, and then re-base them.

This is quite a mindless activity, and is a great way to have a productive break from writing.

Friday, 11 January 2019

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Napoleonic battles

Although my PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book has only been available for less than a week, the Heretical Wargaming blog has featured re-stagings of two of the scenarios featured in the book.


... and the second was THE BATTLE OF PORTER'S RIDGE.

Both battle reports featured a very simple but elegant gridded tabletop and 6mm-scale figures as well as some very fair and balanced comments about the rules.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Heretical Wargaming.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

HMS Undaunted

HMS Undaunted – whose wrought iron mast now stands at the road entrance to the Historic Dockyard, Chatham – was the fourth Bristol-class wooden screw frigate built for the Royal Navy. Her sister ships were HMS Bristol, HMS Glasgow, and HMS Newcastle. The class were built with composite wooden hulls and fitted with telescopic funnels and hoisting screws* as well as a full set of sails and rigging. As an experiment, HMS Undaunted was fitted with a wrought iron mast.

After she was launched at Chatham Dockyard in 1861, HMS Undaunted, went to Sheerness Dockyards for completion, and then straight into Reserve. She was later commissioned in March 1875 under the command of Captain Hugh Campbell, and set sail for the East Indies, where she acted as the flagship of Rear Admiral Reginald Macdonald. She returned to Chatham in 1879, where she was decommissioned in 1880 prior to being sold for scrapping in November 1882.

HMS Undaunted's characteristics:
  • Displacement: 4,094 tons
  • Dimensions:
    • Length: 250 ft (76.2m)
    • Beam: 52 ft 1 in (15.9m)
    • Draught: 22 ft 9 in (6.9m)
  • Propulsion: 1 x horizontal, two-cylinder, single-expansion steam engine (2,503 ihp) driving 1 hoisting screw propeller*
  • Speed: 12 knots
  • Complement: 550 to 600
  • Armament: 30 x 8-inch (203 mm) muzzle-loading smoothbore guns; 20 x 32-pounder muzzle-loading smoothbore guns; 1 x 68-pounder muzzle-loading smoothbore gun

* The telescopic funnel and hoisting screw allowed the Bristol-class to operate as purely sail-powered vessels when necessary. This increased their ability to stay at sea for long periods without having to stop at a coaling station to refill their bunkers.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

A visit to Chatham

On Monday Sue and I went to the Dockside Outlet Centre, which is located next to the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, and whilst I was there, I paid a visit to Regal Models. Although not part of the complex of buildings that make up the Centre, Regal Models occupies a nearby building.

The shop – which also serves as the office of a van hire company – stocks a range of diecast vehicle models, model railway rolling stock and accessories, plastic model kits, balsa wood, modelling tools, and paint. It is open every day of the week, but closes at midday on Saturday and Sunday.

On my way back to the Outlet Centre, I walked past the Bell Mast that stands near to the road entrance to the Historic Dockyard.

This was originally fitted to HMS Undaunted, and when the ship was scrapped, the mast was erected at Chatham Dockyard. From 1903 until the Dockyard closed in 1984, the bell was used to signal the end of each day's shift.

Monday, 7 January 2019

'Not one step back!'

Over the weekend I was watching a DVD of the film ENEMY AT THE GATES, and it struck me that if and when I get around to getting my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project officer the ground, I need to incorporate 'Not one step back!' into my rules.

Joseph Stalin issued Order No. 227 on 28th July 1942. It was intended to help stiffen resistance and included the command 'Not one step back!' (Ни шагу назад!/Ni shagu nazad!), an order that was ferociously enforced by blocking detachments of the NKVD. Soldiers (including officers) who retreated without written permission were liable to be shot on the spot or sent to a penal battalion (штрафной батальон/shtrafnoy batalyon).

Having looked at my PORTABLE WARGAME rules, the simplest way to incorporate 'Not one step back!' would be to remove the retreat option for Russian units from the RESOLVING HITS ON UNITS table. If I do this, any Russian unit that is hit would automatically lose 1 SP but will not retreat.

I'd like to see if this simple change works ... so a short play-test battle would seem to be in order.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

My latest book sales figures

Because I was on a cruise when sent me last month's sales figures, I had not looked at how well (or badly) my books were selling since the beginning of November. At that point my sales figures looked like this:

The current sale figures (which were downloaded before THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME went on sale) look like this:

The 'core' PORTABLE WARGAME books continue to sell well, but I was gratified to see that HEXBLITZ has developed a following, even though it was only published so that I could show other people how to go about writing and publishing their own books.

It will be interesting to see if THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book sells as well as the other books in the series. If it does, it will certainly encourage me to publish THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book that I have been planning to write.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame ... is now on sale!

Yesterday's post included the printed proof copy of THE PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME. The solution to problem regarding the photographs being too dark has worked ... and I have now released the hardback, paperback, and PDF editions for publication via

The hardback is on sale for £17.99 here, the paperback is on sale for £7.99 here, and the PDF is on sale for £3.99 here. I hope to publish an eBook edition once can sort out the problems with their software, but in the meantime I understand that the PDF can be downloaded and read on most tablets and on some eBook readers.

The various editions of the book should be available from online bookshops (e.g. Amazon, Barnes & Noble) in due course. As soon as they are available, I'll announce it in a blog entry.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issues 172 and 173

The latest copies of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) arrived in the post a couple of days ago, and I have now had a chance to read them.

SOTQ 172
The articles included in this issue are:
  • Chesney's Battle of Dorking in context: The future-war fiction genre by Dr Roger T Stearn
  • Origins of the Legion of Frontiersmen and the formation of MI5/6 by Dr Anne Samson
  • Grey Glory or Scarlet Splendour? by Graham Gilmore
  • Book Reviews by Dr Roger T Stearn
  • Officers of the Victorian Military Society

SOTQ 173
The articles included in this issue are:
  • The Cavalry Journal 1906 – 1914 by Dr Andrew Windrow
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Was Captain Nolan unusual in having an unrecorded grave? by Dr Mike Hinton
  • The Queen's Hard Bargains – : A Company, 24th Foot at Military Odyssey 2018 by Tim Rose
  • The Anglo-Boer War Diary of Private Charles Holmes, 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment
  • Book Reviews by Dr Roger T Stearn and Dan Allen
  • Officers of the Victorian Military Society
Yet another couple of bumper issues … and plenty of stuff to interest me!

I particularly enjoyed Roger Stearn’s Chesney's Battle of Dorking in context as I have read and enjoyed Chesney’s book and several other books in the future-war genre.

I understand that the Victorian Military Society has experienced some production difficulties with regard to SOTQ, which resulted in the delayed publication of SOTQ 172. These problems now appear to have been resolved, which is why both issues arrived together.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Box of Delights (Part 2): The French

Having opened all the boxes labelled 'British', I then began opening the 'French' boxes and cataloguing the contents.

Imperial Guard Infantry
There are:
  • 36 Imperial Guardsmen
  • 3 Imperial Guard Drummers
  • 3 Imperial Guard Officers

There are:
  • 117 Infantrymen (including 12 Light Infantrymen, 10 in white uniforms, and 35 Swiss Neuchâtel Infantrymen)
  • 6 Drummers/Buglers
  • 8 Officers (including 3 Neuchâtel Officers)
  • 2 Standard Bearers

There are:
  • 7 Mounted Officers
  • 1 Foot Officer (Engineer)

There are:
  • 25 Heavy Cavalry Troopers
  • 3 Heavy Cavalry Buglers
  • 5 Heavy Cavalry Officers
  • 26 Light Cavalry Troopers
  • 1 Light Cavalry Bugler
  • 5 Light Cavalry Officers
  • 2 Light Cavalry Standard Bearers

There are:
  • 9 Foot Artillery Gunners
  • 1 Foot Artillery Officer
  • 11 Horse Artillery Gunners
  • 2 Horse Artillery Officers

The French forces listed above total 272 figures ... which when added to the British figures I have already written about, gives a grand total of 539 figures! This is no small addition to my collection, and it will take me quite some time to assimilate them.

In addition to all the figures that Tim acquired for me, he also passed on four small painted cavalry figures that look as if they were cast by Hinton Hunt.

They look tiny alongside the Stadden figures that seem to make up the bulk of the new figures ... but I'm sure that I will find a use for them as well!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Box of Delights (Part 1): The British

Just before Sue and I went on our pre-Christmas cruise, Tim Gow delivered a large box of painted Napoleonic figures to me. They had belonged to a recently deceased wargamer, and his family wanted them to go to someone who would use them. Knowing of my recent growing interest in Napoleonic wargaming, Tim thought of me ... and I was only to glad to add them to my collection.

Tim had already sent me some photographs of the figures so that I had some idea what the collection contained, but when the figures arrived, they were very soundly packed in sealed boxes. I resisted the impulse to open them before we went on our cruise as I wanted to spend some time cataloguing what they contained. As I had very little to do on New Year's Day, I decided that it was an ideal opportunity to begin that task ... and I began by opening the boxes labelled 'British'. What I found inside can be seen below.

There are:
  • 24 Riflemen
  • 1 Bugler
  • 3 Officers

There are:
  • 139 Infantrymen (including 15 Fusiliers)
  • 13 NCOs
  • 2 Drummers

There are:
  • 12 Foot Officers
  • 3 Mounted Officers
  • 2 Standard Bearers

There are:
  • 22 Heavy Cavalry Troopers
  • 20 Light Cavalry Troopers

There are:
  • 6 Royal Artillery Gunners
  • 2 Royal Artillery Officers
  • 12 Royal Horse Artillery Gunners
  • 2 Royal Horse Artillery Drivers
  • 2 Royal Horse Artillery Foot Officers
  • 2 Royal Horse Artillery Mounted Officers

This represent a massive increase in the number of the British troops in my collection (an additional 267 figures!), and it will take me some considerable time to integrate them into my collection. Most of the foot figures are Staddens, which makes them slightly bigger than most of me existing figures, but once renovated, varnished, and based, they should not stand out as being too different.

I have yet to open the boxes labelled 'French' ... but if what I have already seen is anything to go by, I have more delights to come!