Sunday, 30 January 2011

A little light retail therapy

This morning was taken up with doing the weekly shopping. Now some men do not like any form of shopping, but my wife and I reached an agreement many years ago that if we went out shopping together, we would both allow the other some time to do some 'retail therapy' of their own. Today was no exception to that rule.

I managed to visit the local branch of Waterstones, where I finally got around to buying a copy of Christian Wolmer's ENGINES OF WAR (Published by Atlantic Books Ltd [2010] ISBN 978 1 84887 172 4)

This book tells the history of how the railways transformed warfare, and is a must for anyone like me whose interests include military history from 1830 onwards ... and railways (particularly steam railways).

I also bought the February issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED, which caught my eye as I was passing through the retail centre's branch of WHSmith.

Over recent months I have not bought either of the two main UK wargames magazines. The reason why has little to do with cost, but more to do with what interests me. I have just not seen any articles in either that I wanted to read ... but this issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED bucked that trend, so I bought it.

The articles that were of particular interest to me were all about the war in the Sudan:
  • "Give them volleys!": Wargaming the Mahdist Revolt
  • Circling the Square: The campaign to save Gordon and the Battle of Abu Klea
  • A good dusting: David Bickley's designer eye-view of writing rules for re-fighting the battles of the Sudan War
  • Unfinished business: Avenging Gordon and the Battle of Tofrek
This issue also included an article about building armies for A VERY BRITISH CIVIL WAR, which looks very interesting.

These were not the only wargames/military history-related purchases I made today. I had to pay a visit to the local branch of John Lewis Partnership, and whilst I was making my way through the Toy Department, I happened to see an very nice folding wooden chessboard on sale. After thinking about it ... for at least ten seconds ... I bought it. It is larger than the chessboard I am currently using for my portable wargame, and this means that the individual squares are bigger. This will allow me to field some of the 15mm-scale troops that I have already have and that are on bases that are currently too large for my existing chessboard. This will also mean that my battles will no longer be confined to Colonial ones, as they currently are.

Not a bad day's 'retail therapy', eh?


  1. Bob
    Thanks for drawing Wolmar's book to my attention. I have his earlier book 'Fire and Steam - a New History of the Railways in Britain' which I highly recommend.

  2. Tim Gow,

    I thought of your ... and your armoured train ... when I saw this book when it was first published. On glancing though it, it looks like quite an interesting history of the interaction between the railways and warfare.

    I had not heard of his earlier book, and will now look out for it.

    All the best,


  3. A very useful book. And of course railways featured in the Arabi Revolt and later in Graham's campaign in the Eastern Sudan.

  4. A J,

    As you point out, those campaigns would probably not have been successful without the use of railways.

    I think that railways are often neglected by wargamers because of the perceived problems of having them on the tabletop ... but I think that there must be a simple solution to the problem; all we have to do is to find it!

    All the best,