Saturday 30 April 2011

My Funny Little Wars army

I have been giving some thought as to the army I need to raise for the FUNNY LITTLE WARS session Tim Gow are putting on at COW2011. Although I have until July to raise the army, this does not actually give me a lot of time to do so. I have therefore made the decision to buy as many of the figures as I can from the various ranges of Britains Deetail toy soldiers that are available.

I already have some Confederate figures, and it makes sense to use further Confederate and Union figures for my FUNNY LITTLE WARS army. The Union figures will be used to form the regular units and the Confederates will constitute the reserve and militia units. It also means that I can use my units to fight against each other if I want to.

It might also be possible to use some of the Deetail Wild West and Foreign Legion/Arab figures. These include mounted and dismounted Cowboys, Mexicans, Indians, 7th Cavalry, Foreign Legion, and Arab figures.

Such an army will be a bit of a rag-bag, but as I intend it to be the army of a small South American republic (the working name of which is Cordeguay), this should not be too much of a problem. It should certainly be up to dealing with Tim Gow's Forbodians!

Richard Holmes

Professor Richard Holmes CBE TD JP is dead.

I happened to visit the BBC News website about thirty minutes ago, and saw the headline about Professor Holmes' death. He was only 65 years old, and the news of his death has stunned me. I met him on several occasions, and have heard him speak about various aspects of military history, particularly the Great War. He had a way of making events come alive as he talked about them, and his delivery always seemed to place emphasis on the story part of history.

He was not only a distinguished academic and broadcaster, but also a long-serving member of the Territorial Army, eventually ending up as a Brigadier and Director of Reserve Forces and Cadets. He was the first reservist to achieve this distinction.

His contribution to British military history will be sorely missed.

Forgotten armies ... well, not quite!

Some years ago I started a Colonial wargames project that was inspired by Eric Knowles's 'Madasahatta' campaign. Back in the early 1980s I had taken part in a year-long series of land and naval battles set on the imaginary island of Madasahatta during the Great War. The whole thing was organised by Eric and the battles were fought in the basement of his shop, 'New Model Army' in Manor Park.

Back in the early 2000s I decided to set up my own imaginary African countries (some colonies, some still independent), and hence were born Dammallia, Mankanika, and Marzibar. These countries needed armies, and these were supplied by Essex Miniatures.

I based my armies, organised them so that they could be easily and quickly moved from storage to tabletop ... and then life intervened, the project became moribund, and the armies have been sat in their storage boxes pretty well unused ever since.

But not now!

Here they are, in all their glory, waiting to be used.

The Army of British Dammallia

The Army of German Mankanika

The Army of the Sultanate of Marzibar

The Arab Army

Note: The Arab Army will align with anyone it thinks will be of assistance to it and fight anyone that tries to stop them indulging in their 'legitimate' business ... the slave trade!

It strikes me that I could easily use these figures as they are for my portable wargame; all it would mean is that Units would be made up of groups of individual figures rather than a single Unit base.

This is going to give me something to think about over the next few days.

Good news in the post ...

Today's post was not delivered until just after 1.30pm (something that is not unusual on a Saturday). I was not expecting anything in particular, and the hand-addressed white envelope that was amongst the rest of the post (the usual collection of bills, political leaflets, and brochures) looked interesting. When I opened it, I realised just how interesting it was.

Firstly, it contained a copy of the July 1963 issue (Volume 2, Number 5) of TABLE TOP TALK, Jack Scruby's replacement for WAR GAME DIGEST. It had been sent to me by Andy Callan – one of the founders of Wargame Developments and Paddy Griffith's literary executor – with a short note that stated 'I found this in Paddy's papers and thought of you (see P3).'

Pages 3 and 4 are taken up by an article written by Joseph Morschauser(!!!) entitled 'Limited War Games', and it is my intention to transcribe it and add it to my blog as soon as I can.

The note also went on to state that Professor Philip Sabin has persuaded King's College, London, to add Paddy Griffith's historical papers to the Liddell Hart archive, thus preserving them for prosperity. The wargaming papers are being passed to John Curry (of the The History of Wargaming Project) in the hope that much of its contents can be published in due course.

This is really good news, and means that Paddy's legacy can be enjoyed by many people for years to come. This will be fitting tribute and memorial to him, and the thanks of the wider wargaming and military history world should go to Andy Callan for everything that he has done to ensure this.

Friday 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

Like the majority of the population of the UK – and quite a few people outside the UK – my wife and I watched today's wedding between Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton. We both wish them a long and happy married life.

The newlyweds have been created Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. This is an interesting choice, and it is the fifth time the title has been created. The last holder commanded a division during the Crimean War and eventually became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army. In the latter role he acquired a reputation for being a bit reactionary and resistant to change. I suspect that the newly created Duke of Cambridge will not follow a similar career path!

Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince de Monaco

Whilst I was in Monaco I managed to buy a couple of postcards that shown the uniform of the Compagnie des Carabiniers du Prince de Monaco, which is part of the country's very small armed forces.

Their main function is to guard the Royal Palace and to provided protection for the Prince of Monaco.

Although some of the uniforms are quite modern, others still retain a late nineteenth/early twentieth century look about them, and could easily be a source of inspiration for a small FUNNY LITTLE WARS army.

I have been to ... Gibraltar, Spain, Italy, and Monaco

Tuesday 12th April: Southampton
We boarded MV ARTEMIS for her final voyage as a part of P&O's fleet just after midday. She has been sold to new owners and will be handed over to them at the end of this voyage.

As we have spent so much time cruising with P&O over that past few years, we are now 'Gold' tier members of the Portunus Club (P&O's loyalty scheme) which meant that we had priority boarding and access to a lounge until our cabin was ready. We were fed and watered (well, given a plate of sandwiches and free drinks) whilst regular announcements kept us up-to-date about what was happening.

At 2.00pm we were able to get into our cabin and begin unpacking. ARTEMIS is a small ship, and it was an interesting experience trying to unpack our bags in our cabin. There was just enough room for all the bags to be on the floor and the twin beds and for one person to move about unpacking. Luckily our cabin is one of the few that has a balcony, so the one of us who was not unpacking was able to sit there whilst the other did what they had to do. By 3.30pm we had done most of the unpacking, and set off in search of somewhere to get a drink before the Safety Drill at 4.45pm.

After taking part in the Drill, we returned our lifejackets to our cabin and then went down to the Promenade Deck for 'sail away'. Because this was the last time ARTEMIS was leaving Southampton as a P&O ship, they laid on a band – the Hampshire Caledonian Pipe Band – and fireworks.

The ship was also saluted by the sail training ship, LORD NELSON, and MV ARCADIA, another of P&O's cruise ships.

We then sailed out of Southampton, into the Solent, past the Nab Tower, and out into the English Channel.

Wednesday 13th April: At sea.
After a somewhat rough night passage down the Channel and around Ushant, ARTEMIS made her way southward through the Bay of Biscay. MV ARCADIA – which was on her way to Alaska via the Panama Canal – followed ARTEMIS for most the day.

My wife and I spent most of the day resting, reading, and generally relaxing. I did attend a short meeting to discuss a fund raising event that an organisation to which I belong will be running next Monday evening. This took up a little over half an hour and my wife used the time to visit the special sale of ARTEMIS memorabilia that was taking place in the ship's atrium area. As a result, we are now the proud owners of a small teddy bear wearing an ARTEMIS jumper, a small commemorative plate, a travel holdall that is fitted with wheels, two monographed picture frames, and a waterline model of ARTEMIS ... all at 90 percent of their original price!

The weather improved as the day went on, and by the afternoon it was sunny ... but not very warm unless you were out of the wind! I began re-reading Adrian English's THE GREEN HELL – A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CHACO WAR BETWEEN BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY 1932-35, and it again struck me how many of the engagements that took place during this conflict lend themselves to being recreated using simple wargames rule ... just like THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules I am currently developing.

I also managed to watch my favourite episode from CALLAN. (One of the joys of owning an iPad is the fact that you can download films and TV programmes onto it to watch as and when you want to.) The episode is entitled ACT OF KINDNESS, and the story features Callan fighting several Napoleonic wargames against the 'Section's' latest 'target', Heathcote Land. Unusually for CALLAN, the 'target' survives, and is shown to be a thoroughly decent - if slightly ruthless - man.

Thursday 14th April: At sea
After a much calmer night, ARTEMIS began her transit down the coast of north western Spain and Portugal. By lunchtime we were about sixty miles north west of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon. During lunch we were 'buzzed' by a fast jet, but I was unable to see what type or nationality it was. All I saw was a fast diminishing tail silhouette and exhaust!

After a barbeque lunch around the main swimming pool, we went to a special lecture by Ken Vardy. He is a Belfast-born maritime historian, and the topic of his lecture was the short but eventful life of RMS TITANIC. (Today was the ninety ninth anniversary of RMS TITANIC's collision with the iceberg; the ship actually sank on 15th April 1912.)

I then spent a hour reading more of Adrian English's THE GREEN HELL before adding a couple of amendments to the current draft of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules. The latter came about as a result of some very helpful comments made by Ross Mac just before we left for this cruise.

Tonight was one of the four formal evenings that take place during the cruise, and we went to the Captain's 'Welcome Aboard' cocktail party that took place before the evening meal. Earlier in the day the Captain had announced that due to good weather, the ship should dock in Gibraltar – our first port-of-call – about an hour earlier than expected. As we were only supposed to be in Gibraltar for five hours, this additional time means that we should be slightly less rushed tomorrow when we go ashore.

Friday 15th April: Gibraltar
The night was a warm one, and when we woke this morning there was a thin sea mist surrounding the ship. This did not stop us from seeing the coast of North Africa on the horizon as we closed on the Straits of Gibraltar, but what we did see was vague outlines of the coastline and the hills beyond. There were quite a lot of other sea craft of various sizes sailing backward and forward through the Straits, including tankers, bulk carriers, container ships, ferries, and local fishing boats.

Because our cabin was on the starboard side of the ship, we did not see Gibraltar until ARTEMIS turned in for her approach to the harbour entrance.

The approach has to be made from the south east so as to avoid Spanish territorial waters; despite both Spain and the UK being members of NATO and the EU, the 'ownership' of Gibraltar still remains a bone of contention between the two countries, and ships visiting Gibraltar take pains not to stray into Spanish waters.

The Holland America Line's NIEUW AMSTERDAM was already moored alongside the seaward side of the cruise terminal, and ARTEMIS therefore moored on the harbour side of the quay.

We were able to go ashore just after 11.00am, and it was only a short walk from the dock to gates into Casemate Square. This used to be the main parade ground, but it is now one end of Gibraltar's main shopping area.

We walked up Main Street to the Governor's residence, and arrived just as the midday guard change was taking place. The current garrison is drawn from the Ghurkhas, and as they move at light infantry pace, the whole thing was over in what seemed like a matter of seconds.

Having watched the changing of the guard, we sat down in the pub opposite the Governor's residence and had a drink before making our way back down Main Street. We did some duty-free shopping on our way back to Casemate Square, which is where we had lunch in one of the numerous restaurants around the Square. We then walked back to the ship in time to write some cards that we sent home by post. It was then time for the 'Great British Sail-away', which is just an excuse for a lot a flag waving, the singing of patriotic songs ... and the odd drink or two; I loved it!

The weather was calm but a little cold due to the strong wind as we sailed into the Mediterranean on our way to our next port-of-call, Alicante.

Saturday 16th April: Alicante
The journey from Gibraltar to Alicante was uneventful, and we were berthed alongside the cruise terminal by the time we ate breakfast. There were very other vessels in port, and other than some rowing boats and a sailing yacht, the only other vessel that was moving was the local Guardia Civil launch. It gave ARTEMIS the 'once over' as it made it's way out of the harbour.

Like many of the ports along this part of the Spanish coast, Alicante is dominated by an old fortress, in the case the Castillo de Santa Barbara. This is situated at the top of Mount Benacantil, and was begun by the Carthaginians during the third century. It has been rebuilt and extended many times since then, most extensively during the wars between the Moors and the Christians.

We took the shuttle-bus from the cruise terminal to just outside the dock gates, and we were met by some friends of ours who live about an hour's drive from Alicante. We spent the rest of the day exploring Alicante with them, including taking a very leisurely lunch in a local restaurant. The meal was enlivened by the presence of a Spanish 'hen party' who were exuberant but not overly so, and whose singing was far more enjoyable than their English equivalents would have been. They were 'accompanied' by what appeared to be a large inflatable penis ... not something I would have expected to see in a restaurant situated in the shadow of the local cathedral!

After lunch and a stroll to the beach – where we passed a monument to the Spanish Armed Forces – we had yet more refreshments in one of the beachside cafes before parting company from our friends and returning to the ship in order to get ready for the evening meal.

Before dinner I had time to watch the first forty minutes of one of my all-time favourite films, ZULU. I had downloaded it on to my iPad (along with the episode from the CALLAN TV series and several other films) just before leaving for the cruise just in case I had time to watch any of them.

Sunday 17th April: Palma de Majorca
The short journey from Alicante to Palma de Majorca (just over 170 nautical miles) was accomplished overnight, and by 8.00am we were moored next to cruise terminal in Palma's harbour.

After a leisurely breakfast we went ashore and took the shuttle-bus into the centre of the city. As it was Palm Sunday, almost everywhere was shut. We had a gentle stroll around the area near the Gothic cathedral – and a drink in a very chic cafe/restaurant nearby – and my wife bought some decorations made from palm leaves as well as some postcards and small souvenirs.

I managed to find a small magnetic chess and draughts board and playing pieces, which I immediately bought with the intention of trying out the current draft of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules at some point in the cruise. If it works, it will be my first ever travelling wargame design that I can take almost anywhere I go.

We returned to the ship in time for a late lunch, and I spent the rest of the afternoon on our cabin balcony finishing reading Adrian English's THE GREEN HELL and then watching the rest of ZULU. Both the book and the film gave me lots of ideas for scenarios that I can use my portable wargame, and hopefully I may manage to write some of them down tomorrow whilst we are sailing towards Sorrento and the Bay of Naples.

During the evening we went to a special show that featured the comedian Tom O'Connor. He has a reputation for being a very amusing performer, who relies on observational humour rather than just telling a string of jokes. He was exactly what we expected, and his hour-long show whizzed by.

Monday 18th April: At sea
When we awoke the weather was sunny but the cold wind made it uncomfortable to stay out on deck for any length of time. As a result we spent most of the morning in one of the larger public rooms reading our books and – in my case – watching the opening scenes of THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING (another of my favourite films).

The afternoon followed a similar pattern to the morning, although I did spend some time jotting down ideas for a short story that I hope to write in the near future. It is based on fictionalised versions of some of the events that happened during my father's and father-in-law's Army service in the Far East after the Second World War, with some additions of my own.

We also had to prepare for the charity fund-raising event that was scheduled for the early evening. As it was a formal night (i.e. guests are expected to dress for dinner) this took longer than normal. A week of large quantities of good food and drink tend to lead to one's clothes 'shrinking' during the course of a cruise, and this requires more time to be spent 'dressing' (which is a polite way of saying that it takes more time to fit oneself into one's clothes as the cruise goes on!).

Tuesday 19th April: Sorrento (Naples)
Because we had booked a trip to visit Herculaneum, we were awake and dressed earlier than usual. Not only did we have to travel by coach from Sorrento to Herculaneum, we had to travel by ship's tender from where the ship was moored offshore to Sorrento's harbour, and then by minibus from the harbour to the town centre where we picked up the coach.

Herculaneum was, in some ways, more impressive than Pompeii. Because Herculaneum was buried under twenty metres of mud, many of the walls remained upright and some wooden objects were preserved. As a result, one has more of a feeling of what the town was like just before the eruption engulfed it.

During the short break between the end of our tour and the beginning of the coach's return trip to Sorrento I managed to buy a small reproduction of the Castel dell'Ovo, a two thousand year old fortress that overlooks the Gulf of Naples.

When the coach dropped us off in Sorrento we decided to have lunch before returning to the ship. As we were in Southern Italy were both ate pizzas washed down with some local wine.

The trip back on the minibus from the centre of Sorrento to the harbour was eventful. The previous shuttle-bus broke down just in front of the one we were on, and ours had to reverse the wrong way up a one-way street and out onto a roundabout in order to get around it. The driver then decided to try to break the record for a return trip down the narrow and winding road. Who needs an amusement park ride to scare you when you can get the same experience trying to stand upright on a bus that is being driven at break-neck speed down hill and around hairpin bend corners?

Wednesday 20th April: Civitavecchia (Rome)
After another uneventful night's journey from Sorrento to Civitavecchia, we were again up early to catch our coach to Rome. Having visited the city before on a guided tour, we decided that this time we would take the 'Rome on your own' option. P&O organise the coach to and from the city, but you decide what to do whilst you are there.

The coach drop-off and pick-up point was just outside St. Peter's Square, and we arrived there at about 10.45am after a two-hour journey (it should have taken ninety minutes, but a traffic jam on the main road into Rome slowed our progress considerably.)

We decided to walk from the Vatican City to the River Tiber, and then along the river bank to the Castel Sant' Angelo.

This is now a museum, and at the time of our visit it was being guarded by a member of the Alpini.

We crossed the Tiber via the Ponte Umberto I, and made our way from there to the Piazza Navona, in which is situated the Fontana Del Quatro Fiumi.

We then walked through the back streets to the Piazza Di Montecitorio (which is where the Palazzo Di Montecitorio – currently the seat of the Italian Chamber of Deputies – and an ancient Egyptian obelisk are situated) and then on to the Piazza Colonna, where Trajan's Column takes pride of place.

From there it was a short walk to the very crowded Trevi Fountain.

By now it was time for lunch, so we made our way back through the heavily guarded Piazza Di Montecitorio to the Piazza Del Rotonda, where we ate a very tasty piazza whilst sitting in a restaurant that overlooked the Pantheon.

We the decided to make our way back towards the Vatican City. One thing that was very noticeable was the very heavy and very visible presence of various police and security forces. This included Carabineri in numerous booths at various junctions and armed troops outside some government buildings.

Once we were back across the Tiber we spent some time progressing up the Via Della Conciliazone, where there are a series of life-sized bronze statues that illustrate the Twelve Stations of the Cross. We then crossed the 'border' (basically a gap in the railings that run across the open end of St. Peter's Square) into the Vatican City. Even at 3.30pm the five-deep queue to visit the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel went all along one side of the colonnade that encloses two sides of the Square. We chose not to join it, and went off to find a quiet cafe where we could cool off and get a much-needed drink.

We then returned to the pick-up point, and were back on the coach by 4.30pm. The journey back was slightly faster, and we were back aboard ARTEMIS by 6.00pm. We set sail for our next port-of-call, Monte Carlo, at just after 7.00pm, but the Captain announced that possible rough weather or high winds might prevent us from landing there.

Just before turning in for the night I was able to finish watching THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING. Although I must have watched fairly recently, there were bits of the film that I had forgotten, and watching it on the iPad and listening to the soundtrack via earpieces made it an even more enjoyable experience than watching it on the TV.

Thursday 21st April: Monte Carlo
Despite predictions of high winds and possibly bad weather, the journey to Monte Carlo was smooth ... well it seemed very smooth, but we were both so tired that we would probably have slept through a gale.

However, on arriving in Monte Carlo the sea had a profound swell. After several attempts to bring the ship's tenders alongside the pontoons on the port side of the ship so that passengers could be disembarked, the sea state made this impossible. The starboard pontoons were then deployed, but by the time they were operational, the disembarkation process was well behind schedule.

We finally made it ashore just before 11.00 am after a rather rough trip in one of the ship's tenders, only to find that most of the seafront near to where we disembarked from the tender was being prepared for the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix.

We managed to find our way around the considerable amount of building work that was taking place, and made our way into town. We spent some time just wandering around, and paused for a short break in one of the numerous cafes. As we walked back towards the seafront it was obvious that the sea conditions had worsened, and we decided that it would be safer to go back to the ship for lunch rather than eat ashore and risk travelling back later in the day.

On a way along the quayside we saw a variety of different pleasure craft moored in the harbour, ranging from luxury motor yachts that looked only slightly smaller than our cruise ship to small rigid inflatable boats. Of particular interest were two very sleek black powerboats, that looked like they would not look out of place in a film about drugs runners; very 'Smugglers Blues'!

Our trip in the tender back to ARTEMIS was extremely 'lively' (which is a polite way of saying that it was very rough, with the tender pitching and rolling, often at the same time). However, the waves were higher and more frequent as the afternoon went on, and it became increasingly difficult for the tenders to come alongside the landing pontoons to off-load their passengers.

After a considerable effort – and some excellent ship handling by the Captain and his officers – all the tenders were recovered, and ARTEMIS set sail for its final port-of-call, Barcelona.

After getting ready for the third formal dinner of the voyage (and the pre-dinner Portunus Club cocktail party), I watched the first part of yet another of my favourite films, THE AFRICAN QUEEN. Like THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, it was directed by John Huston, and it's male star – Humphrey Bogart – had originally been cast as one of the two adventurers when Houston had tried to get THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING made some years beforehand. THE AFRICAN QUEEN was based on a book written by C S Forester, and he and Rudyard Kipling - who wrote the short story that THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING is based upon - are amongst my top ten favourite authors.

After dinner we went to another of the special shows than P&O had organised for this cruise. The star was Petula Clark, and we expected that the venue would be packed; it was. Unfortunately the audience where we were sat to could not hear her performance with a great deal of clarity. This may have been due to technical reasons or to the fact that her voice is not as strong as it used to be and could therefore not compete very well with her backing musicians. We left feeling rather disappointed with the show, which was a great pity as she had obviously worked hard on what must have been one of her increasingly rare solo performances.

Friday 22nd April: Barcelona
After a fast passage to our last port-of-call, Barcelona, we arrived to find the weather overcast and the temperature somewhat less than we have become used to of late. ARTEMIS was moored in a different berth to the one P&O have used on previous occasions, and we were much closer to Montjuich than expected.

By the time we went ashore, it had begun to rain. We walked up the Ramblas, but because it was Good Friday, almost everywhere was closed. In the end we found a bar where we could sit out of the rain and drink coffee whilst we watched people walking by. After about twenty minutes the rain eased, and we began our walk back to the ship. Our journey took us past the Maritime Museum, which was open ... well you could go in – which we did – only to discover that the main building was shut for renovation. After a quick look around the excellent shop, we made our way back to the ship. On our way out of the museum we went past a scale reproduction of an early Spanish submersible, the ICTINEO I, which was built in 1859.

After lunch we had some spare time before the final 'sail-away' of the voyage ... and for ARTEMIS as a member of the P&O fleet. This was due to take place on the forward top deck of the ship, and we hoped that the weather would improve slightly beforehand so that it would not be cancelled. During the time between lunch and 'sail-away' I managed to watch the rest of THE AFRICAN QUEEN, but when we went on deck to take part in the 'sail-away' the weather had worsened, and it was moved inside to the Horizon Bar.

Just as the ship moved away from the quay, the rain stopped, and most of those passengers who had gone to the 'sail-away' went out on deck to wave goodbye to Barcelona. As ARTEMIS sailed out of the port she passed four other cruise liners, MSC SPLENDIDA, THOMSON DREAM, COSTA DELIZIOSA, and COSTA SERENA.

The improvement in the weather was short-lived, and once ARTEMIS reached the open sea, the rain returned and the ship began to pitch and roll. This was not too uncomfortable, but it did mean that you had to take a little more care when moving about the ship. The weather remained like this until we went to bed.

Saturday 23rd April: At sea
The weather improved slightly overnight, and we awoke to cloudy sky and a moderate sea. The coast of Spain was visible on the starboard side, but much of the detail was too hazy to make out exactly where we were.

After breakfast we went to an event entitled 'Artemis Remembered', which was a series of stands representing each of the ship's Departments. The stands illustrated the role each Department played in the efficient running of the ship, and included everything ranging from the bridge navigation system to the engine room controls.

After that we spent some time reading in one of the main bar areas before preparing for the special Portunus Club 'Gold' tier lunch. This was the last lunch of its type aboard ARTEMIS and was therefore a very special occasion. We sat with the Senior First Officer (the third most important deck officer on the ship after the Captain and Deputy Captain) and three other couples, and had a most enjoyable meal.

After lunch we sat on the cabin balcony reading and watching the numerous ships that we passed. These were most tankers, bulk carriers, and container ships, with the occasional coaster and fishing boat. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar from the Mediterranean Sea into the Atlantic Ocean just after 6.30pm.

Shortly afterwards we attended a special St. George's Day concert in one of the ship's larger lounges. The programme was devoted to music that was quintessentially British, and ended with a mini-'Last Night of the Proms'.

After dinner we went to the show, which was entitled 'Down at the Old Bull and Bush'. This was an attempt – not always a successful one – to reproduce the atmosphere of the Victorian and Edwardian music hall. Like the Curate's egg, it was good in parts.

When the show was over it became obvious that the sea conditions had worsened, and the swell had increased considerably. We therefore went to bed expecting that the night might not be a restful one; we were not disappointed.

Sunday 24th April: At sea
A combination of north-easterly winds, heavy seas, and the need for passengers and crew to move about the ship in safety and reduced discomfort reduced the ship's speed from it's usual cruising speed of 20 knots to just under 14 knots. She remained at this speed until lunchtime, when it was gradually increased to 19 knots. This did little to reduce the level of difficulty passengers had moving about the ship, and the closure of the Promenade Deck confined many to their cabins or the inside internal public spaces.

Halfway through the morning we went to see an interview with Lionel Blair that was conducted by the Cruise Director. He was very entertaining as well as being quite self-deprecating and modest about who he had worked with and his achievements within show business.

After lunch in the main dining room, we returned to our cabin and I was able to try our the latest version of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules using the small magnetic chess set I bought in Palma de Majorca and the dice application on my iPhone. I set up equal forces for both sides, with the eight Pawns representing Infantry Units, the two Knights representing Cavalry Units, a Rook representing an Artillery Unit, and the King representing a Command Unit.

Of the three battles that I fought, White won two and Black one. No obvious problems arose during these impromptu play-tests, and the changes – especially those relating to artillery fire at close range – worked well. One lesson I learned was to try to avoid attacking an Artillery Unit with less than three Infantry Units or two Cavalry Units; if fewer Units were used they ended up being 'pinned' before they could engage the Artillery Unit in Close Combat.

I also spent some time re-reading the Appendix to H G Wells' LITTLE WARS. The appendix is entitled 'Little Wars and Kriegspiel', and it sets out Wells' ideas for fighting a larger-scale version of his LITTLE WARS rules that could be used by the British Army. It contains the basic ideas that Paul Wright has developed into his FUNNY LITTLE WARS rules, and makes for very interesting reading.

Before dinner we went to the last formal function of the cruise (and for MV ARTEMIS as a P&O ship), the Captain's 'Artemis Farewell' party. A majority of the people on the cruise had travelled aboard ARTEMIS many times, and it gave all of them the opportunity to say goodbye to a small but much-loved vessel ... 'The Little Ship with the Big Heart'.

After dinner we had a drink in one of the lounges before going to bed. The weather had not abated, and we expected another night of interrupted sleep. We were not disappointed!

Monday 25th April: At sea
At about 6.00am ARTEMIS rounded Cape Finisterre in Northern Spain and entered the Bay of Biscay. Within a very short time the worst of the sea swell had abated, and the wind dropped somewhat. The sea was by no means smooth, but the ship was able to increase speed to just under 21 knots.

However the previous day's bad weather had had an effect on ARTEMIS' average speed, and she was behind schedule. In the past it had taken her just under 36 hours to sail from Vigo in Northern Spain to Southampton, but in order to arrive in Southampton by 6.30am on Tuesday morning she had to make the same journey in about 24 hours. It was very unlikely that she would manage to do this, and we expected an announcement from the Captain at some time during the morning about a revised arrival time.

The announcement came at midday. Rather than arriving at 6.30am, it was expected that ARTEMIS would tied up alongside at Southampton at sometime around 11.00am.

Before the midday announcement we spent some time reading in one of the large public areas as well as making preparations to pack our luggage. I was also able to spend some time writing up some notes about H G Wells' 'Little Wars and Kriegspiel'. It struck me that some of the rules he outlined may have uses in conjunction with other wargames rules, and that a set of word-processed notes might be of use at sometime in the future.

After lunch we began the process of packing, but we took a short break to watch Cunard's QUEEN MARY 2 pass ARTEMIS on her way from Southampton to the Canary Islands. We then attended Ken Vardy's second lecture about RMS TITANIC. This contained additional material – including recovered film footage – that he had not been able to show attendees at the previous lecture due to technical problems.

We then returned to our packing, most of which was completed by 5.30pm. This gave us time to relax for a couple of hours before our last dinner aboard ARTEMIS. After dinner we went to the last show being put on by the Entertainment Department. It told the story of P&O since it was founded 175 years ago using a combination of words and music, and was one of the best shows of it's type that I have seen during a P&O cruise.

On our return to our cabin we found out the final arrangements for disembarking tomorrow. Originally we were supposed to dock at 6.30am, but the delay caused by the bad weather we had been sailing through had put this back to 11.00am. As it usually takes at least ninety minutes to unload all the luggage and for the immigration checks to be processed, we knew that the earliest we would disembark would be close to 1.30pm, as we do not qualify for priority disembarkation.

Tuesday 26th April: Southampton
When we awoke just before 7.00am, ARTEMIS was still making her way towards the Isle of Wight. ARTEMIS picked up the pilot off the Nab Tower just before we went into breakfast at 8.00am, and not long afterwards she turned into the Solent. As usual, the journey between the mainland and the Isle of Wight was relatively slow, with criss-crossing ferries competing for space with small pleasure craft and large container ships in the very busy sea lanes.

During the final part of her final 'sail-in' to Southampton, ARTEMIS passed the latest addition to the P&O fleet, MV AZURA.

She was then escorted in to her final berth by a tug which saluted her with jets of water from her fire hoses.

ARTEMIS final moored alongside just after 11.00am. We then had to wait whilst the UK Border Agency cleared everyone aboard the ship and all the luggage was off-loaded and prepared for collection from the baggage hall. This took some time, and the first passengers to disembark did not do so until 1.00pm. We left ARTEMIS for the last time at 1.30pm, and after a fairly uneventful trip home via the M3 and M25 (including a stop to have lunch at Dorchester Services) we got home at 4.15pm.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Over the past few days I have been nominated for the Stylish Blogger Award by several people:
I would like to thank these excellent bloggers for nominating me even thought I am not quite sure what the award is for. That said, it seems a bit of harmless fun, and does give one the opportunity to write something a bit different on one's blog.

The Stylish Blogger Award Rules
The award rules are:
  1. Thank and link back to the person (or persons) who nominated you this award.
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Nominate ten to fifteen great bloggers.
  4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award!
Seven things about myself
  1. I am left-handed.
  2. I was born in the centre of London, just south of Westminster Bridge.
  3. From the age of eleven to eighteen I went to the William Palmer Endowed School for Boys, Grays, Essex, where I learned to love History and the works of C S Forester. H G Wells, and Rudyard Kipling.
  4. I love cricket ... and hate soccer.
  5. I have more wargames projects whirling around in my head that I will ever possible be able to achieve in a lifetime ... but I am going to do my damnedest to do as many as I can before I go to another place!
  6. I got my first job by going to a local grocer's store every week and asking the manager for a job; he gave in before I did!
  7. I love curry ... but it doesn't love me!
Other Stylish Bloggers (in no particular order)
  1. All of the gentlemen who nominated my for this award (see above)
  2. A Wargaming Odyssey: David Crook's excellent blog. I first met him many years ago when we wargamed together in the basement of Eric Knowles' shop, New Model Army. We lost touch, and 'found' each other again, by accident, via Ebay! (I sold some figures that he bought, and we realised that we knew one another when I delivered them.)
  3. Joy and Forgetfulness: Conrad Kinch's blog. I always read this blog with great interest as we share quite a few wargaming interests in common. I look forward to meeting him in the flesh one day!
  4. Megablitz and More: Tim Gow has been a long-time friend and fellow member of Wargame Developments, for which organisation we have jointly run the annual conference – COW (the Conference of Wargamers) – for many years.
  5. Mr Farrow 2U (+ Jack & Amys!!) DBA 1500 Onwards Page: Mr Farrow shows what wonderful things can be done with small wargames armies on a small wargames table using simple DBA/HOTT rules. I only wish that he would fight more wargames so that I could read more of his excellent battle reports.
  6. The Games We Play: Martin Rapier's blog. Martin does not write many blog entries, but when he does they are always well worth reading.
  7. Vintage Wargaming: Wargaming nostalgia on screen! Much of what is featured may be 'vintage' ... but so am I ... and often I can remember it the first time around!
  8. Wargaming for Grown-ups: Trebian and I have wargamed together on and off for more years than I suspect either of us would admit to. He always writes interesting and thought-provoking blog entries.
  9. Napoleonic Wargaming: I may not be a great fan of the Napoleonic era, but this blog has made me seriously wonder about what I may have been missing out on. I cannot wait retire if this is how I could end up spending my time.
  10. P.B.Eye-Candy: A relative newcomer to my list of favourite blogs. It features lots of good ideas, excellent modelling, and easy to follow battle reports. A good example for any aspiring wargames blogger to follow.
  11. Tin Soldiering On: Another newcomer to my list, it features a wonderful collection of 40mm figures and matchstick firing model cannons ... and confectionary-based names! Just what H G Wells would be doing if he were still alive today!

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Today's post brought me something interesting ...

After a day of ups and downs ... and nearly four hours of sitting in the main hall waiting to interview prospective students who did not turn up ... I finally got home at about 7.30pm. Waiting for me was a large cardboard package, and after getting myself a soft drink, I sat down and opened it. Inside was Osprey's latest offering, ARMIES OF THE BALKAN WARS 1912-13: THE PRIMING CHARGE FOR THE GREAT WAR.

I had ordered this book from Amazon some time ago, and was eagerly looking forward to receiving it. It is part of the Men-at-Arms series (No. 466 [ISBN 978 1 84908 418 5]) and it was written by Philip S Jowett and illustrated by Stephen Walsh.

The Balkan Wars have been one of my areas of interest for many years, and even a cursory look through this book has given me lots of ideas for possible armies that I could 'raise' to use with my portable wargame and for FUNNY LITTLE WARS.

The last lap

Today was the first day of what will probably be my last term as a teacher/lecturer. It did not start well.

Some problems had arisen with the NSS and they required fairly urgent attention. Some of the students needed to revise or improve their work, but as this is a short week (Monday and Friday both being Bank Holidays), most of them were just not in the right frame of mind to do what is required of them. It means that I will have to do quite a lot of (unpaid) overtime and use all my charm and persuasive ability to get them to do the necessary work by the deadline.

When things like this happen I feel quite glad that I will probably not need to go through this process ever again, and retirement looks increasingly attractive ... and then something happened that made me realise what I am really going to miss.

I was just sitting down to my lunch when one of the students I taught last year – and the year before – popped in to see me. She apologised for not coming in earlier in the year, but her studies had kept her very busy. She thanked me for all the work I had done to help her get into university ... and she presented me with a large box of chocolates by way of a 'thank you'.

It made my day ... and reminded me why I have always liked being a teacher!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Back in the saddle

After a break of two weeks, I am back in the blogging saddle again!

As some of you may have guessed, I have been away from home on a cruise around the Western Mediterranean, and have returned slightly browner, a bit tired, but with my batteries recharged.

I will writing a longer blog about my travels later this week, but our first priorities are to unpack, do some shopping so that we can eat, and then to answer my emails.

Monday 11 April 2011

The lure of the Chaco

The news that Osprey intend to publish a book in their MEN AT ARMS series about the Chaco War has been around for some time, and I have already pre-ordered a copy.

This war has fascinated me for a long time. In fact, the first article I ever wrote for MINIATURE WARGAMES (No. 13 – 1984) was about the Chaco War, and ever since I have maintained an interest, buying books and games that dealt with any aspect of the conflict.

I don't know why this particular war has such a fascination for me ... but I suspect that it has a lot to do with my being an avid reader of Hergé's TINTIN books (and specifically the THE BROKEN EAR) when I was young. (I also enjoyed KING OTTOKAR's SCEPTRE, which probably accounts for my interest in the recreating wars involving minor fictional Balkan states).

The Chaco War is very suited to being recreated using THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules that I am working on. Tanks and aircraft played a relatively minor role, and were used in very small numbers. This was essentially an infantry war, with both sides using whatever artillery (usually mortars and mountain guns) that they could obtain ammunition for.

I therefore intend to re-read Adrian J. English's THE GREEN HELL – A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CHACO WAR BETWEEN BOLIVIA AND PARAGUAY 1932-35 over the next week or two, with the intention of using the Chaco War as a possible back-drop for a session at COW2011 (the Conference of Wargamers 2011).

The portable wargame: Feedback on the latest draft of the rules

Ross Mac has already given me some excellent feedback on the current draft of the rules. He has pointed out a couple of anomalies that need to be ironed out, and these will only require a little redrafting. Other than that, the rules seem to work quite well, and I am looking forward to play-testing them sometime soon.

Nugget 243

I posted the latest issue of THE NUGGET (No. 243) out on Saturday morning and it should, therefore, be with full members of Wargame Developments before the end of this week.

I have now uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and these are available for full members and e-members of Wargame Developments to download and read.

Sunday 10 April 2011

The portable wargame: Latest draft of the nineteenth century version

I have finally managed to complete the latest draft of the nineteenth century version of THE PORTABLE WARGAME rules. They are as yet unplay-tested, and are likely to remain so for some time to come. However, I thought that interested blog readers might like sight of them as they stand. Any constructive comments would be welcome.

The Portable Wargame Rules
For use with a battlefield marked with a grid of squares
By Bob Cordery
Based on Joseph Morschauser’s original ideas

The following equipment is needed to fight battles with these rules:
1. A gridded battlefield that is marked with a grid that is at least eight grid squares by eight grid squares;
2. Items of terrain;
3. Two armies, mounted on bases that are smaller than the size of each grid square on the gridded battlefield. The armies may not contain more Units than the number of grid squares along the side of the battlefield that the army is defending multiplied by 1½ (e.g. a battlefield has eight grid squares along each of its sides; therefore the maximum number of Units the army can have is 8 x 1½ = 12 Units). One of the Units may be a Command Unit;
4. A set of at least eight Activation Dice (See Appendix 1);
5. A set of ‘pin’ markers to indicate Units that cannot move until they have been ‘unpinned’;
6. Two D6 dice (one for each player).

Each item of terrain – such as woods, built-up areas, or hills – must fit within the bounds of a grid square on the gridded battlefield and should, if the terrain is passable to troops, allow a Unit base to be placed in the grid square.
The placement of a piece of terrain in a grid square indicates that entire grid square is filled by that type of terrain (e.g. a tree in a grid square indicates that the entire grid square is wooded; a building in a grid square indicates that the entire grid square is a built-up area).
Where pieces of terrain are larger than an individual grid square (e.g. a hill) they must be sized in multiples of grid squares (e.g. two grid squares, three grid squares, or six grid squares) and be marked in squares in the same way as the gridded battlefield.

Unit Types:
Infantry (Firearms)
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: 2 grid squares

Infantry (Close Combat Weapons)
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 4
c. Weapon Range: -

Mounted Cavalry
a. Movement: 2 grid squares
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: -

Machine Guns
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 6
c. Weapon Range: 3 grid squares

Light Field Artillery
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 4 grid squares

Field Artillery
a. Movement: 1 grid square
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 6 grid squares

Fortress/Siege Artillery
a. Movement: -
b. Close Combat Power: 1
c. Weapon Range: 10 grid squares

a. Movement: 2 grid squares
b. Close Combat Power: 5
c. Weapon Range: -

Notes on Unit Types:
No Unit’s Close Combat Power may drop below 1 regardless of other rules.
Artillery Units may not move during a turn in which they have fired.
Dismounted Cavalry Units move and fight as if they are Infantry Units but their Close Combat Power is reduced by 1 whilst they are dismounted.
Infantry and Cavalry Units may move forward to replace an enemy Unit after it has been successfully attacked and destroyed by Close Combat; other Units may not move forward in these circumstances.

Activation Dice:
The number of Activation Dice a player may throw each turn to activate Units in their army is determined using the following formulae:
a. For European armies: One activation dice for the Command Unit plus one activation dice for every three Units in the army rounded up (e.g. A player commanding a European army of eight Units will throw four activation dice; one for the Command Unit and three for the remaining Units).
b. For Native armies: One activation dice for the Commander Unit plus one activation dice for every three Units in the army rounded down (e.g. A player commanding a Native army of eight Units will throw three activation dice; one for the Command Unit and two for the remaining Units).
As a player’s army loses Units, the number of activation dice the player may throw will decrease in line with these formulae (e.g. If a player commanding a European army loses their Command Unit, they immediately lose an activation dice; they will also lose an activation dice every time the number of non-Command Units in their army is reduced to a number that is evenly divisible by three).

Unit Activation:
The Activation Dice determine how many Units each army may activate during a turn.
When activated, a Unit may move or fire or be unpinned. (N.B. Any Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not move this turn but they may be unpinned.)
The only exception to this rule are Native Infantry and Cavalry Units which may make a double-length move if the player commanding them decides to use two of their Unit activations to do so. For example, a player commanding a Native army may use four activations to:
a. Move four Native Infantry Units one grid square each or
b. Move one Native Infantry Unit a double-length move (i.e. two grid squares) and two Native Infantry Units one grid square each or
c. Move two Native Infantry Units a double-length move each (i.e. two grid squares)

Pre-battle Deployment:
For ‘one off’ battles, each side must deploy its army within its deployment zone. These are the first two rows of grid squares on the opposing sides of the gridded battlefield.
For campaign battles, each side may deploy its army within its half of the gridded battlefield, subject the rule that no Unit may start the battle in a square that is orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to one occupied by an enemy Unit.

Turn Sequence:
1. Any Artillery Unit that is within range may fire. Because artillery fire is deemed to be simultaneous, casualties are removed after all artillery fire has taken place.
2. Both sides roll a D6 die to see which side will activate its Units first. The side with the highest score activates its Units first this turn and then:
2a. Throws its Activation Dice to determine how many Units it may activate this turn.
2b. Selects the Units they are going to activate, and activates each of them in turn. When activated, a Unit may move or fire or be unpinned. (N.B. Any Artillery Units that have fired at the beginning of this turn may not move this turn but they may be unpinned.)
2c. Any Close Combats are resolved and casualties are removed. Once the first side has activated all the Units it may activate, the second side may activate its Units.
3. Once both sides have activated their Units, the turn has ended and the next may begin.

Artillery Fire:
Artillery fire is simultaneous; therefore if an Artillery Unit is destroyed it may still fire that turn before it is removed.
Artillery Units may only fire once each turn, and if they fire, they may not be activated during the same turn.
Artillery Units may fire if they are pinned.
All artillery fire ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares).
Artillery Units fire within an arc of fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which they are facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
Artillery fire can destroy any type of ground Unit.
Artillery Units can fire into woods, built-up areas, and fortifications.
Artillery Units can fire out of woods, built-up areas, and fortifications if they are in a grid square that is on the edge of the woods, built-up areas, or fortifications (i.e. the orthogonally adjacent grid square in the direction they are firing does not contain woods, built-up areas, or fortifications).
If an entire Unit can be seen by an Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the artillery fire is direct fire; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. woods, built-up areas, and fortifications), the artillery fire is indirect fire.
After nominating the target grid square the Artillery Unit is firing at, a D6 die is thrown:
a. Die score = 5 or 6: Artillery fire lands on the target grid square.
b. Die score = 1: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the left of the target grid square (i.e. at 9 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
c. Die score = 2: Artillery fire lands in the grid square beyond the target grid square (i.e. at 12 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
d. Die score = 3: Artillery fire lands in the grid square to the right of the target grid square (i.e. at 3 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
e. Die score = 4: Artillery fire lands in the grid square before the target grid square (i.e. at 6 o’clock relative to the target grid square).
If there is a Unit in the grid square that the artillery fire lands in, that Unit is hit.
A D6 die is then rolled to determine the effectiveness of the artillery fire upon any Unit that is in the grid square in which the artillery fire has landed.
a. Direct artillery fire – 5 or 6: Destroys a Unit; Any other score: Pins a Unit
b. Indirect artillery fire – 6: Destroys a Unit; 4 or 5: Pins a Unit; Any other score: No effect

A Unit may only move once each turn and then only if it has been activated and:
a. It has not fired or
b. It is not pinned.
All movement is made and measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares)
A Unit may change its direction of movement any number of times during its move.
A Unit may move through grid squares that are:
a. Occupied by friendly Units;
b. Diagonally adjacent to the front, flank, or rear of an enemy Unit.
A Unit may not end its move in the same grid square as another Unit.
A Unit must stop as soon as it enters a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the front, flank or rear of enemy Unit, and both Units turn to face each other at once.
If a Unit is being faced by an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square and the Unit has not yet been activated and moved this turn, it may move providing that:
a. It is one of the Units chosen to be activated and moved this turn and
b. It does not move into a grid square that is orthogonally adjacent to the front of another enemy Unit.

Non-Artillery Fire:
Non-Artillery Units may fire once each turn if they have not moved.
Non-Artillery Units may fire if they are pinned.
All non-artillery fire ranges are measured orthogonally (i.e. through the sides of grid squares and not through the corners of a grid squares).
All non-Artillery Units fire within an arc of fire that is 90 degrees forward of the direction in which they are facing (i.e. in an arc sweeping from one 45 degree diagonal line of grid squares to the other).
Non-Artillery Units can fire out of woods, built-up areas, and fortifications if they are in a grid square that is on the edge of the woods, built-up areas, or fortifications (i.e. the orthogonally adjacent grid square in the direction they are firing does not contain woods, built-up areas, or fortifications).
If an entire Unit can be seen by a non-Artillery Unit that is firing at it, the target Unit is in the open; if an entire Unit cannot be seen or it is in cover (e.g. woods, built-up areas, and fortifications), the target Unit is in cover.
A D6 die is rolled for each non-Artillery Unit that is firing.
a. Target is in the open – 5 or 6: Destroys a Unit; 2, 3, or 4: Pins a Unit; 1: No effect
b. Target is in cover – 6: Destroys a Unit; 4 or 5: Pins a Unit; Any other score: No effect

Close Combat:
Close Combats are fought if, after a side’s Units have been activated and moved, a Unit is being faced by an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square.
Units do not need to be activated to take part in a Close Combat.
If several Units move into grid squares that are orthogonally adjacent to an enemy Unit, the enemy Unit is turned to face the last Unit that moved into contact with it. This last Unit is deemed to be the attacking Unit for the purposes of resolving a Close Combat, and its Close Combat Power is used when the outcome of the Close Combat is determined. If the attacking Unit loses the ensuing Close Combat, it is the Unit that is destroyed and removed.
When several Units attack a single enemy Unit, the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power is reduced:
a. 2 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 1;
b. 3 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 2;
c. 4 attacking Units reduce the defending Unit’s Close Combat Power by 3.
This rule is subject to the proviso that no Unit’s Close Combat Power may drop below 1.
To determine the outcome of a Close Combat, each side throws a D6 die:
a. If the attacker’s dice score is equal to or is less than its Close Combat Power, the defending Unit is destroyed and removed at once; If the attacker’s dice score is greater than its Close Combat Power, the defending Unit survives the Close Combat. (Notes: If the attacking Unit is an Infantry or Cavalry Unit it may move into the now empty grid square. If this results in the attacking Unit coming into contact with another enemy Unit, it may not attack the enemy Unit this turn.)
b. If the defender’s dice score is equal to or is less than its Close Combat Power, the attacking Unit is destroyed and removed at once; If the defender’s dice score is greater than its Close Combat Power, the attacking Unit survives the Close Combat. (Notes: The defending Unit may not move into the now empty grid square.)
c. If one Unit is destroyed, the surviving Unit or Units have won the Close Combat.
d. If neither Unit is destroyed, the Close Combat ends as a draw. The attacking Unit must withdraw into an orthogonally or diagonally adjacent empty grid square that is not orthogonally adjacent to a grid square occupied by an enemy Unit. If it is unable to do so, it is destroyed.
e. If both Units are destroyed, the Close Combat has resulted in mutual annihilation.

Special Rules:
1. Pinning:
With the exception of European Cavalry Units, when a Unit is pinned is stops where it is and may not move until it is unpinned.
Whilst pinned, the Unit is deemed to be under cover, even if it is in the open. This reflects that fact that it has ‘gone to ground’.
European Cavalry Units do not stop when they are pinned; they immediately charge towards the nearest enemy Unit, and will continue to do so until they are unpinned.
This reflects the fact that European Cavalry Units tend towards ‘flight to the front’ when the come under fire rather than seeking cover.

2. Hills:
Units may only move up or down one hill contour each turn.
A Unit that is attacking an enemy Unit that is one hill contour above it reduces its Close Combat Power by 1.

3. Roads:
Each grid square of movement made along a road by a Unit uses up only half a grid square of movement.
If a Unit moves along a road and then off the road during the same turn (or vice versa), any unused half-grid squares of movement are lost.
For movement, built-up areas count as roads.

4. Rivers:
Rivers may only be crossed by bridge or at a shallow spot (ford).
Units that enter river grid squares where there is no bridge or a shallow spot (ford) are destroyed.
When crossing a shallow spot (ford) in a river, a Unit moves into the river on turn A and stops. It remains in the river for turn B, and it then moves again on turn C.
Units that are fording rivers (i.e. are in turn B of the above sequence) may not fire.
A Unit that is in a river grid square and is attacking an enemy Unit that is in an orthogonally adjacent grid square reduces its Close Combat Power by 1.

5. Woods:
Units attacking enemy Units that are in woods reduce their Close Combat Power by 1, even if the attacking Unit is also in the woods.

6. Built-up Areas and Fortifications:
Units attacking enemy Units that are in built-up areas or fortifications reduce their Close Combat Power by 2, even if the attacking Unit is also in the built-up area or fortification.

Appendix 1: Activation Dice
The Activation Dice are D6 dice with the faces marked as follows:
a. One face marked with ‘0’;
b. Two faces marked with ‘1’;
c. Two faces marked with ‘2’;
d. One face marked with ‘3’.
In the absence of a set of such dice, players could use ordinary D6 dice, each score being divided by two and rounded down:
a. 1 = 0;
b. 2 = 1;
c. 3 = 1;
d. 4 = 2;
e. 5 = 2;
f. 6 = 3.
It is important to note that, when using ordinary D6 dice as Activation Dice, the dice scores are not aggregated before being divided by two; each die’s score must be separately divided by two and then the resultant scores are aggregated to determine how many Units a player may move.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Art of Tactic: Barbarossa 1941: Inside the box ...

Having resisted opening the box until after I had returned from a visit to Herne Bay to see my father-in-law, my main hope was that would not be disappointed once I began to look inside. I was not!

The box art: Top

This depicts heroic Soviet troops defending their anti-tank gun position from a German armoured attack.

The box art: Bottom

The bottom of the box shows examples of the box's contents as well a listing everything that should be inside.

The open box!

Once open, it is obvious that the box is full ... no padding here to make it appear there is more than in the box than it actually contains.

The very first item I found in my box was the double-sided assembly instructions for the models/playing pieces.

The models/playing pieces

The bulk of what was in the box were the twenty unassembled models/playing pieces. These appear to be made of hard plastic and include all the models shown on the assembly instructions. In most cases there are only one of each model/playing pieces, the exceptions being the Soviet Infantry and German Infantry, of which there are two.

Game equipment

This includes ten dice, a complete set of unit cards (one for each of the models/playing pieces), two water-based marker pens (for writing on the unit and group cards), and plastic hill hexes.

The terrain

The six double-sided terrain boards are marked with 6cm hexes (measured from face to face).

These are supplemented by thirty double-sided single hexes.

The paperwork: the rule book and scenario book

On first glance, I am more than impressed by what the game includes. In my opinion, the models alone are worth the money I paid for the game, and everything else is a bonus. The terrain boards could easily be used with other games (BATTLE CRY! for example), and the raised hill hexes would certainly be an advance over the use of a thick cardboard hex to represent a hill.

This is a starter set, and I look forward to seeing the follow-up expansions sets as and when they become available.