Wednesday 31 August 2011

Imagi-world map ... Mark 2 ... and a bit

I tried to open my 'new' imagi-world map this morning ... and had the same problem as I had had with its predecessor!

It turned out that the problem was the sheer size of the graphics file I was trying to open. If I tried to open it when I had other programs actively running, it took up more than the available cache memory and would not open until the other programs became inactive.

The solution seems to be to either draw a smaller map or to cut the existing map into two parts and work on them separately. The former would mean starting again from scratch (and the map would end up lacking some of the detail I want to included) whilst the latter would require less work in the short-term.

I have decided to adopt the second option. All I need to do now is to close down all the programs I have running so that I can open the graphics file to cut the map in two!

Tuesday 30 August 2011

Imagi-world map ... Mark 2

Whilst I was on the cruise that my wife and I took this Summer, I began work on 'designing' an imagi-world in which to locate the numerous imagi-nations I have created over the years. I used a map of of the fantasy world created by Robert E Howard for his 'Conan' stories as the basis for my imagi-world map, and I did a lot of work trying to alter it to suit my needs. By the end of the cruise I had a reasonably detailed map that I could do further work on it when I had time.

As I knew that I was not going to have enough time today and tomorrow to play-test my PORTABLE WARGAME 2 rules (my wife and I visited my father today and are visiting my father-in-law tomorrow), I decided to do some further work developing my imagi-world map. It was at this point that I discovered that the file would not open on my personal computer, despite being in a compatible format with the program I was using.

After several attempts to rectify the problem I still could not get the file to open, and in the end I decided that if I wanted to pursue the idea of having an imagi-world map, I would have to start afresh ... so I did. This time I started with a very rough outline map of the World that I simplified, distorted, and altered. I then overlaid it with a hexed grid and I began to add the necessary detail.

It is apparent that creating this imagi-world map is going to take me some time, but so far I have found the process quite restful and something that I can work on when I have a spare few minutes.

Monday 29 August 2011

Play-test ... what play-test?

I was supposed to play-test the PORTABLE WARGAME 2 rules yesterday ... but 'normal life' intervened, and in end I did not manage to.

Quite a few domestic, family-related, and business-related chores had built up over the past week or so, and although none of them was a major job, they all needed doing ... so my wife and I did them ... well, most of them (there are still a few that need to be completed today!). The day just seemed to disappear, and by the time my wife and I had had enough it was late afternoon and all I wanted to do was to sit down and rest.

Today looks like it is going to be 'more of the same', so I am not sure if I will be able to set aside enough time to run the play-test. If I do, I will write up a blog entry as soon as I can; if I don't, them I will try to run the play-test on Thursday or Friday.

Sunday 28 August 2011

The Portable Wargame 2: Some small but important changes

Last night I re-read the most recent draft of PW2 and decided that a few small but significant changes needed to be made.

Firstly, I have removed the word 'square' and replaced it with the term 'grid area'. This is so that the rules can be used with a hexed grid as well as a squared one, thus making the rules slightly more universal.

Secondly, I have reduced the effectiveness of all forms of gunfire (both from Artillery and Non-Artillery Units) as it did appear that it was far to easy to destroy Units at long-range.

I hope to play-test the amended draft of the rules later today.

Saturday 27 August 2011

I was supposed to be going to ... Military Odyssey

I was supposed to be going to Military Odyssey today, but getting to bed late last night, coupled with the need to complete some urgent paperwork on behalf of my father (for which I had to drive to Maidstone in order to obtain and check information with my brother), meant that by early afternoon – when I might just have been able to get there – another belt of torrential rain had arrived over Kent.

Faced with the prospect of spending yet another afternoon wet and trying to walk about in the mud, I decided not to bother today. I might manage to make it there tomorrow, but the weather forecast is not very good and I may well delay going until Monday ... family and other time pressures permitting.

Cricket ... and the Art of Patience

If you love or understand cricket (and the people who play it and/or watch it, read on. If not, then you might find the rest of this blog entry a little boring.

Yesterday my wife and I went to Canterbury, Kent, to watch a one-day match between the Kent Spitfires and the Indian touring side. The game was sold out, and although play was not due to start until 2.30pm, we were warned to get there when the gates opened at 12.30pm ... so we did.

When we left London, the rain was torrential, but the weather forecast for Canterbury was 'sunny with possible showers' so we took shower proof clothing as well as our picnic lunch and tea. By the time we reached the River Medway the weather had improved and the torrential rain had become a series of light showers, and by the time we had parked our car near the Kent County Cricket Club's ground in Canterbury, all that we could see were some dark clouds on the horizon. By the time we had got into the ground and found suitable seats, the clouds had come a lot closer, and at 1.15pm it started to rain.

At first the rain was a light drizzle, but almost as soon as we had begun to unpack our umbrellas it had become torrential. It rained ... and rained ... and rained ... and by the time it stopped at 1.45pm, we were soaking wet. Shower proof our clothing may have been, but monsoon-like rainfall was just too much for it.

Because of the rain, the commencement of play was delayed until the umpires felt that conditions were safe for it to start. The umpires inspected the pitch at 4.00pm … but by then it had rained again and so the start was delayed until after a further pitch inspection at 6.00pm. After this the final go-head was given, and the match finally started at 7.30pm … only five hours late!

During this long interval the crowd was entertained by members of the Jugnu Bhangra group from Gravesend. They are one of oldest – if not the oldest – Bhangra groups in the UK, and were formed nearly forty years ago.

Because there was now not enough time for the original 50 overs per side game to be played, the two teams decided to play a Twenty 20 match instead. India batted first and scored 164 for 6. In reply Kent scored 159 for 5, with Joe Denly scoring a century before being bowled by R P Singh immediately after achieving that score. It was a very close thing, and when the match ended at 10.15pm we felt that despite the bad weather, it had been a great day out.

Our trip home was not uneventful. By the time we had got back to our car, the exit from the car park was already clogged up and it took us nearly forty five minutes to get out. We then found our route back to the motorway blocked by the police. Apparently a suspect package had been discovered in the nearby railway station and a small fire had broken out in a large shop in the centre of Canterbury. (The suspect package was subsequently found to have been a very elaborate hoax, and a second, similar package was found in the store that had caught fire.) The diversion we had to take made our journey home even longer, and we eventually got home well after midnight.

Was the five hour wait for the match to start worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes … but I will make sure that I take some waterproof clothing next time!

PS. For those of you have bothered to read this far, may I thank you. After wargaming, watching cricket and listening to Test Match Special is my other main hobby (I am too old to play now, and anyway, I was never that good a player!). If only I liked Science Fiction wargaming; if I did I might just be able to combine these two hobbies into one! (See Krikkit for further information).

Thursday 25 August 2011

Not Quite Mechanised

It has been brought to my notices that Chris Kemp has now started a blog about his NOT QUITE MECHANISED wargames rules and the Russo-German Campaign that he has been fighting for many years.

Like me, Chris was a founder member of 'Wargame Developments', and I took part in the game he staged at Moor Park that proved to be the progenitor of NQM. I was also lucky enough to have taken part in some of the early play-testing, and it was as a result of this that I went on to give some assistance to Tim Gow as he developed his MEGABLITZ rules.

Chris has always been an interesting character, and this is reflected in his attitude to wargaming. His blog (and website) are well worth visiting once in a while just to remind oneself that it is possible to fight wargames (and campaigns) that can be fun.

Wednesday 24 August 2011

And the name is ... now something completely different!

Just when I thought that the matter was settled, it was pointed out to me that there is a commercial wargame on sale that already uses (and has trademarked) the name BATTLE GRID ... so I cannot use it.

Rather than go through the process of trying to find another new title, I decided to add the letter 's' to the word grid so that the title for my rules was BATTLE GRIDS. This made sense in the context that I want to develop the basic rules so that they can be used with hexes as well as squares. But then I discovered that this is a trademarked name for a computer game ... so I cannot use that instead.

So what to do? For the moment I intend to call the rules PORTABLE WARGAME 2. This recognises that they would not have evolved in the way they have without the work I had done on the original PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

Not the snappiest of titles, but it will do for the time being.

And the name is ...

After Ross Mac's suggestion of a suitable name for my most recent set of wargame rules, I got out my Spanish dictionary and looked up the word for square ... and realised that I had to be more specific as to the type of 'square' I was trying to find an appropriate translation for. In the end I used the word for grid, added it to Ross Mac's suggestion, and ended up with Batalla Cuadricula.

At this point I realised that if I translated Batalla Cuadricula back into English I ended up with BATTLE GRID ... which is exactly the sort of title I wanted. I don't think that it has been used before, and as the advert says 'it does what it says on the tin'.

So the name of the rules is now ... BATTLE GRID.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

I need a name for these rules ...

I cannot keep referring to the rules I am currently using for my Cordeguayan Civil War battles as 'a hastily lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules'; they need a name!

Now I suspect that at some time in the future they are going to metamorphose into the next version of the PORTABLE WARGAME rules – a sort of PW2 – but until they do I need to give them a working title. I have had a few ideas … but to date none of them has sounded right. In the meantime I will just refer to them as my FUSION rules. (The Encarta Dictionary defines fusion as being ‘the merger or a blending of two or more things such as materials or ideas’, which is – after all – a very apt description of the origins of these rules.)

Monday 22 August 2011

The latest draft of the lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules

In the light of the recent feedback I received from Ross Mac and arthur1815 and the resulting possible changes I outlined in my previous blog entry, I have now revised the original draft of the lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules I used for the 'Battle of the Bridge over the Rio Blanco'.

The latest draft looks like this:

I hope to play-test these revised rules in the near future, after which they will no doubt undergo further alterations!

PS. In answer to a question that was posed to me by a regular blog reader, it is possible to fit these rules onto the back of a postcard, but the font size has to be reduced to 6pt!

Some more thoughts on the lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules

Since my earlier blog entry about proposed changes to the lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules that I used in my recent wargame, I have had some very interesting feedback from Ross Mac and arthur1815.

Their comments have made me reconsider my initial thoughts about the proposed changes, and I am now giving serious consideration to making the following changes instead:
  • Keeping the existing movement rates for Units that move but do not fire.
  • Reducing the movement rates of Units that move and then fire in the same turn by 1 square.
  • Increasing the die score of any non-Artillery Units that does not move by 1.
I think that these changes do not add any complexity to the rules but do add a degree more complexity to the wargame ... which is no bad thing and should make it more challenging for the players.

Some thoughts on the lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules

Yesterday's battle was fought using a hastily lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules, and although they worked quite well there were several things that need changing. These changes include:
  • Reducing the movement rates for Infantry and Artillery to 1 square, Light Infantry/Rifles to 2 squares, and Cavalry and Command to 3 squares
  • Changing the Turn Sequence so that it is clear that each side can fire, move, and conduct Close Combats with a Unit before following the same procedure with the next of their side's Units (N.B. At present all the Units move, then all the Units fire, and finally all the Units conduct Close Combats.)
Although it is not covered by the rules, it was also apparent that the size of the grid squares used must be slightly larger than the size of the Unit base size. This would allow small terrain items to be placed into a grid square and still leave enough room for a Unit base. In this case, the current 50mm x 50mm base sizes probably need to be used with 55mm x 55mm or 60mm x 60mm sized grid squares.

Sunday 21 August 2011

The Battle of the Bridge over the Rio Blanco

The following battle was the opening engagement of the 1820 Cordeguayan Civil War. It was fought using part of my collection of Del Prado 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures, and the rules were a hastily lashed-together amalgam of Joseph Morschauser's 'Musket' and 'Frontier' wargames rules.

The Southern Army that had been raised by the Constitutionalists was hurrying north to join up with the rest of General Branco's Constitutionalist Army. It comprised:
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry
News of this movement had reached the ears of President-for-Life General Santa Maria (the leader of the Presidential Army), and he saw it as an opportunity to destroy half of his opponent's army before he moved on the crush the opposition to his 'lawful' regime. He therefore sent a mixed force of cavalry, artillery, and infantry southwards to intercept the Constitutionalists. The force he sent included:
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
Turn 1
The leading units of each army advanced towards the bridge over the River Blanco.

Turn 2
The Constitutionalists gained the initiative for this turn, and moved their two Cavalry units forward towards the bridge to face to oncoming Presidential forces. The rest of the army followed on as quickly as they could.

The Presidential force responded by moving their Cavalry forward towards the bridge as well, followed by their Regular infantry and Artillery.

Turn 3
The Presidential force gained the initiative this turn, and the Cavalry continued its advance towards the bridge ...

... followed some way behind by the Infantry and the Artillery.

The 3rd (Southern) Cavalry of the Constitutionalist Southern Army (supported by the 4th (Southern Cavalry) charged over the bridge, and attacked the Presidential Army's 3rd Lancers. Whilst this was taking place, the rest of the Constitutionalist Southern Army continued its hurried advance along the road towards the bridge.

The 3rd (Southern) Cavalry engaged the 3rd Lancers in Close Combat ... and dispersed them! They then engaged the Presidential 4th Carabineers ...

... and both units were so badly 'cut up' by the fighting that for all practical purposes they ceased to exist.

Turn 4
The Constitutionalists gained the initiative, and they 4th (Southern) Cavalry advanced across the bridge but did not engage the Presidential 5th Hussars. This allowed the 4th (Southern) Infantry to cross the bridge and turn to engage the 5th Hussars with musket fire.

Despite having only recently been raised, the 4th (Southern) Infantry had obviously been well-drilled, and their volley of musket fire drove off the 5th Hussars, who took no further part in the battle.

The Presidential forces now advanced to meet the oncoming Constitutionalist troops, but as they were out of range, no fire was exchanged between the two sides at this point.

Turn 5
At this crucial point in the battle, whichever side gained the initiative would probably be able to ensure their victory ... and the Constitutionalist side's good luck with continued when they were able to move and fire first!

The vanguard of the Constitutionalist Southern Army (the 4th (Southern) Cavalry and 4th (Southern) Infantry) maintained the positions they had reached during the previous turn whilst the rest of the army advanced towards the bridge.

By doing this, the Constitutionalists had two options that they could choose; either to cross the bridge to extend the existing line of troops facing the Presidential forces or continue their advance along that side of the river, which would enable then to threaten the flank of the Presidential forces whilst being protected by the river from a direct assault by the Presidential infantry.

The Presidential forces did not perceive this danger, and they continued to move the remainder of the troops forward to support the 1st and 2nd Regular Infantry.

Turn 6
This turn the Presidential forces gained the initiative, and the 1st and 2nd Regular Infantry advanced to engage the Constitutionalist troops to their front. The remainder of the Presidential force continued its slow but inexorable advance.

The 2nd Regular Infantry opened fire on the 4th (Southern) Cavalry, but the cavalry survived the encounter. The 1st Regular Infantry were still out of musket range of the 4th (Southern) Cavalry and the 4th (Southern) Infantry.

The 4th (Southern) Cavalry and the 4th (Southern) Infantry responded to the advance of the Presidential forces by withdrawing further out of musket range. This enabled the 2nd (Southern) Artillery to move onto the bridge, where it deployed, ready to fire during the next turn. The 5th and 6th (Southern) Infantry continued to advance along the edge of the river, and would be able to threaten the flank to the advancing Presidential force in the near future.

Turn 7
At this point the Presidential forces realised that they were in no position to win a decisive victory over the Constitutionalists. The loss of their cavalry during the early stages of the battle had deprived them of the only fast-moving troops at their disposal, and the Constitutionalists were already across the bridge and in a strong position to hold off any attacks. The Presidential forces therefore began the slow process of withdrawing.

The Constitutionalists considered the possibility of sending their remaining cavalry in pursuit of the withdrawing enemy forces, but the possibility that this would only lead to the loss of the 4th (Southern) Cavalry for no major gains convinced them that they should leave the Presidential forces to withdraw unmolested. After all, they had inflicted a defeat (albeit a minor one) on the Presidential forces and had shown that President-for-Life General Santa Maria that at least one part of the Constitutionalist Army was not going to run away at the sound of the first musket shot as he had predicted.

Notes and Conclusions
The battle was fought of a 15 square x 15 square grid. The road and river were made from masking tape (some of which seemed to lose its 'stick' during the battle; hence the occasional upturned road or river corner!) and the individually-based trees are typical of the type that can be bought in most model shops that stock items for wargames and/or model railways.

This was a fun little battle to fight, although the outcome was affected by the fact that the Constitutionalists were incredibly lucky with some of their dice throws. The rules were very simple ... and do fit onto a single side of A4 paper (and the print is 12pt, so it is actually readable!).

In retrospect, the movement rates are a bit too fast, and these will be changed in the next draft so as to enable the battles to last slightly longer. The layout of the rules follows the pattern I developed for the most recent (and as yet unpublished) draft of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. The chart follows the turn sequence (which is displayed in the left-hand column), and at each stage in the turn sequence the various game mechanisms are explained in the right-hand column. This makes the rules very easy to follow and there is no need to have to find what to do in the rules at each stage of the turn sequence.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Where has the morning gone?

By now I had hoped to have fought a battle using my 'new' Cordeguayan 'Napoleonic' armies ... but I have yet to even get the battlefield ready. Where has my morning gone?

Firstly, part of it has been taken up with completing the process of setting up the iPad2 that we have recently bought. This meant that I had to 'sync' my existing iPad with my PC (which involved ensuring that all the 'apps' were up-to-date and that the latest version of the iPad software was installed ... all of which took more time than I expected) and then 'sync' the PC with the new iPad2. Once that was done I then had to ensure that my wife's PC also had up-to-date iPad software and 'apps' (again a very time-consuming process) before I reset the old iPad and then 'synced' it with her PC. I now have an working iPad2 and my wife has an iPad on which she can play her numerous games and store her music.

Having done that, I then had lunch and decided to do my last chore of the day ... install a new toilet seat in the first floor bathroom. Luckily I opened the packaging before I took the old toilet seat off, because when I did open it, the fittings were broken. Interestingly the box was undamaged, and all I can assume is that the fittings were broken before or during the packing process. I will have to return the broken seat to the shop where we bought it; unfortunately, the shop is in Chatham, Kent. I will be driving past the shop early next week, so I will take it back then.

Hopefully I will be able to start my battle very soon ... just as soon as I have found the piece of green felt that I drew the 50mm x 50mm squared grid on!

Friday 19 August 2011

Command & Colors: Napoleonics dice set

Some time ago I suggested the use of dice from sets of the RISK EXPRESS game might be a way to generate a degree of randomness into my solo wargames. At the time RISK EXPRESS was no longer readily available, and anyone who wanted to take up my suggestion was faced with the problem of trying to find a copy of the game somewhere.

One of my old friends and fellow member of Wargame Developments – Tony Hawkins – has just sent me an email that contains a link to the Valley Games website. It appears that they are now producing sets of special dice for COMMAND & COLORS: NAPOLEONICS that he thinks might be suitable replacements for the RISK EXPRESS dice.

This is an excellent idea, and the sort of product that owners of COMMAND & COLORS: NAPOLEONICS might also wish to buy. I am certainly thinking of buying a set (or possibly two) as I can see that they might have several uses, especially with my current South American Wars of Independence mini-project.

Thursday 18 August 2011

A bit of a busy day ...

Today has been a bit of a busy day.

This morning my wife and I paid a visit to my father, who is currently in a care home some forty minutes drive away in Essex. He was not having a good day when we arrived, but by the time we left over an hour later he was actually smiling and laughing, something that I have not seem him do much over the last few months.

We then came back over the River Thames to North Kent and booked a holiday for my father-in-law. We managed to get him a cabin on a cruise going to the Canary Islands at Christmas (that was the easy bit) and have arranged travel insurance for him (which was almost the most difficult thing of all we had to do today; very few insurance companies will even quote for cover for someone over the age of 85 ... and he is 96!).

We also paid a visit to the Apple Shop at the nearby shopping centre with a view to purchasing an iPad2. I currently have an original iPad, and I have found it very useful. My wife thinks that she would like one as well, and has very kindly suggested that we buy an iPad2 for me to use so that she can have the old iPad. As this purchase has my wife's 'seal of approval' it is very likely to take place!

We then had a late lunch in one of our favourite restaurants and drove home some eight hours after leaving home this morning.

I hope that tomorrow will be a bit quieter ... but somehow I don't think that it will be!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Using my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures

Having taken my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures out of their storage draws, I realised that they presented me with a mini-project that I could work on whilst I sort out my thoughts about where to go next with the development of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules.

I have never been a great fan of the Napoleonic era, mainly because the battles that wargamers fought were always so large, and the rules always appeared to be very complex. That said, there were plenty of small wars that took place in the immediate aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars that did have potential, particularly the Wars of Independence in South America. I already had a South American imagi-nation – Cordeguay – and it therefore followed that it could be the setting for my Napoleonic wargames figure collection to finally appear on my tabletop. So here goes …

Cordeguay in the early nineteenth century
Unlike almost the rest of South America, Cordeguay moved from being a Spanish colony to independence almost without bloodshed. General José Santa Maria – the Cordeguayan-born commander of the locally recruited Spanish garrison – merely announced that the country was independent of its former rulers and made himself head of the Provisional Government. The latter wrote a liberal constitution that was based on that of the United States of America, and Santa Maria was elected the first president of the newly independent state.

At the end of his five-year tenure Santa Maria was re-elected, but he was already beginning to exhibit autocratic tendencies, and there was a growing movement amongst the political class in Cordeguay to ensure that he would not be re-elected for a third term. President Santa Maria got wind of this, and just before election day he announced that the country was in a state of war ‘due to plots against the State by persons unknown’, and that he would – with regret – have to postpone the elections. This was followed soon afterwards by a declaration that the newly self-styled ‘Napoleon of the South’ was henceforth to be President-for-Life of Cordeguay.

Throughout the country Santa Maria’s opponents began to band together to oppose him with all possible measures that were at their disposal. Under the leadership of General Roberto Branco – one of Santa Maria’s former lieutenants – several small armies were raised and equipped, and a legion of foreign volunteers (mainly from Britain) was raised. The country was on the verge of civil war, and a clash between the opposing armies was inevitable …

The Presidential Army (led by President-for-Life and General José Santa Maria)
The Presidential Army included five cavalry units, three artillery units, and twelve infantry units:
  • 1st Presidential Guard Infantry
  • 2nd Presidential Guard Infantry
  • Presidential Guard Foot Artillery
  • 1st Cuirassiers
  • 2nd Cuirassiers
  • 3rd Lancers
  • 4th Carabineers
  • 5th Hussars
  • 1st Foot Artillery
  • 2nd Foot Artillery
  • 1st Regular Infantry
  • 2nd Regular Infantry
  • 3rd Regular Infantry
  • 4th Regular Infantry
  • 5th Regular Infantry
  • 6th Militia Infantry
  • 7th Militia Infantry
  • 8th Militia Infantry
  • 9th Militia Infantry
  • 10th Militia Infantry

The Constitutionalist Army (led by General Roberto Branco)
The Constitutionalist Army included four cavalry units, three artillery units, and nine infantry units. It was organised into three small ‘armies’, two of which were organised geographically (the Northern and Southern Armies) and the third from foreign volunteers. The latter were commanded by General Branco himself.
The Army included:
  • English Infantry (British Legion)
  • Scottish Infantry (British Legion)
  • The Rifles (British Legion)
  • British Artillery (British Legion)
  • 1st (Northern) Cavalry
  • 2nd (Northern) Cavalry
  • 3rd (Southern) Cavalry
  • 4th (Southern) Cavalry
  • 1st (Northern) Artillery
  • 2nd (Southern) Artillery
  • 1st (Northern) Infantry
  • 2nd Northern) Infantry
  • 3rd (Northern) Infantry
  • 4th (Southern) Infantry
  • 5th (Southern) Infantry
  • 6th (Southern) Infantry

The stage is now set for the war to start. The figures are based and organised, and the back-story written; all I need now is some rules … and where best to look for them than in works of Joseph Morschauser! A quick ‘pick-and-mix’ from his ‘Musket’ and ‘Frontier’ rules will be my starting point and then, let battle commence!

Tuesday 16 August 2011

My collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures

Before I went on my recent cruise I had begun the process of tidying up my toy/wargames room, and today it seemed like a good idea to look at rationalising my figure collection. I began by opening the storage draws where I have been storing my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures ... and then things came to a grinding halt. The mistake I made was to think that it would be a good idea to empty each of the draws to see what was there ... and then I thought it would be a good idea to take some photographs of my collection ... and by the time I had done that, the afternoon was nearly over!

So here is my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic wargames figures, starting with the French ...

... then the British (actually the Anglo-Dutch-Belgian-Brunswick Army) ...

... and finally, the Prussians.

Having got all these figures out of their storage boxes, it seems a pity to just put them back. I have an idea forming in the back of my mind ... but for the moment I must return them to their boxes.

PS. These figures were all acquired from Del Prado; they were included with a part-work magazine about the Napoleonic Wars in general, and the Battle of Waterloo in particular.

Holiday purchases

In my recent blog entry about the cruise my wife went on during late July and early August I mentioned that I had bought one or two things whilst I was away. Well here the are ...

In Stavanger I happened upon a model shop that was having a sale (the Norwegian word for 'Sale' appears to be 'Tilbud' if the price tags on the boxes are anything to go by) and bought four ROCO Minitanks that I have not seen on sale in the UK. Mind you, I have not seen many ROCO Minitanks on sale in the UK at all for a long time anyway, so this was a bonus for me!

In Bergen many souvenir shops were selling models of buildings in Bryggen, which is the older part of town and which date back to the time when Bergen was part of the Hanseatic League. Although they are specifically Norwegian in style and origin, from a distance (i.e. on a wargames table) they will look sufficiently Northern European in style to pass muster.

In Civitavecchia I found a replica hat from the Russian Civil War on sale in the local market. Interestingly, this one has a green star (all the others I own have red stars) and this means that it was supposed to have been worn by the Border Guards (a forerunner of the border troops operated by the NKVD and KBG).

I also bought a small model of Michelangelo's fortress, the original of which guards the entrance to Civitavecchia's harbour.

My final purchase was in Florence (Firenze). This is a model of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is now the Town Hall, having previously been a ducal palace when the Medicis ruled Florence. The palace also served as the seat of United Italy's provisional government from 1865-1871 when Florence was the temporary capital of the Kingdom of Italy.

In the cool light of the morning ...

Some of you might have noticed that I have not mentioned my PORTABLE WARGAME rules very much in recent blog entries, and may be wondering why that is. The answer is quite simple ... I am unhappy with the current draft I have been working on; therefore further development is 'stalled' at the present, and will remain so until I decide what to do next.

I did some developmental work on the rules whilst I was on my cruise, and I was very happy with the progress that I had made ... but when I reread the draft yesterday morning I realised that what I had actually written was more complex than I had intended it to be. I had wanted to simplify the rules; instead they were in danger of turning into an over-engineered monster.

So what to do? In the old days I would have gone at the problem like a bull at a gate ... and probably ended up wasting a lot of time, effort, and enthusiasm. On this occasion I am going to do nothing. I am going to ignore the draft for a day or two and give the problem what I have termed in the past some 'think time'. This allows me to clear my mind and to approach a problem with a new and clearer perspective. I know that this has worked in the past, and I am sure that it will work this time ... and if it doesn't ... well the previous draft of the rules worked quite well and I can still carry on using them 'as is'.

Problem not quite solved ... but anxiety level reduced!

Monday 15 August 2011

The 'riot' in Woolwich ... one week on

I moved to the Woolwich area in 1975 when I took up a teaching post at the Woolwich Polytechnic Boys School. The building was situated in Macbean Street, just off the main shopping street, Powis Street.

At the time Woolwich was a still a thriving town (it may be in London, but it has always been a little apart form the rest of inner London because of its poor transport links into the centre), with two department stores and lots of little specialist shops. Unemployment was not very high, but there were already signs that the area was beginning to decline after the closure of the Woolwich Arsenal, which had been the largest employer in the area for many years.

In 1975 Woolwich had a thriving retail area and was the headquarters of the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society, one of the largest cooperative retail organisations in the UK, it was also the site of the headquarters of the Woolwich Equitable Building Society (which was one of the top five mortgage providers in the UK before it became part of the Barclays Bank Group) and there were significant numbers of factories and distribution warehouse along the edge of the River Thames. These major sources of employment have all now gone … but few new businesses – other than retailing – have replaced them. Even the Army presence has been downgraded to being a station rather than a garrison, and the Royal Artillery – which was founded in Woolwich – has moved its regimental headquarters elsewhere and only maintains a small presence in the town.

I still live within a mile of the centre of Woolwich, but I rarely go there any more. Despite the efforts of the local council, the town centre has continued to decline. It cannot compete with other local retail areas, and other than the council itself, there seem to be very few opportunities for non-service industry employment in the area.

This is the background to the events that unfolded in Woolwich last week. Today I visited the centre of Woolwich to visit the local branch of the NatWest bank and to see for myself how badly the centre of Woolwich has been effected by the ‘riots’ … although confronting the police, looting and arson would be a better description of what happened. Riots implies that there was a political element to what happened, but as the following photographs will show, no government or local government buildings were attacked; all the damage was done to local businesses.

The actual area affected by the events is quite small; it was mainly confined to Woolwich New Road, Thomas Street, and Powis Street (although I understand that there was also some damage to shops in Hare Street which branches off northwards from Powis Street) and these can easily be identified on the following map.

Woolwich New Road looking north east from Love Lane towards Woolwich Arsenal Station. Several buildings were badly damaged by fire, including a branch of Wilkinsons.

Woolwich New Road looking south west from the corner with Wilmount Street. Barclays Bank seems to have been unaffected by the fire that swept through the rest of the block, but the branch was shut when I went there today and I was unable to discover when it will reopen.

The branch of Costa Coffee located at the entrance to Woolwich Arsenal Docklands Light Railway station did not escape damage, but was open for business today.

Thomas Street looking north west from the corner of Thomas Street and Love Lane. Thomas Street was the scene of a major confrontation between the 'rioters' and the police. It is interesting to note that the shop front of the estate agents was damaged during the 'riot', but that the funeral director next door seems to have escaped untouched.

The Wimpy on the corner of Thomas Street and Wellington Street/General Gordon Place was boarded up and shut, and showed evidence of extensive smoke damage. The pawnbrokers next door (The Money Shop) was also attacked and damaged during the 'riot'.

Thomas Street looking north west. The Earl of Chatham public house was left alone during the 'riot' (it can be identified by the baskets of flowers hanging up outside) but the jewellery store opposite it was completely ransacked and most of its contents stolen.

Unlike the Earl of Chatham, The Great Harry (a Witherspoons public house) was completely gutted by an arson attack. It employed nearly forty full and part-time staff ... all of whom must now be out of work.

The boarding outside The Great Harry has now become a wall where locals can write what they think about the 'riot' and the 'rioters'. The comments on it reflect the anger that many local people feel about what has happened.

Some of the other shops in Thomas Street that were damaged ... a pawnbrokers and a hair salon. The latter seems to have been an unlikely target for the 'rioters' to choose to attack.

Powis Street looking south east from the corner of Powis Street and Calderwood Street. The safety fencing currently runs right across the street, and prevents pedestrians from walking from one end of the Powis Street to the other.

At the other (south easterly/Greens End) end of Powis Street, the local amusement arcade was attacked and its windows broken.

Further along the same side of Powis Street, several shops (including Phones 4 U, Broadway Shoes, and JD Sports) were all targets of the rioters.

On the opposite of Powis Street, the local branch of Priceless Shoes was also targeted. The shop next door – Blue Inc – was the subject of an arson attack that damaged the building so badly that it has had to be demolished.

Warren James (a jewellery shop) was another target of the 'rioters' that was extensively damaged and had its stock stolen.

The Woolwich branch of McDonalds is also located in Powis Street. It has a very significant site as it was the very first branch of McDonalds opened in the UK. Woolwich was chosen by McDonalds because it was regarded as being a typical example of a traditional British high street; I doubt if they would come to the same conclusion about Woolwich today.

Another view of the site formerly occupied by Blue Inc. It is worth noting that the branch of T Mobile next door was also targeted by the 'rioters'.

One can hope that Woolwich will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the 'riot' ... but until the attitudes and criminality of a small group of people within the community change, there is every likelihood that such events will reoccur in the future.