Sunday 29 November 2015

Building modular fortifications: Part 1 - The raw materials

Despite several attempts to find my existing model fortifications, I just cannot seem to find them anywhere in my wargames room. I have therefore decided to make some replacements, and in doing so to make them modular so that they can be arranged in a variety of different layouts to suit my wargaming needs.

Because I don't want this project to be too costly, I looked around to see what raw materials I had available to use. Luckily this did not take long, and within a matter of minutes I had a pile of 50mm x 50mm MDF figures bases and 50mm long sections of pine on my worktable. The MDF bases were bought some time ago from a leading supplier, and to date I have been using them as bases for my 25/28mm pre-painted Del Prado Napoleonic cavalry. The lengths of pine were from a game called 'Tumbling Towers' (a copy of Jenga) and cost £1.00 for a boxful of 39 pieces.

I intend to glue the lengths of pine to the MDF bases to form the walls and towers of my new fortifications, and because they are all going to be in units of 50mm, the bulk of my 15mm-scale Colonial figures (which are mounted on 40mm-wide multi-figure bases) will fit on them quite nicely.

I expect that it will take a several days to build my new fortifications, and I will write blog entries about my progress as and when it is appropriate.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Slow but sure progress

I had hoped to have fought my planned Colonial wargame by now ... but sorting out the things I want to use has taken me a bit longer than I expected.

Firstly I could not find the particular version of Joseph Morschauser's 'Frontier' rules that I wanted to use. I wrote them back in 2013, and thought that they were safely saved in one of the files on my computer. What I found was the version for use with a hexed grid, but not the version for a squared grid. In the end I am having to write them afresh, based on the hex grid version.

Secondly I cannot find the fortifications that I wanted to use to represent the walls of the city that is being attacked. I have searched high and low for them in my wargames/toy room, but I just cannot find them. I have therefore decided to build some new ones from scratch, and I expect that this will take me several days.

Thirdly I cannot find the sand-coloured cloth that I intended to use to cover my tabletop. It is already marked out in a squared grid, with large dots marking the corners of the grid squares. I know that it is somewhere in my wargames/toy room because I saw it during my recent sort out ... but I have obviously put it somewhere 'safe' and cannot remember where! (Its my age, you know!)

Once all these irritating but minor inconveniences have been overcome, I will be able to fight my wargame. It is now just a case of how long it will take to overcome them, and will I manage it before I lose my temper!

Friday 27 November 2015

Nugget 285

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N285) from the printer today, and I intend to post it out to members of Wargame Developments tomorrow morning.

I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are both available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Connections Australia 2015

I received an email today from Todd Mason, one of the organisers of Connections Australia 2015 conference. (The other two organisers are Mariana Zafeirakopoulos and Marcus Carter.) The event will be held in the Steve Howard Lecture Theatre, Interaction Design Lab, Level 5, Doug McDonell Building, at the University of Melbourne on the 14th and 15th December 2015.

The program looks like this:

14th December

10.00 – 11.00: Session 1: State of Play
  • Connections International: Rex Brynen (McGill University)
  • MORS Professional Wargaming Initiative: Marcus Tregenza (Land Simulation, Experimentation and Wargaming, Defence Science and Technology Group)
  • Emergency Management COA Planning: Dereck Chong (University of Melbourne)
11.00 – 11.30: Break

11.30 – 13.30: Session 2: Computer Simulation
  • Defence Experimentation and Wargaming: Marcus Tregenza (Land Simulation, Experimentation and Wargaming, Defence Science and Technology Group)
  • Emerging Technology: Marcus Carter (University of Melbourne)
  • Virtual Paramedic: Justin Dunlop (Ambulance Victoria)
  • Visualisation of Natural Disasters: Mahesh Prakash (CSIRO)
13.30 – 14.30: Lunch

14.30 – 16.00: Session 3: Board and Map Games
  • Aftershock: A Humanitarian Crisis Game: Rex Brynen (McGill University)
  • State Library of Victoria – Chess Collection: Jan McDonald (State Library of Victoria)
  • Gallipoli Map Kriegsspiel: Roger Lee (Army History Unit)
16.00 – 16.30: Break

16.30 – 18.00: Session 4: Human Dimensions
  • Emergo Train: Emergency Response Training: Ambulance Victoria
  • Human Factors in Games: Peter Hayes
  • Bringing Wargaming into the Boardroom: Paul Fitton
19 00 onwards: Dinner

15th December

09.00 – 10.30: Session 1a
  • Isis crisis Matrix Game COA gaming (DSTG)
10.30 – 11.00: Break

11.00 – 12.30: Session 1b
  • Isis crisis Matrix Game COA gaming (DSTG)
12.30 – 13.30: Lunch

13.30 – 15.00: Session 2a
  • Aftershock Game Development Workshop (based on last year's activity)
15 00 – 15.30: Break

15.30 – 17.00: Session 2b
  • Aftershock Game Development Workshop (based on last year's activity)
This looks like it is going to be a very interesting conference, and I really regret not being able to go.

If any of my regular blog readers who live in Australia are interested in going, I understand that you can register via Eventbrite. According to the information on the Connections Australia webpage:
'There will be no cost for conference attendance, however a gold coin donation to cover tea and coffee would be appreciated. No meals will be provided (other than coffee, tea and biscuits etc.).'
That sounds very reasonable to me!

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Colonial inspiration!

I have been fumbling about for some inspiration for my first tabletop battle in some time ... and then I came across some pictures that I had used in a blog entry that I wrote quite some time ago.

The pictures are of one of Joseph Morschauser's wargames, and they were featured in his book HOW TO PLAY WAR GAMES IN MINIATURE. From the description in an article about his wargame that Joseph Morschauser sent to Donald Featherstone, and which the latter published in WARGAMER'S NEWSLETTER: No.66 (September 1967), they appear to show an attack by British troops on the Great Wall of Morobad, which surrounded the city of that name.

These photographs have given me an idea for a scenario, and I hope to use it for my forthcoming wargame.

Monday 23 November 2015

Child 44

Sue and I finally managed to get around to watching the DVD of the film CHILD 44. The story is based (very loosely) on the story of the hunt for Andrei Chikatilo, a Soviet serial killer who is thought to have killed more than 53 women and children between 1978 and 1990.

The film is based on Tom Rob Smith's book of the same title which is set during the last day's of Stalin's regime in Soviet Russia. The film's makers took great pains to try to capture the 'look' of the period, and I must admit that I found it reasonably convincing, as was the atmosphere of continual uncertainty as to who one could or could not trust.

The cast includes:
  • Tom Hardy (as Leo Demidov, former war hero and member of the MGB who is disgraced and sent to Volsk)
  • Noomi Rapace (as Raisa Demidova, Leo's wife, who is a school teacher)
  • Joel Kinnaman (as Vasili Nikitin, a former soldier who is Leo's main rival in the MGB)
  • Gary Oldman (as General Nesterov, head of the Militia in Volsk)
  • Vincent Cassel (as Major Kuzmin, Leo's superior officer in the MGB)
  • Jason Clarke (as Anatoly Brodsky, a veterinary surgeon who is accused of being a British spy, and who names Raisa as one of his contacts when he is tortured)
  • Paddy Considine (as Vladimir Malevich, a former Soviet Army surgeon who works in a tractor factory)
  • Fares Fares (as Alexei Andreyev, also a former war hero, who is Leo friend and a fellow officer in the MGB)
  • Charles Dance (as Major Grachev, Major Kuzim's replacement)
  • Tara Fitzgerald (as Inessa Nesterov, General Nesterov's wife)
One interesting aspect of the film is that its opening scenes depict the fighting inside the Reichstag building in Berlin, and the staged raising of the Soviet Red Flag over the building after it had been captured.

When it was released, this film got a lot of bad reviews, but I felt that although it strayed somewhat from the plot of the book, which was itself considerably different from the original story of the hunt for Andrei Chikatilo (the story of this hunt for a serial killer is told exceptionally well in the film CITIZEN X), I enjoyed it, and would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in life in Stalin's Russia.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Nugget 285

The editor of THE NUGGET has done a wonderful job yet again, and this afternoon he sent me the draft of the latest issue of THE NUGGET. I intend to check it and print it this evening, and I hope to be able to take it to the printer tomorrow morning. I should then be able collect it from them by Friday, and to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by no later the following Monday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out with the NUGGET 283 to all subscribers who had not yet re-subscribed.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Books, books ... and more books!

When I sorted out my wargames room, I also 'pruned' my collection of books. I ended up with a largish pile of books that I put into cardboard boxes and shoved to one side until I had time to deal with them.

Thanks to the bad weather that we have had today (including the first short-lived flurries of winter snow early this morning) I had to time to start this task this morning ... and I have just finished cataloguing what I am getting rid of. Luckily I know someone who deals in second-hand military books, and I am hoping that he will take my surplus off my hands and possibly even convert them into a bit of cash that I can spend on new wargaming projects. If there is anything that he doesn't want, I will try to sell it via eBay, although I may well see if any of my regular blog readers might be interested in buying any of them first.

Now that is done I can begin to think about fighting a tabletop battle (or two) to get my wargaming pulse racing again.

Thursday 19 November 2015

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 392

The December issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine arrived in today's post and I managed to have a quick read it this afternoon.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Positively bristling: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Snowfall – spy-fi ski action: Exciting off-piste events for alpine games by Marcus Wheeler
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • The Stono Slave Rebellion: Upheaval in South Carolina, 1739 by Jim Webster
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • The Peloponnesian War: A game of strategy and tactics in Ancient Greece by Mike Haran
  • King of the battlefield: Thoughts on artillery by Franz Ehart
  • Making hay: Pastoral bliss on the wargames table by Tony Harwood
  • Cádiz for wargamers: A fistful of fortifications by Henry Hyde
  • SELWG 2015 by John Treadaway and Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
My favourite article in this issue was Henry Hyde's Cádiz for wargamers. Having been to Cádiz many times I have managed to walk around the city's fortifications and to spend time in the Castillo de Santa Catalina and the Castillo de San Sebastian as well as visiting the still very impressive city gateway. As Henry mentions in his Briefing, the food is excellent, and Sue and I particularly enjoyed eating in the small restaurant that is situated on the eastern side of the Cathedral Square.

Wednesday 18 November 2015

Sorting things out

I managed to spend quite a bit of time this afternoon and this evening sorting through my collections of wargame figures ... and I now have a reasonable understanding of what I am going to have to get rid of and what I need to re-base.

In the former category are my 20mm-scale early twentieth century colonial figures. They are lovely figures that I bought ready-painted from David Crook, and when I bought them I had lots of plans as to how I was going to use them ... but these have come to naught, and they are currently just occupying storage space that I could use for other projects.

On the re-basing front I have two projects that I could embark upon. The first is my 20mm-scale Megablitz collection, in which the foot figures are mounted on non-standard bases. (They should be on bases that are approximately 40mm x 40mm but mine are bases that are 50mm x 35mm. This does not make them totally unusable with other people's Megablitz stuff, but it is a task that I have been thinking about undertaking for a long time.) The second is my 15mm-scale Austro-Prussian collection, which is currently mounted on thin metal bases that are not compatible with my other 15mm-scale stuff.

Of these two possible re-basing projects, the latter would be the most sensible to undertake first ... but as the need to do either is not particularly pressing I could look at doing something else first ... and that would be to varnish and base the remaining Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures that I own. These are almost all from the Battle of Austerlitz range rather than the Waterloo range that I originally started out with, and comprise some French Infantry (that could be used as Reserves or Veterans) and enough Russian figures to constitute a small army.

Doing the latter would mean that I would have pretty well completed my collection of Napoleonic figures, although I have a sneaking feeling that I may well add to it in the future. For example I don't have an Austrian or a Spanish army in my collection as yet, and if suitable figures came my way I might well be tempted to buy them.

But before I do any of the above, I need to fight a tabletop battle or two to get my wargaming pulse racing again. Looking back I don't seem to have pushed any wargames figures around on the tabletop since the middle of September (the last wargame I took part in was actually the Funny Little Wars re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo on a lawn in central London), and that seems to have been a very long gap. With luck I should be able to remedy this situation within the next week or so ... and then I can get my teeth into a new project or two.

Monday 16 November 2015

A can of worms, the death of an actor, and comfort wargaming

Today I have three things that I want to write about. Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has commented on my most recent blog entry. When I wrote it I thought that I was probably opening a can of worms, but I was pleasantly surprised that the comments that were made were all well-reasoned and thought through, and that even if we were not all in agreement with one another, we respected each other’s points of view.

The second thing that I want to mention is the very recent death of that wonderful Indian actor, Saeed Jaffrey. Besides starring in Satyajit Ray's SHATRANJ KE KHILADI (THE CHESS PLAYERS) (see below) and more than 100 Bollywood films productions, he also appeared in A PASSAGE TO INDIA, GANDHI, MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE and THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING. The latter is one of my favourite films, and his portrayal of Billy Fish, the Gurkha soldier who helps Peachy Carnehan (Michael Caine) and Daniel Dravot (Sean Connery) to conquer Kafiristan, is a film gem and deserves greater recognition.

The third thing that I want to mention is what I term ‘comfort wargaming’. We all know what ‘comfort food’ is (i.e. food that induces a nostalgic, sentimental, or comforting feeling to the person eating it) and whenever I lose the desire to fight wargames – a feeling that has dogged me for the last few months – I look to what I think of as my ‘comfort wargames’ as a way to reinvigorate my appetite for the hobby.

So what are my ‘comfort wargames’? The answer is simple; they are either World War II wargames fought with lots of 20mm-scale figures and model vehicles using simple old-school rules or colonial wargames set in some imaginary late nineteenth century European colony or colonies. The former harks back to the wargames of my teenage years whilst the latter evokes memories of Eric Knowles’s famous Madasahatta Campaign.

As the slow process of sorting out my wargames room gradually comes towards a conclusion, I am looking forward to fighting a couple of ‘comfort wargames’ to revitalise and reinvigorate my desire to wargame.

SHATRANJ KE KHILADI is set in 1856 and focuses on the events leading up to the British annexation of the Indian State of Oudh and the Great Mutiny of 1857.

The main characters are two aristocrats (Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mir Raushan Ali) who become so deeply immersed in the development of numerous chess strategies that they become oblivious to the pending invasion their country by the British. In fact they are still playing chess as the British capture their city, Lucknow. It is an excellent film, and I have never seen a better portrayal of the life and customs of the ruling classes of 19th century India and an explanation of the methods by which the British East India Company enacted its policy of colonial expansion.

Saturday 14 November 2015

Standing on the edge of the abyss: Comments about recent events

Today I am yet again going to break my self-imposed rule about not making what could be regarded as being political comment on my blog. If such a course of action offends you, then please do not read any further; if you wish to read my views about recent events then please read on ... but please do so with an open mind.

Events in Paris last night were more than shocking. Coming as they do in a week where we remembered those who died during the wars of the twentieth century and of this century, they were a brutal reminder that we are presently in a state of war, a war against terror, a war against people who regard their own death – and the death of others – as steps towards their idea of how the world should be.

I lived through the Cold War. Our ‘enemy’ was easy to identify and – to a certain extent – predictable. I can remember taking part in Civil Defence exercises to see how well London’s transport system could cope with evacuating the capital’s population in the event of a possible nuclear attack. I can also remember the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when we seemed to stand on the very edge of the abyss of nuclear war, only to pull back at the last minute when calmer heads realised that once such a war started, no one would emerge as a winner. The world was a dangerous place, but not an angry one.

I can never remember the world as being such an angry place. Everyone seems to be angry about something and – what is most worrying – is willing to express that anger in the most violent ways available to them. We seem to have forgotten our humanity. We seem to have forgotten that the people we are angry with – and upon whom we visit our anger – are just like us. They are not mindless avatars in some great 3D video game; they are flesh and blood, with lives, families, loves, aspirations, doubts, concerns.

Is there a way in which the world’s anger can be dispelled and tensions reduced so that we can make the world a safer place? I would like to think that there is ... but I cannot for the life of me see how it can be done. Politicians of all political viewpoints pontificate about how good their policies would at making life better for everyone if only we all did what they proposed ... but since the beginning of recorded time no political creed has managed that. One would hope that religion or a shared moral philosophy might point a way forward ... but as long as people argue about whose belief system is right and whose is wrong, then it is more likely to evoke anger than to assuage it.

What I find amazing is that last Saturday I watched a TV programme where the situation the world seems to be in – and the solution that we will have to face – was summed up very well indeed. One does not expect that to happen, but I would like to share it with those who might not have seen or heard it.

The following was part of a speech made by the eponymous hero of DOCTOR WHO towards the end of the episode transmitted on the BBC on Saturday 7th November, 2015:
‘So, let me ask you a question about this brave new world of yours. When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one? ... This is a scale model of war. Every war ever fought right there in front of you. Because it’s always the same. When you fire that first shot, no matter how right you feel, you have no idea who’s going to die. You don’t know whose children are going to scream and burn. How many hearts will be broken! How many lives shattered! How much blood will spill until everybody does what they’re always going to have to do from the very beginning – sit down and talk! … You're all the same, you screaming kids, you know that? ‘Look at me, I’m unforgivable.’ Well here’s the unforeseeable, I forgive you. After all you’ve done. I forgive you.’
Do we have to stand on the edge of the abyss again to make us realise that we must all step back and stop before we destroy ourselves? If only it was possible for people to forgive each other, and to learn to live with and appreciate their differences rather than to use them as an excuse to exercise the anger they feel ...

If only ...

Friday 13 November 2015

Isn't technology wonderful ... when it works

This isn't a complaint about my new computer ... which seems to be functioning quite well now that I have properly installed Windows 10 and managed to transfer all my files and contacts over from my old computer. This blog entry is all to do with the integral DVD player that forms part of our TV, which decided to start doing all sorts of odd things when I tried to use it to watch a DVD last night.

To tell the truth the integral DVD player has not worked properly for some time, but in the past regular cleaning of the laser lens seemed to cure the problem of it 'jumping' from one scene to another without warning. Last night this did not cure the problem, and after persisting for nearly thirty minutes I gave up trying to watch the DVD of CHILD 44. (I read and enjoyed the book when it was first published, and although the film was panned by the critics when it came out earlier this year, I found a copy of the DVD on sale for £5.00 and bought it.)

This morning Sue and I went to a local shopping centre, and whilst we were there I bought a cheap Sony DVD player. (The player and the requisite scart lead cost less than £30.00, which was a lot cheaper than I had expected.) When we got back home I connected the new DVD player to our TV, and it worked almost at once without any problems or complications!

Hopefully I will now be able to watch CHILD 44 without whole chunks of the film being missed.

Isn't technology wonderful ... when it works.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Remembrance Day 2015

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh month, ninety seven years after Armistice Day 1918 ...

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today
We will remember them.
In particular Sue and I will be remembering two of our relatives who died during the Great War:
  • Corporal Ephraim Cordery (killed on the first day of the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, Gallipoli, 6th August 1915) and
  • Able Seaman Sidney Digby (killed aboard HMS Vindictive at Zeebrugge, 23rd April 1918).

Monday 9 November 2015

Computer 'fun' continues

Well after a few false starts and more than a couple of problems, my new computer is now working ... and I have used it to create this blog entry!

My computer came with Windows 8.1 installed as its operating system, and after attaching the keyboard, monitor, and mouse my first task was to ensure that all the necessary upgrades to Windows 10 were downloaded and installed. I set this up to happen overnight from late Friday night to early Saturday morning, but due to an interruption to our Internet link during the night, this took even longer than I had hoped. Eventually the updates were installed and I began the process of adding my current email accounts to the computer's email program.

This proved to be more problematic that I had thought that it might be, and although I could add most of my email accounts and begin to download and view my messages, I could not do it for all of them. Rather than allowing myself to get frustrated and annoyed, I walked away from my computer. When I came back later, the computer had begun to download further updates ... and I discovered that I had not yet completely downloaded the new Windows 10 operating system, and had been trying to use a sort of hybrid of Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. This had happened because of the interrupted Internet connection, and in the end I decided to just let the computer automatically upgrade itself to Windows 10.

This proved to be a wise decision, and yesterday afternoon I was able to set up my new computer's Desktop so that it matched my requirements and to download MS Office 2007, MS Expression Web 3, Serif PagePlus, and Serif PhotoPlus onto the computer. I then checked that they were all working properly before taking the rest of the day off. This morning I have been able to add the 'missing' email accounts, download all the files from my old computer to my new one, and add a connection to my wireless Inkjet printer. My next task is to move the old computer off my desk and move my new new one into its place. The last task will then be to connect my laser printer to the computer ... and hopefully that will be that.

I intend to keep my old computer until I am sure that the new one is working properly ... just in case.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Computer 'fun'

For some time I have been increasingly frustrated by my personal computer. It seems to have been working slower and slower for the past few months, and the message 'Not Responding' appears on screen far too frequently. I have done everything that I can do to improve matters ... but the improvements have all been short-lived.

In the end Sue and I agreed that the computer needed to be replaced, and after looking around for the best deal we ordered an Acer XC-703 desktop computer, 18.5" monitor, keyboard, and mouse from Tesco Online. The computer has an Intel Pentium processor, 4 GB RAM, and a 1 TB hard drive ... all of which much better than my existing computer.

I expect that it is going to take a few days to set the new computer up, to install all the programs that I use, and to transfer the files over. With luck this should all go without a hitch ... but it will be a miracle if it does! (Past experience indicates that some things will go smoothly, but that others will involve the use of some ripe old Anglo-Saxon language and more than a little frustration.) With luck this will be that last blog entry that I write on my old computer ... but only time will tell if it is!

Friday 6 November 2015

Nugget 284

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N284) from the printer on Thursday (a day ahead of schedule!), and I posted it out to members of Wargame Developments this morning.

I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are both available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Thursday 5 November 2015

Larry Brom has died

Last night Lori and Christy Brom passed on the news that their father – Larry Brom – had died. The text of the announcement on The Miniatures Page was as follows:
Dad died this morning of a heart attack. He was talking and laughing with his nurse and then he was gone. Other than being at a wargame table, rolling D-6's, this was a good way for him to go.

We will gather this weekend in New Orleans at Colonial Barracks and remember, roll dice and tell stories of battles past, all the while thinking of Larry Brom and the hobby he loved so much. And if anyone, anywhere, is around a game table, please raise a glass to the one who gave us "The Sword and The Flame"

"Good job, Bugler"

Lori and Christy Brom
I never met Larry, but when he was in the process of preparing the 20th Anniversary edition of his famous Colonial wargame rules THE SWORD AND THE FLAME, we exchanged a number of emails about designing rules ... and he was kind enough to mention me in the Acknowledgments that were published in the rules.

It is a testament to the excellence of his original rules that they are still used by a large number wargamers.

Larry will be missed by a lot of people, and I want to publicly record my condolences to his family. Larry was proud to have served in the US Marine Corps, so my final words are that Corps' motto ...

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Manifesto promises

Back at the end of August I wrote what I termed my ‘Manifesto’. Not being a politician, I did not immediately renege on what I had included in it, and with the autumn well and truly upon us and winter not far away, I have decided that I need to turn my words into actions … and I intend to start doing so today.

In my ‘Manifesto’ I outlined what I most enjoyed about wargaming. The list read as follows:
  • Fighting campaigns (i.e. planning and fighting a series of interlinking battles that tell a story)
  • Writing the ‘histories’ of the campaigns that I fight (I get almost as much enjoyment writing about what has happened on the tabletop as I do fighting the battles)
  • The modelling aspects of the hobby (e.g. building the terrain and models that I use; painting figures and vehicles; basing figures and vehicle)
  • Solo wargaming (I am not anti-social, and do enjoy fighting wargames with other wargamers … but I get the greatest enjoyment fighting solo wargames)
  • Creating imagi-nations and their armed forces (Although I do enjoy re-fighting historical battles, I enjoy the freedom of fighting wars between imagi-nations more)
  • Fighting wargames set in the period between 1880 and 1950 … although I am gradually beginning to stretch the boundaries to encompass the Napoleonic period as well
Having re-read this list, I don’t think that there are any points on it that I would wish to change.

I also wrote a list of the things that I hope to be doing in five year’s time:
  • Fighting lots of solo wargames on a small wargames tabletop using very simple rules.
  • Indulging myself with lots of campaigns, some small-scale and others quite large-scale.
  • Concentrating on wargaming wars set during the period from 1800 to 1950.
  • Mainly using imagi-national armies to fight imaginary wars.
  • Indulging my passion for writing up the histories of my campaigns, and to fill them with loads of suitable photographs, maps, diagrams etc.
Not surprisingly, the two lists bear a strong resemblance to each other … but to get from where I am now to where I want to be in five years requires a degree of pruning to take place. The first area that I am going to look at is my book collection … after which I will start on my figure collection.

In the latter case I have already identified what I will definitely keep, what I would like to keep, and what I can see no further use for:
    Definite essentials:
  • 54mm-scale Britains figures for Funny Little Wars (this is what I started with … and there is no way I will give them up!)
  • 25/28mm-scale Del Prado pre-painted Napoleonic figures (as I am still building up this collection and I have ideas for fighting a number of campaigns with them, they are a definite ‘keep’)
  • 20mm-scale World War II figures (I hope to use these for my long planned-for Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign)
  • 15mm-scale Colonial figures
    Keep if possible:
  • 20mm-scale World War I Colonial/Middle East figures (these might be useable as an alternative to my 15mm-scale Colonial figures)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing Austro-Prussian War figures (these are nice figures but may need rebasing to make them suitable for the wargame rules that I am likely to use in the future)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing First World War figures (I have an emotional attachment to these figures because I painted them at a time when I found painting to be very therapeutic; I may prune the collection but will not dispose of it entirely)
    Not likely to be used again:
  • 25mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 15mm-scale Franco-Prussian War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 15mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 1:300th-scale Spanish Civil War figures (they are not particularly well painted figures and do not fit in with the wargame rules that I am likely to use in the future)
Today I am going to start looking at my book collection, and I suspect that I am going to have to make some tough decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of. That said, I see no purpose in having books on my shelves that I have not looked at for a long time and which I suspect that I will not look at again.

It’s going to be a tough job, but someone is going to have to do it!

Monday 2 November 2015

Nugget 284

The editor of THE NUGGET is much more 'on the ball' than I am, and actually sent me the draft of the latest issue before I had even managed to post out the previous one! Having left almost a fortnight to elapse between issues, I have now had the opportunity to check it and print it, and I will be taking it to the printer later this morning. I hope to be able to collect it from them by Friday, and to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by no later the following Monday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2015-2016 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out with the previous issue to all subscribers who had not yet re-subscribed.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Modeller's Thumb

Yesterday afternoon I sat down to do some modelling. I haven't done much model making recently, and I was really keen to get some done ... but within an hour I was suffering from a bad case of Modeller's Thumb and had to stop.

Now Modeller's Thumb is not a recognised medical condition, but I doubt if there is a regular blog reader of mine who hasn't suffered from it. It is - of course - that injury to the top part of your thumb that is caused by the blade of a modelling knife when it slips just enough to cut through the top layers of the skin but not enough to cause bleeding. It is like a paper cut; not a major injury but really annoying as you keep catching it every time you try to do something.

The cut will heal in a couple of days, and then I may well try doing some more modelling. In the meantime I am going to use my spare time to do some sorting out and - if time permits - I may even fight a wargame.