Monday 31 October 2016

Project fatigue

During a conversation yesterday my wife asked me how much longer I thought that it would take me to complete my current project of renovating, varnishing, and basing my collection of 25/28mm Napoleonic figures. When I replied that I expected to be finished in a couple of months, she commented that I seemed to have been working on it for ages, and wasn't I getting a bit bored. The truth of the matter is that she is right. I am getting a bit bored ... and probably do need to take a break in the near future.

Looking back at my blog entries, I found that the project had its beginnings back in February 2014 (over two and a half years ago!) but that I didn't begin doing any serious work on it until a year later. Since then I have renovated, varnished, and based over 700 figures ... and I probably have another 200 to do. I would like to finish the remaining French infantry before I take a break, and that is the goal I have now set myself.

Once I have done achieved that goal I would like to do switch my attention to my PORTABLE WARGAME book, a project that I seem to have been ignoring of late. I might also be able to spend some time thinking about the BARBAROSSA campaign I want to tackle once the Napoleonic project is finished, and about which I still have to make some crucial decisions. I can then return to my Napoleonic project with renewed vigour ... I hope!

That's my plan ... and it will be interesting to see if I can stick to it.

Sunday 30 October 2016

Invasion literature

In a recent blog entry I wrote about the book IF IT HAD HAPPENED OTHERWISE. In reply to one comment I mentioned that I had several examples of late nineteenth/early twentieth century 'invasion literature' on my Kindle, and as I thought that some of my regular blog readers would like some information about these stories.

My collection includes the following:
  • THE BATTLE OF DORKING (1871) by George Tomkyns Chesney. This story describes the successful invasion of England by an unnamed – but German-speaking – enemy and the aftermath of the war.
  • THE GREAT WAR IN ENGLAND IN 1897 (1894) by William Le Quex. In this book Britain is taken by surprise and invaded by France and Russia. The invasion is at first successful, and reaches London, but eventually the British – with the aid of the Germans who come to their aid – utterly defeat the invaders. The end result is the degradation of the French and Russians, who lose territory in Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia to the victors.
  • THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS (1903) by Erskine Childers. Although this is more a spy story and not about an actual invasion, it does describe the preparations for a ‘sudden descent’ invasion by Germany on England’s East Coast.
  • THE INVASION OF 1910 (1906) by William Le Queux and H W Wilson. Although it was written only twelve years after his earlier book, the enemy has changed and it is the Germans who mount an invasion on the East Coast of England. Despite attempts to stop their advance – which culminates with a battle near Royston on the border of Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire – the unprepared British are pushed back and the Germans are able to reach London. The repressive measures they use to try to maintain peace in the capital, coupled with resistance by the so-called ‘League of Defenders’, culminates in a popular uprising. The newly re-organised and enlarge British Army, which has been raised in the unoccupied part of Britain, advances on London and the Germans are forced to retreat.
  • WHEN WILLIAM CAME: A STORY OF LONDON UNDER THE HOHENZOLLERNS (1913) by Saki (the pseudonym of Hector Hugh Munro). This story is narrated by someone who was abroad at the time of a successful German invasion, and who has returned home. In a number of interesting vignettes (including being fined by a policeman for walking on the grass in Hyde Park), it describes how British society has had to accept Germanic laws and practices, and with it a gradually integration into the German Empire. The latter includes compulsory military service, something that was actually being hotly discussed in Britain when the book was written.
I first read some of these stories in the mid to late 1970s when they were included in two anthologies that were edited by Michael Moorcock. These were BEFORE ARMAGEDDON: AN ANTHOLOGY OF VICTORIAN AND EDWARDIAN IMAGINATIVE FICTION PUBLISHED BEFORE 1914 (1975) and ENGLAND INVADED (1977).

Saturday 29 October 2016

I may have been busy this week but ...

... I have managed to renovate a very small batch of Imperial French Infantry to add to my collection.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 29th October 1936

Russian tanks and aircraft appeared in the front-line for the first time.

A Polikarpov I-15 biplane fighter. This was one of two types of fighter aircraft supplied to the Spanish Republicans by the Soviet government.
German and Italian bombers began a series of raids on Madrid in the hope of destroying civilian resistance.

Friday 28 October 2016

Nugget 294

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me on Wednesday so that I can take it to the printer. I hope to do that by Saturday morning at the latest so that I can collect it and post it out to members of Wargame Developments early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 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 27 October 2016

If it had happened otherwise

Many years ago – whilst I was still at school – I came across a copy of IF IT HAD HAPPENED OTHERWISE in the school library. It was a collection of alternative or counter-factual history essays written by a number of leading historians, and it was published in 1931. It was my first proper introduction to the genre, and I have had an avid interest in alternative or counter-factual history ever since.

The original book contained the following essays:
  • If Drouet's Cart Had Stuck by Hilaire Belloc
  • If Don John of Austria Had Married Mary Queen of Scots by G K Chesterton
  • If Lee Had NOT Won the Battle of Gettysburg by Winston Churchill
  • If Napoleon Had Escaped to America by H A L Fisher
  • If the Moors in Spain Had Won by Philip Guedalla
  • If the General Strike Had Succeeded by Ronald Knox
  • If the Emperor Frederick Had Not Had Cancer by Emil Ludwig
  • If Louis XVI Had Had an Atom of Firmness by André Maurois
  • If Byron Had Become King of Greece by Harold Nicolson
  • If It Had Been Discovered in 1930 that Bacon Really Did Write Shakespeare by J C Squire
  • If Booth Had Missed Lincoln by Milton Waldman
I understand that an American edition of the book entitled IF: OR, HISTORY REWRITTEN was also published in 1931. It did not include the essay about the General Strike but did include three additional essays:
  • If the Dutch Had Kept Nieuw Amsterdam by Hendrik Willem van Loon
  • If: A Jacobite Fantasy by Charles Petrie
  • If Napoleon Had Won the Battle of Waterloo by G M Trevelyan
I bought a paperback re-print of the original book some years ago, and during a recent sort out I found it again. On re-reading it I was struck by how much I still enjoyed Churchill’s and Fisher’s contributions, and that they could easily form the basis for future wargame campaigns.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Toy Soldier Collector October/November 2016 Issue 72

Although I do manage to fight the occasional wargame with my collection of 54mm figures, I am not what one could really describe as being a collector. That said, I sometimes have a look through the magazines that are aimed at collectors to see if there is anything that might be of interest. I saw this issue of TOY SOLDIER COLLECTOR on sale in a local branch of WHSmith, skimmed through it, saw several items of interest, and bought a copy.

Besides a very interesting article about the toy soldiers manufactured by Britains during the interwar period, the article that did catch my eye was one by Mike Blake entitled PLAYING WITH TOY SOLDIERS. This is the first in a series of articles that are going to be published about 54mm wargaming, and this article covers the history of the hobby.

It begins with Robert Louis Stevenson and the wargames he fought and wrote about, and then moves on to H G Wells and LITTLE WARS. It briefly covers Donald Featherstone, the WARGAMER'S NEWSLETTER, and the first National Wargames Championship before looking in more detail at the work done by the late Steve Curtis, Ian Colwill, and the author of the article that led to the writing of the famous WESTERN GUNFIGHT RULES. The final part of this article describes the work done by the Skirmish Wargames Group, whose games can be seen at many shows across the UK. Photographs of some of the Group's games are used to illustrate the article.

The article ends with a promise that the next issue will 'look at the basic concepts of wargames rules, how it is possible to simulate warfare on the table top, and some specific challenges and delights of gaming in the large scale.'

I look forward to reading it.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 25th October 1936

A large part of Spain's Gold Reserve (which remained in Republican controlled Spain after the Rising) was transferred to Russia. This was to pay for Russian "aid".

Monday 24 October 2016

Another busy week ahead

After a fairly restful weekend, the evenings of the first half of the forthcoming week look like they are going to be busy.

On Monday evening Sue and I are off to meet two of my nephews for dinner. The eldest of the pair is on holiday from China, where he has been working for the past few years. He began working as a teacher in an English Language school but now works in a bar/restaurant in Beijing that he co-owns. The younger of the two has just started his degree course in Mathematics at Queen Mary College, London, and judging by his Facebook page he has quickly settled in to the student life.

On Tuesday evening I am off to Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, to attend a Lodge of Instruction or LOI. This is basically a rehearsal of the ceremony or ritual that we will be performing at the next meeting of my Mother Lodge ... which will be on the following day!

Just after lunch on Wednesday I have to go to North Greenwich station to pick up an old friend who is also a member of my Mother Lodge, and then we will drive to Cheshunt to attend the October meeting of my Mother Lodge. He is going to act as the Chaplain (which involves him in reading the short prayer that opens the meeting) and I will be the Immediate Past Master. The latter sounds as if it is a very important role, but my main job is to prompt the Worshipful Master if he forgets the odd word or phrase during the meeting and to act as Master of Ceremonies at the after-meeting meal.

The ceremony we will be performing at the meeting is what were refer to as a 'First' or 'Initiation'; in other words we will be initiating a new member into both Freemasonry in general and our Lodge in particular. This is the first step every member of 'The Craft' takes on their way to becoming a Master Mason, and besides introducing someone new to our 'secrets and mysteries' (see below), it helps the rest of us to reaffirm our belief and understanding of Freemasonry.

The meeting and meal should end by 9.30pm, and I will then drive my friend back to my house as he will be staying overnight as our guest. Once he leaves us on Thursday, my wife and I will have the rest of the week to recover!

'Secrets and mysteries' sounds far more portentous than it actually is ... but it does hark back to the origins of Freemasonry when operative masons (i.e. the men who built the great cathedrals and castles of the Middle Ages) would move from place to place seeking work.

In order to prove what level of skill that they had, they would have to be able show some proof that they had served an apprenticeship, become a craftsman, or even reached the level of being a Master Mason. As there were few written records and many of the masons were unable to read or write, they relied upon the use of special passwords and signs to identify their level of progress through the ranks. Once they had done that they could be employed and could live and work with their fellows in the special on-site accommodation built for the masons ... which was known as the lodge.

Albrecht Dürer's woodcut showing Maximilian I (the Holy Roman Emperor 1508 - 1519) visiting a stonemason's lodge.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Vive l'Empereur! Some more Imperial Guard Infantry units join my French Army

After the successful paint conversion of some Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers into Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs, I have now done a paint conversion of some Imperial Guard Foot Fusilier Grenadiers so that they represent Imperial Guard Foot Fusilier Chasseurs.

The main differences in the uniforms are that the Imperial Guard Foot Fusilier Chasseurs have:
  • A green rather than a red shako pompom
  • Epaulettes that are green with red fringes
These changes were very easy to include when I renovated the figures, and the results can be seen below.

These figures will serve alongside the Imperial Guard Foot Fusilier Grenadiers in the second Imperial Guard Infantry Division in my collection.

Saturday 22 October 2016

Miniature Wargames Issue 403

My copy of the November issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered on Thursday afternoon. It is the first issue to be published since Henry Hyde left and John Treadaway took over as editor, and I must admit that I opened it with some trepidation. It had the words 'NEW LOOK' emblazoned in the top left-hand corner of the cover, and the cover showed that it was now being laid out in a very different style from that used by Henry.

I need not have worried. The magazine may look different, but the content hasn't changed that much and I don't think that I will cancelling my subscription just yet.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer by Iain Fuller
  • Wargaming my way by Noel Williams
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Dreadnought Battlefleet by Martin Pike
  • The Battle of Crete by Jeff Brown
  • Back to Back Wargaming by Jim Webster
  • Competition
  • Critical Hits
    • Fantasy Facts
    • New Release
    • Frostgrave in-depth
    • Panzerfauste in-depth
    • What we're playing: Bushido
  • Simple Ancient Rules: Belli Minimi by Harry Pearson
  • Recce
  • Painting toy tanks in double quick time by John Treadaway
  • Teddy O'Rorke: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: WAR – The history of Warfare
  • Club Directory
My only criticism is that the number of pages allocated to Fantasy – an area of wargaming that does not particularly interest me – has been increased but this has been done by expanding the magazine and not by reducing the amount of space used to cover more conventional wargaming ... so I do not feel aggrieved at the change in any way.

My 'stand out' article of the issue is Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence because it describes his experience of using Tim Gow's and Bertrand Plastique's excellent LITTLE COLD WAR rules, and the way he has modified them for use with 1:72nd-scale figures and vehicles on a 6' x 6' 6" tabletop.

Friday 21 October 2016

Nile River Gunboats 1882-1918

Yesterday's post included a copy of the latest offering from Osprey Publishing's New Vanguard series ... NILE RIVER GUNBOATS 1882-1918 (ISBN 978 1 4728 1476 0). It has been written by Angus Konstam and illustrated by Peter Dennis, and as a result I knew that would be very good value.

The book's contents include:
  • Introduction
  • The River
    • British interests on the Nile
  • Nile Gunboat Development
    • General Gordon's 'Penny Steamers'
    • Tamai-class gunboats
    • El-Zafir-class gunboats
    • Sultan-class gunboats
  • The Nile Gunboats
    • The 'Penny Steamers'
      • Other Khartoum gunboats
      • Later gunboats
      • Protection
      • Propulsion
      • Conditions on board
      • Firepower
  • Gunboats in action
    • The 1884-85 campaign
    • The 1896-98 campaign
  • Further Reading
  • Index
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to re-fight either of the Sudan campaigns as its coverage of the ships that were used and the service they gave is sufficiently detailed enough to satisfy all but the most ardent 'rivet counter'. I have been waiting for this book to be published ever since Osprey announced that it was being written ... and I am not disappointed by it in any way. The illustrations are excellent, and I must admit that seeing them made me give serious thought to setting aside my current Napoleonic project for a while whilst I scratch-built some Nile gunboats!

Thursday 20 October 2016

Some opponents for my 'fine fellows': French Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs

I had intended to take a short break from my Napoleonic project ... but I hadn't cleared away all my painting gear and the storage box of yet-to-be-renovated French figures was on my tabletop ... so my good intentions came to naught.

As I already had several units of French Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in my collection, I decided to do a paint-conversion on some suitable figures in the storage box so that they would be a passable representation of the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs. The main differences in the uniforms are that the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs have:
  • No metal plate on the front of the bearskin
  • No embroidered fabric panel in the top of the bearskin
  • A bearskin plume that is red over green
  • Epaulettes that are green with red fringes
These changes were quite easy to include when I renovated the figures, and the results can be seen below.

These figures will serve alongside the Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in an Imperial Guard Infantry Division in my collection.

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Maps from The Shadow Campaign books

I am always on the lookout for maps that might be suitable for use in wargames, and Django Wexler's THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS books contain several very useful ones.

In THE THOUSAND NAMES the map shows that part of the Vordan colony of Khandar in which the fighting takes place.

In THE SHADOW THRONE and THE PRICE OF VALOUR the action switches to Vordan, its neighbouring countries, and its capital, Vordan City, ...

... and in THE GUNS OF EMPIRE the map covers the area of Murnsk that the Vordans invade.

(The map names the area as Mursk but I suspect that it a typographical error as the country is referred to as Murnsk throughout the books.)

Tuesday 18 October 2016

The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

As a child I was lucky enough to have THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS read to me. (When I was a child in Junior school, teachers used to read stories to their class at the end of every day, and one year I had a teacher who read us THE HOBBIT followed by the recently-published LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.)

This early exposure to fantasy fiction rather soured my view of other books in the genre, especially after I re-read Tolkein's books when I was at college in the early 1970s. I suppose it was a case of 'I've read the best, why bother with the rest?' I have tried reading other fantasy novels - including EMPIRE OF FEAR by Brian Stableford, which features Edmund Cordery as one of its main protagonists - but until recently most seemed to be pale imitations of Tolkein's books.

(One book that did stand out as being an exception to this was JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke. It is set in an alternative/fantasy version of England during the Napoleonic era.)

My attitude to fantasy fiction changed when I chanced upon the short story THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler.

It was the first of his series of books that form THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. (I understand that they classed as being 'Musket and Magic' fantasy books.) Since then I have read each of books in the series as they have been published:

The stories are set in a time somewhat akin to the end of the eighteenth/beginning on the nineteenth century, and other than the magic element (and some more adult themes that probably make them unsuitable for younger readers) they can be read as the 'histories' of a number of imagi-nations. There are some obvious parallels with European history at that time (e.g. a revolution against a repressive regime; the invasion of a Russia-like country and the impact of fighting during its winter) and from slightly later (e.g. a colonial campaign in an Egypt-like colony). I understand that the writer – Django Wexler – has used European history to inspire elements of the plots in his books and that he is also a wargamer ... which might account for the way in which the battles that are featured in the stories are described.

Monday 17 October 2016

My Napoleonic British Army

There are 230 figures in my British Napoleonic Army, and they are organised into five Infantry Divisions and three Cavalry Brigades plus several unattached units that will be used to reinforce any expeditionary force, for home defence, and for garrison duty.

The First Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (1st and 2nd Foot Guards and 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (1st Rifles), an Artillery unit (1st Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (2nd Rifles), an Artillery unit (2nd Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third (Highland) Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (8th (Highland), 9th (Highland), 10th (Highland), and 11th (Highland) Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (3rd Rifles), an Artillery unit (3rd Field Artillery Battery), and an officer on foot.

The Fourth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (4th Rifles), an Artillery unit (4th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Fifth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd Foot Guards, 5th Infantry, 12th (Highland), and 17th Infantry Regiments), an Artillery unit (5th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

(I have christened this Division 'The Orphans' as they are a mixture of all the Infantry Regiments that I had left over when I was organising my British Army.)

The First (Heavy) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Horse Guards), an Artillery unit (1st Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second (Light) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (2nd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st Dragoons and 3rd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (3rd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The rest of the British Army is made up of the following units:
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Highland), 4th (Highland) and 5th (Highland) Militia Infantry Regiments
  • 4th Horse Artillery Battery
  • 6th and 7th Field Artillery Batteries
  • The Commander-in-Chief and numerous supernumerary officers

Sunday 16 October 2016

A new kid on the block?

A couple of days ago Greg Horne (The Duchy of Alzheim) and Stokes Schwartz (The Grand Duchy of Stollen) announced that they intend to publish a new, free wargames publication entitled THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK. They hope that each quarterly issue will include:
  • Three or four battle reports and/or scenarios per issue;
  • ‘How to ...’ articles;
  • Articles on game or campaign mechanisms;
  • Miscellaneous ‘fun’ articles.
The new publication will not include advertisements, articles aimed at supporting a particular game system or set of rules, reviews, potted historical articles, or what the editors refer to as wargames-related ‘navel-gazing’. It will be published in PDF format.

I’m always willing to support anything that helps to ‘spread the word’ when it comes to wargaming, and this publication will certainly be getting my support. In fact I’ve already signed up to be a recipient and may well offer them the odd article or two. If you are interested in receiving THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK or writing for it, contact them via the following link.

Saturday 15 October 2016

My final batch of 'fine fellows' is finished!

I have finally finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the British figures in my Napoleonic collection. They comprise of a second unit of Horse Guards, a third unit of Light Dragoons, and three Mounted officers.

One of the latter is a slightly repainted model of the Duke of Wellington. I did this so that I can use the figure to represent a different officer.

The next thing that I want to do before I begin work on the additional French figures in my collection is to organise my British Army into Divisions and Brigades.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th October 1936

The Popular Army established a system of Commissars (Political officers) for each unit.

Friday 14 October 2016

Sad news

I have only just picked up the news that Jeff Hudelson (who was well-known by his tag, Bluebear Jeff, and for his excellent blogs, including Saxe-Bearstein) died on 2nd October after a long battle against cancer.

My condolences – and those of all wargamers who knew Jeff personally or via the Internet – go to his family. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.

Wally Simon's Skirmish Secrets of Wargame Design

Not long ago Russ Lockwood contacted me and asked if I would like review copy of the latest in the series of books he is publishing. They are all compendiums of articles written by the late Wally Simon, and Russ has edited them into variously themed volumes. The volume that he sent me – No.6 – was entitled WALLY SIMON'S SKIRMISH SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A TABLETOP TOOLKIT OF IDEAS, ANALYSIS, AND RULE MECHANICS.

The book costs $19.00, is published by Lockwood Projects, and is available from On Military Matters (USA and World) and Caliver Books (UK and Europe). It is soft bound with a card cover and has 44 pages.

The contents of the book are as follows:
  • Gladiators Behaving Badly: Bluffing, Buffers, and a Quick Arena Campaign
  • Goin' Command: Falklands Raid: Stealth, Detection, and Demolition
  • Victorian Colonial Skirmish Rules: Attributes, Cards, and D100s
  • Samurai Skirmish: Archery, Windage, and Melee Bands
  • Von Vorren's Machine Gun Duel: WWII East front Skirmish
  • House-to-House Modern Skirmish: Reaction Deck, Wounded, and Response Deck
  • Swath Fire: Volley Fire Variation: For Muskets Through Lasers
  • Bash and Crash Medieval Melee: Agility, Strength, and Reactions
  • Command and Control Cards: Activation with a Twist
  • Hey Pilgrim! You Forgot Your Popgun: Wild, Wild West Shootout Rules
  • Zgroshk Modern Skirmish: Clocking, Wounds, and Reserves
  • Ragnar's Viking Raid: Fast, Simple, and Chartless Rules
  • 23rd Century Urban Uprising: Dicing, reaction, and Rally Rules
  • About the Editor
Before I begin my review, I must make one thing apparent. I've never enjoyed skirmish wargames ... and so I came to this book with a jaundiced point-of-view. I was therefore more than pleasantly surprised by what I found inside ... skirmish wargames that not only made sense to me, but which were also fun! Furthermore each chapter contained different ideas and mechanisms that I felt that I could easily adapt for my own purposes. I particularly liked Von Vorren's Machine Gun Duel and Zgroshk Modern Skirmish, both of which I could see myself staging and using with friends if there was not enough time or space to set up a normal wargame.

However, the chapter that really gave me a lot of things to think about was also the shortest. Command and Control Cards: Activation with a Twist uses a standard set of playing cards to activate each unit – something that I have experimented with myself in the past – and to determine how far they can move when they are activated. The latter is something that I had never considered doing before ... but I can see it being very useful in some of the solo wargames that I fight.

As I have already stated, this is the sixth volume of Wally Simon's work that Russ Lockwood has edited. The others are:
  • WALLY SIMON's SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 1)
  • WALLY SIMON's MORE SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 2)
  • WALLY SIMON's SOLO SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 3)
  • WALLY SIMON's CAMPAIGN SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: Volume 4: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 4)
  • WALLY SIMON's MASTER SECRETS OF WARGAME DESIGN: Volume 5: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics (Volume 5)
I must admit that I am very tempted to buy copies of these books, and especially Volumes 3 and 4. Christmas is coming, and they might make a nice little present for me to buy myself!

A note about Wally Simon: Wally Simon was one of the early driving forces behind tabletop wargaming in the United States. He was a prolific writer of wargame rules, the prime mover in Potomac Wargamers, and the editor/published the POTOMAC WARGAMERS REVIEW from the 1970s until it ceased publication in August 2002. Wally was one of the founder members of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society (HMGS), and its first meeting took place in his basement in 1981.

Thursday 13 October 2016

There and back again: Our postponed visit to the National Archives

Sue and I originally planned to go to the National Archives last week ... but went to Canterbury and Herne Bay in Kent instead. As we wanted to try to complete our research into the military career of William Richardson, we decided to go to the Archives today.

We left home at 9.00am ... and by 9.05am the Satnav had notified us that our planned route was subject to massive delays! Luckily it gave us several alternative routes, and the one we selected enabled us to reach the Archives just before 11.00am.

We spent four hours looking through numerous documents, but despite our best endeavours we found no trace of William Richardson in any of them ... which was not the disaster it might at first appear to be. It proved that he was not demoted from his rank of Battalion Sergeant Major from the time he was promoted until his retirement.

The journey home started well ... but the closer we got to home, the worse the traffic became. We managed to find a couple of shortcuts that got us around the worst of the hold ups, but it still took us nearly two and a half hours to get home.

(The traffic problems were caused by the closure of one of the Dartford Tunnels. This caused a massive tailback on the counter-clockwise part of the M25 and the eastbound A2, which in turn resulted in huge traffic jams at almost every major road junction in South East London.)

As part of its commemoration of the centenary of the First World War, the National Archives has commissioned a number of sculptures by Canadian artist Ian Kirkpatrick. The sculptures are made from cardboard, and are designed to pack flat so that they can be assembled very quickly to create an almost instant exhibition.

As can be seen from the photographs that can be seen below, the designs are heavily influenced by the commercial packaging used during the war.

During our visit I saw two of the sculptures; BRITANNIA and BLAST.


This sculpture represents the role played by women during the First World War, and depicts Britannia atop a Mk V Tank holding a shell made by women in a munitions factory. It also makes reference to the Suffragettes.


The figure depicted in this sculpture is a machine gunner in a helmet and gas mask firing a Vickers Heavy Machine Gun.

The name of the sculpture makes reference to the magazine published by the Vorticist movement before the outbreak of the war.

Wednesday 12 October 2016

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 12th October 1936

The first Russian aid for the Republic arrived.

The Republican submarine B5 was sunk by Nationalist aircraft off the coast near Malaga.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Who am I and where am I from?

As regular readers of my blog will know, my wife is a genealogist and has been tracing her family tree for quite some time. I have helped her, and have also done some research into my own family history. Recently we took advantage of a special offer to have our ethnic DNA profiles done ... and the results have just arrived.

The test looks examines each individual's DNA, and using existing databases produces a profile of one's individual maternal and paternal ethnic origins. My results look like this:

According to these results I am almost 100% European (which is no great surprise), but that within that broad geographical area my ethnic origins are a mixture of Western European and Irish. (These are shown as the blue areas on the map.) What I find surprising is how low the percentage of my DNA is specifically from Great Britain, and how much my profile differs from the 'average' found in the UK. (The 'average' Briton has somewhere in the region of 60% of their DNA from Great Britain; I have less than 1%.)

Some years ago we did a DNA test to trace our paternal origins, and my results showed that I was a member of a subgroup of haplogroup I1, and that I am a descendant of someone who originally came from area of North West Germany/Northern Netherlands known as Frisia.

Monday 10 October 2016

My penultimate batch of 'fine fellows' ... I think!

Despite being very busy, I have managed to do some more renovation, varnishing, and basing of my pre-painted Del Prado 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures ... and I think that I now only have one more batch of British figures to do. (I say 'think' because I cannot be 100% sure that I might not acquire a few more figures in the near future.)

This batch comprises three units of Horse Artillery, ...

....three units of Foot Artillery, ...

... a further Infantry unit (which is destined to become a unit of Fencibles, Volunteers, or Militia), ...

... and six Foot officers.

In addition I have re-painted two Foot Artillery units, one for my Dutch-Belgian Army (in the white trousers) and one for my Hanoverian Army (in the grey trousers).

The uniforms may not be 100% correct, but they will certainly serve until I can acquire accurate replacements for them.