Wednesday 28 February 2018

Nugget 306

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N306) from the printer yesterday afternoon, and I will be posting it out to members of Wargame Developments as soon as I can ... weather permitting! (We had a heavy snowfall last night, and very little foot or vehicle traffic seems to be able to move outside our house at present.)

I have already uploaded the PDF version of THE NUGGET to the Wargame Developments website so that it can be read online or downloaded and printed.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Tuesday 27 February 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Cavalier 2018

One thing that I really regret about not making it to CAVALIER this year was the opportunity to see Mike Lewis and Anthony Morton running a PORTABLE WARGAME using 54mm-scale figures. Luckily Mike has written a blog entry about the game, and he has illustrated it with some excellent photographs.

As I wrote in a commented on his blog, 'I was struck by how similar the whole game looked to the battles fought by Joseph Morschauser, who was – of course – the inspiration for my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. Mike’s terrain and figures look beautiful, and I love the very simple but very effective trees and built-up areas. A truly inspiring wargame!'

Reading Mike's blog and seeing the photographs has certainly given my somewhat lagging spirits a bit of a lift, and when I begin feeling a bit better I hope to stage a PORTABLE WARGAME of my own.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mike Lewis.

Monday 26 February 2018

A great Saturday ... but an awful Sunday

Sue and I enjoyed our trip to Bristol. The hotel we stayed in on Friday night was excellent value, their restaurant produced some very good food, and we both slept well. On Saturday I went to the Masonic meeting – which I thoroughly enjoyed – and the after-meeting meal was one of the best I have ever eaten after a Masonic function.

Just after 4.00pm we left Bristol to return home, and the journey was only marred by the fact that I seemed to be developing a rather sore throat, my eyes were beginning to itch, and I kept feeling very hot or shivering. In fact by the time we arrived home just after 7.15pm, it was obvious that I was coming down with a heavy cold, and by I was asleep.

I was supposed to be going to the CAVALIER wargames show in Tonbridge on Sunday, but when I awoke on Sunday morning, I felt awful. The cold had developed overnight, and all I wanted to do was to stay still, keep warm, and not to venture outside into the freezing cold. Unfortunately we had to go shopping on Sunday morning for some food, and driving to the local shops and back confirmed my decision that going to Tonbridge was not a good idea.

Feeling unwell did give me the excuse to sit in from of the TV all afternoon and into the early evening watching THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN, A BRIDGE TOO FAR, and WHERE EAGLES DARE. It was almost as if the TV channel knew I was going to be ill and would need something to keep my fevered brain semi-active!

I did everything that one is supposed to do when one has a cold. I took aspirin to deal with the headache and to reduce the fever (I cannot take paracetamol as I am allergic to the substance they add to make you vomit if you take too many!), and I drank lots of fluids. It certainly relieved the worst of the symptoms, and by this morning I was feeling somewhat better. As I write – however – it is snowing outside, and before I can take it easy today I have to get the salt and shovel out of the garden store ... just in case I need to use it as the week progresses.

Saturday 24 February 2018

A busy weekend

I am paying a flying visit to Bristol today to see an old friend (and fellow wargamer) Installed as the Worshipful Master of his Bristol-based Masonic Lodge. The meeting will be followed by what we Freemasons call a 'White Table', which is a celebratory meal where non-Masons (usually wives, other family members, and friends) are invited. My wife has accompanied me to Bristol, and whilst I am in the meeting, she will no doubt be undertaking some retail therapy. She will be joining me for the 'White Table', after which we will drive back to London.

We could have stayed overnight in Bristol, but as the weather forecast isn't good (snow is predicted for Monday) and the CAVALIER wargame show is taking place in Tonbridge, Kent, tomorrow, we decided to drive back home to South East London tonight. With luck (and assuming that the weather is not too bad), I should be able to go to Tonbridge tomorrow ... where I hope to meet up with some of my fellow wargame bloggers, buy one or two items for my current projects, and see my PORTABLE WARGAME rules in action!

Looks like I am in for a busy (and hopefully very enjoyable) weekend!

Friday 23 February 2018

La Ultima Cruzada: Paperback and eBook editions

Since LA ULTIMA CRUZADA was published late last year, I've had several requests for both paperback and eBook editions.

Having given it some thought, I've decided to see how quickly and easily this could be done, and if it does not require too much work on my part, I hope to be able make them available in the near future.

Thursday 22 February 2018

Royal Arsenal Museum 2017: Smaller and Post-war ships

Whilst looking through the image files on my computer, I discovered that I had not finished sharing the photographs that I took last year during our visit to the Royal Arsenal Museum (or Tøjhusmuseet) in Copenhagen.

Lossen (Mine Vessel)

Tumleren and Hvalrossen (Torpedo Boats)

Daphne (D1) and Havmanden (H1) (Submarines)

Willemoes (Torpedo Boat)

Søløven (P510) (Fast Torpedo Boat)

Lommen (P567) (Fast Torpedo Boat)

Olfert Fischer (F353) (Corvette)

Peder Skram (F352) (Frigate)

Flyvefisken (P550) (Patrol Boat)

Narhvalen (S320) (Submarine)

Delfinen (S326) (Submarine)

Ingolf (F350) (Ocean Patrol Vessel)

Daphne (P530) (Patrol Boat)

Bopa (MHV90) (Coastal Patrol Craft/Home Guard Cutter)

Hjortø (MHV85) (Motor Minesweeper/Coastal Patrol Craft/Home Guard Cutter)

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Toy Soldier & Model Figure Magazine Issue 231

The most recent issue of TOY SOLDIER & MODEL FIGURE magazine contains an article by James Delson* about using his huge collection of 54mm figures to fight large-scale wargames.

He starts his article with the following statement:
Playing toy soldier wargames on a grand scale is one of the collecting hobby's greatest pleasures. Each step in the gaming process has its own rewards, ranging from the creation of opposing armies to setting them up in realistic environments across an expanse of floor, table or lawn, and then maneuvering a wide array of troops through the final goal of fighting out the ensuing battles.
I suspect that this resonates with quite a few wargamers, regardless of the size of figure that they use.

The article then goes on to describe how he set up a particular battle that involved 2,000 Barbary Pirates, North African mercenaries and European freebooters in a fortress taking on 6,000 British, American, and Bombay Marines, Highland infantry regiments, British infantry regiments, and a thousand-strong force of 'characters' called 'Harold's Rangers'. ('Harold's Rangers' include Cyrano de Bergerac, Harold Godwinson, Richard Sharpe, James Brooke, Zorro, Richard Francis Burton, and Horatio Hornblower to name but a few!)

The figures are mounted on wooden battens (a twelve-inch x one-inch batten can take twelve figures), four-inch square six-figure bases, or three-inch square two-figure bases which are moved around on twelve-inch square company bases. There are even larger twenty-four-inch square bases that can take four companies for use in very large wargames!

The article gives no indication as the rules that are used, but more information on that score can be found on The Toy Soldier Company website, where you can buy a copy of HAROLD'S RANGERS GAME RULES.

* James Delson is the owner of The Toy Soldier Company.

Tuesday 20 February 2018

A birthday present from an old friend

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and a good old friend of mine - Tony Hawkins - sent me a copy of GLADSTONE, GORDON AND THE SUDAN WARS: THE BATTLE OVER IMPERIAL INTERVENTION IN THE VICTORIAN AGE as a present.

The book was written by Fergus Nicholl, and is a reappraisal of the roles played by both men in the Sudan Crisis. As such it is a nice counterpoint to the generally accepted view that Gordon was the hero and Gladstone the villain, whereas the truth is not at all that cut-and-dried.

I am about halfway through reading this book, and I must admit that it has certainly given me pause for thought at times. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of the political situation in the UK at the time, and it would be ideal reading for anyone who ever wanted to take part in the SAVE GORDON! Matrix Game.

GLADSTONE, GORDON AND THE SUDAN WARS: THE BATTLE OVER IMPERIAL INTERVENTION IN THE VICTORIAN AGE was written by Fergus Nicholl and published by Pen & Sword Military in 2013 (ISBN 978 1 781 59182 6).

Coincidentally, General Charles Gordon was born in a house on Woolwich Common, ...

... and less than half a mile away in Whitworth Road is the site where Gladstone gave his last speech to his Greenwich constituents on 30th November, 1878. The site is now occupied by Eglinton Primary School, and a plaque commemorating the event ...

... is fixed to one of its walls.

Monday 19 February 2018

Nugget 306

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the magazine to me last night, and I plan to download it today, check it, and then take it to the printer by Wednesday morning. If everything goes according to plan and there are no delays, it should be printed and posted out to members of Wargame Developments by early next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the sixth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2017-2018 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

Sunday 18 February 2018

The current state of play

As far as sorting out the storage in my toy/wargames room is concerned, that part of the operation is now complete, and the room now looks like this:

(These photographs were taken starting at the door and going around the room in a clockwise direction.)

The next stage of the sort out will involve:
  • Going through each of the white-fronted draw units and sorting out what needs to be retained and what need to be disposed of;
  • Going through each of the stacked Really Useful Boxes and sorting out what needs to be retained and what need to be disposed of;
  • Re-arranging the contents of the white-fronted draw units and Really Useful Boxes so that it will be easier to find and access.
I am not sure how long this will take. For example, my Napoleonic collection is stored in quite a few of the Really Useful Boxes, and in their case all that is required is for them to be stacked so that each nationality is together. On the other hand, my World War II collection is spread between both types of storage and is rather jumbled up, and sorting that out is likely to be a long task.

I intend to take a few days break before I tackle this next stage as I know that the next issue of THE NUGGET will be due for publication very soon, and I need to make sure that I have the time to check it before taking it to the printer and sending it out to subscribers.

Saturday 17 February 2018

The end is in sight ... I think!

After several days of frustrating work (frustrating because I keep finding things and thinking 'I could use that for ...'), the end of this stage of the big sort out is finally in sight ... I hope!

With luck I should begin getting stuff back into place this morning, and by this afternoon I hope to be able to feel that I cannot do much more for the moment. I have identified stuff that I want to get rid of, and some of it already has a new home to go to. As to the rest ... well some might go to eBay and some might not. I hope to be able to make a list of the latter that I can share with my regular blog readers, and I would be willing to part with items for a reasonable price plus postage. Any proceeds will be used to fund present and future projects.

Thursday 15 February 2018

Getting there ... slowly

The big sort out continues.

What I had hoped would take a couple of days, looks like taking quite a bit longer, but the end result will be worth the effort. I should end up with a number of slimmed down collections that I will be able to access when I want to use them, and more space in my toy/wargames room. I have already identified stuff that I am going to dispose of by sale (probably via eBay) or donation to various needy wargamers, and this process will begin once the sort out is concluded.

The process of deciding what to keep and what to get rid of has given me a lot of time to think about the future direction of my wargaming ... and plans are beginning to come together in my head. These plans include:
  • Completing the renovation of my collection of pre-painted Del Prado 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures ... and writing a suitable set of PORTABLE WARGAME rules so that I can use them to fight campaigns and battles;
  • Rationalising my Colonial and nineteenth century figure collections so that they are compatible with one another (i.e. they use the same basing system and are the same scale);
  • Organising (and adding to) my rather eclectic World War II collection so that I can finally begin my long-planned for Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.
Because of the sheer scale of the latter project, I am giving serious thought to following the example of Zvezda and going for a hybrid collection where 1:100th and 1:87th-scale vehicles will be used alongside 20mm-scale figures and 1:144th-scale aircraft. This will no doubt upset some wargamers (i.e. those who pride themselves on the 'accuracy' of their wargames), but I see this project as being more of a higher-level, three dimensional board/map game than a traditional figure wargame, with the playing pieces representing battalions/regiments.

Tuesday 13 February 2018

The sort out continues

Because the space in my toy/wargames room is limited, trying to sort stuff out is rather like playing a three dimensional game of chess. You have to be thinking several moves ahead all the time otherwise you find that you have just stacked a load of stuff exactly when you need to go next.

At present I have three cardboard boxes of wargaming bits and pieces that are already allocated to be given to an old wargaming friend who has a use for their contents plus a black plastic sack full of rubbish that is going to be taken to the tip. I have also moved the jewellery cabinet to its new home, and have begun to transfer 15mm-scale figures from their current storage boxes into its draws. This has freed up some storage space for stuff that was difficult to get to, and has allowed me to identify several items that I no longer need and that will probably end up being sold on eBay.

Like so many things in life, this sort out is taking far longer than I expected ... but I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it should be finished by the end of the week.

Monday 12 February 2018

Finding somewhere for my 'donation'

I have spent part of the weekend reorganising my toy/wargames room so that I have somewhere to put the jewellery cabinet my wife 'donated' to me. It gave me the opportunity to begin having a bit of a sort out, and long-term it should make access to some of my figure collections easier than it has been. In the interim, however, things are a bit of a mess, and when the sort out is complete, it will take time to get used to where everything now is.

Having a sort out has also meant that I have identified parts of my various collections that I am not likely to use again, and they have been earmarked for disposal. It has also resulted in me 'finding' things that I had forgotten that I owned (including a box of Zvezda models that I bought when I visited the Artillery Museum in St Petersburg!) ... and which I will have little difficulty in finding a use for.

Sunday 11 February 2018

Small Wars: New Perspectives on Wargaming Counter Insurgency on the Tabletop

It seems to be my week for acquiring new books. On Friday the latest addition to John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project arrived ... David Wayne Thomas's SMALL WARS: NEW PERSPECTIVES ON WARGAMING COUNTER INSURGENCY ON THE TABLETOP.

I have known the author ever since he joined Wargame Developments many years ago, and he is a regular attendee (and session provider) at the annual Conference of Wargamers. As a result I have seen in operation (and taken part in) some the games featured in this book, and I can assure anyone who buys and uses the rules therein that they will enjoy some thought-provoking and well-designed games.

Besides a Foreword written by Brian Train (who is probably the foremost designer of counter insurgency board wargames), the books has six separate rules for COIN games:
  • Company Level Actions in the Early 21st Century: Boots on the Ground (by John Armatys)
  • An Isolated Outpost: Six Months in the Sahara
  • Soviet involvement in Afghanistan: Eight Years in a Distant Country
  • Counter-Insurgency in South West Africa
  • The Irish Troubles 1920-21: Flying Column
  • LBJ’s War 1965-68: Good Morning Vietnam!
The book also contains an extensive list of COIN games and rules as well as a five-page bibliography.

The book is published by the 'History of Wargaming' Project, and costs £12,95 plus postage and packing (ISBN 978 0 244 65183 1).

Saturday 10 February 2018

A birthday present to myself

It was my birthday earlier this week, an as a small present to myself I bought a copy of KURSK 1943: THE SOUTHERN FRONT by Robert Forczyk.

I already have the earlier KURSK 1943: THE NORTHERN FRONT by same author (which I thoroughly enjoyed), and seemed like a good idea to buy this companion book. I hope to read it over the next few days, and to get some inspiration for my long-planned Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.

KURSK 1943: THE SOUTHERN FRONT was written by Robert Forczyk and illustrated by Graham Turner. It was published by Osprey Publishing in 2017 as No.305 in their 'Campaign' series (ISBN 978 1 4728 1690 0).

Friday 9 February 2018

Miniature Wargames Issue 419

The latest issue of Miniature Wargames arrived a couple of days ago, and I have been reading it with interest.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Wargames by email – A tale of three games by Conrad Kinch
  • Hell by daylight: 20th Century skirmish rules: Part 2 by Jim Webster
  • The first action in Zululand: A scenario for use with Victorian Steel or Black Powder by Dave Tuck, with photographs by Malcolm Johnston
  • Portable Kriegsspiel: Turning the Portable Wargame into a whole different thing by Arthur Harman, with photographs by Bob Cordery(!)
  • Forks of the Ohio 1758: A conundrum to contemplate by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Diane Sutherland
  • Darker Horizons
    • Zombski: Planning a game for Hammerhead 2018 by Dave Tuck, with photographs by Malcolm Johnston
    • Fantasy Facts
  • The Victorio Campaign: 1870-1886: Part One: Apaches and Buffalo Soldiers by Robert Watt, with photographs by the author and Kevin Dallimore
  • Recce
  • Redoubt Regrets: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Lakeside property: Scratch-building lakes by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
So what did I particularly enjoy in this issue?

Well other than the obvious (i.e. Arthur Harman's Portable Kriegsspiel article, for which I supplied the photographs!), I enjoyed the second part of Jim Webster's Hell by daylight and Dave Tuck's The first action in Zululand. As usual Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch was well worth reading, as was Diane Sutherland's Redoubt Regrets.

In my opinion the last two issues have been particularly good, and it seems as if the editor has prevailed upon the publishers to allow him to produce a first-class wargame magazine.

I was amazed at how good my photographs looked when I saw them in this issue. I wish that I could claim that it was all down to my skill, but in truth John Treadaway must have done a lot of photo-manipulation to remove the shadows etc., caused by sunlight coming through the window blinds, and turn my humble efforts into something much, much better.

Thursday 8 February 2018

Oops! A minor mistake discovered!

Whilst creating a second chart to show my book sales, I realised that I had transposed the number of book sales for BROTHERS IN ARMS AND BROTHERS IN THE LODGE. The original chart should therefore have looked like this:

The second chart that I created showed the total book sales for each title, with each format in a different colour.

Although I like the simplicity of the first chart, it is getting rather crowded. As a result I think that I will switch to the second style of chart in future as it conveys the same information whilst allowing space for additional titles to be added as and when they are published.

My latest book sales figures ... and the experiment selling via eBay

The latest sales figures for my books arrived yesterday and I was glad to see that sales of THE PORTABLE WARGAME and DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME continue to be good, ...

... although I am a little disappointed that – according to their figures – Amazon hasn't sold a single copy of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA. This seems very odd as I know several people who have bought the book from them, and it has been reviewed by a verified purchaser. All I can assume is that their sales figures have yet to be sent on to and are at least a month in arrears. Hopefully next month’s figures will show that they have managed to sell some copies.

Last month I tried an experiment ... selling copies of some of my books myself via eBay.

The results were interesting. The single copy of LA ULTIMA CRUZADA sold quite quickly, as did the three paperback copies of DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME … but the two hardback copies of the latter book remain unsold.

This would seem to indicate that in future I ought to consider using eBay to sell a selection of the paperback editions of my books myself, but not to bother trying to sell the hardback editions.

Wednesday 7 February 2018

Soldiers of the Queen (SOTQ): Issue 169

The latest copy of SOTQ (Soldiers of the Queen, the quarterly journal of the Victorian Military Society) was delivered whilst on Saturday, and I finished reading it last night.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Burnaby's Deadly Weapon: A recent addition to the Household Cavalry Museum's collection by Christopher Joll
  • Guards Mounted Infantry in South Africa, 1901-02 by Dr Andrew Windrow
  • VMS Seminar: Invasions Scares and the 'Battle of Dorking'
  • Diehards commemorate Zulu War Hero
  • Alexis Soyer visits the British Military Cemetery at Haidar Pasha by Dr Mike Hinton
  • British Army General and Generalship, 1837-1902: A review of recent literature by Dr Harold E Raugh, Jr.
  • Book Reviews
  • About the VMS
Yet another issue that was full of interesting articles. As Frederick Burnaby is a particular hero of mine, the first article in this issue was of great interest to me, and the advertisement for the forthcoming seminar reminded me that I really ought to consider booking a place.

Monday 5 February 2018

A 'donation' from my wife

Some years ago my wife acquired a large jewellery cabinet, and since then it has sat on top of the chest-of-drawers in our guest bedroom. It proved popular with our cat, who liked to sit on it, watching our garden. Recently Sue decided to replace the cabinet with a newer storage system ... and kindly gave me the old cabinet.

The top of the cabinet lifts up ...

... to give access to a fixed tray (that is 33cm x 19cm x 3.5cm) which is divided up into several compartments by removable dividers.

The front has two doors that open to reveal seven drawers (each is 33cm x 16cm).

These are also divided up into compartments.

The four of the draws are 2.5cm high, ...

... and the other three are 3.5cm high.

This makes them very suitable for storing 15mm-scale figures ... and I am giving serious consideration to using to store my collection of Colonial figures. The only problem is that it is quite large and heavy, and I am not sure where I can put it in my toy/wargames room. That said, it is considerable more aesthetically appealing to look at than plastic boxes.

It is a minor – but not an unpleasant – problem for me to solve.

Sunday 4 February 2018

I've been reviewing the situation ...

Over the past week I've been spending a lot of time reading my 2008 to 2015 blog entries. I did this in the hope that it would help me to formulate my future plans ... and it has given my a lot to think about. One thing that stood out was the way in which the rules I currently use have evolved through a number of iterations. Another is the amount of fun I seem to have had fighting mini-campaigns.

I still have a few more blog entries to read through, but plans are already beginning to form in my mind. Whether they will ever come to fruition, I don't know ... but whatever happens, I intend to have as much fun as I can!

Friday 2 February 2018

I did it myself ... and it worked!

Early yesterday morning I set off to try to find the parts I needed to repair the broken toilet flushing system. The local plumbing supply shop didn't have what I needed, but did suggest a nearby plumber's merchant who might be able to help.

The second shop didn't have what I needed, but they gave me the name of their wholesale supplier and directions to their trade counter. They had exactly what I needed, and a little over ninety minutes after leaving home in my expedition, I was repairing the toilet flushing system.

So for once, I did do it myself ... and it worked!

Thursday 1 February 2018

Plumb duff

A may be many things, but when it comes to home maintenance, I am a bit of a duffer. Long ago I discovered that if a job required more than a hammer, screwdriver, or paintbrush, I was better to call in a qualified person to do the job rather than do it myself. On the few occasions when I have tried doing the latter, I've usually ended up having to get someone in to fix the mess I have made ... and it has cost me time, money, and a spell of bad temper.

We had a dripping tap in our bathroom, and after looking at it and realising that to replace the washer required pipe wrenches that I did not own, I contacted Homeserve, the insurance company who provide cover for our plumbing and water supply. They arranged for a plumber to call to fix the problem ... which he did yesterday afternoon.

About two hours after he had left, my wife was flushing the toilet in one of our two bathrooms when it stopped working. I was summoned, and discovered that a plastic rod in the syphon had broken in two. Now this is a job that requires no skill or special tools, so I removed the syphon assembly, found the two parts of the broken rod, and set off to buy a replacement.

I couldn't!

It appears that the syphon assembly is one made by a particular manufacturer, and that all the standard 'off the shelf' replacements don't quite fit. By the time I discovered this (after visiting several plumbing supply and DIY stores in our area) it was too late in the day to find a stockist of the part I need that was still open. On returning home a search on the Internet indicated that there is a stockist less than ten miles away, and as soon as the rush hour is over I am off the try to get the necessary part ... assuming that they have one is stock.