Friday 30 November 2018

Nugget 313

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer yesterday and posted it out to members this morning.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you when the last issue of THE NUGGET for 2017-2018 was posted out. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Thursday 29 November 2018

Tsushima 1905: Death of a Russian Fleet

Last Friday – Black Friday! – Sue and I paid one of our regular visits to Bluewater, during which I visited the branch of Waterstones. As usual I scanned the display of book on the Osprey display stand and my eye was caught by TSUSHIMA 1905: DEATH OF A RUSSIAN FLEET.

Tsushima is a battle I've often read about, and after realising that it not only covered the course of the battle but also the events leading up to it, I bought a copy.

The book is divided into nine chapters and an index, arranged as follows:
  • Origins of the campaign
  • Chronology
  • Opposing commanders
    • Japanese
    • Russian
  • Opposing forces
    • The Imperial Japanese Navy
    • The Imperial Russian Navy
    • Orders of battle
  • Opposing plans
    • Japanese
    • Russian
  • The campaign
    • Opening days, 8 – 9 February 1904
    • Port Arthur blockaded, February – August 1904
    • The Battle of the Yellow Sea, 10 – 14 August 1904
    • Voyage of the Baltic Fleet, October 1904 – April 1905
    • Tsushima: the approach
    • Tsushima: the first day
    • Tsushima: the conclusion
  • Aftermath
  • The battle sites today
  • Further reading
  • Index

TSUSHIMA 1905: DEATH OF A RUSSIAN FLEET was written by Mark Lardas, illustrated by Peter Dennis, and published in 2018 by Osprey Publishing (ISBN 978 1 4728 2683 1) as part of their Campaign series (No.330).

Tuesday 27 November 2018

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: The last battle is progressing well

Although it is taking me longer than I expected to fight through the last battle that will be featured in my book, it is getting towards its climax.

As I won't be writing a battle report for this blog (it will be featured in detail in the book) the following photographs will give some idea of how it is progressing.

Monday 26 November 2018

Nugget 313

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue to me on Sunday afternoon and I will be taking it to the printer later this morning. It should be ready for me to collect by Thursday and that should enable me to post out to members by the weekend.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2018-2019 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you when the last issue of THE NUGGET for 2017-2018 was posted out. If you wish to re-subscribe using the PayPal option on the relevant page of the website, you can use the existing buttons as the subscription cost has not changed.

Saturday 24 November 2018

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame book: The last battle

I am just about to start fighting the last exemplar battle that will be featured in my book. It will see a French Corps ...

... taking on an Allied Corps ...

... somewhere in southern Belgium.

Friday 23 November 2018

Apparently, it's Black Friday ... whatever that is

When I woke up this morning and sat down to write some more of my PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book, I had no idea that I was going to be constantly interrupted by emails about 'Black Friday'. Every couple of minutes my computer informs me that I have yet another email offering me this or that at a discounted, one-day-only price. The problem is that every time one of these messages appears in the bottom right-hand side of the screen, it stops MS Word from processing what I am typing until I acknowledge or reject the email notification. Furthermore, I cannot seem to find the right setting to stop this from happening!

I understand that 'Black Friday' is an import from the united States, and is the equivalent of what used to be known as the 'Boxing Day' sales in the UK. In other words, the day after a national holiday when people are not at work (except – of course – those people who work in retailers) and have time on their hands to find 'bargains' in the shops. In the context of the United States, I can see the sense of having 'Black Friday' today ... but we don't celebrate 'Thanksgiving' in the UK ... yet. (I suspect that like trick-or-treat at Halloween, it will gradually be imported because the UK retailers like a reason to sell people stuff that they are convinced that they need, but don't.)

The concept has even spread to some eBay users. At present Sue is selling some bits and pieces at a 'Buy Now' price on eBay, and this morning we had an 'offer' from a potential purchaser who wanted a 33% discount. When they were sent a counter-offer of a 15% discount, they rejected it and asked why we were not taking part in 'Black Friday' and having a sale!

I have given serious thought to going back to bed, pulling the duvet over my head, and staying there for the rest of 'Black Friday'. Unfortunately, I cannot do that as I have been told that we have to go and do some shopping ... so it looks as if I am not going to be able to avoid 'Black Friday' after all.

Whilst I was writing this blog entry, I got an email from a certain large retailer of white goods offering me a new tumble dryer at a 'Black Friday' price ... which was £10.00 more than I paid for the same model tumble dryer a fortnight ago!

Thursday 22 November 2018

The Portable Napoleonic Wargame book: A progress report

My PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book continues to grow in length, but I think that the end is now in sight and I hope to finish it by Christmas.

At present the book has ten chapters, four sets of rules, three exemplar battle reports, four appendices, a bibliography, and over one hundred illustrations.
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • My first step: Modifying Joseph Morschauser’s rules
  • Organising and basing units
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Brigade rules
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Brigade rules in Action: The Battle of Porter's Ridge
  • Division vs. Division battles
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Division rules
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Division rules in Action: The Battle of Helmstedt
  • Corps vs. Corps and larger battles
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Big Battle rules
  • The Portable Napoleonic Wargame: Big Battle rules in Action: The Battle of Twee Heuvels
  • After the Napoleonic Wars
  • Appendix 1: Playing card-driven unit activation mechanisms
  • Appendix 2: Grading commanders and units, and adding a bit of personality
  • Appendix 3: Alternative Terrain Maps
  • Appendix 4: Order Counters
  • Bibliography

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Silver State Dreadnought

There are several types of history books about ships. There are the technical histories, where the book details the reasons why a particular ship or class of ships was built, and then explains the design and building processes that were undertaken to turn the initial idea into reality. There are operational histories, which detail where a ship served during its career, usually (but not exclusively) concentrating upon the battles and campaigns it may have taken part in. And then there are the social histories, which tend to concentrate more on the people who served in a ship and how their lives were affected by that service.

SILVER STATE DREADNOUGHT: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF BATTLESHIP NEVADA combines elements of all three of these types of books about a ship, and does so in a very informative and extremely readable style. As one reads it, it soon becomes very obvious that this is a labour of love that could only have been written by someone who has done considerable research, and whose knowledge of the story of the USS Nevada - the first of the US Navy's super-dreadnoughts – is second to none.

One particular aspect of this book made it stand out for me ... everything was contextualised. For example, when Nevada was modernised in the late 1920s, it was done within the limits of the Washington Naval Treaty. Rather than just leave matters like that, the author explains in a clear and succinct manner the background to the treaty and why the US Navy decided to rebuild and modernise ships that were already well over ten years old. Likewise, the impact of the growing tension with Japan is covered by looking at the various Fleet Problems that took place in the run up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

When I had finished reading this book, I came away with a much better understanding of not just the life and story of one particular warship, but also of the US Navy during the early part of the twentieth century. It is a book that should appeal to a wide range of readers, from the specialist to the novice, and I thoroughly recommend it.

The book is 320 pages long, has fifteen chapters ...
  1. Building a Better Battleship
  2. Trials at Sea
  3. The Great War
  4. Battleship Diplomacy
  5. The Great Cruise
  6. Rebirth
  7. Fleet Problems
  8. Oranges and Chrysanthemums
  9. Pearl Harbour
  10. Back in the Fight
  11. The Atlantic: D-Day and Southern France
  12. The Pacific: Iwo Jima
  13. The Pacific: Okinawa
  14. Operation Crossroads
  15. Death of a Warrior
... and numerous previously unpublished black and white photographs..

SILVER STATE DREADNOUGHT: THE REMARKABLE STORY OF BATTLESHIP NEVADA was written by Stephen M Younger and published in 2018 by the Naval Institute Press (ISBN 978 1 68247 289 7).

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: More English Civil War!

Kaptain Kobold has been fighting more English Civil War battles, this time the 1643 Battle of Newbury (NEWBURY 1643).

I hope that once he has the rules exactly the way he wants them, Kaptain Kobold will allow me to publish them.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Kaptain Kobold.

Monday 19 November 2018

The latest Erast Fandorin book has been published,

I've been a fan of Boris Akunin's Erast Fandorin books since the first was published in English in 2003. I've bought and read each new book as it has been published, and the most recent – BLACK CITY – was published last week and delivered by Amazon on its publication date.

The story is set in Baku, and revolves around Fandorin's investigation into the assassination of Tsar's Head of Security. I have yet to finish reading this book, but it has all the usual hallmarks of a Fandorin story, and I am sure that other readers will enjoy it as much as I have.

Each of the Fandorin books is written in a different genre. The names, dates of publication in English, and the genre are shown below:
  • THE WINTER QUEEN (2003): A conspiracy mystery
  • THE TURKISH GAMBIT (2005): A spy novel
  • MURDER ON THE LEVIATHAN (2004): Agatha Christie-type mystery
  • THE DEATH OF ACHILLES (2005): a hired killer mystery
  • SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS (two novellas published together) (2007)
    • THE JACK OF SPADES: A novella about confidence men
    • THE DECORATOR: A novella about a maniac
  • THE STATE COUNSELLOR (2009): A political mystery
  • THE CORONATION (2009): A high society mystery
  • SHE LOVER OF DEATH (2009): A decadent mystery
  • HE LOVER OF DEATH (2010): A Dickensian mystery
  • THE DIAMOND CHARIOT (2011): An ethnographic mystery

BLACK CITY was written by Boris Akunin, translated into English by Andrew Bromfield, and published in 2018 by Weidenfeld & Nicholson (ISBN 978 1 4746 0443 7).

Sunday 18 November 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Some more English Civil War battles

Kaptain Kobold has been keeping the PORTABLE WARGAME flag flying high in Australia, and has recently fought two more English Civil War battles.

The first was the 1642 Battle of Southam (PORTABLE SOUTHAM) ...

... and the second was the 1644 Battle of Cheriton (CHERITON 1644 - A PORTABLE WARGAME DEMO).

The latter took place at Wollongong Library as part of a Games Day to celebrate International Games Week, and Kaptain Kobold kindly took along a copy of my PORTABLE WARGAMES book (amongst others) to illustrate his game.

It's thanks to people like Kaptain Kobold that my rules have become so popular, and its one of my regrets that I am very unlikely to ever meet him and thank him personally.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Kaptain Kobold.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Shrouds of the Somme

Yesterday Sue and I went to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, to have a look at the SHROUDS OF THE SOMME installation.

This work of art was the brainchild of artist Rob Heard, who has made a clay model of every British Commonwealth serviceman who was killed during the Battle of the Somme and for whom there is no known gave. Each model has been wrapped in a hand-stitched shroud.

Rob began work on this installation in 2013 after he suffered injuries to both hands during a car accident. He originally planned to make 19,240 figures, one for each soldier killed on the first day of the battle, and these were displayed in Exeter on the one hundredth anniversary of that first day. They were subsequently displayed in Bristol in 2016 ... and then he began work on making more figures, one fore each of the men named on the Thiepval Monument. With the help of Jake Moores and Mel Bradley, he managed to complete the 72,396 figures in time for the centenary of the Armistice.

Yesterday was cold and damp, with low grey clouds blotting out any sunshine. We arrived at Stratford not long after 10.30am, and reached the section of the park where the figures were on display just before 11.00am. There were several school parties visiting the site as well and numerous middle-aged and elderly people, and the only sound that could be heard was the voice of a volunteer who was reading out the names of the dead in alphabetical order.

The sheer scale of the installation was quite breathtaking, as the following images show.

Some of the figures had been decorated with poppies and others with African marigolds, the latter to commemorate the Indian soldiers who were numbered amongst the dead.

Adjoining the main display was a section where there was a single shrouded figure for each day of the war. At the head of each was a small wooden notice which stated how many men were killed on that day, and at various locations there were further notices that recorded the dates of the major battles.

At the end was a single figure with the number of men who died of their wounds after the war had ended on its notice ...

... and then one last figure and notice that showed the total number of dead.

This whole display, which also included a number of wreaths, ...

... was a very sobering sight to see, and this was further reinforced by a series of boards that were in the marquee by the exit. These recorded in alphabetical order the name of every single man whose name is inscribed on the Thiepval Monument.

SHROUDS OF THE SOMME will remain in place until 18th November, and can be seem in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford.

Friday 16 November 2018

More progress with my Portable Napoleonic Wargame book

I've recently finished fighting the exemplar battle that will (hopefully) explain how the PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME: DIVISION rules work. The result of the battle was by no means a foregone conclusion, but as in all battles, events reached a point where one side suddenly began to lose ... and lose quite badly they did.

The following photographs will hopefully give my regular blog readers a taste of how things went:

I'm now going to take a short break from work on my book, but I hope to begin writing again early next week.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th November 1938

The International Brigades paraded through Barcelona before they were disbanded.

The International Brigades parade through the streets of Barcelona prior to their repatriation. Many members remained in Spain and continued fighting within the ranks of the Republican Army.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Miniature Wargames Issue 428

Just as I seemed to have finished reading the last issue, the latest issue of Miniature Wargames arrived in the post ... and I've just finished reading it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: Geography is destiny: A collection of thoughts on terrain by Conrad Kinch
  • Show Report: Tabletop Gaming Live 2018 by John Treadaway, with photographs by John Treadaway, Michael Douglas, and Richard Hallam
  • Child's Play: Forays into wargaming with a six year old by Dr Richard Sly
  • Havelock at Aong: India – July 1857 by Jon Sutherland, with photographs by Joe Dever
  • Show Report: SELWG 2018 by John Treadaway
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • Utúlien'n Aurë!: The day has come! First Middle-earth Elven cavalry conversions by Graham Green, with photographs by John Treadaway
    • Alien Worlds: Skirmish level simple SF rules by Neil Goodacre, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Send a gunboat: A load of old junks ... by Dave Tuck, with photographs by Malc Johnston
  • Simple sword play: Developing a minimal set of rules by Allan Tidmarsh
  • Recce
  • Trench warfare: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • The numbers game: In support of numerical superiority in games by Matt Moran, with photographs by John Treadaway
  • Club Directory
There was a little less sci-fi and fantasy in this issue, which to someone with my tastes was no bad thing. I particularly enjoyed Jon Sutherland's Havelock at Aong (anything colonial always goes down well with me!) and it was nice to see a new name - Allan Tidmarsh - amongst the contributors.

One item not mentioned above did strike me, and that was an advert for a 'Miniatures Editor' to work alongside the editors of both Tabletop Gaming and Miniature Wargames. I am hoping that this is being done to relieve John Treadaway and his opposite number as Tabletop Gaming of part of their workload and is not an early indicator that both magazines will end up being amalgamated ... a rumour that I have heard from more than one source.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Progress with my Portable Napoleonic Wargame book

After a period of hiatus when I just could not seem to get the motivation to do any substantial work on my PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME book, I'm finally back in the swing and have been fighting the second exemplar battle that will be featured in the book.

Here are some of the images I intend to use:

The battle is now reaching a stage where both sides will begin fighting each other in earnest, and I hope to write a further, illustrated blog entry about it later this week.

Monday 12 November 2018

My latest book sales figures have recently compiled my latest book sales figures.

Yet again, there are no drastic changes this month, with sales of the various PORTABLE WARGAME books steadily continuing to grow.

Sunday 11 November 2018

'At the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month ... ': One hundred years on

I was born in February 1950, only just over thirty-one years after the Armistice came into force. As a child I can clearly remember the ever-dwindling group of ex-soldiers who had served in the ‘Old Contemptibles’ lead the march past the Cenotaph in Whitehall every Armistice Sunday. I can remember the old men (many of whom were younger than I am now!) who had empty sleeves or missing legs who one saw on our streets. Even my sixth-form mathematics teacher – Mr Cramp – had served as a subaltern on the Western Front during the latter part of the Great War.

They are now all gone … and today we will remember them.

My parent’s generation took part in the Second World War. My father served in the 6th Airborne Division during the campaign to liberate Europe and then went to Burma to help train the newly-formed Burmese Army, who were already fighting the ‘new’ enemy, Communism. My mother remained in the UK and worked as an airbrush artist for a film company, and both lived through the London ‘Blitz’ and – in my mother’s case – the V1 and V2 attacks. In the year I was born, young men from many nations went to Korea to fight the ‘new’ enemy … and like those who took part in the Great War, their generation is slowly but surely diminishing year on year.

They will soon be gone … and today we will remember them.

My generation – and the generations that have followed – have taken part in conflicts across the world as well as faced the dangers of terrorism within the United Kingdom. They have done their best to protect others and to keep the peace, sometimes in circumstances where their enemy did not always wear a uniform and looked just the same as their friends.

They are still with us … and today we will remember them.

This Armistice Sunday marks the end of the Great War, the war that people hoped would be the ‘war to end wars’. It wasn’t … and the wars and conflicts that have followed have shown that the world does not yet seem ready to stop using war to sort out its differences. It is on this day that I – as a wargamer – particularly remember the words of H G Wells in the last chapter of his seminal book, LITTLE WARS, which was published the year before the Great War broke out.

I could go on now and tell of battles, copiously. In the memory of the one skirmish I have given I do but taste blood. I would like to go on, to a large, thick book. It would be an agreeable task. Since I am the chief inventor and practiser (so far) of Little Wars, there has fallen to me a disproportionate share of victories. But let me not boast. For the present, I have done all that I meant to do in this matter. It is for you, dear reader, now to get a floor, a friend, some soldiers and some guns, and show by a grovelling devotion your appreciation of this noble and beautiful gift of a limitless game that I have given you.

And if I might for a moment trumpet! How much better is this amiable miniature than the Real Thing! Here is a homeopathic remedy for the imaginative strategist. Here is the premeditation, the thrill, the strain of accumulating victory or disaster – and no smashed nor sanguinary bodies, no shattered fine buildings nor devastated country sides, no petty cruelties, none of that awful universal boredom and embitterment, that tiresome delay or stoppage or embarrassment of every gracious, bold, sweet, and charming thing, that we who are old enough to remember a real modern war know to be the reality of belligerence. This world is for ample living; we want security and freedom; all of us in every country, except a few dull-witted, energetic bores, want to see the manhood of the world at something better than apeing the little lead toys our children buy in boxes. We want fine things made for mankind – splendid cities, open ways, more knowledge and power, and more and more and more – and so I offer my game, for a particular as well as a general end; and let us put this prancing monarch and that silly scare-monger, and these excitable "patriots," and those adventurers, and all the practitioners of Welt Politik, into one vast Temple of War, with cork carpets everywhere, and plenty of little trees and little houses to knock down, and cities and fortresses, and unlimited soldiers – tons, cellars-full – and let them lead their own lives there away from us.

My game is just as good as their game, and saner by reason of its size. Here is War, done down to rational proportions, and yet out of the way of mankind, even as our fathers turned human sacrifices into the eating of little images and symbolic mouthfuls. For my own part, I am prepared. I have nearly five hundred men, more than a score of guns, and I twirl my moustache and hurl defiance eastward from my home in Essex across the narrow seas. Not only eastward. I would conclude this little discourse with one other disconcerting and exasperating sentence for the admirers and practitioners of Big War. I have never yet met in little battle any military gentleman, any captain, major, colonel, general, or eminent commander, who did not presently get into difficulties and confusions among even the elementary rules of the Battle. You have only to play at Little Wars three or four times to realise just what a blundering thing Great War must be.

Great War is at present, I am convinced, not only the most expensive game in the universe, but it is a game out of all proportion. Not only are the masses of men and material and suffering and inconvenience too monstrously big for reason, but – the available heads we have for it, are too small. That, I think, is the most pacific realisation conceivable, and Little War brings you to it as nothing else but Great War can do.

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.

Dedicated to the memory of all those who died in the Great War and in all the wars and conflicts that have taken place since then.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: More Epic 40K and World War II ... with some English Civil War and Colonial action as well!

Like buses, you wait a long time for a PORTABLE WARGAME battle report ... and then a whole load of them come along together!

Kaptain Kobold fought another EPIC 40K battle (ORK VS GUARD REPLAYED) ...

... and followed it with another PORTABLE WARGAME battle (MORE ECW PORTABLE WARGAMES), this time set during the English Civil War.

Geordie an Exile FoG re-fought the Eastern Front scenario from the PORTABLE WARGAME book, and his battle report comes in three parts, THE PORTABLE WARGAME BOOK WWII EASTERN FRONT BATTLE (PART 2) – RE-FIGHT I "OPENING MOVES", ...



Finally, Little Wars Revisited fought another Zulu War battle (ANOTHER ZULU WAR PORTABLE WARGAME) using 54mm-scale figures.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Kaptain Kobold, Geordie an Exile FoG, and Little Wars Revisited.