Tuesday 31 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: The Schleswig-Holstein War

Martin Smith has done it again, this time trying a tweaked version of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules to fight a battle set during the Schleswig-Holstein War.

He used ACW Confederate troops to represent the Danes, and ACW Union troops for the Prussians, and the battle was fought on a 10 x 10 squared grid. The grid was - in fact - a neutral-coloured table napkin or place mat which had suitably spaced embroidered lines on it to define the squares. I thought that this was a very clever idea, and one that other players might wish to copy.

The report is featured on the game's Facebook page, but as not everyone either has access to or wishes to belong to Facebook, I have shared some of the photographs of the battles below.

I thought that Martin's terrain was very effective, and he has produced yet another truly portable version of the game!

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Martin Smith.

Monday 30 March 2020

A Spanish Foreign Legion gorrillo

Besides collecting the flags of the places I have visited, I also collect hats. To date I have several Russian fur hats or ushankas, a number of budenovka (which were named after Semyon Mikhailovich Budyonny, a Soviet Army commander during the Russian Civil War, Polish-Soviet War and World War II), a variety of Russian pilotka side caps, and a Russian naval cap which has a top that looks large enough to land a small helicopter on!

During our visit to Malaga last month, I managed to buy a modern-day Spanish Foreign Legion gorrillo side cap, with its distinctive red hanging tassel, piping, and chinstrap.

It now forms part of my collection of hats as well as my collection of Spanish Civil War military memorabilia. The latter already includes a Spanish Civil War M1926 steel helmet (without its straps and liner) and a Spanish Civil War Victory Medal.

Sunday 29 March 2020

Postcards from Portugal

During our visit to Lisbon’s Museu Militar last month (was it really only six weeks ago that we were in Spain and Portugal?), I bought two packs of postcards. The first was a set that showed Portuguese uniforms that were worn during the Guerra Peninsular (Peninsular War) 1807 to 1814.

From the top left going clockwise: Cavalry trooper of Cavalry Regiment 11 (1806); Infantryman of Infantry Regiment 9 (1806); Gunner of Artillery Regiment 2 (1806); Officer of the Loyal Lusitanian Legion (1807-1808).
From the top left going clockwise: Infantryman of the Loyal Lusitanian Legion (1808); Infantryman of the 4th Battalion of the Beira Cazadores (1808); Cavalry trooper of the Royal Guard of Police Lisbon (1808); Infantryman of the Royal Guard of Police Lisbon (1808).
From the top left going clockwise: Cavalry trooper of the Portuguese Legion (1808-1813); Infantryman of the Portuguese Legion (1808-1813); Corporal of Infantry Regiment 24 (1813); Soldier of Cazadores Regiment 6 (1811).
The original pictures were a set of watercolours painted by General Bartolomeu Sezinando Ribeiro Arthur (1851-1910).

The second set showed Portuguese soldiers in the uniforms worn during the Campanhas Ultramarina (The Overseas Campaigns) 1961 to 1974.

From the top left going clockwise: Everyday bush uniforms; Brigadier in field uniform No.2, m/960; Flechas (Angola), Captain in field uniform m/964; African soldier wearing uniform m/934.
From the top left going clockwise: Walking out uniform No.2, m/964 shorts, long socks, and m/964 shoes; Sapper First Corporal wearing working uniform No.3 m/964 with m/964 boots; General wearing white m/966 uniform; Campaign uniform m/964.
The originals of these pictures were painted by Carlos Alberto Santos.

Saturday 28 March 2020

Probably the best book about colonial warfare in the world?

When I sat down to write the list of sources of inspiration that I wanted to include in my PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book, I gave some considerable thought to which one I would select as being the best ... and I decided that it was BATTLE IN AFRICA 1879-1914.

This was written by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennis, and published by Fieldbooks in 1987. The late Dr Paddy Griffith was the driving force behind Fieldbooks as well as being the series the editor, and this was one of two books that they published. (The other was BATTLE IN THE CIVIL WAR, which was written by Paddy Griffith and illustrated by Peter Dennis.)

My copy cost me £4.95, and became so well-thumbed that I eventually bought a second copy. The book has twenty-three sections:
  • Africa before Partition
  • The Scramble for Africa
  • Strategic Concepts
  • Collecting an Army
  • Command
  • Collecting Supplies
  • Strategic Mobility
  • Reconnaissance and Signals
  • March Security
  • The African Response
  • Closing with the Enemy
  • Tamai
  • European Battle Plans
  • African Battle Plans
  • African Leadership
  • The New Technology
  • The Power of Fire
  • Cold Steel
  • Horrible Disasters
  • Glorious Victories
  • Guerrilla Warfare
  • Siege Warfare
  • After the Battle
This book is a treasure trove of information, and Peter Dennis's illustrations compliment the text in a very effective way.

I understand that copies of the book can still be found on the second-hand market, and although it will cost a lot more than £4.95 to buy one, in my opinion it is (with apologies to Carlsberg) 'probably the best book about colonial warfare in the world'.

BATTLE IN AFRICA 1879-1914 was written by Howard Whitehouse and illustrated by Peter Dennins. It was published in 1987 by Fieldbooks (ISBN 1 869871 01 4).

Friday 27 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargames ... using 54mm figures

Whilst I've been concentrating on finishing my latest boo and getting the most recent issue of THE NUGGET distributed, other wargamers have been fighting tabletop battles using my rules. In the case of Tradgardmastare and Ross Macfarlane, these battles have been fought using 54mm-sized figures ... and mighty fine they looked!

Meanwhile in Maple Leaf Country... (Tradgardmastare)

I like the use of captions on the photographs. I's something that I've never tried myself with any success, but having seen these, I might have to think again.

Jazz Age Wargaming in Albion (Tradgardmastare)

I've always loved the interwar period, and the sight of the silver-finished fighter aircraft 'flying' over a battlefield filled with brown-clad soldiers reminded me just how long it is since I did any interwar wargaming.

Deeds Not Words! (Ross Macfarlane)

I actually had to look twice at the photographs of Ross Macfarlane's battle before I realised that he had used 54mm and not 20mm-sized figures. It shows that the rules can be used with larger scale figures on a normal tabletop ... something that I need to think about doing myself when the opportunity arises.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Tradgardmastare and Ross Macfarlane.

Thursday 26 March 2020

Nugget 325

NUGGET 325 has been uploaded to the Wargame Developments website and sent by email as an attachment in PDF format to every member for whom I have an email address. I am now in a position to post out the printed copy of NUGGET 325, thanks in no small part to the efforts of our printer and the fact that the Post Office is still functioning during the lockdown.

I usually take THE NUGGET to the printer so that we can make sure that there are no production problems, but on this occasion I sent the PDF file to them, and they were able to print it directly from that. That was on Monday morning, and I had arranged to collect it on Tuesday ... and then the government announced that the UK was going to go into lockdown, with the majority of the population expected to stay at home, and with only essential shops and services remaining open.

I sent an email to the printer asking them to keep NUGGET 325 until the crisis was over, and to ask if I could pay for the printing over the telephone. On Tuesday morning the printer telephoned me to explain that although the print shop was closed, they had several jobs that had to be completed before they stopped work altogether. These were going to be done that day, and that once the print shop closed down, they would deliver NUGGET 325 to my house. I thanked them profusely, paid for the work they had done by debit card, and at 5.30pm on Tuesday evening I took delivery of NUGGET 325.

It has now been put into envelopes, and once I have bought sufficient stamps, it will be posted out to members. I will have to wait until I go shopping somewhere close to a Post Office to post out those copies going to overseas members, but with luck that should be within the week.

Just a quick word about our printer. I have used a small, local printer to print THE NUGGET for over thirty years, and I have come to know the members of staff that I deal with very well indeed. When I first began using Macaulay Scott Printers, I dealt with the owner, Peter. At the time, the company was based in a much older building on the opposite corner of the road, but they moved to newer premises over twenty year ago.

Although Peter still works there, the day-to-day running of the company is now in the hands of his son, James, assisted by - amongst others - Dave. It is James and Dave that I deal with most regularly, and it was James who made sure that NUGGET 325 was printed and delivered to me. If you ever need a print job done, please consider using Macaulay Scott Printers. Their contact details are:
Macaulay Scott Printing Co. 142 Park View Road, Welling, Kent, DA16 1SR
Tel: 020 8304 3903/080 0092 4121 Fax: 020 8298 9123

Wednesday 25 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book ... is currently being printed!

My tried and very trusty proof reader did an astonishingly fast job, and sent the list of errors and corrections to me over the weekend. I made the necessary changes, and this afternoon I have uploaded the files to and requested printed proof copies. These should be arriving sometime in the next fortnight, and once I have checked them over, the book will be published.

It is going to appear in four different editions:
  • As a PDF (only available from costing £2.49
  • As a A5-sized black and white paperback (available from, Amazon, and other online book retailers) costing £9.49
  • As a US Trade-sized black and white dust jacket hardback (available from, Amazon, and other online book retailers) costing £19.49
  • As a US Trade-sized full colour casewrap hardback (only available from costing £24.99
I hope that this will cover all the main options potential purchasers will want, although I have not yet been able to produce an eBook edition due to ongoing software difficulties.

The cover will look like this:

As soon as the book is published, I'll make sure that my regular blog readers know!

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Nugget 325

I had hoped to collect the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer today, but the current lockdown that has been imposed by the UK government has made that impossible. However, the printer has promised to deliver it to my home this afternoon if it is at all possible. If this happens, and the Post Office is still functioning, I will post it out to members of Wargame Developments later this week. With luck, it should be with them by early next week.

I have also sent a PDF copy of this issue to every subscribing member of Wargame Developments for whom I have an email address. In addition, the PDF version of this issue has been uploaded to the Wargame Developments website as usual, and it can be opened using the password that was sent out to all members when they re-subscribed.

As I have previously stated, it is very likely that THE NUGGET will only be published in electronic format for the foreseeable future. When the current pandemic is over, printed copies of the 'missing' issues will be printed and sent out to full members so that their collections of printed NUGGETs will be complete.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2019-2020 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. 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.

Monday 23 March 2020


Our Prime Minister has just announced that the UK is effectively going into lockdown.

As from tonight, everyone who is not required to go to work to perform essential tasks must stay in their homes. Only shops selling food, pharmacies, banks, and post offices will be allowed to remain open, and individuals will only be allowed out:
  • To buy food (preferably only once a week)
  • To exercise once per day on their own or with members of their household
  • To get medical assistance or to care from someone
  • To perform essential work in the health services, the food supply network, and the utilities.
All gatherings of more than two people are banned, so no one can go to weddings, to christenings, to funerals (unless you are an immediate family member), to a place of worship (other than for a funeral), or to visit friends and family.

This will initially be for three weeks, but is very likely to last much longer.

To all my regular blog readers, may I hope that you can keep safe and keep well.

Nugget 325

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue to me over the weekend, and I have sent it to the printer. They have very little work on at the moment, and are running with a skeleton staff. As a result, they hope to print it later today and to have it ready for me to collect at some point tomorrow.

Assuming that there is not a total lockdown announced later today, I will endeavour to post THE NUGGET out as soon as I can BUT it is highly likely that this will be the last printed issue that will be appearing for some considerable time. In order to overcome this situation and to ensure that members still get their NUGGETs, I will be sending it (and subsequent issues) to all members via an email attachment. It will also be uploaded onto the Wargame Developments website. It is our intention that when the crisis is over, printed copies of the missing issues will be sent out by post.

If you have a spam filter on your emails, you might like to know that I will be sending the email from (Please remove the '-AT-' and replace with '@' if you have to add this email address to your list of permitted senders.)

Our message to all members is keep safe and keep well.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the seventh issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2019-2020 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you some time ago. 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.

Sunday 22 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book ... has gone off to be proof read!

I completed what I hope will be the last draft of THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book yesterday, and I have sent it off to be proof read. With luck, that should be completed by the end of the week, and then I can progress onto making the necessary correction before I can order a proof copy from

At present, the contents page looks like this:

As regular blog readers will have no doubt noticed, the contents of the book have evolved as I have written it. I've added a chapter explaining why I think that wargamers should try colonial wargaming, and what started out as a standard bibliography has morphed into a list of films, TV series, books, and sets of rules that I have found inspired (and continue to inspire) my interest in colonial wargaming.

Whilst I await the return of the annotated draft from my proof reader, I am planning to take a short break from colonial wargaming. I have the next copy of THE NUGGET to get ready for publication (the editor sent it to me last night) and I have some 20mm-scale vehicles that I would like to finish painting.

For those of you that are interested, the publishing process involves several stages once the text is ready.

Firstly, allocate the book an ISBN number, and once this has been added to the text, the text is uploaded to, who convert it into a format that is printable. At this stage the cover also has be designed.

Secondly, a printed proof copy must be ordered, printed, and delivered.

Thirdly, once the printed proof is approved, it can be signed off and made available to the public. The book will appear on sale via within a day or so, and then on places like Amazon usually within a fortnight.

Saturday 21 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book: The Battle of Al-Nahr

Yesterday I completed the second of the two battle reports that will be included in THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book, and here are a few taster photographs to whet potential readers' appetites:

The battle was generated by the simple Colonial campaign system that is also in the book.

I have one more chapter to finish as well as the selected bibliography ... and then the text will be ready for proof reading.

Thursday 19 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargames ... big and small!

At a time when it would be all too easy to feel that things are beginning to get on top of one, along comes some inspiring stuff to make one feel better.

At the recent Little Wars event organised by Mike Lewis, there were two Portable Wargames played using 54mm-scale figures ...

Rorke's Drift ... in 54mm-scale!
The Relief of Pippin Fort, Trumptonshire.
... whilst Peter McDonald is putting together a couple of 1:300th-scale Colonial armies in anticipation of my PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME rules being published.

Buildings and soldiers ... in 1:300th-scale!
A very nice river gunboat ... and some more buildings and figures!
I think that my regular blog readers will agree that the above show just how well the rules work in different scales.

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

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Salute 2020 has been postponed

The following has recently appeared on the South London Warlords webpage:
Salute 2020 Postponed

It is with deep regret that we must announce that Salute 2020, due to be hosted by the South London Warlords wargames club at London Excel on Saturday 18th April 2020, is being postponed.

The Club committee has taken this decision following the recent change in Government advice and with the likely ongoing uncertainty in mind. We understand that this will impact on many people, and therefore, as you can imagine, this decision has not been taken lightly or easily: we have balanced all the great things about Salute with the health risks to traders, gamers and attendees.

Salute will now take place on Saturday 17th April 2021.

We are in the process of contacting affected traders and gamers directly to discuss next steps.

All tickets bought so far will remain valid and we will reopen ticket sales nearer the time.

The South London Warlords remain committed to Salute, having hosted the show for over 45 years. With the support of our traders and attendees, Salute has become the biggest one-day independent wargame show in Europe and an important event within the wargamer's calendar: we are working hard to ensure it continues as such.

Most importantly we hope all you and yours remain safe in these challenging times.

South London Warlords

Tuesday 17 March 2020

I should have been to ... Portugal, Spain, and Gibraltar

This morning I should be driving to Southampton with Sue to go on a cruise on P&O’s MV Ventura ... but thanks to the current Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak, I'm not.

Where we should have been going aboard MV Ventura.
By the middle of last week, it was apparent that the likelihood that we would go was already in doubt, but once the Prime Minister announced that anyone who was over 70 years of age should not go on a cruise, that was it. Early on Friday morning P&O contacted us with a number of alternatives. These were:
  • Go on our cruise (with an additional £400.00 onboard credit) ... BUT with the possibility that our insurance cover would be invalidated with regard to Coronavirus/COVID-19 because of the government’s advice not to go or
  • Cancel our cruise and accept a 100% Full Cruise Credit that we can use to book another cruise by the end of 2021
After much deliberation, we decided to accept the second of the alternatives, and by Friday lunchtime our travel agent had processed our cancellation on P&O’s booking system. (We could have done this ourselves by telephone, but after sitting in a telephone queue for over an hour listening to terrible music interspersed with a message asking us to hold on, we gave up.)

On returning home, I then tried to contact the valet parking service to cancel our booking with them, but again I was put in a telephone queue which never seemed to shorten. In the end, I sent them an email as their terms and conditions stated that I had to give 48-hours notice of cancellation, otherwise they would keep all my money!

By midday on Saturday it was apparent that the ports we would have visited (Lisbon, Malaga, Barcelona, Cartagena, and Cadiz) were beginning to be closed to cruise ships ... and once the Spanish government made it clear that it was going to enact a total lock down, P&O announced that the cruise was going to be cancelled.

We already had several cruises booked for later in 2020, and on Saturday afternoon P&O contacted us by email to explain how we could cancel them, and what the financial settlement would be. The alternatives were:
  • A full refund of the money we had paid or
  • A Future Cruise Credit worth 125% of the value of the money we had paid
We returned to our travel agent and asked him to find out if the 125% Future Cruise Credit applied to the cruise we had cancelled on a Friday. After considerable persistence on his part (and several emails to P&O), they agreed ... although this involved un-cancelling the cancelled cruise so that a P&O could cancel it! (Apparently, P&O’s computer system could only apply the 125% Future Cruise Credit if they cancelled it, not the travel agent.)

As I had not had an acknowledgement to my email to the valet parking service, I tried to contact them to make sure that they had received my cancellation ... and discovered that their office only works normal office hours from Monday to Friday. I therefore sent a second email in the hope that I had managed to get my cancellation in before the deadline comes into operation.

On Sunday morning we paid yet another visit to our travel agent, this time to cancel our May cruise to the Mediterranean aboard MV Britannia.

Where we should have been going aboard MV Britannia.
In the end, after discussing it with him, we decided to hold fire and not to cancel as P&O were likely to cancel it themselves ... and might give us a better deal. We did - however - manage to book a replacement cruise for the one we should have been going on today. It is going to Venice in 2021 ... and was paid for using the 125% Future Cruise Credit we received as a result of today’s cruise being cancelled.

Where we hope to go to next year aboard MV Arcadia.
On Monday I received an email from the valet parking service informing me that our booking had been cancelled and our money refunded, so at least that is sorted out satisfactorily.

So, what do we have to look forward to? Certainly, no cruises this side of August (and possibly, not even then!) ... and since the latest government pronouncement, the prospect of being in some sort of purdah or having to 'socially distance' ourselves for the next two, three, or even four months.

Monday 16 March 2020

Coronavirus/COVID-19, Wargame Developments, and the Conference of Wargamers 2020

It is now apparent that the current pandemic is going to have a significant impact on life for all of us. In the light of this, we have decided on the following measures:
  • Until Knuston Hall informs us that they will not be able to host this year’s Conference of Wargamers (COW 2020), we will continue to plan for it to take place.
  • Bearing in mind the number of members who fall into the group who have been identified as vulnerable (i.e. those who are over seventy years of age and/or who have an underlying medical condition), anyone wishing to cancel their booking for COW 2020 may do so without penalty.
  • Anyone wishing to cancel their booking for COW 2020 will receive a full refund of all monies they have paid less the cost of being a member of WD for 2020-2021 (i.e. £25.00). Those wishing to cancel are asked to contact the Membership Secretary/COW Bookings Co-ordinator by letter to the address shown below or by email ( [Please replace the ‘-AT-‘ with ‘@’ when entering the email address.]
  • It is intended that THE NUGGET will continue to be published on a regular basis, but that it may be necessary to temporarily move over to an electronic format (i.e. PDF) rather than a printed format. Such a move would last for as long as is absolutely necessary, and it is hoped that a printed digest would be produced and distributed after the pandemic is over.
  • It may be necessary to move publication from nine-issues-per-year to once-per-quarter. This is because so much of the content of THE NUGGET is dependent upon COW.
We have not taken these decisions lightly, but we have done so in order to ensure the safety and well-being of our members and to secure the future of Wargame Developments. We may have to change the above in the light of future developments, and we ask for your forbearance in advance.

Finally, we hope that all of you and your families will remain safe and well during the pandemic.

Bob Cordery, Tim Gow, and Matthew Hartley

COW Refunds, 84 Eglinton Hill, Shooters Hill, London, SE18 3DY

Sunday 15 March 2020

Making a virtue out of a crisis

The Coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak is now having a very serious impact on life, and in ways that most people in Europe and North America are lucky enough never to have experienced before. Across Europe and in parts of the United States, areas are being locked down, with only the most essential journeys being allowed, and with certain age groups being encouraged - and in some cases, made - to stay at home. As a member of the over-70 age group, I fall into the 'advised to stay at home' category ... and if the news is to believed, I may even end up being ordered to stay indoors in isolation for up to four months!

In light of this, it is encouraging to see how other wargamers are looking at this as an opportunity to try something different. I've already been approached about the possibility of me taking part in two PBEM games, and I have had numerous requests to get my latest book published as quickly as possible so that wargamers who are confined in isolation can buy it and use the rules. Others are looking at this enforced break as a chance to get some of their lead mountain painted, and I understand that there has been an upsurge in interest in online gaming using Skype and WhatsApp as well as solo wargaming.

Whilst in no way do I want to downplay the deadly seriousness of this pandemic and the devastating effects that it will have on many, many people, one of the side effects does seem to be that wargamers are looking at different ways to enjoy their hobby. They are trying to make a virtue out of the crisis ... and if it helps them to cope with the situation, then it is no bad thing.

To all my regular blog readers, I have a simple message: keep safe ... and keep well.

Saturday 14 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book: The attack on Morobad

As the book will contain two complete sets of Colonial wargame rules, it will also contain two battle reports that show the rules in action.

The first of these is a re-fight of Joseph Morschauser's famous 'Attack on Morobad', which saw a British force attacking the Great Wall of Morobad.

Over the past few days, I've been re-fighting this battle and recording the events using words and photographs, and a selection of the latter are shown below to give some idea of what the wargame looked like.

I am about to start work on the second battle report, and will write about that in due course.

Friday 13 March 2020

Other people's Portable Wargames: Game boards

I never cease to be amazed by how users of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules have built game boards to use with the rules. Recently two examples have been featured on the game’s Facebook page, and I wanted to share images of them with my regular blog readers.

The first has been put together by Robert Lloyd, using 10mm-scale figures and an MDF board from Warbases.

The second has been constructed by Mike Lewis (the owner of Black Hat Miniatures, Imperial Miniatures, and The Dorset Model Soldier Company), and the completed board will be on show at SALUTE, where he is running a participation game using his 54mm-scale figures.

I particularly like the castle, the locomotive, and the railway rolling stock, which have all been constructed from MDF!

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

Thursday 12 March 2020

Coronavirus/COVID-19 and wargaming

Now that the UK is on the verge of moving from the ‘contain’ to the ‘delay’ stage of national response, the pandemic is beginning to have a significant impact on normal life. We’ve already seen some panic buying of antibacterial hand gel, face masks, pasta, and toilet rolls, the cancellation of a growing number of sports fixtures, and it looks as if large gatherings of people will be banned sooner rather than later.

So, what will the impact be on wargaming?

At present, SKIRMISH – a wargame show due to be held in Sidcup, Kent, next Sunday – is still due to go ahead, and as far as I know, SALUTE – which should be taking place in five weeks time – has not been postponed ... although I suspect that the likelihood that it will be is growing.

Luckily, wargaming does not depend upon shows to exist as a hobby. They are a nice opportunity for wargamers to get together, but because most of us wargame on our own or in small groups, we can carry on fighting our tabletop battles without them. We have a plethora of electronic means by which we can communicate with fellow wargamers, and I for one will continue to blog as long as I have something that I think is worth writing about and sharing with other wargamers.

I hope that all my regular blog readers manage to avoid contacting the virus, but if you are unlucky enough to do so, I hope that you make a full recovery as quickly as possible ... and that reading my blog helps to keep your spirits up.

Wednesday 11 March 2020

My latest book sales figures

Because I was away at the time my book sales figures were available on Lulu's website last month, I didn't manage to look at them in any detail. This month's figures have just been released, and my book sales look like this:

It was good to see that I have managed to break the 6,000 sales barrier, with paperback editions accounting for well over half of those sales.

With the publication of my next wargame book on the horizon, these figures have given me something to think about. It is my intention to publish THE PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME in hardback and paperback editions, but I am not sure whether to opt for an eBook edition or an PDF edition as well. What I am hoping to do is to be able to give anyone who purchases a hardback or paperback edition from Lulu a free PDF edition of the new book as a bonus ... but I am not sure if this is possible. I am currently waiting for a reply to an enquiry I have made to Lulu about this.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

Virgin Media is upgrading our broadband network today

We were notified a fortnight ago that Virgin Media would be upgrading the local broadband network today. They should be starting work very soon, and I am expecting to lose our connection to the Internet at any moment. I have no idea how long it will be before it is restored. That is very much in the lap of the Virgin Media Gods.

Monday 9 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame Book: Another progress report

Over the weekend I managed to get quite a lot of work done on the book (including adding a chapter on twentieth century Colonial wargaming), and the Contents page now looks like this:

The chapters or sections that are incomplete are shown in below in bold:
  • Introduction
  • Organising and basing units
  • ‘The Gatling’s jammed …’ Simple Colonial Wargame Rules
  • ‘The Gatling’s jammed …’ Simple Colonial Wargame Rules in action: The attack on Morobad
  • ‘The Widow at Windsor’ Colonial Wargame Rules
  • ‘The Widow at Windsor’ Colonial Wargame Rules in action:
  • Railways and Ships
  • A playing card-driven turn sequence
  • Heroic Leadership
  • A simple Colonial campaign system
  • A simple Colonial campaign system in action: More trouble in Zubia
  • A simple tabletop terrain generator
  • A simple tabletop terrain generator in action
  • Early twentieth century Colonial wargaming
  • Selected bibliography
  • Appendix 1: Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-85)
  • Appendix 2: Heroic Leadership cards
Completing the selected bibliography should not take very much time, but I will probably need a couple of days to draft each of the two battle reports.

Sunday 8 March 2020

Queen Anne commands ...

I was recently taken to task on Facebook when I quote the following:
Queen Anne commands and we obey.
O'er the hills and far away
I had made the quote in response to a photograph of the popular TV historian Lucy Worsley dressing up as Queen Anne for the third part of her recent series of ROYAL HISTORY'S BIGGEST FIBS. The person who took me to task pointed out that the words had been written by John Tams for the TV adaptation of the SHARPE stories, in which John Tams played Rifleman (later Sergeant) Daniel Hagman.

In actual fact, the tune is a traditional one, and the words that I (mis)quoted were from the version in George Farquhar's play THE RECRUITING OFFICER, which was written in 1706:
Our 'prentice Tom may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel Master's Shoes,
For now he's free to sing and play
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.

We all shall lead more happy lives
By getting rid of brats and wives
That scold and brawl both night and day –
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.

Courage, boys, 'tis one to ten,
But we return all gentlemen
While conquering colours we display,
Over the hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
What I had not realised was that John Tams had written specific verses for several of the episodes:
O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain.
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Eagle and Sharpe's Mission:
Here's forty shillings on the drum
To those who volunteer to come,
To 'list and fight the foe today
Over the Hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Company:
Through smoke and fire and shot and shell,
And to the very walls of hell,
But we shall stand and we shall stay
Over the hills and far away
For Sharpe's Enemy:
Though I may travel far from Spain
A part of me shall still remain,
And you are with me night and day
and Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Honour and Sharpe's Siege:
Then fall in lads behind the drum
With colours blazing like the sun.
Along the road to come what may
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Gold:
When Evil stalks upon the land
I'll neither hold nor stay me hand
But fight to win a better day,
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Battle:
If I should fall to rise no more,
As many comrades did before,
Ask the fifes and drums to play
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Sword:
Let kings and tyrants come and go,
I'll stand adjudged by what I know.
A soldier's life I'll ne'er gainsay.
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Challenge:
Though kings and tyrants come and go
A soldier's life is all I know
I'll live to fight another day
Over the hills and far away.
For Sharpe's Waterloo:
Old Wellington, he scratched his bum.
He says, "Boney lad, thee's had thee fun."
My riflemen will win the day
Over the hills and far away.

In defence of my misquoted version of the words, all I can say is that I know of a military Masonic Lodge in the UK where they sing George Farquhar's words at every after-meeting dinner, but with 'Queen Anne' added to them in place of 'The Queen'. I suspect that this has been done to avoid any confusion that the words of the song refer to our present monarch.

Saturday 7 March 2020

Problem solved ... but the cause wasn’t what I expected!

The Virgin Media engineer was scheduled to arrive between 4.00pm and 7.00pm ... and he actually arrived at 6.35pm. He introduced himself, and explained that he knew what had caused the problem before he had arrived as it was affecting the whole area! When I pointed out that the Virgin Media website was displaying the message ‘There are no problems in your area’, he apologised and admitted that Virgin Media was experiencing ‘a few problems’.

He then explained the cause of the problem and how they were working to solve it.

At approximately 2.00am on Wednesday night there had been a short power cut in the local area. Power was restored very quickly ... but it had knocked out the local Virgin Media exchange box. Because this was the original Videotron* exchange box that was installed in the late 1990s, and which used 1980s technology, it could not be restored remotely. Every connection had to be reset manually by a technician ... and he explained that he was about to do ours.

He then returned to the exchange box ... and ten minutes later he was back to check that the line was working ... and it was.

It is interesting to note that our landline is connected to the telephone network using what the technician described as being '1980s technology'. In other words, I live in the largest city in the UK, and if I want to use a landline telephone, I'm dependent upon equipment that is nearly forty years old! To make a probably inappropriate comparison, that is like trying to take part in the Battle of Britain in a Bleriot monoplane!

I suppose that the counter argument is that my generation (i.e. anyone born in the 1950s and earlier) tends to use landline telephones rather than mobile ones, and that the technology in use is sufficient for the job. The demands placed on it are reducing as the rest of the world moves over to mobile or wireless technology for its telecommunications, and that old stick-in-the-muds like me are getting as obsolete as the equipment we continue to use.

So, roll on the arrival of 5G ... then 6G ... and 7G etc., etc., etc. They will no doubt allow us to communicate more ... and say even less of value.

Here endeth the moan!

* Videotron is a Canadian company that won a licence in the late 1990s to install fibre optic networks in the UK. They supplied us with phone, Internet, and cable TV ... and then sold out to Cable & Wireless ... who sold out to NTL ... who then became part of Virgin Media.

Friday 6 March 2020

Problems with Virgin Media

At 2.00am yesterday morning the internal bell of our monitored burglar alarm began ringing. Sue and I were instantly awake, and in a matter of seconds I had gone downstairs to check why the alarm was sounding. The display was showing a handset symbol, which indicated that our landline connection was no longer functioning. I was able to reset the alarm, and went back to bed.

When I got up at 8.00am, I checked the landline and discovered that it was still not working. I checked that the handset was not at fault, and then tried to contact our service provider, Virgin Media. This proved somewhat difficult as they were experiencing a service outage across most of the south-east of England. (Sue discovered this when she attempted to contact P&O online about a forthcoming cruise, and was informed that their service provider – Virgin Media – was ‘experiencing difficulties’.)

At 5.15pm I finally managed to access the service test page on Virgin Media’s website. This enabled me to test our landline connection ... which appeared not to be faulty. I have therefore booked an engineer call, and they should be arriving between 4.00pm and 7.00pm today to sort the problem out.

We had the same problem in April last year, and they traced it back to the box where the incoming cable enters our house. On that occasion the engineer checked the connections and resealed the box ... and told us that it ought to be replaced.

It hasn’t been ... and I’ll be more than a little unhappy if the faulty box is the cause of the problem.

Wednesday 4 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book: A progress report

I have been working on the draft of the book, and I really feel as if I am fast approaching the home stretch of the race to finish it. At present I have completed the text of the sections and chapters of the book shown in below in bold:
  • Introduction
  • Organising and basing units
  • ‘The Gatling’s jammed …’ Simple Colonial Wargame Rules
  • ‘The Gatling’s jammed …’ Simple Colonial Wargame Rules in action: The attack on Morobad
  • ‘The Widow at Windsor’ Colonial Wargame Rules
  • ‘The Widow at Windsor’ Colonial Wargame Rules in action:
  • Railways and Ships
  • A playing card-driven turn sequence
  • Heroic Leadership
  • A simple Colonial campaign system
  • A simple Colonial campaign system in action: More trouble in Zubia
  • A simple tabletop terrain generator
  • A simple tabletop terrain generator in action
  • Bibliography
  • Appendix 1: Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (1842-85)
  • Appendix 2: Heroic Leadership cards
I still need to add appropriate images to some of the above, but my main task over the next week or so is to fight and record the two exemplar tabletop battles. I might also add an additional chapter that looks at how the rules can be adapted to fight from some of the Colonial wars that took place from 1900 to the late 1930s (e.g. the Mesopotamian campaign, the Third Afghan War, and the Second Italo-Abyssinian War).

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Other people’s Portable Wargame battle reports: American Civil War

Martin Smith has recent fought a couple of American Civil War battles using ideas from Alan Saunders' ECW variant of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules. (In fact, it was the same battle fought twice, with minor changes being made to the rules between the first and second battles.)

The report is featured on the game's Facebook page, and as not everyone either has access to or wishes to belong to Facebook, I have shared some of the photographs of the battles below.

I love the sheer simplicity of Martin's very effective terrain board, which is a repainted chessboard. It works very well with his micro-figures and terrain, and is a truly portable version of the game!

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Martin Smith.

Monday 2 March 2020

The Portable Colonial Wargame book: A campaign 'taster'!

I finished writing the scenario for the campaign that will be featured in the book, and as a 'taster' I thought that my regular blog readers might like to have sight of it.
The southern part of Zubia had always been problematic. It was economically unproductive, and its people lived by subsistence farming, herding cattle and camels, trading slaves taken from tribes living further south, and mounting occasional raids on some of the more prosperous areas of Zubia to the north.
The Zubian government had attempted to rule the area, but over the years its grip had weakened considerably, and in the end the garrison at Wadi Halfwa was abandoned and left to fend for itself. Most of the soldiers were recruited by the local Emir of Wadi Halfwa to become the backbone of his army, which he used to oppress the tribes living in the surrounding area and to protect his slaving activities from interference from other slavers.
The Zubians managed to maintain a small garrison in Abou Nasir, and the town was used as a base for the irregular tax collections that were levied on the hill tribes of Dendara, Adydos, and Dakla. Tax collectors set out on expeditions into the hills, but often either disappeared (presumably killed by the tribesmen or members of the Emir of Wadi Halfwa’s army) or returned barely alive with little or nothing to show for their efforts.
Matters would have continued like this had it not been for the impetuousness of SPOG (the London-based Society for the Propagation Of the Gospels) in sending the Reverend Noel Deedes to southern Zubia to ‘spread the word of Christianity amongst the heathens therein’. Accompanied by his sister – Miss Charity Deedes – he had set off down the River Zub to Abou Nasir, and thence by mule train to Dendara.
No sooner had he arrived there but he was seized and placed in chains, and then transported in an iron cage to Wadi Halfwa, where he was handed over to the Emir. Miss Deedes was also taken, and sent with her brother to Wadi Halfwa, where the tribesman hoped to sell her into concubinage. On seeing her, the Emir paid the tribesmen the price they wanted in Maria Theresa thalers, and she was swiftly incarcerated in the Emir’s seraglio.
Once news of this outrage reached the commander of the Britannic garrison in Zubia, he immediately communicated with his superiors. An outcry in the newspapers gave the government little alternative other than to mount a punitive expedition against the Emir of Wadi Halfwa in order to secure the release of the good Reverend and his sister.
I intend to play through and record the events of the campaign until it reaches the first battle between two sides.