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Sunday, 29 November 2020

And so it begins ...

I have to go to hospital this morning to have a COVID-19 test as part of the preparation for my forthcoming surgical operation. Once I've had the test, I will be going into isolation (or purdah) until Wednesday, which is when my operation is scheduled to take place.

During my isolation, I have to begin preparing for my admission to hospital. Until I go in, I have to use a special antiseptic body-wash when I take a shower, taking care not to wash off the markings that have been drawn on my stomach area by the stoma nurse. On Tuesday I will have to begin a programme of drinking specially fortified health drinks as well as self-administering an anticoagulant by injection at lunchtime (something that I am NOT looking forward to!) and an enema early in the evening (again, something that I am not looking forward to doing).

I will have to try to be in bed early on Tuesday night as I will have to self-administer a second enema at 6.00am on Wednesday morning, prior to getting to the hospital by 7.30am for my pre-op session with the anaesthetist at 8.00am. Assuming everything has gone without a hitch, I should then have my operation that morning.

None of the above is – as far as I can tell – normal pre-Covid-19 procedure, but is due to the current pandemic. The medical professionals want to ensure that patients undergoing surgery spend as little time in hospital as possible, as this should reduce the possibility of COVID-19 infection and to ensure that beds are occupied by patients for as short a time a necessary. Hence the reason why I won't be going in the day before I have my operation to have the anticoagulant injection and enemas.

This all seems a bit strange to me, but I suspect that this is going to be part of the 'new normal' that we are going to live with for the foreseeable future.

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Nugget 331

I collected the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer yesterday morning, and posted it out to members of Wargame Developments that afternoon.

I had already uploaded the PDF version to the Wargame Developments website, and it can be downloaded and read online using the password that was sent to all members when they resubscribed.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you. 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.

Friday, 27 November 2020

Amazon KDP publishing and distribution: Some anomalies

I suspect that like a lot of people, I had the impression that Amazon was a monolithic organisation that had its tentacles pretty well everywhere ... but I have recently discovered that this is not true.

When I published THE PORTABLE PIKE AND SHOT WARGAME book in paperback and Kindle editions, I assumed – wrongly, as it turned out – that it would be sold by Amazon worldwide. In fact, although this is true for the Kindle edition, the paperback edition cannot currently be bought online in quite a few countries. The following table shows where the paperback and Kindle editions can (indicated by a tick) and cannot (indicated by a blank space) be bought.

Whereas I suspect that sales of the book will not be particularly high in most non-European countries, the anomaly that the paperback cannot be bought online across the globe is something that I hope to address. To this end, I have ordered the printing of several 'author's copies'. When they arrive, I intend to sell them direct to those purchasers who are currently unable to buy the paperback in the country where they live. I am not sure how I will do this, but it will probably involve purchasers emailing me a request and me responding with an invoice that – once paid – will result in the book being posted to them.

All of this will, however, have to wait until I have had my forthcoming operation. In the meantime, I ask those potential purchasers to remain patient.

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Reflecting on my recent wargame

My recent wargame about the assault on Fortine Olivaro has given me cause to have a re-think about one or two things.

Firstly, using the small dice and dice holders to record each unit's current Strength Point Value (SP) was easier that trying to keep a manual written tally, and is something that I will probably now adopt as standard for my future wargames. I may even resurrect an idea I had some years ago about using a couple of knitter's stitch counters to keep a tally of each side's losses.

A pair of knitter's stitch counters. These can be bought in most specialist haberdashery, sewing, knitting, or craft shops.

Secondly, the size of the grid (which was a 6 x 8 hexed grid) did not restrict me as much as I had expected. I deployed the game equivalent to three infantry divisions plus a tank unit in a space that was smaller than the 8 x 8 square grid I used for the final battle of my recent Operation Barbarossa play-test campaign ... and yet the latter felt much more crowded. Perhaps I ought to think small rather than trying to 'go large' for my much-planned, long-term Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project.

Thirdly, I preferred using the multi-figure bases of small 15mm-scale Peter Laing figures in preference to the single 20mm-scale figure bases I used in my recent Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War play-test mini-campaign*, and I am wondering if I ought to re-examine my original decision to go down that route. This was reinforced by my re-reading of the battle reports from my A WINTER-ISH WAR mini-campaign, the Morschauserland vs. Eastland battles I fought back in the late Summer of 2015# using Martin Rapier's and my own versions of Neil Thomas' ONE HOUR WARGAMES rules, and the earlier Barbarossa Mini-campaign I fought in early 2015~. The multi-figure bases worked well in all those games, and looked no worse (and in some ways looked better) than the single figure bases I have used more recently.

So, where do I go now? That is something that I have to think a bit more about before making any changes that will be difficult to undo in the future. I may experiment a bit with basing some of my 20mm-scale figures onto multi-figure bases to see what the end result looks like ... but whatever I do, I am not going to rush into it in a burst of misplaced enthusiasm that I will live to regret.


* Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War play-test mini-campaign battles included:

# The Morschauserland vs. Eastland battles included:

~ The Barbarossa Mini-campaign battles included:

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

The Portable Pike & Shot Wargame ... has been published!

I understand that both the printed and Kindle editions of THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book have been published, and are now available to buy from Amazon.

The printed, colour, paperback is on sale for £14.99, and the Kindle edition is available for £4.99. The former should be printed and delivered to Amazon Prime members by Sunday 29th November, and the Kindle edition is available for immediate download.

This took less time that Amazon KDP told me it would, and I was somewhat surprised to find that both editions were already on sale, especially as I was still revising the cover for the Kindle edition yesterday!

One of the anomalies that arises from using Amazon KDP is that as the editor/publisher, I have to wait in line for my copies of the printed book to be delivered. Lulu.com would not let a book be released for publication until I had ordered at least one copy, but Amazon KDP seems perfectly happy to do so as long as I have reviewed the book online in each edition. This means that the contributors and myself will probably not have a copy of the book until some time after it has been read by members of the paying public.

Regardless of this, the book is now on sale, and I have managed to achieve the goal of getting it finished and published before Christmas. I have a feeling that there will be several copies being bought as Christmas presents ... either to 'give' to oneself or to give to a member of the family to 'give' back on Christmas Day!

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A provisional date ... at last

I’ve just been given a provisional date and time for my admission to hospital for the operation on my colon ... 7.30am on 2nd December.

I am having a pre-operation assessment with the nursing staff and anaesthetist on Thursday afternoon, and then must have a pre-operation COVID-19 test on 29th November. Assuming that I have not been infected with the COVID-19 virus, I will be in quarantine from then until my admission to hospital.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Waiting

After making sure that THE NUGGET was safely on its way to the printer, I sat down to publish THE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book. The text was already saved in PDF format, as was the cover, so I expected that the final part of the process would take me about an hour or so. In fact, it took me slightly longer as I had not quite got the design of the cover right, but correcting my minor mistakes took less than ten minutes.

The final book cover design. In my original design I had not allowed for the fact that, during the printing process, the cover is trimmed. Some of the text was too close to the trim boundary, and would have been lost if I had left the design as it was. Luckily, Amazon KDP allows users to review their books before they finally proceed to the publication stage, and I was able to make the necessary changes in a matter of minutes.

I now have to wait for Amazon KDP to review the files I sent them, and once they have done that (a process that can take up to 72 hours), the printed edition book should be available for sale.

The book will be 120 pages long, have some colour illustrations, and be printed on white paper with a full-colour cover. It will be 6" x 9" in size (i.e. slightly larger than A5) and will be on sale for £14.99. That is a higher price than I had hoped to set, but it had to be that sort of price in order to cover the cost of the colour printing, Amazon KDPs commission etc.

As soon as the book is released for sale, I will announce it on my blog as well as on the Portable Wargame Facebook page and Portable Wargame iogroup.

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Nugget 331

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the next issue (N331) to me yesterday, and I hope to send it electronically to the printer tomorrow. (The printer is currently operating on a 'click and collect' basis, and I have arranged to sent the text and layout to them by email. When it is ready, I can then pay for it electronically, and arrange a time to collected it from them.) With luck, I should be able to collect it later in the week, and post it out to members as soon afterwards as I can.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this will be the fourth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 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.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Designing book covers

When I published RESTLESS NATIVES a week ago, I did it so that I could learn how to use Amazon KDP's software. As a result, the cover was a bit plain. This is actually rather an understatement; as the following image shows, it was a simple mustard-coloured cover, with the title and my name on it.

I was determined to design something much better for THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book, and after playing around with several designs, my final one looks like this:

I've tried to keep it as similar as I could to the more recent PW books in order to maintain a 'house' style, and I rather like the end result.

Once I have the final approval of the contributors, I will move on to the final stages of the publication process. With luck, this should be possible to complete at some point over the weekend ... so watch out for an announcement that THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book is finally on sale!


Because THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book is being produced and distributed by Amazon KDP, it is NOT going to be A5 size (148mm x 210mm/5.8" x 8.3"), but the closest printing equivalent. This is 6" x 9" (156.1mm x 232mm), which is slightly larger than A5, but smaller than the Letter size paper (215.9mm x 279.4mm/8.5" x 11") used for RESTLESS NATIVES.

Thursday, 19 November 2020

The assault on Fortine Olivaro: An incident from a Tintin war

Back when I was a child (so it was a very long time ago), I used to enjoy reading HergĂ©'s Tintin books. Amongst my favourites were KING OTTOKAR’S SCEPTRE and THE BROKEN EAR. The latter was mainly set in the South American country of San Theodoros, which was in an almost constant state of revolution and/or incipient war with the neighbouring country of Nuevo Rico.

At one point war breaks out between the two countries for control of the Gran Chapo and its oil fields ... mainly due to the influence of the international arms dealer Basil Bazarov, whose Korrupt Arms Company is working as a sales agency of the Viking Arms Company. Bazarov sells arms to both sides, and encourages both of them to claim the Gran Chapo.

This is the backstory to the following battle report, which sees a Nuevo Rican attack on Fortine Olivaro, a San Theodoran outpost on the Rio Pirana.


A note about the rules used

The rules were basically the Early and Mid Twentieth Century rules from DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME with a few minor changes. These were:

  • The Pinning and Unpinning rules were not used.
  • All artillery (including mortars) was deemed to be capable of Indirect and Direct Fire.
  • The number of times artillery units could fire was limited to reflect the limited ammunition supply situation.
  • Machine Gun units that has armoured-piercing ammunition could destroy Light Tanks during the Fire Phase but the amount of such ammunition was limited.
  • All hits on units normally cause the loss of Strength Points (SPs). In other words, the RESOLVING HITS ON UNITS table did not include the retreat option. (This is what I have termed in my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War rules, the 'not one step back' rule.) However, the rules pertaining to commanders who are co-located with units that have been hit were used.


The battlefield

The fortine (fortified camp) is occupied by San Theodoran troops, and is located on the banks of the Rio Pirana. It comprises a series of trenches whose landward side is protected by a series of barbed wire entanglements.

Opposing them are several lines of trenches that are occupied by Nuevo Rican troops.

The opposing forces

The San Theodoran defenders are drawn from the regular 1st Division, which is one of the main formations of the army. It is led by Colonel Juanitos and comprises:

  • 1st Division
    • 1st Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 2nd Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 3rd Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 1st Machine Gun Company (Average, 2 SPs) [Has one belt of special armoured piercing bullets that will pierce the armour on light tanks]
    • 1st Mortar Company (Average, 2 SPs)
    • 1st Artillery Regiment (Average, 2 SPs) [Has enough ammunition to fire six times]
    • Colonel Juanitos (Average, 6 SPs)
  • Total = 24 SPs; Exhaustion Point = 8 SPs

The attacking Nuevo Rican troops are members of the 1st and 2nd Divisions, who have been reinforced by additional troops. It is led by General Diaz, and they comprise:

  • 1st Division
    • 1st Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 2nd Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 3rd Infantry Regiments (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 1st Machine Gun Company (Average, 2 SPs)
    • 1st Artillery Regiment (Average, 2 SPs) [Has enough ammunition to fire six times]
  • 2nd Division
    • 4th Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 5th Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 6th Infantry Regiment (Average, 4 SPs)
    • 2nd Machine Gun Company (Average, 2 SPs)
    • 2nd Artillery Regiment (Average, 2 SPs) [Has enough ammunition to fire six times]
  • Additional Troops
    • 1st Tank Company (Average, 3 SPs)
    • General Diaz (Average, 6 SPs)
  • Total = 41 SPs; Exhaustion Point = 14 SPs

The initial positions

The Nuevo Rican troops can be seen occupying the trenches on the left, whilst the San Theodorans are in those on the right.

The battle

Turns 1 to 4

The first four turns of the battle saw the Nuevo Rican 1st and 2nd Artillery Regiments fire a continuous artillery barrage at the frontline San Theodoran trenches.

The Nuevo Rican 2nd Machine Gun Company also took part in this barrage, sweeping the parapet of the opposing trenches.

As a result, both the San Theodoran 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments were reduced to 50% of their original strength.

(San Theodorans had lost 4 SPs; the Nuevo Ricans has lost none.)

Turn 5

The Nuevo Ricans moved first this turn.

As soon as the guns fell silent, the sound of cheers could be heard from the Nuevo Rican trenches as the 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments of the 1st Division and the 4th and 5th Infantry Regiments of the 2nd Division climbed out of their trenches and - accompanied by the Nuevo Rican 1st Tank Company - began their charge across the no-mans-land between the two lines of trenches.

In response, the San Theodoran 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments, the 1st Machine Gun Company, and the 1st Mortar Company opened fire on the attackers.

This inflicted casualties on the Nuevo Rican 1st, 4th, and 5th Infantry Regiments.

(Both sides had lost 4 SPs.)

Turn 6

The Nuevo Rican and San Theodoran artillery opened fire. The Nuevo Rican 1st and 2nd Artillery Regiments tried to knock out the San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company, ...

... and the San Theodoran 1st Artillery Regiment concentrated its fire on the Nuevo Rican 2nd Infantry Regiment (which lost 1 SP).

(The San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company should have suffered the loss of 1 SP, but because Colonel Juanitos was co-located with the unit, a D6 die was thrown to see if he was killed. He survived, and the loss was negated.)

The San Theodoran moved first this turn.

The San Theodoran 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments, the 1st Machine Gun Company, and the 1st Mortar Company again fired on the attackers, with varying results. Because the Nuevo Rican 1st Tank Company was within range, the 1st Machine Gun Company used its single belt of armoured-piercing ammunition ... and inflicted the loss of 2 SPs on the tank unit! The San Theodoran 1st Infantry Regiment's rifle fire inflicted the loss of 1 SP on the Nuevo Rican 4th Infantry Regiment, but the 2nd Infantry Regiment's fire proved ineffective. The same was not true for the 1st Mortar Company, which reduced the strength of the opposing Nuevo Rican 1st Infantry Regiment by 1 SP.

Cheering and firing wildly as they advanced, the Nuevo Rican infantry reached the barbed wire entanglements in front of the San Theodoran trenches. The 1st Tank Company crashed through the wire, and began to attack the San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company. The San Theodorans lost a total of 3 SPs to the fire of the Nuevo Rican infantry and the 1st Tank Company's guns, and although Colonel Juanitos was still with the San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company, he escaped death for a second time.

The close combat between the Nuevo Rican 1st Tank Company and the San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company proved indecisive, and both units ended up facing each other across the parapet of the San Theodoran trenches.

(By this stage in the battle, the San Theodorans had lost 7 SPs and the Nuevo Ricans has suffered the loss of 9 SPs.)

Turn 7

In the hope that their fire might help their infantry to break through the San Theodoran defences, the Nuevo Rican 1st and 2nd Artillery Regiments fired at the San Theodoran trenches. In reply, the San Theodoran 1st Artillery Regiment fired at the Nuevo Rican 1st Tank Company.

As a result of this artillery fire, the San Theodoran 1st Infantry Regiment was destroyed ... as was the Nuevo Rican 1st Tank Company!

The result of the battle was now on a knife edge. The San Theodorans had reached their Exhaustion Point (the loss of 8 SPs), but the Nuevo Ricans were only 4 SPs from theirs. Both sides threw a D6 dice, and the side with the highest score would move first. The Nuevo Ricans threw a D6 die score of 4 ... and the San Theodorans threw a D6 die score of 6! The San Theodorans moved first this turn.

The San Theodoran 3rd Infantry Regiment moved into the position formerly occupied by the 1st Infantry Regiment, and opened fire on the Nuevo Rican 2nd Infantry Regiment, inflicting a loss of 1 SP. At the same time, the San Theodoran 1st Machine Gun Company poured its fire into the same target, destroying the Nuevo Rican 2nd Infantry Regiment in the process. The San Theodoran 1st Mortar Company failed to inflict any casualties on the Nuevo Rican 1st Infantry Regiment, but the San Theodoran 1st Infantry Regiment was luckier, and caused the Nuevo Rican 4th Infantry Regiment to lose a further 1 SP, destroying it.

At this point both sides had reached their Exhaustion Points (the San Theodorans had lost 8 SPs and the Nuevo Ricans had lost 14 SPs), and the battle ground to a halt. The Nuevo Rican attack had almost succeeded, but the initial artillery bombardment had not weakened the San Theodorans sufficiently, and the barbed wire had stopped them reaching the San Theodoran trenches. As night fell, the Nuevo Ricans withdrew to their trenches to restock their ammunition supplies and to await reinforcements. Whilst they did so, they could hear the sound of the San Theodorans repairing the damage their trenches had suffered during the fighting.

The fighting near Fortine Olivaro was now in a state of stalemate, but who could tell what might happen next?

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

A belated ‘day in the sun’ for my Peter Laing figures.

Despite the fact that of late most of my time has been taken up working on the final draft of THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book, I have been thinking about setting up a small battle so that figures from my collection of World War One Peter Laing figures can finally have their belated ‘day in the sun’.

The figures were originally intended to represent the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies of the Chaco War, and it is to that war that I looked for inspiration. In the end, I chose to base the scenario on the Battle of Nanawa, and I have just set up the terrain for the battle using my Hexon II hex terrain.

I hope to fight this battle over the next couple of days, and when I do, I’ll certainly write a battle report for this blog.

Monday, 16 November 2020

A short update

I spent this morning adding images to the draft text of THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book, and it has been sent off to the contributors for their final approval. If I get their feedback by next weekend, I hope to move on to publication soon afterwards.

I’ve been very encouraged by the speed at which Amazon’s KDP processed the manuscript of RESTLESS  NATIVES from PDF format to published hardback and Kindle editions, and I will be using them for any future books I wish to publish unless Lulu.com manage to sort out their current problems.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

All done in a day!

Yesterday afternoon I bit the bullet and attempted to publish a book containing my 2003 rules – RESTLESS NATIVES – using Amazon's KDP publishing system. There were a few minor hiccoughs along the way as the software was totally new to me, but between lunchtime and teatime I managed to do it ... and the Kindle version is already online!

I am hoping that the paperback edition will be on sale by the middle of the week, although it might be delayed as I want to change the cover. Presently, it is a plain cover with just the book's title and my name on it, but I am hoping that I can change it so that it looks more like the cover of the Kindle version:

I have been very impressed by the speed at which Amazon's KDP has processed and published the Kindle edition, and I am hoping that the paperback will appear with similar alacrity.

Both editions will be on sale for £5.50 (or the equivalent price in whatever currency is used in the country of purchase). I am still thinking about how to publish a PDF edition ... but that is something that I need to investigate further.

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Patience is a virtue ... and I’m not feeling very virtuous today!

A week on, and I’m still waiting for Lulu.com’s so-called ‘support’ team to get back to me ... and my patience is almost exhausted.

As a result, I am preparing to experimentally publish a book that I wrote some time ago, but have never published. It is an updated version of my RESTLESS NATIVES rules, which are a non-gridded set of Colonial wargame rules. The book includes scenarios for the Sudan and the Zulu War (the latter were a later addition to the original book), and these could be easily adapted for use with the rules in my PORTABLE COLONIAL WARGAME book.

I am going to use Amazon’s KDP publishing system ... and if the end result is satisfactory, I’ll probably use them to publish THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT BOOK.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

A lack of progress report!

As of this morning, I still have not had a reply to either of the messages I have sent to Lulu.com's 'Support' team ... which means that I cannot make any progress with publishing THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book.

I have now had feedback from all the contributors, and I have a number of photographs and a diagram to add to the text. Once that is done, all I have to do is make a number of final checks, and the text of the book will be ready for publication.

If Lulu.com do not get back to me soon, I will look at moving over to another print and distribution service. There are several front runners for this, of which Amazon's KDP is currently the favourite. The only problem is that they only offer two options for printing and distribution, Kindle electronic book format and colour paperback ... and I'd like to produce a colour hardback edition if that is at all possible. There is a possibility that I might be able to do the latter privately, but the book would be expensive to print and distribute.

Once I have a date for my forthcoming operation, I plan to publish this book before I have to go into hospital so that it will be on sale before Christmas ... so if anyone from Lulu.com is reading this, the countdown has started!

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

And the news is ...

This morning, I had a conversation with the surgeon who is overseeing my case, and the news is as follows. Of the three polys they removed, one was just a minor lesion scar, one was benign, and the third contained cancerous cells.

As a precaution, they want me to undergo surgery before Christmas to remove the piece of bowel from which they removed the cancer-containing polyp as well as the nearby lymph glands. The operation will be under a general anaesthetic, and will last about four hours. I will then have to spend a week in hospital before I can be discharged. It will then be some time before I am back to what passes for normal, and I will have to take things easy for some time thereafter.

Assuming that everything goes well, I will then go onto a five-year monitoring programme that will involve further colonoscopies and blood tests.

As my regular blog readers can imagine, during my time in hospital (and possible for some time afterwards) I doubt if I will be either able to - or be inclined to - blog, but once I’m back to anything approaching normal, I’ll be back blathering on as usual!

I do have one thing that I want to do before I go in for my operation. I would love to be able to get THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book published ... but that will depend upon whether or not Lulu,com can get their act together.

Waiting for news

At 10.00am this morning I was supposed to be having a telephone conversation with a doctor from University Hospital Lewisham about the results of my recent CT scan and blood test. This was arranged so that I didn’t have to go to the hospital and to help them maintain their COVID-19 prevention regime.

It is now just after 10.30am ... and I’m still waiting for the telephone call.

I’m sure that there is a good reason for the delay, but it is not helping Sue and I to remain cool, calm, and collected whilst we sit here waiting. Perhaps no news is good news ... but some news would be better still!


It is now 11.45am ... and I have just had my telephone consultation with the surgeon who is dealing with my case. It seems that as a precaution, I will have to undergo keyhole surgery at some point before Christmas. I'll explain more once I have had achance to absorb and process all the information I have been given.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

At least forty years on ...

Many, many years ago (at least forty!), I decided to refight the Chaco War (1932 to 1935) between Bolivia and Paraguay. To this end I amassed and painted two sizeable armies of 15mm-scale Peter Laing figures ... and they have been sitting in storage pretty well ever since!

Part of the problem was that I had very scant information to go on, and painted the armies in completely the wrong colours! As a result, they saw the light of day only once in a Chaco War battle (the Battle of Nanawa) that I put on at SALUTE in the early 1980s. The figures have been used to portray Russian and Japanese forces during the Russo-Japanese War ... for which their paint schemes were not too inaccurate. By the time I got married in 1982, the figures were in storage, and other than being culled very slightly some year ago, they have remained unused, but no unloved.

To give my regular blog readers some idea about how big the collection is, here are some photographs of it in its REALLY USEFUL BOXES storage trays:

You will not that the collection included three very badly scratch built Vickers 6-ton tanks. (They were made using the bottom half of Airfix Bren Gun carriers and bits of scrap plastic I had to hand.)

I 'found' the collection during a bit of a sort out over the weekend, and I've been mulling over what to do with it. I could put it all back into storage (which seems a bit of a pity) or I could sort some of the figures out and fight a campaign with them. The latter does appeal to me, and even though it is not currently on my list of short-term goals, it would be a waste not to use them. After all, they've been sitting in storage for the best part of forty years waiting for their big day to come ... and it would be a shame to disappoint them!

(I know that toy soldiers are inanimate objects with no feelings, but ...)

Monday, 9 November 2020

Achieving my goals

Just over a fortnight ago, I set myself a couple of short-term goals. These were:

  • Organise some more of the figures and equipment in my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War collection into ‘formations in boxes’
  • Complete the text of THE PORTABLE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY WARGAME book

I didn't set myself a specific timescale to achieve these aims, but I hoped that I could achieve them in about three weeks.

As regular blog readers will know, I am well on my way to achieving the second of these, and I am awaiting the feedback from one of the contributors before I can complete the text of the book. Whilst I have been waiting, I have managed to achieve the first, and here are the results:

4th Rifle Division

5th Rifle Division

6th Rifle Division

At present, this Rifle Division is made up of Worker's Militia units, and lacks any artillery or anti-tank assets.

Corps/Army Artillery assets

More artillery units will be added in due course, and this should allow me to create at least two Artillery Divisions.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

A different sort of Remembrance Sunday

For the first time in my life, there will be no large Remembrance Sunday parade at the Cenotaph in Westminster. In fact, due to the various COVID-19 restrictions in place across the UK, the ceremonies traditionally associated with this day will be muted.

In some ways, this seems to be appropriate considering the situation we currently find ourselves in. We are at war with this virus, and the country needs to be on a war footing if we are going to win. Being in lockdown or living under restrictions is irksome ... and getting more so the longer it goes on. However, the alternative is worse. The prospect of the NHS being overwhelmed - and the death rate rising - is unacceptable ... so we have to learn to live with the restrictions just like our forbears had to live with far greater restrictions in order to win their wars.

I’m hoping that besides remembering the dead of the two World Wars and the other conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, today we will be able to remember those who are in the frontline in the current war against COVID-19, some of whom have paid the ultimate price. I‘m not just including the people working in the NHS, but also those who are supplying food and essential services, everyone working to care for the elderly and vulnerable, the members of the emergency, transport, and armed services, the scientists striving to find a cure or treatment for the virus, the country’s educators, and those who are providing these people with support. If I’ve missed anyone else who is working to help defeat the virus and its effects, it is an error of omission rather than commission, for which I apologise.

I hope that next year we will see a return to a traditional Remembrance Day parade, and that our leaders decide to include representatives of those who have helped to defeat COVID-19 within the ranks of the people who take part in the march past.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

Going round in circles

I have had feedback from two of the contributors to THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME book, and I have made the necessary changes to the draft text. Whilst waiting for the final feedback to arrive, I thought that I’d begin to design the various editions of the book.

That is when my problems began.

Previously, the process used by Lulu.com was slow but I understood the logic behind it. Now it is tedious and pedantic ... and distinctly un-user-friendly. I seem unable to set out the cover the way I want it to look, and when I make a change to the design, it either refuses to let me see the changes I’ve made or flatly refuses to implement the changes.

Furthermore, when I think that I can move on to the next stage of the process, I get an error message to the effect that I’ve missed out or not completed an earlier stage, and cannot go on until I’ve dealt with my omission ... even though I cannot work out what I’ve missed!

Part of the problem seems to be to do with the mechanism that calculates the cost of printing a book. I select the book's size (e.g. A5, US Trade), whether I want it to be printed in black & white or colour, and the type of binding (e.g. hardback, paperback) I want to use ... and then a little animated circle goes round and round for a time ... then it stops ... and nothing has been calculated. This then either blocks further progress or allows me to carry on adding more information about the book ... but then an error message appears and it sends me back to where I started!

The obvious course of action is to walk away from the problem, and to find another self publisher ... but I am rather pig-headed and stubborn, and don't like getting beaten by a piece of software. Luckily, I currently have free time to try to solve this situation (it's one positive aspect of the lockdown!) and I'm going to persist until I throw the PC out of the window!

Friday, 6 November 2020

A dangerous and known malicious website

I have had several reports that Norton is reporting that my blog is a ‘dangerous website’ and ‘known malicious website’.

As soon as I got the first report, I ‘swept’ my blog with my antivirus and anti malware software ... and found nothing wrong. I then tried logging on to my blog using my PC (which has McAfee antivirus software) and laptop (which AVG antivirus software), and neither showed any warning message.

All I can assume is that either there is something on my blog that my antivirus software is not picking up or that Norton has some sort of problem with Google’s Blogger software.

All this has come on a day when my blog has been swamped by spam messages, even though I have activated captcha word verification under the comments 'Settings'. These are deleted and never published, but are a monumental waste of time ... and positively irritating!

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Work on the Portable Pike & Shot Wargame book continues

I managed to finish the text of the book and sent if off to be proof read by the contributors ... and they have already begun to give me their feedback. They have spotted a few changes that have to be made, and one has suggested reordering the chapters into a more chronological order. This makes perfect sense, and I will be looking at doing that later today.

The book was a bit bare (other than for some maps and a few line drawings) but I am now in a position to include some photographs, courtesy of the contributors and David Crook. He has kindly taken some of his newly-arrived 28mm-scale WoFun printed plexiglass figures ... and as the following photograph shows, mighty fine they look.

Now that the UK has moved into its second national lockdown of the year, I hope to accelerate work on this latest book so that it can be published before Christmas.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Nugget 330

I will be collecting the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer later this morning, and hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments later today.

I have uploaded the PDF version to the Wargame Developments website, and it can be downloaded and read online using the password that was sent to all members when they resubscribed.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the third issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2020-2021 subscription year. If you have not yet re-subscribed, a reminder was sent to you. 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.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Went the day well?

I had to be at University Hospital Lewisham by 9.00am on Monday morning, so Sue and I booked a cab to pick us up from home at 8.00am. It was ten minutes late arriving due to the rush hour traffic ... and matters did no improve during our journey to the hospital. In fact, it took us an hour to travel under five and a half miles. Luckily, I was able to telephone the CT Department to tell them I was going to be late, and they were able to adjust the schedule to fit me in.

Having arrived at the CT Department, I was fitted with a cannula and given a litre of disclosing fluid to drink. This fluid lines the walls of the digestive system so that it is easier to see on the CT image, but it takes an hour to drink and leaves a metallic aftertaste in the mouth. Once the hour was up, I was taken to the room that houses the CT scanner. The actual process of scanning took less than ten minutes, and was rather like lying in bed on your back, with your hands above your head, whilst an underground train rumbles past.

After having the cannula removed (it had been used to feed a dye into my bloodstream during the scan), I then had to go to a separate department so that a blood sample could be taken. By this time it was just after 11.00am, and Sue and I decided to walk to the nearest cab rank to find a taxi to take us home. The traffic was much lighter than it had been during the rush hour, and we were home a little after 11.30am.

All-in-all, the day went quite well, and I should get the results - and know what treatment I will have to undertake - on Thursday or Friday.


The title I chose for this blog post comes from FOUR EPITAPHS, by John Maxwell Edmonds:

Went the day well?
We died, and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.'

It was published in THE TIMES on 8th February 1918, and is sometimes confused with his later Kohima Epitaph:

When you go home, tell them of us,
That for your tomorrow, We gave our today.’

The title was also given to the excellent 1942 film about an English village that is seized by a group of German Fallschirmjagers in preparation for an invasion, and how the locals resist and eventually overcome the invaders.

It is a film that I never tire of watching (much to Sue's dismay!), even though I read the book and saw the similar film THE EAGLE HAS LANDED well before I saw WENT THE DAY WELL? on TV.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

A change of name

Over the past few days, I have been working quite solidly on the next book in the PORTABLE WARGAME series, and after giving it some serious thought, I have decided to change the name from THE PORTABLE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY WARGAME to THE PORTABLE PIKE & SHOT WARGAME. I think that this better describes the sort of wargames users will want to use the rules to fight ... and probably makes it slightly more appealing to the average wargamer.

To give regular blog readers some idea of what the book covers, here is an image of the current Contents page:

I hope to write the chapter about the Battle of Sedgemoor today so that I can send it off for proof reading by Wednesday.