Monday 30 August 2021

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Russell King's 54mm Colonial battle

It seems that I cannot get away from 54mm toy soldiers! Yesterday I wrote about the FUNNY LITTLE WARS battle that I took part in on Saturday, and today I am blogging about the Colonial battle Russell King has fought using figures from his collection of Britains Toy Soldiers!

Russell's battle saw a British force trying to seize control of a sacred temple from a combined Indo-Burmese force ... that was supported by Chinthe! (This is a stylised lion, statues of which can often be found in pairs protecting the entrance to a Buddhist temple.)

The Indo-Burmese force contained a number of interesting and very colourful units in its ranks ...

...and the British were led by an austere looking mounted officer.

The fighting saw both sides clash on the site of the temple, and from Russell's description of the action, it was a close-run thing.

The British prevailed in the end ... but only just!

This was a very colourful battle, conducted on a small tabletop, and yet again is shows the ingenuity of users of the PORTABLE WARGAME.

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Russell King.

Sunday 29 August 2021

The siege of the Alhambra: A not-quite-Spanish-Civil-War lawn game battle report

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take part in a play-test of the new, inter-war version of Paul Wright's FUNNY LITTLE WARS rules. The action was fought out in an excellent central London location and was set in a not-quite-Spanish-Civil-War setting. It saw the Loyalist forces (of which I was a member) besiege the (imaginary) Alhambra Military Academy, which had been seized by the Rebels and held by a number of Cadet Officers, their instructors, and some members of the Civil Guard.

The Alhambra 'fortress' ...

... formed the centre of the defences ...

... which included a walled garden, ...

... a hospital, ...

... and some outbuildings.

The siege started with a long-distance bombardment of the Alhambra, and this did significant damage to the buildings. (Hits of the buildings are indicated by sticky coloured dots.) At one point, a signaller was seen on the roof of the main building, but at the time the besiegers had no idea of the importance of this incident.

Confident that the defences were now weakened, the besiegers began to cautiously advance towards the Alhambra.

They were met with withering fire from machine gun nests that had been set up in the rubble created by the bombardment.

At this point the Anarchist militia (which had 'acquired' a number of tanks), also joined in the attack on the Alhambra.

The attackers could no longer rely on the support of their long-range artillery, and as they advanced, the besigers began to suffer greater and greater casualties.

The besiegers had almost reached the walls of the Alhambra when it became apparent that their casualties had mounted to such a level that they were uncertain of being able to mount a successful final assault.

At this point, the importance of the signals sent earlier in the battle became apparent. One of the Loyalist long-range artillery positions reported that they could see Rebel armoured cars approaching their position.

Was this an indication that a relief column from the Rebel Army of Africa was on its way?

The battle ended at this point, and everyone agreed that we had had a great time. The rules worked, and we were able to test (and modify) the air combat and bombing rules. (These are not featured in my battle report as I could not take photographs and take part in the air combat and bombing at the same time. However, the following are a couple of photographs of some of the aircraft that were used.)

My thanks go to Paul Wright for organising the whole event and for providing the venue, the terrain and the vast bulk of the toy soldiers we used. Thanks also go to Tim Gow for supplementing the besieging troop with figures from his own collection, and to Ian Drury and Paul's son Jack for playing their parts as fellow Loyalist commanders and for their very enjoyable company. A great day of wargaming was had by all ... and we hope to stage another battle in the not-to-distant future.

Friday 27 August 2021

A short progress report

I am currently making slow but steady progress on my two concurrent projects. I have begun painting the artillery for my FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME ARMY BLACK and these should be finished by early in September, and I am working on the first couple of chapters of the book version of my Balkan League Matrix Game and tabletop rules.

The book will contain a brief history of the early development of the Matrix Game and a simple explanation (with examples) of how to run one. I then intend to present a revised version of the campaign game that appeared on the pages of THE NUGGET and WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED back in the early 1990s as well as an army-level version of the PORTABLE WARGAME so that players can fight any battles that the campaign game generates.

With luck, I might be able to make significant progress on both projects over the forthcoming long weekend, but as I am taking part in a lawn game tomorrow, I might not be able to do very much until Sunday.

Thursday 26 August 2021

Nugget 337

I will be collecting the latest issue of THE NUGGET from the printer later today, and I hope to post it out to members tomorrow. In the meantime, members can read this issue ...

... and the Colour Supplement online from the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the first issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2021-2022 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.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

The Spanish Civil War at Sea

I am sure that it is pure coincidence, but lately a number of interesting books about the Spanish Civil War have been published. Last month it was TANK COMBAT IN SPAIN, and this month it is THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AT SEA: DARK AND DANGEROUS WATERS by Michael Alpert.

The book is divided into thirteen chapters plus two appendices:

  1. Setting the Scene
  2. The Die is Cast
  3. Tangiers and Gibraltar. Franco Crosses the Strait
  4. Reorganisation
  5. Off the Northern Coast
  6. War Material Comes from Abroad. The Insurgents Try to Block Merchant Traffic
  7. The War Against Traffic Continues as the Russians Send War material to the Republic
  8. Winter and Spring 1937 in the Mediterranean
  9. The Naval Campaign in the Calabrian Sea
  10. Non-Intervention and the International Patrol
  11. Two Spanish Navies in Contrast
  12. 1938, Testing the Limits of British Tolerance
  13. Surrender, Evacuation and Flight

  • Appendix I: Technical Details of Spanish Warships
  • Appendix II: Soviet Naval Officers in Republican Spain

The naval aspects of the Spanish Civil War are often neglected in histories of the war, and this book goes a long way to correcting that omission. For example, it explains why the Republic's navy seemed so inactive during the initial stages of the war. (The replacement of actual and potentially disloyal officers left the navy severely lacking in people with command experience and ended up with situations where very junior officers were in command of major naval units. In the case of the battleship JAMIE I, a midshipman was the most senior officer available to command her.)

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has more than a passing interest in the Spanish Civil War. My only criticism is that the appendix that deals with the technical aspects of the warships used by both sides is rather thin, and despite the fact that I am blowing my own trumpet, I think that the relevant section of my book LA ULTIMA CRUZADA would be of more use to many readers.

THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AT SEA: DARK AND DANGEROUS WATERS was written by Michael Alpert and published in 2021 by Pen & Sword Books Ltd (ISBN 978 1 5267 6436 2).

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Rockets Red Glare! Arthur Harman’s addition rules for Congreve rockets

The most recent issue of MINIATURE WARGAME ...

... contains some additional rules for the PORTABLE NAPOLEONIC WARGAME that were written by Arthur Harman so that players can use Congreve rockets in their battles.

The rockets were designed by Sir William Congreve in 1804 as a result of the experiences of the British East India Company’s troops during the Anglo-Mysore Wars.

The rockets came in three sizes:

  • Heavy: These were 300- and 100-pounders and were between five and six feet in length with sticks that were 25 to 27 feet long.
  • Medium: These were 42- to 24-pounders and were between two to four feet in length, with sticks that were 15 to 20 feet long.
  • Light: These were 18- to 6-pounders and were between sixteen to twenty-five inches in length, with sticks that were 8 to 14 feet long.

The heaviest rockets were too large for use for use on the battlefield and were designed for bombarding large fortifications or built-up areas. The big advantage that Congreve rockets had over conventional artillery was their portability. They could be carried by mule into areas where normal artillery could not go and were used right up until the end of the Crimean War, at which point they were replaced by the Hale rocket, which needed no stick.

So, why entitle the article ROCKETS RED GLARE?

The answer is very simple. It is a line from the United State’s national anthem, the words of which were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814. He wrote his poem (DEFENCE OF FORT M'HENRY) after seeing the British attack on Fort McHenry, during which Congreve rocket were fired at the fort. The lyrics were set to the tune of a popular English song written by John Stafford Smith (TO ANACREON IN HEAVEN or THE ANACREONTIC SONG) and renamed THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.

O say can you see,
by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed
at the twilight's last gleaming,

Whose broad stripes and bright stars
through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched,
were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare,
the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there;

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Monday 23 August 2021

Other people's Portable Wargame battle reports: Mark Cordone does it again!

I never cease to be amazed by the way that some users of my PORTABLE WARGAME rules have taken my basic ideas and developed them in different directions. I have already mentioned some of the things that Mark Cordone has done in previous blog posts (see here, here, and here), but he has now taken it a step further and has put together two armies so that he can fight battles from the Balkan Wars ...

Mark Cordone's Balkan Wars Bulgarian Army.
Mark Cordone's Balkan Wars Bulgarian Army.
Mark Cordone's Balkan Wars Ottoman Turkish Army.
Mark Cordone's Balkan Wars Ottoman Turkish Army.

... as well as a portable terrain box.

Mark has now refought Battle of Kirkkilesse with these two armies, and the results are truly inspiring, as the following photographs show:

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mark Cordone.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Nugget 337

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the latest issue on Friday, and I intend to send it to the printer on Monday morning. With luck, it should be ready to be posted out to members by the middle of next week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the first issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2021-2022 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 August 2021

Reinforcements for my Army Black

I have finally managed to base my recently painted FUNNY LITTLE WARS/PORTABLE WARGAME ARMY BLACK cavalry and mounted officers, and they have now been added to my collection, along with a couple of units each of train and engineers.

I now need to add some artillery units ... and then my ARMY BLACK will be complete, and I can move on to my next little army ... which will be built around a number of 15mm Minifig American Civil War figures that I painted in 1985, and which remain unused.

Like the bulk of the figures that make up my ARMY BLACK, these American Civil War figures were painted during my recovery from a stress-related mental breakdown. I found that the process of painting helped me ... but when I was better, I could not bring myself to use the figures. They were put into storage and have stayed there ever since.

Only now, some thirty-six years later, do I feel comfortable putting them to good use and can finally put that unfortunate episode behind me.

Thursday 19 August 2021

Mark Cordone’s Portable Wargame terrain

I have featured examples of Mark Cordone’s PORTABLE WARGAME terrain in earlier blog posts, but he has recently expanded it to include trees, roads, built up areas, and rivers. His trees are particularly effective as the following photographs show:

As can be seen, by lining just one edge of the terrain square with model trees, it is possible to put unit bases in the same grid square. Furthermore, by putting two or more terrain squares with trees together, he creates the illusion of a heavily wooded area.

His road, built up area, and river terrain squares are equally impressive, as can be seen below:

When combined with his impressive 2.5D buildings, Mark has produced a very effective gridded terrain system ... and I am extremely envious!

Please note that the photographs featured above are © Mark Cordone