Thursday 30 June 2022

Backstories for my Belle Époque imagi-nations: The Sultanate of Sahel

Recently, Neil Patterson (the author of the excellent Aufklarungsabteilung blog) wrote that the rarest form of wargaming imagi-nation 'seems is the fully fledged designed from scratch Imagi-Nation, complete with invented uniforms, flags and characters that actually reaches the point of figures and armies.' This made me realise that although my Belle Époque project has advanced quite some way, I have not as yet turned any of my very basic notes into outline backstories for my imagi-nations ... and that it was about time that I did!

I’m going to start with my latest creation, which has gone through several potential names until I settled upon calling it the Sultanate of Sahel. What I wanted was something that melded aspects of Ethiopia/Abyssinia with Mahdist Sudan, and I chose the name Sahel as that is the region of sub-Saharan Africa that stretches from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Sultanate of Sahel

The Sultanate of Sahel is actually a loose confederation of three major tribes that occupy land to the south and west of Zubia. The position of sultan is not hereditary and is usually occupied by the most powerful of the current tribal leaders. In the past some sons have succeeded their fathers as sultan, but this is not the norm.

The people of the Sahel speak a common language (Bedawi) and the economy of the Sultanate is based on a mixture of semi-nomadic pastoralism, fishing, and small-scale agriculture. Skilled craftsmen in metal can be found in most of the larger settlements and the capital, but there is no large-scale industry.

Each of the tribes is divided into clans, and clans (and sometimes tribes) have been known to fight each other over the right to use pastureland for their herds of cattle. The sultan does not usually intervene in these conflicts unless it is his own tribe or clan that is involved. In such cases troops from his bodyguard (the only full-time professional Saheli soldiers) intervene to bring an end to the fighting.

The Saheli are warlike and often raid Zubian territory to seize cattle for their herds or to acquire supplies of metal. The Zubians claim that the Sultanate of Sahel is part of their territory, but any influence or control of the sultanate is at best tenuous.

Wednesday 29 June 2022

Pre-cut wooden house shapes

Whilst looking online for some pre-cut wooden house shapes to go with my 15mm Belle Époque project, I came across a company (Holdumann’s Workshop, Dorchester) that sold suitable shapes made from pine.

I bought examples of Village In A Box (Smaller Size: fourteen pieces, ranging in height from 35mm to 65mm; approximately 19mm thick and 25mm wide), ...

... Village In A Box (Larger Size: eight pieces, ranging in height from 40 to 90mm, approximately 33mm wide and deep), ...

... and Village In A Box (Wider Size: eight pieces, ranging in height from 45mm to 85mm; approximately 19mm thick and 35mm wide).

I intend to add windows, doors, and other minor details before painting them.

Please note that the images featured above are © Holdumann’s Workshop and are included solely for the purposes of this review.

Monday 27 June 2022

Another Belle Époque army (or two) is in the pipeline

Having finished the renovation of the Hadendowa figures in my Sudanese War collection, I am now going to renovate the rest of the Mahdist figures. These look more Arabic than the Hadendowa and include both cavalry and camelry as well as artillery and infantry and are going to be used to form the army of Harabia … and possibly the army of a small Indian potentate.

So far, I’ve removed the figures from their original bases, and over the next week or so I intend to begin the process of renovating, varnishing, and rebasing these figures. I’m not rushing this project as I have several other things that I also want to work on … and I want be able attend a short-notice appointment with the oncologist if one comes up.

Saturday 25 June 2022

Watching Waterloo

I was somewhat surprised that I could not find a single TV channel showing Sergei Bondarchuk and Dino De Laurentiis' 1970 film, WATERLOO, on 18th June.

I did find the film on Amazon Prime Video for sale or rental, but when I discovered that I could buy a DVD of the film for less than they wanted to charge me, I opted for do that.

The DVD arrived on Monday … and then I realised that our new Smart TV didn’t have an integral CD/DVD drive! After a quick trawl through the Internet, I found a CD/DVD player that I could attach to our TV … and ordered it.

The CD/DVD player duly arrived on Wednesday, and after a few problems getting the player and the TV connected and working, I sat down to watch my ‘new’ film. Unfortunately, my wife wanted to watch a couple of programmes that were being transmitted that evening, and in the end, I decided to wait until Saturday to watch WATERLOO … and that’s what I intend to do this afternoon.

Thursday 23 June 2022

My latest Belle Époque army is finished

Yesterday I finished renovating, varnishing, and basing my latest Belle Époque army.

The figures are all 15mm Essex Miniatures Hadendowa tribesmen, and I have managed to create a native tribal army that comprises three units armed with firearms (the regular part of the army) and eleven units of spear and sword-armed tribal militia.

The working name for this army’s ‘country’ is Wuzzia … but I may well end up using the name Hadendowa, Beja (the name of the people of whom the Hadendowa form a part), or Bedawi (the language spoken by the Hadendowa) instead of Wuzzia.

Wednesday 22 June 2022

A health update

Before I give an update, may I apologise to those of my regular blog readers who prefer me to stick to wargaming and cruise-related blog posts, but as I judge that the majority of my readers are males over the age of thirty, and prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer that affects men over the age of forty-five, I think that it is a relevant topic for my blog readers to read about.

On Tuesday I had a follow up consultation with a member of the team of doctors who have been dealing with my prostate cancer. He was from the Urology Department of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, and wanted to find out how how well I was recovering from the TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate) procedure that I underwent on 31st May.

I described how I was feeling, and the doctor was pleased with my progress. He put my mind at rest about some of the physical after effects of the TURP that I was experiencing, and then went on to discuss the next stage of my treatment. It appears that my cancer was judged to be aggressive, but that it had responded well to the hormone treatment I am undertaking (my PSA had gone down from 75 to less than 1) and the cancer was confined to my pelvic area (i.e. it has not spread to my bones).

My case is now being passed over to the Oncology Department, and I should be having a consultation with an oncologist in about a fortnight to discuss what further treatment I will need. This will probably involve several weeks of daily radiotherapy at Guys Hospital, London, and if it is successful, I will then require continued three-monthly hormone injections and a PSA blood tests every six months for two years and then annual tests for the rest of my life.

Tuesday 21 June 2022

Henry Hyde’s Magnum Opus: Wargaming Campaigns

At long last (but ahead of schedule!) Henry Hyde’s WARGAMING CAMPAIGNS has been published.

I had pre-ordered mine from Amazon, but when I realised that it has just been published by Pen & Sword and was on sale directly from them for less than Amazon’s discounted price, I cancelled my order with Amazon and bought a copy from the publisher. It arrived a couple of days later, and since then I’ve been dipping in and out of it.

The book a forward by Brigadier (Ret’d) Charles S Grant OBE, a preface, and fourteen chapters. The latter are:

  1. An Introduction to Campaigns: Starting at the Beginning
  2. Campaign Generalship: Mastering strategy
  3. March to Glory: Campaign Rules for All Ages
  4. Where Are We Going?: Creating maps for your forces to fight over
  5. With or Without Umpires – or Opponents: The Role of the Umpire and Solo Campaigns
  6. We the People: Personality Driven Campaigns
  7. Skirmish and Roleplaying Campaigns: You don’t need thousands of troops to play campaigns
  8. Whether the Weather May Be Wet or Fine … : Considerations of climate in wargame campaigns
  9. War at Sea: Naval aspects of campaigns
  10. Air Power: Adding aerial warfare to campaigns
  11. Digital Campaigns: Making use of modern technology
  12. Making Campaigns Work: The Wars of the Faltenian Succession
  13. Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Learning from well-known wargame campaigns
  14. All Roads lead to Rome: The sheer variety of ideas for campaigns

Since it arrived, I have spent many hours reading this book, and I have come to the conclusion that as far as wargame campaigns are concerned, this is the 'go to' book ... and will probably remain so for many years to come! As even a brief glance at the contents shows, it pretty well covers everything that a wargamer needs to know about running a wargame campaign, from the small solo effort to the massive club one. There are numerous examples and suggestions for structures and rules, as well as some of Henry's wonderful maps ... which he explains how he created.

I thoroughly recommend this book to my regular blog readers and think that it deserves a place of the bookshelves of anyone and everyone who thinks of themselves as a hobby wargamer.

My only regret is that Henry was unable to include the Snakes & Ladders Campaign System in his book, but I suspect that it emerged at a stage in the book's production where including it would have required a considerable amount of re-writing and re-editing. (Unless one is a self-publisher, an author has to work with a publisher, and to conform to their deadlines. The latter included getting the text, illustrations etc., ready at a specific time so that it can fit into the publishers printing, publication, and distribution schedules. These are often measured in months or even years rather than days or weeks. Late changes are therefore something that can only be done with great difficulty and cost.)

WARGAMING CAMPAIGNS was written by Henry Hyde and published in 2022 by Pen & Sword Military (ISBN 978 1 4738 5591 5).

Sunday 19 June 2022

Vanishing varnish?

Thanks to the suggestions made by a number of my regular blog readers, I have managed to acquire several tinkets of Humbrol’s No.35 gloss polyurethane varnish … so I can continue work on my Belle Époque project.

The fact that l have had so much trouble finding supplies of this varnish at what I consider to be a reasonable price (one online retailer has a 14ml tin let on sale for £9.57!) – and the fact that the Airfix online shop and several other retailers have stated that this item is currently out of stock – would seem to indicate that supplies of this varnish are currently limited.

I have heard several reasons why this situation has arisen, including COVID, BREXIT, the war in Ukraine, and rising oil prices. However, Brian Cameron – who I have known for many years – has informed me that Humbrol have recently issued the following statement:

The CLP (Classification, Labelling & Packaging) Regulation regularly assesses and occasionally reclassifies chemicals. “Meko”, a popular anti-skinning agent, extensively used in the paint industry has been reclassified under CLP. The change in classification resulted in the substance being phased out for supply to the consumer in Europe. The affected paint cannot now be sold to the general public under the REACH Regulation. There is no requirement to recall product from the end-user. Humbrol enamels are being reformulated, but no timescale is currently available

That makes perfect sense … and explains the reason for the shortage.

Saturday 18 June 2022

Waterloo day!

Today is the 207th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo … and yet again, I haven’t fulfilled my plan to re-fight the battle. I really must rectify this failure on my part; after all, I have enough figures and a set of rules that I know will work, but I keep getting diverted from my goal.

A map of the Waterloo campaign.
A map of the Waterloo battlefield.

Perhaps I’ll manage it by this time next year … but I somehow expect that I won’t.

My point-to-point campaign map for map the Waterloo campaign. I have yet to use it!

One thing that I will try to do today … and that is to watch Sergei Bondarchuk and Dino De Laurentiis' 1970 film, WATERLOO.

Friday 17 June 2022

My latest Belle Époque army: Another progress report

There were far more Hadendowa figures in my collection than I had realised, and I have ended up with three units armed with firearms and eleven units armed with swords and spears. The former will be the army’s regular troops and the others will be the army’s irregular tribal militia.

I hope to varnish the figures later today, and if it is not too hot tomorrow (it is predicted to be somewhat colder than it has been over the past few days), I hope to begin painting the edges of the bases.

Thursday 16 June 2022

The War of the Pacific: Another book to add to the collection

Over the years I have acquired a number of books about the War of the Pacific (1879 to 1883), and when I saw that Alan Curtis had written FROM THE ATACAMA TO THE ANDES: BATTLES OF THE WAR OF THE PACIFIC 1879-1883, I had to buy a copy.

The book has twenty-four chapters and twenty-four appendices(!). The chapter titles are as follows:

  1. The Road to War
  2. The Contending Forces
  3. The Battle of Calama
  4. The Battle of Iquique
  5. The Battle of Angamos
  6. The Pisagua Landing
  7. The Battle of San Francisco
  8. The Battle of Tarapaca
  9. The Battle of Los Angeles
  10. The Battle of Tacna
  11. The Assault on the Morro of Arica
  12. The Blockade of Callao
  13. The Battle of Chorrillos
  14. The Battle of Miraflores
  15. The First Battle of Pucara
  16. The Action at Acuchimay, Concepcion, Maracavalle and 2nd Pucara
  17. The Battle of San Pablo
  18. The Battle of Huamachuco
  19. The Fall of Arequipa
  20. The End
  21. Organisation of the Armies
  22. Artillery
  23. Uniforms
  24. Major Warships

The appendices are as follows:

  1. Chilean Forces at Pisagua
  2. Chilean Forces at Tarapaca
  3. Allied Forces at Tarapaca
  4. Peruvian Forces at the Battle of Tarapaca
  5. Chilean Casualties at Tarapaca
  6. Peruvian Casualties at Tarapaca
  7. Chilean Divisions January 1880
  8. Forces at the Battle of Los Angeles
  9. Second Army of the South (1880)
  10. Allied Forces at the Battle of Tacna
  11. Chilean Forces at the Battle of Tacna
  12. Chilean Losses at the Battle of Tacna
  13. Forces at the Storming of the Morro Arica
  14. Armies of the North and Centre
  15. Chilean Forces Landed at Pisco
  16. Chilean Casualties at the Battle of Chorrillos
  17. Chilean Casualties at the Battle of Miraflores
  18. Official Chilean Casualty returns
  19. Forces for the First La Brena Campaign
  20. Chilean Deployment in the Mantaro Valley May 1882
  21. Combined Armies of the North and Centre July 1883 (Peru)
  22. The Peruvian Army of Arequipa 1883
  23. Armies of the Final Campaign 1883
  24. Armies of the Final Campaign: The Bolivian Army 1883

The book also contains thirty-five black-and-white illustrations, seven colour plates, and fifteen battle maps.

As you might gather, this book is pretty well a wargamer's guide to the War of the Pacific, and for anyone who has an interest in wargaming wars in that era, this is a 'must buy'. One note of caution, however. As Trebian (the writer of the WARGAMING FOR GROWN UPS blog) mentions in his review of this book, there are few typos and no index.

It is worth noting that Trebian is the author of IT'S GETTING A BIT CHILE, an excellent set of rules for fighting the land battles of this war.

FROM THE ATACAMA TO THE ANDES: BATTLES OF THE WAR OF THE PACIFIC 1879-1883 was written by Alan Curtis and published in 2022 by Helion & Company as No.21 in their 'From Musket to Maxim 1815-1914' series (ISBN 978 1 914059-91-9).

IT'S GETTING A BIT CHILE: TABLETOP WARGAME RULES FOR LAND CONFLICT IN THE WAR OF THE PACIFIC 1879-1884 was written by Graham Evans and published in 2020 by Wargaming for Grown Ups Publications (ISBN 978 1 797 56040 3).

Wednesday 15 June 2022

My latest Belle Époque army: A progress report

I am still working on the renovation and rebasing of the 15mm Hadendowa figures in my collection. So far, I have removed them from their old bases, touched up any obvious wear-and-tear damage, and have glued them to their new bases. The next stage will be to give each figure a coat of gloss varnish before I finish of the bases. The latter involves painting the edge of each base with matt black paint and flocking the base with naturally-coloured powdered cork.

A couple of days ago I noticed that I was beginning to run short of Humbrol gloss polyurethane varnish and decided to order some from the Airfix website. I was amazed to discover that it is not in stock ... and when I checked elsewhere online, supplies seem to be very limited ... and some of the supplies that are available are being sold at ridiculously high prices. I have no idea why this situation has arisen, but I did find it rather worrying as I tend to gloss varnish all my figures.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman's nine simple rules of war

The following nine simple rules of war formed part of a recent online article by Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman. Having read them, I felt that I ought to share them with my regular blog readers.

  1. Do not depend on the first military move being decisive. If it is not decisive you will be fighting a very different war to the one envisaged;
  2. A poor performance in the early stages of a war will prolong its length if it does not lead to immediate defeat;
  3. It is easier to start wars than to end them;
  4. Forces are more determined when defending their own territory than when invading somebody else’s;
  5. Resistance does not necessarily conclude with the defeat of defending forces but can lead to insurgency. This is why it is always unwise to occupy countries where you will not be welcome.
  6. The longer wars go on the more important non-military considerations (national resilience/economic strength/ alliance and partnerships) become to their resolution;
  7. During the course of a war the political objectives for which it is being fought will change so that the prospective gains can justify the actual costs, thereby making them harder to conclude;
  8. The unintended consequences of wars are normally as if not more important than the intended;
  9. As Rules 1 to 8 are self-evident those political leaders who ignore them and launch a war are apt to achieve surprise, simply by being stupid.

Professor Sir Lawrence David Freedman, KCMG, CBE, PC, FBA is Emeritus Professor of War Studies at King's College London.

Monday 13 June 2022

More solitaire wargame books

Back in February, my old friend and fellow member of Wargame Developments, Tony Hawkins, gave me BISMARCK SOLITAIRE by Mike Wylie, Sean Cooke, and Grant Wylie III as a birthday present.

This proved to be very useful when I went into hospital in March, as Sue was able to get my copy bring it in to me and was able to play some of the scenarios.

Since then I have acquired two more book in this series. They are WATERLOO SOLITAIRE ...


I took my copy of WATERLOO SOLITAIRE into hospital with me when I underwent my prostate operation, but I was unable to use it very much as the person I shared a ward bay with objected to the sound of the dice being thrown!

These books were written by Mike Wylie, Sean Cooke, and Grant Wylie III, and published by Worthington Publishing.

  • BISMARCK SOLITAIRE (published in 2021; ISBN 979 87565 4806 8)
  • WATERLOO SOLITAIRE (published in 2021; ISBN 979 87749 4492 7)
  • GETTYSBURG SOLITAIE (published in 2022; ISBN 979 84360 0269 9)

Please note that the images featured above are © Worthington Publishing and are included solely for the purposes of this review.

Sunday 12 June 2022

COW2022: Deadline for bookings

Tomorrow (13thy June) will be the deadline for all Conference of Wargamers 2022 (COW2022) to have booked and paid for their places.

As you can imagine, as I am the Membership Secretary and Treasurer (A post I have held since 1980!), the next couple of days could see me spending quite a bit of time in front of my computer processing last minute bookings and payments ... and wondering if herding cats might have been an easier task!

I don't know what it is about some wargamers, but a small minority of them seem to live in a very otherworldly place where deadlines are vague or notional or don't apply to them, and if other people are inconvenienced ... well, that's not their problem.

I used to experience the same sort of thing with some of my students when it came to deadlines for work to be handed in ... and the reaction they had to the sudden impact of them 'hitting' the reality wall was – to say the least – interesting. I once remember a student handing in a piece of coursework that I had repeatedly asked them for two weeks after the deadline for the grade to be sent to the examination board. The conversation went something like this:

Student: 'Here's the coursework you've kept asking me for.'

Me: 'Thank you, but its too late and you have failed this part of the course.'

Student: 'But you haven't even looked at it!'

Me: 'The deadline for it to be marked and the grade to be sent to the exam board was two weeks ago. You failed to meet the deadline ... so you've failed.'

Student: 'That's not fair! I've done the work ... and I want you to mark it.'

Me: 'There's no point. You've missed the deadline ... the deadline I repeatedly reminded you about every time that I saw you up until two weeks ago. I stopped mentioning it then because you hadn't given me the work and the deadline had passed.'

Student: 'I'm going to the Principal to complain! You have no right to refuse to mark my work and to fail me!'

Me: 'Please do. Then when she explains to you that you have failed because of your own stupidity ...'

Student (shouting): 'You can't call me stupid! That's offensive!'

Me: 'Well, what can I call you that isn't offensive? There is no one to blame for this except you. You failed to meet the deadline, hence you failed to complete the coursework on time ... and you failed this part of the course.'

Student (as they go out of the office door): 'I'm going off to complain about you ... NOW!'

Needless to say, the Principal listened to the student, summoned me into her office to hear my side of the story, and eventually had to admit that I was right, and the student was wrong. I was, however, told off for using the word stupid to describe the student's actions! It was deemed to be offensive ... but when asked, the Principal could come up with an alternative word that I could have used.

The matter did not, however, end there. The student's parents contacted the Chair of Governors and made a formal complaint. This was 'investigated' and I was eventually exonerated for doing my job properly ... and although I've been retired nearly seven years, people still ask me if I miss teaching! Certainly not this aspect of it!

Saturday 11 June 2022


Just over a week ago, I promised that I’d feature the list of sessions that will form the programme of the forthcoming Conference of Wargamers 2022 (COW2022) which will take place from 8th to 10th July.


Teams will be given some ‘what if’ situations and must entertain us all with the short or long-term consequences.


The summer of '69, SE Asia: an American pilot has been shot down over Vietnam and the 8th Special Operations Squadron is scrambled to rescue him. In their vintage prop-driven 'Spads' they must suppress enemy AAA and ground troops to enable the helicopters to lift the pilot to safety. They will be supported by every 'fast mover' available, the action coordinated by an experienced Forward Air Controller. But they must move fast, as our man came down near Na Xtan in the heart of NVA territory. (It's hot in there sir, that's where we lost McDonald).

A lawn game featuring 1/72 aircraft and 1/32 figures.


A game of Soviet special purpose forces in Afghanistan, featuring teams from Zenit, Alfa, the VDV, and others who lack their warmth and generosity of spirit. The game will use 6mm toy soldiers and the Soviet version of the ‘Guts Enough To Try’ rules.


Liberated Naples, 1943: British intelligence officers hunt for leading Fascists in an ancient, starving city rife with vendettas, prostitution, and other, darker secrets. A role-playing game covering bleak ground and with some adult themes.


Love it or hate it, another variation on the original Muskets and Tomahawks rules. This time we are in South West Texas/ North East Mexico during the Texan Revolution. A cast of thousands (well dozens) including Santa Anna, Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and the Lords of the Southern Plains. Plus Cactus ... lots of Cactus!


Fast-ish play rules for ancients. Based on Rapid Raphia from several years ago. 12 units a side, all driven by playing cards. Refight ancient battles from the Hellenic period without your dice roiling on the floor.


A refight of General Sir Henry Havelock’s crowning victory on the road to Cawnpore. Can he defeat the Nana Sahib’s army and free the hostages before vile deeds are done? The game will use the ‘Indian Mutine-era’ variant of the ‘Taiping era’ rules with the added joy of 25mm figures. Yes! Revel in the nostalgia of late 1970’s Minifigs and that Hinchcliffe elephant limber. Launch bayonet charges in the face of massed Sepoy musketry! Or, if you are on the other side fight heroically to send the European invader back home! Join the life and death struggle for the soul of a (sub) continent.


The 1980 Dallas (as in ‘Who shot JR?’) franchise tie-in with owning TV production company Lorimar is a notorious episode of the past history of SPI, often being quoted as one of the main causes of the death of SPI. The game is a hybrid of an after-dinner game, an RPG, a matrix game where the ‘three arguments’ routine is replaced by a simple conflict mechanism, and a sort of Illuminati-style game where minor characters can exercise power on behalf of the main character.


The Russian Revolution. Failed in 1905. Failed in 1917. Succeeded in 1917. Be ready to play out an attempt at the revolution or counter it – with all of the uncertainty of circumstance and success the leaders went into it with. A combination of political game and toy soldier game with subtle links between the parts, a heavy dose of mutual player interaction ranging from comradeship to open hostility, and the threat of exclusion and strikes. Deals will be made, and deals will be broken. Talk – or fight.


A small little known 1815 Napoleonic battle in France with Corsican Corporal against a Sepoy General with the battle being named after a train station. It will be a collective decision-making game with the fate of Europe handing in the balance.


British Army Fight Club Wargame Primer. A platoon assault on a defended hill-top. Team of three NCO's and Leader.


An American Civil War toy soldier game for half a dozen players on a small table. Some of the mechanisms will be familiar, others perhaps less so. Some appropriate hats will be available.


Command Napoleon’s Grande Armée on its march on Moscow. Get the Russians to sue for peace or see the army melt away in the snows of Winter. A single player map-based game using toy soldiers. This game has served as the WD North demonstration game at recent wargame shows. This will run several times.


A chance to try Donald Featherstone’s World War Two commando rules (from Donald Featherstone’s Wargaming Commando Operations and Reflections on Wargaming, Lost Tales Volume 2, edited by John and Michael Curry, History of Wargaming Project, 2013). The game has been modernised for the 21st Century by replacing the 20mm Airfix figures with 15mm metal ones and substituting a home-made MTB and Dory for the landing craft. Participants in possession of caps, comforter or berets, green are welcome to wear them.


Wargaming has an outstanding record of modelling historical conflicts; from moving Caesar’s legions around the battlefield to running the Vietnam War. However, when it comes to modelling future conflicts, our wargames are terrible. This lecture and discussion will demonstrate examples of these errors and will offer the first tentative suggestions about how to improve games about future conflicts. Health warning: anyone who has confidence in professional wargaming will probably get annoyed.


A map-based game about the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. The game was designed and played prior to the war. This will involve discussion about how the game model compares to the actual reality of the conflict.


People can play at any time – another game in the Diary of a Ball series.


From Paddy’s Napoleonic Wargaming book. I prepared this game years ago but haven’t played it. It may be a genuine wargame development as I’d not sure if anyone has actually played the full version!


A counter and zoned map game of the great Canadian WW2 battle for the town of Ortona during Christmas 1943. The game will be a modified version of High-Flying Dice Games ‘Christmas in Hell’ with (hopefully) a new map, some rules tweaks and an evolving narrative. The game will be followed by a discussion of how well it represents urban combat and a summary of the real operation.


A fairly light-hearted sci-fi skirmish game.


Illustrated talk on the battle of Blore Heath (23rd September 1459). The second battle of the Wars of the Roses. It has a number of unusual features.


The players are the Computer Emergency Response Team of a large UK organisation. They will be tasked with responding to a cybersecurity incident. Some specific roles will be assigned during the briefing. No knowledge of IT or cybersecurity is required (but might be beneficial …)


'Vladimir Putin – how the hell do I get out of this alive', a Matrix Game about the Ukraine and Russian futures.


A home brew RPG adventure set in a backward and almost abandoned system on the edge of civilised space.


A home brew RPG designed for British Army Reservist Training in Lockdown. You are recently mobilised Ukrainian Reservists, called to a tattered old Army Base north of Kiev, as Russia is threatening to invade.


This black committee game explores the options and possible complications of a terrorist organisation acquiring a WMD. Players will be given a brief to follow and will decide on what to do with the WMD once it is their possession. Inspired by a journal article and adapted to the committee game format. The game will be followed by a discussion on the themes raised.


Using Bloody Barons rules. A chance to play with lots of 15mm figures. This session will run twice.


Pirate land raid. Quite a quick game and on a small 2 x 3 foot table too. Probably play twice or more in a session. This session will run twice.


A fun look at how railroads influenced the outcome of the American Civil War.


An update of Avalon Hill's solitaire WW2 tank game Patton's Best, set in a 1985 WW3 inspired by the novel Team Yankee by Harold Coyle. Each player will command an M1 Abrams tank in a company-sized team through several enemy encounters. After the gameplay there will be a discussion of this and other similar narrative games.


The conference is a 'closed' event and is only open to members of Wargame Developments.

Thursday 9 June 2022

What next?

Whilst I am waiting to recover from my recent prostate operation, I have a period of a couple of weeks when I have to take things relatively easy. I’m therefore working on a couple of small projects that I can do from the comfort of a chair in our home office or my toy/wargame room.

I have a large collection of 15mm Sudanese War figures that are currently not quite compatible with my newer Belle Époque armies. I have therefore begun removing some of the figures from their current bases so that they can be renovated, varnished, and rebased. I chose to start with the Hadendowa figures, and they are going to become a small tribal army whose elements can fight each other in a series of civil wars or can fight on their own or with allies against any potential ‘Frankish’* invaders.

I’m not quite sure what name this new army will fight under, but I am inclined to call them the Wuzzian tribal army.

* During the Medieval Crusades, the Muslims referred to Europeans as 'Franks' and Western/Latinate Europe as 'Frangistan' ('the land of the Franks'). 'Frangistan' is derived from Persian, 'Farang' being the Persian form of 'Frank' plus the suffix '-istan' meaning 'land of'.

Wednesday 8 June 2022

The Napoleonic Wargaming blog

For years, Paul Leniston (AKA Thistlebarrow) has been fighting Napoleonic campaigns and battles against his wife in their home in Spain. He has written a set of rules that enable them to field several corps per side on his tabletop, and to fight a battle to a conclusion in a relatively short time.

Paul has been recording the outcome of the battles he has fought on his blog – Napoleonic Wargaming – and I have been following them with great interest for some years … and I always enjoy reading his battle reports.

Now, I’m not a dedicated Napoleonic wargamer, even though I do own a reasonably sized collection of figures, but every time I read one of Paul’s blog posts, I am inspired. My only regret is that a lot more wargamers don’t seem to follow Paul’s blog. Certainly, my comments often appear to be the only ones that are made on his blog posts, and I strongly urge any of my regular blog readers who have an interest in Napoleonic wargaming to visit Paul’s blog and to follow it.

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Platinum Jubilee celebrations at St George’s Garrison Church, Woolwich

St George’s was the garrison church for Woolwich Barracks. It was completed in 1863 and served as the garrison’s place of worship until it was hit by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944 and largely destroyed by fire.

After the ownership was transferred from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation to the Heritage of London Trust Organisation in 2011, it underwent restoration work. This was part funded by the National Lottery Fund, and since 2016 the site has been run by the Woolwich Garrison Church Trust.

The Trust opens the site every Sunday and for special event. This weekend the church has been open from Thursday to Sunday and has hosted a number of Platinum Jubilee events. Sunday’s was for the family and members of the Princess of Wales Own Regiment - which is currently stationed in Woolwich - and the local Gurkha/Nepali community. (The Royal Borough of Greenwich is said to have the largest Gurkha/Nepali community within the UK.)

Sue and I decided that although the weather was overcast and there was a possibility of rain, we would go to the event … and mighty pleased we are that we did!

The local bus service took us to within a couple of hundred yards of the entrance to the church.

When we entered, there were already several people there, and preparations for the afternoon's entertainment were underway under than canopy end of the church.

Just inside the entrance, a local Nepali restaurant (the Panas Gurkha Restaurant) was giving out free food ...

The Panas Gurkha Restaurant stand. The owner (Mr Sujan Katuwal) is standing on the left, and his head chef is in the centre, behind the table.

... and Sue and I both sampled it.

We were not the only people who appreciated the food, and the queue of local Gurkhas/Nepalis waiting to eat it is testament to its quality.

The afternoon's entertainment included examples of Nepali dance given by a young girl ...

... and what I understand were a pair of sisters.

They were followed by a famous Nepali singer (whose name I did not quite catch!) ...

... who was so well received that one of the local Nepali community leaders joined her on stage and danced while she sang.

After a short break, the RAF Cadet Band arrived and entertained us with a selection of military and popular tunes.

By the time that the band had finished, it was almost 4.00pm, and Sue and returned home on the bus.

The Panas Gurkha Restaurant did sterling service during the pandemic and supplied over 100,000 hot meals (!) to the local community. Their contribution has been acknowledged widely in the the media and has even warranted visits by Dame Joanna Lumley, the well-known actress and supporter of the Gurkha community in the UK.

As to the quality and excellence of the food ... well, as a rule Sue will not eat spicy Asian food ... but on this occasion she ate a plateful of Gurkha food, and even asked for seconds of one dish! My favourite was the spicy minced venison, which I understand is not on the restaurant's usual menu, but which can (according to the head chef) be requested in advance.

The restaurants details are as follows:

Panas Gurkha Restaurant, 318 Lee High Road, Lewisham, SE13 5PJ

Monday 6 June 2022

Seventy-eight years on

Today marks the seventy-eight anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of North-Western Europe.

As I wrote last year, with every year that passes, the number of surviving veterans seems to be diminishing with growing rapidity, and it will not be long before the last serviceman or woman who took part in the Second World War will have died.

I concluded last year's D-Day blog post with the thought that it is our duty and our honour to remember the veterans of the Second World War on days like today, alongside all those who served their country before them, and who have served it since.

We should never forget the sacrifices they made.

Saturday 4 June 2022


After a hiatus due to the closure of the usual venue for the Conference of Wargamers (COW), we have found a replacement at rather short notice, and the conference will be going ahead as usual from 8th to 10th July.

As I am currently the Treasurer and Membership Secretary of Wargame Developments (I have been doing the job since WD was founded back in 1980!), I am having to process the final payments and booking for the conference. Luckily, taking it easy after my operation means sitting down quite a lot, so I can do almost all of the work from the comfort of my office swivel chair!

The residential conference costs £310.00 (including full board) and is open to members of Wargame Developments. I hope to publish details of the sessions later this week so that non-members can get some idea of what they are missing! The conference is NOT a wargames show but does host a large number of games, discussions, lectures etc., where wargamers and wargame designers can exchange ideas and concepts, experience new and sometimes very novel approaches to wargame design, and discuss wargaming, both formally and informally. There is nothing quite like COW anywhere else in the world in the fields of professional or recreational wargaming ... which probably accounts for its longevity.

Friday 3 June 2022

Back in circulation

As regular readers will know, my health has been giving me cause for concern for some time. As a result, I was admitted to University Hospital Lewisham on Tuesday to undergo what is known as a TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate). I will not go into details, but essentially it is a procedure that involves removing a section of the enlarged prostate to allow the urine to flow more freely

After the operation I was fitted with a different type of catheter from the one I had been using since the urology consultant at the local hospital fitted me with it in March. This catheter is designed to flush out the bladder and prostate with a saline solution to aid healing and to ensure that blood clots do not form. This catheter was taken out on Thursday morning, and once I had shown that I was able to function normally, I was discharged that afternoon. I now have to take things easy for a couple of weeks and to complete a week-long course of antibiotics.

I’m now back in circulation … and hope to remain so for the foreseeable future.