Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Painting table backlog

So what’s on the painting table at the start of 2016. 

At the front are a lot of 1/72 plastics from Hat. This time the WW1 East Africa sets they brought out about a year ago (and still waiting for the Brits!). 

The campaign in East Africa was the culmination of colonial madness with a number of European nations in Imperial conflict. Small armies ranging over immense distances on incredibly varied terrain transporting boats hundreds of miles overland to fight wars on lakes, armoured trains, killer bees, biplanes, a Zeppelin, sailors becoming soldiers, guns taken from battleships and pulled by hundreds of men through desert and jungle. What’s not to love (unless you were actually there of course).

The figures are going to get a basic block paint and a coat of dip. Shouldn’t take too long to sort a couple of hundred out.

 Pulling a motor torpedo boat through Africa by traction engine!

Armoured train(ish)

The main issue is a set of rules. I have purchased Contemptible Little Armies, If the Lord Spares Us (with East African variant), Crush the Kaiser and Triumph of the Will but none really grab me so I expect it may be a home spun set. The issue is that they need to be able to be played by at least half a dozen people, so not card driven, and simple enough to pick up once a year. The level will be about a brigade per side so Rapid Fire keeps shouting from the back of my head, a set we all know if not all love.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

More 2015

We played a few games of Saga in 2014 but, as far as I can recall, only one last year. The core rules are simple (nothing wrong with that) but I found the battle board a bit gimmicky.They are fun initially but become a bit tedious after a few games as opponents start to know what to expect. Inevitably the boards end up on the table top as they need to be seen by both players.

It is however an excellent marketing strategy. The rules are nice and glossy, additional supplements of course and special dice at £12 for 8. When fewer than fifty figures are required to play the game I expect most wargamers are happy to budget for these extras. I did!

My Irish warband getting hammered by Vikings

We have thousands of 6mm Napoleonics and in June we had a bit of an impromptu Waterloo using a set of rules based on Blackpowder. Not as good as Volley and Bayonet but not everyone likes the book keeping they entail. They worked okay and gave the expected result of the French dashing themselves against the red wall until the Prussians turned up.

We did have one splendid game of Volley and Bayonet. Thanks Richard. A 15mm Lobositz. Here, following a grand cavalry melee, the Prussians found themselves dashed against a resilient white Austrian wall.

It did look splendid and I had the honour of tormenting General Bevern with a horde of Croats

 At the close of play the Austrians look barely touched whilst the Prussians retreat.

Our big bashes tend to be ACW, as many of our club have a 28mm collection, and one such was Williamsburg.

Here Fort Magruder is well defended.

Charging Confederates and the victorious Union

Sadly there are no piccies of our AK47 day. One of the great sets of rules (the original set of course now available again as a pdf) that no one seems able to explain. Simple mechanics but comprehensive in setting the scene, effective army lists, giving a result in a not quite specified time and quite mad. Not everyone's cup of tea in Political Correct Land but no war is/was ever pleasant and all we are doing is playing with toy soldiers.

An interesting comparison with Saga as the subtleties are within the, cheaply produced, core rules but, like Saga, where wargamers' megolomania means that we need at least two armies and perhaps a choice of armoured car and tanks or artillery pulled by APCs or recoiless rifles on zebra striped landrovers................

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

2015 (cont)

We like Ganesha Games' The Songs of.... sets of rules. They are a simple but subtle set of skirmish rules, although we do stretch them to their limits with large table multi player games. In 2015 we had four games based on this rules engine.

(The loss of my camera unfortunately means few piccies of poor quality.)


This mess of felt and trees gave an interesting WW1 skirmish using Flying Lead. You can make out the trenches at the top of the picture. The final assault (surprisingly?) did not go well.....

We also used them in a great WW2 Normandy game. The highlight for me was getting my sergeant to jump out of the front door shoot a couple of jerries with my sten and jump back inside, the hail of reactive fire chipping the walls around me. Yep great rules. Until the Germans crossed up stream and wiped us out :(.

 Tony didn't seem to want to move from behind the hedge.

Another favourite is Jim's Indian Mutiny game using Songs of Drums and Shakoes. Especially these ladies looking for the back door.

Whilst we also used the rules for the "correct" period too. Here French assault British troops


who found themselves holed up in battered house.

If you haven't tried these rules they are whole heartedly recommended.

Hopefully in 2016 we'll try the Dark Age rules as an alternative to Saga (I'm not that keen).

Monday, 28 December 2015


So, all has been quiet in the land of Wine and Cheese due to a number of reasons (excuses). However some wargaming activity has occurred during 2015. I’ll make a brief note thereof below as a sort of personal diary for myself.

And of course there are even more plans and dreams whirring about what passes for my brain. Of which more anon.

2015 started and ended, coincidentally, with scenarios based on old favourite: Guilford Courthouse.

January 2015.

An American Rebellion game.

Using Blackpowder rules, which we made use of a few time in 2013 and 2014 but this was the last game we used them. I am a little critical of them, particularly the layout of the book, but they generally provide a fun game and although none of our group love them no one overly objects to playing them.

If I recollect correctly the rebellious colonials put up a damn good good show right from the start whereas the British and particularly the Hessians were very hesitant to push forward.

This slow start made a tactical draw inevitable and a strategic victory for General Greene

December 2015

Our Christmas game was also in America but almost a century later. Using a club favourite - Fire and Fury the Union took the part of the British hoping to quickly push aside a weak confederate force and take the town.

The Union Corps advance towards a depleted Confederate division

Pressing on through difficult terrain

To meet with stout resistance.

Again the defenders proved too good and the attack petered out on the second line of defence. 

Fire and Fury usually provides a good game whilst playing but is never entirely satisfying. The mechanics often giving surprising results that can be amusing if you are not on the wrong end of them but I find the game rarely provides a result and tends to end in a stalemate of less than half strength brigades hanging on for too long. I suppose more thought needs to go into the scenarios.


Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Napoleonic campaign - sieges and summer

So what did Bavaria do? It attacked the closest weaker enemy – in this case Austria. The boys in cornflower blue marched to Innsbruck and laid siege. The Austrians skulked insided the city walls and defied the Bavarians who lost a base in the process.

The French, also being rash attacked – this time Dresden. Another siege ensued but the Prussian army withdrew leaving the French with an easier nut to crack than the Bavarians but to no avail, as yet.

That concluded Spring 1801 and Great Britain makes the first move of the summer campaigning season by again doing nothing. The Prussians however are made of sterner stuff and attack Smolensk. The Russians, with four bases missing from their army as a consequence of losing their first battle with the Prussian, advance to meet them.

The Prussians fail to muster any allies but when the Russians request help two nations reply. The French send a small division of two brigades and a battery to their aid whilst perversely the Bavarians decide to help Prussia with two infantry brigades and a light horse regiment.

Terrain is chosen and the armies deployed.

The smaller Russo - France army move first and send a briagde of cossacks marauding down the flank followed at a more stately pace by cuirassiers. The rest advance on village and wood.


Bavarians line up with their Germanic neighbours. There is a general advance. Whilst the Bavarian chevauxlegers move to intercept the Russian cavalry

 ... and soundly beat the cuirassiers who must have been surprised as they charge from behind the wood.

Batteries fire with the only success to the Russians who rout a Prussian brigade in the centre. The Bavarians on the right push forward.

... their columns hitting the Russians. One Russian is destroyed but one Bavarian is routed too.

Prussian dragoons are thrown into the fray and a battery brought forward

The Prussian battery is lost to counter battery fire!

Still the Prussians press forward hoping for a breakthrough.

Which the Bavarians and dragoons achive. The Russo French lose their fourth base and the game before the rash Prussians attempt to breach the village. 

Another loss for the Russians and a base lost for their French allies.

 A brave showing by the Bavarians who won the day for their new friends. "Perhaps a united Germany would be a good idea eh chaps?"

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

DBA Campaign map

The DBA campaign system is a very simple way of giving games a little more interest. Using DBA as the wargame rules a campaign can be undertaken in an afternoon or evening. We have had some fun campaigns in Ancient Greece and Renaissance Italy. The city state type geography give the best feel for this simple campaign system.

The original DBA map is simply a stylised circle of provinces or nations. Shown below - a photo from first version of DBA.

Each player starts the game with three cities (or provinces) joined by transport routes (usually roads but may be sea routes). In the centre is another “independent” city which is often the place where fighting starts because at the end of the year reinforcements are based upon the number of cities held at the end of the year. Supply is automatic assuming that a players field army is next to a city he controls, otherwise there may be consequences of hunger, desertion and disease.

On a players turn he may invade another player’s city, moving up to two movement stages on a transport route. Alliances can and should be made and allies may provide contingents to aid in battle. All bases lost in battle, at sea or as the consequence of supply, from the original 12 base army, are placed in reserve.

Campaigning occurs during the three rounds of spring, summer and autumn; retiring into winter quarters on the fourth move. During winter a player may transfer a base from his reserve for each city held, not exceeding his original 12 base army strength.

I am keeping note of all moves and results on an excel spreadsheet but we have in the past used a stylised play board on which counters are moved to show where forces are at a given time.

My spreadsheet did not look very good when I tried to upload it here so below is a map of the cities I am using for the Napoleonic campaign. I was tempted to produce a more inspiring map with routes between Austria and France via Italy and adding Spain with routes to Britain but in the end I stuck to the original intention ie create an excuse to play games.   Poor old Dresden is in the middle and will no doubt be fought over a few times more.


(As a personal aside, my boy Jack has successfully passed out of basic training with the Royal Air Force. His mum and I are very proud of him.)