Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Salute 2014

It's a shame I didn't enhance the picture as the
software has automatically brightened the Stygian gloom!
I'm a little late posting (we had visitors) but SALUTE was last Saturday and as my feet have just about recovered now - three days later - I thought it high time I posted some pictures and thoughts.... 

The shows itself was probably the busiest I've ever seen it (the Excel definitely was  - it was the London Marathon check in venue again, and there was also a property show on) and I think I must have been going every year since  about 1998 - I certainly had one, and I think two, trips to the Kensington Town Hall venue, and then Olympia (which I liked very much) - I've been going to the Excel ever since they decided that Olympia was not big enough, but in my heart of hearts I still preferred the show when it was at Olympia...

The Excel seems to tick many boxes whilst not actually fulfilling any of them - it's a bit of a smoke and mirrors location....  "customer built exhibition space", "purpose built", "on site parking", "easy access by car"... it seems to have a lot going for it but on behalf of the prosecution I would say...
  • the hall is a bit lifeless, it is a concrete box - a very big concrete box but nonetheless that's all it is
  • the lighting is utterly execrable - I thought it was worse this year than last year - you spend the entire day in a slightly stygian gloom - I told my trusty wargaming buddy DG that I was bringing a head torch next year!
  • car parking has gone up to a flat rate £15 irrespective of how long you stay
  • easy car access to the Excel is only via Junction 2 of the orbital - great for Kent and Essex, not so good for everyone else...  it's a round trip of about 200 miles for me so that's another £30
  • two tickets - that's £20
....so basically before we even go through the door DG and I have spent £30 each (and if I was going on my own..  I wouldn't go by car..  but public transport is not much better) ....  plus lunch and drinks which we take with us....  is it worth it??  I would say a qualified "yes"...  put it this way, we aren't planning not to go next year!

So how about the show content?? Increasingly fantasy orientated - but I mentioned that last year - and while that is clearly where the money appears to be, there is still a huge historical presence, and anyway I quite like to see the fantasy stuff as it is invariably very well painted!

It is also (of course) a massive market place, and by the quantities of £20 notes I saw being waved about I would assume it was a very profitable one for some of the traders. Purchases?? I surpassed even my last show and bought absolutely nothing at this one... No point - I have plenty of lead to paint, and no time to do it, so fairly pointless buying more!


I enjoyed myself thoroughly checking out the various stands to see what was new, enjoying the buzz, and then I spent a fair amount of time viewing the various demo and presentation games - so without further ado - here are my favourites...

Note...  I can honestly say that all the following were games - they were all being played - none of them were 'static demonstrations' or "diorama's"...  I don't like hexes, so while there were some nice looking games they won't feature here, you'll also see no Fantasy, and no walkers, robots, zombies, spiders, aerial flyers, science fiction, or anything not purely historical... sorry...  my blog my rules... 

So in the traditional way, and in ascending order, in last place - this game was using the "Crush the Kaiser" rules [clicky] and was titled "August, 1914" and is based on part of the Battle of Tannenberg from 26th-30th August 1914 - it was put on to demonstrate their new "Over by Christmas" add on covering the early battles on the Western Front from 1914 to 1916...


A fairly small game, but what attracted my eye was this long column of horse drawn artillery


Very nice...


I've mentioned before but I am enamoured of the Japanese scenery made by by Oshiro Model Terrain [clicky] and their game this year was up to the usual high standards..  this was called "Attack on a Jo Ka Machi (coastal town)"...


Lots and lots of little features...  love the cherry trees in blossom...



It was these that got my attention - how ungainly are they!


Next - and scoring this low purely because the period is not a great favourite of mine - we have this Roman invasion of Britain game "C Day" - this was a participation game put on by fellow blogger Simon of the Big Red Bat Cave [clicky]

It was the galley's that caught my eye.... two of them...  I love the Romans wading ashore in the background...



...and this one painted by fellow blogger Legatus [clicky]



..and the towed elephant!


They played this game 3 times on the day using a combined version of Black Powder/Hail Caesar - well done!


OK - three games to go....  so in 3rd this simply humungous Sword Beach game - in the far distance you can see the other end of the game....


...simply beautiful terrain and scenery...


Just look at these!


...and the beach...  they were using Flames of War I think...


Like the pipe cleaner burst marks...


..and in second place this early WWII game based on the Battle of Keren [clicky] (to be precise - the second battle since there were actually three over a period of two or three months)

I was blown away by the terrain - face of the hill is in two parts, and made of vacuum formed plastic



Note the propaganda unit on the right - superb...


View of the summit...  Italians with askari local troops in support...


More details and pictures here [clicky] - the game was played using Too Fat Lardies "I Ain't Been Shot Mum" rules...


...and in first place - just to show what a stick in the mud, conservative, fellow I am there was this game representing the Battle of Barbastro in 1837 (the Carlist War) - presented by the South London Warlords, and played with figures exclusively from the Perry Carlist War range.. 


Just lovely...  nothing clever, nothing gimmicky, just a very nice table filled with a moderate number of very well painted soldiers, and some exquisite terrain...   it really doesn't have to be complicated....



Loved the Spanish town, and their were little vignettes and features all over the place...


Love the deaths Head pennants


Neglected to find out what rules they were using...  mea culpa


...and that was it - superb day out - but please (please), warlords, do something about the lighting....!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

"Captain of Foot".. a review..

Not one of my favourites in the series (I await with bated breath the reprint of "Mohawk Valley" which is still at least a year away and very definitely is a favourite... ) but despite that I enjoyed this enormously...

Christopher Carey is a reluctant Lieutenant in the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot, a part of the famous Light Brigade, and serving in Portugal and then Spain in the Peninsula Theatre of the Napoleonic wars..

Really he'd much prefer to live a life as a writer, warm and comfortable at home in his library - his misfortune is that he is blessed (cursed?) with a sense of honour, and is also a damn good infantry officer...

The book covers the period from 1809 where the regiment was in the retreat to Vigo and Corunna and was part of the rearguard to the army.

While defending a bridge crossing (an excellent little scenario) Chris is captured by the French and after a few adventures (including dinner with Ney) he is rescued by Spanish guerillas and finally manages to make it home to Britain in time to rejoin the regiment when they returned to Portugal.

After the death of Sir John Moore they are under the command of Sir Robert Craufurd's and after landing at Lisbon the regiment moves to Spain to support Wellesley's forces who are already there. The depiction of the regiments march of 250 miles from Lisbon to Talavera (literally to the 'sound of the guns') is hair raising...  (it included a march of fifty-two miles in twenty-six hours in the hottest conditions of the year).

He takes part in the campaigns of the crossing of the Côa, and Sabugal, is seconded to the same band of guerilla's as an intelligence officer, and eventually buys his captaincy after being persuaded by a cousin on Wellington's staff that he really is a better officer than he thinks he is!

The book ends with another superb little scenario - a section of the  43rd, with light/horse artillery support, are asked to defend and hold a crossing to allow Wellington to outflank the French - and Chris is given command....

Excellent book, and a superb quality reprint, at a super reasonable price [clicky] - I recommend it unreservedly...

Steve the Wargamer gives this one a 9 out of 10.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

"Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters..... another bargain!

...I'm not on commission for Amazon, honest, but no self respecting wargamer with an interest in black powder warfare should be without the following...  and at 99p it beggars belief that anyone would not snap it up immediately...  I have!


http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/ref=pe_151291_46454101_pe_row1_b3/?ASIN=B002RI91LC
 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

"Sedgemoor 1685 : Marlborough's First Victory".. bargain!

I managed to get a hard copy of this just before I visited the battlefield [clicky] seven (yee gods!!) years ago, and it was without a doubt hugely helpful in setting the background of the campaign, and also depicting the battle... John Tincey is also very readable, he has an excellent writing style, and is particularly knowledgeable on Marlborough..
So very much recommended and at this price for your Kindle - unmissable!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

"All For a Shilling a Day".. a review..

...while the 3rd game in the Annexation Campaign carries on (we're up to move 4) I recently finished reading "All For a Shilling a Day" and it was good enough that I thought it more than deserved a proper post

This is Donald Featherstone's depiction of the 16th (Queen's) Lancers [clicky] during, and just before, the First Sikh War of 1845 [clicky] and although it must be 30 odd years since I last read it, I found it fascinating..

It starts with recruitment, how it was done, conditions, pay and arrears once the recruits arrived at the home depot, the tedium and squalor of barracks living, poor food, poor pay (no wonder they drank as much as they did!). The training (doubly hard in a crack Lancer regiment as they also had to learn to ride), manoeuvres, and the day to day relationship between officers and men in a peace situation (basically none!), and how it changed dramatically when they were on a war footing.

The book is a contrast, the regiment in two states, war and peace, and no wonder the Victorians loved to go to war as much as they did as the contrasts between the two are marked - much more freedom when on campaign.

The second part of the book deals with their campaign as part of the First Sikh War where they served under Sir Harry Smith [clicky], and fought at the battle of Aliwal [clicky]. The book is quite short, what I found most interesting were the copious (and I mean copious!) notes..  I'd recommend reading the book, and then reading the notes separately so as not to disrupt the flow, but they are fascinating - Don clearly had an eye for the snippets that helped to illustrate life in the military at the time ...  I was left with an overwhelming opinion that our forefathers were made of very tough stuff!

Cacker.. 9 out of 10 without a doubt..