Saturday, October 18, 2014

Portsea Island Beer Festival - 2014

Hard to believe that this is the fourth one, but it remains a firm favourite of mine, mainly I have to say because of the venue [clicky] which is chock-full of atmosphere.. 

Much reduced turnout for "rent a crowd" (my beer tasting companions) this time - which was a shame - we seemed to hit a holiday period this time round, and one of our members was at the Tower of London planting poppies as part of the remembrance installation...  power to his elbow.. on the plus side however, just for once my brother in law in law (we're married to sisters ) could make it.

Those of us who did go however had a cracking time, and brother in law in law and I also had a damn fine full English [clicky] in the Ship Anson [clicky] before the ale drinking commenced..

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
RCH Pitchfork 4.3% "The name comes from the Pitchfork rebellion of 1685 the last battle to be fought on English soil of the Civil War.
A golden bitter with floral citric hop aroma. It has a hoppy predominate taste which is slightly sweet and fruity and leaves you wanting more."
My number 1 favourite beer of all time - usually quaffed in great quantities on my annual festive trip to Bath - so when I saw it was on I made an immediate bee-line. Lovely!
Cerrdin APA 4.3% "A Welsh American Pale Ale, with pronounced hop character and a lasting bitterness." Sour - hideous - yuckkk..  had to dispatch this one to the great bucket in the sky...
Derventio Hoplite 4.2% "A pale refreshing beer with heavy citrus notes and long hoppy finish" Overtones of lime - a significant improvement on the previous beer..!
Great Oakley Gobble 4.5% "a straw-coloured beer with a large smack of hops at the end giving a fantastic mouth feel". Very nice...
Black Country BFG 4.2% "A straw coloured quaffing beer, with an impressive bold citrus hop aroma, fruity balanced sweetness and a lingering refreshing after-taste." Fairly average session beer - not outstanding...
Kennet and Avon Pillbox 4% "A light refreshing ale with a hoppy bite that punches above its weight. Lager coloured, and popular with the ladies". Only comment I have is "grows on you".. it's also worth noting I have two beers marked as "5th" so the event was clearly successful..
RCH Double Header 5.3%
"A golden brew made only with pale ale malt and goldings hops giving it a well balanced hoppy flavour. Very drinkable - beware!"
Getting towards the end of the session so a step up in strength and given how much I like Pitchfork I thought I'd try their other offering...  bit too sweet for me, I marked it as cloying...
XT XT4 3.8% "An amber beer with a special Belgian malt and a fruity mix of American and European hops. Very addictive, and our flagship beer." Bit of a discovery this brewery - this offering had a distinct hit of coffee in the mouth - very nice... they also had another beer on called XPA that I had tried a few tastes of, but which had run out by the time I got to it, that was definitely my beer of the festival (
XT - XPA 5.9% American IPA - "An IPA brewed with crisp, clean extra pale malts and more hop additions than any of our other beers. Plus a cooler, slower fermentation for a really special hop forward flavour".)
Waen Landmark 5.5% "Award winning IPA with full hop bitterness and citrus flavours" Last beer of the session and I'd really wanted an XPA - average brew....















Thursday, October 16, 2014

Annexation of Chiraz - Game #3 - Incident at Drew - Game Moves 11 to End

I'll keep this short as the look of an online computer game can never compare with moving the little lead men, but DG and I have had no opportunity to game for some time, and given we live 2 or 300 miles apart this is the only quick option... it's even worse this year as Colours was cancelled, so my three guaranteed games a year were cut to two straight away...

So I would refer you to this post [clicky] for the setup - which was back in March - yep - we've been playing this game for over half a year, and this post [clicky] for the first dozen moves...

At the point the game ended, we were on move 57, so you can see we went on for some time!

In summary then - the winner of the game needs to control all four bridges - any less than that is a loss...

In the screen shots - the following will be useful when identifying units...



I think it safe to say that strategies changed throughout the game, but for the first 15/16 my aim was to consolidate ownership of the bridges, and then to launch a flank attack from my left (the furthest from my entry point..)

Goor and Beinheim try the flank attack (top left) but DG is rushing troops to counter - I have holding forces on the other three bridges....  the old "pin him and strike" routine (he thought hopefully).. The move after this Schomberg broke and ran for a while as a result of the pounding from DG's artillery..
Four moves later and we have stalemate - DG has managed to conter the attack and is digging in against all the other bridges - turning into a WWI scenario - neither if us wants to attack as we know the casualties will be great...
Five moves later and both Schomberg and Chartres have been battered into submission - so the right bridge/flank is largely open - for the rest it was all artillery fire and a stately minuet as units danced round each other looking for an opening... my left flank (right of the picture) is still stalemate...
Five moves later and I am withdrawing troops on my left to bolster the centre - the action on my left has not been without some success however, as I managed to drive off the Royal Italiene with a bloody nose (bottom right of picture)...
At this point in the game the Allies have lost both allied Chiraz units, Schomberg's, and North and Grey's..  the French have lost two cavalry units (Chartres and Orleans) and infantry regiment Bearn - fairly even after a little over 30 moves - 5 hours in real time... a bloody struggle with no clear winner yet

Five moves later and both sides have withdrawn to their own sides of the river - but now it's time for DG to go on to the offensive - not looking good for me on my right..One good piece of news - I've driven off his artillery, and in hindsight I think that was the game changer...
Five moves later, and between move 35 and now, things begin to come round to me.. on the right, where it had looked so poor, DG had sent both Navarre and Bourbonnaise across the bridge, and my Dutch regiment had seen them both off with musketry beofre they could close..  after that though the morale dice gods were with me and they both routed away => flank safe...  Shame I couldn't say the same on my left flank!
Five moves later and those two poor french regiments have routed to destruction - flank is safe. On the other flank DG has gone defensive and occupied the built up area - he's bought up the poor benighted Royal Italiene but they're facing off steady muskets and artillery, and won't be long for this game...

Mexican stand off - no way I'm attacking him in the built up area - but if he stays there he can't meet the victory conditions..
End of the game - I have sent my cavalry on a long sweep round the flank..  DG's infantry is isolated - he offers to surrender in return for the right to march away with colours flying, and muskets shouldered..  I gladly accede...
...and so we got to the end of the game...

Post match analysis:

  • Both sides had huge casualties - one of the problems we've identified is that the rules we use are largely tactical in focus and there are no such things as army level morale/break points. For the next scenario DG has suggested some we can use...  this game lasted about 10 or 15 moves longer than it should have - one of the reasons for this I think is the way that the game was played..  with a day between each move there was none of the immediacy you get in an across the table game where player morale is as important as troop morale
  • We had some interesting "discussions" throughout the game - as DG and I are want to do - some of these will make it to the next version/iteration of the rules. We had at least a weeks worth of discussion on whether DG's units should be allowed to enter a building backwards...until DG pointed I had done it myself earlier in the game!
  • Have to say that my opinion of the campaign as a whole has not changed much - and I still think this is a much poorer show than the first campaign book...

Onwards and upwards...  DG and I have already discussed the next scenario, which features a return to the powder mill, and a relief force! This game will be over Skype, but I have some prep to do first...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Royal Marine ORC

...before you start getting excited - that's Offshore Raiding Craft...

Southampton Boatshow last weekend and the Royal Marines were there so I took the opportunity to have a look over one of their new assault craft... 



These things come in two configurations - troop carrier (this one) and fire support type (Fire Support Platform - FSP).

FSP removes the troop seating and replaces them with an additional two weapon mountings which can take either single GPMG or .50 Cal machine gun - it also has enhanced side protection - apparently you can switch between the two modes in less than an hour....

The troop carrier (this one) will take 8 marines and all their equipment (plus 2 crew) - with machine gun mount (single or twin GPMG) for close support/protection. It's design brief was to deliver the load from ship over the horizon to shore in up to 2 mtrs of surf..  they can even be launched from helicopter...



Rib tubes are close cell foam so protected against puncture...



Stripped down, basic, but frighteningly fast... driven by two of these (Steyr M0256K43 high speed diesel engines each developing 250Hp/184Kw at 4300rpm) and fully loaded they still do 34 knots....


Here's one in use...


Spec's (from the manufacturers website)
  • Length – 9100mm
  • Beam – 2900mm
  • Displacement Light Load/speed – 4200 kg inc fuel and 2 crew/39 knots
  • Full load/speed – 5500 kg/34 knots
  • Range - 200nm+
  • Turning – 1.5 boat lengths at max speed
  • Acceleration – 0 to 30 Knts in 10 seconds (!!)
  • Stopping – 1.5 boat lengths from max speed
  • Troop capacity – 8 troops with equipment (8 x 150 kg)
  • Total Payload capacity – Combination of troops, equipment and weapons up to 1300kg
  • Weapons – Forward pedestal for single or twin GPMG.
  • Hull – Fabricated Aluminium (Grade 5083).
  • Fendering – Elastomer covered closed cell PU foam
  • Engines – Twin Steyr M0256K43 high speed diesel engines each developing 250Hp/184Kw at 4300rpm.
  • Propulsion – Twin Rolls Royce (Kamewa) FF270 Waterjets
  • Fuel – Diesel
  • Transportability – Air transportable in C130 J MK IV. Under-slung Chinook CH47 and Merlin Helicopters. Optional road trailer.
  • Armour – Optional
  • Communications – Marine VHF.
  • Navigation – Chart plotter with DGPS
  • Electrical – 12V DC, Insulated return
  • Optional Equipment – Infrared and visible convoy lights, Infra-red flood light, Radar reflector, Intercom system, Shipping cradle, Boat cover, Launching trolley, Military Communications systems, Boat trailer, Fire Support Platform (FSP) complete with armour and weapon mountings
Fire Support Platform mode... 


Sales brochure (in case you're thinking of buying one) [clicky]

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A very interesting evening...

So how did the meet the authors evening go???  Very interesting I thought and I enjoyed it far more than (to be honest) I expected to....

I have long accepted that to most people I'm a bit of an oddity, a geek in fact, with an interest in military history that seems to most people in these politically correct days to be somewhat distasteful...  Having said that I have a view of myself as being fairly normal (other than a liking for Crocs) so my hesitancy was based on previous such events which tend to be packed with older gentlemen with a military bearing dressed in blazer and slacks, or slightly younger types with the personal  hygiene issue that is common to anyone who has been to a large wargame show... neither of which I have much in common with....

For the evening in question, the audience was heavy on the former, but we were short on the latter, and some of the former had even bought their wives...!

The event started then with the opportunity to have a look at the exhibits in the (comparatively) new Chichester Novium Museum, which opened to much fanfair a few years ago, and has quietly sunk out of site ever since  - it's an architectural eye sore (modernist concrete block), with high entry fees, and given I had a free entry given I was going to pay to see the authors anyway I was keen to see if I had missed anything...  not really....  the best part is the exposed basement - the museum was built on the site of a Roman bath house, so they left that open to view - quite amazing to see..  the rest of the museum, is spead over two other floors, which are fairly small in area, but have very high ceilings (they should have put in another floor) so don't contain much - and what little space they do have contains art pieces illustrating the subject in question rather than exhibits.... I got the impression the curator was fresh out of museum school...  4/10 I'm afraid...

The talk didn't start well as one of the two authors (Robert Wilton [clicky]) had been delayed returning from Kosovo so Michael Arnold [clicky] started by giving us a fairly extensive descriptive run through his books, his main character, the reason he had written the books based in the English Civil War (basically, no else had), his premise that after 20 odd years of peace the English civil War armies were run by mercenaries - Englishmen (British men) who had up until then hired their swords to either side in the European wars particularly the 30 Years War..  he has a fairly populist outlook, he came across as a (clean!) wargamer to be honest - he has a clear interest in military history, and told the story well...

After a break, Robert Wilton then did the same - I was far less aware of his books, in fact until that evening I'd not not heard of him, and also to be fair (as he said) only one of his books is actually set in the English Civil War...  I was most impressed - he's spent a lot of time in the British Civil Service (the link above takes you to his biography) and he speaks clearly and lucidly..  his book is far more about the growth of ideas than military hack and slash. His premise, and reason for writing the book, being how could a country go from 20 years of peace and prosperity, and a position where the prospect of killing a King was so far out of the ordinary as to warrant a claim of "madness", to a point less than 10 years later where a Parliament did exactly that. He was particularly interested in the growth of the various religious groups (Levellers/Diggers etc) and where that had come from. In essence he believed that this was mostly due to better education and the printing press....  I was enthused enough that I intend seeking out his book when I can....

Questions were many and varied, and despite the fact that they were not historians, I thought the authors did well, and both had a coherent view of the causes and outcomes of the war, add in a well genned audience, a few that clearly loved the sound of their own voice, and a very entertaining evening was had...    In summary, 8/10

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nothing Civil about Civil War


"With historical authors Michael Arnold and Robert Wilton. Come along to the Novium Museum for an exciting evening with two historical authors.

Michael Arnold lives in Petersfield, Hampshire and has been a member of Earl Rivers' Regiment of Foote in The Sealed Knot. Traitor's Blood is the first in The Civil War Chronicles series featuring the unforgettable Captain Stryker and is followed by Devil's Charge (a Sunday Times Historical Fiction Choice of the Year) and most recently Warlord's Gold.

Robert Wilton is a diplomat, charity co-founder and writer. The latest in the prize-winning Comptrollerate-General series of historical novels, drawing on documents from the organisation's archive and exploring different crises in British history, is The Spider of Sarajevo, published on the centenary of the events it illuminates. He divides his time between Cornwall and the Balkans.

Light refreshments and an opportunity to view the museum's collection will be available at the interval.
Contact the Novium Museum for tickets 01243 775888. Tickets can also be purchased from Chichester Library, phone: 01243 777351 or email: chichester.library@westsussex.gov.uk.
 Venue: The Novium Tickets: £5.00
Time: 6.30pm Date: Friday 12 September"


I have my ticket, and I am looking forward to it very much...   I shall report back after the event!