Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Projects... separate blogs or a page here????

I've been tinkering with the project blogs as is my want... I quite like stretching the Blogger layout and format options to do things that they aren't typically designed to do, but which when asked they do rather well..

In this case I've always thought that the project blogs were a bit off on their own, a lone voice in the wilderness if you will - they're only a click away of course, but having them here on this blog seems to make it easier to update/refresh them.. psychologically anyway.....

I started by trying it out with the War of the Spanish Succession project blog... it's now on its own page at the top of this blog, it also still exists currently as a blog in its own right..... I'm fairly sure this is a good move, but what do you think? Which do you prefer, the page above keeping it all within the confines of this blog, or a separate blog for each project which you have to leave this one to go to??

Monday, November 24, 2014

Imperial War Musueum petition...

I don't normally put this kind of stuff up as we don't like to discus politics or women in the mess, but this is of genuine interest to most of us... 

"One hundred years after the outbreak of the First World War, the Imperial War Museum is under threat.

The Museum is facing an annual deficit of £4m because of cuts in government funding.

It has drawn up proposals to:

•   close its unique library and dispose of the majority of its collection
•   cut important education services
•   cut 60-80 jobs
•   close the widely emulated ‘Explore History’ facility in London.

The Museum’s library gives ordinary people access to research materials on all aspects of British and Commonwealth involvement in conflict since 1914".

The petition requests a review/reverse of the governments funding for the museum...

Sign the petition here [clicky]

Personally I wonder how much help it would be to also start charging for entrance....  it's a superb museum, and entry is currently free (except  to any special exhibitions)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Action at Trois Bras...

On the weekend of Warfare, with DG down from deepest darkest Wales it seemed churlish, and down right profligate, not to get together for a game....  after much pondering and head scratching* I decided on a WWII Skirmish game - we were going to try Chain of Command, but DG's played it only a few times, me not at all, I didn't have a set of the rules, so we agreed to play my usual rules for this scale "Rate of Fire" [clicky] which are published by Crusader (same team who do "Rank and File" .. if you fancy trying Rate of Fire, or having a read, you can get a PDF version for only £6 by the way!)

* We chatted about this on Sunday on the way up to the show - has anyone else noticed the tendency for wargamers to try and cram as much as humanly possible into any face to face event??  DG mentioned it happens at his local club..  in his case, on club nights, despite having more units on the table than could possibly be played to a conclusion in an evening, reinforcements always arrive, rendering the likelihood of playing the game to an outcome, which was already remote, even more remote!   In my case I spent days thinking how best to cram as much into this game opportunity as possible...  ridiculous really...  we came to the conclusion its because everyone is so busy that either, one, they feel the need to make the time as "useful" as possible, and/or two, that because the face to face events are so infrequent, they have to be huge...

Anyway - for this scenario we have an idea I knicked and adapted from Curt's blog [clicky] ...

Preamble..

It is France, somewhere near the Channel coast in the the summer of 1940. Everywhere German arms are triumphant as, despite the technological advantage in some equipment, the French and British armies are being pushed back ruthlessly, in a style and speed of war they have never experienced before..

Imagine the concern then when someone at French HQ realises that there is a consignment of a new type of aviation fuel sat, forgotten until now, in a railway siding on the outskirts of Trois Bras...  The fuel had been in transit to an experimental air base for testing by the French air force, but due to the rapid advance of the German army, and conflicting requirements for railway transport, the carriage containing the fuel has been left behind and is now sitting on a siding on the outskirts of the French town of Trois Bras, where it is in danger of being captured by the Germans.

Despite the huge confusion prevailing at the time, French HQ scrape together a scratch force of two sections of infantry (one of British, one of French), under over all French command (as the fuel, and therefore the mission, is theirs), with a lorry to transport them and recover the consignment.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the French, a fifth columnist has passed the same information to the Germans, and reacting quickly they too have put together a hasty scratch force of two motorised sections under a young Lieutenant...

Speed is of the essence, and both commanders are advised no more troops can be provided to either force.... they will have to get the job done with the troops and equipment they have available.

OOB

As this was a pick up game and it had been some time since we played I went for simplicity, with minimal/no toys (eg. HE, smoke, mortars etc) this was going to be a straight infantry fire fight...so both sides were of the same morale/training level, and both sides consisted of:
  • Officer commanding
  • Two sections of 6 men (five riflemen and a SMG armed NCO) 
  • Each section has an attached LMG group - for this game the MG42's were given the same number of dice as the Allied LMG's (usually they have more)
NCO's and officers of the German force were one level higher than the British/French - just to see how it turned out...
Game Mechanics:

  • German (me) entry point from the road top left of the following
  • Allied (DG) entry point from the road bottom right
  • Lorries are left off table 
  • the only way to remove the fuel is by truck - which has to be on the road apart from the last bit along side the track
  • the fuel is in the goods wagon in front of the guards van


The Game:

All is quiet - the only sound is that of heavy artillery in the distance - the town has been abandoned following significant bombardment by both Allied and German artillery, and the attentions of the German Luftwaffe ground attack squadrons....




Allied sections enter the table - leaving their lorry off table the British section cuts down a ditch towards the end of the ruined terrace...  the French keep to the road...


Opposite the German troops have also entered and make a bee line for the other ruined terrace...


..and move in to occupy it just as the British section reaches the fence line - picture following - the red die in the distance marks the British Bren position


There then ensued a brisk fire-fight as the German section in the end of terrace exchanged fire with the British, and the other section engaged the French... casualties in the LMG sections were heavy and required a constant recycle of crews...  officer casualties however were low...

Despite having some success clearing the fence line, German casualties however were heavy - and in the end they triggered a force level morale check that saw both sections heading for home - picture following...


With the French controlling the battle field we considered that they had managed to rescue the fuel consignment and won the game....


Post Match Analysis:

I think I ended up with one, or maybe two, more casualties than DG, but it was enough to trigger what "Rate of Fire" calls a force morale check - which both of my sections failed...
Somewhere under there is some experimental aviation fuel.....

A very simplistic game but we enjoyed it - and given the right royal whopping that I gave DG in the recent Chiraz campaign game it seemed only fair that on this occasion the dice well and truly turned and bit me on the bum.... I lost count of the 1/6 combinations I got where I needed 6/1! Having said that my luck did turn a little bit in the second half of the game but by then DG was ahead enough to maintain the lead...

The following shows our approach lines - the X's mark the LMG's - for the next game I look forward to bringing in some mortars/HE, and with the recent purchase of the vehicle supplement - may be some light armour...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Warfare 2014

Hurrah!! At last a wargaming show to go to..... With the demise of Colors this year I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to this one....  

DG and I have been coming to Warfare for years now, and it's always been a favourite - it's a fairly small show, and it it's held in a sports centre where they use all of the halls and even the squash courts to host competition games, display games and traders... the only bit they don't use is the swimming pool on the side....   now there's an idea.....

Competition types...   against all the rules of rationality they seemed to be enjoying themselves as well!

So what are my thoughts on this years event? Well I enjoyed it immensely, but if I was going to guess I'd say the traders might not have been quite so happy with the Sunday as I heard they'd been with the Saturday...   Warfare is primarily a competition weekend - they host a huge number of games in the competition hall, and I think it is probably only that that keeps this event at 2 days - probably a day too long for the trade hall....  Peter Pig were only there for the Saturday (which was a shame as I was hoping to do some business with them!) and I wonder if that trend will accelerate next year...  shame really - as I like the relaxed vibe you get on a Sunday...

So what did I buy? Just this...


...which is basically the supplement detailing rules for vehicles for the WWII Skirmish rules I use...  mine for a whole fiver...  one of the advantages of playing non-fashionable rule sets is that the rules and supplements are always more reasonably priced! I bet if it had been Bolt Action it would have been five times as much...  (B.t.w. DG and I had a game of this on the Friday that I'll post later, so finding this at the show was serendipitous to say the least)

So - as is tradition - what about the games I hear you ask??  Well I thought this years show was a little light on demonstration and display games - and I think back 3 or 4 years to that huge Blenheim game, and before that all the games put on by John Tuckey definitely a step down this year.....

So in reverse order ...

In fourth, this was a 45mm western game out on by the Skirmish Wargames group, who always seem to put on a big eye catching game even if it's in a scale that doesn't particularly interest me...  nice table though, and nicely converted/painted figures...  Plains Indians take on a small part of frontiers men/prospectors holed up in a circle of rocks...  looks they're waiting for the cavalry to arrive!




Next, "Action at Salem Church May 3rd and 4th 1863" which was put on by the Newbury and Reading club using home grown rules though I did see a copy of Esprit de Corps on the table as well...


...this was a demonstration game, but the participants were happy to break off and let me know what was going on - basically three divisions of Confederates all arrived at the same point, at different times of the day, to take on a Union force already ensconced...


Not particularly standout, but a nice table, lots of well painted figures, the players were having a good time - what's not to like...?



So in second place there was this offering, titled "Falkirk Muir 17th January 1746" put on by the Border Warlords and using rules from a new book [clicky] they were selling on the day written by Martin Hackett (he wrote a fantasy wargaming book I think?? Post edit: He did... )


Apparently the real battle took place during the the Second Jacobite Rising, and was the last Jacobite victory in battle....


Lovely terrain and scenery - a very good looking table, with lots of background information on the battle..  very impressive...


I loved the depiction of the quarry....




..but the winner for me this years was a demonstration game for a new set of rules, "To Defy a King" [clicky] - it may only have been a demonstration game but it was exquisite..


LOVE the purple regiment - very vibrant colours...


Man...   I am so close to an English Civil war project.... 


The representational scale is ideal for me as well - no more than 6-8 units a side...




Lots of cavalry....  someone did a nice job on those horses!


...and that was it for another year - next show will be 6 months time at Salute...  well done the Reading team - another good show.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters... Bounemouth O2 Academy

This is the first time I've had the opportunity to hear "rock god", Robert Plant sing since I last saw him at Knebworth on August 11th 1979 [clicky] and to say I was looking forward to it is a little like saying RCH Pitchfork is 'drinkable', or a Melton Mowbray pork pie is 'nice'.....  

Robert has moved on considerably since his days in Zeppelin, and I like to think that with the exception of John Paul Jones, he is the one who has adapted to life post Zeppelin best....  he is an innovator, whereas Page continues to mine old ground, re-releasing and re-editing old sounds...

So it was that I and the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer found ourselves at the 02 Accademy in Bournemouth on a cold grey night in November at the end of a very long queue, waiting to see the man...

He and his 'new' band "The Sensational Space Shifters" were touring the latest album "Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar" [clicky], but rather than doing the huge International Centre they were playing at this much smaller, intimate, venue...

So how was it?? Well to be honest I had said to the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer I'd be amazed if he played more than one Zeppelin song - how wrong was I, as you can see from the set list following! The yards of wordage you see in the press about how Plant feels about a Zeppelin re-union are clearly nothing to do with the songs..!


It was a brilliant evening - Robert can't howl like he used to in Zeppelin any more - he's 66 and the best singers voices change character over the years - his voice now is far more earthy...  but he still has soul... and he can still do the Zeppelin songs, but better still (for me) he doesn't leave the songs anchored in the past - his new band have the skill and the instrumentation to bring them right up to date..  the Page and Plant album from some years ago gives the clue as to his direction.... Robert has gone back to the blue grass roots, but then mixed it in with some African ryhtms/instruments, and it works really well....  have a listen to the following and see what I mean....



Highlights of the concert for me??  "Going to California" always one of my favourite Zeppelin tracks (and definitely in my top 20), and the power chords at the beginning of "Whole Lotta Love"...  sorry..  old hippie.. 

What a brilliant night - enjoyed it so much I bought the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer a pint, and a t shirt.... 

"Ride a white mare in the footsteps of dawn
Tryin' to find a woman who's never, never, never been born".