Friday, January 28, 2011

...one might think...

...that it was a mite quiet round here - but you'd be wrong... lots and lots going on but no time to blog it - and as I've said before that's the way it should be.. free smileys

So what's been going on?? Well a fair amount - most of it in the American Civil War campaign that DG and I are playing. Those of you following the campaign blog will have noted a distinct lack of posts over the last few weeks but that's because DG and I have been playing out the first major engagement of the campaign, the Battle of Rogersburg...

Anyway I have now updated the campaign dairy with the first half of day two, up to the start of the set-to. we're using Battle Chronicler for this and it's my intention to put this up as a downloadable file so that anyone who has Battle Chronicler can play the game through from beginning to end and see the battle notes etc. It really is quite impressive to see your little regiments marching across the virtual table top under their own volition...

Stay tuned to the campaign diary for the outcomes of this battle, but I'll record it more traditionally as well for those who don't want to use Battle Chronicler,having said that, as a virtual game, there was precious little lead being pushed around, and an animated board game is not everyone's cup of tea... free smileys

For the first time in months I bought this months copy of "Wargames Illustrated" - I remain unconvinced with the new 'format' - the magazine is becoming more and more a house organ for Osprey and Flames of War - a WWII version of "White Dwarf but this month was an exception and is a Sudan special - specifically the period of the Relief Expedition to relieve Gordon at Khartoum, and very good the articles are as well - lots and lots of pretty Perry Miniature's figures, Osprey maps, and some very readable articles - the Perry twins even allowed some excerpts from their recent book on the campaign"Go Strong into the Desert" to be included.. fantastic book by the way - more than certain I will be coming back from Salute in April with a copy...

It also has an article by David Bickley who some of you will know form here as the author of "A Good Dusting" the Sudan rules I played recently - not read it yet but it looks promising, and promises an insight into the thinking behind the rules... always an interesting read.

...and then as if by coincidence I was reading one of the Yahoo groups I belong to ("Science versus Pluck" the group for gamers interested in the Colonial/Sudan rules of the same name), and they mentioned the following post which has some of quite the best painting of Dervish I've ever seen.... click on the picture to be taken to more examples... hats off indeed to the painters - simply stunning!

How worried would that make you feel if you caught a glimpse of those guys!

Separately, I've also finished the WWII British re-basing - just the Germans and italians to go... I actually like basing so it's not an onerous job.... I tend to do a half dozen before I got to work in the morning, but last night I had a major session.

..and the evidence, just the one's on the right to finish off.

...oh, and here's the scene of the crime!! free smileys

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Traitor's Blood" by Michael Arnold

I have to say that this book was a delightful and very pleasant surprise... Why? Well I almost didn't buy it due to the fact that some spotty publishing house advertising prat had seen fit to put a sticker on the front of it intimating that the hero of the book was "another Sharpe".... I hate it when they do that, what kind of pressure does that put a new author under??

Happily, as the book was half price in a sale I decided to buy it anyway..

..what a good decision that turned out to be - for a début novel this is an absolute cracker.

Set in the early years of the English Civil War this novel is the first in a series of books. This one has as its background the Battle of Edgehill (Kineton Fight), and the subsequent Royalist march on London.

The hero of the book is a spectacularly ugly (as in appearance rather than character!) captain of foot in the Royalist army who goes by the name of Stryker. As so many of the officers and men who enrolled in those early Civil War armies must have been, Stryker is a veteran of the 30 Years War in Europe, a mercenary and a professional soldier - he is good at his profession, and as a result of those years in the low countries has many influential friends in the Royalist Army - not the least of whom is Prince Rupert who he has served with before....

Stryker owes his looks to a botched attempt to kill him by the main villain of the book, one Captain Eli Makepeace. Some years earlier Stryker had caused Makepeace's brother to be given the lash for cowardice, as a result of this shame, the brother went on to kill himself, and Eli had sworn vengeance. Shortly after he attempted to kill Stryker but failed, and having made himself scarce at the time not surprisingly he then turns up all those years later in the Royalist army. The stage is set for one of story lines in the book...

The main story line however, starts with Stryker at Edgehill (and Arnnold does a fantastic description of an English Civil War battlefield - his descriptions of push of pike are particularly good) where he is given the task by Prince Rupert of going to capture a spy who has been discovered as a result of papers found following the battle...

With just a handful of trusted men (all of them are lovely characters - very believable) Stryker sets off to capture him and the book covers his adventures to complete this mission.

On the way he meets clubmen (armed civilians protecting their homes against both sides), wandering Parliamentarian cavalry patrols, his old lover who had nursed him after the botched murder and who he thought was dead (! what an amazing girl by the way - a secret agent for Queen Henrietta Maria - Charles I's wife - she has her own story line), battles, skirmishes, and Eli Makepeace (of course!) who is working secretly for Parliament and trying to get the same spy away before Stryker arrives..

The denouement is set against the desperate battles fought by the Royalists to take London - first at Brentford where Parliament fought it's first delaying action to stop the Royalists securing the crossing of a minor stream. For Parliament it was a race against time in order to allow them to prepare the defences for London. The book describes this very well and the description of the fighting in the streets of Brentford is enough to make any normal man start another wargaming project there and then! Of course the Parliamentary tactics worked, but how close were the Royalists to victory in that first year of the war..

An excellent book - can't wait for volume 2 to come out... Steve the Wargamer rates this one as a damned catchy and readable 9 out of 10, and quite possible the straw that broke the camels back with regard to starting a whole new wargame period...

Friday, January 14, 2011

ACW baggage and WWII re-basing proceeds..

The paint brushes have continued to whirr in Steve the Wargamer's loft and the latest efforts for these are posted further below...

...before we do that however, I also mentioned that I was re-basing my WWII 12mm units as I was unhappy with the old basing now that I'd come up with a better method for the Sudan units..

The following shows the difference between old and new style... this is old style - what I don't like... thin plastic card bases - it warps and you also can't get hold of it, I also don't like having the identification number on the top as I don't need it for Blitzkrieg Commander games, I also don't like the flock I was using....

...and this is the new style - I'm standardising as much as possible on my standard 30 x 30 (mm) bases for the infantry and support weapons (MG's, mortars, flame-throwers etc.) and 50 x 30 for the AFV's, transport and anything that won't fit on a 30 x 30. I'm using builders sharp sand straight from the bag for the scenic texture - no colouring required. The bases are also thicker, so easier to pick up.. The identification number has been put on the bottom..

..and a comparison of both - the new is a big improvement. All I need to do now is push on and finish the British, then start the Germans and the Italians and the transport.....

The paint brushes I mentioned, were working on these which I picked up at the Warfare show in Reading last November... these are destined to provide some baggage from my American Civil war forces. They are by Britannia Miniatures and are from their German WWII range...

All I did was (badly) file down the field caps that the crews were wearing to an approximate appearance of a kepi (very approximate!) after that it was just a paint conversion - with one wagon being painted with Union crew...

and the other Confederate.

..the wagons are outstanding - I should have spent a little more time on the crews, or even shopped around for some purpose made figures.

I'll bear this in mind as I hope to pick up another couple at Salute in April - you can never have too much baggage...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"The Fort" by Bernard Cornwell and some American Civil War command...

That has to be one of the longest blogger titles in history, but it sums up the content of the post nicely...

First off though, those officers...

You may remember that I picked up some Kennington Miniatures (who are now owned by SHQ) officers as 'size samples' at the Warfare show just before Christmas - I wanted to see how they compared to the Newline designs figures that make up the bulk of the project.

These are now painted (and a very enjoyable experience it was as I haven't picked up a brush in some time) and are ready to join the forces of the Union and the Confederacy respectively..

In "Regimental Fire and Fury" terms I plan to use these guys as either brigade commanders, or even commander in chief (for multiple brigade games) as they have a certain gravitas!

Ideally they should be mounted, but I can live without that.. my favourite is definitely the Confederate commander, I managed to carry the beard off quite well. The Union commander is OK, but I was a little too heavy handed with the white damp-brush undercoat, so his coat (I use inks) has come out quite light...

The bridge they are pictured on by the way is the second oldest piece of wargames terrain I own - it's a venerable and vintage Bellona bridge and I reckon it must be at least 38 years old and still doing sterling service... I wonder how many little metal men have died while storming over it, and how many daring outflanking manoeuvres have been launched across it... vivid stuff!

Which brings me on to "The Fort" the latest offering by Bernard Cornwell, who has to be the wargamers favourite author...

This one marks a very welcome return (for me anyway) to the American War of Independence (or the American Revolutionary War for my US readers.. ), a theatre of war that he hasn't visited since he wrote "Redcoat" back in 1987 (blimey - was it that long ago..)

I thought the book was good, definitely worth reading, but I had such high hopes of it that I think the reality may have resulted in a slight disappointment when I actually read the book..

The book is about a fairly small and unknown expedition (well I'd not heard of it) that the British sent to Penobscot in 1779. The British sent two regiments of foot (all Highlanders!) and some Royal Artillery, in three small ships to build a fort at a place called Majabigwaduce (now known as Castine), in Maine. The intent was that it would then serve as a base for British naval forces to operate against American privateers operating out of Boston...

Clearly the Americans were not going to settle for this and the State of Massachusetts sent a fleet of forty ships, with militia and artillery to "captivate, kill and destroy" the British. The book is about what transpired, and more than anything is a story of lost opportunity (on the American side).

The cast of characters is excellent (everyone in the book is based on an actual person except for those who have a surname beginning "F" - which I thought was a very clever idea!). I particularly liked the depiction of the British commander (General Francis McLean), the very young Lieutenant John Moore (later to be Sir John Moore the originator of the light division in the Napoleonic War) and on the American side General Peleg Wadsworth. Rounded characters all of them, and immensely likeable... but don't get me started on the American commander Lovell, the American naval commander Saltonstall or Paul Revere (yes, him..).. It's clear where Cornwell at least thinks the failure lay...

So is it worth getting - absolutely "yes" - a good read despite my slightly disparaging comments above...

From the wargaming perspective this absolutely screams out to be a wargame campaign - naval and land is covered, limited numbers of troops, small actions, fairly small theatre of operations - I will definitely be doing it.

Steve the Wargamer gives this one a very solid eight out of ten - nine if you count in the clear wargaming potential..

Saturday, January 08, 2011

AutoREALM mapping software

It's no secret that Steve-the-Wargamer is artistically "challenged" - not for me the beautiful Henry Hyde designed campaign maps painstakingly drawn by hand, and then coloured for effect - mine always ended up looking like some of the early examples that my little'uns used to bring back from painting mornings at nursery school. It was with a profound relief to myself then, when Mr Gates finally invented the PC, and unleashed a world of opportunities for my artistic wargaming endeavours...

It's also no secret then, that I have a deep interest in all applications that support those wargaming endeavours - I love mapping software, campaigning software, even spreadsheet applications for record keeping.

In the past I've blogged about the truly excellent Battle Chronicler [click here] in this post [click here] which has now formed a permanent part of my campaign armoury. For tactical level mapping, and game recording, I believe it has no equal - DG and I are fighting the first game in the ACW campaign even as we speak using this tool...

At the strategic level I have tended to use GameMappr for my mapping requirements but then yesterday one of the guys on the Solo Wargames Yahoo group pointed me at this little application which looks absolutely brilliant...

AutoREALM [click here]

It's free, and with it all your campaign mapping requirements could be met very easily - here's an example map from the website..


I'm looking forward to having a play over the weekend, but in the meanwhile it is unashamedly added to the list of wargaming resources listed on the left..

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Gerry Rafferty: 16 April 1947 – 4 January 2011

If there was one song that has been a constant presence in my music collection, and has consistently been my number one favourite record of all time (and we were discussing it over Christmas lunch just a couple of weeks ago), it would have to be "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty.

Very sad to wake up this morning then, and find that the Gerry passed away yesterday at the far too early age of just 63.

He left an enormous legacy; that whole "City to City" album that "Baker Street" came from is excellent ("Right Down the Line", and "City to City" the title song are outstanding..), there were a clutch of other albums, his time with "Steelers Wheel" gave us the brilliant "Stuck in the Middle with You". I hope he rests easily, but many, many, thanks for the best song ever....

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Painting totals 2010...

Out with the old - and in with the new....

Hope you all had pleasant New years Eve festivities - suffice to say mine were every bit as dreadful as I was expecting....

So for the record - and to keep them safe - here were my painting totals for 2010... time to start gearing up for 2011!

3/1/10 - 8th Ohio - ACW - 20 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 20 pts.
9/1/10 - 4th Virginia - ACW - 20 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 20 pts.
20/1/10 - Carpenter's Battery - ACW - 13 figures/6 horses/limber/guns - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 25 pts.
9/2/10 - Ohio Light Artillery - ACW - 13 figures/6 horses/limber/guns - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 25 pts.
17/3/10 - Brigadier officers - ACW - 4 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 5 pts.
14/4/10 - 5th Virginia - ACW - 20 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 20 pts.
4/5/10 - 67th Ohio - ACW - 20 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 20 pts.
18/5/10 - Regiment de Foix - WSS - 24 figures - Minifigs/assorted, 15mm @ 24 points
6/6/10 - Regiment de Saintonge - WSS - 24 figures - Black Hat, 15mm @ 24 points
15/7/10 - 7th Virginia and 1st Michigan (dismounted) - ACW - 16 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 16 points
20/9/10 - 7th Virginia and 1st Michigan (horse-holders) - ACW - 8 horses, 2 standing figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 18 points
27/9/10 - 1st Michigan (mounted) - ACW - 8 horses & riders - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 16 points
9/10/10 - 7th Virginia (mounted) - ACW - 8 horses & riders - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 16 points
14/11/10 - 5th NY Volunteer Infantry (Duryee's Zouaves) - ACW - 20 figures - Newline Designs, 20mm @ 20 pts.

Total for 2010: 268 points