Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A wonderful find...

...and unexpected...

My youngest is currently researching which university she wishes to attend once she finishes A levels, and last Friday was the open day at the University of Reading, one of the universities on her list...

While she attended lectures in the faculties she is interested in studying in, I made myself scarce, and being a university, and me being a wargamer with an interest in military history, the library was a bit if a magnet!

University libraries tend to have more depth in their reading choices than the usual public libraries so I was keen to see what choices there were in the military history line...  Started off in section 355 (Military Science - that catalogue number, and section 793/794 is permanently etched on my brain since childhood ) and picked up "The Armies of Queen Anne", by R. E. Scouller (Major.) Written in 1964, it covers all aspects of the British army of the time, what the official sizes of units should be, the disparity between that and actual returns, all supporting services (medical/commissariat/administration), uniforms (cost and how often replaced), command structure, etc etc. Whiled away a very pleasant hour while little'un was checking out the animal skeletons in the Zoology section!

Broke for some refreshments, and then she went off to do a tour of the Biology faculty, so I heded back,and this time I hit the goldmine...  the library has a full set of bound copies of the Illustrated London News! Huge books, and covered in dust - they clearly don't get looked at often! Only having an hour I had to decide fast, so dismissed Omdurman (later visit hopefully) and picked up the volume covering Abu Klea and the Gordon Relief... oh man, superb - have left the following as original size, you can click and embiggen to read the articles/get a better view..

How atmospheric is this? The artist has included himself (the dark coated figure in foreground on the right)


Victoriana at it's absolute finest..


Love this next one.. quintessential Caton Woodville


...this next one bears study... the Relief Expedition on the march..





...front page announcing the death of Burnaby..



Front page February 7th announced the death of Herbert..


Have a look at what the fatigue party of the Highlanders were wearing..









...the picture provision seemed to have been shared fairly equally between Caton Woodville [clicky] and their 'special correspondent' Melton Prior [clicky] the following are all by Prior, I do like his style..



I like this one too..



.....better than the BBC and CNN I think you'd agree?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 1 - Pitched Battle (1) - The Game

...and so on with the game...

Deployment 

First a shot of the table top... remarkably simple (they're not called "One Hour Wargames" for nothing!)  - deployment area is on the hill side edges - up to 6" in..... DG was on the far edge.


Deployment was as follows - perspective is the same as the table picture above...

So DG had a cavalry heavy force (3 squadrons - one of them heavy) and had loaded one flank. Against him I had the artillery, but a largely slower moving infantry force, and a fairly traditional deployment...



The Game:

Have to say that I was a little concerned about all that horse - they could run riot around the wings of my army if they had got in place...  as it was, DG opted to pin with the two cavalry squadrons on his right, and the whole of the rest of his force advanced obliquely to his left, small moves to begin with because of limited traction on the hill..  cause enough to make me detach Bearn from my left flank to reinforce my right....(next)


 ...you can almost guess what happened - DG, despite some casualties from my artillery, managed to recover his cavalry (Woods) and sent them crashing into the flank of Bearn (who were still in march column).. Worse than that, the artillery couldn't fire as Bearn had effectively shielded the cavalry! Schoolboy error on my part and the outcome was never in any doubt (see next; Bearn can be seen routing through the gap between the hill and the Navarre Regiment)..


..on the plus side though, that freed the artillery to give Woods everything they had (close range so cannister was deployed with gratifying results) and after a couple of rounds, they were seen off, despite their gallant attack up the hill to take on the artillery (next - yes, red pin, routing.. )


You'll note in the above that in the interim to the two main battle lines had closed, and battle was enjoined with an equal face off between Ingoldsby's/Navarre, Orkneys/Toulouse, and a cavalry engaged on the far flank between Orleans and Wyndhams...

I have to say that the dice went entirely my way, and having broken all three attacking units, my cavalry then compounded the defeat by attacking the routing units, and DG conceded ..   victoire pour les Francais!


Post Match Analysis:
  • A brisk encounter living up to it's billing as a One Hour Wargame; we played 13 moves to a conclusion using the Will McNally Seven Years War derivation I use - that equates to about 2 hours in real time which felt about right for a small engagement like this..
  • The engagement was fought over the ether via Skype, which for a smaller game like this I think works better than for bigger games - DG advised it was good..  not as satisfactory as a face to face engagement, but this is a bit of a small game to justify that...
  • Refreshments on the evening were a large slice of cake and cup of tea for DG from the current Mrs DG () - I settled for a pint of Shepherd Neame's Single Hopped Kentish Ale [clicky]
  • Battle honours for the game go to Wood's (successful charge on Bearn, and almost succesful on my artillery), but my artillery was supreme in this game - we worked out afterwards that I didn't miss once, so very lucky dice throwing...
  • The butchers bill was as follows...  entirely typical for the aftermath of a failed assault but I think fairly unrepresentative - a lot of the damage was caused as a result of failed morale tests...

Should you want to read up further on the actual battle that inspired the scenario (and I did as I find this aspect of  the scenarios really good - they are all based on an actual historical action, in this case Ceresole in 1544) I would recommend the Wikipedia article [clicky] and also this [clicky] was an entertaining read... brilliant stuff...  landskchnects, Swiss pike, Gendarmes and arquebusiers...

Stay tuned for the next game which will be Scenario #2 (also called "Encounter"), and for which we will use some rules amendments/idea's that DG wants to try out, another value reason to use the scenarios as they are small enough to try new stuff out without chewing up a lot of time... really enoying these...

Thursday, June 18, 2015

All Things Must Pass....

Went to see these guys [clicky] last night.. absolutely superb evening, they are consummate musicians dedicated to playing and recreating the music of the "quiet Beatle", George Harrison...


...and that's as good an excuse as any to nominate a few more wholly deserved Top 20 nominations [clicky]... 



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 1 - Pitched Battle (1) - Set up

Having picked up Neil Thomas's book at Salute, and it having been far too quiet round here (though DG and I continue to exchange round, and chain, shot on a daily basis on the truly excellent Wooden Ships and Iron Men web site, where we play correspondence style), I have hatched a plan with DG to work our way through the scenario's one by one, playing different periods, and different rules, as we go along....

 Don't expect me to provide a whole load of book content free gratis - if I was the author I'd be mightily peeved at anyone who did, and rightly so - but I would encourage anyone with an interest to hand over some spondoolicks and obtain a copy...  purely in my humble opinion of course, but I think it's worth it for the scenario's alone...  I probably won't even try the rules (but I'll have a read of them eventually). For a good review, I recommend this on Mike Whitaker's blog [clicky]

Either way, this is the first scenario, and is basically an encounter battle based on the Battle of Ceresole in 1544 (he links all of his scenario's to an actual battle and gives an overview of the similarities, which I really like)

He also has a randomised force generator based on the number of units he specifies for the scenario which allows for a little pre-game mystery and suspense if, like me, you keep your own force composition secret, and your opponent does the same. Couple with map deployments to meet the scenario requirements, and neither DG or I will know what we are facing, or how they've deployed, until the actual game which I like.

So without further ado;
  • this scenario will be set in the Marlburian period (so we can use my 15mm’s)
  • all unit morale modifiers will be 0 (for both sides) 
  • no National characteristic bonuses will apply for either side (ie. British/Dutch firing bonus doesn’t apply etc etc) – each side will be totally equal, except for the results of the randomised force generator
  • no brigadiers for either side - commander in chief only (these are used in the rules for morale saves/improvements)
  • the following guidance/proviso's apply to the randomised force generator:
    • artillery will always be "light", 
    • we ignore troop types that don’t apply to the period
    • one of the columns in the table had no troop types for this specific period so I substituted “Heavy Cavalry”
  • Given both sides are equal, and knowing his predilection for them, DG is playing the Allies, and I will play the French
  • Map deployments were exchanged yesterday
We have now exchanged our randomised orbats, and they comprise the following - an interesting challenge, as I have the artillery but DG has the cavalry - should be interesting!

Deployment and game report in the next post!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Southampton Beer Festival 2015

...always hot on the heels of Yapton [clicky], this weekend just gone was Southampton Beer Festival...  this is a tried and trusted festival for attendance with the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer, plus Steve the Wargamers sister, and on this memorable occasion bro in law as well (he's not always available due to job demands)....  
Yet another brilliant festival, and many inroads were made into the content on their LocAle (get it, get it..?? ) stand specialising in brewers from Hampshire..  lovely glass design this year as well - this shamelessly copied from someone's Twitter feed....


...the beer by the way is called "Sign of Spring" [clicky] and is indeed green - just food colouring..
 
Brewery Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Dark Star Summer Solstice 4.2% "Clean tasting and a bright golden colour. This beer is bursting with summer flavours, perfect for the Summer break." I'm a Dark Star fan - I don't think I've had a beer from them I haven't liked and their Hop Head is one of my top 10 beers of all time so when I saw this on the menu it was a no brainer for first half of the day - not tried it before, delighted to say it met all expectations and the brewers notes sum it up a treat...
Hop Back Hop Medley 3.9% "A light blonde ale with English (Pioneer), Slovenian (Styrian Golding) and American (Chinook) hops giving a heady combination of citrusy flavours and a lightly spicy finish. A real thirst-quencher." The same can equally be said of Hop Back, who (I think) single handedly kick started an entire beer style when they first bought out "Summer Lightning" (definitely top 5) - this one was their May special, and again was new to me, but I can confirm was also delicious...  my scribblings on the day advise "clean/sharp, slight sulphur" I remember it being immensely bitter
Hop Back Taiphoon 4.2% "A fantastic pale gold beer with hints of Lemongrass and coriander". Straight on to their next offering then, and at this point in time I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven, three perfect halves in the first three pints...  at which point sis broke open the pork pies, and that confirmed I had definitely passed Taiphoon's not readily available on draught so although I've had it before (on some memorable trips to their Tap in Salisbury) it was good to try it again..  perfect accompaniment to curry/Chinese this one by the way....
Franklins Franklins Pale 4% "Britain meets America in this flavour packed Pale ale. We have used our favourite ingredients from both countries to produce a hop forward pale ale bursting with flavour and aroma." 'Hop forward' indeed...  ok, so a little over the top description but this was a lovely ale..  my notes (almost readable) say "tangy/bitter.. v. nice"
First Chop FCB 3.6% "Pale session bitter hopped with Cascade and Green Bullett hops." Hmm...  bit thick and syrupy this one, I thought, despite the moderate strength..
Bowman Agincourt 5% "Dry & refreshing, brewed with lager malt and lager hops" I'm a wargamer for goodness sake - why would I not want to try a beer brewed to celebrate the anniversary of the battle? As it happens though, the beer was nowhere near as spectacular as the outcome of the battle....  t'was indeed lager'y in flavour (too sweet for me)
Oakleaf Whole Hearted 4.7% "The use of Cascade hops gives this golden ale powerful floral and tropical fruit flavours, and a delicate bitterness. This beer will surprise with every mouthful." This was a cheat as it is a regular at my local pub, but I can't resist the stuff so had to have a half, if only to try it from gravity dispense as opposed to hand pump...  very disappointing I have to say - I thought it was in poor condition, quite flat and lifeless...  I'll have to have a pint (or two) tonight to make sure it was just a one off....
FranklinsCitra IPA5.5%"Single hopped IPA for serious beer lovers. As the name suggests it is packed full of citurs (sic) flavours and aroma."Back to scenes of previous perfect beer then for the next one...  tut tut, poor spelling Franklins...  quelle horeure, I thought I was going to be in for a treat but the tasting notes say "bit dull"...
First Chop DOC 4.1% "An ultra pale 4.1% ale generously hopped with four varieties of New Zealand hops. All the big hoppy flavors you expect from New Zealand and a pleasant lingering bitterness" My goodness - tried this because the bro in law was raving about it, and as time was pressing, and the session about to end I went with the flow - SO pleased I did, this was an absolute cracker - only 4'ish percent but huge hoppy citrus flavours...  "lively zesty/citrus"...  that'll be the beer of the festival then.....!





Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Result!

...they've just started a book loan service in the canteen at work ....  look what I found...