Monday, April 30, 2007

Deep Purple Egyptian Cavalry interesting title for what's been an excellent and interesting weekend...

First off the weather continues to be excellent - warm and sunny all weekend - warmest April since records began apparently...

Second off - the Egyptian Lancers are complete - and I think that (for me) they look pretty good. I paint to a "wargaming standard" so that they look good from the kind of distances that you would normally see them on the wargames table (well... that's the idea, anyway!) No individually painted eyeballs for me... I'm not a good enough painter and I want to get units on the table top to play with. The 3rd picture below shows you what they look like close up, therefore - plenty of washes/dry brushes.... J

Third off, this weekend was the long awaited
Deep Purple concert at Brighton Centre.... been waiting for this since I got my tickets just before Christmas! Excellent lineup - at the time I bought the tickets only Styx were on the bill, but I found out a month afterwards that Thin Lizzy had also been lined up - the only fly in the ointment was the fact that my wife couldn't come, as we ended up not being able to get a baby-sitter. Talking about it on Friday however, and she had the idea of taking my eldest (12) which struck me as being a brilliant idea - so Sunday night found me and my eldest in the balcony of the Brighton Centre - eldest with eyes out on stalks as she'd never been to a concert before! J

So how were the bands??

  • Thin Lizzy were good, but not as good as they used to be; for fairly obvious reasons. More than any other band (perhaps with the possible exception of Queen) Thin Lizzy has always been associated inextricably with their lead singer, Phil Lynott. His absence, I think, is strongly felt with the current incarnation... only two of the original members are present, and I thought the music was rushed, and a little bit "flash"... my little'un thought they were the best of the 3 bands though... so what do I know! J
  • Styx are a bit of an unknown for me - I don't think I've heard any of their stuff - in the past I kind of lumped them in with the other big American AOR/stadium bands like Kansas, Boston, etc. who aren't really my cup of tea (I like my guitars a little more edgy and raucous). They are kind of like that but with a definitely wacky feel to them. Brilliant musicians though, just not sure I could quite get along with the wackiness...!
  • Deep Purple - in all the years I've been listening to rock music, I've never ever seen Purple before so I was SO excited about the possibility of seeing them. I know it's not the the classic line up (no Jon Lord, and more importantly no Ritchie Blackmore), but Gillan was always my singer of choice in Purple (an out and out screamer...) Come the night he, and they, did not disappoint - they were brilliant! Lots and lots of tracks from the 'Machine Head' album, including "Smoke on the Water", "Lazy", and "Space Truckin'", they also did another one of my favourites "Into the Fire". The new guitarist is a guy called Steve Morse and he is exceptionally talented - he did a solo bit at the beginning where he did some of his own stuff, before segueing into a number of famous guitar solo's by other players (Hendrix/Iommi/Slash/Page etc.) that was quite stunning... superb... What was best though was the very obvious enjoyment these guys were getting from playing - this is not a dead band living off of old glories, they're playing because the want to, and they're also putting out new material that is the equal of anything from the 70's hey-day - if you get a chance I really recommend listening to "Rapture of the Deep" for example, came out last year and is fantastic...

All in all then a brilliant concert though little'un was a bit tired by the end, she's the only person I know able to sleep through a Deep Purple concert, albeit it was only the last two or three songs!J

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Books, Blogs and Basing...

Some good feedback from the various posts in the last few days for which 'thanks'... I don't think I could blog in a vacuum! J

So some catch up items - I was contacted by Giles Allison after the Salute post to let me know he was one of the guiding forces behind that magnificent Waterloo game at Salute that I raved over.. I still think it's a fantastic looking game and I learn from Giles's Blog (for which I have added a link in the 'Blogs of Note' section to the left) that I was right.. the game won the award for "most impressive troops" at Salute... always nice to find out you're right once in a while!I'd recommend his Blog by the way - his interests coincide with mine in the area of the American war of Independence, but he also has lots and lots of pictures of his units and they are very nice!

Had a meeting in London on Tuesday that allowed me to finish off a couple of books (if I commuted to London to work on a regular basis, I could have read the entire British Library by now, but unfortunately, I would also be certifiably insane.. I don't know how the regular commuters do it)

First off, my sister got me a book for my birthday, it's historical fiction and is by writer by the name of C. J. Sansom called "Sovereign". Not a bad book, the first of his I've read, and interesting for being in a period that I don't know a lot about - specifically the later years of Henry VIII. The hero of the book is a lawyer involved in various investigations/work for senior members of the Kings court - Cromwell (as in Thomas, not Oliver) and Archbishop Cranmer so is set against the dissolution of the monasteries, and the change from Catholicism to Church of England. Lots of period colour, not much wargaming material, but still interesting, and recommended as a good, easy, read if your into history and detectives..

I also finally got time to read Tincey's "Blenheim 1704" in the Osprey Campaign series. Again Mr. Tincey is very easy to read, and I'd wholeheartedly recommend the book as a general introduction to the battle, but other than a couple of excellent colour plates, and the 3 detailed maps showing the separate stages of the battle and the order in which the main actions took place, there wasn't really anything that I hadn't read elsewhere - so, it was good, but I would also recommend the Battleground Series book of the same name for similar coverage... which is good in a way, as it looks like I am now ready for a little more detailed knowledge!

On the wargaming front, last night was the first opportunity to take out all the little plastic bags and sort out the figures I bought at Salute... having opened up all the bags, organised them in piles, then rows, admired them from far and close up, I ended up getting the mounted, and dismounted, camel corps ready on painting sticks, as they are definitely next on my list to paint (the picture is from the Peter Pig site, and I'm hoping my guys look half as good!).. I also prepped some Dervish cavalry as they are on the list after them. The Peter Pig figures are lovely and I'm looking forward to wielding paint brush in the near future...

Finally, I also glued the Egyptian cavalry to bases, so they're now ready for flocking and terraining - I'll post some pictures once they're done..

Monday, April 23, 2007

Salute 2007..

..and in a flash of light it was gone.... that's the trouble with looking forward to something for so long - when the day comes it's gone as soon as it starts!

What a fantastic show is all I can say - imagine if you will a huge indoor hangar about the size of four football pitches - covered, absolutely covered, with stalls selling everything you could possibly think of (and not a few things you couldn't!) to do with wargaming - books, terrain, paints, brushes, figures, rules, more figures, more terrain.... absolutely fantastic. Lots of demo games, and participation games for the spuds (and their parents!) including full size Daleks in a Laser Tag area, two blokes dressed up as Star Wars Imperial troopers who stopped again and again to have their pictures taken with the little one's (thumbs up for a nice effort to these guys from me...)

So what about that shopping list, and how did I do...?!
  • Picked up the figures from the Eureka stand - and very nice they were as well - unfortunately, and as I suspected, they were huge compared to the other 15's I have - I shouldn't have been surprised (and to be honest, I wasn't) as they were being marketed as 18mm's... never mind - the search continues for an alternate source (to Dixon Miniatures) for cavalry for the War of the Spanish Succession armies!
  • On the same subject however, I did have a brainwave on Friday (it's the bicycle ride home from work - it does it every time, I think it must be the unaccustomed rush of oxygen to the brain...) and that was to check the Peter Pig English Civil War range for whatever they had... now I know that the cavalry was pre-tricorn, but a number of regiments in the War of the Spanish succession continued to wear the lobster tail helmet made famous by Cromwell's Ironsides - loh and behold, Peter Pig had some lovely figures so I picked up enough to make two regiments of heavy horse - one of these is destined to become Bavarian, I suspect the other will be Danish. I need to find the references but I'm sure I saw some lovely figures that the Grimsby Mariner (see "Blogs of Note" to the left) had posted - Danish cavalry in lobster pot helmet...
  • I also spent a significant amount with Mr. Pig on a second trip later in the afternoon - I picked up British Camel Corps (mounted and dismounted), two Krups guns, a packet of the light British screw guns (the one's they carried in separate components by mule or camel), and also some Dervish mounted troops, on camel and horse..
...and that was the sum of my purchases to be quite honest - I could have spent seven times the amount if I'd wanted to!

I did take some pictures while I was there though - and offer the following for your delectation - these were my favourite demo games:

First off, quite low key, but the following was a Samurai era siege (c. 1650), I think what caught my eye was the colours - the red looks fantastic - and the first of many apologies for the quality of my photo's!

Next up is a game that for me ties for first place in what I thought were the best looking games - I loved it... straight out of Gilder, big battalions, and also Napoleonic - very clever as it covered off just one part of the Battle of Waterloo, Ney's doomed charge of the French cavalry... absolutely mouth watering game to look at...

...told you didn't I?!

Absolutely amazing - one of the guys I came up did make the point however, that there were so many figures, it was difficult to see where the tactics came in!

I got a couple of pictures of this game, because once again I was taken with the simple elegance of it - one of the pictures didn't come out very well - but look at the river in the following - looks deep enough to dive into! The game itself is Crusader era Europe depicting Templars/Hospitallers ( I forget which) against Mongols - the ship was a master piece...

The next game qualifies purely because of it's size.... a 25mm Aztec temple takes up a fair amount of space, and was what caught my eye, but then your eye moves down the table and you see all the other activity - absolutely amazing game.. Spanish Conquistador era South America - gruesome... look at the blood on the steps at the top of the temple stairs...

Next up is my other joint favourite - I first saw this set up at Warfare last November - but it still causes me to draw breath when I see it - this is the Sudan layout of the "Touching History" guys:

So - bottom line - brilliant show and well done to the Warlords for another top notch effort... any downsides?? Just two... despite going back several times I never got to say hello and "thanks" to Don Featherstone - I was very disappointed... and the other was the fact that the dress up Nazi's were there... some WWII re-enactment society who seem to think it valid to dress up as SS... Why do these guys always pick the SS?? If they're that keen there were plenty of Wehrmacht formations to re-enact .. to me, as a military formation, they were indivisible from the political credo they supported. Shame really, or maybe I'm just being over-sensitive..

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shopping lists...

Salute is fast approaching, and as the biggest wargaming show of the year in the UK, I'm getting a "bit" excited now.... what to buy, what to buy... J

So, what are the plans & thoughts, you may ask...
  • As previously mentioned I have a pre-0rder in for some Eureka Miniatures figures... being the usual cheapskate wargamer I am on the lookout for some good cavalry figures for the War of the Spanish Succession armies I'm building. I really like the Dixon figures, but they are (comparatively) quite expensive to other figures that I've seen so far (see my web page for some comparisons/comments) - and this is also complicated by the fact that I don't actually like the other figures I've seen as much as the Dixons, so it's a case of 'put up, or shut up'! To try and beat the embargo, therefore, I have a trial order in with the UK distributor of the Eureka figures (Fighting15's) for item 300SYW230P Austrian dragoon pack (3 troopers and 3 command) - I'm looking forward to seeing what they're like - but they're 18mm so I'm hoping they're not going to be huge!
  • Caliver Books have a new book out by Stuart Asquith (published by themselves), titled "Wargaming the Sudan Campaigns" - I've just checked and it's not going to be available for the show but I think I'll be putting in an advance order.. wanted to see if they had any detail on what's in it before making a final decision but given this is by Stuart it's a foregone conclusion really!
  • Still on the Sudan, I'm looking for figures and think I will be dropping some serious birthday money on the Peter Pig stand specifically, I would like some British cavalry, Camel Corps (mounted and dismounted), Dervish cavalry, and it's time to think about some artillery... Peter Pig do the Krups gun, and also the little, mule mounted, screw guns.... Having also just finished the Robson account of the war in the eastern Sudan, what I'd also really like is some Sikh infantry/Bengal Lancers but Peter Pig don't do them - will have to check the Essex stand.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Road Hum...

Not a lot of activity on the wargaming front this weekend - like (what appeared to be) most of the population of the British Isles, I spent a fair amount of it outside enjoying the sun - up to 25'C on Saturday (about 77'F for those of you still working in "old money"..) which is astonishing for April in the UK... all the "woe is me" brigade are blaming it on global warming (and who knows there may be an element of it that's true), but the BBC reported this morning that we're way off the record, which was set in the spring of 1946....a delightful contrast with the pictures from the east coast of the US at the moment with all that snow! Anyway, with my missus gainfully employed at work, and my little'uns wearing out their grandma on an overnight stay, I spent Saturday on a long cycle ride, with some pleasant beer along the way...

I'd done this ride before, last summer, but it's a bit of a favourite, and well worth the effort given the eventual destination.. in summary though - if anyone reads this and fancies having a go:
  • start from Emsworth near Havant and head for the cycle path along the top of Farlington Marshes
  • travel the length of this path and then head south along the cycle path beside the Eastern Road
  • travel to the end of this at Milton where you then have to take your life in your hands and join the road, still travelling south towards the sea front
  • the "Sir Loin of Beef (see picture below) is the destination for the ride - this used to be my old local when I lived in Southsea. For the wargamers amongst us, my house at this time abutted the Royal Marines barracks at Eastney - famous among many other things - for the training of the Cockleshell Heroes in WWII, and also being where my good friend 'Lofty C', who started off my AWI activities with his gift of all those 25mm Minifigs, was based!
If you love real ale like I do, then this place is one of the top 5 pubs in the county in my opinion - on Saturday I started off with Cottage Brewery's "Wessex Bitter" which at 3.9% I thought was probably the safest bet given the trip back - this was a nice beer, with lots of taste for its strength. "Unfortunately" I then noticed the Hopback "Summer Lightning" had just gone on, and was a new barrel - so two pints (at 5%) later I agreed with the landlord that it really was as fresh as a daisy, but I needed to make my way - otherwise I'd be sleeping under one of his tables..!

Pausing only to purchase a couple of bottles of "Bishops Tipple", from a truly classic choice of other bottled beers behind the bar, I started for home..
  • The route back traverses the opposite side of the harbour - stopping off for some sandwiches and a drink at the local shops, I headed for the Hayling ferry at Eastney - £3 later (I read somewhere that mile for mile this ferry is the most expensive journey in the world, more expensive even than Concord in its day!) but after a pleasant journey across the harbour mouth you are dropped off on Hayling Island.

  • Take the ferry road inland before following signs for the Hayling Billy line - this is a cycle path built on what used to be an old railway line, but you can follow this up the whole of the west coast of Hayling Island before crossing the bridge, and arriving back at Havant - the start of the journey..
According to Google map, the circumnavigation of Langstone is about 15 miles, so with the bits on the other end I make that a nice round trip of about 25 miles.... 80% of which is on cycle paths.. smashing!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sudan rules... of the things I really like about this little old hobby of ours is the sheer variety of activities we involve ourselves in, in support of the hobby... there's modelling, painting, researching, reading, playing, programming to name just a few. So, this week, fresh from the efforts at the painting table on the Egyptians, I turned my thoughts yet again to rules...

...I've been following some of the threads on the OSW group with some interest and not a little agreement - one of the posters indicated that he had a problem playing more modern era games (ie. post black powder/horse and musket) , because of the difficulty of simulating those era's on the tabletop - by jove I thought, he's got it.. one of my undiscovered holy grails is a decent WWII set, and also (by way of explanation for this little digression) a decent Sudan set - and I have looked. Up until now I've checked (and rejected for various reasons) a number of sets, Principles of War, Battles for Empire, Science v's Pluck, the list goes on...

..which brings me to my point (at last!) that in this instance I've decided I'm just going to have to write my own - how's that for an "Old School" approach! Things so far are going OK...
  • I've started with, as a basis, the template provided by Peter Gilder in the first editions of Wargamers World (I have them in PDF format on CD) - these covered off figure scale (1:10) and basic organisation, and base size - also some very useful starting orders of battle.

  • To this I've added some of the elements of a set of rules that Peter himself used, called "Pony Wars" (which I got from Leisure Games in London - reasonably priced, good postage, excellent customer service...) These are Hollywood/Western, BUT, they have an excellent approach to managing the "hostiles" that Peter Gilder borrowed to manage his Dervish - very unusual, basically the player takes the part of the US Cavalry, while the Indians are 'automated' via reaction tests, chance cards, pre-set orders...etc. I'm going to pinch this mechanism myself. I'm also taking the ammunition supply elements as I see this as key for the period/flavour..

  • Lastly, as the framework for moving/firing/morale/melee I'll use my own WWII rules which were in turn heavily modified from the Will McNally AWI rules... can't help myself, I just seem to like that you can use firing to adjudicate damage and morale....

As I say - things are going well so far - happy hours spent in front of Word, cutting/pasting/thinking and designing the look and feel of the rules, looking for graphics to enhance them, etc. I'll post further once they're completed, and I run the first game...

On a separate subject, thoughts are now turning to Salute which is just over a week away....

For the WSS project I've already put in a pre-order for a sample of figures by Eureka to pick up on the day - these are 18mm so I'm not convinced they're going to work with my 15mm's but the samples will allow me to do a comparison..

I've been in touch with Dave at Caliver Books over the new Sudan Wargame book by Stuart Asquith - two ticks in the box for me "Asquith" and "Sudan" - hoping it's going to be in print by Salute so I can pick up a copy..

Other than that, I have birthday money to spend (how old am I?!) which I intend dropping at the Peter Pig stand on Sudanese/Colonials (I'd like Sikh Infantry/Cavalry, Camel Corps, artillery and/or Dervish Cavalry)

HAPPY days...!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter... and some Egyptian Lancers..

Happy Easter to all - trust everyone had enough chocolate eggs today, but more importantly that you also managed to forget the diets...

Been a lovely weekend in the UK weather'wise (and the best thing is we still have another day off! J), better still I also had some opportunity to spend sometime at the painting table - and the first batch of Egyptian Cavalry are now almost ready... just the varnish to go, and I'm toying with the idea of lance pennants.. might be a bit fiddly though...

..these guys are lancers, and information I have shows they were active in the Suakin Campaign (east Sudan) against Osman Digna

...right... time for another Cadbury's mini egg... J

Thursday, April 05, 2007

AWI Project Page & old memories...

I've brought my old American War of Independence page up to date, and added the link to the list of my pages on the left.. this has a link on it to the battle I reported following, it also has links to the rules I use, along with the modifications, cheat sheets, etc.

One of the pleasures in my all too hectic life is to sit in my garage of an evening (well it is still kind of "winter"!), with a couple of bottles of beer, a cigar, and a good read... at the moment I'm reading a book (military history naturally!) that I just got on eBay, titled "Fuzzy Wuzzy: The Campaigns in the Eastern Sudan 1884-1885" by Brian Robson (the same chap who wrote the book on the Second Afghan War, and the disastrous retreat from Kabul - "The Road to Kabul"). Either way his Sudan book is similarly excellent, but last night (and you knew there was a purpose of this little diversion) I happened to be reading an old copy of "Wargamer's Newsletter" from April 1974.. this was one of a batch (to fill in some gaps in my collection) I had just bought from John Tunstill (a fellow Blogger as I found out the other day, and author amongst other things, of "Discovering Wargames") ...

Imagine if you will then - sat comfortably, beer at hand, cigar gently drawing, only to see yours truly leap out of his chair and rush into the house waving said magazine in the air.. and all because????

33 years ago, I'd had a letter published in "Wargamer's Newsletter", and I never even knew because my subscription had run out the issue before .... J

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

"Advance Guard" battle report..

My thanks for the kind words/comments to all of you who have taken the time to comment on the Blog to date - it's much appreciated...

Apologies however, for the delay in posting the battle report, it's been a school holiday week this week so I've been away from the computer for a while - among other things, taking my sprogs to Fishers Farm Park which I recommend wholeheartedly for those of you in the south of England/Sussex!

Either way the report is now up with pictures of the latest set to in her Majesty's Colonies... follow this link to read the review of an excellent nights gaming - despite my losing again!

The beer festival was good as well - very bijou (ie. small!), but a high quality selection of ales of which my beer of the festival was the Dark Star "Hophead" - described elsewhere as "Light straw coloured bitter with fully hoppy aroma and clean crisp bitterness from Cascade hops". Can't argue with that! Phenomenal flavour for only 3.8% of alcohol..