Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Skirmish north of Carnine - Move 1

Following some much enjoyed discussion with DG on the timing of when this skirmish actually occurs (viz a viz matching tabletop and Berthier campaign management tool) the game has now started...

You may remember that this game originated as a result of a contact in the American War of Independence campaign that he and I are playing.. in a nutshell (not everyone enjoys reading huge amounts of campaign diary!) a force of my cavalry and light infantry have managed to pin two of his light infantry units (Rangers) just north of my main army. A further half squadron of British cavalry has withdrawn..

As a first, we are also playing the game "virtually" - DG from his domicile in deepest darkest Wales & myself at home in deepest darkest West Sussex. The table is set up at my place, and I move the units in accordance with his orders, sending him pictures wherever there is doubt on distances etc.

My objective is simple - absolute destruction of his lights prior to deciding the next step...

First move, and the Americans (me) win the dice throw and move first (in our rules - available here - the first side moves, the second side fires, then moves, and finally the first side fires) - the militia have wheeled and advanced towards the flank of the Rangers.

B.t.w - you can click on any of the pictures for a much bigger view.. I've applied a grid to the first picture (1' squares) to make it easier for DG to see the kids of distances involved - for good measure I've also left a ruler on the table...

The American cavalry to the front of the Rangers (Lauzun's) have pulled back out of musket range, the other cavalry unit have moved over (now that the half squadron of British Dragoons have withdrawn)

Over to DG to decide his next move...

..the Christmas and New Year hiatus..

...so, there it goes! Hope you all had good Christmas's, it didn't exactly hang around did it?!

It seems to me that every year Christmas just comes and goes quicker and quicker... and this years was no exception. It's a huge shame; if I had my way the week before Christmas would last a month as there's nothing like that sense of expectation even at my advanced age - but it comes and goes in about 5 minutes flat..

Either way - despite the best efforts of an awful cough and cold which started on Christmas Eve and is only just departing now, Steve the Wargamer had an excellent Christmas. I ate far too much, tried to drink too much but had to give in (cough and cold defeated me this time!), and watched far more television than can be healthy for anyone!

Highlights under the tree for me this year were a couple of the new Osprey "Tactics" books ("British Napoleonic Infantry" and "WWII Desert Tactics" - pictured), some DVD’s (the incomparable Gregory Peck in "12 O’Clock High", and the new Indiana Jones effort which I've not seen yet), a 'shed-load' of book tokens to spend on tomes of my choice, and more bottles of interesting beer than I can safely fit in the cupboard in the garage! Santa was very good to me indeed...

Thoughts now turn somewhat delightfully on what to spend those vouchers on! I have a huge list of books that I have been meaning to buy as a result of the myriads of suggestions on various blogs, at the Old School Wargame group, and elsewhere... I like to use them to buy "significant" purchases, the kind of books that you wouldn't normally buy, so at the moment I have Troiani's "Soldiers of the American Revolution" in my sights... more on that when I make my mind up.

Next up, I've just finished basing the 12mm armour that I bought on the recent visit to Minifigs so for your delectation I include some photo's. I suspect that these will very definitely be the last of my painting points for 2008.. :o))

First up is the British command vehicle, this is a Bedford QLR Radio Truck (BV58) and of them all, this is the one I'm most happy with. I got the idea for the surveying poles from a painted example on someone else's site (which I now can't remember the name of), the figure was a spare from my parts box. I've also decided to go with the new basing technique for my desert stuff - nothing extraordinary, just using real sand (with grit) instead of the sand coloured flock I was using. Think it looks a lot better...
Next is a couple of shots of the Panzer IV's with the long barrelled 75mm.. enough for a unit for Blitzkrieg Commander - first a close up:

..and then a shot of all three:

Last up a German half track made up as a command vehicle (Sd Kfz 251/3), and a PzJgr I. The latter is without a doubt the most difficult model I've ever had to put together, the shield alone came in three separate parts (and in 12mm that's small) - at one point I lost one of the side pieces and found it stuck to my thumb! To be honest it still looks a bit like a dogs dinner but it painted up OK, and now it's based it fits the bill...but never again!

...and finally for this post a preview of what's coming up in the next post. The next post will contain the first fruits of the virtual game that DG and I are playing in the American War of Independence campaign - the table is set time to start moving some troops.. I'm planning to play this as per the game Stokes is playing over at his blog site - let's see whether we're as succesful as he is!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Happy Christmas..

.. to my readers, fellow bloggers, and Old School Wargame acquaintances... oh, and anyone else I have forgot!

May the Christmas holiday period be restful & relaxing, and the big guy in the red suit leave everything you could want under the tree..

For your reading pleasure the picture this year is the first ever commercially made Christmas card... as those of you who visit here are aware, I have an almost insatiable appetite for trivia and I happened to find this while I was spending a half hour googling the other lunchtime.

It is attributed to a gentlemen called Henry Cole (he was later knighted) who came up with the idea in 1843 (he also designed the first postage stamp apparently!).

The story goes that he had so many friends, relatives and colleagues that he wished to send greetings to at Christmas that handwriting them was impossible; and the usual practice was to have individually painted cards. Accordingly he got a local artist to paint him the picture you see, and took it to a printer to have it printed so that all he had to do was sign it....... and the rest is history...

PS. Nothing changes - the card showed a child enjoying a sip of wine, and Cole was accused of “fostering the moral corruption of children.”!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


..can someone tell me where those ten days since my last post went???!

In mitigation it's been a mite busy here in Steve-the-Wargamer's household... with two little one's there's been more than a few school productions to see, Christmas Fairs to attend etc. In addition the current Mrs Steve-the-Wargamer and I legged it away for two or three days in the beautiful city of Bath to relax last week, while the grandparents baby-sat (or should that be "truculent teenager-sat"?? )

A lovely time was had by all, the highlights being:

~ the fresh barrel of "Pitchfork" that they'd put on at the Old Green Tree (that's it above left) which slipped down a treat and provided much sustenance and vigour when contemplating more Christmas shopping!

~ a quick trip to Bonaparte's the model soldier shop - impossibly small, but crammed to the gills with exquisitely painted military miniatures, kits, paints, reference books, etc. No purchases this time but a pleasant 30 minutes invested..

~ Bath itself which is a city I particularly like for atmosphere - it may be that it's the west country but I always find people there more relaxed!

..good time anyway.

On the gaming front - in the campaign DG and I are playing we have a "contact" to resolve. My cavalry has managed to catch and contact some of his light infantry - I'm keen to see them dispatched to a clean end! To do that, we are considering playing a game in the style of the interesting little set-to that Stokes is documenting on his Stollen Blog. DG lives some considerable distance away from Steve-the-Wargamer and is not planning to visit before next year, so this is the only way we can easily play the game... The table is set, and the troops deployed, I'm just waiting for DG's agreement that I have adequately transferred units from map to table before we launch into the game. We will of course document it here, but by way of a taster - this is the table (you can click on this for a bigger view)..

In addition, I've just finished painting the WWII vehicles that I picked up at Minifigs on my "day out" the other week - once I've finished basing them I will of course produce some pictures here....

...and that's it for now - Christmas is getting closer chaps - trust you're all behaving yourselves!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

15th Foot - Howe's Regiment

...and it is with some trepidation that I now introduce you to the newest unit in the forces of Queen Anne - namely Howe's Regiment of Foot.

"Trepidation" you ask??? Purely because I think this may be the best painting that I've done in terms of Marlburian units to date... I know I've been quite happy with some of the cavalry (I like painting horses!), but I'm not in any doubt as to my painting talents on infantry...

This regiment is made up from the new Black Hat figures that I picked up at Warfare, and they are so easy to paint... no modification of my normal style (black undercoat, white damp brush, block colours, no highlights, a suitable colour wash at the end) but the end result is far superior to previous efforts ... well... in my eyes anyway! Either way, I'm dead chuffed with them....

So without further ado here is the regiment in its glory

The regiment was one of the last of the tranche of regiments raised by James II following his accession. It came into being on the 22nd June 1685 (so just two weeks before the battle of Sedgemoor), and was raised by Sir William Clifton from troops recruited in Nottingham and surrounding area's.

As was usual in this period the regiment was known by the name of it's colonel until 1751, when in the army ordinances the regiment became the 15th Regiment of Foot. It ended up following various reorganisations and amalgamations as "The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire" in 1958 (that's their badge at the top of the page).

...and here's a close up - do those little guys have character or what??

At the time of Blenheim and the Schellenberg they were commanded by the rather splendidly named Emanuel Scrope Howe (that's him to the left), and yet again he's another interesting character (within limits!)

Howe was the son of John Grubham Howe, his mother however, was the illegitimate daughter of Prince Rupert of the Rhine (and a Drury Lane actress known as Margaret "Peg" Hughes). These were interesting and more accepting times..

Either way, Howe was not without influence:

  • He was appointed a Groom of the Bedchamber in 1689 as reward for his support for William of Orange, and held the office throughout William's reign.
  • He was also given a commission in the 1st Foot Guards, and served in Flanders where he was wounded at the Siege of Namur.
  • He purchased his colonelcy of this regiment in 1695, and was their colonel until his death in 1709.
  • He was promoted to Brigadier-General in 1704, Major-General in 1707 and Lieutenant-General in the year of his death.
  • He was also the First Commissioner of Prizes from 1703 to 1705, and envoy-extraordinary to the Elector of Hanover between 1705 and 1709, where he was instrumental in improving the strained relations between the English and Hanoverian reigning families to keep Hanover in the Grand Alliance.
  • He entered Parliament in 1701 but is only recorded as having taken part in a debate once.

As an interesting side note however, and something of a crossover with another wargaming interest of mine, he was great uncle via his younger brother of two other Howe's, namely Admiral Sir Richard Howe, and Sir William Howe, of American War of Independence fame..

He died on September 26th, 1709 - it's not specifically noted but I think it possible that he may have been wounded either at the siege of Tournay (which ended on the 3rd), or Malplaquet which was fought on September 11th?? Certainly the regiment was present at both, so I would suspect he was as well..

The regiment carried honours for all four major engagements; Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde & Malplaquet but despite my best efforts I was unable to find any information on the regimental colours (which is why they're missing from the picture). In the end I went with a speculative effort based on the colour of their facings:

The heraldic image in the middle of the flag is that of the city of Nottingham, given the regiment originally came from their (as did the Howe's) I thought it was a reasonable guess...

At the Schellenberg they were in the reserve, in Hamilton's Brigade under the command of Orkney, at Blenheim however they had a harder time of it as they were in the Blenheim assault column commanded by Lieutenant General John "Salamander" Cutts (1st Baron Cutts of Gowran), in Brigadier General Archibald Rowe's Brigade.

For an excellent history of the regiment, try this site - very interesting:


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Oliver Postgate (1925 - 2008)

It was with a quite surprising amount of sadness that I heard this morning on the BBC that Oliver Postgate had died.. I say surprising, because I really hadn't expected it to effect me quite as much as it did.

Oliver Postage is probably not well known outside of a couple of generations of British adults whose childhoods spanned the sixties and seventies, but during that time he made absolutely magical children's programs that I remember even to this day.

He's best known I suppose for Bagpuss, but I especially liked Ivor the Engine, with Noggin the Nog a close second. Even my two spuds like the Clangers (as old as that series is!)

What a shame, I know he was 83, but a little bit of creativity left the world with him yesterday... what a nice, gentle, legacy to leave behind though.

I'll leave you with a video of the first ever episode of Ivor - Oliver does the narration and all the other voices.. it was a different, and simpler, world back then..

BBC News article (click here)
BBC Obituary (click here)

Friday, December 05, 2008

I have been to.... Minifigs UK

A quite splendid day off on Wednesday - I had taken the day off as my wife was supposed to be working, and I needed to be at home to meet the spuds when they finished school. As it turned out they rang her up the day before and told she didn't need to go in, so the two of us went out to do what I'd planned for me to to do for the day. Now as a wargamer I'd be the first to admit that Steve-the-Wargamer leads a "socially challenged" existence, but I think even my missus enjoyed the day out!

First stop was the new Miniature Figurines factory at Southampton - Neil and Liz have been the "new" owners of Minifigs (or more correctly Miniature Figurines Ltd) for almost five years now (I think their anniversary is coming up soon) and have just moved premises from the old Northam Road location to a unit in the Solent Business Centre. The new place is still in Southampton, and I'd say about five or so miles away from the old factory, but a whole lot easier to get to, and park at.

(If you're coming from outside Southampton then the M27 is the easiest route - just take junction 3 and follow the signs for Southampton. The unit is in a huge building (an old warehouse I think) on the left as you head towards the centre/docks).

Minifigs share the building with a load of other company's, and although there's no shop as such (I always remember the old one as being a bit dark, but with all the soldiers on little shelves round the walls....), they're still open to pick up orders, and now you get to see the where the real business is taken care of. I've been a wargamer for 30+ years and never seen inside one of the "majors" and I have to say that I found it really interesting.

Anyway - the pictures are from the casting area - it looked to me like there were three casters, one against each bench. In the picture below you can see one of them with the lid up..

The shelves have all the moulds on them (the black circular things that look a little like old film can's), and I would say there were at least three double sided racks.. Minifigs have a very large range is all I can say.

My purpose for visiting was to take advantage of the special offer that Minifigs were advertising in "Battlegames" this month - a "big battalions" deal they had come up with in conjunction with Henry (the editor) - I don't have the details of the 25mm offer to hand, but certainly for 15mm it was buy 6 packs of horse and musket period troops, get 1 pack (a command pack) free.

Given the amount of painting going on in Steve-the-Wargamer's loft recently, my unpainted lead pile was looking dangerously light, so I ordered 3 packs each of British and French Marlburian foot, with a command pack.

The 50+ figures cost me £12.50 with the offer, and that was more than enough for two regiments - bargain.

To make the visit "worthwhile" I also added some WWII stuff to the order; every time I play Blitzkrieg Commander I get enthused to add more figures! Three Pz. IV's (long barrels - what the British called "specials" in the Desert), a Pz.Jgr I (early war tank hunter) and a couple of command vehicles....

What really surprised me was that I was the only one who'd taken advantage of the "big battalions" deal! I would encourage everyone to investigate the offer - the details are in Battlegames and you need to quote BGMFOS01 when ordering...

Brilliant visit - Liz & Neil made both us very welcome, and thanks to Neil for allowing me to post the pictures...

Second visit was to the "Flowerpots" at Cheriton * for "lunch" ie. liquid, comprising a pint (or two!) of "Goodens Gold" (click here).

As my wife was present this time, I did actually have something to eat besides the normal intake of Goodens.. On a very cold day we sat in front of a big log fire, me with a cheddar cheese ploughman's of quite gargantuan proportions, and her with a big bowl of home made soup.... sometimes life doesn't get much better....

* This was the same pub I visited after the recent battlefield walk I posted on... a super pub run by very nice people, with lovely food, but above all else, sublime beers..

...but I spoke to soon. The day did get better as the third trip of the day was on the way home and was to the Southwick Brewhouse (click here) a noted purveyor of fine ales in the bottle.. bliss... as a regular customer I filled my pannier, got a free bottle (as a returning customer), and took home a four pint container of "Palmerston's Folly" brewed locally by the owners, and named after the forts that were built to protect Portsmouth from an invasion by the French under Napoleon III...

Over a cigar and a couple of glasses of the Folly that evening, I had to come to the conclusion that I'd been right earlier, and that a day really doesn't get any better than that!!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

WWII Germans and some painting totals..

I've just completed some much needed reinforcement for the Afrika Korps - the support weapons have finally arrived, and they'll no longer have to rely on their gallant Axis allies, the Italians, for mortars and MG's..

First off the mortars (and you can click on any of the graphics for a bigger clearer view):

Next some flamethrowers (and no - I'm not sure these were used in the desert theatre; time to do some reading)..

..some medium machine guns - spandaus on the bipod mount...

...lastly some heavy machine guns - "Hitlers buzz saw", the MG42 in it's sustained fire role on the tripod mount. This would have been the backbone of any German infantry unit and everything tactically was centred around it. As it fired 1,200 rounds per minute, every man in the unit would have carried at least one belt of ammunition. It fired at twice the rate of the British Vickers and the American Browning, and the nickname came from the fact that at that rate of fire, the human ear can't distinguish between the sound of individual bullets being fired; eye witnesses have said it sounded like "ripping cloth". A frightening thing to have to face....

This bunch also marks a new basing technique for me as I was getting increasingly dissatisfied with the basing material I was using for my desert miniatures... I've now switched to pure sand/grit and they look much better. I toyed with the idea of also painting the base but to be honest I like it as it is!


November Totals

So how did the painting totals do in November?? Not bad I think...

I make that 63 points for the month, and I'm happy with that...

It also brings the year to date total up to 461 "Olley" painting points which has to be one of my most productive years for ages!

My thanks to you all for continuing to read the blogs as well, it's not the be-all, but it's kind of gratifying to know that people find my blitherings as interesting as I do...! This blog, and my Marlburian meanderings, both show increased numbers of readers over the previous month..


Last of all - I've started a new blog...

I'm going to use it as the campaign diary for the campaign DG and I are currently engaged in. This will also allow me to document events in the order they happen, rather than expecting people to have to read all the posts back to front (if you know what I mean)...

...it also means I don't have to put temptation in DG's way, as he likes to read the Random Musings and is worried he'll see something he shouldn't in one of the campaign posts!

I've put a link over on the left with all the others...