Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Salute 2009

It was another brilliant Salute characterised this time by meeting some of my fellow bloggers... nice to meet & have a glass of what passes for beer in the Excel with "Fire at Will", and also nice to have a quick chat with Bob Cordery who was running a "Solferino in 30 minutes" participation game (check his blog for more details on the game)...

Salute never fails to amaze me with the sheer size of the exhibition hall - though it did look this year like there was a lot of empty space... nice to be able to walk around, but there was still the usual 3 deep scrum in front of most stands! Makes you wonder why they don't just give everyone a little extra frontage - there seemed to be plenty of available space..

Lots of money being spent and little evidence to my eye of a crisis of consumer confidence - I certainly spent more this year than I do normally, and I'm a cheapskate!

Purchases went according to plan

- first visit was to the "Figures in Comfort" stand where I picked up one of the specially commissioned miniatures being made in support of the Combat Stress charity...

- a visit to see Mike at "Black Hat" resulted in him handing over a (heavy) cardboard box of his new 15mm cavalry for the Wars of the Spanish Succession that I'd pre-ordered - he was telling me that in addition he also now has command figures, and by request of another customer he also has figures representing the runners that Marlborough used to carry his orders on the battle field... think very fit young men wearing a kind of jockey hat, and carrying a baton with gold ball mounted on the end, as their badge of office - just had to have them, so I took a packet of them as well! C'mon Mike - we now need the general's carriage!

- Caliver were doing lots of business - having a brief chat with one of the guys he said that this is the first year they'd had two tills, and both of them seemed to be going at top speed! I picked up "Trafalgar" and "The Raid on St.Michel" by Charles S. Grant & Phil Olley... Trafalgar I'd seen before, but the graphics and format are still breathtaking... the Raid book is all black and white which was a bit of a shame, but an initial read would indicate that it promises to make up for this sevenfold in terms of campaign interest.... more on this anon...

- Lastly, while browsing the books at the Paul Meekins stand I discovered a copy of Paddy Griffiths's book "Battle Tactics of the Civil War" - given my itch in this particular area it would have been a good buy anyway - but as it happened DG had recently got a copy and recommended it highly so another purchase made...!

...and that was it on the spending front - an excellent clutch - the only disappointment was the almost total lack of Napoleonic ships - you'd have thought that with the buzz surrounding the "Trafalgar" launch the place would have been awash (ouch!) with them but not so.. looks like I shall have to order some samples on line...

So how about the games?? Tough one this year as I thought the games were particulalry good - and what surprised me was how good the participation games were as opposed to the demo games... people had put a lot of work into these participation games and were entirely happy for the hoi-polloi to turn up and make free with them.. a good thing I think..

So - in no particular order here are some of the games that caught my eye..

First up some Wars of the Roses action - not a usual period for me - but my eye was caught by the lovely buildings; nice terrain and very effective. This game represents the first battle of St. Albans which took place on the 22nd May 1455. The game was put on by the GLC Games Club...

Next is a participation game, and I think one of my top three for the show - this was called "Can you do better than Michael Wittman" and was put on by a Belgian club somewhat splendidly called LES CHEMINS DE FEU. The game was in 28mm and was about the engagement around Villiers Bocage when Michael Wittman stalked 7th Armoured Div - participants were tasked with hunting down Wittman... once again the terrain was absolutely terrific - huge table - lots of lovely models... if I wasn't your typical hung up and reserved Englishman I'd have been tempted to play....!

Next up is another one in the top 3 - purely because of the terrain (and the train!)... this game was called "Smolevichi" and was put on by Southend Wargames Club - this was a WWII Russian partisan game - the Germans were trying to get the armoured train through, the partisans were trying to stop them, and the Germans were trying to stop them! Superb scenery - was talking to one of the guys running the game and he said it was amazing how many people who had stopped to look had noticed how cold it suddenly became! There's a lot more pictures here by the wayhttp://gallery.sswg.org/thumbnails.php?album=99

Next up another participation game - this time by the characters at Two Fat Lardies - this was using their latest rules which are for WWI trench warfare - what caught my eye was the amount of fun being had by the participants, but I'm a sucker for those WWI lozenge shaped tanks - the terrain and trenches were also lovely...
Another nice looking game - this time in 54mm - this was put on by the BMSS (British Model Soldier Society) and was set in Sicily in 1943 - have a look at the dust on the windscreen of the British lorry - amazing detail. Interesting to see how the back doors on the hanomags work as well...

Next - this was a very arresting looking Ancients game which caught me eye purely for the number of figures.. very simple cloth cover, scattered with gravel and such, but the big ranks of figures was eye catching.. game was called "Julianus at Ozogardana" and was Late Romans versus Sassanid; all figures were 25mm - the game was put on by the Uxbridge Wargamers.

I think this next game may well have been my favourite of the show - definitely top three, and easily top two. The game was called "La Iglesia de San Cristobal" and was put on by the League of Augsburg in 25mm... my favourite Napoleonic theatre (Iberian Peninsula) and I particulalry liked the backdrop and the effect it gave... the sunken roads were a bit special as well! Add in the figures and this was a very special game... loads more pictures here: http://www.leagueofaugsburg.com/gallery.php?req=gallery&cat=146&subcat=329#

Then just two little snippets to end on... this was from the WWI aerial participation game ("WOT? No Parachute" by SOUTH EAST ESSEX MILITARY SOCIETY) The bombers are WWI era Russian - do you fancy the job of being the tail gunner on one of these beasts???!
....and I do fancy a company of these but I'd need a bigger table.... Some people have a lot of time on their hands... the heads of the crew moved, there was smoke coming from the exhausts, and the m/c guns flashed when fired... not to mention the authentic engine noise when it was on the move!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More ACW...

Really haven't been idle, honest...

I continue to scratch the ACW "itch" with news that on the figures front DG has come up with the offer of some Minifigs 25mm's that are surplus to his requirements. I think DG has decided to go the plastic route - I know he picked up some of the new Perry stuff at last years Salute but in terms of my poll (still 12 hours to vote folks) he's definitely in the "I have bought them but haven't got round to painting them yet.." camp..!

DG tells me he has the following for me:

Kepi hats
23 Cavalry
25 Infantry

"Brimmed" hats
17 Cavalry
18 Infantry

17 Officers, Drummers, Standard bearers, Artillery men

More than enough to get me going... though I still have the thoughts on numbers and figure scale to go through... of which more anon...

Which brings me on to the knotty subject of what rules to use... ah bliss, now the plan was going to be to use Mr. Lincoln's War still thinking about it but in light of my increased leanings towards an old school project to go with the old school figures, I dug out my copy of the collected Wargamers Newsletter rules and had a good read - thoughts?? There's some scope there but I'm sorry, I can't be doing with the physical apparatus required (canister cones and burst circles to mark fall of round shot).. what I did like, and still like, is Don's ability to distill the essentials of the period into elements that need to be represented in his rules... eg.

"One of the peculiarities of the American Civil War lies in the fact that both sides had armies formed of independent men unaccustomed to conforming to the more rigid discipline of European armies of that time. This meant that, on occasions, regiments would momentarily panic and break, only to quickly re-form and fight on as bravely as though previously unaffected. Thus, morale rules are necessary to reproduce this fact, i.e. that such "breaks" are frequently transitional and the units concerned can rally more easily than European counterparts."


"Skirmishers will have to be sent forward if the movements of the enemy are to be discovered. Units behind hills or woods (or in any position where they are not in reasonable view of their opponents) are represented by a numbered card or counter and need not be revealed unless skirmishers move forward to a position where they can see the enemy."


"Cavalry may also be used in this scouting role. There will also be standing figures made available, one for each cavalryman. This will enable cavalry to play their correct role as in 1861-1865. By dismounting a cavalryman and substituting one of the standing figures, the cavalry can serve as mounted infantrymen."

On the other hand, his regiments for this version of the rules at least, are 40 men strong plus officers!

So - having decided that these rules, although a starting point, are not 100% there, I then went back to "War Games", the book that started it all for me, and with great enjoyment read the "RULES AND DEMONSTRATION BATTLE: 'ACTION IN THE PLATTVILLE VALLEY'" No rude mechanicals here - just the sane and sensible rules that I remember so well... simple, yes, but ah, what a framework...

So - thinking further - I'll use the rules from "War Games" as the basis, add in 'complexity' from the slightly later period "Wargamers Newsletter" rules, with any additional elements from Mr. Lincoln's War that doesn't over complicate the whole project...

I'm thinking I may steal the figure scales/unit sizes, for example... and may be some of the formation movement which I like a lot... But only if it doesn't over complicate the look and feel of the whole thing... oh, and I want fixed bases - no casualty removal - I'm happy to do the paperwork to allow this... which brings to mind something that Fire-at-Will has been playing with over on his AWI blog... Mr. Lincoln's War is company level where one stand (of 4 figures) represents a company of about 80 men - an actual regiment is then made up of the number of stands required to represent the regiments actual numbers, so for example a regiment of 400 men would have five stands. Similar to what Gilder did (and I copied) for the Sudan rules in fact, and also what Will has been doing with his AWI/SYW rules that I use with so much pleasure... hmmmm... thoughts to ponder indeed!

Bottom line - apologies for the slightly disjointed post - lots of thoughts over the last few days, and you have to jot them down somewhere!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Salute shopping list...

..time I think for a new post, and prompted by a review in the most recent Battlegames* by Mike Siggins on the latest offering from Warlord miniatures I thought I'd test, in my own small way, his undoubted enthusiasm for the latest plastic offerings... I think it safe to say that Mike seems to be a huge fan of these new ranges and figures, it's been discussed at length here and elsewhere whether they are really as good as we're being told they are, I'm just interested to know how many of the people who pass through here have actually put their money down, and painted them to wargame with.... be interesting to see - place your bets, oops, votes, on the poll to the left ladies and gentlemen...

* (an excellent issue by the way - the AWI article in particular was breathtaking)

..next, what more pleasant a thing to contemplate (and blog about) than my shopping list for what is quite possibly the biggest wargame show in the UK all year?!

Salute [click here] is approaching fast - Saturday 28th to be precise so thoughts as usual are turning to my shopping list.

For a wargamer I have to say I'm (generally) pretty good, and can honestly say that I don't really have a lead mountain - I buy what I need, and then paint it... if I have figures available then I don't buy more - it's stress that I don't need (all those little metal voices calling from the ready to paint box - "paint me, paint me") so when I go to the shows I'm generally looking for specific figures for specific units/periods...

You can imagine my pleasure then when I spotted that Mike at Black Hat Miniatures [click here] has just recently released the cavalry to go with those exquisite infantry that I bought at Warfare last November (which have since become Howe's Regiment of Foot and the Agenois Regiment - I told you I painted what I bought! ). So, first on the list then, a pre-order for enough Marlburian cavalry to field a squadron per side - the picture to the right by the way is the French cavalry trooper, there are separate packs for non-French, and also, commands for both. I'm looking forward to seeing these in the flesh...

Next - I suspect that this is going to be a bit of a "printed matter" year as I want a copy of this:
..I'd also like this, based on the excellent feedback I've had from fellow Old School Wargaming members and bloggers:

Next some ships - you can't buy "Trafalgar" and then not investigate the ship possibilities - and based on some comparison photo's at the Trafalgar Yahoo group I'm hoping that I'm going to find the Navwar ships at the show so that I can see them close up (Navwar's is another disappointing web site with plenty of written content, nicely laid out, but no photographs of the ships... grrrrrrr...) a quick check shows that Principles of War carry them and are at the show so fingers crossed... not looking for much - couple of the two deckers and a frigate a side - may even go American war of Independence era rather than Napoleonic so that I can keep some campaign options open.

Next we get into the "must check it out" section of the list:

Despite my general antipathy to the plastic figures, I'm enough of a geek that next I want to see what this looks like in the flesh - this was announced on the Perry website this week (I think) and is designed to fit with the ACW range - it looks to me however, like it would also fit very nicely with my existing American War of Independence figures and while I don't really need any more building type terrain I'm keen to see what this looks like as the price is very intriguing if only for all the extras you get:

Next, Matt over at the "Waterloo to Mons" [click here] blog, not satisfied with single handedly boosting Helions sales as a result of his excellent painted output of their product, has gone into business for himself with his own range of figures (Waterloo to Mons Miniatures [click here for the company web site]). The first releases are for the First Schleswig-Holstein War of 1848-1850 - not a period that I'm ever going to play I suspect, but I would like to see the figures face to face....

Before I leave I also want to get one of the specially commissioned figures I mentioned in a previous post that have been sponsored by Figures in Comfort. The figures will be sold in support of Holybush House, the organisation that helps ex service men and women who have mental health issues as a result of military service. I noticed on The Miniatures Page the other day that one of the first figure released has been painted by Brian Phillips for auction on eBay in aid of the charity - click here for more information on the auction (and more pictures):

Then for the rest of the day I'm going to mooch about, check the games, take some photo's, make impulse buys, and hopefully at some point meet up with Will of Fire at Will blog fame - I've been playing Will's American War of Independence Rules for what must be almost 10 years now and we've never met, so I definitely owe him a pint, if not for that but also the fact that I shamelessly ripped his rules off for part of my Colonial Sudan set, and I also use his Seven Years Rules (with mods) for the War of the Spanish Succession games!

...and that's it - I shall need a new pair of shoes by the end of the day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

It's a bit quiet round here...

Lest anyone think that Steve-the-Wargamer has shuffled off this mortal coil I am here to report that all is well, it's just too damn busy to be posting... and come to think of it, if psychologist Dr Aric Sigman [click here] is correct, then I should be spending less time blogging and more time interacting with the world anyway!

As it happens I have been... interacting with the world, that is.. and I can report firstly an update to the Campaign Diary (link to the left) following a minor scuffle (hardly a skirmish) this time to the west of the town of Carnine... DG's British cavalry won an outcome worthy of bloody Ban himself and well and truly mishandled my Dragoons - you can read more in the diary....

Whilst on the subject, our campaign has now been running for a whole year as it was on the 4th March 2008 that I first blogged the immortal words "it's spring and a young mans fancy turns to campaigning"...! Speaking for myself it's been a world of fun, and I suspect it's going to get even more fun as sooner or later one of us is going to have to risk an attack or the campaign will head to a stalemate....

What has also taken all my time is the following:

...Steve the Wargamer has had sailing as a hobby since the days of short school trousers and caps (and that dates me) - I think my first ever time on the water was an RYA sailing course when I was 15... after that however, I then spent an unfeasibly long time sailing and racing windsurfers before finally coming to my senses (bad back and advancing age) four or five years ago when I decided it was time to return to sailing in the sitting down position....

"Papillon" is my first ever boat, only 19 foot long though she does have a cabin. She came with an outboard to get me out of trouble, and all the necessary pieces of kit, and since the picture (which was taken the day I bought her) she has now been anti-fouled and cleaned inside and out within an inch of her life... Not being too cheesy about it all, she is a bit of a lifetime ambition - I've wanted a boat ever since I did that sailing course, but money, family, time, work and a host of other commitments and obstacles mean that it's only now that I can really devote the time and money... either way - now I have one, and I ain't half looking forward to the summer!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Agenois regiment...

So yet another month disappears into the ether - difficult to believe that it's March already.... things are not slowing down any in Steve-the-Wargamers house, I'm currently looking forward to Salute on March 28th - DG and I will be paying our annual visit, and the tickets are already sitting in DG's hot and sweaty grip.... I've already pre-ordered some of the new Black Hat, War of the Spanish Succession cavalry - enough for a couple of regiments, if they're anything like as good as the infantry I'm in for a treat! You can see a preview here:


Talking of Black Hat please find following the latest unit to leave Steve-the-Wargamers painting table; these are destined for the army of Louis XIV and represent the Agenois Regiment.

I'm actually quite chuffed with these guys as they represent a slight departure from my "slap it on and get them on the table" approach to painting...

I actually went for some highlights with these guys and I think they actually look quite good, and really didn't take that long to do....

The unit is also unusual in that they feature a drummer - I don't normally include them as I get into a terrible confusion about whether they should have reversed colours for their uniforms, what colour the drum should be etc etc. On this instance I thought "sod it" so he wears a standard uniform, and the drum colours follow the uniform...

Close up - not *too* bad for a 15mm....

Anyway - figures are 15mm by Black Hat with the exception of the drummer, and if you look carefully in the second row (behind the officer and drummer) two of the rank and file. These were Minifigs shamelessly brought in to make up for lack of numbers...

The regiment was formed in 1595, by the Comte de Choiseul. They weren't present at the Schellenberg, but at Blenhiem the regiment was in Marechal de Camp Dorrington's Division in Lieutenant General the Marquis de Blainville's Corps. They were brigaded with two battalions of the Bourbonnais regiment, and the Foix Regiment in the Marquis de Nangis' brigade.

I found the following on the Comte de Choiseul in this book "Dictionnaire historique et biographique des généraux français, depuis le onzième siècle jusqu'en 1820" (via Google Books). It's by Jean Baptiste Pierre Jullien de Courcelles, and was published by L'auteur in 1822.

My French is not as good as it should be but I think the salient points are:

  • He entered to the musketeers in i683; then became a lieutenant in the Regiment de Roi in 1684
  • I think the next bit says that he was promoted again upon the death of his father in June 1686.
  • During the War of the Grand Alliance (or the War of the League of Augsburg) he served under Marshal Duras, and was present at Philippsburg (27 September - 30 October 1688), Mannheim, which capitulated on 11 November, shortly followed by Frankenthal.
  • Promoted captain (still in the Regiment de Roi) by commission of March 13, 1689
  • He was at the battle of Fleurus in 1690, the battle of Leuze, in 1691; the siege of Namur; the battle of Steinkerque.
  • He was given command of the newly formed regiment of Agénois by commission of October 14 1692.
  • From 1693-4 the regiment was in Germany under Lorges and with the army in Flanders, in i695 and 1696; with the army of the Lily, under the marshal de Catinat, in 1697; and was present at the siege of Ath as the War of the Grand Alliance drew to a close.
  • At the start of the War of the Spanish Succession the regiment was still in Flanders, but in September was transferred to Germany under the orders of the marquis de Villars where it fought at Fridelingen in October 1702.
  • He was promoted brevet brigadier in the December and sent to the army of Bavaria under the marshal of Villars in 1703 where the regiment was present at the siege of Kehl the attack on the lines of Stollhoffen; the battle of Munderkingen (13 July 1703) and the victory over an Austrian army under Count Styrum at the battle of Hochstadt.
  • Employed with the same army, under the marshal of Marchin, in 1704, it fought with the second battle of Hochstedt (that's Blenheim to you and I);
  • He was promoted marchel-de-camp (brevet again) in October of that year but at the same time had to hand over command of the regiment in order to fulfil other command requirements..

...I don't think anyone can be in any doubt that the regiment would have been classed as "veterans"!!

By the way, Choiseul went on to serve in Italy, Spain and then back to Flanders before finally returning to Spain again in 1714. He was promoted Lieutenant General in 1718 but never used in that capacity and he eventually retired, and died at his home aged 62 in 1726.... what a war horse!


It being the start of the month I guess it's also time to show some of those numbers, thought to be fair I'm less and less bothered about doing this - so this may be the last month...!

Painting total currently sits at 50 points year to date - blog hits look like the following:

Thanks very much for continuing to visit whoever you are - thanks also for the comments and feedback..