Thursday, September 29, 2011

"The Yellow Admiral" - a review..

“Once he had been made a post captain, promotion to admiral was automatic. This was done by seniority, but it didn't mean he would necessarily fly his flag at sea. Admirals could be appointed to an unspecified squadron, commonly known as ‘the yellow squadron’, if the Admiralty had no confidence in a captain’s ability to command a fleet.” (from

The novel opens with Jack Aubrey at home, ashore after the sea battle at the end of "The Commodore" but with his financial fortunes at something of a low ebb (he's been there before!)

Despite all the slavers he had taken as prizes in "The Commodore", he is being dragged through the courts by several of the owners who are disputing his claims.. things are so bad he may have to sell the house... he is also worried that despite his recent temporary promotion to Commodore (not a formal rank, but an appointment for a specific mission) he is destined to not make admiral but may end up being "yellowed" as the end of the war is clearly in sight...

In the meanwhile he immerses himself in local politics and campaigns against enclosing the local common, while Maturin - also penniless as a result of political problems in Spain - moves his entire family into Jack's house..

Things look up when he receives orders to return to his ship the "Bellona" currently in the squadron blockading Brest, only to find that the Admiral in charge stood to gain financially from the enclosure Jack has successfully fought.... Jack is punished by being sent to the inshore squadron (the harder assignment due to the conditions) but not before Maturin receives orders for a mission that involves a covert landing in France..

Maturin is successfully landed, but on the same night, under cover of fog and dark two French ships slip past Jack's ship unseen. He is further reprimanded by the admiral for missing them, and just when things can get no worse (finances and career in ruins) he gets a letter from Sophie telling him she has now found out about a previous adultery and wants a divorce...

Happily for Jack things then start to look up - he captures a hugely rich French privateer (which goes some way to restoring his financial fortunes) but in the subsequent storm "Bellona" is battered badly and returns to England for repairs where Sophie confirms she wants a divorce... by the time he gets back to the blockade he finds that Maturin has been recovered from France, but has gone straight to London to report on his mission.

Maturin delivers reports of a Spaniard acting as a spy (who is caught), but also of a Chilean plan for independence.Maturin presents a proposal for an expedition to help Chilean independence with Jack in command, the proposal receives approval. Maturin's fortune is returned to him - he is rich again...

In the meanwhile Sophie has been given a good talking to by Diana and Clarissa Oaks who suggest that she might also want to consider an affair to "even things up" (this bit made me laugh!), and she writes to Jack asking for forgiveness.

In the following months the "Bellona" remains on the Brest blockade, Maturin tells Jack of his plan for Chilean Independence and Jack agrees to lead the expedition. With the end of the war, "Bellona" returns to England.

With the peace, Stephen finances the fitting-out of the "Surprise" and they prepare for the expedition to Chile. Jack and Stephen set off with their families for Madeira, where after a short holiday they will part company; Jack and Maturin to Chile, and the family's back home - but as the novel ends, word reaches them of Bonaparte's escape from Elba and orders from Lord Keith (that's him to the left), commander-in-chief in the Mediterranean, appointing Jack a commodore in command of all Royal Navy ships in the harbour of Madeira, with orders to blockade the Straits of Gibraltar.

Steve the Wargamer gives this a solid eight out of ten - yet another cracker despite the down beat nature of the first part of the book - the succession of blows, financial and emotional, are only offset by the conversations between Jack and Stephen which are brilliant... Next stop, the "100 Days"....! Free Happy Smileys

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CSS Virginia

..part 2 of my, not so secret any more, purchase at Colours was this.. the CSS Virginia......

Sometimes (incorrectly) known as the "Merrimack" (for reasons I'll explain later) like the USS Monitor, the CSS Virginia was also a "first" as she was the first steam-powered ironclad warship of the Confederate States Navy.

Virginia was a casemate ironclad which was a new term to me, but means that rather than have its cannons in a gun deck (armoured or otherwise, but think HMS Warrior, HMS Victory etc.) it has an armoured structure (the casemate) on the deck with the guns inside that. These ironclads were seen as the intermediate step between traditional, Napoleonic style, ships (albeit ironclad) and the battleships of later years with their guns in turrets (of which Monitor was the precursor).

Why casemate?? To a very great extent this design decision was driven by what basic building blocks the Confederates had to use at the start of the war.

When Virginia seceded from the Union in 1861, one of the main military establishments that fell into Confederate hands was the Union Naval Base at Gosport (that's the Gosport in Virginia as opposed to my local one here in the UK ). The Union forces planned to destroy everything before it fell into Confederate hands, but for one reason or another this was bungled with the USS Merrimack (that's her to the left), and although burned to the waterline, she was found to be salvageable - not much of a basic building block but when it's all you have, ingenuity will find a way...

The Confederate ship builders cut out all the burned timber, and on top of this built a new deck with the casemate for the guns.

The deck comprised 4-inch thick iron, the casemate was built up of 24 inches of oak and pine in several layers, topped with two 2-inch layers of iron plating oriented perpendicular to each other, and angled to deflect hits (yee gods - can you imagine how heavy she must have been?!). I thought that was massive overkill, but actually HMS Victory had the same thickness at the waterline, but less the 4" of iron...

Unusually she was also equipped with a ram as the designers were well aware that the Union Navy had not stood still while they were designing Virginia, they were designing their own ironclads and that it was unlikely that Virginia's guns would be able to sink another ironclad. The problem was that whereas the old triremes would have relied on speed to drive their ram home the engines in Virginia, inherited from Merrimack, although working were not good (that was the reason Merrimack had been in the yard in the first place!) - after first sea trials Virginia was found to have a turning radius of a mile (!) and a top speed of only 5 to 6 knots. The not inconsiderable draft, a consequence of the choice of hull, was also a shortcoming and would inhibit her operations in what was mostly a fairly shallow river..

So what about armament? The casemate had 14 gun-ports, three each in the bow and stern, and four on each side. The battery consisted of :
  1. Four muzzle-loading single-banded Brooke rifles:
    • Two of the rifles were 7-inch calibre firing a 104-pound shell, these were on a pivot and could fire out of any of the three ports in the the bow and stern..
    • The other two rifles were 6.4-inch, one in each broadside.
  2. Six smooth-bore 9-inch Dahlgren guns, mounted three on each side, and firing a 72.5-pound shell up to a range of 3,357 yards; the gun on each side nearest the furnaces was also fitted for firing heated shot
  3. She also had two 12-pdr howitzers

Vital Statistics:

Displacement: about 4,000 long tons
Length: 275 ft
Beam: 51 ft 2 in
Draft: 21 ft (23ft after further work later in her life)
Speed: 5–6 knots
Complement: about 320 officers and men
Armament: 2 × 7-inch Brooke rifles
2 × 6.4-inch Brooke rifles
6 × 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbores
2 × 12-pounder howitzers
Armor: Belt: 1–3 inches
Deck: 1 inches
Casemate: 4 inches

Like the USS Monitor unfortunately CSS Virginia was not destined to make 'old bones'.

In May 1862 advancing Union troops occupied Norfolk and since she was not an ocean going vessel, and was unable to retreat further up the James River due to that deep 22-foot draft - her commander decided to blow her up after running her aground and removing all her guns. Early on the morning of May 11, 1862, fire reached her magazine and she was destroyed by a great explosion.

Ignominious ends for two ships that had served so well, but rich fodder indeed for a wargamer looking for his first scenario - stay tuned for a post on the Battle of Hampton Roads, which in turn should precede my first table top action... all I need to figure out is what rules to you use!

Further Reading:

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Spotted yesterday in Tesco's (local supermarket for my non-UK readers)

Why on earth would you want to re-issue it??? Along with Watney's Red Barrel these were the most singularly tasteless beers to ever (dis)grace the face of the planet, and almost single-handedly the reason for the foundation of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale)...

Words fail me....

I'm hoping of course that it's just some left over 'set design' from the recent Goodwood Revival!   fighting smileys

Saturday, September 24, 2011

USS Monitor..

"...a cheesebox on a raft"

...and so the secret is out....

Meet the USS Monitor, steaming across your screen from right to left (bow on the left of the picture)....

So there I was wandering around Colours when I happened to spot a demonstration game by the side of the Peter Pig stand - they were demonstrating "Hammerin' Iron" their American Civil War riverine naval rules using their own models, and I was immediately consumed by the need to recreate some American Civil War naval gaming that I did as a child.

Back then I used home cast scratch built models; I made the models from plasticine, made a plaster of paris mould, and then cast the ships in lead - perilous, but hugely enjoyable, fun. Those little ships (from memory) were about an inch long as I think I used a tray from a matchbox as the base of the mould, this however is 1/600th scale, and is about 3" long...  perfect for a little American Civil War side project...

So first a short history, USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the Union Navy during the American Civil War. She is most famous for her participation in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, the first-ever battle fought between two ironclads (and that's a major clue as to the other element of this side project..)

Monitor was designed and built as a direct consequence of the Confederate navy building their first ironclads. A board of three naval officers reviewed designs and three ships were accepted, Monitor was one of them.

She was designed by Swedish-born engineer and inventor John Ericsson (to whom the quote above is attributed - clearly there was no love lost!) and among a number of "firsts", she was not only the first monitor class, but she also had the first ever 360 degree rotating armoured gun turret, the hull was completely underwater, and she was protected by an overhanging armoured deck and armoured "belt".

Monitor had a heavy round revolving iron gun turret on the deck, housing two 11 in (280 mm) Dahlgren guns side by side, the turret walls were made up of eight layers of 1 in plate, bolted together, with a ninth plate inside to act as a sound shield. Originally the guns were protected by metal shutters when reloading, but the crews resorted just rotating the turret opening away as it was quicker and easier. Despite it's size the turret moved so quickly & easily (it was separately powered by it's own steam engine), that Monitor's gunners used to fire while the turret rotated past the target (!) Apparently it was accepted that accuracy suffered, but the ranges she was expected to engage at were so close it wasn't expected to be a problem... (they fixed this issue on later monitors by the way)

Other than the turret, the only things that stood proud of the deck was a small box pilothouse (in the picture above it's the small square feature near the bow - that's the point nearest the top of the picture for the non-sailors.. ); the chimney was detachable (as is the case on this model, that's the pair of box items closest to the turret in the picture above) so the bulk of the ship was below the waterline - perfect protection. Armour was 4" on the hull, and 1" on the deck.

Vital Statistics:

       Length: 172 feet
       Beam: 41.4 feet
       Draft: 9.5 feet
       Displacement: 1,038 tons
       Speed: 8 knots (9.2 mph; 15 km/h)
       Complement: 59 officers and men
       Armament: Two eleven-inch Dahlgren guns

Her keel was laid on October 25, 1861, and she was launched in just 118 days later (hmmm..  maybe BAE could learn a little from this...  our latest aircraft carrier is going to take 11 years from start to commission!), though she was not destined to make old bones. After the battle she was only engaged one more time (as part of McClellan's campaign against Richmond) where she was unable to assist due to the fact that her guns would not elevate enough....  later that same year, she sank whilst under tow - clearly the low freeboard whilst effective in defence, did not make for a very seaworthy vessel.

Stay tuned for part 2 of the now semi-secret project..

Further Reading:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ACW game

Given that DG had come down for the Colours show [click here for review] it seemed churlish not to also take the opportunity to slip in a quick game, so I contacted him a few days before he came down to see what he fancied playing...  I was thinking along the lines of some War of the Spanish Succession action, or perhaps even a return to the sands of the desert in either the 19th or 20th Centuries, but in the end we decided we wanted to play some real, as opposed to virtual, American Civil War; this would be an excellent opportunity for me also to lead the Tigers to almost certain ruin (it is an indelible wargaming truth that the unit you have most recently painted and lavished so much attention on will disgrace itself on it's first outing!!)

So period was agreed and I went away to work on the scenario... this would be easy, I wanted to use all my troops so an encounter battle would be fairest - there'll be time for unequal encounters, and fascinating tactical challenges later in the project... Free Happy Smileys

So - first off the order of battle.. these are organised as per Regimental Fire and Fury (RF&F hereafter)..

Click on any of the following pictures to embiggen (as a certain Conrad Kinch would say Free Happy Smileys)


...and then the other guys...


In addition we also deployed an ammunition supply wagon per side to allow for recovery from "low on ammunition" results..

The Deployment:

As above the scenario was an encounter so a simple set up - whoever "beats up on" the other guy more wins - the table was set up as much as possible with equal terrain and scenery .. as is usual with RF&F the buildings only block line of sight, they count as broken ground, but can't be occupied - in effect they represent a built up area of non-specific buildings, in this case a small village somewhere in the Shenandoah Valley in summer 1862..

We then diced for sides - DG chose the Union, and we then diced for table edge, and in the pictures following DG chose the far side...

Without further ado we deployed (within 6" of the edge) and kicked off... the following shows my troops nearest

I deployed the cavalry in the centre as the ground was most open there, the artillery was easy - both DG and I had a useful hill that gave a good view of the battlefield and we both deployed on these. I had the majority of my infantry on the left flank with only one regiment on the right flank (not visible but to the right of the artillery) as I had a vague plan of a great sweeping outflanking manoeuvre..... the wagon is my ammunition re-supply.

DG's set-up - funnily enough, it almost mirrored mine except that he had his cavalry on the far left (opposite my infantry), and an infantry regiment opposite my cavalry...  clearly the bridge and town has turned out to be the usual wargame magnet!

The Game:

The dice finally landed in my favour and I move first...

I push my infantry forward aggressively towards the barn/village - I intend (and did) have the Tigers move behind the barn as an outflanking force..  DG in his turn came forward in fine style - he has one of his regiments in column to cross the bridge - they've clearly taken musket fire as they are disordered (blue pin), but the river was passable throughout... (as an aside doesn't that picture just sum up all the vital food groups for a wargamer?? Free Happy Smileys)

Next picture (below): the level in the glass is going down and in the village things are getting bloody - can they be related?? I can honestly say this was a fantastic tussle as it went both ways more than once - first I would come on, then DG would come back - it was a real see-saw battle, but as you can see the Tigers have now transited the back of the village, crossed the stream and have wheeled and charged.... blimey, a plan that survived the first contact!

In the village however, the 2nd Virginia (light grey Confederate regiment in the centre) have clearly taken a hammering - they're down to 50% strength (2 bases representing 4 stands as I base my troops in two stand blocks), and are shaken to boot...  happily both DG's regiments are also shaken and I have a fresh regiment coming up...

...and so the tussle continued until in the end I managed to force all of DG troops back across the river. In one case by rout (that ended mere millimetres from the table edge!)


In the centre DG's artillery had seen off my cavalry who were subsequently reduced to dismounting and merely maintaining the centre of my deployment from incursion...  I would say that my artillery fire in the game was largely, and spectacularly, ineffective - poor dice throws, though along with the cavalry I did manage to keep DG's Zouave's in check - they spent most of the battle up to their knee's in the stream!

After his initial success DG's artillery did then seem to spend a lot of time switching targets slowly (poor command rolls) but when he did fire it was effective....

On my right flank, other than a first burst of activity by my infantry, it soon slowed down - my infantry cleared away DG's cavalry pretty quickly (short sharp melee), but by the time they had wheeled to take the Zouave's on in the flank in the centre, DG's artillery were finally on target and slowed them down significantly...

In the end, DG hit the "heavy casualty" threshold (army breakpoint) one stand before I did....   so we agreed a draw since it really had been that close.... Free Happy Smileys

Post Match Analysis:

  • I must learn not to use cavalry in an American Civil war game like I would in a Napoleonic or Spanish Succession game - they are just too fragile, almost akin to using them in WWI or WWII with the weapon ranges - DG had the right idea - he'd dismounted them straight away while my guys were sitting there in the open with sabres drawn looking for a target to charge!
  • I'll confess to beginning to find the continual working out of plus and minus modifiers in RF&F somewhat irksome - I will be casting around in the near future for ways and means of speeding up this aspect of the game - I've mentioned this before (probably the last time we played), but with weapon type, troop class, morale state, and terrain to feature in each shooting calculation the activity is reptitive, and any more units than we had tonight would seem to bog down exponentially. When I browse the web however, other people happily use twice as many units - I need to find their secrets... any other RF&F players, feel free to leave comments...
  • Did I mention that my dice throwing was rubbish?
  • Did I also mention that the Tigers excelled themselves, and on their first outing as well - unheard of...!!
  • The beer was Hall and Woodhouse "Hopping Hare" - described in the tasting notes as "Light and crisp with a wonderful hoppy aroma and bite.... uses Super Styrian hops (added twice to the Copper) and Styrian Goldings Dry Hop added to cask for extra aroma". Spot on I would say - just lovely as it was a humid old evening in the loft and this was refreshing...
Work now switches to the to secret project kicked off at Colours...   more anon....

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I have been to... Cheriton (again)

Last Thursday was supposed to have been a days holiday to allow me to finish off the "Round the Island*" race that we had tried to do in my mates yacht a month ago... for the official race we'd had to call the whole thing off as we were met by force 7's on the start line, and true to form the same thing happened this time as well! Kiss of death trying to organise a sailing trip - all pleasant weather goes out of the window... Free Happy Smileys

* (as in the Isle of Wight)

Having booked the holiday though I was loathe to cancel, and given it wasn't raining, just breezy, and so as not to waste a day off in idle activity, I grabbed the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and headed off to the site of the Battle of Cheriton [click here]... "we'll have a nice walk I said"... Free Happy Smileys

The following will help orientate the pictures following - and the post can be read in conjunction with the much larger post I made previously [clicky here] which should hopefully help make things clearer.... I've superimposed our route, and the location and direction of the photo's I took - the red and black dotted line shows the walk we made - in effect 360 odd years ago, and if you aspire to the "southern view"* of where the battle was we would have been, we walked up and down behind the Royalist lines.. 

* Opinion is divided on where the main battlefield was, those who follow the "souther view" believe that it was largely either side of the main road; the "northern" proponents believe the battle was to the north of the central ridge. I note that the on-site plaque (see above) hedges it's bets by having the Royalists deploy on the northern site, but advance to the southern site...!

Either way the trip was prompted by my reading Adair's book [click here for the review] while on holiday - he is a keen proponent of the southern "version" of the battle and I wanted a look myself.

We started however, with a visit to the Church in Hinton Ampner

All Saints church is situated within the grounds of Hinton Ampner House and is a grade 2 listed building going back to Saxon times. For the purposes of my visit today I thought that I'd read that one of the senior royalist commanders who had died in the battle was buried there, so I was looking to pay my respects - as it turns out I may be wrong (I need to do some more reading), but irrespective of that it's a lovely church and I lit a candle for the fallen of both sides anyway...

Having spent some time there, we then walked up to the ridge via Broad Lane - see the picture later for how close the terrain is...

After having walked up to the ridge we turned left (still going along the Wayfarers Walk) and walked all the way along to the far eft of the Royalist position - I didn't get any photo's as the hedges were a bit thick - next time I'll walk alongside the field inside the hedge... in the southern view of the battle, this was the flank and location of Sir Henry Bard's ill fated charge that lead his regiment of foot, unsupported, to be very roughly handled by Hesselrige's "Lobsters" who charged them in the flank..  " Sir Henry Bard's regiment of foot advanced to occupy a position between Hinton Ampner and East Down...  However, Bard advanced too far and became caught up in the fighting near the burning houses (in Hinton Ampner). Sir Arthur Heselrige took advantage of the situation by sending out a detachment of cavalry to block the Royalist retreat. The Parliamentarian horse then wheeled around to charge Bard's regiment from the rear. The Royalists were quickly overwhelmed and routed with heavy losses." Bard lost an arm but survived...  
Having turned around we then walked back past the top of the lane and over to the Royalist left flank as I wanted to see how close the wood was to the edge of the deployment....
Some pictures (see the map above).....

Most of my pictures were taken on what would have been the Royalist left flank, looking down the slope towards the Parliamentarian positions just outside Hinton Ampner (in the middle of those woods in the distance - click for a bigger view) ..

from the same position looking across the field south west.. Broad Lane is that line of bushes leading to the right of the picture

For this one I moved the other side of the hedge and took the same views... looking south

...and this time looking south east - the road runs behind the bushes in the distance.

Behind me was Cheriton Wood - largely replanted I suspect since the battle as it was full of modern soft woods, but still present, and covering much of the side of the battlefield...

"The first stage of the battle involved attempts to secure Cheriton Wood, which potentially provided a covered approach to the enemy's lines without having to descend into the hollow and then attack uphill. At dawn, under cover of mist, Waller sent an advance guard drawn from his London regiments under Colonel Walter Leighton to occupy the wood and threaten the Royalist left flank. Lord Hopton also realised the importance of the wood and positioned artillery to cover its edges and fire on the Parliamentarians as they emerged, which forced them back under cover of the trees. As the rising sun burned off the mist, Hopton sent Colonel Matthew Appleyard with 1,000 musketeers to clear the woods. In fierce fighting, confused by the fact that both sides had coincidentally chosen the same field sign, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Hopton led a column of Royalist musketeers in a flanking manoeuvre that succeeded in driving the Parliamentarians out of Cheriton Wood."

..and this was a view up Broad Lane, a covered lane of quite startling narrowness - there were a number of these on the battlefield and were the location of some of the bloodiest fighting... imagine trailing your pike or musket up there, crammed in on all sides by your fellow soldiers, frightened, high hedges on either side (impassable, whole of the bottom of the hedge is solid earth bank - think Normandy bocage) and waiting at any minute for someone to shoot at you from sides or ahead....  unimaginable...

Un-doctored map:

After a more than pleasant lunch at the Flowerpots Inn, where an infeasibly large roll full of Coronation Chicken, and two pints of Gooden's Gold soon restored the inner man ("a modern style strong bitter, quite hoppy, with a rich golden colour" it says, and Steve the Wargamer says "damn right, very nice indeed"...) , we then departed for home and family responsibilities.. a good day!

Further Reading:

Friday, September 16, 2011

Colours 2011

Last weekend was one of the highlights of the wargaming year for me, as it was "Colours" at Newbury race course..  bright and sunny day, but blustery, with occasional sharp showers - all in all a perfect show day (any hotter and some of my wargaming brethren can become slightly...... errrmmm.... "aromatic" Free Happy Smileys)

Somewhat worryingly I had nothing of any note on my shopping list this year (and neither did DG), an unusual state of affairs. Why worryingly you may ask?? That's because I find I always come back with more than when I do have a list!

A good show (again) though I thought much quieter than last year - overhearing some of the trader conversations they seemed quite happy, one of them even reporting queues to hand over money.. amen to that, but nonetheless I do wonder how long Colours can last as a 2 day show. I'm not sure but my perception is that it is very much a shadow of it's former Hexagon days on the trader front at least, the competition side of the show is much greater (there was a huge Flames of War competition going on )...

The usual trader "culprits" were there however, although I had to hunt down Caliver (the book people). I walked straight past them first time, as they were directly opposite where you paid your entrance money so I had my back to them - it was only as I was going out I spotted them; not a good location, and a much smaller stand than usual.

Newline were also a noticeable absence (I had a yen to restock my ACW "to paint" piles - ah well, I note that they will be at Warfare in November)...

A most pleasant day - a good natter with DG there and on the way back (we had our traditional pre show game on the Friday evening, so we 're-fought' most of that on the way to the show!), and a few moderate purchases whilst there...

... so what did I buy???
  • Smallest purchase was a pot of brown ink/stain from Vallejo (looking for something with a bit more pigment than the Windsor & Newton Chestnut ink I use). 
  • I also got a brand new copy of Stuart Reid's "All the Kings Armies" (pictured) for only £4 (!) probably my bargain of the day - I've been after a copy of this (and also Peter Young's history of the same war) for ages.. supposedly second hand but it looks pristine to me. 
  • I got 6 copies of the out of print (regrettably) "Practical Wargamer" for 50p a throw (bargain!) - I always try to get old issues when I see them, in my view, with the exceptions of "Wargamers Newsletter" and "Battlegames" it was one of the finest wargaming magazines about (as opposed to those publications we get these days that are basically just extended advertorials, full of regurgitated gobbets of history with pictures of models and miniatures, sold by the publisher, and painted to a level that no run of the mill wargamer with average skills will ever be able to know who you are... Free Happy Smileys)  What I liked about PW was that it was always full of scenario's, rules idea's, hints and tips, practical stuff.. either way, recommended if you see some for sale... 
  • Last of all was an impulse buy...  top secret for the moment but DG knows what they are! I'll post separately once I've had time to work on the aforesaid items - suffice to say I'm quite excited about them, and they are already on the painting table....
...and that was largely it on the buying front...   so what about the games??  A quiet'ish year I think would be my summation - Colours has always been more of a competition weekend than a display weekend, but usually they have a few good games scattered about the place to wet the appetite - this year there were fewer that wetted than normal but from amongst the many many games (...and DG's choices were different to mine, as he has a distressing inclination towards hex based games of which there were some examples..  Free Happy Smileys) I did find three that I particularly liked....    so in the time honoured way, in reverse order, we have:


Isandlwana in 1:1 scale...  this seemed to be some kind of a commercial tie in with Ian Knight in support of this book [click here] and was an absolutely massive game dominated by the bluff/cliff at the end... click on any of the following pictures to get a bigger view...

I love this next picture that shows the Zulu attacking in a curved formation..

Information boards..

Natal Native Contingent..

"Zulus....thasands of them......."...  British colonial contingent scarpers

So why only third??  Just a couple of things, one it was purely a presentation game rather than an actual game which was a shame as it cried out to be played... second, the figures, although very nice en masse were not so good close up - never been a fan of bits of cotton wool stuck permanently to the end of muskets/rifles..  a trifling thing, but enough to knock the game down a position...


Really not my period (I'll admit to playing a bit of DBA, but it's been 30+ years since I played WRG 3rd Edition Ancients) but this game really caught my eye...   a simple but effective terrain, shed loads of well painted figures...

...and elephants...  I'm a sucker for elephants!

The game was 28mm, and used "Hail Caeser" rules...

This game was called "Elephanti Habent!" ("They have elephants" if my Google translator isn't lying) put on by Uxbridge Wargamers...

..and depicting a fictional engagement between the Roman army under fictional general Tempus and a Persian army under fictional general Tamsaport near the town of Dara in Northern Mesopotamia in 349AD.

A lovely game, and the guys playing it were clearly enjoying themselves...


Roll of drums etc.First an apology - I have no idea who was presenting this game, and despite stopping and talking to them for a while I neglected to ask!

Suffice to say that what caught my eye first was this scene - I'm a sucker for large model flying boats!

Just fantastic modelling - the observer int he back had a map on his knee's...

...and what period you ask...  this is set during the inter-war years as this was an "A Very British Civil War" scenario...  quite stunning looking game - so much going on! The planes are "Customs and Excise"...   and then there were very early British tanks supported by a platoon of Lee Enfield armed schoolboys in caps....

...the guys running the game said that there were some representatives of the local girl school on the table as well elsewhere! They were accompanied by regulars, Dad's Army types, British Union of Fascists members, Italian biplanes, French tanks (Somua's as I recall) and all sorts - a totally glorious medley....

..beautiful terrain and scenery...

A very nice bunch of blokes who were more than happy to have a chat - they were as mad as a bucket of frogs but were clearly enjoying the game... !

...and that was largely it except for one thing....   have a look at these which are painted examples of a new line of miniatures being sold by Front Rank - American War of Independence in 40mm - just stunning....

Hessian musketeer regiment (von Trumbach) and a battalion of converged grenadiers - what paint work....

Sebastian - hope you are reading this - check the flag... 2nd New York

Royal Welch Fusiliers - accoutred rather more historically correctly than my unit who have the bearskin..

..another regiment of Continentals...

How good are they....???!