Tuesday, September 29, 2015

David Gilmour

"Blimus" as the Too Fat Lardies are want to say.... that was a bit of a cracker!

I refer of course to the near legendary Pink Floyd guitarists recent run of dates at the Albert Hall, and which I was fortunate enough to get tickets at for the very first night of the run...  both me and the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer.

Last time I saw David would have been with the Floyd on the Division Bell tour, when they played the, now sadly departed, Earls Court..  the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer was 6 months pregnant at that one (with my eldest) which ages us no end! October 1994 and it seems like yesterday - the bass used to reverberate through Earls Court, and at this concert it was so pronounced it started the spud jumping round... 

Anyway - jump forward 21 years and David has a new solo album out [clicky], and announced a tour to promote it, and I almost bit his arm off when the tickets came out - in fact I bought them last year...

I love the Albert Hall - there's hardly anywhere you don't get an excellent view - view from our seats is as follows...  it looks like the picture is foggy - it isn't, just dim lighting and a lot of dry ice...  

Sold out crowd, which according to Wikipedia is just under 5,500

...and the concert?? Superb! His guitar playing is as good as it has ever been - he has a particular style which is just so clean and tight you could almost use it as a tooth pick..  wonderful.  Icing on the cake was the inestimable Crosby and Nash on backing vocals for at least three songs - is it me or does David Crosby look more like Einstein with every passing year?

Highlights of the show though were "Sorrow" and especially "Run Like Hell" (love that jerky/metronomic guitar part) - the energy level just ratcheted up out of sight at that moment and the entire Albert Hall were on their feet dancing - superb...  and then they turned the lasers on...  wow...  looked like a net between the circle balcony and the stage and like you could walk across them...  absolutely brilliant night.

Set list as follows (from here - clicky):

David Gilmour Setlist Royal Albert Hall, London, England 2015, Rattle That Lock

Thursday, September 17, 2015

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 4 - "Take the High Ground" - The Game

..and so having taken you through the set up [clicky], on to the game..

The table was as follows - starting edges top (me) and bottom (DG):

For this game only two units start on the table - they deploy (anywhere they like) on the hill and we decided up front that they would be Confederate, and that I would play them. The decision as to where to deploy them on the hill is very much shaped by what both sides throw on the automatic force table..

In our case I threw a one (four regular infantry with musket/1 elite infantry (zouaves)/1 artillery(light horse)) and DG threw a four (four regular infantry with musket/1 elite infantry (zouaves)/1 regular infantry with rifle).

I took the decision to garrison the forward half of the hill (which was classed as "broken ground" for movement purposes), and I used one of my regular infantry regiments and the Zouaves (for stiffening purposes)

DG (surprisingly, I thought but it turned out he had misunderstood the shooting ranges) deployed his rifle armed regiment on his far right flank, and attacked headlong with his regulars holding his zouaves in reserve..

The following shows the situation 3 or 4 moves in; my garrison still holds the hill, DG is attacking with 3 regiments (we are exchanging rifle fire), he has a flanking force moving up in column, his Rifle Regiment is in the corn field in the far distance. I have entered from the road and sent one regiment of regulars to hold that flank while the other two, and the artillery are moving to my left..  the artillery has just deployed.

Three or four more moves - I like this picture - dice, firing arcs [clicky - thanks again AJ!], that's a wargame in progress..  out of picture a bowl of Hula Hoops (other starch based snacks are available) and a glass of ale ("Proper Job" in my case, "Flagship" for DG), a good time was being had...  click to embigen (as Conrad Kinch would say)..  my artillery has opened fire (not particularly effective all game as I remember) but DG's assault on the hill has been beaten off bloodily.... the two units with red dice behind them are down 2 bases each so about to become "shaken" (reduced firing/melee effectiveness). DG has bought on the zouave reserve...

A few moves later and how the picture has changed! My left flanking force (on the road) has been sent packing by DG's Rifle Regiment; a concerted assault by two regiments of regulars has seen my Zouaves off, in the foreground two regiments are coming to blows (this was a ding dong affair lasting three turns). I'm bringing up reinforcements, as is DG, my regulars are however still on the hill (you can just see their flag the other side of the victorious Yankies)

Happily however, it didn't stay that way for long...  my zouaves recovered and came howling over the hill, pushing all before them - DG's army then became shaken (force level morale check due to bases lost), and I eventually won the melee in the foreground of the previous...  DG graciously conceded...

Post Match Analysis:

  • I do like the "Hearts of Tin" rules - they give a fast, bloody, simple game with enough nuances to make you think a little, perfect...
  • We had a few questions which I'll direct to Ross McF - specifically how does defensive fire work, are there any special movement requirements for "retreat" and "retire".. nothing major, and being grognards DG and I just came up with an understanding we both were happy with...  we did realise afterwards that we didn't play the melee right as we didn't understand the "corner to corner" comment correctly (in essence overlapping bases do count)
  • the key to winning the game is judicious use of "range based troops" - assaults are always bloody, so the key is to use the troops you have with superior range, in our case rifles, artillery, or cavalry...  given his army choice I think DG would have been better off flanking the hill with his regulars and using his Rifle Regiment to either pin,or inflict long range pain. I would have had no choice but to either retreat over the ridge (in which case he could follow up), or come at him, in which case the flanking units would take the hill. If he'd had artillery I'd have done the same; with cavalry the option to pin with one and outflank with the other becomes easier...  easy to say in hindsight in'nit..
  • we played to conclusion in a little over 2 hours, as the evening was still relatively young we played on after the army break and it was a lot closer than DG thought it was going to be..
Looking forward to the next one already!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Colours 2015

So before I post on the results of the game [clicky] just a little post on our trip to Colours which, as ever, was a splendid day out - notable this year for the first time attendance at the show of my grandson - only 2, but you have to start them somewhere *...  so yes, if I ran over your toes with an infeasibly large pram, that was me, and I do apologise.. 

Good to be back at Colours again after last years absence, I thought the show was good overall, 7 maybe 8 out of 10? Downsides...??
  • Reducing it from one to two days meant it was very busy in the morning.. even without a pram, the preponderance of backpacks and people in narrow aisles would have made it a bit of a task (and with the aforesaid pram it was errrrmmm...  "difficult", in places - pales into insignificance compared to the wheelchair experience though I guess...). 
  • The Colours show always used to be a competition weekend as well, so reducing it to one day meant that there were fewer games going on..  not a big issue in and of itself as I have little interest in competition games, but the lack of those gamers meant it was a little quiet on the first and second floors... couldn't help thinking a few of the traders on the cramped ground floor could have been found some nice space upstairs...  
  • Purely personally I would have preferred a Sunday..  I'm guessing most Dad's will tell you Saturdays are busier than Sundays for them...  so Sundays are my preferred show day, or I have to put people out by disappearing for the day...

Nothing major then, and I still enjoyed it greatly, and it was much quieter after lunch so I just retraced my steps to see the bits I missed..  the club should feel well chuffed at what they put on...  superb airy venue, and lots of organisation come to fruition...

So, spends??  An impulse buy but I spotted this on the Paul Meakins stand and had to have it - no idea why, sometimes the urge just grabs you..

I have long fancied branching my War of the Spanish Succession project out of north east Europe, so this is just the ticket..  I shall advise further once I've read it, but at £5 off it was a bit of a bargain at £15 certainly too good to be missed...  and it was the last one so clearly I wasn't alone!

Shopping and lunch done it was time to take the young master round the games, but he was flat on his back and snoring so I propped him against a wall and go on with it... so in time honoured fashion, and in descending order, he are my games of the show....  I have to say, it wasn't a stand out year (in my ever so humble opinion), but the following caught my eye enough to get the camera out....

So first off (and no I'm not going to say "last" - far too negative)  - the Skirmish Wargames Society were there with a big game based on the Battle of Newbury (naturally) in the English Civil War..   all 54mm figures and terrain, but I can't help thinking that this has seriously missed the point of being a skirmish based club?????

Spot the guy in the tree..

Next - a WWII North African game, that buy all rights should have been higher on my list, but which for me lost it on two counts..  the terrain was a little errr...  lacklustre, and it just didn't look "right" - the table is too crammed, the models are too close together....

Any self respecting Stuka pilot would think all of his Christmases had come at once...
Having said that the models were lovely, and superbly painted....

Next - another game that should have featured higher on my list (scale - tick - period - tick) but which lost it for me a bit on look and feel - figures were quite dark, and not many of them, but a pleasing looking table..  this was Penarth Wargames Club - one of two offerings they put on - this was their American Civil War game

Next - third place - the second of the two Penarth offerings - this time American war of Independence in 40mm - nice looking game but for me, the figures (by Redoubt, I think) are a little too big, and the terrain is a little too pretty....  sigh...  picky, picky, picky....

So.. in second place, and just to show that I don't always mark games down because I have no interest in the scale or period, is this quite astonishing effort...

6mm figures (I think) - Franco Prussian war...

The table looked like a 3D ordnance survey map.. I also believe that the game was hosted by the rules writer..  I think he is the same chap (Bruce Weigle) who put the game on at the last Colours I saw [clicky] - he seems to specialise in the type of terrain we see here

Makes you shiver just looking at it!

...and in first place this independent offering (I had a chat with the guys putting it on and they are of no particular club - they just fancied putting the game on...)  Napoleon in Egypt, in 25mm

If I were ever to return to Napoleonics (and it was the first period I was ever really interested in as a young wargamer) this would be the theatre that would drag me in...

Brightly coloured and unusual uniforms for the French (lots of purple as I remember!) but also a unique and different opponent in the Turks...

So nothing outstanding in the scenery - it supports the game - but lots and lots of figures, an interesting period, and I kept coming back to have a look at it.... (they played it twice and on both occasions the Turks had been wiped)


To finish off a few shots of the crowds...

Looking towards the Bring and Buy - Napoleon in Egypt game just the left..  Skirmish Wargames Club just beyond..

Looking the other way - more participation and a few Bolt Action competition games..
 Great day out - looking forward to Warfare now..

* He was particularly taken with the participation game featuring chariot racing with Playmobil chariots.. big, bright primary colours, what's not to like for a 2 year old??

Friday, September 11, 2015

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 4 - "Take the High Ground" - Set up

Colours [clicky] approach'eth and DG has made his pilgrimage from deepest darkest Welsh Wales in order to accompany me on a shared mission to spend out hard earned spondoolicks on yet more "tat" (as the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer calls it, and I don't doubt the current Mrs DG also .. ), and which he and I both know are "treasures" (my precious)... 

Yep, the exhibition of all things shiny is back again, albeit in a one day guise after not having been on the calendar at all last year.. I for one can't wait, DG and  I have been going for years so it's absence left a (surprisingly) large hole in the force for me last year...

As he's down, DG and I will also try to fit in a face to face game (by the by it's been good year for games this year thanks to Skype, not so much for quantity of posts, but we shall see at the end of year..). Taking up the cudgels again, I proposed a change of period for the next game given we had played a lot of black powder era this year - my suggestions were either the American Civil War or a return to the Sudan, but given that the Sudan rules I use are largely solo orientated I've plunked for the war between the states..

Rules will be "Hearts of Tin" [clicky], the last time I played these being 2012 [clicky] - the older I get the more I crave simpler pleasures and these do it for me...  our normal rules of choice are Regimental Fire and Fury, but at the end of the game, as good as the rules are, I have a headache from having to remember all the customisable options for your units (what type of rifle, what training level, what current morale, what percentage of remaining points etc etc.) it will be interesting to see what DG makes of them...

The scenario will be #4 from One Hour Wargames - "Take the High Ground" - another 6 unit game, but because I have decided to go American Civil War and my collection is not yet huge, I have decided to modify and create the unit selection table to my own purposes:

Dice Roll Inf Musket Inf Rifle Artillery Zouaves/Elite Cavalry
1 4 - 1 1 -
2 4 - - 1 1
3 4 1 1 - -
4 4 1 - 1 -
5 4 1 - - 1
6 3 - 1 1 1

Elite/Zouave units get a +1 to dice throws when firing and in melee (and yes I know not all Zouave units were actually very good, it's just used as a differentiator), they can also take more damage before they start losing stands..

Only other change I will make (and Ross, bless 'im, does encourage you to do this) is to the orders phase - with the best will in the world a small force like this is only going to end up with two or three brigades so a D6 driven orders phase is not going to cause much of a problem - for this game I may use a D4 for orders, or D6 minus something, or better still I may just say there are no brigades and each unit has to be ordered separately...  I'd like a little friction!

We'll dice for sides, then force composition, and then who gets to move first this evening..  should be fun!

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - start....

Bit of a double post this one as it first appeared on the sailing blog (for obvious reasons), but it does also fit here, if only for the quantities of beer drunk on the day, and the historical setting..

Anyway - those of you who have read this drivel for some time may know that my bother in law works for Robin Knox Johnston's Clipper Round the World Yacht Race organisation [clicky], and as another race has just started, managed to rummage up tickets (again) for the official start which was once again in London, for me, the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer, and my sister..  top bloke!

The boats congregate at St Katherine's Dock, which makes the best starting point for the race that you can possibly think of, with a backdrop of the old East India warehouses, Tower Bridge, and the the Tower of London all competing with the colour of the yachts - it truly is a spectacular sight..

Arranged to meet my sister at the Dean Swift [clicky] beforehand, surely one of the finest pubs in Christendom (certainly one of my top 5 of all time), where over an extended and leisurely lunch (very nice home cooked Scotch egg) I worked my way along the four hand pumps, not a duff one amongst them with only the "Pale Ale" by Redemption not quite hitting the 'exciting' button (apologies for the blur - camera phone and dark bar..)

The spectator boats were due to go at about 2:30, and unlike last year were leaving from the St. Katherine's side so a brisk walk across Tower Bridge ensued; big crowds watching the yachts which even then were beginning to filter onto the river.

The spectator boats were also smaller than the pretend Mississippi river steamer we were on last time - a huge improvement - the skippers were more adventurous so went much closer to the fleet than last year, they also went further down river as this time we went well beyond the Thames Barrier (a first for me, and a chance to have a close up look).

I love the Thames - so much to see, so many reminders of how stupidly busy it must once have been - the track shows that basically we went the length of what was called the Pool of London - the dry docks are all still there (mostly marina's or residential housing complexes now though) and the warehouses have been turned into accommodation, but how powerful were the East India Company once...?! Astonishing...

Loads of pictures taken:

...then three hours later (or so) after a hugely entertaining afternoon on the water we wended our way home - a brilliant day..

A GPS track for the return trip follows:

Good luck to the teams in the race..!