Sunday, 14 August 2016

Blogging Off,,,,For now!

It has been a real struggle for me to maintain the enthusiasm to write on my blog for some time now. Work is really putting the squeeze on my spare time so the great battle reports of days gone by are sadly confined to the past. Careful readers will note that the number of entries has dwindled away to a mere trickle compared to a few years ago. It is not that I don't enjoy it - it is more a case of me feeling guilty about not having anything exciting to pass on. I have a number of things on the go but my spare time is so limited these days that something has got to give if I am to get anything done at all.

It is with this in mind that I have taken the decision to suspend my own blogging for a while - or at least until I have something worth sharing to write about. From a practical perspective it means that perhaps once a month I may put finger to keyboard - and only then if it is something really exciting.

I'll be back - I'm just not sure when....;-)

Sunday, 17 July 2016

A Boot Sale Dilemma

                                     

....And the cost for little lot? 50p the book, £2 for the Blu Ray and £6 for the figures. 
        The box is a little tatty but the contents are complete and on the sprues.


Another Sunday, another boot sale. The pickings for me have been a little on the light side in recent weeks (excepting last week of course) at our local 'lazybones' boot sale but today I acquired some useful bits and pieces - one of which has given me a delicious dilemma.

I am on a bit of a mission at the moment in that I replacing a number of my DVD/Blu Ray collection with the digital version. Many films now have a download code which you can use and either add the film to ITunes or Ultarviolet. This means that I can a film cheap at a boot sale and assuming the code has not been redeemed I can then download the digital version to watch at my leisure - and this is very handy for the IPad. Ultimately I will be able to stream the download onto our main TV - I can certainly do so at present via the Mac. Thus far I have some forty plus films stored in this fashion - which saves a lot of shelf space. One can actually buy the download code in some cases from EBay and I was able to get Spartacus (with Kirk Douglas), The Battle of the Five Armies and the entire James Bond collection for a fraction of the disc price.

Battleship will be very much a popcorn film but it will certainly pass some time and any film that features a battleship and Liam Neeson must have something good going for it!

The book is not my normal ancient period but I am aware that the author has written a number of acclaimed titles around the Greco Persian war so I picked this up from curiosity as much as anything. Alexander's contribution to the pages of world history is well known but this account will certainly fill a gap on the bookshelf. It may well inspire some Command and Colours Ancients games in any event!

Finally we come to the piece de resistance - a box of 28mm hard plastic Teutonic Knights produced by FireForge Games. These are unassenbled and are still on the sprues with the only damage being one of the lances having a minor bend in it. As there are plenty of options of hand weapons this would not be a major problem. I have no intention of using these as they are intended but Lion/Dragon Rampant and Saga are certainly likely candidates. The figures are beautiful and whilst this is not something I would have considered ordinarily they are crying out to be used for something. Of course it means that I will have to add the collection but luckily FireForge produce other figures that would be suitable.

Now all I need to do is to paint them....:-)

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Boot Sales and Blocks

                                       

                                              From tiny acorns do mighty blocks grow....

As it is a Sunday SMWBO and I headed to our local boot sale for some retail therapy - or, to be more accurate, occasional therapy because it is only occasionally you find some retail to therapise over.....

Today was an interesting day for me as I added a copy of the above book to my collection. I did not see the TV series upon which the book is based but I confess to having a weakness for BBC 'book of the series' publications. As a rule they are good primers for the subject covered so I shall look forward to reading this in due course.

The next acquisition was rather more practical. In the picture above you can see two Jenga type blocks. That on the left formed the basis of my entire block army collection which has featured in countless games over the last couple of years (see the games folder to see what I mean). The two cavalry blocks should remind you of what I mean. If you recall I took the aforementioned blocks and had them sawn in half to form the units I needed. The block on the right comes from the two sets I picked up today and I am really pleased to get these as the size of the block will be ideal for use with Bloody Big Battles. The block measures 3" x 1" and so is an exact multiple of the suggested base size used by the rules. All I will need to do will be to get them cut - I am planning on getting a 1" square block cut off of each - and to tweak the existing labels to fit.

I should point out that the entire expenditure for this lot (and the book) was a mere £1.50.

So, block armies on a non-hexed playing area - for me that is hugely radical and no mistake!

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Bloody Big Battles and Bloody Bigger Ideas


Oooohh, shiny! Something to appeal to the commander in chief in every war gamer methinks!

Following on from a conversation with my old friend Chris Hardman I decided to take the plunge and acquire a copy of Bloody Big Battles by Chris Pringle. I also ordered a copy of the scenario book for good measure. the rules are also well supported by a Yahoo group and a couple of blogs as well - Bloody Big Battles is the one that springs to mind. This rules are designed with the larger size of action in mind so should appeal to most of the megalomaniacs I know!

The rules features nine of the larger actions of the Franco Prussian War whilst the scenario book includes the Crimean War, "Austrian Decline 1859 to 1866, the Russo Turkish War as well as the Serbo Bulgarian War of 1885 and the Greco Turkish War of 1897. No surprises for guessing which of those have caught my eye....

The rules work on a scale of 1,000 men or 24 guns per square base upon which you can place as many or as few models as you like. Given the scale of the actions typically represented my first thought was to drag out the block armies and use maps drawn on paper - this would be a very cheap way to tackle it. Or I could use the blocks with 3D terrain - something that Doctor Phalanx on his blog has done - and very nice it looks to.

The rules could (and indeed have) be used up to around 1914 and I have seen a couple of battles from the Balkan War refought using them.

I have always felt that there is something rather special using a map to fight a battle with - I suppose it is the nearest one would get to being an actual commander in the field - which is probably why I enjoy board games so much. 

This set has a huge amount of potential for me especially when taken in conjunction with an idea I am currently flirting with. More of this to follow once I have digested the contents.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Return of the Native

      
   
Yours truly looking the epitome of the sartorially elegant middle-aged Englishman abroad....SWMBO had the Panama hat....(Taken by the entrance to Limassol Castle)

Well I'm back. SWMBO and I have recently returned from a two week holiday on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus and boy oh boy was it warm! The first week saw temperatures north of 45 degrees whilst the second was a little cooler and averaged around 38. Needless to say copious amounts of factor 30 was used (we used some four bottles of the stuff whilst we were away) and industrial quantities of cold drinks were needed to replace the missing bodily fluids etc....

The holiday was a restful one although we managed to visit a local archeological site dating back to around 800 BC as well as the castle in Limassol (at least the outside of it - we did not have time to go inside) where Richard the Lionheart was married. We also spent a day on a 4 x4 jeep safari (actually a Land Rover Defender) which was huge fun.

The rest of the time was spent by the pool (we also had a swim up pool to the room which was very welcome) relaxing. I started to read Game of Thrones but could not get into it so settled on revisiting the Severn Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. I also listened to the soundtrack whilst doing so and there was something very appropriate about doing so in the heat we were experiencing!

It has given me a number of thoughts for the future and these will form the basis for a later blog post.

                                      

 I suspect that most gamers 'of a certain age' would have loved something like this 'back in the day'.....

Upon my arrival back in the UK I had a copy of the Airfix Battles - The Introductory Wargame to look forward to and I have to say I am very impressed with the whole thing. Already I am thinking that replacing the counters with models and '3D-ing' the maps and terrain would not be a major challenge. It certainly appears to be pitched at a different level than say, Memoir 44. I shall look forward to trying  this out in due course and I note that other theatres will be covered as well.

I have made a number of decisions about my gaming needs whilst I was away and again, these will feature in a further post in due course. For the meantime though I shall get back to sorting through a few bits and pieces and seeing what has not made the cut so to speak.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Contemplating My Naval(s)....

Work continues to dominate my life and so my gaming time has been greatly reduced. All I have been able to do is to catch up on a lot of reading although I have now completed the great Command and Colours label-fest. The next step will be organise the rules - all of these will be placed in binders in due course - and tackle the terrain question but this is not something I need to hurry.


Fast play and with lots of D6 - and not a hex in sight....


I was delighted when Osprey announced that they were going to release a set of ancient naval warfare rules and so acquiring a copy was an obvious step for me. The rules, called Poseidon's Warriors - Classical Naval Warfare 480 - 31 BC by John Lambshead, look really good. They are designed for large actions and the rules are fast play for sure. They are not even hex based....Players use squadrons - 5 vessels for the trireme era - and alternate moving these depending on the initiative.
This makes for a very interactive game and places a premium on good tactics.

The book contains not only the rules but also a naval timeline and suggested historical match ups. There is a nice selection of eye candy although if I was being picky I would have liked to have seen some models other than Rod Langtons in action. Don't get me wrong, Langton's models are lovely but my entire collection consists of Navwar models which are less detailed but are easier on the wallet. I will certainly be getting some of his terrain pieces though! My plan is now to use these rules for Salamis - so hexes will not be featuring.


Rounds out my Jutland library very nicely indeed....


The next acquisition is a couple of books concerned with Jutland. I must thank Dave Manley for recommending the Nick Jellicoe title - it really is a first class read - and I have to say I enjoyed the BBC documentary featuring the author. It also leads nicely into The Jutland Scandal. This book is really two books in one as it contains The Truth About Jutland by Rear-Admiral J.E.T Harper and also The Jutland Scandal by Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon. Needless to say certain historical figures did not come out particularly well in either title - and that is a story all of its own.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Jutland: 100 years ago today



One hundred years ago today the Royal Navy and the German High Seas Fleet met in battle in the grey wastes of the North Sea. By the time the fighting had ended 25 ships had been sunk (14 British and 11 German) and some 10,003 seamen had been killed, wounded or captured (6,945 for the British and 3,058 for the Germans).



The German navy had, according to theAmerican press of the time, "Assaulted its jailer but was still in jail". The Royal Navy had not destroyed the Germans in a second Trafalgar but it ensured that the High Seas Fleet would never again try to force a conclusion in the North Sea and so instead they would look to the submarine to challenge Great Britain's command of the oceans.

It was the first and last great clash of the battle fleets before the aircraft carrier came to dominate naval warfare.

For my own part the battle has fascinated me for some thirty years and using the Avalon Hill game of Jutland enabled me to refight the operation on numerous occasions. Regular readers of the blog will no doubt remember my grandiose plans for the centenery - none of which will be realised - but unfortunately life has gotten in the way and so my ideas have been drastically scaled back.

I will extend my best wishes though to all that are taking part in anything Jutland related to commemorate the battle - for my own part I will make my rather more modest plans accordingly - and I feel sure that, whatever has been undertaken to mark the event that the participants will not forget the bravery and sacrifice of all that took part, from both sides, on that fateful day.