Saturday, 30 October 2010

Somewhere in the Black Sea....

This is very much in the nature of a double whammy of a post as not only will I be describing my first experience of using the Hexon terrain tiles but also the first play test of naval rules loosely based on the Memoir '44/Battle Cry! system.

The tiles are magnificent. They fit together really well using the ample supply of clips provided and can be assembled and dismantled very quickly and of course, the set fits in the box for easy storage and transport. The only criticism I have is that the blue is very much a sea blue colour so using them for aerial games may be a shade problematic but that is purely a personal thing. Interestingly enough, the first picture I took of the playtest using a flash made them look like they are sky blue in colour.

Somewhere in the Black Sea....

The Turkish Battle Cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim (ex Goeben) is patrolling in the Black Sea in the hope of disrupting the Russian convoys reinforcing the Caucasus Front. At the same time the Russians have despatched to Dreadnought Imperatricia Marija to safeguard the same, mindful of the possibility that the Turks may be operating in the area.

I set this up on a 10 x 9 playing area with the Russians starting in the top left hex and the Turks at the bottom right. I rated the vessels as follows:

Yavuz Sultan Selim - BB (BC) - 9 hit points, 8 main dice, 4 secondary dice, 1 torpedo dice and a speed of 4.

Imperatricia Marija - BB - 8 hit points, 9 main dice, 4 secondary dice, 1 torpedo dice and a speed of 3.

The German ship is tougher and faster than the Russian but the Russian has better main guns (12 x 12" versus 10 x 11").

Turn 1. Initiative - Russian 6, Turks 11 so the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to starboard and then moved 1 hex forward. The Turks moved 4 hexes in a straight line. The ships were at a range of 7 hexes but the Russian was bow on to the Turks and so was unable to fire at the range with its forward guns - Range 7 with 9 combat dice equals 3 dice rolled BUT 1 dice is deducted for every two hexes (or part of) from range 3 upwards. 3 - 3 equals zero dice. The Turks meanwhile were under no such handicap and rolled 2 dice scoring 3 and 2 which were both misses.

The end of turn one with the Russian ship (the left of the picture) bow on to the Turk.

Turn 2. Initiative - Russian 2, Turks 9 so once again the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to port and then moved one hex forward. The Turks moved 3 hexes forward and turned 1 hexside to starboard. The ships were now at a range of 6 and both ships were able to fire with full broadsides. the Russian rolled 4 combat dice scoring 1, 3, 3 and 4 - all misses. The Turkish response with 3 combat dice was to score 1, 4 and a 5 - which is a hit at that range (Battleship type guns hit on a 5 or 6 at range of 5 or 6) so first blood to the Sublime Porte!

The end of turn 2 with the Russian having turned broadside on to the turning Turkish ship. The white counter by the Russian is a hit marker for identification purposes.

Turn 3. Initiative - Russian 9, Turks 11 so yet again the Russians moved first. The Russian moved forward 1 hex, turned 1 hexside to starboard and then moved 1 hex forward. The Turks moved forward 3 hexes and then turned 1 hexside to starboard. The range was now 5 hexes and the Russians rolled 5 combat dice scoring 1, 2, 2, 3 and 5 - a single hit on the Turk. The 4 combat dice rolled by the Turk were a 1, 2, 3 and 4 so all missed.

The end of turn 3 with the Russian continuing to turn inside his faster opponent
and inflicting his first damage of the game.

Turn 4. Initiative - Russian 4, Turks 8 as the fourth turn in succession the Russian were forced to move first. The Russian moved 2 hexes forward and then turned a hexside to starboard whilst the Turk went 4 hexes straightforward. the range increased slightly to 6 hexes and the Russians threw 5 dice scoring 1, 1, 1, 2 and 3 - all of which missed. The Turkish return fire with 4 dice scored a 1, 2, 4 and a 6! The 6 was rerolled and threw a 3 so no further damage aside from the single hit was recorded.

The end of turn 4 with the Russian sustaining a further hit with no reply as the Turk continues to literally run rings around his opponent.

Turn 5. Initiative - Russians 6, Turks 8 and so yet again the Turks made the Russians move first. The Russian moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hexside to starboard and moved a further hex forward. The Turk moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hexside to the starboard and moved 2 hexes forward. the range remained at 6 hexes and so the Russians fired with 4 dice and scored 3, 3, 6 and 6 for 2 hits. the additional rerolls however were a 3 and a 4 and so inflicted no further damage. That would give the Turks something to think about and no mistake! Their return fire with 3 dice came in at 2, 4 and a 6 for a single hit but without success with the reroll, scoring a 4.

The dramatic events of turn 5 as both sides sustain damage - with the Turk coming off worse in the exchange.

Turn 6. Initiative - Russians 4, Turks 7 so once again the Russians had to move first. The Russian moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hex to starboard and moved a further hex forward. The Turk meanwhile moved 1 hex forward, turned 1 hex to starboard and moved a further 2 hexes forward. Once again the range remained at 6 hexes so the Russians rolled 4 dice whilst the Turk rolled 3. The Russian rolled 2, 2 , 3 and a 6 for a hit. The extra roll for the 6 scored another 6 for a second hit and so the Turk now had 2 points of damage from a single salvo. The second reroll came up with a 1 so no further damage was inflicted. The Turkish return fire, not withstanding the heavy damage sustained, scored a 1, 3 and a 5 for a single hit.

The Turkish ship had now sustained 5 hits out of 9 points and so, with discretion being the better part of valour the Captain ordered full speed ahead and turned away from the Russian and headed back to Constantinople. The Russian was unable to pursue her faster opponent and mindful of her own heavy damage, headed away from the scene having accomplished her mission.


There was absolutely no problem with the rules other than a couple of minor typing errors and so I was very pleased at how it all worked out. Obviously this was first test and I will need to expand this to include other types but the omens at this stage are pretty good. Firing worked well and the levels of damage inflicted felt about right. I will need to tweak the effect of damage slightly - Bob Cordery had the excellent idea of a critical point at which the damage sustained by a ship determined that it would try and get away if possible - if only so that I can include some potential degrading of a ships capabilities in terms of speed and firepower. The ship capabilities I selected for the two combatants seemed to work well and so the concept appears to be sound so it will be a case of back to the naval reference books again!

In the meantime though I shall amend the draft (which is completely different to the version I sent out a little while ago - sorry about that chaps but this version is a whole lot better!) in preparation for the next play test.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

"Two out of Three Ain't bad....!!!" (With apologies to Meatloaf)

After a long and wearying day at the office it was with much delight that I came home to two of the three items I am waiting for. First up (and bizarrely from Australia rather than the US!) was the CD of 14 Avalon Hill naval games and secondly was my box of Kallistra Hexon Blue tiles - hurrah!!!

I will report in full on these at the weekend as I want to experiment with some model combinations for the inevitable photo shoot.

As the (rather large) man once said..."Two out of three ain't bad...!!!"

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Battle Cry! A tale that grew in the telling.........

Hurrah!! I have at last manged to acquire a copy of the Avalon Hill/Hasbro ACW game Battle Cry! from ebay. Since this has been out of production it has been very difficult to get and expensive with it. My copy has cost me just over £20 which is pretty good but the shipping from the US will be a little stiff - not to mention the inevitable surcharge when it reaches our shores!

I used to own a copy of this straight after it came out but passed it on as part of an exchange deal and have regretted it ever since - especially when it when out of print!

I am very pleased to have acquired this though as it fills a gaping hole in my collection. Next up will be the Worthington Games: Napoleon's War once a new supply reaches the UK.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Navwar and Heroics and Ros

Following on from my recent decision to offload my various collection of Axis and Allies: War at Sea models I have been busy checking out the various manufacturers of 1/3000th kit, namely Skytrex and Navwar. Imagine my surprise then, when I noticed on the Navwar website that they are now no longer producing Heroics and Ros 1/300th figures and vehicles. The link below has all the details and the figures are not disappearing off the face of the planet - merely moving to a new manufacturer.

The link is as follows:

Heroics and Ros were, I believe, the first company to produce 6mm figures and vehicles and their range was (and still is) truly enormous. I hope this means then that Navwar can concentrate on more naval stuff as I for one will need to spend some serious cash there!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Axis and Allies: War at Sea - The Finale

Now I know that this set of rules is probably deeply offensive to the naval purist but I can safely say that some of my most exciting naval games have been played using them. Accuracy may be lacking but they sure make up for this in entertainment value!

However, I have been faced with a conumdrum of how to make use of the models (1/1800th) at home. I have considered umpteen different ways of using them but without success as they are simply too large for the available space and playing area I have.

I have therefore taken the decision to offload the entire collection and to replace the same with 1/3000th scale kit funded from the proceeds.

My naval gaming for 1890 onwards needs to be with smaller scale models and so if I am going to make use of the Hexon terrain tiles then the larger models are unsuitable and can only really be enjoyed on a club night.

I can be quite ruthless when it comes to disposing of material (and yes, I know I will probably regret it in time!) but I honestly believe that this is the right decision for my own particular circumstances - besides, I enjoy painting 1/3000th ships - which is probably just as well given the acres of them I will be painting over the next few months or so!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hexon Terrain by Kallistra

I have been and gone and done it. I have ordered a box of Kallistra Blue hex tiles for use with naval and aerial games. A box contains 21 x 6 hex tiles and I also ordered a pack of 10 single hexes to go with them. My plan is to have a playing area 13 x 9 hexes which is (I believe) the same size as a standard Memoir '44/Battle Cry playing board.

There are many sets of rules that are available either as freebies or commercially that utilise a hexagonal grid and so this set up will be a useful addition to my collection. The only problem this now presents me with concerns my Axis and Allies: World War 2 collection. As I have mentioned before, the models are too big for use at home and certainly would not fit on the Hexon terrain - at least the capital ships would not as they hexes measure 4" across the flat sides. For WW1 and 2 this would need 1/3000th or possibly 1/2400th. Certainly ironclads and 'wind and water' games; together with 16th century and possibly even ancients would fit nicely on the hexes.

I am looking seriously at the use of Hexon for my ground based games as well as this will be an easy effective solution for many of my gaming requirements.

Take a look at the website and you will see what I mean:

Friday, 22 October 2010

Avalon Hill Naval Games

New this is a find and no mistake! I was trawling through ebay this morning and under the search 'Avalon Hill Naval Games' I came across a couple of traders in the US that are selling a DVD with scanned copies of all the components - boards, rules, counters etc for every naval game that the now sadly defunct Avalon Hill game company produced. Also included are numerous variants as published the Avalon Hill General complete with counters etc - its in house gaming magazine. Given the prices that some of these command on a secondhand basis this is an absolute goldmine! All of the data has been scanned and 'photoshopped' for clarity and is stored in a PDF for each component. I have ordered one and will report when it arrives but for £7 this appears to represent excellent value for money.

Now where did I put those new printer cartridges?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 7

I would love to be able to post my draft of the naval variant of the Command and Colours system but for one small issue - can anybody tell me how in upload a Word table onto a blog?


Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 6

I think I am just about ready to unleash the 'tweaked' version of the above rules. I say 'think' deliberately because since the last post I have been going through mental gymnastics over the changes I think are needed. I have been continually reminding myself (and have also been prompted by others) that less is more and so getting the core concept right should be the main priority with the 'chrome' added later.

The figures I have arrived at for the various ship types differ from my friend Bob Cordery's version but then the timeframe I am trying to cover is wider. I have also dispensed with a couple of game mechanics that seemed like a good idea at the time but add little to the rules other than extra complication.

In the meantime though, the acquisition of a set of Hexon blue tiles has now been elevated to 'most critical!'

Monday, 18 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 5

It was a hectic weekend and so mistake so sadly I was unable to tackle to the planned play test of the first draft of my naval variant of Memoir 44/Battle Cry! I had a number of admin tasks around my rules filing system and these took a lot longer than anticipated meaning that I never got around to either punching the Great War at Sea counters; nor testing the draft rules. In actual fact, I am not sorry this happened because I have had a major rethink about exactly how I tackle this project.

I have changed my approach to the rules as I felt that I was allowing myself to become bogged down in the detail especially in respect of ship specifications. I am now going down the generic specification route with ship differences being represented only where there is a marked difference within vessels of the same notional type. My reasoning behind this has been prompted by the way in which Memoir 44 tackles tank units. Basically, the only differences I can see is that elite tank formations receive an extra model whilst poor formations usually can only move two hexes rather than three. I am not going to use this approach exactly but will limit the changes for better or worse ships of the same notional type. In effect this is the old 'superior, average and inferior' technique which will be simpler to quantify in game terms rather than the calculation of endless individual specifications.

I realise that this may seem like no change at all but from my perspective it is a leap of faith to a degree as I am cutting a certain number of ties with more traditional naval wargames rules.

So it is back to the drawing board. Sort of. Well not exactly..................;-)

Friday, 15 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 4

One of the things that I have failed to mention in respect of the first draft of the rules is the relative comparison of ship types from WW1 to WW2. Using the system I want to use at first glance it appears that a top rated WW1 ship is the same as is top rated WW2 equivalent in respect of hit points and combat dice etc. This is not my intention as the figures I have quoted as the base line for a notional type are designed to reflect relative capabilities. For example, HMS Barham, a Queen Elizabeth class battleship, was very much top of the tree in respect of dreadnought design in WW1 but by WW2 was out of date, barely modernised and vulnerable. In game terms then, she would be superior during WW1 and inferior during WW2 and so her specifications will differ accordingly. This will be more obvious when I prepare the ship specification charts although it does raise the question of how ships that served in both conflicts should be rated between the wars during the various refits undertaken!

I have also been giving some thought in respect of air power and its use. Again, I shall avoid lumping types together under generic headings but in one respect they will all be the same – on the tabletop they will not have a movement distance as even the slowest aircraft can move at least three times faster than a ship. Axis and Allies: War at Sea uses a similar system and this works pretty well. All that remains then is for me to assign the combat values and merge an air attack sequence into the game turn or activation. I will take a close look at the Memoir 44 Air supplement for some ideas in that direction.

My plan in respect of the play test is to move into the Black Sea for a Turkish versus Russian engagement – this will make a change from my usual Balkans fight. I have an ulterior motive in that it will give me the opportunity to use a mixture of old and new ships within a WW1 context. The Goeben and Breslau , with some assorted Turkish escorts will be attempting to force a conclusion with the Russian Pre Dreadnoughts and various other assorted vessels. It should be entertaining and if past experience is anything to go by the fighting will make up for in intensity what it lacks in duration!

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 3

I have finally managed to ready the first draft of my variant of the Command and Colours system covering naval warfare from 1890 to 1945, with the exception of the air rules (amongst others). From my previous post on the subject the only difference I have adopted from the list of salient points is that the 'superior, normal and inferior' ratings will be replaced by the actual hit points, combat dice and speed of the ship class in question. The reason for this is that I initially worked on the basis that an individual specification could be varied by plus or minus one from the average number but this is a little restrictive and so I have instead opted for a freer approach. A small difference perhaps but a significant one from a psychological perspective!

I shall be play testing these rules on a solo basis over the weekend and shall be using the ship counters and tactical battle map from the board game 'The Great War at Sea: The Mediterranean' in place of models. This will kill two birds with one stone as I have yet to punch out the counters for this game so will finally have the opportunity to do so. Initially I was planning on using my old friends the Balkan Wars navies for the play test but am now leaning more towards the Black Sea in WW1 with the Turks engaging the Russians. I shall write up the results of the play test for the blog although depending on how it evolves I probably will not tackle it on a turn by turn basis.

After what seems like a number of naval war game 'false dawns' in respect of my attempts at writing a suitable set I am feeling cautiously optimistic that this particular variant may finally be that which I have been searching for..............................;-)

We shall see, and in the meantime I am certainly keeping most parts of my anatomy crossed in expectation!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea....Part 2

After further consideration about this variant of Memoir 44/Battle Cry! I figured it would be a good idea to set out the parameters I am striving towards in their formulation. The following points then, are those that I want ensure are captured in some fashion within the rules.

  • A hex will be roughly 4,000 yards which will therefore set a maximum gun range of 6 hexes or 24,000 yards.
  • Main, secondary/tertiary and torpedoes will have separate combat dice rolls - by extension this will also cover AA fire.
  • Differences in notional ship types will be represented by the addition or subtraction of combat dice and/or the hit points.
  • Ships will rated as either superior, average or inferior within their notional type.
  • Command points rather than cards will be used to determine a players activations - similar to how Worthington Games use the Command and Colours system.
  • The combat area will typically be 13 x 9 hexes - the same size as a Memoir 44/Battle Cry! board.

All I need to do now is to prepare a draft set (this exists as a number of scribbled notes) and think about a suitable playing surface. For 1/3000th I am seriously thinking about the blue hex tiles produced by Kallistra in their Hexon range. A base box of these (which are 4" across the flat per hex) contains 21 x 6 hex tiles which would allow for a playing area of 12 by 10 hexes. For the Axis and Allies: War at Sea collection I would need to grid a suitable cloth using a hex template.

Much to ponder methinks!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Memoir of Battle at Sea

Following on from my recent post and communications with Bob Cordery around the subject of a naval version of Memoir 44/Battle Cry I have spent some time over the weekend giving this some thought. Bob C has already drafted some ideas on his blog and these have been most useful in the formulation of my own ideas. It is no secret that I should like to have a uniform set of rules that cover the era from 1890 to 1945 and certainly using the Command and Colours system as the basis for such an undertaking has many advantages.

The rules will need to be hex based which is not a problem as such – making a cloth with the requisite sized hexes would not be difficult, especially marking the 60 degree angles only rather than the whole hex – all I would need to do is to prepare a suitably sized cardboard template. Given the size of the War at Sea WW2 models this will need to be 8” across the hexsides which would be easily achievable on a suitable bed sheet. For 1/3000th models smaller hexes would be fine - in fact the plain blue sea hexes available as part of the Hexon range would be ideal.

The standard size Memoir 44/Battle Cry! Board is 13 by 9 hexes and so this is the template for the playing area that I shall be working on and so this will determine move distances and combat ranges. Taking a maximum gun range as being 24,000 yards I intend to use a notional scale of a hex being 4,000 yards. This translates as a maximum gunfire range of 6 hexes. The reason I have opted for this is so that a standard sized gaming surface of 13 x 9 hexes will have some room to manoeuvre outside of gun range. Similarly, I want the fastest ships to be travelling at no more than 4 hexes, again to encourage some thought about what happens in a game context. For combat resolution the use of ‘doctored dice’ is a good call – Bob C has suggested d6 with 6 representing 2 hits, 4 and 5 being one hit and 1, 2 or 3 being a miss. This is coincidentally the same regime that Axis and Allies: War at Sea use!

I shall be using a dice based activation system rather than using command cards – this approach has been used quite successfully by Worthington Games – as I think this will enable players to better simulate the specifics of a particular scenario. There will also be the ability to randomly tweak the base activation number (this is the dice based equivalent of the number of command cards per side in given scenario) which should satisfy even the most pedantic admiral!

Combat, movement and orders are therefore fairly straightforward. The basic C and C combat system assumes a number of dice are rolled based on the unit type and this is adjusted for range and terrain – regardless of the damage sustained by the firing/combat unit so that, for example, a unit down to 25% of its original strength will still roll combat dice based on its original strength. I have always had a bit of an issue with this because if a unit is losing effectives then by definition it will lose its effectiveness. As far as a ship is concerned then this can easily be catered for by reducing the number of combat dice rolled or by adjusting the dice rolled e.g. counting 1 to 4 as a miss and 5 and 6 as a single hit – indeed, even a combination of these two methods.

Recording damage will be straightforward and I plan to use white counters for minor hits and black for major. I would also add the caveat that a number of minor hits can be traded up for a major hit although I need to think about this further.

As far as air power is concerned my answer is well, I have no answer, at least not yet. The same applies to submarines, minefields, shore batteries – all are on the ‘to do’ list and will tackled in due course.

The title of this post has been borrowed from Bob (many thanks!) and is a simple but elegant tribute to the naval rule forebears as well as a great idea!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Memoir 44, Battle Cry! and Thoughts of a Naval Nature

I suppose it was inevitable that this path would be trodden by me at some point. Readers of this blog will have no doubt noted my enthusiasm for the Command and Colours series of games - especially Memoir 44 and Battle Cry. There are a whole host of variants and sets derived from the core concepts available and indeed, I have recently mentioned Te Wapen - a fantasy variant by Phil Dutre as well as my own ramblings associated with the Vietnam conflict. The one thing that does not appear to have been covered though is naval games. I am aware that the War of 1812 game published by Worthington Games called Honor and Glory (note the US spelling of Honour!) covered some of the naval side but I am interested in affairs afloat from 1890 to 1945. A casual comment to my old friend Bob Cordery further served to get the creative juices flowing and so I am now embarking upon devising a Memoir 44-ish variant covering naval actions in the age of steam and airpower - doubtless with some thoughts and ideas from the aforementioned Mr Cordery liberally sprinkled in the mix.

Once again the spectre of ship types looms large in the thought process - do I go down the generic type route with good, bad or ugly variants or do I tailor individual classes? At this stage I am leaning towards the former - simply because it would be more in keeping with the Command and Colours philosophy and game mechanics. I already have much of the spadework ready for this and am planning on using two sides of A4 for the entire rule system with fleet lists to follow on in due course. the biggest challenge would be in recording hits and I have a number of ideas to try with that - none of which require any record keeping.

To be honest, I find myself at the stage of my wargames career where I want games that are simple yet challenging and if possible with a core game mechanic that is easily portable to other periods and genres. The Command and Colours system is just one example and although I suspect they would probably offend the purist I personally enjoy them and their ease of use makes a refreshing change from the more complex sets of rules available. The complication within a wargame should exist in the players head as he attempts a dazzling tactical masterstroke designed to rout his opponent rather than over a heated debate about the rule on page 47, paragraph 6 sub section 8!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Minifigs Ships....Part 2

The next batch of models from long defunct Minifigs range of WW1 ships are some of the larger types - the ones we always look forward to seeing and using - the capital ships. No prizes for identifying them and if you look closely you will see where the damaged masts etc have been removed and I have started the clean up process prior to painting them. I intend undertaking a little conversion work on the two battle cruiser types, mainly to differentiate them between nations. At this stage it may be as simple as losing a funnel or adding an additional turret but we shall have to see. As with the cruisers the models are short on detail but are good and durable wargaming pieces and they have a charm all of their own.
The next post will feature the escorts - the destroyers and torpedo boats, as well as the submarines and the single merchant ship in the collection. I suspect that this will probably be used as an armed raider of some sort or an auxiliary cruiser of some sort.
We shall see - it is early days yet and decisions have yet to be made.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Minifigs Ships....Part 1

The above shows a selection of the cruiser type models I have from the Minifigs 1/1200th scale WW1 ship range. I have eleven on total and intend using the bigger models (the two central ships) as armoured cruisers whilst the smaller types will be protected/light cruisers. As soon as I have rediscovered the catalogue list I will be able to identify them - in fact I may even have the details on an earlier post on this blog so will check back through the earlier entries when I get a chance. As you can see, the detail is adequate for what will after all be gaming rather than display pieces - detail wise GHQ they ain't! This does not bother me at all as they are only representative of their types and have the advantage of having absolutely nothing that can break off. In later posts I will show the dreadnoughts and battle cruisers as well as the destroyers and torpedo boats.
Note to self: Ensure that tanker loads of grey paint is in store!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Berlin to Baghdad Express...and not many people know that...

I ask you, in all honesty how on earth could I have possibly resisted this title - especially with a £30 Waterstones birthday gift card burning a huge hole in my pocket?
The best description of this title comes from the book cover itself:
'The Berlin-Baghdad Express explores one of the most important but least understood stories of the First World War: the bid by the Germans to destroy the British Empire by harnessing the power of Islam.
The German military authorities had long enjoyed a special relationship with the Ottoman Empire - training its army but also starting to build the great Berlin-to-Baghdad railway, one of the era's most extraordinary engineering projects. The railway, on its completion, would have allowed the Germans to transport many thousands of troops to Asia, invulnerable to British naval power.
Yet as fighting began to stalemate on the Western front, this relationship took on a whole new dimension. With the Ottoman Empire fatefully deciding to join Germany, a hugely ambitious project began - to end Britain's hold on the Suez Canal, to call a jihad against British interests throughout the Muslim world and to bring Afghanistan and Persia into the war as German allies in an attack on British India.'
I am most certainly going to savour this one and no mistake...........
The rather odd title for this post came about as when I visited Waterstones in Leadenhall Market (famed as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films) no less a personage than Sir Michael Caine was signing copies of his new autobiography - From the Elephant to Hollywood. The queue was immense for the book and his signature butI managed to catch a glimpse of the man himself on the way out. I was amused though when one of the staff answered a customer when asked about how long Mr Caine would be in attendance for at the shop was promptly told '...until about 3pm, but not a lot of people know that!'
It made me smile.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Minifigs Ships, The Balkan Arms Race and The Spanish Civil War

Readers of the blog will no doubt recall my mentioning the recent acquisition of a further quantity of the long out of production Minifigs 1/1200th scale WW1 ships. I will post some pictures in due course of these (also when I found the copy of the catalogue naming the models in question!) but I wanted to share at this early stage exactly what my plans are with this collection. The models are of ships that are British in origin but can easily be used for just about anybody for the period 1905 to 1920. Without exception, the models has suffered severe damage in respect of masts so these will be completely removed and perhaps pole masts added from piano wire or something similar.

The plan is to use these ships for a pair of Balkan fleets - based loosely on that of the Ottoman Turks and the Greeks. I say loosely because most of these ships the respective nationalities never owned; nor even ordered. I fully intend using these models in conjunction with Aeronef and so whilst not strictly being VSF it will be close enough as makes little difference!

So once again I shall be immersed in grey paint but that is not a problem - especially as I now have a further small project heaving over the horizon in the shape of a pair of 1/3000th scale Spanish Civil War fleets - Republican and Nationalist.

Rules wise I intend to use a variant of Axis and Allies: War at Sea as these are simple, fast playing and will enable a good club night game to take place.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Birthday Present Review

I was a very lucky chap in respect of the my birthday presents. From the second youngest member of my family, my daughter Holly (who has lost her place since the arrival of my grandson Ryley!) came the welcome gift of some new aftershave - a small gift but she selected and paid for this herself (and no doubt with her mum's approval!) and so I was both touched and delighted to receive this.

My son Reece and his family filled a hole in my DVD and CD collection with DVDs of both the new Robin Hood film (I now have three versions of this story on DVD!) starring Russell Crowe and also Avatar. The CDs were also most welcome - especially as one of them (Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder) was replacing a copy I had stolen a number of years ago.

From work I received the quite unexpected bonus of a a £30 Waterstones gift card - as a wargamer and student of military history, not to mention an avid reader - that will certainly be put to good use!

Pride of place though went to the present that my partner Laurel got me. I am now the proud owner of a Sony PRS 600 Electronic Book Reader. What a gadget! I can best describe this as being an I Pod for books and I already have some 16 novels stored on it (including War and Peace!) and will be able to add hundreds more and so can carry around my own personal library in a gadget not much bigger than a slim paperback! Ebooks are cheaper than the printed versions and so this will give me the opportunity to acquire many titles that I would otherwise not bother with as well as being able to gap fill my existing collection. I will not be using this as a replacement for the traditional written word - I am thinking of military reference books here - but certainly for non-fiction this will be a godsend. No more lugging around great chunky paperbacks to and from work or on holiday!

I can only say a heartfelt thankyou to everyone for my various gifts - it made the occasion of my 50th birthday a really special one and so I am looking forward to the next 50 with renewed enthusiasm!