Thursday, March 31, 2011

BRDM-1 from Hobbyden



BRDM-1 from Hobbyden

In between ordering skips and waiting for bloody plaster to dry, I ordered some reconaissance vehicles for a pal of mine that I'll be seeing at the weekend. Donogh, Steve and I will be invading his ancestral manse to get a spot of gaming done. He and Donogh have been building forces to use with the new effort from Osprey, Force on Force. Donogh has been playing Ambush Alley quite happily for some time now and has assembled an impressive array of Soviets, British and Americans for Afghanistan.

Steve has assembled a force of Cold War Soviets to fight Donogh's Afghans but naturally, being Steve, has taken the heavy metal option - T-80s and Hinds and BMPs oh my! As our birthdays are all quite close together, I decided to get Steve a little something for his forces and therefore picked the lightest, smallest, least impressive reconnaissance vehicle I could find in a no doubt doomed attempt to introduce a little balance into his super-human Soviets.


The model above is a BRDM-1, an amphibious scout car developed by those rascally Communists in 1954, in order to provide protection to reconnaissance troops of the advancing Red Hordes.

Cast in resin by Hobbyden, this is a neat little kit with only five pieces, clean mould lines and certainly as good as any resin kit that I've come across. A little filling and filing will be necessary to get it up to scratch, but nothing too ardous. What really surprised me was the quality of customer service shown by Mark of the Hobbyden. Emails were answered promptly, any questions I had were dealt with and the product arrived quickly and well packed. I don't have any moderns at present, but if I do decide to start a force, I'll be giving Hobbyden a call.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sahagun 21st December 1808 - A Command & Colours: Napoleonics Scenario


This map was constructed using the Vassal Module
downloaded from ccnapoleonics.net

Historical Background

On a bitterly cold morning in December 1808, 400 men
of the 15th Light Dragoons (Hussars) shivered in their pelisses
outside the town of Sahagun after an arduous night march.
Their commander Lord Henry Paget was fuming as French
piquets had alerted the sleeping troopers of the 1st Provisional
Chasseurs a Cheval and the 8th Dragoons in the town.

The French befuddled by sleep and half blinded by snow had
decamped and were now formed up in the open ground to the
east of the town. Lord Paget had an unpalatable
decision to make, his other regiment, the 10th Light Dragoons under the
incompetant General Slade, was late and he now faced odds of
two to one.

With the element of surprise fast dissappearing and time running short
Lord Paget made a characteristically bold decision and ordered
a charge straight into the teeth of the enemy.

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in
command. Can you change history?


Battle Notes

French Forces
Commander: General de Brigade Cesar Alexandre Debrelle
1 Command Card
- The French player draws two cards every turn until they have three cards in hand.

British Force
Commander: Lord Henry Paget
5 Command Cards
Move First

Victory

4 Victory Banners

Special Rules

1. The French Heavy Cavalry have three blocks rather than the usual four.

2. The French player begins the game with one card in hand and draws two cards
every turn until he has three cards.

3. The Banner on the river counts as a temporary victory banner for either side.

4. Gentlemen playing the above scenario may avail of the following additional rules,
though these are not to be indulged in when wives or servants are present.

Battle of Sahagun Drinking Game

1. Every time a player takes a victory banner, he must take a drink.

2. Every time a player loses a unit, he must take a drink.

3. Every time a General rolls for "risk", the owning player must take a drink.

4. If the British player plays Short of Supplies, the French player may negate it by downing his drink in one and saying "That Damn Fool Slade!"

5. If the French player plays First Strike, the British player may negate it by downing his drink in one and saying "Emsdorf and victory!"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Further thoughts on Sahagun

The 8th Dragoons - who were better boules players than they were cavalrymen

Long day today - though stripping the wallpaper in the games room is finally finished (many thanks to Mr E), the kitchen is ready for a cooker and the bathroom will be ready for tiling after the weekend. I also managed to achieve some other short term goals.

I spent a very pleasant evening in the pub last night, during which we playtested Donogh's Sacile scenario. I played it twice, beating Donogh 6-4 and being beaten 6-3 in turn by Marshall Du Gorman, that most dastardly of Napoleon's henchmen. It was a big scenario, but I think Donogh's adaptions for the Austrians were rather good and the balance is almost right. I believe the Austrian cavalry were a little better than he gave them credit for, but other than that he may have hit the nail on the head.

My Sahagun scenario took rather more work, though we managed to play it five times.

What was learned?

- Command & Colours: Napoleons mainly represents engagements at Divisional level and above. The British cavalry did not shine at this level of engagement, but did rather better at the lower level. I decided the way to reflect this was to reduce the number of blocks in some of the French units, making the French worse rather than the British better.

- Sahagun was a famous victory precisely because it was unlikely, a force of light cavalry taking on twice their numbers, half of whom are heavies. The trick is to slant the scenario in such a way that the British player has a chance of achieving his unlikely victory, but the French players hands aren't completely tied. This was difficult, but I think I've managed it.

- Because it's an entirely cavalry engagement, its very fast and is a rather crash-bang-wallop affair. As a result its well suited to The Command & Colours: Napoleonics - Sahagun Drinking Game.

The rules of the above are as follows.

Lose a unit, take a drink.
Kill a unit, take a drink.

If the British player plays Short of Supplies, the French player may negate it by downing his pint in one and saying "That Damn Fool Slade!"

If the French player plays First Strike, the British player may negate it by downing his pint in one and saying "Emsdorf and victory!"

Fortunately, for the gaming public, I should be able to put Sahagun before you shortly. I have downloaded the Vassal map editor and I should wrestle it into some sort of shape by tomorrow. Until then, Emsdorf and victory!



Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Small Goals


The Roll Call by Lady Butler

Mrs Kinch and I are agreed that we must have a Lady Butler print and a big one, it's just a matter of which one...

Small goals are necessary, vital in fact, to the completion of a wargames project.

With that in mind, I have set myself a few short term goals that don't involve the words "kitchen" or "wallpaper.

I hope to play the following scenarios* using Command & Colours: Napoleonics

- Phil Olley's "Vanguards Collide", this is a scenario from the maiden issue of The Classic Wargamer's Journal. I have a written a ramshackle conversion to the Command & Colours set and hopefully I should be able to get a game in and have time to write a battle report for the Journal.

- Make some progress on my Sahagun scenario, I haven't had time to tinker really and I'll need to get two players who are willing to sit down and play through a few versions, but I think that's achievable before the end of the month.

Donogh and I plan to play some games on Thursday, so we should do at least one of the two above. Not content with the Peninsula, he is working on a Sacile scenario. It remains to be seen what special rules he shall be inflicting on the Austrians.

A slightly more long term goal is to get to Birthday Con on the 2nd of April. This is Donogh's annual bash with myself and a chum called Steve. I have somehow managed to make a hash of this for the last three years running, but this year I'm hoping for a days trouble free gaming where I am not mysteriously late, hungover or sleep deprived.

Medium term goals will have to wait until we've hot and cold running water and indoor plumbing.


House update -

The long running war of paint scraping attrition continues in the kitchen, but the boiler and most of the more bizarre cabinets have gone.
The roof is finished.
The plumber spend the first of approximately ten days here and removed the immersion, sink, bath and other fitting.
We bought shower fittings, lavatory fittings, sink and taps.
Half the wallpaper in the wargames room stripped, nasty job.
The bizarre assortment of cabinets, etc removed from the kitchen and under the stairs.
May have mortally offended a telephone sales person, who while trying to sell me a telephone, television and internet deal, said that she could sign me up immediately. I asked if there was some sort of contract - to which she responded that there was nothing on paper.

When I asked if I could get something on paper, she said we don't really do that and got rather huffy. Damn strange way to do business.


*A chap once told me the plural of scenario was scenarii, but later testing proved that this man was a buffoon of the first water.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

120mm Crimean War British Officer



The (finally finished) British Officer, 19th Foot, Crimean War era

I am very tired and indescribably filthy, but some super work was done today. Paint stripping continues apace and we should be taking delivery of a wallpaper stripper tomorrow which will may help matters. The roofer arrives tomorrow to start work, though there will have to be some negotiations with the plumber before we begin.

Siskey and I also removed the last set of bars from the windows, which has made a huge differance. Sadly, we had to destroy the surrounding curtain rail, etc in order to save it - but bigger issues were at stake.

This is the first blog post written in the new house, we had to return to Kingstown last night to avail of showers and food. I took the opportunity to repaint the base of the chap up above, the black base wasn't sitting well with me. After wiping the grime of the day away - I took out the camera and took some snaps before handing him over to Mrs Kinchs great uncle. They're not great, flash is not kind to miniatures, but they'll do. I've posted pictures of this chap before, but I don't often give figures away - so a few more won't hurt.


This shot is a little misty. We're only heating one room at the moment with a Superser heater, as the gas hasn't been turned on yet. There was condensation forming on the lens of the camera as it was rather cold in the room in which it was being kept.






This chap is an officer in the Green Howards, who were at the Alma, Inkerman and Sevastapol during the Crimean campaign. The name comes from a period in the 18th century when two regiments of foot (which at the time took their names from their Colonels) were both commanded by men named Howard. Since having two "Howard's Regiments of Foot" would be confusing, they were distinguished by their facings - the 19th becoming the Green Howards and the 3rd becoming Howards Buffs.


A view from the rear, I've not entirely happy with the angle of the sabre - but I was afraid to attempt anything for fear of breaking it.


I think the brown base which is the only major change, barring a few little touch ups, that I've made since last posting pictures of this figure makes it look warmer. I'm generally pretty bad at picking colours (ask Mrs Kinch, she's currently trying to plan a kitchen), but this one I think was a good choice.

Sahagun


The rather magnificent Terence Alexander, playing Lord Uxbridge,
accompanied by the equally splendid Christopher Plummer, playing the Duke

The more astute reader will have noticed that both men are riding apple crates. It was this care and attention to the welfare of their horses (who are out of shot, putting their hooves up) that made them renowned military leaders guaranteed to give Frenchy a damn good thrashing in any weather. Curiously, Plummer - the Canadian is playing that most famous of Englishmen, who was actually Irish. Alexander who is playing Uxbridge, a cavalry officer who famously lost his leg at Waterloo, damn near lost his own leg while serving with the 27th lancers in Italy and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

But, it is not Lord Uxbridge or Waterloo that concerns us at present - but Sahagun and plain old Henry Paget* as he was at the time. Sahagun is an interesting little action that took place during the retreat to Corunna. Sir John Moore was of the opinion that no good would be served by allowing Britain's only field army to be smashed by overwhelming numbers, but did not wish to retreat without striking some sort of a blow. With that object in mind, Paget was sent against Soult on a reconnaissance and led a cavalry brigade against the French occupied town of Sahagun. The plan was that a two pronged assault would result in the French being driven onto a blocking force. Sadly, the night march went wrong, as night marches so often do and the blocking force led by General Slade, described by Paget as "...that damned stupid fellow", was not in place in time and took no part in the action.

A brilliant charge by the 15th Hussars overthrew the French completely, taking 300 prisoners, but the lack of a blocking force prevented the whole French force being put in the bag.

The action is atmospherically described in Rumours of War, the sixth Mathew Hervey novel, byAllan Mallinson.



A picture of a possible setup (since abandoned),
taken for note taking purposes

I had been thinking about writing a Sahagun scenario for a while, mainly because I think its interesting and secondly, as I had been wondering whether C&C: Napoleonics could handle an all cavalry engagement. My first thought was for numbers, most C&C: Napoleonics scenarios involve about a dozen units a side, but I can't field that much cavalry. It would also led to a rather packed battlefield. Both sides fielded about eight hundred men, though half the British force (under that damned fool Slade) didn't make it to the field in time to help decide the matter.

I decided to field equal forces, as the French units are larger (four blocks to the British three) which would keep the disparity in numbers while ensuring the both sides had a sufficient number of manoeuvre units to keep things interesting. Also since, CCN classes dragoons as heavies the French will enjoy a superiority of weight, which translates to an additional die in melee.

I added three special rules for flavour

- firstly, the British player may negate any French played "First Strike" card by yelling "Emsdorf and Victory" before the French player rolls dice. The attack is canceled and the card replaced.

-secondly, the French player may negate a British played "Short of Supplies" card by saying "That damn fool Slade", before the British player has touched figures. The effect is canceled and the card replaced.

-thirdly, all infantry/artillery specific cards, Bombard, Fire and Hold, etc - may be played as Rally cards.

The first two rules are present because I love gimmicks, though they do reflect (in a manner of speaking) two incidents from the actual battle. The last is an attempt to model the swirling, chaotic nature of cavalry combat where momentum and address are vitally important, horsemen are scattered more easily than their infantry fellows and motivated officers can rally them to charge once again.

On the face of it, it seems pretty hopeless for the British - facing superior numbers, half of whom hit harder than they do. I may have to set up the scenario at the point of the charge to level the playing field, but I don't want to completely hamstring the French player either. There is of course, always the chance that Slade might show up - which could result in things becoming very sticky for the French.

I have tested this and various board layouts by playing around with the boxed game. This has the advantage of ensuring I don't use more pieces than the game allows, which would substantially limit outside playtesting possibilities. Thus far I haven't managed to produce anything other than a crushing victory for the French, even giving them a hand size of three compared the British five. Perhaps starting the battle from the point of the British approach might be more fruitful with the French player struggling to get his troops out of the town so as to bring his superior numbers to bear.

That said I haven't attempted a blind playtest yet - which is always the real test of a scenario. Putting two players who operate with none of the authors assumptions in front of a game is always an interesting experience. I might manage a playtest this week.

More thoughts on this when I have them dear readers.

*Nasty or impolite people might point out that he was a Lord at the time, but that unpleasant fact drives a coach and horses through my nicely composed sentence and may be ignored for the time being.

Winter of '79


I read quite a number of wargaming blogs and often follow blogs for games that I don't play, if I think the authors ideas or enthusiasm warrant it. One such blog is Winter of '79, a blog based around a fictional British Civil War that takes place after the election of Margaret Thatcher.

The project is built around 20mm Cold War era figures and takes its inspiration from a variety of sources; The Professionals, A Very British Coup, John LeCarre, the Miners strike and The Clash to name a few. The author grew up during the period and often comments on things that he remembers noticing at the time, this makes the blog an interesting and oddly personal read.

Not my typical fare - but well worth a look.

Of particular note is Marks recent post about his "dream list" of 1970s British Civil War figures.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sisi



video

Mrs Kinch couldn't actually wait for us to move into the new house before making an addition to the house hold. Behold one small white cat, the source of much joy to her mistress and a source of not inconsiderable sneezing to me. I was not raised with cats and it takes me a while to establish a modus vivendi with them. We shall see.

Her name is a nod to Elizbeth of Bavaria, otherwise known as Sisi, an unusual woman and a great favourite of Mrs Kinchs great uncle. He was trained as a silver service waiter by a former head waiter of her husbands. Mrs Kinch was raised by him to have an intimate knowledge of the dining habits of turn of the century European monarchs and demi-mondiales.

But lest you think we have been slacking...


Yesterday was a day spent cleaning the decks. The plumber called and we should be getting a quotation shortly. A few friends came over to lend a hand and we were very grateful for the help, thank you Savage, Tootsie, Siskey and PsySquid. The previous inhabitant was not a man who liked to throw things out, nor a man who dislike nails - the alcove above contained a cabinet made entirely out of found timber. The maker nailed all the bit together to make larger sheets of timber, which he then made into an cabinet, which he nailed together. He then nailed the sides and back of the cabinet to the walls for extra stability, but not before nailing parts of it to the ceiling.

Taking it apart was an interesting experience.

Savage and PsySquid help get those hard to reach cobwebs
- remember ladies and gentlemen, safety first...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Steel Bases from Precision Wargames Supplies - A Review




A battalion of French provisional grenadiers,
HAT figures who have some service - individually mounted. Transferring them to temporary bases is a job which oppresses my gentle spirit

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I've been in a bit of pickle with basing of late. My figures are based individually which means that I can and have used them for a wide variety of games by slapping them on different sabot bases.

Aside: Sabot is a word meaning wooden shoe in the original dastardly French. It is pronounced SA-bo or Say-BOT if you want to annoy French speakers in the neighbourhood. Speaking with greater volume and slowly adds to the effect. Try this at home.

However, this has proven unsatisfactory for Command&Colours: Napoleonics has the current crop of bases are too big and are bodged together from card and steel paper. Their particular sin is that the troops have to be transfered to them before making it onto the battlefield. This is a dreary task and one that has actually dissuaded me from setting up games.

What I needed was a base that would allow me to move each unit as one piece. I could happily move lads about if I needed to form square as it is not that common an occurrence and the square isn't likely to be going anywhere. The base would need to be steel so that the figures will stick to it and capable of being stuck in a steel paper lined box, so that units can be stored on their sabot bases and brought out in quick time.

Enter Ian of Precision Wargaming Supplies, who makes steel bases for the discerning wargamer. I wrote to him asking if he could produce affordable bespoke steel bases in the appropriate size (5 inch by 2 inch). Not only did he get back to me within six hours, but he offered to send some samples to "try before you buy."

If you like your customer service prompt, friendly and seasoned with increasingly bizarre steel based puns, you'll like Precision Wargaming Supplies.

But what of the product?



Samples from Precision Wargaming Supplies - two 1 1/2 square bases and a circle

The above samples arrived the other day and I managed to mess about with them this evening. Neatly cut steel, covered in black enamel - they are neat, regular and hold figures well. They are not so thick (a touch less than 1/16 inch) as to add too much to the height of the figures placed on them, but still thick enough to be picked up by sausage fingers oafs soused with gin.

You can see above some Newline Neapolitans (actually French) lounging about on one of the 1 1/2 squares. However, the magnetic material I use, which is designed for adding signs to the sides of vans is not so powerful as to hold the figures in place in the box. Another layer of magnetic material will have to be added to insure that the sabot bases don't move around while in transit.



Layer of magnetic material added to the bottom of the base

Adding this layer this just about doubles the thickness of the base, which is not unattractive and makes it easier to pick up. The attraction of the magnet is strong, so that despite some experiment shaking, the figures didn't move around at all. One slight problem I noticed was that the attraction of the magnets was so strong that I had a bit of difficulty removing the base from the box at first. This isn't a major issue as removing them from the box is something I will have to do only once per game and it does mean that the figures are quite secure in their box. I suppose I could add a tab of ribbon to the back of each base to give me something to break the seal with, but that is something I shall have to think about once I have the finished product in front of me.

The figures provided by Ian for forty bespoke bases were as follows.

Spec Qty Price Cost
5 inch x 2 inch 40 £ 1.25 £ 50.00
40
Sub £ 50.00
P&P £ 15.00
PayPal -£ 3.25
Total £ 61.75

On the face of it, this seems quite expensive. The cost is equal to that of raising one regiment of foot from scratch. On the other hand, forty units is sufficient for the largest game of Napoleonics I am likely to play and will allow me to base up most of the units that I am likely to use on a regular basis. The bases will allow me to actually play with the figures I have spent so much time collecting without taking an age, but retaining the cast of thousands look so to dear to my heart.

I'm convinced.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Leprecon III: Corunna in pictures


Battle of Corunna

The Battle of Corunna - 20mm figures on a 5 inch hex Hotz mat


The French Advance

French guns prepare the way as the Irish Brigade and the 76ieme Ligne begin the French push in the centre

Redcoats Stand Firm

Was there a man dismayed? The Redcoats stand firm

The Irish Brigade

The 3ieme Legion Etranger, who were not present at the battle, but were the only French light infantry I had at the time - press on

English Cavalry

British cavalry on the right, sadly they will have to shoot their horses later as there is insufficient room in the transports

The French turn the British Line

The French assault in the centre despite heavy casualties turns the British line

The battle went on in the centre for several turns, with both sides getting cut up rather badly. Fortunately, the French blinked first, when an ill considered cavalry charge blocked the advance of the remaining French infantry. The British were able to punish the reckless horsemen sufficiently to break the French will to continue, but it was a damn close run thing...


Donogh McCarthy RA, a dissolute roue and the painter responsible for the above images. Pictured here shortly after a laudanum fuelled "consultation" with a flame haired technical expert (left). Poor McCarthy as you can see is much vexed by the news that he shall have to repaint his Afghans, as he used the wrong kind of blue.

Wargames Room - Beginnings

video

It may not look like much, but from little acorns...

While we were pottering about the new house yesterday, connecting gas and electricity and the like - I took pictures of the house entire, so that we can have some idea of what progress has been made. This will help keep our spirits up, because I suspect that there will be times when it will feel like a Sisyphean task.

The wargames room, as it will eventually be, is not exactly in an ideal state at present. There's a hole in the floor, plumbing to be removed, to say nothing of that wallpaper. The ceiling rose has been destroyed or taken away and will need replacing. The room will need shelving, a selection of military prints, a painting table and somewhere to put my armchair and smoking cabinet.

Mrs Kinch has agreed that ongoing wargaming will have to occur in order to keep me mentally stable. All work and no play. But in the meantime, however I think organising somewhere to cook and somewhere to wash may have to take precedence.





Friday, March 11, 2011

Guns, Helping Japan & New Houses

A Soviet (presumably Russian?) lad puts a gun to good use
(image stolen from here)

Mrs Kinch and I paid a call on our new home today, cracking open a bottle of champagne and toasting the huge amount of work we're going to have to do before the place is habitable. On the other hand there is slightly less work to be done then I anticipated as gas and power are in place. Running water is next, but that shall have to wait for the plumber who will be paying a call on Tuesday. Pictures of the wargames room to be to follow.

Like many people yesterday, I was completely stunned by the sheer magnitude of the disaster in Japan. Our prayers must be with those who are struggling to contain the extent of the tragedy. Money helps too. I know several organisations are raising funds at present, I was about to make a donation to the Irish Red Cross - but was informed that they have yet to be asked for help and that they felt it would be dishonest to take my money without being sure it would go to Japan.

What I have done and what I would advise others to do is place a note (that's a bill to our American friends) in an envelope, whatever you can spare. Mark it "Aid for Japan" and put it on the mantelpiece for a few days. With due regard to the industry and courage of the Japanese, this is not a disaster that will be resolved quickly or easily. Those who need it, will still need it next week or next month. At present, I have been unable to find a means of donating money directly to the Japanese Red Cross. I'm sure regular readers of the blog will make their own arrangements, but I would advise taking a day or two to think about where your money is going and how best it might be used. Putting cash aside now will insure you don't forget.

And lastly, returning to the title of this post.

The internet speaks an infinite deal of nothing, possibly more than any other medium on earth, hiding its two grains of wheat in a great deal more than two bushels of chaff. However, on occasion it can throw up little gems, like "The Smoothbore Ordnance Journal".

This publication, hosted on the Napoleon-series.org, is a mine of information. I haven't finished reading all of it, but thus far I've learned about the destruction of bridges and Austrian horse artillery (compared to those of other states). But there are more riches waiting, with articles on the choice of horses for artillery haulage and naval gunnery. Dr. Stephen Summerfield, who has written extensively on the subject is the editor of this publication. I only regret I didn't come across it sooner, the section on bridge demolition already has scenario ideas dancing in my head.




Blood and thunder in the valleys.


Jemima Nichols
ready to take on Marianne any day.

One of the joys of taking a computer for a walk on the internet coming is the enormous variety of projects that people are toiling away on.

Take for example, the French invasion of Wales in 1797. This was the last invasion of Britain by the France until the next one. One third of a planned three pronged assault on Britain and Ireland and the only one to go ahead, it consisted of a rather half hearted assault by "the black legion". These gentry, most of whom were deserters and other sweepings of the Paris gaols, surrendered upon seeing groups of Welsh women coming to watch the battle. At least that's the legend. Apparently Mrs Jones traditional habit of red cloak and tall black hat was taken at a distance for the uniform of redcoat reinforcements.

You can find out a little more about the invasion here.

You can find a delightfully bats rendering of the invasion in 28mm here.

Pay particular attention to heroine of the hour, Jeminina Nichols, who rounded up twelve Frenchmen with a pitchfork.




Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Painted Chasseurs


Amongst the figures that arrived yesterday were some French Chasseurs, which I think you'll agree Mark did a good job on in such a short space of time. I particularly like the Pioneer, though I will have to think of some way of using him in C&C Napoleonics. I foresee a special card.

These chaps are of the 1st Legere, who were like my Swiss were at Maida. Hitherto fore, the French lights were represented by the Irish in the shape of the 3ieme Legione Etranger. They looked rather fetching, but it was probably a little odd to have the entire light arm of my French army hail from Mayo.

It would probably have been more appropriate to use figures in skirmishing poses for lights, but I thought the HAT marching figures were so splendid that I plumped for them instead. Pleasing oneself is one of the satisfactions of wargaming. Napoleonic infantry look right marching along.

The arrival of the French Light Infantry and British Heavy Cavalry broadens the number of Command & Colours: Napoleonics scenarios I'll be able to play with my new setup.

Two gentlemen who have been giving it a try on a similar scale are Clive (of the Old Metal Detector) and Foy (Prometheus in Aspic) - they used some lovely old Hinton Hunts to play a version of Rolica. I recommend the slideshow on Clive's blog, a sparse table with simply painted figures. Evocative of Charge!


Great news!




In an astonishing turn up for the books - I have news. It is good news and for a change it doesn't involve toy soldiers.

Mrs. Kinch and I moved our first load of furniture into the new Chez Kinch yesterday. We should be getting our own keys very shortly. On occasion, I disbelieve it, but it looks like its actually happening - a mere six months and four days since our offer was accepted.

And as if my cup was not running over before hand, a new box arrived from Mark. I haven't had a chance to go through it as we're packing furiously and I am enjoying a relatively heavy week at work, but it did manage to nip out and take some pictures in the back garden before going back to my domestic duties.

These chaps are Newline Designs British Heavy Dragoons painted as Fourth Dragoon Guards. Yet another Irish regiment to add to my Peninsular British, though not one that exactly covered itself in glory if I recall correctly.

And as if my day couldn't get any better, this happened.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Leprecon II: Lessons learned



An aerial view of the battle of Corunna,
British forces holding the hills overlooking Elvina

I have been giving the games that were played over the weekend some thought and there is a great deal to be pleased about. The ever fickle convention going public were willing to give a strange game a try, though the Memoir '44 factor helped immensely. While there are significant differances between the two games, people who had played Memoir '44 knew the rough outlines of the game immediately and that it was short.

The great unwashed were far more likely to play a short game sight unseen than a long one.

Foy over at Prometheus in Aspic has spoken of the crispness of the turn sequence, which I think it one of the games major strengths. I wrote to Richard Borg, the creator of the game, some years ago to thank him for his work on Battle Cry and Memoir '44. I told him that there were games that one talks about and games that one plays. I own over a dozen rules systems, several which I believe are fine games. I have in the last six weeks played more Command & Colours: Napoleonics than any of those combined - the speed at which the game is played is probably the key factor in this.

But where was I?

Behold the offending bases


There were problems however, setting the battlefield up took far too long. This was nothing to do with terrain, which was relatively simple and rather a lot more to do with how I base my figures. A rebasing experiment some years ago left deep scars in my pysche and I vowed that I would never do such a thing again. As a result, I base my Napoleonics singly and place them on sabot bases as necessary. This has worked out rather well - I've used figures singly for Savage Worlds and then placed them on bases for En Avant! and Command&Colours: Napoleonics.

However, I store them in boxes without their sabot bases and the business of laboriously transfering single figures their sabot bases ate up valuable gaming time. Also because I was using En Avant! bases, infantry battalions were exactly inch too wide. This wasn't really an issue until players began to form lines whereupon it began to be a little unsightly.

The solution? Bespoke bases five inches wide by two deep.

There are two possibilities here, steel bases with magnetic material attached to the bottom or unadorned steel bases. One of the players, a phyicist who works with magnets has assured by that the magnetic material attached to the figures will hold the bases in place. He is however, an oaf, notorious for his drunken buffonery, so I haven't committed myself just yet.

Either way, I shall cut down setup time and get more time around the table.

Leprecon - Lessons learned

1. Casual players will play C&C: Napoleonics if you convince them that it is "...like Memoir '44". This is key to ensuring that there is a pool of players available, dearth of players is the death of many a game.

2. Set-up for my large scale C&C: Napoleonics set is too long, changes to basing will solve this.

3. Five inch hexes simply will not fit guns and gun teams, I will need to square this particular circle in order to field Horse Artillery.

4. Marking the sections of the battlefield with string is effective, but it isn't attractive. I am reluctant to permanently mark my mats, but it may have to come to that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Leprecon

The Battle of Maida 20mm figures on a Hotz mat with 5 inch hexes

I enjoyed Leprecon - it was a good chance to chance up and play some games. Numbers were badly down, something I think the committee will have to ask themselves some hard questions about. That said, the organisation of everything barring promotion and advertising was top notch and things ran very smoothly.

My proposed Tank Duel game didn't go ahead, due to lack of players, but Command & Colours: Napoleonics got a thorough working over, with ten games being played over the two days. I had Donogh as a next door neighbour. I was unable to find his zeppelin in time, so he ran some Ambush Alley scenarios instead, getting four games in over the weekend, which pleased him no end.

You can see some pictures of Donogh's work, here.

My "Yes Minister" LARP went rather well - the players negotiating the first two years of Margaret Thatchers administration without any major screwups. Though they did precipitate a a run on the Peso after the assassination of the Spanish premier by ETA. There was also that thing with the hunger strikers, a sex scandal or two and a bit of a bust up with some bin-men. But all good clean fun.

No one mention the brief shooting war with Spain over Gibraltar.

It was interesting to run a game set during the Thatcher administration where the Miners Strike was not the major policy disaster.

My Margaret Thatcher (ably played by Ms. Tootsie Royale) was splendid and really kept the players on their toes.

Hats at conventions are so passe - glue on moustaches are the new new thing
(Marshall Vincenzo modelling La Guarda Imperiale)

Command & Colours: Napoleonics was a success - we got ten games in over two days. Eight games of Maida and two games of Corunna. Honours were about equal and a good time was had by all. Most of the players hadn't played Napoleonics before and there were four players that hadn't played a C&C game before. If I had any doubts, this weekend put them to rest, Napoleonics is an excellant game - we just haven't really grasped its subtleties yet.

Some of them are laughably unconvincing...

(General Fatzington attempts to carry off an Ambrose Burnside)

A good weekend, more pictures to follow...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Packing

...and unpacking, but no sign of Donogh's zeppelin.

I began operation prepare for Leprecon today after my post-work nap. This mainly involved finding all the bits I'll need for C&C Napoleonics, "Tank Duel" and Donogh's zeppelin. It was irksome as it meant that I had to unpack a box or two I had packed in the expectation of having moved long before Leprecon.

On the plus side, the mortgage provider appear to have run up a white flag and surrendered unconditionally. The circumstances behind this are complex, but suffice to say, despite a long and often trying process, the outcome appears to be the right one. It certainly wasn't over by Christmas and I will only really believe it when the keys are in my hand.

I discovered a few more boxes with mould on them and cleaned them, but despite that there were two bits of good toy soldier related news today - I received an email from Mark that he had posted a box of figures to me on Monday and the vagaries of An Post permitting, I should have them before Leprecon. Secondly, I received a box of Liberation Miniatures Irish Civil War figures from a seller in the US. I intend to use them for Very British Civil War or Sea Lion scenarios, not a main project of mine, but they were a bargain and I'll get around to it sometime.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fiddlers Green



While searching for the Fiddlers Green website yesterday, I came across some interesting pieces of trivia about the name.

Fiddlers Green was a sort of happy hunting ground for 18th century sailors, where the dancing was constant, though the dancers never tired, rum and tobacco were plentiful and the ladies accommodating.

At Fiddler’s Green, where seamen true
When here they’ve done their duty
The bowl of grog shall still renew
And pledge to love and beauty.

I remember vaguely the term being used in one of the Patrick O'Brian novels, but had never given it much thought.

What I had never heard of was the adoption of the term in a poem by the US Army, which you can hear above. Lyric below.

Halfway down the trail to Hell,
In a shady meadow green
Are the Souls of all dead troopers camped,
Near a good old-time canteen.
And this eternal resting place
Is known as Fiddlers' Green.

Marching past, straight through to Hell
The Infantry are seen.
Accompanied by the Engineers,
Artillery and Marines,
For none but the shades of Cavalrymen
Dismount at Fiddlers' Green.

Though some go curving down the trail
To seek a warmer scene.
No trooper ever gets to Hell
Ere he's emptied his canteen.
And so rides back to drink again
With friends at Fiddlers' Green.

And so when man and horse go down
Beneath a saber keen,
Or in a roaring charge of fierce melee
You stop a bullet clean,
And the hostiles come to get your scalp,
Just empty your canteen,
And put your pistol to your head
And go to Fiddlers' Green.

Grim stuff and reminiscent of Kipling's "Young British Soldier".