Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The March to the Boyne

We set out from a secret location - deep in inner-city Dublin at approximately 0530
It was most definitely not the pub. 

For those of you who haven't been paying attention, General Du Gourmand and I put aside our deadly rivalry for once and pledged to walk to the site of the Battle of the Boyne for the Kathryn Casey Memorial Fund. 

We also promised to adapt our favourite game of Command & Colours: Napoleonics to the Lace Wars and write a Battle of the Boyne scenario. We definitely did not do this while drunk and we certainly knew exactly how far it was. 

Thanks to the Irish Games Association and those generous folks at Gaelcon, we raised €3,000 in sponsorship and then set to training

Unfortunately, a tumble from my bike two days before D-Day in July knocked us off schedule.  My doctor told me that trying to cover thirty miles or so on a bruised femur would end poorly for all concerned and in retrospect, she was absolutely right. 

So we only actually got around to the walk on the 21.10.2012. 

You can learn a little bit more about the Kathryn Casey Memorial Fund, you can read about it (or donate) here

On our trip we passed through many strange places. 

Notice this picture that Capability Savage has cunningly photo shopped

Neither General Du Gourmand or I would be so grossly irresponsible as to walk along the verge of a Motorway for several miles due to a screw-up in route planning. Take note chaps of how Capability Savage has carefully edited out all our high visibility safety gear. I hope this has been a lesson to you all. 

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Both Du Gormand and I are metropolitan creatures through and through, the street lighting in the country leaves a lot to be desired. We also became aware that they have yet discovered the footpath in Meath, which meant that we spent a significant portion of our walk dodging into ditches to avoid passing cars. 

A spot of celtic mist at dawn

We arrive in Ashbourne and meet up with Dad who was our driver for the day, 
checking the route ahead and carrying extra water. We tossed our kit in the car and set out in search of a fried breakfast. We were about eleven miles in at this stage, a third of the way. 

We arrive in Meath - Du Gormand adopts a cunning disguise and blends in seamlessly with the locals

Locals who communicated via strange inscriptions

Meath is inhabited by strange and terrifying beasts.

Many of whom took an instant dislike to Du Gormand. I later realised that 
this is probably because he has eaten so many of them. 

I got  Du Gormand a great discount on a wooden overcoat - fortunately he was able to return it. We were about 23 miles in at that stage. 

All down hill from here - we liked this stretch of road as it was 
comparatively easy to jump out of the way of cars

Only a few miles to go...


Battered, footsore and utterly cream crackered, we arrive at the Boyne Visitor Centre at about half five in the evening. We promptly leave again as we have to play a game and we weren't sure if they'd lock us in our not. 

Just before the battle - Du Gormand took the Jacobites 
while I mounted a white horse to play William III

Note, due to a logistical issue, only two types of cheese were available for the cheese board. Damn poor show really. For those of you who might be interested, we played this game using miniatures on a C&C Napoleonics board. These figures were painted by Old John of 20Mil Nostalgic Revival and Krisztian Takacs. Old John also supplied some of the figures and I recommend getting in touch with him if you'd be interested in getting some. 

French infantry 

These figures, there are about a hundred of them, are fully painted and will be offered for sale at the award winning Gaelcon Charity Auction, which will be at the D2 Hotel in Dublin next weekend. Gaelcon is organised by the Irish Gaming Association without whose generous assistance this would not have been possible. 

You can see more pictures of the figures here

I ponder the board, while Du Gourmand launches a dastardly attack. The battle was to six points and though I took an early lead, he managed to get his Jacobite cavalry across the Boyne. 

Those damn Jacobite cavalry!

Sadly, those damned horsemen managed to roll up my left flank and though I punished him severely, routing several crack French regiments and wiping out all the Irish infantry on the right, the horsemen took the sixth point and we finished the game 6-5. A close battle and hard fought. Well done to General Du Gourmand!

Once the battle was done, we packed up and Dad transported us back home. We arrived back to discover that Mrs Kinch has laid on a surprise party for us and all our friends were lying in wait to clap us on the back. Fortunately we brought some souvenirs to show them...

This I believe is what is known to the medical profession as an "owie."

Further "owies."

Soaking our feet, with good company and a glass of the medicinal close at hand - splendid!

Ed, Aoife & Kathryn

As you may have gathered neither Gorman or I are particularly good at taking life seriously nor are we men to whom exercise is a pleasure. The walk was long, hard and at times, both nerve wracking and painful.

But, the pain of a parent who has lost a child passes all understanding. It is difficult to bear for those of us on the periphery of that tragedy and who know that though she is gone from us, she is somewhere better. Though Ed & Aoife have that same consolation, I do not know how their hearts bear it.

Kathryn may not have lived to take her first steps, but I think for a little while at least, when we were blistered and bleeding, sore and sick at heart, she walked with us.

We couldn't have done it without her.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spanish Infantry from Falcata & HAT

 I'm having difficulty telling the metals and plastics apart, these I think are all from HATs Spanish Infantry set which will be available soon. 

I am at heart, a very shallow man.  I had a particularly vexing day today on a variety of scores and to be honest, I wasn't fit to be around I was in such a fury. However, being a very shallow man, I was immediately cheered up when these arrived in my inbox. These are a mix of Spanish infantry from Falcata and HAT painted as the Regiment Zaragoza and the Regiment Princessa by Krisztian Takacs.

If these can't bring a smile to a wargamers face, I don't know what will.

There's bags of character in the figures and Krisztian has done a wonderful job bringing it out. Look at those moustaches!

I know that at least some of the above are metal, but damned if I could tell you which is which. 

 A command group from Falcata. These are all metal and are some particularly dapper looking fellows. I love the Don officer on the left. 

HAT plastic on the left, Falcata metal on the right. 


I shall have to concentrate on getting the battle of Bailen to the table. It would be poor form indeed not to start these fellows with a victory. 

Krisztian is taking commissions and as you can see, his work is very fine. If you'd be interested in getting some figures painted, leave your email address in the comments and I'll delete it after passing it on. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Those demmed politicals!

Sir Harry Flashman VC returned from his secret mission

One of the problems of being a cat that is also a national hero, beloved by millions, is that you will occasionally be sent on secret missions for HMG, which will sadly necessitate putting your precious pelt in harms way. Those demmed politicals will think up hideous schemes to ensnare a chap. 

Which is of course, how Flashman came to lose his eyebrow. 

I suspect that while he was on this secret mission, someone threw a banger (an M80 to our trans-atlantic chums) at him or threw one and Flashman chased it. At least that's what I gather from the lack of eyebrow and the black marks on his face when he came in the other night.

All I can say is God help the young gentleman I find throwing bangers at animals over the next few weeks. 

Addendum: Posting it likely to be sparse for a little while, I have some posts written, but unfinished. Work and life are simply demanding a little too much of my attention at present.  

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Spanish Grenadiers - New HAT material


These arrived today from those nice chaps at HAT miniatures. These are Spanish Grenadiers in 1/72 and very nice they are too. The sculpting is good, with all the figures being quite slim and anatomically correct. They fit well with their brothers in the line infantry and will consequently match Falcata figures rather well. 

Based on the look of them I reckon you'll get about six frames in a box, like the Austrian Landwehr.

I am very, very happy with the marching poses. They look sharp, I wouldn't mess with those moustaches. These are made in the same soft plastic that has made up most of HAT's output of late. It does take paint and glue well though. 

So there you have it, another box of figures to add to the pile. The HAT site has been fairly quiet recently, but E22 will be along shortly (it's being shipped from the factory at present) and the lineup for E23 has not been announced yet, so I hope the Dons will be making an appearance there.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teenage Kicks

I was not nearly so stylish

I hated being a teenager - it was awful. In fact, when I think about it seriously, I'm probably more contented today than I ever have been. It's not that I wasn't happy when I was younger, but I'm certainly more consistently happy now.

Old friends have a tendency to humble us, particularly if they've known you from childhood. They've seen past the facade that we present to the world, because they remember us before we were who are today. They remember the time you accidentally called your gym teacher Daddy infront of the whole class or the time you got drunk as a lord on plum brandy with your grandmother and got sick behind the sofa at Christmas. 

They remember haircuts. Desperate, terrible, unfortunate haircuts. 

And some very questionable wardrobe decisions. 

But the reason old friends, like old wine, are best is that despite knowing all of this they still fancy the pleasure of your company. They see past the mullet, the low alchol tolerance, the teenage obsession with grunge, the dull evangelical atheism and the truly awful poetry.  Or at least they pretend not to remember, probably I suppose because they were wearing the Nirvana t-shirt with you or because you helped hide the evidence when they almost set their parents house on fire. 

Sadly, there are also old acquaintances, who are not so kind and they remember who were before you realised who you were, really.  And they remember all those times you were petulant and the time you pretended to be a tiger in class and fell off your desk or the time you were cordially invited to consider Art rather Woodwork because one broken blackboard was quite enough thank you very much and Mr. Blank was worried that you do someone an injury if you dropped another chisel.   Every so often, you meet those people and they remember and suddenly you are fourteen, confused and terribly lonely again. 

A noble creature from an earlier age?

I've started unpacking the box room and it's been an experience. I found boxes that were packed in 2007/8 and four, maybe five house moves ago, but I also found a lot of my Second World War kit, including an Airfix Bren Gun carrier with attendant six pounder. I'm in the process of building a British army for Memoir '44 and I needed some guns, so it seemed like the perfect option.

A gaped, fiddly monstrosity - like meeting the school bully twenty years on

What a ghastly mistake that was. I've put some Airfix kits together in the last few years, but they were all made of a grey plastic that was a lot easier to deal with. This was made from a thin, unpredictable green plastic made from a mixture of spite and broken dreams. Christ it was awful.  I shan't dwell on the experience, but suddenly it was 1993 again and none of the parts fit and glue had shot with the speed of lightning off the model, onto my hand and down my sleeve.

The remains of the Airfix six pounder, shortly after they were removed from my shirt cuff

I may be a grown man these days, with a house and a career and a wide circle of friends who actively enjoy  wargames, but that Airfix kit saw right through me. It bared every inadequacy.

After much cutting myself, accidentally shaving important bits off while seperating pieces from the sprue, unpredictable glue and getting things to almost, but not quite fit I managed to get the carrier together. The gun was an entirely differant matter. I'll try again tomorrow.

I might  ask Dad to help me.

A much more pleasant experience was the Plastic Soldier Company Sherman which I got in a trade with Rostbif. These are made in a solid light green plastic and a pleasently robust. I'd show you a work in progress picture, but I put them together in a single night, in fact in less than two hours I had all three tanks assembled.

Look how fancy it is.

If the Airfix kit was a cringe making teenage love letter full of angst and bad spelling, the Plastic Soldier Company was a smooth seduction by a seasoned operator. They're beautiful kits, complex enough to allow the wargamer some options, but not so much that they take an age to put together.

The offending tricky track thingie

I did have one problem though. The tracks were fiddly, not nearly as fiddly as any part of the Airfix kit, but still taxing. The tracks came in four parts, two sections of track, a set of solid wheels and bogeys that attached to the body of the tank and sprocket type arrangement that pluged into the wheel. I found that the main issue was that once the sprocket was in place, the tracks didn't really fit. I scratched my head and moved the tracks around quite a bit, but to no avail. I finished by shaving the sprockets down, at which point the tracks fitted pretty well, though they weren't exactly right.

I began to consider stowage, of which there is quite a bit on the PSC frame, and not wanting to make a mess of things, I googled some pictures of Royal Tank Regiment Shermans. I picked up some good ideas and I also made a startling discovery.

And all is right with the world, the fit was sweet as a nut

I'd put the sprocket wheel on the wrong way around. Fortunately, this was not sufficient to cause a recurrence of the grinding physic torture that had been the Airfix Bren carrier. The second tank went together like a dream, no problems with the tracks, smooth sailing from beginning to end.

A Plastic Soldier Sherman (now with sprocket wheel the right way around) and with HAT tank commander added, rolls over the Airfix Bren carrier

Thoughts on the Airfix Bren Carrier

I may try and finish this model, but never, ever again. I'm beginning to experience serious doubts about the Airfix Bofors 40mm kits that I found with the Bren carrier. They may find themselves looking for another home.

Thoughts on the Plastic Soldier Company Shermans


The model is beautiful. It goes together easily and is no bother.

While it's not abundant, there is sufficient stowage to vary the appearance of the tanks somewhat.

The turret MG is solidly cast and probably overscale, but those are advantages for a wargaming model frankly.


There are no decals, though these will be available separately shortly. I suppose in one way this makes sense as it allows you to field the tanks as either British, French, Soviet or American without having to change the contents of the box.

There is only one tank commander. I'm varying this with the contents of the British Tank Riders box from HAT.

The turret MG is solidly cast and probably overscale, but those are advantages for a wargaming model frankly.

In short, I'm very, very happy with the Plastic Soldier Company Shermans and I'll be fielding them fairly shortly. I may never put another Airfix kit together.

Being a teenager once was quite enough thank you very much.

Kris Kindle

Our main difficulty was convincing Gorman to wear the suit - doesn't he look well?

Ian over at The Blog with No Name has very kindly offered to organise a Kris Kindle or Secret Santa amongst the wargaming bloggers.  Every man, let along every wargamer hears "You're impossible to buy for" at least twice a year - but Mrs Kinch in particular is on the warpath as I've short circuited her usual wargaming Christmas gift of the Wargamers Annual. 

The idea is that Ian will make a list of all those interested and randomly assign each chap on the list another chap until everyone is both buying and recieving a gift.  As Ian puts it,

Spend is between £10-£15 plus postage. The idea is if the person lives in another country you buy from a on line retailer in their country. You blog post a wish list on your blog, either as a normal post or as an extra tab. I will randomly draw who your target is and let you know.
Simple really and a way of making sure you get something you really will like for Christmas. Of course you could leave it up to the buyer who can gain clue from looking on your blog."

 I won't be putting up a wishlist as I've taken part in a number of these, usually over at Yog-Sothoth.org, and the best part is the surprise. But if you do fancy taking part (and to be honest, I don't fancy my chances of a wargaming related gift otherwise!) drop over to Ian's blog and let him know.  I think this could be fun. 

You'll find him here

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Donogh the Viking - Part Two

I cribbed the map from Donald Featherstones "Wargames Campaigns", added some place names and some little briefings. The rest of it was based off Paddy Griffith's free kriegspiel chapter in "Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun" and my half remembered understanding of his, "The Viking Way of War."

Peaceful traders you say...

The third team were the hapless Saxons, led by Thane Egbert (Icecream) and ably seconded by Abbot Bedwin (Krisztian) with Capability Savage as their Cupbearer. They had to raise the Fryd (militia), protect the population and prevent the Viking from looting either the main town or the abbey. The Saxons had the advantage of a map, with names written on it and everything, while the Vikings had to get by on a written briefing and the sketchy reports of scouts and prisoners.

A wandering Longship I, a thing of wood and sails...

But from my point of view, this was not their story, it was the story of Donogh the Viking, who looted and pillaged and was brought low by treachery.  Donogh fetched up on the coast of Britain, having been separated from one of his longships in heavy seas. He raided the first village that he came across, razed it and rounded up over a dozen slaves. He moved along the coastline, doing much the same. He was concerned about his missing ship and crew, but reckoned that they would follow the plumes of smoke and link up with him.

Meanwhile, the Anglo-Saxons were in a real tizzy. I actually really enjoyed watching them play, because in many ways it was like watching an Alien Invasion from the point of view of Earthlings. The Vikings appeared mysteriously, wreak untold havok and then leave having abducted the population. Meanwhile, steadfast Donogh the Viking was trying to find this elusive monastery.

The Anglo-Saxons raised the Fryd and started trying to bring the Vikings to battle, which was difficult as their intelligence was always a day or two behind and the Vikings made extensive use of their longship's mobility.

In the meantime, Fatz the Viking had looted and burned his way along the coast, only to run into Donogh's missing ship, which he promptly snapped up as a prize.

This one won't be going in the figures as a "hate crime"

The game ended with Donogh the Viking looting the local monastery only to run into Saxon Fryd. He escaped, but lost most of the crew to Saxon spears, only to be mugged by their Viking counterparts once they reached open sea. Live by the sword, old chum.

A few months ago I brought my Hungarian chum Krisztian to Dvblinia, an exhibition on the medieval history of Dublin, which basically began its life in the 9th century as a Viking slaving port.  The exhibition is really rather good and I recommend it to anyone who wants get a grasp of the basics of the history of Dublin in a relatively short time. One thing, I found particularly interesting was a commentary on one of the panels describing the Norse raids on monastic settlements. The writer was at pains to point out that the Norse weren't doing this out of anti-Christian sentiment, but because they were after loot and slaves. There's a rather peculiar 21st century way of thinking here, something along the lines of "Well, they may have been vicious pirates with a history of brutality, violence and sexual assault, but they weren't bigots!"

Highlights of the game

- The mounting panic and confusion from the Anglo-Saxon players when the Vikings appeared to be appearing and disappearing at will.

- Donogh the Vikings missing ship turning up two days late because of poor weather. The captain stopped to investigate a burned village, beaching his ship and leaving it with a small guard. When the second Viking team came across it, they seized it immediately at the swords point leaving the raiding party stranded.

- The focused drive of Donogh the Viking, who was determined to take the main prize, the monastery.  He really did deserve better, the poor fellow.

- The confusion of the Saxons when they realised there was more than one group of Vikings.

- Abbot Bedwin rather nervously telling Thane Egbert that there was an important relic of St. Cuthbert travelling towards the monastery.

- Donogh the Vikings incredibly lucky assault on the stone built monastery. The Saxons just put that little too much faith in stone walls.

- Sven (Donogh's missing captain) wandering around inland, running into the relic, murdering the escort and then stealing it. This led to no end of confusion as the Saxons swore blind that there couldn't be Vikings there and the Vikings becoming very confused when the Saxons offered to negotiate for its return.

- The piratical glee of Fatz the Viking, who happily plundered his fellow norsemen and stole the ship that Donogh the Viking had left to secure his line of retreat.

- Fatz the Viking waiting at the estuary mouth when he realised that Donogh the Viking would be returning there laden with loot from the monastery. Donogh had taken the prize against all odds, only to be robbed of it at the eleventh hour.

- Fatz the Viking's team when asked if they wished to take on the gathering Saxons. "I don't think so, that looks like a particularly sharp piece of fruit." A shiny new longship to the raider who can spot the reference.

Fatz the Viking and his buddies returning to Norway

All in all, I think it was a pretty good game with some interesting runs of luck, but to be honest the players were the real random element.

In retrospect, despite losing several villages and the monastery, I thought the Saxons did rather well. They managed to evacuate and save more villages than they lost. They recovered the relic that was stolen. From their point of view they managed to bring the Vikings to battle twice and win both times, something that from Paddys book I've learned was pretty rare. Fatz the Viking had a crushing short term victory, but did so by actively harrying his fellow Viking, Donogh. I imagine there are some pretty axe heavy office politics in his future.

Definitely something I would do again.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Falcata Spanish Grenadiers

A unit of the Princessa Grenadiers 

My Spanish army is growing slowly, to the extent that we should be able to play some of the more British heavy scenarios in the Spanish expansion relatively shortly. So far we've played Vittoria and Albeura, though thus far I've either been too busy or not happy enough with the physical setup to photography it for battle reports. But now that the Peninsular battles page has been completed and it looks like the Hundred Days page will be following suit shortly, expect to see some battles shortly where the Dons will be playing the starring role.

A sapper, drummer and officer of the Princessa Grenadiers

These are Falcata grenadiers that I got my greasy paws on through the good offices of Foy over at Prometheus in Aspic. Over there, it is eternally 1811, which I think you'll agree is a fairly grubby time - the Spaniards looked far snappier in their 1806 rig.  These were painted by Mr E with his customary skill. I know that the white uniform presented him some problems, but even the most skilled painters can grind their teeth at that. 

They had their first outing a few days ago when Donogh led them to victory at Albeura. I didn't have time to take pictures and I hadn't finished basing them, however defying the usual lot of newly painted figures they did well and saw off a French cavalry charge with nothing more than the curl of a moustache.

Pablo! A fallen grenadier

I choose the Princessa regiment as they got about abit and they feature in one of Hornblowers adventures. I quite like the look of differant coloured facings over white and though they may be as mechanically effective as French troops, they sure are colourful.

Viva Espagne!