Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Russian Militia & Command and Colours News

The few, the proud, the bearded

There's been precious little gaming going on in the Kinch household at present as the War Room is in "a terrible state o' chassis" and I've been working all the hours God sends. However, there is always time for toy soldiers and when I noticed that Simon over at Painted Napoleonic Armies had some Russian militia for sale, I decided to strike while the iron was hot.

I had intended to buy the HAT Russian Militia set myself, but I would have needed two boxes to get the number of pikemen that I wanted and I wouldn't have had much use for the rest of the box. Simon may be a little more expensive, but I got exactly what I wanted with no fuss and all I have to do is base them.  Simon not only had the right figures in stock, but painted extra so that I could have the unit numbers that I wanted. Well done Simon.

I don't actually know that much about the Russian army of the Napoleonic wars, beyond a bit of Tolstoy and a few snippets of Chandler, and I've been debating picking up the two Osprey volumes. I'm sure there are more knowledgeable chaps out there - what would you fellas recommend?

The HAT set offers a wide variety of figures for the smorgasborg of Russian militia units that existed, but I try to make sure the differant unit types are as clearly distinguishable as possible. And so far as the Napoleonic wars are concerned, nothing says that you are enjoying cocktail hour at the  Last Chance Saloon quite like going into battle with a pike. If you click the picture and enlarge, you will notice that these boys have hatchets tucked into their belts.

They are so far as I can tell Moscow Opelchenie, militia raised from the townsfolk of Moscow to see off the dastardly Frenchies. I know that there is some significance to the dark green frock coats worn by one unit, but I haven't been able to confirm what it is.

Opelchenie were raised in cohorts, a brigade type formation made up of two battalions of pikemen supplemented by a battalion of jaegers. Actually, militia jaegers might be a nice addition as Russian light infantry (much like the British) look very like the line infantry.

Their uniforms were rough and ready and they were led by whatever officers could be spared. I particularly like this officer figure, I could certainly see myself putting him in other units. I like the pose, he looks like a professional, probably old for his rank, brought out of retirement for one last battle.

Du Gourmand took the news rather hard

In other news, Command & Colours: Napoleonics - The Russian Army has been moved from a January release date to a first quarter of January release date. This blow is softened somewhat by the news that two additional scenarios have been added along with something called the "Pre-Battle Mother Russia Roll". I would suspect this might be something along the lines of the campaign rolls from the Memoir '44 campaign books, but I could be wrong.

The updated scenario list is as follow:

Czarnowo - 23 December 1806
Golymin - 26 December 1806
Pultusk - 26 December 1806
Mohrungen - 25 January 1807
Eylau Plateau Russian Rearguard - 7 February 1807
Eylau - 8 February 1807 (8AM to Noon)
Eylau - 8 February 1807 (Murat’s Cavalry Charge)
Heilsberg (Opening Phase) - 10 June 1807
Friedland - 14 June 1807
Borodino - 5 September 1812 (Shevardino Redoubt)
Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Village of Borodino)
Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Utitza)
Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Raevski Redoubt)
Polotsk - 18 October 1812
Maloyaroslavets - 24 October 1812
Krasnoi - 17 November 1812
Crossing the Berezina - 27/28 November 1812
Champaubert - 10 February 1814
Montmirail - 11 February 1814
Craonne - 7 March 1814

I've always had a soft spot for Craonne as it was included in Paddy Griffith's Sandhurst Book of Wargames. I never played it as it was a bit complicated for me, I generally stuck to the Chevaucee game.

A happy Austrian* 
(not as previously suggested General Du Gourmand)

However, on the plus side the Austrian expansion is now slated for the second quarter of 2013, so our cup runs over. I better start building some Austrian forces then...

 The Austrian scenario list reads as follows;

Wertingen - 8 October 1805
Günzburg - 9 October 1805
Haslach - 11 October 1805
Elchingen - 14 October 1805
Verona - 18 October 1805
Caldiero - 30 October 1805
1809Eckmühl - 21/22 April 1809
Ratisbon - 23 April 1809
Ebelsberg - 3 May 1809
Travis - 17/18 May 1809
Aspern-Essling - 21/22 May 1809
St Michael-Leoben - 25 May 1809
Wagram - 5/6 July 1809
Stockerau - 8 July 1809
1813Dresden - 26/27 August 1813
Leipzig (Liebertwolkwitz) - 14 October 1813
Hanau - 30-31 October 1813
Arcis-sur-Aube - March 20/21 1814

*Photo thieved from TapirGirl on

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leibster Awards


The Liebster Awards are doing the rounds at present - I was nominated some days ago and have rather churlishly failed to respond until now.  All I can plead is the exigencies of the service, which have kept me away from hearth, home and laptop, for the last few days. My phone certainly serves as a blog reader, but it is a poor means of actually writing an entry. Pardon gentles all - to be honest, I was just numb with cold and tiredness when I got home and did little more than eat and let Mrs Kinch pour me into bed. 

Firstly, I am reliably informed that Liebster Awards means "favourite blog". I don't speak hun, so I shall have to rely to PanzerGruppenBossen Tim "Siegfried" Gow's translation as he apparently does. This, I think we can all agree, only makes him more deeply suspect.  

But firstly the critics said, 

FireyMonkeyBoy showing his years, Stokes's hairline is fighting a valiant rearguard action. 
(Tim Gow was unavailable at the time this photograph was taken - or may be disguised as a stick) 

The critics said,

"Mostly focused on 1/72 napoleonics, Kinch's graceful writing expresses the best of old school gaming.  Pipe in hand, he sets out to give the French a good kicking, and if a glass of port or three are ingested along the way, all the better." - FireyMonkeyBoy

Wargaming, alcoholism and xenophobia - MonkeyBoy cuts to the very heart of this endeavour. 

"Conrad Kinch's excellent blog provides a safe haven from reality.  Game reports and figure painting posts are interspersed with travelogue and silliness." - Tim Gow

Sniff - I feel one of Joy & Forgetfulness's strengths is a commitment to gritty realism. I see myself as the Brecht of the wargaming world. 

A well-written, entertaining, and sometimes hilariously funny wargaming blog written by one Conrad Kinch, noted wargamer, pipe-smoker, author, and legal scholar.  His wargaming-related scribblings have appeared, among other places, in Battlegames and the sadly defunct Classic Wargamer's Journal.

 Sadly defunct indeed. It was a great magazine - I always enjoyed it. Legal scholar? Forsooth!

My thanks to the critics. 

The rules are as follows, 

"Copy and paste the award on your blog linking it to the blogger who has given it to you.
Pass the award to your top 5 favourite blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.
Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that you have just made someone's day!"

Now as it happens, there are quite a few Leibsters going around and I did actually sketch out a short list while I was incommunicado, so what I've done is pick five (which wasn't easy) and added honourable mentions for the chaps I would have picked, had they not gotten one already. 

Honourable Mentions. 

Firstly, Lee at NapoleonicTherapy. Lee is a gifted painter and a man who knows what he wants. But unlike some other gifted painters, he plays game (lots of games!) and that is the crux of the matter so far as I'm concerned. A cracking blog - heartily recommended. 

The Mad Padre needs no introduction. Less "Jam & Jerusalem" and more "Skirmish Wargaming & Salvation". 

Ross McFarlane - quite simply the man is an inspiration.  There are days I just want to strand him in a scrap metal yard. I guarantee within two weeks, he'll be playing the War of 1812 using homemade Britains knockoffs cast from moulds made of out of old sparkplugs and prayer. A chap of infinite invention. 

Donogh McCarthy more than anybody keeps me honest. He restrains my crazier impulses ("We need to build a four storey twelve foot long space hulk") and supports my slight less cracked ideas ("We can do Gettysburg in a day right?"). Mrs Kinch refers to him as my "Wargaming Wife."

Alfront or Dr Stephen Cullen if you want to use his stage name writes, "War Diaries of a Little Englander." This is a blog of shreds and patches, gardening, wargaming, modelling and politics mixed with humour. I've no idea what Alfronts actual views are, I'm beginning to think he may be some manner of anarchist, but either way it's an interesting read. 


This is a collaborative blog and to be honest, I view that sort of thing as being very similar to interpretive dance or sociology, that is some sort of bizarre confidence trick that is aimed at avoiding real work. What you actually get is a blog that chronicles the modelling and gaming of a British Civil War in 1979. Written with a light touch and tremendously evocative of time and place, Winter of '79 is a class act.

Ben's ancestors were transported to the Antipodes for stealing a pig and yet, despite dodging venomous beasts and the daily trips to something known as "The Thunderdome" (which I believe is a chain of local supermarkets) he manages to write a wonderful blog devoted to Napoleonic wargaming and painting. One wonders where he finds the time. 

Deep in my curmudgeonly soul, I have a very soft spot for Warhammer 40,000, specifically Rogue Trader.  I had an Imperial Guard army in the dim and distant past and we got eaten by Genestealers with monotonous regularity. It's probably one of the few science fiction games I'd still play given the chance. Tales from the Maelstrom is a collaborative blog by some fellas who enjoy the semi-roleplaying anarchy of Rogue Trader and seek to recapture that particular genie. And snooks to anyone who says it isn't "official!" 

I haven't played Dungeons & Dragons in nearly twenty years and I still find FrDave's project fascinating. He is an Orthodox cleric apparently (damned if I know what flavour, Russian, Greek or Romanian) who loves Dungeons & Dragons and has been exploring his faith through the medium of roleplaying games. I always find his posts of the lives of saints interesting.

Harry Pearson is the author of Achtung Schweinhundt, a book that I really enjoyed. If you don't have it, buy it or get a loved one to do so, Christmas is coming up after all. I got four copies from family and friends the year it came out. His blog over at Parum Pugna is concerned with Ancients specifically ancient Ancients, Hinton Hunts, Rose, Garrison, etc. The battle reports are always a highlight for me.  He may write the Guardian, but overall he's a good egg.

Three Blogs that I wish were updated more often, so I just went ahead and nominated them anyway - it might poke them into posting. 

John Curry is one of the unsung heroes of our hobby. Editor, Maid, Chief Bottle Washer and Chief Petty Officer of the History of Wargaming Project, John spends his time collecting and republishing old sets of wargaming rules, books about the hobby and generally squirreling out information of interest. 

I have never regretted buying one of his books. 

Old John is a friend who I met through the Old School Wargaming list and is now a regular face at the larger Irish conventions. He combines wargaming with being a spiv and would probably give Harry Lime a run for his money, should the old boy take a break from flogging penicillin and decided to move some Hinton Hunts "Only one previous owner boss and he always rolled sixes." Old John has a sideline in 20mm metal figures, most of which you can see on his blog

Arquinsel's Project Arnhem blog has been sadly quiet for several months, he does however manage to write about putting kits together in a manner that doesn't make me despair, which is an achievement enough. His wardrobe leaves something to be desired though. There's a lack of tweed and corduroy that gives one pause. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Old Bill & the New Firm

The Old Bill

These arrived the other day, but I've been too busy to really do anything with them. These were sculpted by Matt over at Elheim miniatures as part of his commission a range programme. The thinking behind it is that Matt is willing to sculpt and put into production a single 20mm figure for £20. Your twenty guineas (less one pound new money) gets you two copies of a bespoke sculpt and the satisfaction of having a unique and otherwise unobtainable figure. 

Now see if you can identity (from my admittedly ham fisted camera phone effort) these three thief takers. 

...and the New Firm

A bright shiny sixpence to the smart lad who can identify these four menaces to society. 

Of course, the best way to go about it is to put together a consortium, as we did on the Guild and get a number of people to chip in. We managed to do that and assemble a seven figure set without anybody breaking the bank. I think the quality of Matt's work is inarguable. My mother in law was able to identify six out of seven figures without any difficulty. 

But if you want to get some figures made, you could do a lot worse than get in touch with Mat. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Plastic Soldier Company Soviet Gun Crews

One of the advantages of slowly unpacking my old boxes is the harvest of completed and almost completed stuff that emerges. I have more Germans than I know what to do with and a goodly crop of Russians. My Americans and British seem to have dissappeared, but there are two nearly complete Second World War armies in there. 

The Soviets had plenty of tanks and infantry to be going along with, but lacked artillery. I picked up a single box of Plastic Soldier Company 76mm guns. These a very neat little models, four guns and crew at a very reasonable price. 

The last few days have been fraught, but I found the time to paint up the fellows above. They are very clean, crisp models with good detail and take paint well. 


Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Vercours Campaign - Part Two - The Battle of Saint Nizier- Battle of Saint-Nizier

As a result of the last battle, the German player recieved additional reinforcements, in the shape of a tank unit. In Memoir '44, a tank unit has three models (i.e. it can take three hits before it is removed from play) As we play more games of Memoir '44 to 1/.72 scale figures, I anticipate using single tanks either with shell bursts or tank rider to track casualties, but for this game I went ahead and put three pieces down. The Panzer I is from Matchbox, painted about a lifetime ago, the staff car is resin (possibly from Frontline) and the crewman checking his watch is from SHQ or possibly Battlefield.

This was the second scenario in the campaign  and the briefing was as follows:

"With its cliffs, steep slopes and limited access points, the Vercors plateau is a natural and easily defended fortress. Familiar with the terrain, the heads of the French Resistance immediately saw its value as a defensive bastion deep within occupied France. Soon enough, word spread and a few thousand
young French men and women began to arrive - all eager to take arms against the occupier. Unfortunately, the Germans had also gotten wind of the growing resistance there. On June 13, 1944, a German battalion moved into the gap near Saint-Nizier, before running into stiff resistance from the maquis outposts
and withdrawing with heavy losses. Determined to flush the place out, the Germans were back in force two days later however. This time, they broke through, forcing the maquisards to withdraw. The road to Saint-Nizier was now open; soon the Germans seized it, burning the village to the ground in retaliation for
their losses."

Because of the way the rules work, large ridges and hills only have their edges marked in Memoir '44 scenarios, but I got the bit between my teeth when we were putting this one together. I pulled out every hill that I had and put them all together, they were almost enough to fill up the whole plateau. From a rules point of view it didn't make a lot of differance and I suppose I could have just put books under the cloth. Still I think my set up looks rather well.

The German troops start mortaring the Resistants at the road block, note the dust cloud raised by the falling mortar shell

As you can tell this setup was a bit of ramshackle sort of effort. I used some pieces of black cloth as roads, I also experimented with using cat litter as a road, that was actually quite successful - I don't think I'll be using the fabric again.

German troops begin by moving up on the French left. Donogh and I had decided that we were going to try to contest the edge of the plateau, then fall back in attempt to string out the advancing Krauts and then counter attack the isolated ones.

Our counter attack didn't really work as we completely failed to even slow the lockstep advance of Mr E & General Creanor's grey legions.

True to form we skedaddle in the hope that we can cause the Germans to get strung out a little. As you can see the German infantry on the left have taken some casualties.

But they wipe out our left most partisan group in retaliation. Things are looking very grim.

The survivors scurry for the safety of the buildings, pursued by German infantry.

The German infantry have outflanked the partisan roadblock and the Panzer I starts to roll down the road. A joke anywhere else in 1944, the "leetle tank" is a major problem for the French.

Long range fire manages to shake the crew of the Panzer and thin out the advancing tide of grey, but it may be too little too late.

The Panzer moves swiftly past the French defences, turning to attack them in the rear.

Wiping out one group of partisans, the Panzer preparing to riddle the remaining defenders, while the infantry move forward.

A lone Masquisard with a  .45 faces the steel beast. If the last reel of "Saving Private Ryan" is to be believed, this might actually work...

Spurred on by their comrades heroism, the Masquisards break cover and surround the German vanguard.

They open up with everything they have, but one Landser manages to hang on.

However, the tank crew have decided that discretion is the better part of valour...

Mr E and General Creanor discuss what they will do. Donogh & I were feeling somewhat miffed about the tank having escaped.

However pride comes before a fall and the panzer rolled up onto the hill only to be greeted by a hail of petrol bombs.

The demise of the German panzer gave the Resistance fighters new hope. Their commandant rallies the troops...

...but over on the French left, things are still bleak as two weakened German units corner the shell shocked Maquis.

Sadly high spirits and gallic pride don't seem to be cutting the mustard today. The German infantry move forward, not confidently, the Frenchmen have taken a harvest of them certainly, but with purpose.

One of the unusual things about this scenario is that the French must lose almost all of their units before losing. I think this represents the sheer desperation of their situation. With only three units left on the board, it would take a miracle for Donogh and I to pull this out of the bag, even having left the German unit on the left teetering on one base.

But before miracles have time to manifest themselves, the Landser on the left close in and destroy the remaining Masquisards. The survivors on the right pack up and slink into the night.  Another defeat (5-1, if memory serves) for the Resistance, which is a pity as it was a closer game than that would make it appear. Some dismal dice rolling early on did serious damage to our chances of success and the extra German tank unit did considerable execution. I'm sure Donogh, Mr E and General Creanor will add their own observations.

This campaign is not going well.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Are you a proper wargamer?

If Peter Cushing isn't the model of a proper "toy soldier" man - I don't know who is. 

* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent

I wish to point out that this question has been put to me while I was not under caution - in clear breach of the Judges Rules, I might add - and therefore I refuse to answer as is my right under Article 38 of the Constitution.

(More points than I care to think of, certainly two figures)

* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times

I did prick a finger on a Peter Guilder drawing pin sword at Old John's home. It was worth it to see the figures though. 

* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again

Legends of the Old West, Savage Worlds, Cold War 83, Memoir 44, Battlecry, Command & Colours: Napoleonics, Command & Colours: Ancients, Rapid Fire, Warhammer Panzer Battles, Little Wars, Advanced Squad Leader, Warhammer Fantasy (3rd), Warhammer 40K Rogue Trader, Kriegspiel, Warhammer 40,000 (3rd edition), Ogre/GEV, Ogre Miniatures, Flintloque, WarZone, FutureWars, En Avant!, Crossfire, Force on Force, the list goes on.

Also Featherstone (various), Wallman (various).

Those in italics, I would not play again. Curiously enough, despite really enjoying reading Charge! and Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun, I've never been tempted by the miniatures rules. I really enjoy the Generalship game and the Kriegspiel elements though.

* Bought an army off EBay


* Sold an army on EBay


* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once

A Fantasy Empire army - it was a dark time. 

* tried several different periods and genres

As you can see from my list of rules, I have tried one or two in my time.

* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height

My crowning achievement in this regard was dropping a video case full of 6mm figures down a flight of stairs in Trinity College. It slipped through the bannister and fell two storeys straight down, but curiously they were not much the worse for wear.

* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice

More times than I would care to mention. 

* made at least one enemy for life

Hard to say. I did attract a stalker once, which was extremely odd.

* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table

It wasn't over a wargames table, but there was a bout of fisticuffs on one occasion during a game. Not an experience I would repeat.

* thrown a dice across a room


* rebased an army for a different rule set

Once. Never, ever, ever again. 

* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent

On a couple of occasions. 

* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision

Too many to mention, but classics of the genre have included.

 - repeating all of Burnsides mistakes, and inventing some new ones, at Antietam. I was horribly hungover, but it's no excuse.

- challenging General Du Gourmand to a drinking contest with predictable results. As Icecream put it, "Any man who is drunk enough to challenge Du Gourmand, is already too drink."

* joined a wargamers club

I used to regularly attend one, at present, I'm more of an informal gathering of friends sort of chap.

* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted

I refer you to my first answer.  To say nothing of the stash of plastic.

* been to a wargamers show

To many to mention.

* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them

Not as many as I used to, but still quite a few. 

* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates


* You have reference books on each period / army you play (I must have ten samurai books now)

-ahem- I would like to cite Article 38.1. 1,200+ books and counting.

* Having played so many different games you confidently quote rules for a totally different period, scale or ruleset to the one you're playing at that moment

I can certainly hold more than one ruleset in my head at any point, but I don't think that's any great achievement.

* You have lied to your partner / spouse about how much you've spent on the hobby (When my wife saw my painting table, I told her that Vallejo paints are only 75p each - I'm going to Hell...).

Article 38.1

I have recently discovered that Mrs Kinch know exactly how much I spend on wargaming. This was a surprise. Actually it was two surprises. One, that she knew and two, that she hadn't taken "direct action".

* You get genuinely excited when a package arrives in the post - then hide it upstairs quickly before your partner sees it.  If your partner finds it first, you lie about the contents.

Yes and not anymore.

* You have joined a re-enactment society (5 points for this one!)

I am too hefty to be a fighting man of any era.

* You have played in an unsuitable venue (I have played in a wooden pavilion in the middle of winter where we had to keep coats, scarves and gloves on to play - and in a social club where we used the pool table as a battlefield (making us the most unpopular people in Wallasey).  I have since vowed only to play where both heat and beer are accessible and in plentiful supply.

Nothing is springing to mind. We used to play with 6mm figures on a Memoir '44 board in a local pub. It did occasionally involve putting up with inquisitive drunks.

* You continue to search for the perfect Napoleonic / WW2 / Ancients / ACW etc. rule set (knowing that it doesn't actually exist).

No. I am very happy with the rules I have at present.

* For that reason you have developed your own house rules for certain periods.  And think them far superior to the original author's efforts.

In certain respects, yes.

* You have returned from a wargames show and sneaked upstairs to hide the stash.


* You have an irrational aversion to some genres and vow never to play them regardless of how much fun they look.  Like Dystopian Wars, 6mm Napoleonics, Warhammer 40k, Malifaux etc. 

I have never grasped the attraction of big robots, mechs and what have you. Ancients is a bit of closed book to me too.

* You have made your own wargames scenery.


* You have reached a painting 'wall' ("If I have to paint another f________ Gaul, I'm going to scream")

Definately yes and it is one of the reasons I subcontract a lot of my painting now.

* You have lost - and regained - your wargaming mojo.

I lost interest in wargaming (though not gaming as a whole) between the ages of 13 and 20. I've been at it ever since.

* You have the occasional (and short lived) sense of guilt with your wife/children when complaining to them about the money spent in clothes, shoes or toys/Xbox games when you have £200 of unpainted metal stuffed in an upstairs drawer.

I can't think of any time I've ever criticised Mrs Kinch for spending too much money. She's the far more thrifty of the two of us.  

"1: Wisdom reacheth from one end to another mightily: and sweetly doth she order all things. 
2: I loved her, and sought her out from my youth, I desired to make her my spouse, and I was a lover of her beauty.".

* You have done armies in different scales for the same period (e.g. ACW in 28mm, 15mm and 6mm).

Yes. Second World War Russians  in 6mm and 1/72.

* You have jealously coveted someone else's troops (if Ian pops his clogs, I'll be round his house with a Transit van before he hits the ground).


* You have laughed (secretly or otherwise) as someone else's paint job (Marks' purple camels come to mind)

Back when I played Warhammer 40,000, a good friend of mine assembled a Genestealer Cult army, whose palette for those of you not au fait with the dark future of the 41st millenium is predominantly red/purple/blue. My friend is red/blue colour blind and somehow contrived to paint his force in a mixture of light powder blue and white, which made them look like a horde of horrific, alien - traffic wardens.

I'm not entirely sure how colour blindness works, but I'm still baffled at how he managed it. It took three weeks of club nights, before a deputation was formed and I was shoved to the front to break the news to him.

* You have provided a piece of useless trivia relating to the troops on the table to show off your wargaming knowledge. 

Of course.

* You have contradicted someone elses' trivia - demonstrating your superior knowledge and giving you a warm glow inside.

On occasion, yes, though it's bad form.

* You have caused a major disaster on a wargames table (spilling a pint, collapsing the table, dropped someone else's figures on the floor).  Mark has flattened two tables in the past year - and he was losing both battles....

I have sort of - I was GMing an rpg at a convention in 1999, that was taking

* You have cheered when an opponent's dice lets them down at a critical point (I have literally danced in front of someone when he failed a morale roll) 

I don't think so.

* You have lied to your partner about going gaming.  "Mothers' not very well - just popping around to see her.  I'll be back in about - oh - seven hours".

Not really. I did once attempt to give up wargaming in an attempt to set aside childish things. Mrs Kinch soon chased me back to a more sensible state of affairs.

* You have lied to an attractive woman (man) about your hobby.  

No. I've actually quite forthright about it.

* You have made an opponent cry.  It doesn't count if they are under 8 years old though.

I don't believe so.

* You have painted the same army in the same scale more than once (Monty, you dawg!)  

No. There are limits.

* You have reference books on armies you haven't even got (I have books on ECW, ACW, SYW, 30YW yet not one solitary figure for any of these periods).


* You have bought figures for a period you have never and will never play - because they were cheap.  Step forward my HOTT dwarf and evil goblin armies.


* You have inflicted grevious bodily harm on a dice that has let you down.  This includes the guy who used to drill holes in them and impale the offenders on cocktail-stick stakes and Big Lee taking an axe to one offender.


* You blog or have a web-page about your Wargaming activities


* Your book collection is almost all war and wargames related


* You critique 'war' movies (especially Hollywood war movies) for historical accuracy (like the use of American tanks - Pershings I think - to represent German Panzers in the 'Battle of the Bulge'.)


* You spend car / train journeys checking out the lie of the land - considering which way you would attack from and whether it would make good wargaming terrain.

Oh Dear Lord yes. 

Points Score: Rather more than I probably should like. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Ice Station Zebra

I was tempted to use a picture of the movie, but reason prevailed

I've always had a fondness for Alistair MacLean.  My father would return home from work in Dublin City centre and leave his wool coat steaming in the hall.  There was a second hand bookshop near the train station and he would stop off on Fridays and special occasions and buy a handful of paperbacks. The rules of the game were as follows, if I'd been good, I would be directed after dinner that "You might find something interesting, if you look in my coat."

If reports were bad, these might mysteriously disappear. A little personal reconnaissance before the appointed hour was acceptable, but woe betide the Kinch minor that tried to snaffle one before his time.  MacLean, Captain W.E. Johns, Richard Jeffries, Rosemary Sutcliff and a variety of boy detectives features a great deal. Henty was bigger and only came solo, as there was a limit to what Dad's pockets would hold.  Curiously enough, I don't recall ever getting Ice Station Zebra.

The tale on the face of it is simple enough, there has been an accident at a British Antarctic Base and a US Navy Nuclear Submarine is dispatched to help.  On board is Dr Carpenter, a mysterious Englishman, who is tasked with discovering what exactly occurred at the station.

As is traditional in an Alistair MacLean nothing is quite as it seems. Dr Carpenter, who is also a narrator, is revealed as steely eyed secret agent demonstrates the typical MacLean virtues of immense physical endurance, dogged determination and deeply cynical humour.  There is no sex or romance in the story and comparatively little violence as the most brutal struggles of the book are pit man against the landscape. The nuclear submarine USS Dolphin is a prominent character in the action, this is not a techno-thriller in the Clancy mould.  MacLean is far more interested in men than machine. This is a relatively short book, I read it over a day. It is also an old fashioned story in that it is one where things happen. There is precious little time for reflection or character development, not when there are Reds to outwit and icy tundras to cross.

In a strange way Ice Station Zebra has more in common with classic Christie mysteries like "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Ten Little Indians" then the bullet laced thrillers of our own day.  The hero must solve a puzzle against the clock while trapped with his array of suspects. Ultimately despite his brute strength, weapons and the exotic locale, Dr Carpenter must resolve things the old fashioned way, by thinking.

And for those of you who like that sort of thing, this is exactly the sort of thing that you like.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Working Class Heroes

Three more of RH Models Urban Meltdown SLR toting urban guerillas. I've been doing a little work on them over the last few days. I'm particularly pleased with this pair. I don't remember the seventies (I wasn't even thought of), but one of things I remember about my teens was the popularity of German army jackets.

I was quite happy with the paintjob I managed on these jackets.  The tricky bit was the German flag on the arm. It's not exactly square, but it serves. 

This fellow is dressed as Alex and his Droogs would put it, "in the height of fashion". A denim jacket and jean and a pair of American imported converse sneakers. Rolf's chaps are all wearing what look like rather heavy boots, but I think the paint conversion of converse sneakers isn't too bad. 

Given that I don't usually take picture of food, I had to use Instagram for something. Here are my plucky urban guerillas with the 1977 filter. 

The "1977" filter apparently makes things look like 1970s photography. There may be something to it, but I'm not sure it shows miniatures off to best advantage. 

Vercours Campaign - Part One - The Maquis of Malleval

I promised to write up our Vercours campaign games quite a while ago and never really got around to it.

This was the first of my Memoir '44 scenarios and the first time I really got a chance to mess around with the beautiful mountain terrain that Capability Savage built for me. I think it looks rather well.

I was going to write up a little something about the scenario, but I think the notes from the game cover it rather well.

"The Maquis of Malleval, a rural guerrilla band of the French Resistance, was composed of 50 men under the command of Lieutenant Eysseric (code name "Durand"). The group's base of operations was the isolated village of Malleval-en-Vercors, on the western buttress of the Vercors plateau. On January 29, 1944, a German battalion dispatched from Grenoble, crossed the gorges of the Nan river to encircle the village. Alerted too late, the maquisards were surrounded;
22 were killed in combat and another 7 inhabitants thrown to the fire in a barn while the village burned to the ground. This tragic episode was an ominous prelude to the battle of Vercors that would soon engulf the region in flames. The stage is set, the battle lines are drawn, and you are in command. The rest is history."

Donogh's gallant Maquis hiding out in the church, sadly their lookout is asleep

The German scouts advance

More Maquis move about. The trick I find with the French Resistance is to make the most of your movement, mass your forces and try to wipe out individual units by hitting them in a short sharp series of blows.

And then run away again.

The Germans creep forward on the left.

A German mortar unit fires on Maquis on the other side of the hill.  In Memoir '44, infantry mortars are just infantry units that can't move and fire, but don't require line of sight. It's a very small tweet, but its astonishing how much it alters the game.

Gaston! The Maquis take casualties in a barrage of 8cm shells.

The Maquisards start to retreat up the valley, things are looking grim.

The German advanced continues on the left, pressing the Maquis. The key issue here is that the Maquis are being crowded onto the back line by the Germans, but they haven't managed to manoeuvre sufficiently to isolate and wipe out any German units. This is very bad.

The German advance continues.

The Maquis are driven out of the town and up the valley sides

Lacking any other options (the cards were not kind), Donogh digs in as best he can. As I don't have any Second World War era field works, so we substituted abatis from my Napoleonic collection. These French fellows are quite traditional in some ways.

But sadly, traditional and Gallic high spirits, are no match for a fusillade of 7.92mm. The Germans move into the village and annihilate the defenders.

Colin maneuvres his dastardly Krauts forward, penning the Maquis of the slaughter.

And as it was on the left, so it continued in the centre with German forces (including a rather natty Britannia motorcycle combination) pinning the Maquis in the local church.

Colin drives on, outflanking the shell shocked Maquis. 

Meanwhile the battered survivors of the Maquis on the left try to make a break for it. 

But they're caught by Colin's infantry

And it all ends rather badly for Francois...

It was a pretty grim game for the poor old Maquis. They weren't helped by a poor card draw and a German player who kept his eye on the main objective, getting forward and denying the Maquis room.

My apologies for the recent quietness on the blog. I actually started Joy & Forgetfulness as a means of ensuring at even when I was at a low ebb, I did some writing. It's developed into something rather more than that of course, but it does take a back seat when I have "proper" work to do. Also the War Room is in the throes of being refloored, so there's damn little gaming being done. I hope that this won't persist for too long and I do have a number of posts cached already, we shall see.

We have to see how the Vercours campaign turns out first