Monday, December 29, 2008

A Christmas Miscellany.

Well known Ruritanian officer Kapitan Judas Monck Von Gruntfuttock, pictured here in the uniform he wore when facing the Viennese threat in the dark days of the 1740s. Austrian readers will no doubt have great difficulty identifying the facings and such, as their ancestors only ever saw him from the rear.

This handsome fellow is part of a very nice gift I received from my mother in law, the product of one of the two moulds she got for me at a toy soldier museum in Germany. The other chap is a grenadier in a firing pose. I've already considered the possibilities that headswaps present, but considering I only play Little Wars in 54mm and it would be a crime to fire a nerf dart at such an imaculately accoutred gentleman, I think his will be weak piping days of peace for the time being at least.

Our rather magnificent Christmas tree.

Christmas Day at work had been rough (who goes sight seeing on Christmas Day? Italians, it seems) and I was glad to get out. I collected Mrs. Kinch, headed up to my folks, brought Mrs. Kinch and the Pater & Mater to Mrs. Kinch's grandparents where four generations of that (now my family, I suppose) family chatted, ate, exhanged presents and had a great time. Pater & Mater enjoyed the brief flirtation with chaos and then beat a retreat to Christchurch where they settled down for a quiet and relaxing Christmas. We headed back to my maternal inlaws abode in Kingstown, where I took a nap in the afternoon (I had been up until 2 am Christmas Eve finishing presents for Mrs. Kinch's grandfather and great uncle, I only regret I did not have time to photograph the finished product) and rose to paint my officer.

Magnificent food was eaten and boardgames played and Mrs. Kinch (who hadn't yet recovered sadly, though she's fine now) and I retreated early to bed like the fun loving and happening young couple that we are, one Wii, many books and several excellent bottles of port the richer.

The rest of Christmas was spent in work for the most part, barring St. Stephen's day, though I've a few days off coming up now.

I've been thinking about where my wargaming is going at the moment and I think it's time for some state of the nation type thoughts so that I have a definate plan for where I'm going. My major goals are at present.

1. To paint less and play more or more precisely Umpire more, as off it's the role I most enjoy.
2. To get Little Wars off the ground.
3. To keep the Halberdiers a going concern at about one game a month.
4. To have sufficent painted figures to play Napoleonic and Ruritanian wargames.

With number four in mind I think my major issue at present is the lack of cavalry. Most scenarios require a few squadrons and at present I can muster 8 Light Dragoons and 17 Dragoons. Considering the amount of time that cavalry demands, I beginning to think that perhaps a painting service might not be a bad investment of my limited wargaming budget. The question of course remains whether figures that I haven't painted myself will actually ever be really mine.

I don't suppose there's any way to find out for sure without comissioning a regiment. I've heard good things of Fernando Enterprises in Sri Lanka, I might order some troops from my birthday.

French artillery from Zvesda, magnificent figures with a great deal of detail. The chaps on the left need to be flocked and varnished, while the others are mid way through the spray and pray process.
Click for a larger image.

These chaps are a few of the crew of some French guns that I've been experimenting with. I really like the elaborate uniforms of the Napoleonic period, but less so the time required to paint them. As a result I've tried spraying the figure with a base coat, perhaps with a wash to follow and then just picked out what detail I thought was necessary. The end result isn't too bad and looks well from a distance. What it lacks in precision it makes up in speed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I am the Second Lobster.

I'm towards the back.

Karen: So what's this big news?
Daisy: We've been given our parts in the nativity play
and I'm the lobster.

Karen: The lobster?

Daisy: Yeah.
Karen: In the nativity play?

Daisy: Yeah. First Lobster.
Karen: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?
Daisy: Duh.

Love Actually (Richard Curtis, 2003)

General Gordon is looking a little bit more colourful, though not yet complete. I suspect that he will be one of those figures that looks half finished until you apply the final detail and then voila, he is complete. It's been an education painting both Gordon and the Three Men of Gascony. It's such a stretch beyond my usual painting style that I've had to rethink several times.

What I have learned.

Do not attempt to paint paler lips or palms on African figures, it just looks silly. This is a case I think where stylising certain portions of your paintwork lends verisimilitude to the end product.

Washes of colour rather than a standard highlight work better for larger figures, particularly if they're realistically proportioned. My first attempts at the Three Men of Gascony looked cartoonish and absurd.

Put not your trust in model shop owners, for they shall prove false and betray thy trust. And so it shall be that thou shalt be left without a resin backdrop for thy figures. There shall be a great darkness and lamentable carry on all together until thou thinkest of something.

Lend not thine ear to the blandishments of shop owner and their manifold falsehoods of "I'll have it on Saturday on my mother's life".

Mrs. Kinch was just getting better when she picked up a nasty vomiting bug from her Granny. I can console myself that it's training for the eventual arrival of little Kinches. There shall be some burning of the midnight oil on the Gascons and Gordon, I suspect, if we're to be done in time.

I've been thinking that I should pick up some French heavy cavalry for my Napoleonic forces, mainly so that I could play some of the Brigadiers teasers that demand heavies. The options in plastic are good, but not vast, though the Strelets Cuirassiers look very nice, particularly the great coated ones. Of course its madness to contemplate any painting for myself until the amazing Little Wars painting Death March is over, but a chap can dream.

I wish someone made dismounted and horse-holding French and British dragoons. I have some Strelets Foot Dragoons painted up to fill the gap, but I only have Irregular Miniatures riderless horses and they look like ponies next to the Italeri horses. They would be just the thing for Napoleonic skirmishing.

Also, I received my first wargaming gift of this Christmas, a copy of Brother Against Brother. It seems quite a fast paced and sensible system, not I'm ashamed to say what I've come to associate with rule-sets from the United States*. But, it shall be another shot in the locker for my blackpowder skirmishing needs. Seeing it play in anger of course will have to wait until after Christmas.

*Crossfire and the Command & Colours system being honourable exceptions.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dinosaurs for the Confederacy

A Tyrannosaurus Rex declares himself for Statehood and the right to own people.

There is apparently a theme part in the United States where fibre glass dinosaurs take a hand in the American Civil War. You can find out more here.

What a fascinating modern age in which we live, eh?

- For Jean Louis, who I know will appreciate this as few men can.

Three men of Gascony

1870 French Infantry in 1/32 scale. Damn their fiddly little eyes.*

Mrs. Kinch is ghastly, ghastly ill at present, so my evening was spent feeding, watering and mopping her brow. On the otherhand she did spend quite a deal of that time asleep. I wasn't really in the mood for writing, though I've plenty of it to do. I persevered with the making of gifts, one for Mrs. Kinch's grandfather and the other for her great uncle.

The fruits of my labours were a few coats of paint on Gordon of Khartoum with much time spent checking colours from the Hope Joy painting and the assembly the three gallic gentlemen pictured above. Though I enjoy painting, I am a wargamer rather than a modeller, and these three gentlemen, handsome though they are, cured me of any tendency to look longingly at the galaxy of figures available as 1/32 kits. They were fiddly, required a great deal of gluing and shaving and fitting of parts. Never was "measure three times, cut once" more true then when assembling such a kit, though I suppose in the modellers commonplace book it should be rendered as "Fit three times, swear, shave with stanley blade, fit again, hold with blu-tac, regard critically, shake head, fit again, regard again, shake head, shave with stanley blade, sigh, fit again, glue."

Saturday I think I'll purchase a shop front of something similar for them to stand infront of.

*Frequent visitors will be aware of the eight Light Dragoons I painted recently. They consisted of two parts, one man, one horse. The gentlemen pictured above came to a cool 72 parts and I left some of the more fiddly bits out. I tell you, I nearly lost my reason.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mustering a troop of the Sixth Light Dragoons.

Eight Light Dragoons on the painting table.

Though my brief reserve service was with the infantry and the majority of the Generals that I admire were masters of that arm, I love the cavalry. Perhaps it was inheriting my father's old copy of "The Exploits of Brigadier Gerard" or perhaps it was the riding lessons where as the sole boy in a class of girls, I struggled manfully with a beast by the name of Major and spent afternoons after school being repeatedly thrown and trodden on. ("Heels down, Conrad. Heels down. Don't saw at his mouth, how would you like it".) I think it is a testament to Major's irascibility that even in my riding school, a place where Captain Nolan's creed of kindness to horses was gospel, Major was considered a bully and horse apart and I the only pupil required to carry a whip.

I never have the luck or the nerve to command cavalry properly on the tabletop (something my friend Fitz possesses in abundance), but my heart is with them all the same. I am more Cardigan than Uxbridge.

Allan Mallinson's horse stories have always fascinated me. Well written, completely grounded in time and place, they evoke a past of sabres, duty quietly done and barracks with the smell of horse urine sharp in the crisp morning air. That the novelist is a retired soldier and former ordinand of the Anglican church shouldn't have surprised me as he writes so well of both those worlds. His hero, Mathew Hervey, now Lt. Col of the Sixth Light Dragoons has become one of those boon companions, whose occasional visits pass all too quickly, but who never fails to lift the spirits. They are a small but select group of friends; Brigadier Gerard, Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson, Jim Hawkins, Captain Aubrey & Dr Maturin, Porthos, Aramis, Athos & D'Artangan and Bertram Alberforce Wooster.

So when I decided that I must have some cavalry for my Napoleonic forces, British Light Dragoons it had to be. You can see the fruits of my labour above and demanding fellows they are too. I'm a speed merchant at the best of times, but there is just so damn much to paint on a cavalryman that they take an age.

Still, I finished, barring flocking and varnishing, eight last night, with another sixteen or so based, undercoated and the horse colours blocked in. With officers and other such harmless persons, I should be able to muster about half a troop of the Sixth Light Dragoons before too long.

The uniform of the Sixth is the post 1812 Light Dragoons uniform and from what I can gather from the books, it follows this pattern.

Coats: Dark blue.
Turnbacks: Buff (which seems to be a sort of off yellow)
Lace: Silver (white from what I can gather)
Trousers: Bluey-grey with a stripe in the facing colour.
Plume: White with a red bit at the bottom.

Anything I was unsure off, horse furniture, plumes, etc, I cobbled together from the illustrations of John Pimlott's excellant little book British Light Cavalry. I'm not hugely concerned about accuracy as they are a fictional regiment and I have no one to please but myself. Normally I paint my troops as generically as possible so that they can serve a variety of masters, but in this case, painting up a particular regiment was very satisfying and something I might try again. I have across painted up particular figures for the Halberdiers, though I think I might enjoy sprucing up some of my French infantry with regiment titles and the like.

Hussars of Conflans next perhaps?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Human nature.

The new Memoir '44 Mediterranean expansion and sixteen Memoir '44 dice.

I am a man of many prejudices. I have rather set ideas of what is done and what is not done.

I've always found that accepting those prejudices and being aware of them is a better way of getting through life then trying to deny that you've any prejudices at all. Some of these are small prejudices, a desire not to play "the bad guys" in war games, an unreasoning hatred for the music of Chris DeBurgh and the sudden wave of nausea that hits me every time I see "Neighbours".

One of those prejudices is that there is a fraternity of wargamers and that one gamer does not steal from another, regardless of temptation or provocation. The theft of my Memoir '44 dice struck at that fondly held prejudice and coincidently made it impossible to play the game. I play agreat deal of Memoir '44 and the lack of it rankled, though Donogh very kindly got me some blank dice so that I could make replacements.

Imagine my surprise when I received a package in work on Thursday morning containing sixteen Memoir '44 dice, the equivelant of two sets worth. I'd just bought a copy of the Mediterranean expansion from my local dealer and was reconciling myself to finally making up those replacement dice when the package arrived.

I originally thought that the dice might have been returned by the thief in a fit of conscience, but on closer examination the return of sixteen dice (I'd lost one already so only fifteen were stolen) and the London post mark made it seem unlikely.

There was no note or explanation, though certain characteristics of the way the address was written would lead me to believe that the sender was a reader of this blog.

I did consider trying to trace the packet, but that would be a shabby way to repay a thoroughly admirable and unselfish gesture. All I can say is thank you.

Thank you very much.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Picture Post: Little Wars at Dominicon

General Tyger moves up to bring his guns into action.

General Von Fatzington taking the first of many wildly inaccurate shots at that gun crew. Eventually he grew so exasperated by heckling from the groundlings that he eventually turned his gun on me.

General Senan leads a dashing cavalry charge to silence the enemy guns.

Close, but no cigar. Maybe next time Von Fatzington.

Judging the bounce on a projectile is key to carrying out proper grazing fire. Contrary to what this picture might lead you to believe, General Von Fatzington is a master of the art.

So near and yet so far for General Tyger.

Oh yes my lad. Your uppance will come...

Despite the unpromising looking trajectory, General Tyger's shot managed to bounce and graze through the line leaving havoc in its wake.

But not today it seems...

Ever hopeful General Fatzington draws a bead on some other likely lads.

Friday, December 5, 2008

General Gordon, the Hero of Khartoum

Perry Miniatures Pack SU1 Gordon at Khartoum.

"ALAS! now o'er the civilised world there hangs a gloom
For brave General Gordon, that was killed in Khartoum,
He was a Christian hero, and a soldier of the Cross,
And to England his death will be a very great loss."

So wrote William Topaz McGonagall, reputedly the worst poet in the English language, in his poem "General Gordon, the Hero of Khartoum". I've always rather liked Gordon probably because of Charlton Heston's protrayal of him in "Khartoum" (1966). It is probably a misplaced affection, but nonetheless genuine for all that.

Gordon of Khartoum by George William Joy

So when I discovered that the Perrys made a piece after the famous painting by George William Joy, it was only a matter of time before I crumbled. I recently discovered that Mrs. Kinch's grandfather, a man of whom, I am inordinately fond has a copy of the George William Joy in his hall. I hope the Perry diorama will make a fitting Christmas present.

Tomorrow marks the end of a very long week at work, during which I will have put in about seventy two hours at work. The onset of daffiness has only been seen off by the very pleasent company of and food provided by Mrs. Kinch and the recreation of putting General Gordon together.

I will have put in seventy two hours over the last week, which is one hour less than the hours put in by a simple patrolman in the Boston policeforce prior to 1919. I've just finished "A City in Terror: Calvin Coolidge and the 1919 Boston Police Strike" by Francis Russell and while the idea of any police force going on strike appalls me, it is hard not to have sympathy for the strikers.

Roll on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas is coming...

The old painting chair, a haven of tranquility in a world gone mad.

...and it's time for lots and lots of overtime. Working in a Cathedral, one would think that Easter would be my busiest time of the year, but you'd be wrong. While the overtime is very welcome, particularly at this time of year and I'm very grateful to have a job at all in the current economic climate, it can be a bit dis-spiriting not to see Mrs. Kinch of an evening.

That said, I had the day off yesterday and had a fine time of it. A great deal of the day was spent in the old painting chair by the fire, listening to a series of lectures on Greco-Roman civilization.

Since watching 300 with Ms. Royale, I've decided that perhaps Ancient history is not so boring after all. I mean phalanxes and all that kind of stuff are pretty dull, but war rhinos and strange mutants with blades for arms are an entirely different story.

The Guards of the Bishopric of Gormanstein, a fine body of men who will give many years service.

Most of my painting of late has been geared towards a large Little Wars game that will be running at Leprecon XXX in Febuary next year. The urgency of this has been given a bit of a kick in the pants as my co-conspirator and I have realised that to fill the space that we have available we'll need somewhere in the region of 700 1/32 scale figures. The cost of this was enough to give us pause, the painting thereof doubly so.

That said, faint heart never won fair lady and we have decided to press on.

Of course, the large game required two new imagi-nations, thus the Bishopric of Gormanstein and the Grand Duchy of Little Siskington were born.

General Senan of the Newbridge Royal Artillery having a dashed unlucky day while trying to shell some Sisktonian cavalry.

One of the problems of Little Wars is that a large space is need to play in. Fortunately, we had the opportunity to play some games at Dominicon, NUI Maynooth's games convention a few weeks ago and I'll be putting some pictures of those games up in the near future.

And in the corner, one of my house-mates, Ms. Toosie Royale, milliner to the stars preparing a headdress for an upcoming Burlesque show. Mrs. Kinch (not pictured) being upstairs rehearsing her songs for the same show.
(As Ms. Royale is an unmarried lady,
a chaperone was of course present and is simply out of shot in this picture.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Cross by the Stresla – How Christianity came to Ruritania By Father Alexander Woltze (Venice, 1840)

The Sack of the Murtzbad, 1290.
An anachronistic depiction of the sack of the port of Murtzbad during the crushing of the Old Believers by Simon the Tall.
Painting by the Dutch master, Pieter Brueghal, 1525 - 1569.

The story of the coming of Christianity and civilization to Ruritania is a long and doleful one, signposted by martyrdom and hallowed by the blood and suffering of the faithful. Though there had been some glimmerings of hope in the days of the Roman Empire when the mercenary spearmen of the Ruritannii flocked to the banner of Ammanius, the true faith made little impression upon them. It is to be remembered with great regret that the first two recorded missionaries sent from the court of Charlemange were most barbarously handled and ended their days impaled upon oak trees in a manner consistant with the piety of that rude and savage people. Their names have been lost to us, but their sacrifice is still remembered at the feat of All Hallows when their images are hung from trees and a Mass is sung in their honour in the Cathedral at Strezlau.

The next recorded missionary, Brother Cathal of Clonmacnoise enjoyed some limited success. The learned brother, who was a man of some education and great parts, won by his skill and wit, the toleration if not the acceptance of the Christian faith. The tribes united under King Ulric the Bad made war on their neighbours with vigour and made use of the accounting skills of Brother Cathal, but regrettably when King Ulric was most treacherously, but well deservedly slain, his successor did not look kindly upon the man who had helped his predecessor enumerate his subjects and organize their taxation. Brother was burned alive in a fire kindled with his own books.

Others followed his example with similarly unpleasant results, until it became clear that the cross was not to be brought to Ruritania except by the sword.

Frankish friars from the court of Charlemange – Impaled on oak trees

Cathal of Clonmacnoise – Burned alive

Duirmuid of Glendalough – Sawn in half

William of Trent – Hung from an oak tree

Brother Cian of One Eye – Boiled alive in the King's beer

Two unknown monks from Rome – Thrown down a well

Peter of Venice - Drowned in the King's bathwater

Cecilia of Paris – Ravished and insulted

Ethel the Good - Ravished and insulted

Monique the Chaste - Ravished and insulted

Jasper the unready - Insulted and ravished

George of Nantes – Worried to death by the King's hounds

Peter the Simple – Beaten to death by the King's Fool in an argument over an orange.

Roger of Berwick – Done to death by bees.

Simon of Knossos – Starved

And so it was when the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, Herman von Salza, having completed the conquest of eastern Prussia declared a new campaign against the barbarous slavs and sent an army composed of his bravest retainers to subdue the Ruritanians. The knights, led by Lothar the Good, took the field against the tribesmen and levies of King Kubar the One Eyed.

Kubar's control over the tribes was loose and he was forced to give battle before his forces were fully mustered. The two armies met at Danisova (Danis's river) and a great battle was fought.

From the histories of Sir Adam of Venice written by Father Mikhail the Short.

"The shields of the barbarians were as an iron wall and they stood impervious to the blows of the knights. Many gallant knights and gentlemen of quality fell before their terrible axes. The air sang with bolts and arrows and many fell dead, and it seemed that victory lay with the heathen, when King Kubar was struck down by the Almighty. He became dumb, his face dropped and he became blind in one eye. He could not bear his axe and suffered it to fall to the ground.

This sign of the Lord's wrath threw the camp of the heathen's into confusion. Some cried that the King was dead, some that he lived, some for water and still more for their gods to save them. The knights took heart and gathering themselves into a mass charged. Luther the Good was at its head with his brother Simon and their confessor, Father Alexander and many other Lords and men of quality. They trampled the barbarians beneath their horse's hooves, until they reached the bodyguard of the King.

But around Danis's hill, the royal guards stood firmly about the fallen King, who was still twitching with Divine vengeance for his sin of pride in resisting the True Faith. Never did men stand so bravely in so ill a cause and they sold their lives dearly. Luther and Alexander fell with many dead about them and the day looked black again.

However, there arose a champion from amongst the ranks of the knights. He was Rudolph the Red, of Elphberg, a poor knight of humble means, but ancient family. He was as terrible in battle as he was meek in his manner and his disposition was so sweet that all who know him loved him.

Rudolph, who had led the charge on the barbarians left wing, turned upon their centre and drove them before him. They were trapped against the banks of the Danis and were slaughted and lay in great heaps upon the ground. There then arose a great roar from King Kubar's guards standing about Danis's hill and hearing it the brave Sir Rudolph, taking arms, flew to the aid of his fellow knights.

Caught between Simon, brother of Luther, and the fury of Red Rudolph, the last guards were cut down and died to a man at the side of their King..

And so the battle was won and the heathen power cast down in the Kingdom of Ruritania."

However, those chieftains that had escaped the great slaying on the riverbank would not accept the verdict of God or battle and retreated to their fastnesses.

The struggle that followed was both long and cruel. While some of the Chieftains could be persauded to see the light of Christ, many more refused to give up their ancestral worship, which depraved though it may have been was the worship of their forefathers.

The result was not a happy one, what could not be won by reason and revelation, had to be won by the sword. There followed a dark time where knights who had hoped to win by their struggles both a kingdom for the Lord and for themselves, a little peace, were forced to take up arms again.

The heathen chieftains stood at bay and ferocious though they were in battle, they had no idea of combinations or strategy. Thus when one of their number was attacked, they would keep to their own lands and were therefore crushed one by one. Even so the crushing was neither swift nor merciful and for every chieftain that capitulated there were three that fought to the bitter end. Once their chiefs had fallen, the common people took to Christianity and thoguh there were two uprisings within living memory of the conquest, the faith which had cost so much to plant, laid deep roots.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Notes for an 1809 Kriegspiel

(culled mostly from Arnold's Thunder on the Danube and Rothenberg's Napoleon's Great Adversary)

- Austrians have shifted to a Corps structure, but they have not gained the full benefits due to institutional factors.

- Austrian Corps rest seven days out of twenty and cover approximately ten to fifteen kilometres per day.

- Berthier remains in command until Napoleon arrives.

- The Austrians have strategic surprise and inteligence superiority.

- Austrian cavalry are excellant, but lack a suitable large unit doctrine. Consequently they are more likely to succeed in small fights than large ones.

- The French Intelligence machine has only recently been mobilised and is therefore less likely to achieve results.

- The French possess a very accurate picture of the Austrian order of battle.

- Bavarian public opinion is anti-Austrian and they will fight invasion.

- Napoleon has beaten the Austrians three times before and is therefore likely to underestimate them.

- The terrain of the Eckmuhl-Abensberg-Ratisbon triangle is very close, limiting visibility and movement.

- The Austrians use converged battalions of grenadiers rather than distributing this elite throughout the army. This is unlikely significantly effect events at this scale.

- Secondary roads were routinely made impassable by adverse weather conditions.

- Davout's III Corps is an elite formation made up of veterans.

- Austrian commanders are considerably older than their French counterparts and as a rule, lead from the rear.

Excerpt from "A Child's History of Ruritania" by Mr. Esmer Fudge. London, 1852

This is more of a collection of notes than anything else.

(Dates to follow, name of X to be supplied by noted historian of the later Roman Empire, Dr. Donagh Y. MacGonagle.)

- Ptolemy first makes mention of "...a wild, barbaric people, much given to raiding and living in a very rude state on sausage and goats milk."

- The lands of the Ruritani are conquered by X and incorporated into the Western Roman Empire.

- The Ruritanian tribes unit under Donog the Bastard and rally to the banner of Aetius to defeat the Huns at the battle of Chalons.

- Fall of the Roman Empire. A dark time descends on the lands of the Ruritanii. Petty tribal chieftains fight a series of internecine wars the devastate the country. The Christianised tribes are driven out or forcibly converted.

- Ruritania fell into a morass of sin and barbarism for a period of nearly six hundred years. The folk fell into many ill practices, idol worship, polygamy and infanticide, as well as others too shocking to be described. If the Ruritanians of this period had anything to their credit it was that while this resisted Christianity, they resisted the invading Turk and Musulman just as fiercely.

902 - St. Cian of the One Eye arrive to spread the Gospel and was martyred by being boiled alive in the King's beer.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gaelcon Weekend (part 2)

Your correspondent, in the pub, with the Spirit of Gaelcon Award and Gaelcon's Con Director. The Spirit of Gaelcon Award is a clear lucite dome holding the crumpled notes written by Gary Gygax for a seminar given at Gen Con '79-'80 (or so I'm told).

I rose late on Saturday with my sins of the previous night weighing heavily on my aching brain. I shower, a shave, a quick run around the house to gather Little Wars and I headed out. I arrived to discover that I'd forgot to bring the cards for Donogh's Memoir 44 game. Fortunately, he had already set up a game of Jump or Burn and was merrily gunning down the pride of the RFC.

Young Master Creanor and I set up Little Wars and got the first of many games rolling. The comittee had given us a nice corner of the main hall to crawl around in and lots of people came by, watched or asked to play. Now as it happened I had volunteered to GM roleplaying games for Gaelcon's RPG co-ordinator the week before, mainly because I hadn't heard back from the comittee about my offer of Little Wars.

As things panned out, Young Master Creanor took Little Wars, thanked me for bringing it and told me that I could be on my merry way as the RPG co-ordinator had need of me. I was on call for the weekend, but only ended up running three games in all, a four or five year low for me at Gaelcon I think, though nowhere near the lunacy of Warpcon 2001 and its seven games over three days.

The games themselves were pretty good; there was a relatively thin Conspiracy X game that was rescued by a group of very engaging players from up north, who managed to turn a mediocre into a pleasure for all concerned. There was a Dark Heresy (Warhammer 40,000 rpg) game written by my good buddy Xaoseed, which went very well as well, probably due to the return of the northerners to my table. It's very rare for a Convention hack GM to find himself with an entire group of people who are genuinely willing to roleplay for three hours, particularly if they don't know each other. These players, three of whom did know each other, managed not only that, but also to include the other two players, one of whom had limited English, at every point in the game.

The last game that I ran was a Star Wars game based around an Oceans Eleven style theft of a painting written by Mr. Turner, another pal. I had not originally been slated to run this game as I'm not really familiar with the new Star Wars D20 system, however one of the scheduled GMs didn't show up. As it happened I was in the bar with Uber about to eat lunch, which we'd been waiting for for quite a while. My club sandwich had just turned up when the two rpg co-ordinators, Fatz and Boomer, showed up with the news that there were six players in the rpg room waiting for a GM that wasn't going to show up and could I read the scenario on the way there?

I opened my mouth to say something, when Boomer grabbed my sandwich and ran from the bar, through the hotel lobby and down to the rpg room. I was in hot pursuit when I realised that I hadn't paid for the sandwich and had to run back. Needless to say, by the time I got there, I couldn't really disappoint the six happy smiling faces around the table by grabbing my food and running away, so I pretty much had to stay and run the game. It wasn't bad for a game run on the fly.

There wasn't much wargaming of me over the weekend, I played one game of Jim's Napoleonic adaption of Battlelore, tearing defeat from the very jaws of victory in the process. I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for those meddling Grenadiers of the Guard!

Mrs. Kinch, Donogh and I, amongst others, led Table 5 to victory in the Gaelcon pub quiz, winning some t-shirts or mugs or something for our pains. What does the prize matter? Glory lasts forever!

Gaelcon 2008 will always be a special one for me as it was the year that something very special and very unexpected happened. I was given the "Spirit of Gaelcon" award. The "Spirit of Gaelcon" is given to someone the committee feels has contributed heavily to the convention. In my case, I was told it was more of a life time achievement award.

It was a profoundly humbling experience. I gave a speech infront of the assembled con goers that I've been told was inspirational. I don't really remember, I was shaking too much. My only clear memory of what happened was standing there, utterly speechless, until a good friend of mine yelled from the crowd.

"Just give the wedding speech again, it was good the first time!"

I ended up using the same opening gag. Which got a laugh and jump started my brain enough to say something which was well recieved.

Your correspondent later in the evening,
attempting to eat part of Gary Gygax and thereby steal his power.

I've been going to Gaelcon since 1993, when at the age of 13 I was taken on an "improving" trip to the modern art museum that shared a venue with the con. I wandered off, trying to find somewhere quiet to read my book and found myself surrounded by gamers.

I've missed a couple over the years, but not many and it's been great. I've worked on the committee, written games, met great friends and had a lot of good times. Gaelcon has enriched my life and I only hope that I've put even half as much back in as I've gotten out of it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gaelcon Weekend (Part 1)

Singer and songsmith Mr. Jonathan Coulton of New York playing in Whelans 24.10.08. Picture by Crazyjaf.

Gaelcon, Ireland's largest games convention has just finished and it was fantastic fun. The weekend started well with a Jonathan Coulton gig on friday night. The warm up act was a bit grim and is probably best described as a very long sound check, but the man himself was excellent. Having been to a grand total of two gigs, I'd like to say that Jonathan certainly gave Alice Cooper a run for his money.

A great time was had by all, though I did get rascally drunk and yelled at poor old Mr. Coulton towards the end, according to Fitz, something along the lines of, "Your mother is a very classy lady and you're very lucky to have her."

Apparently that didn't actually make it any better.

But still and all it was great fun. More later.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mustering the troops.

Realistically, I don't see myself playing much Charge! in the next year as I suppose it probably won't appeal to most of my regular opponents, but the regimental organisation appeals to me and the figures can certainly be used for other games. Fitz and I were discussing playing skirmish games in the conservatory. Rules to be decided, probably Warhammer or Savage Worlds.

The other advantage is that in Charge! terms forty eight enlisted men plus officers and other assorted harmless persons, make up a regiment. This number is near enough to the action bayonet strength of a company (after attrition) to be considered near as damn one to one, which is nice.

French Foot artillery by Zvezda.
A well favoured gentry.

I have a decent force of both French and British infantry, some French cavalry and two British guns. I'm painting up three French guns at present, the simply beautiful Zvezda set of French Foot artillery. A regiment of British Light Dragoons is in the works, I think I'll try to paint them up at the 6th Light Dragoons from Allan Mallinson's excellant Mathew Hervey novels. I must go check information on facings, etc.

There's something deeply satisfying about setting out figures to be painting, arranging them in ranks and tallying how far you've progressed. In a way it points to how like gardening the painting aspect of wargaming is, in that there's always something to do and you're never really finished. The pleasure of doing the thing is its own reward.

I packed away my Second World War Germans last night as I hadn't used them in years and they were taking up valuable space that could be hogged by Napoleonics. I was reflecting on the irony of my large German collection last night. Like my Napoleonic collection, they began as a small selection of figures for use in roleplaying, but have ballooned since then. I'm always faintly suspicious of chaps with large German armies, mainly I suspect because I because possess a full throated dislike of anything to do with the Third Reich. Much the same can be said of Imperial France and yet the Halberdiers demand ever increasing and ever more diverse sorts of Frenchmen to murder and so the collection grows.

Laying out the forces has brought my attention to the fact that I am lamentably short of standard bearers, RSMs and others of that breed. I shall soon have to turn to metal to recruit these.

Re-read "War Games" by Donald Featherstone last night after a heavy day at the ranch, the brio of his work and its tumbling enthusiasm never fails to lift my spirits. That, a pipe, a Hennessy and a dash of Shelly. What better restoratives could there be?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Little Wars, the Tennessee Campaign & a touch of sadness.

An image from the front. Little Wars at Confess.
Note the camera shake. Our photographer was under fire at the time.
(Image: Valkine)

The last few weeks have been relatively busy. Confess in Sligo was very pleasant and a great deal of Little Wars were played. The players enjoyed themselves and we got a few games under our belts without missing out on any of the delights the con had to offer.

Two points struck me the night before heading down to Sligo with all the impedimenta of Little Wars upon my back. Firstly hills are big and hard to transport and secondly woods are big and fragile. The fix for these two problems were relatively simple.

Use whatever comes to hand for hills. There was a large collection of boardgames at the con and their owners were quite happy to let us use them as hills for the duration of the game. The gaming public can generally be relied upon to provide scenery of that type to the Little Wars player "on the road". My trees, were if I say so myself, a triumph. I have a collection of standard wargaming trees, but I can't say I was particularly enthused about dragging them down to Sligo. Also they were HO scale trees and looked distinctly shrub like next to the 1/32 figures that we were using. A cunning plan was hatched and a supply of green card purchased.

The result was trees that were light, transportable, looked suitably toy like and joy of joys could be knocked over with a nerf pellet without much trouble. The players took to the opportunity for deforestation with all the innocent joy of a bully kicking a small ginger child from one end of the school yard to the the other.

Little Wars was a success, I'm just looking forward to trying it on a larger scale. Not necessarily with larger forces, but with a larger playing area, which will give more possibilities for maneuvre and other such sly and underhand French tricks.

In other news, the Tennessee campaign that we're playing at the moment is rolling along good oh with no final victory for either side in sight. I lead the Union to a mediocre victory, where having gained the upper hand in the strategic shenanigans before the battle, we failed to turn that advantage in numbers and command into a decisive victory. I've gone over the battle a few times in my head and I'm still at a loss as to what I should have done differently. Normally, I can look at a battle and point out where it all went wrong. In this one, we won, but not alot went right. The victory cost us rather more than I liked and the rebels acquitted themselves rather well considering their initial handicaps. Beyond observing that Bellona was not kind when the dice were rolled, there's not much more I can say.

One sad thing that has happened has been the theft of some dice from our local club. Myself and a friend have run a variety of Second World War games at conventions over the last few years, using a boardgame called Memoir44 adapted for miniatures. We've had a deal of success and have run a variety of campaigns using this quick and adaptable system; including the Finnish-Soviet war of 1941, Stalingrad, Kursk, Tarawa, Guam and Gaudacanal amongst others.

The game relies on a set of special dice marked with differant symbols to resolve fire. Unfortunately, it seems likely that those dice were stolen from our local club some time ago, I didn't notice at the time as I haven't played the game in quite a while. Other gamers have noticed kit going missing, which is why I suspect theft rather than loss. My buddy is working up a new set of dice using some blanks, but what really saddens is that someone we know and have perhaps gamed with has taken these.

Perhaps I'm being naive, but I've always felt that there is a certain freemasonry amongst wargamers, a sense of fraternity that unites us, even though we differ on just about everything else. It batters my heart to think of that being abused.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A taste of Ruritania for Tradgardmastare.

Huntzmanberg, a castle on the border between
Ruritania and the Hapsburg domains.
Note the Swartzkrag mountains in the blackground.
Aquatint by Mikail Patrickson 1836.

Ruritanian Government

Ruritania was once described by Count Metternich, during the Council of Vienna in 1815, as "…a model of good government, the pinnacle of enlightened absolutism and an ornament to the world". Though briefly a republic after French invasion, the idea was so unpopular that the populace revolted in support of their King with "God and King Michael and Death to the French!" as their rallying cry. Imposed from without, the short lived Republic of Hentzau stood little chance and soured the Ruritanians on the idea for a generation. Many radicals have bitterly regretted their collaboration with the French, arguing that "…eighteen months of French bayonets accomplished what hundreds of years of despotic misrule could not; a popular Elphberg."

Ruritania is ruled by a hereditary monarch and the reigning House of Elphberg was established in 1453, after a ten year long series of internecine conflicts known as "The Wars of the Cups". Rudolph Elphberg, later Rudolph the First of Ruritania (also Red Rudolph), smashed the army of his rival Constantine Brunchkli, at the decisive battle of Swartzkrag. Thereafter he marched on Streslau where he was eventually crowned King by the Arch-Bishop of that city. At the time, it was an event of such importance that the Holy Roman Emperor was in attendance.

While the hostility between Austria and Ruritania is a product of many factors, mainly geographical. It is said that the historic antipathy between the two dates from an incident at the coronation. As the newly crowned King was processing down the nave of the Cathedral, the Emperor stepped on the hem of his train, tearing it. The King famously set his dog (traditionally a Tekkel, though there is great debate on this point) on the Emperor with the words, "Small, though I may be (he was noted for his slightness), but I'll not suffer a fat man to tear something from me, but that he'll feel my teeth." The Elphbergs, have with a few interruptions, ruled ever since.

Immediately beneath the King is the Assembly, which is made up of two parts, the Cabinet of Roses and the Diet. The Cabinet of Roses, which is so named because it meets in the Rose garden of the Palace at Streslau, is appointed by the King, while the Diet is made up of all those men over 21 who hold patents of nobility.

While the King is in theory, an absolute monarch anointed by God Almighty to rule Ruritania as he sees fit, a great deal of power rests with the cabinet. While the cabinet cannot actually overrule the King, it is virtually unheard of for a King to go against the advice of the Roses, if they are in complete agreement. The Roses are generally at their most powerful at the beginning of a King's reign, their influence waning as he reaches maturity as a monarch and then waxing again as he becomes older and less capable. These periods of power are known as "first bloom, the falling of the petals and the second bloom".

The Roses are made up of:

- The Chancellor for the Treasury

- The Marshall of the Army

- The First Lord of the Privy Chamber.

- The Second Lord of the Privy Chamber.

- Secretary of the Privy Chamber.

- The King's Confessor.

- The Cardinal

- The King's Master of Music

Additional members may be added, but the Roses rarely exceeds ten and has never exceeded twelve members. With the exception of the Cardinal, the King's Confressor and the Master of Music, all the Roses must be eligible for entry in the Diet, that is, must hold patents of nobility.

The only other exception to this rule is the Marshall of the Army, who has twice, once in 1742 and again in 1780, been a commoner.

The Chancellor of the Treasury is probably the most powerful position, controlling as he does the Kingdom's finances, as well as being responsible for public buildings, tax collection, sewerage and roads. He is a man of many secretaries.

The First and Second Lord of the Privy Chamber are the two senior members of the Diet, the Dukes of Hentzau and Zenda, respectively. It is not unusual for these men to be amongst the first and most able nobles of the land, so that they may act as a check on the reigning monarch, as neither man would see the King alienate a kingdom that he has substantial holdings in.

The Secretary of the Privy Chamber keeps the minutes of the Cabinet meetings and is usually a favourite of the King's as he may appoint whomsoever he wishes to the post. It is a highly sought after post.

The titles of the First and Second Lords and the Secretary refer to the previous Cabinet, known as the Privy Chamber which was incorporated into the Cabinet of Roses by King Rudolph II in 1690. King Rudolph felt the Chamber was exerting too much influence and wished to dilute it by appointing more members. A common tactic of the members of the Privy Chamber, was filibustering, deliberate time wasting that deeply irked the King and prevented any actual work being done. Rudolph retaliated by relocating the Cabinet from the Privy Chamber to the Rose Garden of the Palace in Streslau where members were required to sit, regardless of the weather, until the King has dismissed them.

After a particularly rainy summer, two Lords of the Privy Chamber were carried off by chills, and Ludwig achieved the more congenial Cabinet he was after.

While both the Royal Confessor and the Cardinal-Protector are members of the Roses, by courtesy it is traditional that only one be present at any particular meeting. Experienced courtiers use their presence or absence to gauge the King's attitude towards Rome and indirectly towards Austria. It is thought that the Confessor, being a Ruritanian, will be more sympathetic to the King, while the Cardinal, who is an outsider, will inevitably try to talk the King out of hostile acts against the old enemy. Since the reign of Christian III ("The Wise"), who was taught in his youth by a Spanish Jesuit, Carlo Mario Martini, the King's Confessor has always been of the that order, which has sometimes excited to the disaprobation of Rome.

The Master of the Music is the only member of the Cabinet required to be a commoner. Music has always been considered the foremost of the Arts in Ruritania and the Master of Music is simply the King's favourite composer or musician. Much like the King's Fool in medieval times, the Master of Music is granted great licence to speak candidly to the King. As such, he is considered to be the voice of the common people and is often approached to present petitions to the King.

The Diet is a mere appendix, the King is not required to call it and usually only does so once a year, when all are present in Streslau for the celebration of Easter. The Diet votes to approve laws and taxs, though the King is not bound by their decision. However, it is an unwise monarch that angers the Diet, and while there is always tension between the Palace and the Hall (the Diet meets in the Hall of St. Stephen in Streslau), relations are usually kept civil. The only powers that the Diet has that are denied to the King are the powers to issue patents of nobility or to reassign the titles or lands of the Diet without its consent.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Saint Peter denies Christ.
Etching by Gustav Dore.

I spent a very pleasant weekend mainly in the company of my wife. Mrs. Kinch is back in employment again, after a quietness in the theatrical line, and blessed be the day. Mrs. Kinch is a great deal more tractable when she has an occupation. Not much painting was done over the weekend, but I did make a decent fist of the remainder of my first Charge! regiment. All bar the Chef de Brigade are finished. Considering how fond I am of the mounted arm, you would think that I would enjoy painting horses, but sadly it is not so.

I've been doing my first piece of writing for a span and finally had the break that I needed on Saturday. Send out for the shopping, I dawdled for half an hour on my way back reading Kipling online in a cyber cafe and trying to eavesdrop on the Indian proprietor. I think I am beginning to get a whiff of English as it is spoken on the sub-continent. There seem to be a lot of short sentences, but long multi-syllabic words. Hearing an Irish policeman hailed by an Indian businessman with, "Ah Pascal, what is the story"* in the tones of Dublin by way of Bombay says more about the changes in Irish society in the last ten years than any amount of news print.
Still I got what I needed and the first draft is done. I'll put it up here when it's done.

While I was writing the story, I came across some notes for Ruritania. I've been neglecting Ruritania. I should do some more work on it or at least type up those notes. I've been thinking about changing the name. When I was writing it at first Ruritania was a useful handle, but I think its begun to outgrow it. I have a very strong idea of who the Ruritanians are, a proud, churchy, musical people; poor but respectable, parochial, but not overly chauvinistic.

Keonig und Kirk und Kinder. The K and K and K of Ruritanian life, King, Church and Family. It probably doesn't work in German, but I know what I mean.

Georgia was on my mind, so I thought about renaming Ruritania after a Saint.

Pretoria has a nice ring to it, but it has unpleasant associations. I always hear it in the voice of Rhodesian friend of mine, the purring R and the soft T of his not quite English, not quite South African accent. He was a Rhodesian; he was NOT from Zimbabwe. Despite his support for an appalling regime, he was by most measures a sterling fellow and an excellent dinner companion. He came to Ireland immediately after the end of the Smith government and worked as a hydrologist. I always imagined him dying here and being buried in a lonely way, like the White Russians in the Non Catholic cemetary in Rome, but he moved to South Africa last year. However much he said he hated majority rule, I think he missed Africa more.

What other Saints are an option? Boniface? Hippolytus? Michael?

It's got to sound good with -ania, -ovia or a similar suffix.

*(Aahh PAS-cal WHAT izz the STOR-ey)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A regiment in the style of Charge!

The Regiment (name to follow) in line of battle.
Click to enlarge.

I mustered my first regiment according to the regulations laid down by Lawford & Young last night. Much remains to be done, but they made a fine sight even partially assembled.

The authors mark the pioneers and vivandieres as being optional, but to be honest leaving them out would mar the pleasant sensation of completeness that watching them march along, with all the panoply of a regiment on the road, brings.

Recruits for the as-yet-unnamed-regiment. Left to right.
Top hatted chap in greatcoat. A selection of Les Filles de la Regiments. Two of these figures broke at the ankles in transit, so I gave them long skirts with greenstuff. Lastly a converted pioneer.
Click to enlarge.

Pack animals and vivandiere's were purchased from Uwe Ehmke and they've arrived.

The pack that I bought from Uwe had a chap in a top hat and a long coat, that I actually think might make a better vivandiere than the lady also included in the pack, so I'll see if I can't turn him into a lady with a judicious paint conversion.

Who would really see a female figure underneath that great coat anyway?

The ladies will be painted up in the rather more drab garb of peasent women.

Uwe's figures are very pleasant castings, hand poured with the flash that that brings, but very serviceable for all that. I reserve judgement until I've actually painted them.

You can find Uwe's figures here or if you'd like to communicate with the chap himself, drop me a line and I'll put him in touch with you.

Shavetails of the Regiment. Figures by Uwe Ehmke.
Click to enlarge.

Vital parts of the regiment remain unpainted of course, but I'm almost there. Since all the rank and file are marching, I decided that all the other personnel would have to fit in with that look, so out went the sword waving officers from HAT's Greatcoated French Infantry 1805 to be replaced with the marching officer from their French Infantry 1808-1812.

The pioneers I put together by swapping the head of an officer from Greatcoated French Infantry 1805 on the body of a marching Young Guard from the HAT set of the same name. Add an axe from Italeri's Medieval Tournament set et viola; you have a gallant smasher of barricades and builder of scaling ladders.

In retrospect, for the look of thing (the RSM and the Ensign that I have both sport bearskins), I should probably have used a bearded head with a bearskin, but I'll know for next time.

I'm sure there are historical problems with the regiment, in terms of colour of epaulettes and so forth, but I find reading Charge! is a delightful antidote to that sort of thing. I might delve a little deeper into the matter in time, but I won't lose any sleep over it.

The commanding officer is a shako'ed chap from Italeri's French Imperial Staff with a head swap from a Prussian trooper in their Allied Staff set. I would have used an officer's head from the Greatcoated French, but it didn't seem to match, so I went hunting elsewhere for bicornes.

I've never been any good at conversions before, but since attempting my first few, the practice seems less intimidating and more rewarding then expending time and energy searching for exactly the right figure elsewhere.

Mrs. Kinch was at bell ringing and choir, so I had the whole evening to get the bit between my teeth and a very pleasant evening it was too*. Thank God things are beginning to settle down at last.

*I recommend Chesterton and Conrad as painting and converting companions of the first water.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Aunty dearest, may I have a medal?

One should never let such a boring thing
as active service lead to slackness in one's cravat.

{an old post from my old blog, but still worth a laugh I think}

I came across this the other day and it was too funny not to share. Lord Dunkellin was on active service in Persia at the time this letter was written. One of his duties there was to send regular reports to his uncle, Lord Canning. When he had no military or diplomatic intelligence to offer, he wrote to his aunt instead.

Lord Dunkellin to Lady Canning (his aunt) on the 16th December, 1856.

"I dedicate this despatch to you, as nothing of any material importance has occurred since I wrote to Uncle. C. so I will not obtrude myself on his time. We are getting on very well tho' the excitement of fighting and the new location being over, we are rapidly relapsing into the monotony of camp life. I have got a very good tent thanks to the General who is the best natured old man in the world, and having more than one of his own, has lent me a jolly Bengal Hill tent. It is much more convenient being on shore than living on board ship, as I am in the middle of everything and can see & hear what is going on much better than if I were afloat, besides at any rate here I am fixed, & feeling certain of my wherabouts, whereas I might be shifted from ship to ship according to the vacillating fancy of the Admiral in a most unpleasent manner. I hear that the General has sent in a flourishing account of our march & capture of Bushire, & I am certain the Admiral has done the same. Many here, especially the young ones, are anxiously speculating on the chances of having a medal given for the business. If there be one granted from India do you choose the ribbon, and take care to let us have a pretty one that will look well on red & blue coats...I think a white rubbon with crimson edges** wd. be rather tasty...I am rather disappointed in our spoil, especially in the horses. There are only four or five worth looking at; I shall try and get one at the auction today... The loot in the way of dresses, cloths, carpets, etc. etc. is not particular... I will try and get something to bring back for your room. The arms are dirty and worthless. So I do not think there will be any amount of prize money."

** Sadly, no white and crimson were to be had, just clasps added to the India General service medal. Dashed bad luck if you ask me.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rumours of my demise.

Strolling down the nave.

(Original caption from my good friend Icecream: "We were not allowed to take pictures during the service itself. The... Vicar, or whatever, made it quite clear that anyone who defiled the sanctity of the occasion with their incessant clicking and flashing would burn in the INFERNAL FIRE!! He can do that kind of thing, you know.")

It has been a quiet few months here at "Joy & Forgetfullness", but the stillness here has been matched with manic activity in what the boorish call real life.

The big news is that on the 20th of June my darling wife and I became Mr & Mrs. Kinch in a ceremony in St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin.

It was proudest and most joyous day of my life.

Mr & Mrs Kinch leaving St. Patrick's Cathedral through a sword arch provided by members of the John Buford Memorial Society & Gentlemen's Supper Club.

The arrangements were not without their troubles; we had arranged to hire an 18th century Guild Hall in which to have the reception, however, due to skullduggery on the part of the Guild Hall's management we were left without a venue with eight days to go.

We took it all very seriously as you can see.

The club tie in all its scarlet & gold glory.

One would have thought that this would be an insurmountable problem, but my uncle in law, an eccentric gentlemen who happened to have a Georgian townhouse about his person that he wasn't using that weekend and put it at our disposal.

His daughters served food, his sons tended the bar (and plumbed in an extra bathroom at two days notice), aunts cooked and the whole thing

The Wedding Cake made by Mrs. Kinch's own fair hand. Toy Soldiers by Prince August.

Wedding out of the way, we were off to England for our honeymoon, which was spend in Bath, Longleat and London. It was magnificent and if such a thing were possible, I think I came back an even more raging Anglophile then I went.

But enough of this shilly shallying! Where's the wargaming?

Well, it's been quiet between; getting married, going to weddings (counting our own, nine this years, phew!), trying to join the Gardai (the wheels turn slowly, ever so slowly) and get a book published (15 rejection letters and counting), have all been eating up my time.

There has been time for a little gaming & painting.

I've been playing Kriegspiel, which is a magnificent game. I'm using the Free Kriegpsiel & Generalship Game rules from Paddy Griffith's "Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun"*. I've run the a game of the Waterloo campaign once, which ended in a narrow French defeat outside of Brussels. This was run in the pub and I think throughout the whole evening I managed two pints and a great deal of running up and down stairs from player to player. Who says wargaming is bad for the waist line?

I'll put up a report about it shortly.

The second game, which is being conducted by email is in full swing, but it is also looking like it's going to be a narrow French defeat outside of Brussels. Both Wellington and Napoleon were hit in the first series of attacks, though Bonaparte is looking like he'll recover first, though he has lost his left arm poor chap.

Thus far the French player has always decided to hit Wellington first and the the British player has always tried to run away. If this happens a third time I may have investigate the game design.

I've also played a couple of games of Warhammer Historical's "Legends of the Old West", though we did use the "Alamo" big battles expansion** and Napoleonic troops. These were good fun, it was a change to play an honest to God toy soldier game with dice rolling and single figure removal and all that flapdoodle.

The game is quite Old School in approach, though I can't say I'm desperately fond of the points system. It manages to dodge the worst excesses of the other Warhammer games, how exactly I don't know, I can't really remember what was wrong with them. I played it and enjoyed it and that's enough for me.

The other good piece of wargaming news was that I managed to get a copy of "Charge!" from abebooks without having to pay a King's ransom. I can now see why this little book has inspired such loyalty from its readers. The rules may be a little complicated for my tastes, though I've yet to use them in anger, the writing more than makes up for them. The authors have created a small, but vivid world and painted it with a subtle palette that charms the reader.

Certainly wins the presentation copy of "With Clive in India" for most charming wargaming book I've ever had the pleasure of reading, outdoing even the breathless enthusiasm of Donald Featherstone.

There has been more painting, mostly 54mm Austrians and American Civil War types for a Little Wars game next Febuary, though I may put on a demonstration game at a convention in September in the interim. More 1/72 plastics have arrived (to Mrs. Kinch's dismay) to feed my hunger for Napoleonic troops in marching poses.

The fit took me to put together a regiment in the style of "Charge!", so I've converted some pioneers, ordered pack animals and vivandieres and will hopefully be able to put one in the field in the not too distant future.

It's a good life.

*Which for all that Paddy keeps running it down is a cracking book in my opinion.

**Though when they say big battles they mean about a company a side. Oh how we laughed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Battle Reports and orders after the Battle of Noswego.

With period spelling by request.

General Du Gormand's Report of the Battle of Noswego.

General as ordered we remained in Noswego on the night of the 3rd of March at 05;00 hours on the morning of the 4th the British open the battle with a barrage from 2 batteries of cannon positioned on the south bank in the town of Noswego and the British Horse crossed the river in force using the fords west of the town this advance was supported by elements of colonial troops.

The Fords where defended by our 3 regiment's of Horse who once again managed to send the British from the field with Les Chasseurs a Cheval du Bretagne under the command of Col. Pierre Nardin being the heros of the engagement and capturing a British officer Col. Frazer who was second in command of British forces.

It was just before noon when the town could not be held due to British guns making the position unholdable so our infantry and guns withdrew to the heights above the town and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy one barrage hit the British general staff it is believed General Lord Ponsemby was killed.

Some set backs where incured latter in the day as the weather turned and heavy rain made the withdrawl of the guns impossible these where eventually captured by the British.

Total British strength in the area was 3 regiments of horse 2 batteries of cannon 3 regiments of light infantry and 7 regiments of foot it appears to be the main body of the British army.

General Du Gormand's Orders

These orders where sent to you and cian using the reply all to look like a mistake feeding false information to the enemy

French orders to the troops at Noswego

Col. Florian du Anhalt based on your last battle report it is my belief that with the reinforcemnts that have been marching through the pass in the last few days which should arrive at your position on the 5th-6th of March that you will have the forces and oportunity to deliver a crushing defeat to the British at Noswego although the loss of the guns is a set back but honour dicates that they be retrieved.
Based on your reports and the information provided by Col Frazer it is certain that the enemies moral is low and a quick attack could achieve a great victory for France.
The infantry and guns should occupy the high ground above the town and force the british to withdraw further into the town or advance either will pull their troops away from the ford where our main attack will be lanched against using both Horse light infantry and our native troops this force will then break into the British rear area and haras thier supply lines forcing them to halt their advance.

General Du Gormand's Actual Orders

General orders to the army at St Elizabeth are to prepare a defensive position around the town digging trenches constructing fortiifcations, Aslo to carry out patrols of the approaches searching for the native troops.

The troops at Noswego will withdraw along the road using the light horse which withdrew from the field in good order to as a rear guard the army is to withdraw to Ashkazi and prepare for a delaying action if the terrain is good for defending.

Col. Shaw's Report

From Colnel Shaw, Montemerency Pass
To General James Wolfe

General Wolfe,

Our first proper engagement with the French was a success. We have taken the bridge over the Noswego, driven the French from the field and captured the French guns! Unfortunately, this cost the lives of two of our finest officers: General Lord Ponsonby was killed from a distance by a French sharpshooter, and Col. Fraser of the Royal Scots was captured by the French while leading a cavalry assault against their rear flank.

We intend to press forward with all haste.

Col. Robert Shaw.

Followed by...

Now for my orders to the troops!

I'ld love to stay here for a bit and recoup, but we don't have the time. You mentioned that it will take a full day to get our affairs in order after the battle, so I'll take advantage of the wait by sending out scouts on horseback to see what lies ahead. They are to range as far forward as they possibly can in one day and night. I want the entire army to be ready to move out on the second morning after the battle, but my orders to them will depend on the scouts reports. Their marching order is to remain the same as the first one I sent you, with the exception of Morgans rangers. I'm not sure what to do with them, because I'm not actually sure what punishment would be appropriate for fleeing the field. The rangers I'm tempted to leave alone, but would a flogging be appropriate for Morgan himself? I don't know how these things work, considering they're pretty much mercenaries.

Also, how much powder and shot do I have for those French cannon? I presume they left what they had behind, but will I be able to use them for the rest of the campaign or will my supplies of ammunition not be able to stretch that far?

Umpire Response to Col. Shaw

Your scouts report that the way forward is open country, with the valley narrowing slightly as you move northwards. Your scouts have identified chimney smoke approximately 10 miles ahead. They have been hampered in their duties by a strong screen of French light cavalry.

Your cavalry are shaky in the extreme at present, though Colonel Charleton is doing is best to rally them. The general feeling appears to be one of resentment over having been placed under an officer of Foot and a understanding that Col. Frazer got his just deserts. They are in short, wet, sulky and complaining. It is unlikely that they are to be entirely depended upon in the next battle.

The French guns are of a different calibre to your own, so you cannot use your own ammunition. You have a small quantity of shot, 3 roundshot and a fair quantity of case for each gun.

What are your orders Sir?

Col. Shaw's Response

Very well.

Since we have crossed the Noswego, it is no longer as important that we move at great speed. I see no reason to push these already exhausted soldiers too hard, particularly the horse and those unfortunate rangers. Ponsonby drove those poor souls far too hard. We can afford to be slightly more leisurely. We will form up and march out tomorrow morning.

Since the majority of the enemy action to our front seems to be light cavalry, the advance guard will be comprised of a screen of heavy foot, who will clear the open country ahead and look for an appropriate camping ground while the more vulnerable units move forward.

Here is the marching order:

The advance guard will be entirely comprised of three units of Heavy Foot: 1/15th Foot (Amherst's), 1/17th Foot (Forbe's) and 1/22nd Foot (Whitmore's). I don't want them to take any risks: Gormand is a cruel and cunning General, and we don't want to give him too many opportunities to harry us as we advance along the pass. If they encounter any enemy resistance they are to dig in and send couriers back to us. Now that we've completed the mad dash for the bridge, slow and steady is to be the order of the day.

For the time being, our cavalry is only to be used for guard duties along the flanks. The Flank Guard will be composed of our light cavalry. Their role is to be a rapidly deployable reinforcement in the case of an enemy action. Under no circumstances do I want them to face enemy units on their own: their fighting spirit has taken too much of a hit to allow that. I hope we don't have to order them into a combat. I'd rather they get some time to think about what it means to be British, and to get their fighting spirit back up. After all, at Crecy we destroyed the French cavalry for hundreds of years. Let's not give them the chance to return the favour, eh boys?

The Rear Guard will be comprised of our Heavy cavalry, and two units of Light Foot: the 1/60th Light Foot (Royal Americans), and the Provisional Light Infantry Battalion. I am putting so many units on Rear Guard because while I don't expect any French attacks from behind, I do suspect that Gormand is fiendish enough to get Indians to harry us from the rear.

The Main Body shall, therefore, be the following:
2/1st Foot (Royal Scots)
1/28th Foot (Bragg's) - to be given light duties as reward for taking French cannon
1/35th Foot (Otways)
Captain FitzPatricks Rangers - to be given light duties
Both units of guns
The Supply Train - now with extra French guns

The French guns are to be placed in the supply train until we reach St. Elizabeth, where the roundshot will be useful for breaching their defences.

Also, since we've lost a few officers, I want the records searched for possible Officer material.

You all know your duties. The French have proven that they are both brave and skilled, but we have driven them back and taken their cannon. They have learned that we will not hesitate to bring the fight to them, no matter the cost. Now let's get out there and kill some Papists, for King and country.

Col. Shaw.