Saturday, August 28, 2010


Between my shifts and family commitments, Mrs. Kinch and I haven't seen each other in a couple of days, so it was very nice to have dinner together today for the first time in what seems like an age.

The only thing that could make it better was having my prejudices confirmed, so when Mrs. Kinch came home from the supermarket with a bottle of French wine that went by the charming name Froglet I laughed myself sick; it couldn't be more French if it was wearing a beret, eating cheese and setting fire to sheep in the front room.

Thoughts on a game.

1st Swiss Battalion in French service (1 coy)
Figures by Newline and HAT Industrie
Painting by Mark Bevis.

There is a something rather odd about my wargaming at present. I'm rather like one of those Johnnies that spent decades on the Central European plain waiting for the Russkies to roll over the border - there's a lot of preparation and damn little action. I haven't played a game in months, but I've made a deal of progress in terms of mustering troops and whatnot.

I suppose a lot of that is down to the fact that the game I am really eager to play isn't available yet, but Command & Colours: Napoleonics should be with us in November. I will be running a little En Avant! at Gaelcon in October, but I'm making heavy weather of trying to stir up any enthusiasm for the project. However, I have ordered two Hotz mats with five inch hexes that should allow me to play Command & Colours: Napoleonics with my 20mm figures. When they get here - I emailed Hotz ArtWorks last week to ask them where my mats were after two months. They replied that the record to Britain was nine weeks, but did not specify (as Donogh pointed out) whether this was a record for speediest or slowest delivery.

I have a particular plan for these mats though, something I've fancied doing for several years.

The Command & Colours system can be played as a two player game on a hex board that is thirteen hexes wide by nine divided into three sectors (left, centre and right). The players draw a hand of cards that allow them to active a number of units each turn (e.g. two units on the left, three in the centre, all infantry units in any section). The other and rather more interesting option is to play with four players each on two boards stuck together divided into six sections; two left, two centre and two right. Three players take control of the sections on the board, while the fourth takes on the role of the Command in Chief. The Commander in Chief draws cards for the group as a whole and distributes them as he sees fit.

In my variant, units will generate a four inch section of "powder smoke" when firing. At the beginning of each turn, each player will be able to remove one section of smoke from his part of the battlefield. The smoke as no mechanical effect but will influence the game in a way that will become clear in a moment.

I plan to set the game up in a hall with the three junior generals playing as normal. The Commander in Chief will be located some ten yards away and will draw cards as normal. One general per turn ("the galloper") may run back to the Commander in Chief to collect the cards and may discuss the situation with him for one minute. At this point he must return, hand the cards out to his fellows.

If the galloper doesn't return in time, he misses his turn. The Commander in Chief can only make his decisions based on what the galloper tells him and what he can see of the battlefield through the powdersmoke. The Commander in Chief may come forward to view the battlefield himself, but may only give cards to that section that turn.

The idea needs work, but essentially the plan is to try to combine the advantages of fast play and chain of command of the Command & Colours system with two other issues of black powder battle; limited visibility and decision making under time constraints.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Though unfortunately I've read rules by the Two Fat Lardies rather than played them - I have been favourably impressed by their presentation and general ethos.

In addition, the Lardies have a very active Yahoo group and are always willing to engage with their audience. The latest development in this very commendable approach is Lard-o-vision, the first in a series of Youtube tutorials on how to play their games. The first game covered is Sharpe Practice, a large scale skirmish game for up to a hundred figures a side based on adventure fiction set during the 19th century - Forester, Cornwell et al.

Other rules authors take note.

Part the second.

Part the third.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Pork & Beans

Portugese Infantry from Ykreol

I took delivery the other day of two new battalions of French infantry, the 22nd Ligne and the 1st Swiss. Both need to be based, but they will form a new and interesting addition to my French forces - which are growing at a frankly alarming rate.

With that in mind, I've sent off another regiment of Redcoats to Mark Bevis, this time the 28th (North Gloucestershire) regiment of Alexandria fame to boost my British forces which are rather heavily outnumbered at present. I think it's only reasonable that they should be expect to be outnumbered no more than two to one any more than that is simply unsporting. The above figures will be mustering in soon, though I'm not sure what regiment they'll be joining.

I'm experiencing a little buyers remorse with regard to these chaps. The figures themselves will never win any beauty contests and they cost me 24 euro for one regiment. I could have bought far neater figures in a consistent pose from Newline Designs for about the same money. Not a mistake I will repeat.

Pictures of the Swiss and the 22nd Ligne as soon as I work out how to make Blogger co-operate.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Female of the Species

Maharani Jindan Kaur by George Richmond

"Women are never entirely to be trusted - even the best of them"

While I'm not sure I entirely agree with Sherlock Holmes verdict on the Fair Sex, it is an approach that is not without merit(1). Wargaming is my one refuge from the world of the skirt swishers and the responsibilities they bring. My others, smoking and books, are shared with a few very select female friends - but wargaming for me at least is an entirely masculine occupation(2).

With that in mind I think the likelihood of the Rajah of Kaala-Akhaata induling in a maiden guard is rather slim. Apologies Adbul old chap.

The rather formidable looking woman up above is the Maharani Jindan Kaur, the mother of Dilip Singh the last independant ruler of the Punjab. I've taken quite an interest in the Sikh Wars of late and I've come across three distinct portrayals of her in the available literature.

The first tends to ignore her entirely, she's mentioned, but only as the mother of Dilip Singh and as an annoyance to the British. This seems to be the most mundance and sadly the most likely to be the closest to the truth.

The second casts her as a independant woman who struggles against the British for Indian independance. This strikes me as post-colonial mythmaking - an entertaining hobby energetically pursued in bars across Ireland most evenings, unless the footballs on.

The third and to my mind, rather more interesting, portrayal is one I came across in Ian Hernon's "Britain's Forgotten Wars" which depicts her as a sexual predator who used the Briitsh to break the power of the Khalsa in retribution for the murder of her brother. Unfortunately, my copy is packed away since the move, but I am growing ever more curious about his sources for this characterisation. From a dramatic perspective I find this a lot more interesting than the other two, I even considered writing a novel about it once, though George MacDonald Frazer beat me to it.

I've always been interested in spin, my dissertation for my degree in Journalism was about portrayals of Irish troops in the Lebanon in the Israeli media, so I will be interested to learn about how this story developed.

More on this anon.

(1) Mrs. Kinch is alright, for a girl. If you like that sort of thing.

(2) I once accidentally outed a fellow wargamer to a friend of mine, who was unaware that our mutual friend was a homosexual, I expected his response to be one of mild surprise or blissful unconcern. He was to my surprise, absolutely shocked "Really? Are you sure? He can't be! He paints figures!".

This attitude seems to me to be dashed unfair - the Friends of Dorothy like nothing better than a well made chap in a uniform. It would be a shame to deny them. Wargaming may be a masculine occupation, but there's no reason it should be an exclusively hetrosexual one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Hip Hip Hooray! One down!

The Death of the Tippoo Sultan - Engraving from The Illustrated London News

I am always loath to comment on my professional life on this blog - but suffice to say that I had my first examination of my progress so far and it went very well. Far better than expected.

Mrs. Kinch continues well.

No wargaming news as such beyond the arrival of a copy of "The Sword and the Flame", a ruleset that I've heard a great deal of good things about. I doubt I'll run it as is, I'm rather more enamoured of the early 19th century than the later.

A full review as soon as I've played a game or two with them.

A big thank you to Maverick Collecting, Kala Akhaati sounds splendid and I'm glad to hear you got your dragoons at last.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Rajahship of Kala Akhaata

We had some old friends to dinner last night, Savage, Tootsie and Uber* and a marvelous time was had. Mrs. Kinch laid on a superb spread, wine flowed and the company was excellant.

Earlier yesterday, while I was in my role as plucky native bearer (of shopping) accompanying the memsahib as she was buying appropriate comestibles, the subject of my fictional Indian state came up. We discussed the possibilities and felt that "Kala-Akhaata" had the best sound and mouth feel.

Niila though I'm sure a perfectly respectable Sanskrit** word has too many Egyptian associations.

Zyaama sounded exotic to my ear, but not Indian - I've no idea why.

Kara Saras was the front runner for a while - it has that sing song tone that I associate with spoken Urdu. I once found my self extremely embarrassed when trying to deal with an Indian couple who were having a row in English (bless them, I'm not sure, I think they were trying to be inclusive). Both parties were obviously extremely upset - but the sound was so inherently funny to my ear and that I had to work very hard to keep a straight face. It was like listening to an Englishman who has lived in Ireland for years trying to pass as a native - painfully sincere, but ultimately hilarious.

Rather more Peter Sellers than the name of a brave warrior people don't you think?

Kara Akhaata had two good hard K sounds, which sounded Indian to my ear - Calcutta, Kali, Krishna, Sanskrit, Lakh, Shere Khan, Akela etc and much more reminiscent of the strange Indian movies Channel Four used to show early on a Saturday morning, usually featuring a satisfactory number of sword fights and war elephants and on one occasion, an exceptionally interesting (to my nine year old imagination) magical flying buzz saw.

So, my chap will be the Rajah of Kala Akhaata, Lord of the Black Pool.

I have given some thought to what his people will be called, subjects of the Rajah of Kala Akhaata I suppose. It seems unlikely that they would have a national identity as we would understand it.

Kala Akhaatians doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.

*It was drawn to my attention some years ago, that along with Donogh, I am one of the few of our social circle that does not have a commonly used nickname, though Donogh was known as "Dr. No" for a while.

He also has another name, but it is best not to speak of it.

**Every time I type this, it comes out as "sans skirt" - I should see a chap about that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

What's in a name?

Sikh Akali
- chaps who will not allow liberties to be taken

I approached Mr. John Cunningham with an order for some of his sepoys. Not only did he email me back very promptly, discuss the pros and cons of sepoys various, send me some pictures of plates in his collection and generally provided top quality service - he sent me a complete set of the figures themselves, so that I could see the chaps in the lead before making up my mind.

He also included a set of Sikh Akali. I had toyed with the idea of including some of these fierce looking fellows in the army of my fictional Rajahship (this is apparently the term for the state ruled by a Rajah, I think I may use the word Kingdom myself), but seeing them made up my mind for me.

This of course, puts me on the horns of another dilemma - which sepoys should I purchase?

In other news -

Mrs. Kinch continues well and is doing a little gentle work on the Wii fit in addition to ruling our domestic arrangements with her usual iron hand.

Sadly, some dastardly (and presumably French) swine has bought the house we had our eye on. As a result we've been wearing out a certain amount of shoe leather trying to find another. We saw three houses yesterday (making a total of 18 viewed so far) and have two definite nos and one distinct possibility.

My quest for a name for my Indian state continues, but I do have a short list. I had originally thought that I'd use something in Urdu, but a little reading has suggested that Urdu while perfectly good if you like that sort of thing is a bit of a Johnny come lately in the language stakes and if you really want to cut a dash as an Ancient Lost Kingdom in the sub continent it must be Sanskrit. No doubt my fictional subjects will use Urdu for everyday wear, going shopping, walking the dog and plotting the doom of the enemies of Sredni Vashtar and so forth - but Sanskrit is what you put on the brass plate by the door.

I shall be calling my fictional state Black Pool as I hail from there and I suspect it made its name in much the same way as my home town did - a jolly blackhearted type of place that made its mark in the slave trade and continued much as it began.

Thus far my options are...

Black Pool
Kaala Saras
Zyaama Akhaata
Niila hRda

Combinations thereof...

Kala Akhaata

Zyaama Saras
Zyaama Akhaata

Niila Saras
Niila Akhaata

Krsna Saras
Krsna Akhaata

I'll let these rattle around for a while and see which fits.