Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Kinch was determined to keep his speech short and low key...

The stylish blogger award is doing the rounds that moment, normally I'm quite suspicious of these chain letter things, but I've become quite taken with this one - mainly because it has meant that I've learned about some interesting blogs that I wouldn't otherwise have come across and secondly because I've learned a little more about some of the people I spend so much time reading*.

So without further ado.

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.

Many thanks to...

Donogh of Land War in Asia - a frequent partner in crime and a man with an unwholesome obsession with Piquet. His blog, Land War in Asia, is a constant reminder of my inadequacy and has lots of nice pictures, so nice in fact, that nine times out of ten, I steal them.

Steve of just too many blogs to mention - Steve is a very community minded fellow, whose efforts to make Tabletop Teasers available to the general public is an inspiration. I only wish that he was able to game more.

Bob Cordery of Wargaming Miscellany - certainly the most profilic blogger here, Bob is a man who shares my love of hexes and grids and fast playing simple rules. Sadly he combines it with a tendency to tinker with rules like women change clothes. His blog is always worth reading.

Tim Gow of Megablitz and More - Tim is another prolific blogger with a love 1/144th scale aviation that knows neither sense nor reason. Fortunately, he is now taking in an interest in Funny Little Wars and may soon be reintroduced to polite society.

Stokes Swartz of the Duchy of Stollen - a cracking read and the whole reason I got into this blogging nonsense in the first place. He may someday be called to account for that.

2. Share seven things about yourself.

1. I learned to read from "Biggles Pioneer Air Fighter by Captain W.E. Johns". This had a significant formative influence on me, shaping my understanding of right and wrong, duty, what it is to be a man, my interest in all things military and my raging Anglophilia. Twenty four years on since I first read this book, I still say "Well, that will stop me laughing in Church."

2. I have worked in a variety of fields; for the Church of Ireland as a lay member, five years in the book trade, as a tour guide, as a picture editor for a Murdoch owned newspaper -ahem- comic and now as a policeman, though I am apparently untypical of the breed. As Mrs Kinch once delicately put it, "Conrad is rarely mistaken for a policeman."

3. I'm a practicing member of the Anglican Church in Ireland, practicing I hasten to add because I'm not very good yet. I pray three times a day, though sadly my most commonly uttered prayer is "O Lord, if at times I forget thee, please do not forget me."

4. Between the ages of seven and thirteen, I had a very odd series of nightmares - which after some prompting I eventually told my parents about. They apparently related to a murder which my mother and I witnessed while on a family holiday behind the Iron Curtain. While I remember certain sections of the incident vividly, I am to this day not entirely sure what I saw. I am somewhat skeptical of eye-witness testimony as a result.

5. Despite a life time spent devoted to a civil sort of misogyny, I am married to the beautiful, extremely talented and exceptionally patient Mrs Kinch. Mrs Kinch was one of my teachers in Secondary School. This is not as sordid as it sounds.

6. I once ran a play by email game which included Paddy Griffith as a player. As a life long admirer of the man, I am indescribably proud of this fact and only regret that I allowed the contact to lapse when I went to college. It was a privilege to know him, even if it was just by email, even more so to have him critique some writing of mine. I will never forgive myself for failing to keep in touch.

7. My mother was very keen that I not have access to toy guns and the like. I have a vivid memory of my four year old self watching her open a bagged set of Cowboys and Indians, remove the Cowboys (who were ideologically suspect) and leave the Indians (who were politically pure) and then staple the card cover over the bag. My father took a somewhat more pragmatic view and my first memory of toy soldiers was during a stay in Holles Street Hospital (I was a frequent flier and must have been a very trying child in this respect). He brought in a set of cheap toy soldiers from the hospital shop and would set them up on my tray table for me. They were copies of Matchbox British and German infantry and they were packed away at the end of every visit, accompanied by a solemn promise that I was not to tell my mother.

Words cannot express the magic of that experience.

3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award.

There are far too many to choose from, but the chance to gush is too rare not to be availed of. - Currently on sabbatical, John Preece's blog is a pleasure to be sipped, rather than gulped. Ruminations of the early days of the hobby, beautifully painted miniatures - magical stuff. - The Great White Zulu is an unusual blogger, unusual in that his blog is tightly focused on his project to raise armies for the Seven Years War in India. Beautiful figures, nice terrain, interesting research - all in all, a real feast for the eyes. - A fine blog written by a chap whose grace under pressure and simple pleasure in the hobby is an example to us all. More of this please. - Ross McFarlane's blog is always full of good things, most of which involve kicking Yankees out of Canada in 1812 and later. This and a commendable interest in the Sikh Wars makes him required reading. A devotee of the Toy Soldier school, he manages to game with a regularity that inspires envy and dismay in your correspondent.

Mrs Kinch also has designs on his cat. - A wild colonial boy, Rosbif is a relatively new addition to my blogroll. He posts frequently and well and his book reviews are always worth a look. If only he could get over his Continental obsession and focus on the Peninsula, where the real fighting of the Napoleonic wars took place, his blog would be perfect. - Jeff presents a well written blog with a Colonial focus with some diversions on to the ocean blue. A short chamber Box-Henry point-four-five calibre blog. - Fitz-Badger writes an amusing Imagination blogs, some 18th century, some Colonial and some 18th century Colonial. A blogger that is unafraid to wear his jokes on his sleeve. - Another imagination blog, but very different to the others on this list. The author sets his games in an alternative 1979 where a Second English Civil War has broken out. An interesting idea well executed, often with personal observations (the author is a child of the seventies) that add depth to what could have very easily have been a one trick pony.
I often wonder what "Yes Minister" would have been like in this universe. - Probably one of the best blogs listed here, Foys ruminations on wargaming, life and Dandelion removing irons bought with rush money always provoke a response. Unlike me, Foy also thinks before he opens his mouth or starts typing, which makes his blog doubly unusual. - if Donogh's blog can bring home a sense of ones inadequacy, Phil's is likely to drive any normal chap to his quarters with a bottle of brandy and a Webley. Beautifully painted figures, well planned and executed projects, engagingly written posts; there is no justice. - Clive is a real benefactor to the hobby, tracking down old and interesting material from the early days and making it available to a wider audience. He also likes Command & Colours: Napoleonics, the man is a class act.

And now I really must stop, this much gushing is getting embarrassing...

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

It has come to my attention that some of those bloggers have already been nominated; I suppose they shall have to bear the cross of being nominated twice!

*I have more gray hair than Stokes Swartz, who knew? I also never knew Bob Cordery used to work as a male Glamour Model. Nice stuff, though. Very tasteful.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Games Night - Memoir '44 Tigers in the Snow

A picture taken during the
Courland Pocket game as I was returning from the out house

While it has been quiet on the blog front, it's been rather busy otherwise. Catching up is going to take a while - but suffice to say that the last few days have been very happy ones. Mrs Kinch and I will be working on the house for quite some time, I imagine that it will be at least three years before we're happy with it and it is unlikely that we'll ever be entirely happy - life being what it is!

When we began working on the house, we set out goals - small steps along what we understood was going to be a long road. Mrs Kinch achieved her goal this week by having a shower in her own shower and cooking a meal on her enormous new cooker. Having hot water in the house and the opportunity to have a home cooked meal is fantastic and certainly beats living off Chinese.

My goal as you can probably imagine was rather less practical...

We had the inaugural evening of what was known amongst the initiated as "choir practice" last week and fantastic fun it was too. Unfortunately our only table is a little too small to fit my Hotz Mat so we weren't able to play with toy soldiers - but we did play a lot of Command & Colours, mainly Memoir '44. A few single board games were played before we got the real meat of the evening, three games of Memoir '44 Overlord. We had planned just to play single board games as there were only meant to be three of us, but some friends had a regular RPG night which was cancelled and came along to play wargames instead. This was delightful as I hadn't played Overlord in well over a year and I'd forgotten how much more interesting playing on a team was.

To save set up time, we played the two pre-printed scenarios from the Tigers in the Snow expansion. We played the Market Garden scenario twice with the honours being even. The Allied advance faltered in the first game when the commander XXX Corps didn't grasp that he needed to keep his tanks moving and moving all the time, whereupon the Germans overwhelmed the beleaguered paratroopers.

The second game was far more satisfactory with the Allies winning by a healthy margin. I had taken over XXX Corps (one of the privileges of playing host is that you don't have to play the baddies) and while I didn't get much further than my predecessor, the Germans had to put all their efforts into blocking my advance with the result that the formations surrounding the Airborne sorts were starved of resources and were unable to crush them.

The last game didn't go so well, the scenario was set during the battles for the Courland Pocket, I can't remember exactly which one. Sadly for our Fraternal Socialist Brethren, despite a superlative showing by the Peoples and Workers Airforce against a Fascist heavy tank concentration, it went rather badly thereafter. Stubborn Fascist infantry ensconced in a heavily wooded terrain managed to blunt our armoured spearhead and the Fascist counterattack with their remaining tanks was lethal.

Readers will be glad to hear that Comrade Siskington was shot for his treachery.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

1:1 Terrain Project: Before pictures

This is the view from the front door. A lot has changed here in the last few weeks. Keen eyed observers will note that we are the proud owners of a significant portion of the EU textured wallpaper mountain.

View of the kitchen/dining room - not the best view. The kitchen is around the corner and is in a galley configuration. While I like the Art Deco fireplace, it's going to have to go. I'm thinking of turning the hole into a winerack and connecting the stove extractor to the flue. This was decided after I carefully set down a scale diagram on paper and arranged a series of cardboard counters on the diagram in a variety of configurations. It was established that it would be impossible to seat six or more people in the dining room and have an open fire without cooking two of your guests. I considered this a feature, Mrs Kinch talked me around.

The rear of the house. The roof is now sound having been given a good going over. The out building at the back is our current bathroom, delicacy forbids further photographs. The jungly undergrowth is being whipped into shape by my mother in law, who doesn't really have a garden in the city and will not be denied.

The shed, post Mrs Kinchs great uncles clean out. Sadly, it is full again...

Our bedroom, quite wholesome by the standards of the rest of the house. The fireplace is in very good nick, though Mrs Kinch was unable to prevent me from taking a crowbar to the "beauty board" soon after this picture was taken. My desk will go in the bay window.

The bathroom, featuring the hole in the ceiling from burst pipes at Christmas. Alot has changed here.

The spare room, sadly the old fellow who lived here seemed to equate barred windows with security. They needless to say have all gone.
It's a nice fireplace actually. More water damage here.

The fire place in the study, or what will be my wargames room. Interestingly, the previous owner used a mixture of wallpaper past and glue to put this wallpaper up.

And lest we forget, the pantry...

The curious thing is that, despite not having indoor plumbing, somewhere to wash or anywhere to cook - my main concern at present is that I have a guest coming for a game at the end of the month and no wargames table!

Life, it's all about priorities.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bases from Precision Wargaming Supplies

The 27th presenting arms on one of my
new bases from Precision Wargaming Supplies

It is with a sense of mounting relief that I approach the end of this week which will come at dawn tomorrow. There is tiling to be done, but I found that I lacked some the right equipment and therefore had to throw my hand in today. Tomorrow I will get the mastic gun required and launch into it. Mrs Kinch is off beating her charges through light musical theatre (Stepping Out, I think), so I had the day, or at least those parts of it that I was awake for, to myself.

I opened a parcel which arrived some time ago and experimented with the bases I had ordered from Precision Wargaming Supplies. While I haven't played a game with them yet, they seem to do the trick. They look well, the black enamel is more attractive than I thought it would be and I've realised that there is space to add name tags to the back of the units. This should help if they get their uniforms mixed up with the other boys in the shower baths after games.

The bases themselves are solid and should take pieces of magnetic basing without any fuss. I have noticed that when I add figures that some of the figure base extends over the edge. I have measured the steel base and they are exactly right, so the fault appears to lie with my basing not being as exact as it could be.

I can't see this being a major issue, but we shall see.

Not my most inspiring wargames purchase, but one that will prove useful. Bases are much like undergarments; undramatic, but probably necessary.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Another milestone...

It's been a busy week and if I'm honest, not an easy one. Work continues ever so slowly on the house. Sissi is in good kidney, growing and generally coming along by leaps and bounds, especially when it comes to discovering chimneys, holes in the floor and other new and interesting ways to get dirty.

One milestone that passed unnoticed was the arrival sometime last week of Joy & Forgetfulness's 20,000th visitor. This is no great shakes for a blog that has been operating since 2008, but curiously enough 10,000 of those visits have been since Christmas.

The other milestone was of course the delivery of the first book from abebooks or bookdepository to the new house - it was Henry Newbolt's "The Happy Warrior" - a collection of stories for boys from the Age of Chivalry. This is a book I have coveted since I saw Donogh's copy and abebooks did not disappointed. I have been a fan of Newbolt's work since I first discovered him in the pages of Donald Featherstone's "Featherstones Complete Book of Wargaming" on my eleventh birthday.

I shan't tarry, I need to get some sleep before I go to work, but I will leave you with what is to my mind at least Newbolt's finest work. I heard it last from Mrs Kinchs grandfather who recited it from memory with me last week; he stumbled over a few words, excusable for a poem learned eighty years ago, but the sound and the sense were there.

Vitai Lampada

There's a breathless hush in the Close to-night --
Ten to make and the match to win --
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulder smote --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

The sand of the desert is sodden red, --
Red with the wreck of a square that broke; --
The Gatling's jammed and the Colonel dead,
And the regiment blind with dust and smoke.
The river of death has brimmed his banks,
And England's far, and Honour a name,
But the voice of a schoolboy rallies the ranks:
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

This is the word that year by year,
While in her place the School is set,
Every one of her sons must hear,
And none that hears it dare forget.
This they all with a joyful mind
Bear through life like a torch in flame,
And falling fling to the host behind --
'Play up! play up! and play the game!'

Sir Henry Newbolt (1862-1938)

Hopefully I shall carry on playing the game for some time to come. Good night all.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Battlegames, a worthy periodical - now featuring 100% more Conrad Kinch

The days have been just packed and sadly have left little time to devote to blogging. The house is emptier and cleaner than it was, though indoor plumbing and hot and cold running water are still rather further off than I'd like. This week, fingers crossed.

Steve taking a break from playing the French,
takes time to mock my facial hair growing skills

That said, the constant work (and it has been constant) was relieved by my birthday on Thursday and a Saturday spent gaming with Donogh and Steve. Steve was delayed due to the financial crisis, but Donogh and I played a few games of my Sahagun scenario and my adaption of Blasthof Bridge to the Command & Colours: Napoleonics rules. We tinkered with them a little, but they seem to work rather well and I shall hopefully post photos shortly. Steve also informed me at length about the sexist subtext of Peppa Pig.

We then moved on to Ambush Alley, playing Donoghs adaption of a tabletop teaser to Ospreys latest offering - sadly bedtime and the demands of domestic harmony determined that the game had to go unfinished.

Another highlight of the week was the arrival of my copy of Battlegames - which included an article I submitted some time ago. This pleased me greatly, so much so that I will probably get off my rear and write something else.

Damn you Renard...

We also meet Woodner, my sister in laws new dog, during a visit to my parents in laws. He's a very personable chap, so much so that I didn't have the heart to tell him that his mother had a moments flightiness with a fox.