Sunday, July 31, 2011

Yet another new project

Captain "Rupert" John Anthony Cunningham-Howard, late of the Royal Loamshires, now of the Irish Guards

It's official I have too many projects, far too many projects. I've taken to hoarding figures in a manner that knows neither sense nor reason. At present, I have in train.

Mostly finished.
- A British Napoleonic army, which will also be subbing for a British army in India 1800-1840.
- A French Napoleonic army.
- A German Second World War army.

Works in progress.
- An Austrian Napoleonic army. (many units based and undercoated)
- A Spanish Napoleonic army. (some painted units)
- Dutch-Belgian allies for the above.

In boxes, may never see the light of day.
- Some Very British Civil War scraps.
- A Crimean Russian army.
- A Crimean French army.
- An 1840 era Sardinian army made up entirely of Bersaglieri.
- An 1840s Sikh army.
- A collection of English Civil War stuff.
- A British Second World War Army.
- An American Second World War Army.

And this just the stuff in 20mm! Not counting 1/32 scale Little Wars figures or the 6mm collection.

I have of course decided that the only thing to do in this situation is start a new period

. Note scarf and bear

This is unusual for me because I'm working in tandem with some other chaps. Force on Force from Ambush Alley Games has become rather popular in my social circle and the forces required are reassuringly small. I have mustered a single platoon of British infantry so that I might shoot Gorman's East Germans in comfort. I tell myself that the collection will stop there and who knows, it very well might. I have decided that as there are only thirty or so figures involved it would be silly not to paint them myself.

I'm rather fond of them as they tote SLRs and Brens, which reminds me forcibly of my teens and early twenties when for several weeks a year I would slog up hill and down dale at the behest of the Irish Defence Forces. One disadvantage though was that the figures were a bit too uniform for my taste and there was no way to distinguish the platoon commander.

Enter Captain "Rupert" John Anthony Cunningham-Howard, late of the Royal Loamshires and now of the Irish Guards. I wanted a way to quickly distinguish him from the rest of the SLR toting hoi-polloi. I haven't done much work with green stuff, but this seemed well within even my meagre talents. The youngest son of a distinguished Roman Catholic barrister and confectionery heiress, he enjoys long walks, water colours and the poetry of John Donne. An enthusiastic rather than a gifted boxer, he took a first in Classics at Hertford College Oxford and speaks German, French and Greek. In his spare time he is working on a biography of Dante Gabriel Rosetti and never goes into action without a scarf and a bear.

For obviously reasons, he is considered something of an odd fish.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Something old, something new

It's been a quiet few days on the wargaming front - though curiously enough I've actually played more games of late then I have in quite a while. The problem however is that none of those games have involved moving toy soldiers around a table. I've been playing Days of Wonder's rather excellent online version of Richard Borg's Memoir '44. It's a cracking game and has all the virtues of the tabletop version.

There are two issues that playing this game raises.

1. Despite the fact that Memoir '44 is a very simple game, I have discovered that we have been getting some of the rules wrong since the game came out. I was very surprised by this. It did also put me to thinking that if a comparatively large player pool can get the rules wrong consistently for years, what hope is there for more complicated games?

2. Due to the vagaries of the online system, I find myself playing the baddies about 40% of the time. I do not find this as upsetting as when I play tabletop games. The deindividualising effect of the internet, perhaps?

In short, I recommend this game. The initial download is only 40 megabytes and the first twenty games or so are free. After that it works out at approximately 6 cents per game.

The other wargaming news is that the latest and it would appear the last issue of The Classic Wargamer's Journal has arrived. I really liked the journal and it was good while it lasted, but it seemed unlikely that a chap with Phil Olley's talents and the not inconsiderable demands placed on his time would be able to continue with a project like this.

That said, it was a great read while it lasted and I'm sorry that I won't see any more of Daryl Haselton's magnificent collection (those moustaches, my word!). I think Phil took the right course in calling a halt on a high note. It would have been shabby to let such a nice project fizzle out.

Which is not to say that the Journal may not be revived, but I doubt it somehow.

All that remains to be said is that Mr Olley's characterisation of me as twisted is a vile calumny, so base that it could only be uttered by a pragmatical canting Scotsman without the wit to see that my patience and forbearance in the face of Gorman's continual provocation is nothing less than Saintly.

In other news - the Spanish expansion for Command&Colours: Napoleonics has been delayed until November due to a problem with the printers in China. In the words of Gorman, "This may be the greatest crime ever committed by global communism."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wood for the trees

From left to right, two model trees given me by Donogh many moons ago, a birch by Woodland Scenics and lastly, a Heki Tall Deciduous

It's been a bit of a brown study today and in an attempt to shake myself out of the funk, I decided to have a look at some of the new trees that I got to dolly up my table. I've been admiring Ross Mac's tables for quite some time now and it finally struck me that his trees are a mixture of heights and types, while mine are rather more homogeneous.

Consquently, I've been working on adding some new types and basing the ones I already have. My trees have been blu-tac'd to pieces of card thus far and while it's perfectly serviceable, it doesn't look very nice. Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial Wargaming page was always quite firm on the point that bases should be as small as possible as the smaller the base, the larger the amount of playing area that was available. Sadly, that magnificent page is no longer with us, but it's influence lives on.

Three small birch trees, I picked these up in the model shop in Frome and I'm very pleased with them

I've used old Games Workshop bases that I had floating around as they are small enough to share a hex with one of my five by two inch bases, while wide enough to prevent larger trees falling over. The plan is to texture these bases and add some windfall to make them look a little better. I must resist the urge to go overboard with the static grass however, as a recent trip to the woods hammered home the point that the ground underneath trees is generally pretty brown because they cut out the available light.

A tall birch tree based and ready to have that base textured and possibly have some grass added

Another thought that crossed my mind was that the different types of trees could have different game effects. In the Command & Colours system games I usually play, wooded areas have the following effects.

- Block line of sight.
- Offer cover to units in a wooded hex.
- Prevent units that have just moved into the hex from battling.

It might be interesting in a War of 1812 or other scenario where there is a lot of woodland fighting to distinguish between types of wooded areas. Certain wooded hexes could have a lot of undergrowth and be impassible to artillery, while others are quite lightly wooded and only block line of sight. This could be drawn on a map, but it would make more sense to assign a set of characteristics to each type of model tree and then use those to indicate which area were heavily wooded or not. The side with the home field advantage, like Indians or the defenders in the case of a scenario where the attacker hasn't had a change to conduct reconaissance, would have prior knowledge of this. The attacker would have to use scouts or puzzle it out for himself. The important thing would be to ensure that the types of trees are clearly distinguishable.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Donogh's Contest

Donogh is running a contest over at "Land War in Asia" to celebrate 200 posts. To enter you list your favourite posts and why you liked them.

The Bastion of Saint Conrad - This scenario is based on an incident from "The Three Musketeers" where the boys need to discuss a matter away from prying eyes and decide that the best place to do this is in the no-man's land between two warring armies. I chose this because I'm a huge fan of Dumas. I reckon this would be a good fit for Savage Worlds using Nostalgic Revival English Civil War figures with IMEX Pilgrims for the Pioneers.

Also it has my name on it. Splendid.

The Battle of Sacile - As regular readers are no doubt aware, I have a yen for Command & Colours: Napoleonics. This is something that I share with Donogh, though he is seemingly blind to the fact that the Peninsula is really the important theatre. He persists in dragging continental nonsense into it. In this case, the scenario is about the battle of Sacile in 1809 which was a set-to between Johnny Austrian and Johnny Crapaud. I like this mainly because it was an excuse to get some more toy soldiers, specifically HATs rather snazzy Austrian Landwehr.

The Battle of Sittangbad - An unusual take on the CHARGE! classic - this scenario is about an attempt to evacuate a base under pressure . I used to think Donogh's affection for Force on Force was misplaced, but after giving the game more of an airing, it's really begun to grow on me. I was surprised when he managed to make an 18th century clash work in contemporary Afghanistan. In retrospect I probably shouldn't be, as apparently Sittangbad was inspired by an action during the Second World War. Nihil novi sub sole and all that.

So in short, a good blog written by a chap with some dangerous ideas and some very unconvincing facial hair.

Back from Bath

We're back from Bath - whole and refreshed and thankful for the much needed break. We trotted off with our good friends Savage and Tootsie for six days of recreation and for the most part we had a wonderful time. Mrs Kinch did point out that it was the first holiday we'd managed together in over a year and the time together was a gift.

Highlights of the trip included...

Savage in one of the "covered ways" up which the Cornish infantry charged towards the Roundhead lines. The Sir Bevil Grenvill* monument is to the right out of shot.

Having a tramp around the battlefield of Lansdowne - this was the site of a set to between Roundhead and Cavalier in 1643. This was a real treat because the battlefield has changed little since the engagement and we managed to view it at the same time of year, in conditions that were similar.

I have never taken much of an interest in the English Civil War, beyond reading Simon as a boy and having a hearty detestation of the Commonwealth. My sympathies are naturally with the Cavaliers, while Savage is a Parliamentarian. You will see Savage in the picture above in a characteristic pose not dancing, nor celebrating Christmas. Neither did he attend the theatre while we were on holiday. My smoking was also curtailed.

Parliamentarian swine.

What is wrong with this picture?

Also due to my posting while I was away, my friend Mike realised that I was in Bath and we managed to meet up for a pint in "The Volunteer Rifleman's Arms". A splendid establishment. It was very interesting to meet Mike in person as we had only corresponded before. A fascinating few hours during which we talked wargaming, writing history books, publishing, cartography and oddballs in the fraternity. We also met Mike's family, who gave us a warm welcome. We then changed pubs. Inexplicably, in a Mecca of cask beers, we managed to find a pub that served Guinness which Savage drinks when he can't get any turps. Unfortunately, it wasn't very good Guinness as is evidenced by the picture above.

This was a real surprise and something I'll have to repeat. A game next time Embree!

I had to stay quite quiet to get this shot of this little fellow, who is a common Marmoset, which seems something of a misnomer to me. I had imagined a common Marmoset would wear a flat cap, drink bitter and say things like "Eeee lad". Look at him, probably hasn't a days work in his life.

The highlight of the trip so far as Mrs Kinch was concerned was our outing to Longleat Animal Park. This was fantastic, even better than I remembered it. There had been big changes to the park since we were last there. You can walk in amongst the Meerkats for example, which is great. My camera battery ran out regretably quickly, so many of my pictures were taken on my phone, but expect a torrent of Meerkat videos.

The SS Great Britain (Mrs Kinch for scale)

We went on a day trip to Bristol which was mainly memorable for SS Great Britain museum. I hadn't been that keen on going and was mainly there to accompany Savage who has a passion for Isambard Kingdom Brunel that should worry Tootsie, were it not that the chap is safely dead and buried. The ship is a magnificent sight and is a credit to the team that restored her. She's held in drydock and you descend through a sheet of plate glass which represents the water line to inspect the hull. This area is kept at 20% humidity or less to keep the hull from rusting. What makes this an even more surreal experience is the fact that there is a layer of water on top of the glass, so that one looks up to see rippling rain falling on the water "surface" from underneath.


Mrs Kinch and I recently celebrated our three year anniversary. As it happens we went to Bath on our honeymoon and had a splendid cream tea in the Jane Austen exhibition rooms in 2008. I'm very fond of this particular meal and when we returned we were shown to a table right next to where we'd had tea on our last visit. I asked if we could be moved, the waitress agreed, but was a bit perplexed until I explained why. Needless to say she rose to the occasion as you can see above.

It wouldn't really be a holiday without some book shopping and I managed to substantially increase my collection of Henty's. I read "With Moore at Corunna" on the way home - fine, stirring stuff.

Taking communion at Bath Abbey was wonderful. A particularly pleasant and welcoming group of communicants made a stranger feel very welcome.

Savage and I also went on a trip to Frome on the good advice of Stryker. We were not disappointed. The Frome Model Centre is enormous, well stocked and staffed by pleasant and well informed staff who seperated me from my money with significantly less sting than usual. Savage picked up some Soviet Anti-Aircraft guns which will soon be gracing Libyan technicals, while I bought some Beech trees to dolly up my game boards as well as some ECW plastics.

Some rather excellant meals were eaten while we were away, but the palm must go to the Barrique Bistro. This restaurant looks slightly grotty on the outside, but the unassuming exterior conceal a real treat within. The food is best described as French tapas, small portions of classic French dishes served in little pots by some of the nicest waitstaff we'd met in a while. Very affordable too.

And that concludes "What I did on my holidays" by Conrad Kinch, Age 31 and one third.

*Respects were paid, Steve.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Communique from Bath

Sadly, my looting has mainly been confined to bookshops...

We're all having a fantastic time in Bath - the ladies have had a few hard days shopping and lazing about being washed at a price that doesn't make me feel so bad about my toy soldier obsession.

Meanwhile I accompanied by my trusty batman, Savage, have been out exploring bookshops and tramping around the Lansdown battlefield. That was a real treat and the first time I've ever managed to see a battlefield in something like its original state. The whole expedition was made much simpler by a copy of "The Battle of Lansdown" by John Wroughton, which I cannot recommend highly enough. I picked up a copy in Toppings and read it overnight. It is an excellent guide, both to the battle and the ground.

The ladies have disappeared off to another spa and I'm busy booking tickets for Longleat. More upon our return.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A tray for today

My tray - existing in its natural state of clutter

Today was a long day and it followed a day that had been very long as well. I become seized with a selfish desire to play after days like that, to do something hobby related. I'm too tire to do anything useful around the house or write or anything like that, but I can stick a toy soldier together.

As I have mentioned before I have started raising Dutch troops for the Waterloo campaign. The boxes arrived from Models2U the other day and I set to work with a will, washing and sorting the contents.

And damned if there weren't some RHA fellows in there as well...

First on the block are the Dutch gunners from Waterloo 1815. I was in a bit of pickle with these as they used French guns during the Hundred Days and they come with British guns. Fortunately, I went searching through my box of figures and came across a bag of old ESCI figures given to me by a friend who lost interest in Napoleonics some time ago.

Two gun carriages looking rather forlorn

A search through the bag yielded two French gun carriages, but only one tube. The tubes from the Dutch Artillery sets had very strange thick trunnions on them, which wouldn't fit and didn't look the thing at all. Eventually, I lighted upon a set of French Guard Artillery. I only need one of these, so I was able to sacrifice one of the tubes from the set to use with my Dutchmen.

Two Dutch guns awaiting crew

The tube took a bit of encouragement to sit right and I needed to trim the elevating screw a little with a stanley, but I think they look fine.

Two Dutch gun crews based up

Not having the mental energy to do much I else, I cut the Dutch gunners from their sprue and glued them to bases. That seemed like quite enough hard work for one night!

On a completely unrelated note - Joy and Forgetfulness will be having one of its periodic outages as Mrs Kinch and I are going on holiday. We'll be revisiting our Honey Moon haunt of Bath with a day trip to Bristol. Mrs Kinch is particularly excited about walking with Meerkats at Longleat.
We will have a car with us and any suggestions anyone might have for good game or book shops or anything in particular worth seeing along the way will be gratefully received.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Falcata Spanish Infantry & Products for Wargamers Steel Bases

I recently came into some Falcata Spanish Infantry courtesy of my pal John C. They come in a very snazzy box with a cartoon cover. I should post a picture of it as it has a certain je ne sais qoui. In the mean time, you shall have to settle for some pictures.

And as Foy is so fond of saying, they really are nice figures.

There are 32 figures in the box, each with his own individual plastic blister and they include -

- an officer
- a sergeant
- a drummer
- a casualty
- a chap falling wounded
- an ensign
- a mounted Colonel
- a variety of squaddies in firing, loading, marching and advancing poses.

I've been able to put together a single Command & Colours: Napoleonics unit with these fellows, using the marching and the advancing poses in two ranks of eight. The officer, drummer and sergeant fill up the third rank and the casualty figure to mark the unit when it flees the field.

Frustratingly, the sergeant and one of the advancing chaps have decided to take French leave and are somewhere loose abroad the moors. I would blame the cat, but she's generally pretty good about not knocking figures about. Damn and blast.

Another recent arrival were some bases from Products for Wargamers, as recommended by Steve the Wargamer. Perhaps he is the Wargamer of the title, who can say?

These were bespoke steel bases made five by two inches. I had been very happy with the bases from Precision Wargame supplies. However, when Products for Wargamers were able to produce a similar product for little over half the price, I had to have a look for myself.

The bases are thinner than their compatriots and are galvanised rather than black enamelled, so they are not as handsome as the others. If you look at the picture above, you can see one in it's natural state. The base on the left is the same type of base given a quick spray of black enamel and a coat of varnish. I'm very happy with these and because they were cheaper, I was able to afford sufficient bases to base my entire collection.

That is assuming the collection doesn't get any bigger.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat...

How I wonder what you're at, Up above the world so high, like a tea tray in the sky!

I probably don't write as much hobby related material as I ought to - mainly because I'm no great shakes at the craft end of the hobby.

However, I do have moments of insight on occasion and this one relates to keeping the memsahib happy. While having a wargames room is a real privilege, particularly when you can leave a project out and do a little bit of work on it when you have a spare moment, there are times when it behooves you to spend some time with the old skirt swisher. I've taken to keeping a tray, liberated from my mother in laws, stocked with small jobs in my wargames room. The idea is that you can pick the tray up, march off to whatever your spouse wants to watch television or a DVD or some such and get a spot of work done while you're at it.

Thus allowing you some quality time with your armed forces while enjoying some quality time with your spouse.

As you can see my tray above is as cluttered as the average painting table. This evening job is basing, so the tray carries troops, 5/8 inch plasti-card, super glue, strips of magnetic material and filler for the job at hand. I keep it in the wargames room and bring it out whenever I feel like being social able.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bon Anniversaire Cousin Jonathan

Best wishes to the home of Chester Himes, Ed Zwick, James Ellroy, Westerns, sunny side up eggs, Long Island Ice Tea, biscuits and gravy and Lee Marvin. A little ditty from my favourite homosexual atheist.