Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Holidays & a touch of Dutch.

Mrs. Kinch really did an excellent job didn't she?

On the 20th, I handed in my last two essays and began two weeks of glorious time off from school. I will be working over Christmas, but to be honest, only working one job is going to be a wonderful relief. All the better, on the 21st we had the annual gathering of friends of the Kinchs. Mrs. Kinch did a wonderful job making sure everything was ready and it was great to see everyone.  It was just a wonderful convivial time and the company were in such good spirits. It was the best. 

A picture stolen from the Internet. Much like my bicycle.

I indulged in some unmanly winging in my last blog post - something of which I am too often guilty, but I was well and truly browned off having had my debit card and my bicycle stolen.  I managed to cancel the card, though whoever ended up with it attempted to use it some hours later. Just goes to show that there is no harm in taking that sort of action quickly. 

I was particularly miffed about my bike, mainly as I'd had some work done on it the week before and had some parts replaced. But lo and behold, I was in the library the following day polishing off my Constitutional Law essay when I saw a young fellow pushing a bike down the street. I looked a second time and then realised that it was very familiar. 

I think he realised he was for it when I let out a roar of anger and he took to his heels, dropping the bike, I'm lucky he didn't mount it or he'd have smoked me completely. So one escaped miscreant, but I got my bicycle back which was a huge relief. Cost me the price of a new lock, but on the whole, I count myself very lucky. 

You may remember this fellow from 2012, when I warned Alan that he would progress with glacial slowness. I was not wrong it would appear. This is a 17th century Dutch musketeer and a very fine fellow he is.  I despaired of ever finishing him and when Krisztian offered the services of a friend of his with an interest in large scale figures, I jumped at the chance. 

I must say Krisztian's pal has done a bang up job, really fantastic and certainly miles better than I would have done. Harry Pearson in "Achtung Schwinehundt" makes an argument that toy soldier collectors are a different breed to wargamers and he is no doubt right.  I am definitely a wargamer, but every so often I have a hankering for a beautiful thing for it's own sake and this Dutchman is the fruits of the hankering. 

The builder, I'm ashamed to say I don't know his name, has altered the model somewhat, but I think it makes it all the better. The animation of the face and the naturalness of the pose are just breath taking. 

 It is a bit silly that a material thing can bring me so much pleasure, but that it does so is inarguable. I'm still debating where I shall put him when I finally take delivery, but he really is fine. His brother, a trooper of the Lifeguards, sits on my desk and is very pleasant to look at. 

I think he may live on my desk as well or possibly the mantle piece in the War Room, but we shall see. Though going back to my previous blog entry on him - I realise that I never did finish "With Pike and Dyke" by GA Henty.  I must go back to that. 

Just look at that face and the delicate blending on the fabric.  There's a character to give King Phillip a sleepness night or two and no mistake. 

One of having a little time with nothing more strenuous then some desultory Christmas shopping was I had the chance to do a spot of reading. This presented itself by chance more than anything and I really enjoyed it. Christie is really more Mrs. Kinch's thing than mine - but this is probably the least Christie-ish of her books that I've read. 

The novel is a short one, more of a collection of short stories really.  The protagonist is an Englishman called Satterthwaite who meets a mysterious character, named Quin, who inveigles him into solving mysteries and righting wrongs. The stories have a strange almost dreamlike quality to them. There is a good deal of contrivance, but the thrust of the storytelling carries the stories along without you wondering too much about it. 

In many ways, the stories are reminiscent of the best of GK Chesterton. They have a curious fairytale logic about them that I found quite enchanting.  I had not suspected that Christie would be able to carry off that sort of thing, but she did and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I shan't write more, so as not to spoil them, but they are well worth reading and quite short. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Getting there

Getting this home is one of the best jobs of the year

Mrs. Kinch and I were talking about the year in review last night and it appears that 2014 will not be one remembered with great fondness. I think in retrospect that view may have been somewhat coloured by the fact that yesterday did not go brilliantly, but every household has its own troubles. 

In light of recent events in Pakistan, our problems are shown to be so utterly trivial that allowing them to spoil things seems a shabby and unmanly thing to do. Work and school are stretching us, but alot of that pressure will be coming off on the 20th.  

In the mean time, I think we will focus on those many things that we have to be thankful for, not least the arrival of our magnificent Christmas tree. Mrs. Kinch did a cracking decorating job on it and also on the floor of the living room, now newly washed, stained and varnished. There's a rug coming for it, but that won't be until the New Year. 

I lack the words to describe how happy this makes me. It is the everything of home. 

A horde of dastardly Frenchers

In between wrestling with Constitutional Law essays, our finances and the logistics of Christmas, I had a chance to unpack some French infantry that I picked up from a chap that was selling a diorama. I based these last night and they look very fine. I'll be substituting some of my French line in great coats for these fellas and transfering the great coated men to my 1848 forces. 

Anyway this Criminal Law essay isn't going to write itself. More in a few days. 

A very Merry Christmas to you all. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Just a spot of unseemly gloating


This arrived this morning - which I am inordinately pleased with. Now as it happens, this is the fifth Command & Colours Napoleonic box I've bought from GMT games over the years.  

General Du Gourmand always orders the same stuff - sometimes later than I - and has always received his first. Not only that, but my box was on every occasion seized by Customs for extra taxes. 

But not this time. 

Artists impression of Kinch at this point. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Finished Austrian Artillery

The Battery

I finished off the Austrian battery during a spare hour.  It's a simple paintjob, but it does the business.  The guns were painted by Krisztian Takacs. 
Look over there!

Now that these fellas are done, I only have to sort out the horse artillery to have the artillery arm completely finished. 

Gun crew number 1

If we're going to play some Overlord games, I may need to recruit some more.  But for the time being, these are plenty.  I have the remainder of the set laid away. The basing was done in the usual style and while it does put brown with brown, it looks rather better when placed with other figures. 

Class Photo

Because I use figures from a variety of sources,  I keep to one house style for basing which I find ties disparate figures together regardless of manufacturer or painting style. 

Class Photo Number Two

Things are pretty busy here between assignments due, work and Christmas, but Mrs. Kinch is doing her best Elizabeth Montgomery impression and things are firmly in hand. To be honest, I can't wait until the 19th when school closes for a glorious two weeks.  I have been able to take some leave for that period, so Mrs. Kinch and I should be work and school free for a couple of days. It's going to be heavenly

Mrs. Kinch's best helper - plum tuckered out after a hard evenings wrapping. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

HAT Austrian Artillery

HAT Austrian Artillery

Mrs. Kinch and I had a rare day off together today. We ate leftovers and sat on the couch and watched films and it was glorious. In between another project, I decided that I might do a job on some Austrian gunners as I thought that this might be a job that I could finish at a sitting.  

I found these images on the HAT website and they serve pretty well. I don't think I'll mess about too much with the detail of the cockade or the shoulder boards, but I managed to get the broad strokes done in a single sitting. I only need three gun crews for my Austrian army, so nine figures is plenty. 

Group shot

I sprayed these fellas with Army Painter brown spray and then threw a quick wash of Devlan mud over them. After that it was pretty much painting by numbers, the trick was just to make sure I was careful in applying my colour so I didn't have too many corrections to do. 

Man with stick

I have some 1848 Austrian gun crews that Krisztian did for me, based on Hat Swedish figures, but the uniform changes between 1815 and 1848, but I can use the guns interchangeably.   These fellows are almost done, needing I think one movies worth of time to finish them off. 

Man with other stick

None of these are going to win any beauty pageants, but they are perfectly workmanlike figures with a perfectly workmanlike paint job.  I wanted to pick something small as with another four  assignments due by the 14th, I won't have time to devote to anything more complicated. 

Man with yet another stick (aka a rammer)

I'll post pictures once I've finished them off as I've made a hole in another painting project that is slowly going ahead. And more on that anon. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The votes are in

Well the votes are in...

...and it looks like Tomo takes the palm. 

Tomo, could you leave a comment (which I won't publish) with your email address, please? I'll get in touch with you to arrange your prize. 

Doesn't he look fine?
(click to embiggen)

In a vague attempt to drag this back to something related to wargaming, this is a picture of a rather excellent French Guardsman.  This chap is currently in Hungary having been painted by a pal of Krisztians. He will be making his way to me before too long. He looks fantastic, just the right amount of swagger - I would recommend clicking on the picture to have a closer look.  The figure itself is a 1/16 scale kit from Miniart. 

If looks could kill...

After I handed in my last assignment a couple of weeks ago, I managed to sneak away for a convivial one with General Du Gourmand and Unlikely McKenzie. We were about to leave when Du Gourmand strayed us with a round of port.  The chap that delivered them to the table said that it was the first time that he'd ever been asked for that particular potable, except one lady who would order it with a blue Wicked and then mix the two. 

The offending article

Du Gourmand as he is a vile Bonapartist decided that this was too good not to try and promptly did so. McKenzie and I were very much of the opinion that this is not the done thing, which is what prompted the photo above. 

Rest assured we formed hollow square and had Du Gourmand flogged before the regiment. 

And after that distressing thought, I shall leave you with an image 
of the Judges taking a well deserved rest.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A panel of learned Judges

The panel of Judges

So I mentioned previously that I needed some means of adjudicating between the worthy contestants. Dice were suggested by a party who shall remain nameless.  Dice would be entirely inappropriate as they would be completely random.  What this situation requires is a detailed and rigorous appreciation of the merits of the case.  With that in mind I have selected a panel of two learned Judges to give their opinion. 

The Voting

The Judges have reviewed each answer in depth and will mull over them this evening. They will then cast a vote for the contestant they think is most deserving. 

Whichever bowl is empty tomorrow - shall be judged to be the winner!

Judges decision

I will have to plead to being up to my neck in coursework and work over the last few weeks, but some of you may recall we had a competition here not so long ago. 

Our entrants were

1. Steve the Wargamer
2. The Celtic Curmudgeon (spoiled ballot)
3. Tomo
4. The Mad Padre
5. Archduke Piccolo

Of the above, the Celtic Curmudgeon is out because he didn't answer the question and Mad Padre is also out because he did not get the question right, leaving us with.

1. Steve the Wargamer
2. Tomo
3. Archduke Piccolo

Now these are all fine answers, but I'm damned if I can slip a knife edge between 'em. Watch this space - I will find a way to distinguish between them. I will have to refer this to the judges. Final answer by Monday at the latest.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Utitza) - Part Two

The Kitchen 

As the ululating lament of McHibernia-McEireanneach from the kitchen had subsided somewhat -  I decided to risk putting my head around the door only to discover the kitchen swathed in mist. A single Wolfhound loped through the murk, pausing only to howl mournfully, and then disappeared. 

After dragging McEireanneach out of the kitchen and deciding that I was going to have to do something about the sudden appearance of trees before Mrs. Kinch came home, I pressed another medicinal brandy on him (his previous one was "with O'Leary in the grave" apparently - whatever that means) and we went back to the important work of Borodino. 

The French centre advances to contest the village

McEireanneach advanced in the centre, where I hoped to drag him into a firefight around the village. 

Cossacks supported by the Moscow regiment move to threaten the French right

With a dearth of centre cards, I moved up some reserves on my left as I thought at least if I could hit his left he would have very limited space to fall back into. 

A surprise attack!

Now as it happened McEireanneach spotted what I was doing and move his light cavalry forward.  These fellows are a lot more dangerous than my cossacks and would make short work of them. Not only that, but I'd ended up with two Cavalry Charge cards in hand. As I had no other cavalry other than the Cossacks, I formed the opinion that there was no point waiting to be attacked and I that I might as well extract as much as I could from the card before the French dispersed my horsemen. 

So I launched a sudden Cossack charge that knocked the stuffing out of the French light horse. 

The historians will be writing about this one for a while.

The French countercharge was pretty lukewarm and didn't wipe me out. I reckon that a lot of ink will be spilled on that particular engagement in years to come as Historians will try and argue that Cossacks were perfectly capable as serving as battlefield cavalry. 

French guns barrage the village of Utitza

Meanwhile, the French infantry were proving stubbornly reluctant to close on Utitza leaving their guns to do the talking for them. 

With the French resolutely refusing to close - the Russian line creaks into action and moves forward.

On the left, the French close with bayonet. 

And do great execution.

The Russian line hits the Swiss and the lights in the centre.

As I had been forced to bring on a general engagement in the centre, I decided to push with everything I had there. Fire crackled up and down the line. 

Doing for the Swiss and their leader.

And driving the lights back.

With the battle hanging in the balance, the Russian line advances.

This was quite a tough decision, the scores were (if memory serves) even with the next scoring point taking victory.  I worked on the basis that attacking was preferable to playing it safe on the grounds that I was more likely to be able to wipe out or destroy one of the wavering French units. 

Follow me men!

As my gallant general closed the distance in the hope of smashing the tatters of the French centre, a lucky volley from the remaining lights put paid to that idea. 

And the cannonade finishes the business.

Counter attacking McEireanneach launched an artillery in the centre to blast the 18th Jeagers holding Utitza and that was that. 

It was a close game and an absolute pleasure from beginning to end.  Hopefully McEireanneach will return, though not before I've managed to get rid of the glade in the kitchen and the Dolmen in the hall. Sadly, the shock of victory as opposing to the traditional defeat and flight to France was too much for McEireanneach and he had to take to the bed. 

We hope he gets well soon. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Borodino - 7 September 1812 (Utitza) - Part One

General Poniatowski - looking very dishy I must say. 

I'd love to say that I haven't been updating the blog because I've been flat out playing games and having way too much fun - but in actual fact, it's mainly because I've been flat out in work and attending college. The course has been demanding, but I'm enjoying it. Unfortunately it doesn't really leave time for anything else and between getting to work and to class, any spare time I have have has been spent with Mrs. Kinch. 

But I've had this sitting in my drafts section and I've finally managed to put some sort of shape on it. 

An unexpected reinforcement for the French

Prior to my dissappearing down a rabbit hole of legal studies, I managed to get a game in.  What I lacked was an opponent, but this deficiency was put right by the sudden arrival of a tall, wild eyed figure at my door. Lashed by rain and with his more delicate extremeties frostbitten - he was kept warm only by the burning flame of duty to the blood and soil. 

And it was  thus that I met my new old enemy, Lochlainn McHiberinia-McEireanneach an impecunious republican exile constantly surrounded by Celtic mist (which proved a swine to get out of the curtains - Mrs. Kinch still isn't speaking to me).  I hustled him into the wargames room before he caught his death and thrust a medicinal brandy into his hand. 

Pausing only briefly to sing a heart rending lament for the soft drizzle of home - he informed me that he had returned in secret to the Auld Sod. He had slunk off a French frigate at midnight in order to raise bloody riot and revolution and coincidentally wreak terrible vengeance on all filthy Kinchs. 

We agreed that a game of Command & Colours Napoleonics seemed the best way to raise the green flag and begin the rebellion. 

I happened to have one of the Borodino scenarios set up - so we played that. 

The field of battle

"The village of Utitza was at the southern end of the Russian left flank positions at Borodino. The Utitza woods, however, were very dense—well suited for Tutchkov’s Russian Jaegers that were deployed there in some numbers. All total, Tutchkov had some 23,000 troops, but many were untrained Opolchenye (militia). Poniatowski had about 10,000 trained Polish soldiers, very eager to fight.

The first attempt by the Poles, did capture Utiza, but Tuchkov’s Grenadier Division and the 3rd infantry division advanced and ejected the Polish forces in short order. General Junot then joined the attack and again captured Utiza, but as the Russians departed, the village was set on fire and no longer could be defended. After this, the Russians and Poles continued to skirmish for the rest of the day without much progress.

The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?"

Skirmishing in the woods

The initial few moves of the game were quite tentative. I had the edge in Light Infantry and hoped to drag the French into a fight on the right in order to whittle down their numbers and press my advantage. 

The 1ieme Suisse annihilate the 17th Jaegers

Unfortunately,  McHiberinia-McEireanneach counter attacked swiftly and managed to put paid to my jaegers. 

But run slap bang into the Parnau Grenadiers

I repaid him in his own coin. It's interesting how the battle ebbed and flowed, which is something of a recurring theme of CNN games.  It's very rare that there is general engagement all along the line.  It's much more usual to find that there will be a serious of hot spots that move across the table and often, as a general you will find yourself trying to use weaker cards to focus an opponents attention somewhere, while you build a knockout blow somewhere else. 

The Russian line moves forward dressing from the right

As the French had proven quite adept at pulling weakened units out of the line and I didn't have the cavalry to go hunting them down it was proving frustratingly difficult to break any particular part of the French line.  McHiberinia-McEireanneach was quite cautious and I knew that if I maintained the defensive, he would simply pick a point and steamroller me. This obliged me to attempt to keep him off balance and prevent him from withdrawing shaken troops and replacing them with fresh ones. 

With that in mind, I pushed forward in the centre in order to prevent him bringing his cavalry on the left into play, which I didn't have the resources to counter. Holding the village of Utitza allowed me to make the battle about the built up area and not get drawn into a fight in the open, where the French horse soldiers would inevitably prevail. 

Lochlainn McHiberinia-McEireanneach

Warmed somewhat by his medicinal brandy -  McHiberinia-McEireanneach was in good spirits, until a chance remark reminded him that he was in mourning, whereupon he immediately retreated to the ktichen, Covering his head with a black cloth he began to sing a mournful dirge bewailing the recent death of his favourite potato (which he had hand raised since he were a lad, yer honour).

It was going to be a long night.