Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hark the Herald

The Cathedral filling up
(click to embiggen)

This year my rest days fell across the holiday and we were able to spend Christmas together which was brilliant.  There was a lot of tooing and froing in the run up, but all that nonsense faded away when we went to the Saint Patrick Nine Carols and Lessons. The service is very well attended, so we had to turn up an hour early to get seats. This might seem irksome, but it was actually really pleasant, because it meant that we got to sit together for an hour with no phones, nothing else to do, but talk and enjoy each others company.

The service itself was magical, with reading from the choir and the school.  The carols were a mix of old and new, ending as always with a resounding "Hark the Herald Angels sing" with half a dozen trumpets.  We don't get to go most years because of work, but when we do it's a memory we cherish the rest of the year. 

After service was spent catching up with family and friends, before bolting out of the Cathedral and seeing the senior Kinchs.

We also ran into Dom, who was certainly festive. 
(click to embiggen - but exercise caution, excessive exposure may cause blindness)

Ghost stories at Christmas are something of a Kinch 
tradition and there are few better than these. 

We spent Christmas Day with Mrs. Kinch's family which was a wonderfully relaxed day filled with good food and good company.  Rare roast beef and yorkshire pudding and my father in law's vintage port meant that my waist band will be a little tighter come New Year. A new dressing gown and smokeables kept me entertained while I painted a few Prince August Guardsmen and listened to some MR James Ghost Stories. The above recording is a good one and I recommend it unreservedly. 

And lest there be any scruple about listening to audiobooks on YouTube, the recording is in the public domain was made to be distributed as widely and as freely as possible. 

One of my mother in laws cribs
(click to embiggen)

So we spent Christmas day with the inlaws, during which time I had a look at some of my mother in laws cribs.  My mother in law really likes cribs. These figures are about 1/32 in scale. 

How much does she like them, I hear you ask? 

She has thirty of them. 

And another

The figures were picked up on a family holiday to Italy in the 1960s, the backdrops were both made by Mrs. Kinch's great uncle.  These slightly smaller than the previous lot, around 1/48, I'd hazard. 

A table of Christmas decorations

My mother in law was going to decorate another family members home and had put a little collection of things on a table in the living room.  A number of things caught my eye. 

Including this little chap

This crib, with a frame made by Mrs. Kinch's great uncle, is really surprisingly small. About 1/300 scale I think and made with German flats I picked up in Hanover.

My keys for scale - It really is teeny. 

(click to embiggen)

But lastly, this stuck out amongst the Christmas decorations. If I had any doubts as to the essential soundness of Mrs. Kinchs parents, they were put to rest.  What home would be complete without a Christmas Bismarck? 

Nothing says the anniversary of the birth of Our Lord and Saviour quite like Eisen und Blut!

But seriously, we had a wonderful, peaceful day and I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, however belatedly, and share this video with you. It is a very simple idea, but beautifully executed by some very clever people in a German supermarket.

Rarely does Wordsworth's phrase "surprised by joy" seem so apt.

See you all in 2016. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Ghurkas from over the sea

As I mentioned previously Nick very generously sent me Ral Partha Ghurkas. These arrived last week and I haven't had the time to give them the attention they deserve. These are just some phone snaps, but I think the quality of the figures speaks for itself. 

A particularly dangerous looking customer. This chap looks like a sergeant major to me. 

Actually looking at him from another angle - perhaps Billy Fish from The Man who would be King? 

The steely gaze of a Ghurka officer speculating as to how exactly his next foe is going to be sent to meet his ancestors. 

These are lovely little crisp sculpts and Nick has done a very effective and simple paint job on them. I don't think anyone was ever the worse for having Ghurkas by his side and I look forward to leading them on the tabletop.

In other news, Mrs Kinch has been sashaying about the house putting everything in order. Decorating the Christmas tree is definitely a girl job and after bringing the boxes down from the attic, I was politely but firmly chivvied from the room. 

I returned to find everything sparkly and wonderful. But amongst the decorations I noticed some new arrivals, Guardsbear Stern of the Irish Guards hitched a lift with Mrs Kinch during a recent trip to London. 

Apparently he will be spending his Christmas leave with us. We may need more mince pies. 

Mrs Kinch is also a fan of fat Angels. There are rather a lot of them on our tree. 

Sergeant Rodiss will also be spending his Christmas leave with us.

I may have to buy a lot more mince pies and perhaps hide the best sherry. 

A golden snitch made for Mrs Kinch by her partner in crime Tootsie. 

Another fat Angel. I think the woman may have a problem. 

And no Christmas tree would be complete without a lobster. 

This is, of course, the second lobster as everyone knows there was more than one lobster at the birth of our Lord. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

War on M-Isis

Senior officer in reflective mood 

Kinch court-towers-manor-on the wold-in the glen and over the rainbow was subject to a terrorist attack yesterday which has shocked pundits.

The attack which came from nowhere occurred while Mrs Kinch was decorating the tree in the front room. Fortunately there were no casualties, though Mrs Kinch was obliged to have a sit down and a cup of tea.

The attack has been condemned as a shocking security breach as Colonel Sir Harry Flashman VC was quite literally asleep at the scene. Initial reports seemed to indicate German nihilists were behind it, but further investigation revealed the true culprit.

Footage of suspect. 

Gentlemen, we are at war with M-Isis.

UPDATE: The culprit has been found and according to some reports, eaten. This last move may be problematic regarding article 3 of the ECHR.

Investigation into the breach is ongoing. Security forces have surrounded a bucket in the shed. But no further details have yet been released.  Though it has been confirmed that Flashman will be liaising with next doors dog in order to share information on M-Isis.

A move which some rodent liberties experts have described as "deeply troubling".

More news when we invent it.

TT Combat Paint Rack

This arrived yesterday, bought mainly I'll confess because Mrs. Kinch was giving out about not being able to see what paints we had.  I tend to throw all my paints in an old shoe box when I'm not using them.  They lie there in a satisfying higglety pigglety pile of pots. I then assemble the few lads that I need after picking though the box and then work from that small selection.  This preserves an element of mystery regarding what exactly paints are in stock and adds a touch of romance to what could otherwise be considered a rather pedestrian occupation. 

This is not the way to do business so far as hard headed Mrs. Kinch is concerned and something needed to be done.  As you can tell, I was cut to the quick at the prospect of abandoning the old messy ways and more to the point, appalled at the prospect of such wanton expenditure (which could be more profitably spend on toy soldiers or gin). 

However, bowing to the inevitable, I found this on eBay and a few days later, here it is. Costing about twenty quid* including shipping, this is a laser cut MDF kit that when assembled holds 40 pots of Vallejo, which should be enough to keep anyone happy. 

The pieces punch out relatively easily and have a pleasing burnt wood scent about them. A dry fitting would seem to indicate that the cuts are precise and the whole edifice should hold together relatively well given some glue. 

We shall see what exactly Progress looks like once it's put together. 

*That's Euro to those readers in the Free World.

The advance of progress

I put this chap together the other night and it's holding together rather well.  It is rugged enough to be picked up and carried about without flexing alarmingly. The pots are secure and can all be seen, which will reduce the amount of time I spend clucking and furrowing my brow. 

I have also learned.

a) I have a lot of different shades of blue, mostly as it happens from painting a few Space marines and the odd Napoleonic frenchman. 

b) I also have a ridiculous number of browns, khakis, ochres and other tans, chocolates and flat earths. Seriously, there are about twelve different shades of brown.

c) The citadel colours are going to have to live at the back, perhaps in some kind of ghetto?  Progress is already beginning to look a bit like the Milgram experiment. 

d) Notwithstanding the fact that there are spots for 40 pots of paint, there is still an overflow and that's not counting the citadel colours. 

e) Why do I have an orange (pictured) and a hot pink (in the overflow)? I have no memory of purchasing these. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Two schools of painting

Jolly Old Saint Nick

Life here is busy, but not eventful and Mrs. Kinch and I are both looking forward to some time off at Christmas. In the mean time, I've done a spot of painting. Mrs. Kinch has finished all the rest, leaving me the task of painting Jolly Old Saint Nick and some Christmas stockings. 

Rather simple of course, but effective at what it does I think. 

Jolly Old Hungarian Hussar

Rather more complex and impressive is this fine fellow, a Hungarian hussar painted by Krisztian. Kris has promised me a couple of squadrons, which should fill all my light cavalry requirements for my Napoleonic Austrian army and in fine style. 

This fine fellow is also suitable for the 1848 Hungarian revolt.  Not that I am contemplating another another period of course. 

I can't help but feel like one of those comparative Art historian fellas, holding up the daubings of a cave dweller next to a Rembrandt. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Mrs. Kinch has been organising the elves and setting them at their brushwork this evening. Fortunately I locked the drinks cabinet before I left for class. 

There is nothing more crazy or depraved than an inebriated elf. 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Black Ops with Savage - First Impressions

I hope the Russians love their children too

It's been a busy week and to be honest the world is too much with us, but we had the pleasure of Capability Savages company. Mrs Kinch and Tootsie put the world to rights over a bottle of pro secco while Savage and I gave Black Ops from Osprey a shot. 

Not exactly West Germany

It was only later that I realised that the cars were all on the wrong side of the road. By which I mean the left hand side of the road, which is of course the correct side, but not for Germany. 

It's all too confusing. 

We picked the encounter battle scenario and 50 points of Conscript Soviets versus Professional BAOR.  The setting was 1979, the balloon has gone up and two sections of infantry find each other in some nameless German truck stop choked with abandoned cars. 

Probably not coming to a cinema near you if the Red Army have anything to say about it.

I really like Savages bill boards. They are top notch. Not least because using steel paper and magnetic sheet it is possible to change the movie poster as you wish. Alien next time I think. 

Looking at these Dark Future roads reminds me that Donogh very kindly gave me some felt road, damned if I can find 'em though. 

The field of battle

We set up the game. This was a starter battle and half of it was spent struggling with the rules rather than each other, but on the whole a very positive experience.  The British advanced from the bottom of the picture, while the Soviets were a bit more spread out and controlled the garage. 

Sneaky motor rifle men

The game ticked along at a decent pace as we worked out the systems for shooting, moving, suppression and so forth.  Aces are extremely useful for "pushing" because of their ability to give groups an extra activation. I used this to enable my GPMG crew dominate the centre of the battlefield. 

Savage used it to organise colossal firepower from a group of AK47 armed squaddies hiding out at the pumps. At close range, massed AK fire can be devastating and effectively silenced my GPMG, unfortunately Savage was unable to capitalise on that suppression due to casualties in his flanking forces. 

A manoeuvre group under Corporal Gruber move to flank 

While the GPMG created a base of fire, Corpora Gruber of the Loamshires moved to flank the Russian position. This was moderately successful and ensured the Russian couldn't rush the GPMG. 

Soviet PKM team lights up the GPMG team suppressing them

On the whole, we were happy with Black Ops.  It seemed more intuative and less abstract than Force on Force, though Savage observed and he's absolutely right, that our 50 pt forces seemed very small on a 4 foot by 4 foot board. I think we will need to look at the options for creating more movement in the game, such as smoke. 

But rapid and accurate SLR fire thins the Soviet ranks

I think a change in mission from a straight up fight might also make the situation a little more fluid. We haven't tried any of the Stealth missions yet. The rulebook was easy to navigate and well laid out.  I believe there is a QRF available from the Osprey website, which I will probably download. 

Pavel, more brave than wise, launches a solo flanking attack

The game ended with the Soviet centre disintegrating a hail of accurate SLR fire, while the GPMG prevented a close assault where the Soviets might have been able to use their numbers.  

On the whole, it's too early to tell whether Black Ops will become a regular visitor to the War Room, but there's more to like than dislike and I'd certainly play it again. It should be said that our first game took an hour and a half, which is quite speedy given that a lot of it was spent flicking through the rules. 

More play is required I think. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Freemasonry of the Hobby

Regard that elephant drawn gun!

I am continually astonished by the generosity of what I have come to call "the Freemasonry of the Hobby".  I received an email just the other day from a fellow wargamer named Nick from San Francisco, who wrote to tell me that since I seemed to have a yen for Ghurkas, he had some going spare. Not only are they painted, but apparently they will be supported by a mountain gun. 

I was very surprised by Nicks extremely generous gesture, though I suppose in some ways I should not. The wargaming fraternity has shown itself prone to these sorts of kind acts over the years. Wargamers who are separated by time and tides have repeatedly shown themselves willing to volunteer their time and their precious model soldiers to one another.

I have sent a few of those packages myself on occasion, but it seems to me that I always reap rather more than I sow. 

Appropriate headgear is a necessary adjunct to any properly organised wargame

Nick has sent some pictures of his recent Sword and the Flame games.  This was based on the final scene of the film "Gunga Din" and depicts an assault on a Thugee temple. 

What really strikes me about these pictures is the composition of the table. The figures, the terrain and the whole set up both work as a game, but are also pleasing to the eye. The colour palette fits, the table is not too crowded with troops and the whole thing has a sense of  balance and a sense of proportion that is very pleasing. 

Advancing with the sword and the flame

Though I also like the fact that this is clearly a game in play. Nick's table and setup may be beautiful (and it is), but it is also a thing to be used and played with.  I sometimes find the succession of beautiful pictures of figures on beautiful landscapes in the wargames press as little dispiriting sometimes, because at times they feel a bit divorced from the hobby as I experience it. 

Admittedly, that experience usually involves some Crimean Russian grenadiers masquerading as line infantry, a cat draped around the Pathan fortress and a forgotten sherry glass obscuring the gunners field of fire, but Nicks game pictures are not without the odd dice stubbornly sneaking into the pictures. 

Infantry advance supported by lancers

Nick was also generous enough to write some very kind words about "Joy & Forgetfulness" as a blog, which I shall not repeat here for fear of giving myself a big head, but thank you very much. 

A very impressive Thugee Temple

I think I may have to slip a mild relaxant or something in Capability Savage's cooking laudanum.  He may get very ambitious if he sees this Thugee temple. These fay artistic types are prone to sudden fits of enthusiasm. 

I think I see Gunga Din sounding the alarm from the top of the tower. 

Representin' and keepin' it real

There is one point of Nicks that I would like to address before I finish this post.  In his email, Nick wrote;

"[...]I find it difficult to believe that you're still in your thirties; 
your writing feels more mature, even Edwardian ;)."

Some of those gentle readers who are kind enough to give "Joy & Forgetfulness" their attention seem to be under the impression that it is a relic of a mythical bygone age. An elegant blog from a more civilized time, if you will.  They are sadly mistaken. 

"Joy & Forgetfulness" is as gritty a slice of urban realism as one could wish for. It is as raw, street and so close to the bleeding edge that it is in serious danger of cutting itself.  I know that I do not always publish explicit content - but that is only because I do not wish to make the blog entirely unsuitable for those of a delicate or excitable nature (wives, servants, Frenchmen, etc). 

Now, if you'll forgive me,  I must go and see my man Du Gourmand about hip hop the hippie the hippie, to the hip hip hop and we won't stop, then rock it to the bang, bang boogie, say up jump the boogie the the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.

Because, what you read is not a test, I'm bloggin' to the beat, 
and me, Du Gourmand, and our chums are gonna try to make your game elite, 

You see, I am Conrad Kinch and I'd like to say "hello" 
To the black, to the white, the red and the brown, the purple and yellow, 

But first, I gotta blog, blog the bloggie...

...and that's quite enough of that...

...I think I may have to lie down for a moment. I've come over rather queer. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Indian Pondering

Sikhs charging tribesmen in Afghanistan
From Great Battles of the 19th Century
(click to embiggen)

So I've been thinking about the order of battle required for Afghanistan.  The Sword and the Flame doesn't actually require that many figures and I've managed to get by with only one unit of Indian infantry so far, the Ludhiana Sikhs. 

Looking through my boxes of toys, I've found a box of HAT Indian Infantry, which would give me another two TSATF platoons worth. If I use half units for the Second Afghan War, that should put me well on the way to filling the requirement for Indian troops. 

Picture by S. Mannix from Hat Website
Uniformed as the 3rd Sikhs of the Punjab Field Force

The trick is of course, how to get them on the table relatively sharpish. I found this on the Hat website and it looks like it could be very easy to replicate quickly. Once based and given a coat of PVA, a spray of Army Builder Desert Yellow should do the trick for the basic colour of the uniform.

Then it's a matter of detailing.

This is what I think of when I think of Afghanistan

Now, I'm not that punctilious about uniforms, I intend to use my reassuringly red coated Zulu War British infantry for Afghanistan. Firstly it seems silly not to, I have them already and secondly, while I know that the British soldier of the late Victorian age wore khaki as often as he wore red, I always think of them as redcoats.

To misquote "The Man who shot Liberty Valance", when the legend becomes fact, wargame the legend. 

From Boris Mollo's "The Indian Army"
(courtesy of Vintage Wargaming)

While the red coated Britishers are troops I have already, the Indians will be new and it makes sense to get them right if I can.  Now, as I lack the appropriate reference material, I asked some of my smarter friends to lend a hand and they responded manfully. 

Clive provided the image above, though it should be noted that the 3rd Sikhs and the 3rd Punjab are not synonymous as I had imagined. There are small differences in the arrangement of the turban. 

1880s Ghurkas dashing into action

Ross was kind enough to forward me this link, which has a huge selection of uniform plate and other resources, all of which are in the New York Public Library from the Vinkhuijzen Collection.  There's plenty to look at there, though the captions can be a bit ropey. However, if you've some idea of what you are looking for, there's a lot of stuff available. 

John chimed in with some additional advice,

"[...]blouse trousers all the same shade of khaki. Puttees normally khaki, green or blue are mentioned. Equipment medium shade brown leather. Pre 1890s blouse has cuffs collar shoulder straps in facing colour also the turban fringe in same facing colour. Medium Brown footwear.  Turban colour- often exactly the same, but there are some watercolours for 1879 which show the 3rd regt with a lighter shade for puttees and turban which looks quite nice, facings mid green.  

And also directed me to this website, the Victorian Wars Forum, which he'd actually sent me to before, but which I'd forgotten about. Now that I've put it here, I won't forget again. 

At least until next time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Secret Santa

As Ian quite rightly pointed out, the Wargames Bloggers Secret Santa is upon us once more and I am very grateful to Ian and Cathy for being the organising brains behind it.  As Mrs. Kinch regularly tells me I am impossible to buy for, something I think every man hears about twice annually, it has been suggested those taking part should put up a wish list.

So here's mine.

Most of these are pretty much with a view to using them in 1880s Afghanistan using The Sword and the Flame, which using 20 man infantry units or 12 man cavalry units.

Newline Designs Ghurkas

These are lovely little figures, though Newline are always a little small, which has never proved a problem for the Ghurkas. And the unit pack is on sale.

Ral Partha Ghurkas

I have some RP Sikhs which are ostentably 25mm, but which mix with my 1/72 stuff with no problems.

Douglas Miniatures Turkish Cavalry 

These are quite elegant simple figures available from John Cunningham.  at CunnJoh@aol.com.

Afghan Civilians

Both Elheim and Britannia do some Afghan civilians, which while designed for contemporary conflicts would also do very well for the 1880s.

Hark! A questioning Scotsman.

Proud son of the glens, Mel Gibson, photographed singing "Scotland the Brave"

Scotland has given the world many great men.  Thinkers, scientists, theologicans, philosophers and engineers. They have brought forth ideas and words that will be remembered for centuries and that have shaped the lives of millions. They are a proud, curious people, given to questioning and inquiry.

Lord Kelvin asked "Jus' how culd is that anae wae?"

Adam Smith asked "What sort of price is tha'? Ar' you fer real mate?"

Thomas Carlyle asked "So you ken yer a big mawn, de ye?" 

But none of these no doubt very important questions, concern us today. 

Nor does the eternal Scottish question, posed by the warrior-philosopher "Franco" Begbie

"Ar' yo' lookin' a' me pal?"

Some frankly gratuitous eye candy from Phil's War Cabinet
Head over there for more. 

 The question that concerns us today was posed by that august son of Scotland, my esteemed colleague, friend and former editor, Mr. Phil Olley of Phil's War Cabinet* posed the question. 

"Do other wargamers and collectors set out a planned order of battle [...] to follow, or is it a case of simply picking whichever unit you fancy painting next?"

I was thinking about Phil's question and pondering how I go about collecting an army.  I think in some ways, I start backwards.  I think about the game or games I want to play and what troops I would need to complete those. I count up the troops needed to play all of those games and make a master list.

That's assuming that I haven't either somehow come into part of a collection or bought a box of plastic soldiers on a whim or because they were cheap. Actually now that I think of it, a number of these incidents have involved OldJohn and a small pile of used readies.

My good pal General Du Gourmand always maintained that the most dangerous box of figures was the first box of a new period. Collect one box of 1879 British infantry and suddenly you're committed to another 300 Zulus. Buy one squadron of 17th lancers because they look nice and before too long you'll be adding your ninth battalion of Russian infantry and worrying about the uniforms of Caucasian Riflemen.

But in a perfect world, where I'm starting from scratch, I tend to make a list based on the scenarios I want to play.

Once that's done, I pick the smallest scenario and aim to collect for that, the idea being to get troops onto the table in as few steps as possible.

Some of Michael's work
(which you can find here) 

I don't have enough projects on the go at present and between maintaining my marriage, work and studying at night, my copious free time is a burden to me.

I've been fighting a losing battle with Michael Dippel's Second Afghan War scenarios on the Battlecry website for a little while now and I think Phil has provided the last shove I needed to finally crack. I've been collecting colonials for The Sword and the Flame for a while now and this would appear to be a good opportunity to use those figures in a larger engagement.  Of course, TSATF is a skirmish game and the larger battles portrayed in Battlecry will require more troops, most notably cavalry, but I should be able to get a workable force relatively quickly.  It's just a matter of working out which of the six scenarios requires the smallest number of new troops.

Looking at the scenarios written so far, the troops required are as follows.

Rifles 5
Melee (swords) 12
Cavalry 6
Artillery 3
Leader 3

British Infantry 7
Indian Infantry 9
Highlanders 2
Sappers 1
Ghurkas 1
Royal Artillery 3
Royal Horse Artillery 2
British Cavalry 1
Indian Cavalry 3

I'll have to post a progress report in the New Year.

*Who I profoundly hope is actually Scottish, rather than just living there, otherwise this joke will have well and truly gone for it's tea.