Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Exercising and Rebellious Colonists

Today I bagged the final 2.4km needed to reach my October target of 31km swimming, having completed my cycling goal of 310km on Sunday. So job done with four days to go.  Good job too as I got a puncture on Monday (luckily only 2km from home) and the weather isn't inviting enough to repair it outside. I have a couple of days off so hopefully I'll find some time when it's not so wet to repair/replace the tube.

I'll keep the daily average target at the same level next month. The weather is noticeably colder now* and daylight is in short supply. One thing that's encouraging me to keep cycling, despite the wet, is the fact that we're back to being a one car household and Mrs Nundanket has first dibs due to needing it for work and college. I sold my old banger weeks ago as I hadn't used it since lockdown started. So not only has it saved me a bit of pocket money, it's doing me some good.

* it gives me an extra incentive to complete my allotted number of lengths in the pool in good time. The changing 'facilities' are cubicles outside and you don't want to be queuing wet when the whistle signals the end of the session!

Another thing I'm chuffed about is I've made progress on painting the Rebels. Bar some touching up, I've finished a unit of Continentals (in classic hunting shirts) and a unit of militia. Units are c 32 rank & file plus a command stand. Just the Brits to 'lighten up' and I'll be eager to get them based when the order arrives from Pendraken. I'll have some reinforcements for both sides too, so as one batch leaves the painting table, another arrives.

Monday, 26 October 2020

Out of date joke?

Not to be outdone by that Greek philosopher who lives in West Yorkshire, I intended to post the following.  It seems that Bozza has changed his mind again thus rendering the following out of date. But as my kids will tell you, nothing stops me using old jokes.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Progress at last!

OK, I think I'm there. After a bit more experimentation, this time with 2.5cm and 2 cm wide bases, I've reached a tentative decision. I think the 2.5cm wide bases give a little too much space, so it looks like it'll be 2cm wide by 3cm deep. I'll probably put command groups (a dismounted officer, 2 colour bearers and a drummer) on bases twice as wide. 

Close Order infantry (mostly the Germans) will be based in two ranks of three, and Loose Order infantry in two ranks of two. Light infantry can go on the same sized base as line, but the bases can be spaced out when they are in open order. I think I'll place the militia in tighter formations than Loose Order foot on the basis that they'll bunch up together more for protection. The Cavalry will need a bit more thought.

I'll sleep on it and if nothing else occurs overnight I'll place an order for laser-cut MDF bases.

There was some progress too on the Americans. I prepped and undercoated a battalion's worth each of Continentals and Militia. In the course of doing so I discovered that some of the militia drummers in broad brimmed hats, with the brim turned up at the front, would fit in nicely with my ECW lot so I've earmarked a couple to go in the ECW spares box.

Once I get going with the painting I'll give some thought to buildings. I have other terrain suitable for eastern North America, but I lack appropriate houses and public buildings. Fencing I can probably scratch build as I have a large stock of matchsticks. At some point in November I should be able to get a game on the table. I'm not putting any timescale on it yet. If that goes well I'll order some more figures to give me something to do at Christmas 😊

2cm wide bases to the left; 2.5cm to the right. Close Order on the left of each group, Loose Order on the right.

Aerial view: 2cm wide in front; 2.5cm behind. Close Order on the left of each line.

All on 2cm wide bases. Close Order on the left, Loose on the right.

Nicely spaced I think.

All Loose Order on the equivalent of 2cm wide bases - actually 4x3cm. The added depth will make them easier to pick up.

Same but from 'eye-level' (almost).

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Tiny victories and a major discovery

Tiny victories have to be celebrated whenever life flings them your way. Today's unexpected win against the odds was this purchase from Tiger. Four packs of 3 winter-time trees for just one pound Sterling. I could have cleared out their stock but in these difficult times one must avoid hoarding.

Pen gives some idea of scale. These would probably do for figures up to 15mm and maybe even 20mm if you like stylised terrain.

And they come with free wooden clothes pegs so [insert sexist punchline here].

Then on the way back to the car park I found out where It is kept. I'd always imagined it to be in the Philippines. But here it is, by a dark passageway in a 'shopping mall' in a London suburb.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

AWI still in the long grass

I had a bit of an experiment with some card, MDF bases and part-painted British infantry. I tried various permutations of 15mm, 20mm and 30mm bases with the little Lobsterbacks arranged in different numbers. I'm not sure I'm much further forward to be honest, but maybe laying it out in a post would help me crystallise my thoughts.

20mm sq bases with 3 figures placed with alternately 1 up front, 2 behind and 2 up front, 1 behind. Suitably 'loose' but probably a bit fiddly getting them in the right order. Frontage represents 20 yards at 1mm to the yard - enough space for a company of c. 35 men in 2 ranks at c 40 inches per file.

20mm bases with 2 figures. OK spacing wise but units of 8 companies (16 figures) would be a bit small for my liking.

20mm bases with 3 figures in a single line. This looks too much like close order. Suitable for Hessians and other 'mercenaries' ;-) 

20mm bases with 2 ranks of 2.

As above. 8 line companies worth to give an idea of how a battalion would look.

15mm sq bases. Rear: 2 per base; looks OK but looks too small for a unit. Front: 3 per base; seems crowded.

As above but the bases with 2 figures doubled-up/a 15x30mm base. At 15 yards wide this is possibly a bit too narrow for a company.

30mm sq bases with 2 by 2 and 2 ranks of 3. 2 ranks of 3 looks nicely spaced. Maybe a bit wide at 30 yards.

Can I draw any tentative conclusions? Well I need to if I'm to move this thing forward. I know some people might think, 'why the bloody hell is he overthinking this?', but it's just the way I am. Maybe I can't let go of that old charade of making it 'scientific and historically accurate' to prove it's not just playing with toy soldiers.

OK. Size-wise, bases 20mm wide (20 yards) seem the most appropriate. I can get 2 ranks of 2 on without them looking too crowded, but just a bit. That would give me battalions (with flank companies detached) of 32. I can also fit 2 ranks of 3 on them for the close order troops. It's only just occurred to me to try 25mm wide bases. That would also make them easier to pick up safely. Alternatively I could try 20mm wide by 30mm deep which would also help with horses. So maybe I have moved forward a bit.

One thing that is clear is that I need to lighten the colours on the little chaps.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Lack of Progress Report - or AWI still in the long grass

About 11 months ago I put up a post about my to do list. Some progress was made initially, then a hiatus until the early Spring. That list was pretty much polished off apart from painting and basing my small collection of Pendraken AWI figures. Since then I have made absolutely no progress.

With the intention of doing something in the Summer I ordered the Mollo uniform book, but again nothing has happened. In fairness to myself, I have had a few other things to occupy my time, but with a bit more motivation I could have cut out some of the crap TV I've watched and have done something productive.

Now the nights have drawn in my thoughts have turned to painting and basing figures again. I've long had a hankering to try out Andy Callan's Loose Files and American Scramble since they would give me something different to other rulesets I use for my other key black powder periods*. The problem is I tend to be a bit of a stickler for scales and analysis paralysis takes over. 

* And how's that for procrastination? Those rules caught my eye when they were published in WI in 1987.

Now the British line infantry, in action, apparently formed up in loose order, in two ranks with about 40 inches frontage per man. I think the Continentals may have adopted a similar formation, whilst the 'Hessians' stuck to the 3-rank close order familiar from Europe. I'm not sure about militia - I picture a 'messy' version of close order, but could well be wrong and maybe they were also flexible. The rules use the infantry company (or cavalry troop) as the basic 'element' for the game, and suggest using 3 figures for a company (or 2 for a troop) with a ratio of 1 figure to about 10 men. By my calculation, assuming 30 inches per man in close order (it may be less), a 30-man British company would take up twice the space of a Hessian 'company' (Scare quotes used as I have no idea what the size of a Hessian company was**). Based on my experience with Pendraken ECW figures. I could get maybe 2 figures side by side on a base 20mm wide and keep them fairly 'loose' looking. Maybe I should base close order infantry 4 to a base that wide, in 2 ranks. Then put the British two bases deep when they're in close order. Hmm.

I think I need to get some toys and bases out and start experimenting. The problem is, I did this years ago and never reached a conclusion. How will I make the breakthrough this time?

** Incidentally, could anyone recommend any good sources for information on the German auxiliaries (organisation mainly)? The interweb seems devoid of anything, and Osprey's website is organised in a singularly unhelpful manner/doesn't seem to have anything on the German auxiliaries.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

Ideas for walks

This article popped up into my ‘suggested items’ feed thingy in Google this evening.


The MOD has control of a lot of land which can be walked on at specified times. The great benefit of it being used by the military is that nature is protected from development (but not from being blown to bits eh 😉).

The area the article focuses on is not far from the stomping ground of MS Foy, but there are others listed around the country. Worth a look, but take your metal detector!

Outbreak of Real Life and a Good Read

It’s been quiet in this part of the Blogosphere (“no ‘you know’ Sherlock”). Not only the usual absence of wargaming, but also no encounters with stags, Swedes or streams. Not even an update on exercise or weight gain avoidance (both going well so far this month since you ask).

The big disrupter in the Nundanket realm lately has been finally ‘getting the kitchen done’ after five years of humming and ahhing, pondering the merits and costs of having an extension built and living with what the Wickes advert calls ‘house embarrassment’. We finally took the JFDI decision to refurbish the existing space on the basis that the wife doesn’t want me working until I drop.

The ‘war room’ has been severely constrained by the need to store the cabinetry and appliances whilst the work has been done. The dining table extensions have been put away and the table shoved up against the wall. It works very well as an office desk, but I don’t have a Portable Wargame style set up to make use of the desk space not taken up by the computer screen. Bad planning!

Also preparing even something as simple as a sandwich takes about three times as much time as it normally does, let alone doing the dishes etc.

What I have been doing with spare time is reading more. Currently I’m in the middle of the book below, which I’ve been meaning to get for years.

The book starts with the shocking events of early 1945 during which the city of Breslau (now Wrocław) was under siege by the Soviets and their allies. Then the reader is taken back to the earliest times of the city - when we know there was a settlement but not what it was called. Each chapter corresponds to successive periods of history when the city fell under the control of different states - Polish, Bohemian, Habsburg, Prussian, Imperial German, Weimar and Third Reich and finally back to Polish. Each chapter uses the name most associated with the relevant state (hence the names on the cover). For the ‘unknown name’ period the term ‘the Island City’ is used. 

The writers take you through the socio-economic, political, religious and cultural aspects of the city and the wider historical context in each period. One theme that ties it all together is that this city has never been wholly one thing. Neither German nor Polish nor Czech. Neither Protestant, Catholic nor Jewish. Reality is a lot more complex and messy than that. It puts to bed the nationalist myths (of all varieties). Interestingly, the city was solidly against the Hussites in the 15th century, but early adopters of Protestantism in the 16th without descending into the worst excesses of iconoclasm and religious violence. When the Counter-Reformation came, it too was relatively non-violent. I’m still at the Habsburg stage, so there’s lots more to come, including that snuff-bedaubed, French-speaking opportunist from the north.

Whilst this is not military history (though it does include a decent map of the Battle  of Breslau, 1757) it is great background reading for many periods. A big thumbs up.