Monday, 30 November 2020

Unheroic failure

OK. Time to own up. I blogged/bragged (‘brogged’?) about achieving my exercise and weight targets for August, September and October. I have to report abject failure for November.


Obviously, starting on 4 November we had the national lockdown Mark II, so that meant swimming was off the agenda. I’m not organised enough for genuine open water swimming. I’m no Spartiate. That didn’t mean I couldn’t get on my bike. Especially as we have a perfectly good, safe-ish, circuit 2km away. I did that a grand total of once. I’m a master of putting things off. And that is just what I did.

It surprised me how little motivation that I had. Normally when I haven’t exercised or done something I should have done for a while, I get annoyed with myself and then crack on with it. This time, when I thought about it I simply was not bothered.

Also after 20 weeks of logging food and drink, I stopped about a week ago. With a complete absence of that internal nagging. I had already relaxed the calorie budget in late September, so I wasn’t surprised to see my weight had gone up a kilo in the last month. That’s not bad I suppose, but I do now need to get a grip or I will have to loosen my belt, and it’s that fat round the middle that it’s really about.

Not getting on my bike also meant that on many days I didn’t even leave the house.

The pool re-opens on Wednesday and I have sessions booked through Monday, excluding Saturday. I will happily jump on my bike again. So having thought that I’d regained my cycling mojo this year, I hadn’t. It was just a form of transport that gave me some additional exercise.

Strange thing the brain. Motivation is a complicated matter.

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Shaved Ankles and a Mystery Count - or rambling (on) again

No wargaming yet again this weekend. The mojo has disappeared since I finished my split rail fencing. On the positive side, because it was her weekend off, Rouva Nundanket and I decided to go for a longer walk on Saturday. We've had a few shorter ones lately, but nothing longer than an hour. So forgetting that outdoor clothing shops would be deemed 'non-essential' (I suppose the definition of essential depends on how harsh your weather is) I suggested we walk to Richmond, where there is a reasonably priced emporium of such apparel.

We set off through Richmond Park from our usual point of departure, Laddersile Gate, and headed in a northerly direction.  Quite soon we were able to spot that rare species, the Expatriate Homo Fennica (the Finn abroad). We weren't close enough to confirm, but the signs were there. I saw a couple collecting birch twigs and bundling them into what looked like a vihta (only there were no leaves). Then there was evidence of the plumage. A Marimekko* bag placed on the floor . But the Finn is a shy creature, so we kept our distance and walked on.

* This brand is almost part of the national costume these days, and is often a giveaway abroad. We originally met one of Mrs R's London friends in a park in Hampton. I heard her chatting in Finnish to a woman we didn't know. Afterwards I quizzed her on how she knew the woman was Finnish as the stranger had hardly said a word, and that was in English. "Oh her girls had Marimekko tops on." I once pulled off a similar feat of recognition on a bus, also in Hampton, though this time it was the pattern on the child's socks, and we're still in touch with that family too.

After a while we stopped to decide exactly which way we were going to go, and Mrs N pointed out that I wouldn't be able to buy a new 'fleece' because the shops were shut. I hate to say it but I Googled it to check - oh ye of little faith! Of course she was right. So we followed her suggestion of heading down to Petersham, an area of meadows south of Richmond.

On the way to the river we walked through a field where cattle sometimes graze, and along the side of some fencing. "What type of fencing do you call this?" asked my companion (who's doing a garden planning module at horticultural college). "Oh it's a type of split-rail fence", I stated with confidence and not a little swagger. "A different type of split-rail fence to that model I made, but...blah blah blah...these don't need to be placed at angles as they have vertical support posts. The ends of the rails are chamfered to fit into slots*** on the uprights". "She nodded sagely, no doubt impressed by my knowledge. I did admit that the only reason I know is because I looked up split-rail fencing when I was making the model and saw that there were different types, including this one which is referred to as a 'mortice fence'.

** yeah, yeah, I forgot they were called mortices

We walked on chatting amiably. And she mentioned the fencing again and used the term "Shaved ankle". "You what?". "Those fences. Shaved-ankle fences." It took me a while to recover my composure, before I could correct my sweetheart.

Lovely smooth ankles

I reasoned that this arises from two factors. One, being Finnish, she has sometimes has trouble with Gs. Especially hard Gs. There is no*** G sound in Finnish, only in borrowed foreign words or names. And they often substitute that with a K. Thus Swedish for street, 'gata', becomes 'katu'. The second factor is, and I say this quietly, she's a bit deaf and has denied this for years. So somehow she heard me refer to angles/ankles and chamferred/shaved.

*** well almost none, but this isn't a language lesson, and I'm not sure the example I can think of would be considered a proper hard G sound.

Our route, starting towards the SE corner, north past the golf course. Then SW along the river and circling back via Ham

Once by the river she suggested we sit on a nearby bench and have the soup she'd prepared. No point going to cafes as we'd have to eat outside anyway. And the bench she picked (position 1 on the map) was nice and clean and dry "there might not be another suitable one". This one.

I was unable to find out who Count Stephen Ouvaroff was, though presumably the offspring of a Russian emigré given the birth year. The name sounds like Uvarov, commander of the Russian cavalry on the right wing at Borodino. Given that transliteration from Cyrillic to Latin script is not exact, it's plausible that they could be the same name, if not the same family. Anyone I imagine a dapper gentleman with a very neat beard with a cane sitting here, overlooking the view below towards Marble Hill on the Twickenham side of the river. Whoever he was, he liked a nice view, and I tip my hat to him and his executors for placing the bench there.

The count's view.

Late late update: thanks to anonymous, I had a clue to who the late Count Stephen Ouvaroff was. He was indeed Steve Ouvaroff who my anonymous correspondent points out was an Australian racing driver, born 1935. He does appear to have been the son of a Russian emigré - his father was Count Igor Ouvaroff, born in 1901.

Count Stephen’s funeral was held at St Peter’s Church, Church Lane, Petersham (the address writes itself!) which is just a short walk from the bench, so I guess he settled in the area. Stephen’s widow (April or Aprille Brighten) was a fashion model in younger life. Now you can’t get more Jetset than that can you. Son of a Russian emigrĂ©, racing driver and married to a model. No link yet to the Battle of Borodino…..yet!

Just a short walk upstream from here is a Jacobean pile called Ham House (point 2 on the map). I've never been in in all my 26 years of living over this side of London. Never really wanted to. Since I got interested in the ECW, I've become more keen on the idea. There's an interesting section in the Wiki article about the ECW period, though there was no action in the vicinity.  Refer to the section headed William Murray, 1st Earl of Dysart and the one below it.

Ham House from the river path. I guess before the river banks were built up and the channel narrowed, the water came right up to this first wall, depending on tides and rain.

The gardens are surrounded by a high brick wall, rather like Hougoumont at Waterloo.

We walked back to Richmond Park via the suburb/village of Ham, worth a walk and a post on its own. Maybe one for the future. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

The Invention of Scandinavia

 The Invention of Scandinavia

Thanks to Steve and Dave in their comments to the previous post, I was made aware of this series on BBC Radio 4. It’s a 3-part series about the similarities and differences between Norway, Denmark and Sweden, with a lot of Early Modern and Modern history thrown in by way of explanation.

I listened to all three episodes earlier. And very interesting it was too. A sort of Scandi 101, with added historical revisionism.

Wargaming wise, there’s some relevance as the Thirty Years War, Northern Wars, Great Northern War, Napoleonic Wars, 2nd Schleswig-Holstein War, and World War II all get referenced in their respective cultural and historical context. The Swedish Indelningsverk system even gets a mention (though I don’t think that term was used in the programme). Yes, I’m stretching the point but it’s background innit?

This trilogy is part of a broader series including ‘the Invention of.....’ other countries, including the UK, Netherlands, and the US. I think I’m going to be gorging myself on this.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A joke explained....

A while ago I posted a bit of an in-joke. An in-joke for students of Finnish. This is an attempt at a partial explanation - I don't understand enough to give a full explanation, and my head and possibly yours would explode if I did.

Now Finnish, or at least standard formal Finnish, is famously regular and logical (I'm aware this is a relative concept, famous amongst the few people who are interested in this sort of thing). For example, every sound has a letter and every letter has a sound - only one sound. An 'e' always makes the same sound (similar to the 'e' in 'egg'). If you want the 'E' sound as in the name of the letter, you use 'i' and 'i' is always pronounced 'E' (a short 'E' sound). If you want a longer E sound it's written 'ii'. There are other examples of this regularity. Such as the names for things. Gone are all the fancy Greco-Latin and French derived words of English. Noooo! Aeroplanes are 'flying machines' in Finnish. Telephones are 'speaking lines'. And even computers are 'knowledge machines'. At least in formal language. Foreigners are 'outside land people' ('ulkomaalaiset', nominative plural). If you don't know the name of something, you can often make a good guess by using words you already do know. Railway? Well I know the word for road and I know the word for iron, so I'll go with rautatie (iron road) - "Good boy! Well done." You might be wrong but at least you will be using descriptive nouns that make some kind of sense. It can actually be one of the things that makes it seem that becoming competent in this language is an attainable goal.

Then when you feel you have got to grips with these things, just when you can see some light at the end of the tunnel, you learn something new. And that kills your confidence. Stone dead. That light was an oncoming train ('juna*'). 

* No idea where that one comes from though. I'd have guessed at 'rautatieauto' ('auto' = car - a rare exception to that 20th century technology thing mentioned above).

Like the case system. I didn't even know what cases were until I had some Finnish lessons (my wife, then my girlfriend had tried to explain that in some situations that noun you'd just learned got changed in a bewildering variety of ways - 'why?' "it just is"). So they give you some of the easy ones to get your head round, like the locative cases. 'The what?!' Well, Finnish doesn't have all those little words like 'to' and 'from', 'on', 'in', or pairs like 'off from', 'into', 'out of/from'. Instead you stick an ending on the noun you're referring to. 

For example, 'pubi' (pub**) would become 'pubiin' when you are going into it, then 'pubissa' when inside the pub. In the pub (pubissa) my mate brings a couple of pints to the table (pöydĂ€lle) and puts the beer on the table (pöydĂ€llĂ€ - notice the change in the ending).  When you'd had enough you'd come out of the pub ('pubista'). Right, got that. I can grasp that. You do the preposition the wrong way round!

** incidentally, pub is one of those few words in Finnish that is recognisable to English speakers. Another one is bar (bari). This gives rise to one of those other 'rules'. If you can't make up a portmanteau word from what you do know, add 'i' to the English noun. Sometimes do it with a 'European' accent so W is a V (wine = viini, pronounced veeny). But beer isn't beeri, it's olut, or kalja.

So I ring my beloved up and (being proud of myself) announce that "MinÀ olen junalla" (juna + lla - remember train is 'juna' and on is 'lla'). She sounds a little worried at first. "Oh you mean 'minÀ olen junissa'. We say 'I am in the train.' If you are on the train it means you are on the roof!" OK, so as well as getting some things back-to-front, they have a slightly different way of looking at things. Actually, in English, we say I am in the car, but I am on the train, so perhaps it's us that have got it wrong. Told you Finnish was logical! Right, lesson learned. I'm cracking on now!

'I've learned those locative case endings'. 

"Good! Now that's less than half the cases."

'How many more are there?!' 

"Well that depends." 

'That depends? On what?' 

"Well different grammarians of the Finnish language have different views on how many cases there are. Some don't think that some of them are separate cases. But it's complicated."

'What!! If the experts in the language don't even know, how are we ignorant foreigners expected to know what to do?'

"Just learn what I teach you. Don't worry about what the theorists think. It's what you do that counts.' 

'OK go on. What's next?'

"Well there's the Partitive case. This case is used when...."

Actually there's a long list of when this case is used, and it's not very clear all the time to non-natives when it should be used. Wiki tells me that it is used to indicate a 'lack of telicity'. No me neither. Suffice to say it was described to me as the gambler's choice. It seems to be used more often than other possible cases. If in doubt use the partitive. Significantly you use it for the L word. You love someone in the partitive case. For some reason. Not in the accusative (that case indicates telicity***). Nor in the nominative (basic dictionary form, 'nothing going on here' case).

*** Actually, Wiki does explain. Telicity is when the action or event is in some sense complete.

So getting back to that joke. Here we have a student of Finnish using his new found knowledge. a joke ruined

It's not just us English speakers who suffer with this. The person who sent the joke to me in the first place is French. The secret is not to overthink it. Just submit. Resistance is futile.

Monday, 23 November 2020

Books by the Donald. And others.

Yes of course I'm talking about Donald Featherstone. You didn't fall for that did you?

Amongst recent acquisitions are a couple of DF books. First up is this which I finished tonight.

This a 1977 edition

The book contains an overview of the war, tactical methods, accounts of ten actions, plus rules. The battle accounts are accompanied by wargame scenario suggestions along with maps. I have to say, I'm not overwhelmed by it. It contains little errors, like mixing up east and west in some of the battle accounts, or has confusing descriptions of what happened. In the latter case simply showing units on the map would have helped - there are in a few cases, but often it's just the terrain layout. These are also not helped by not even clearly showing breakdown of the opposing forces. The rules look OK - very much old school, single figure removal as you'd expect - let down slightly by a confusing saving throw table. I may be a bit thick these days, but I like to see things clearly tabulated or shown on a map/diagram so you can see them at a glance without trawling back through the text. In historiographical terms it might also be a bit too old school, often referring to the British fighting in rigid formations and in inappropriate uniforms. Nevertheless it does provide some useful insights and is a handy source.

As an old school wargaming author, I don't find Featherstone as engaging as Grant, Young or Wesencraft. I have both Don's and Charlie's Pike and Shot books on my shelf and one of them gets re-read from time to time for the sheer pleasure. Clue, I don't think the author was a physio.

Notwithstanding that I also bought DF's Solo-Wargaming (in the History of Wargaming imprint). I haven't started reading this yet, but I've read lots of positive comments. 

Last but not least was the Mollo book on Uniforms of the American Revolution, recommended by some of you. And very useful it is too, with not only colour illustrations but also descriptions of regimental uniforms including those not shown. I naturally used this when I was painting my troops recently. As with my other periods, I don't intend to identify specific regiments, only types, except for the 10th Foot naturally as they later became the Lincolnshire Regiment and I am a Yellabelly (of a sort).

Now back when I was a lad, I read a book on the American War of Independence that had accounts of half a dozen or so battles, with decent maps and troop breakdowns. I think the battles included Camden, Guildford Courthouse, Monmouth, and Cowpens. It was a Blandford sized book, but that's about all I can remember. We're talking c 1980 so maybe it was published in the 70s. Any ideas?

Saturday, 21 November 2020

It's time to stop!

Helion I mean. They keep coming out with books I want to read. Seeing the forthcoming book "Every Bullet Has Its Billet" on the Wars of Louis Quatorze blog, I thought "ooh, I'll have a look at that" and tootled off to the Helion website.

Well that led to me registering interest in ten books. So that'll be 250-300 quid by the time they all arrive at some point in 2021. Four ECW titles; one late-seventeenth century; two War(s)* of the Austrian Succession; one SYW; one Colonial (Sikh Wars); and one WWII (Continuation War).

* being a pedantic type I'd incline to the plural because this was really a series of sometimes overlapping wars between many powers, and with each running according to its own logic, the only common connection being that most of the belligerents were trying to take advantage of the accession of Maria-Theresa to the Habsburg inheritance.

Here's the full list with links:





EVERY BULLET HAS ITS BILLET (wargaming guide to late C17th)






That'll keep me out of harms way for a while next year. And fortunately, bar the Sikh Wars and late 17th century, I have toys that could be used for most of them.

Also worth noting for budding SYW acolytes is the re-publication of Duffy's great work on the Austrian Army's campaigns of the Seven Years War, By Force of Arms . This won't be cheap (it's sister volume Instrument of War is £49.95) but it'll be well worth the money at over 500 large format (245 x 170mm) pages with detailed maps aplenty.

Finally, spare a thought for us poor Grimsby Town fans. The Holloway Honeymoon is well and truly over. 5:0. Five bloody nil. With one shot on target (which I think my mother would have saved, and we buried her in April). I would have stormed out at half time in disgust but I was watching it at home and there was no where to storm off to.

Thursday, 19 November 2020


Just watched a film from 1959 by the British Army Kinema Corporation called captured. Billed in the credits as a training film but it was much more intelligent and subtle than that description makes it appear.

The setting was a camp for captured Brits in the Korean War where the inmates were subjected to interrogation (some of it very indirect and some of it well, more direct). The more direct included applying pressure through sleep deprivation and water boarding. The indirect included leveraging minimal pieces of information about the prisoners.

The film was shown in the UK by TalkingPictures TV (Freeview channel 81) under its IWM banner (Imperial War Museum).

Everything they ever tell you on those SAS applicant type programmes about capture and interrogation was covered in this film.

The one disappointment was that the wrote-up billed Wilfred Bramble (the “dirty old man” of Steptoe fame) as one of the actors and I failed to spot him.

Highly recommended if you find it available.

Monday, 16 November 2020

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above

Don't fence me in.

No I've not been listening to Cole Porter, but there are worse ways of spending your time in my opinion. Instead I've been making Split-Rail Fences. Or approximations of them for my 10mm AWI figures.

There are many different kinds of split-rail fence, and you can find more about them here in Wikipedia. I came across an example of one in the open air museum in Helsinki last year. What I didn't realise is that the basic idea was that they could be built without expensive and difficult to obtain ironmongery in remote regions. I've gone for the simplest one to construct, the classic zig-zag form.

As you can see the basic materials are lollipop sticks and matchsticks (without heads) both of which you can buy in the craft sections of retail stores. Or if you are a smoker with a sweet tooth, you can recycle them.  Total length is about 2 metres so over a mile scaled down in game terms. Two lolly sticks stuck edge to edge for the bases. I suppose I could have cut the ends of the sticks off but it seemed too much bother for not a lot of gain.I used Vallejo Deck Tan to paint the matchsticks. I usually use this for bare wood as it gives that grey hue that timber goes when exposed to air over time.

The final result is not ideal. I'd like to have had more 'layers' but the matchsticks are hard to split evenly (with my skills) and the different sections don't join up but they'll do. Now to think of a way to make corn fields.

Post Script: when I showed my wife she said if I was so keen to build fences there were some life sized ones that need attention. Schoolboy error!

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Interesting article on professional wargames

Google has been throwing up some more interesting links (from my point of view) lately in amongst the usual chaff. I don’t know what kind of algorithm comes up with such frequent links to Daily Excess’ propaganda war against Megan*. 

Anyway, today there was a link to an item about the operational/strategic interface in professional wargames at the US Naval College. It’s a 3-part article and I’ve only so far read part 3, but I found it fascinating. It references command and control and unit movement mechanics in leisure wargaming - it specifically calls out board games, but the mechanics mentioned are familiar to figure wargamers.

There was another link in my feed yesterday to a discussion amongst leisure wargamers. Of that more anon. For now here’s the professional wargaming link:

* the frequency and the sheer bile and pettiness is staggering  (I only read the headlines without clicking the link, honest. Well usually). I won’t go further here but there is a distinct whiff of racist hypocrisy about the way Captain Wales’ wife is treated - there was a rather and funny item on the Mash Report about the subject.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020


Well it took me nearly a year, but I've ticked off the last unfinished item on this list! Obviously, like any fallible wargamer, in the last year I've had the occasional slip and added to the pile and I still have some of that to deal with. But I've done the last item (paint the AWI figures) twice over due to a recent purchase.

Still to be done, are the Leven castle walls, some sapper types for the ECW. I also have odds and sods waiting decisions on what to do. E.G years ago I acquired some Soviet infantry in Budenovka hats that I bought for the Winter War alongside some Finns in winter garb. I'm not sure if I'm going to go ahead with that project. For a start I'd need a suitable battle cloth. For another I have a long standing wish to make deciduous trees for winter games not just for the Winter War, but I don't know how I'm going to do them. Also still in the long grass is a fortress for siege games for lack of a robust plan to make it.

All that aside, I'm pleased to have finally polished off that list so I'll raise an imaginary glass. Here are the finished AWI figures.

A brigade a piece.

American militia backed up by Continentals.

The 10th Foot (naturally - they later became the Lincolnshire Regiment) march behind the 3rd Foot.

Rebel riflemen await the British light infantry in rough ground.

American view of British skirmishers 

The whole lot in a Ferrero Rocher box. Next up the step from a Battle in a Box to a Battle on the Table

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Advice sought

OK, so I've painted all the AWI infantry and mounted officers. Just the artillery to do. I've stuck them all on bases with the following sizes:

  • Close Order - 20 x 30mm - 2 ranks of 3
  • Loose Order - 20 x 30mm - 2 ranks of 2
  • Open Order - 40 x 30mm - 4 per base

Light infantry are based as Loose Order, but when in skirmish order are placed at roughly twice the frontage. Open Order is for troops who only skirmish, such as riflemen, jÀgers and Native Americans. The following pictures show the different formations.

2 regiments of Redcoats in Loose Order, Lights skirmishing with Rifles, followed by Continentals and Militia.

American riflemen in open order. Behind to the right are Continentals in Loose Order and, left, Militia in Close Order.

British Lights skirmish with the American riflemen.

British line infantry offering cold steel to the rebels. They don't like it up em! Horse Guards would be horrified - battered and worn hats, cut down coats, stripped of regimentals (the ladies of Savannah pay handsomely for the lace) and such loose files as would give conniptions to a Prussian Feldwebel

Next step is to texture the bases and add the flags. Now then, I wonder if the riflemen look too bunched up as based. I'd value your thoughts on whether I should thin out the rifles.

Saturday, 7 November 2020

AWI Infantry - WIP

This evening I touched up the Continentals, militia, British line and lights, and got them based. The basing still needs to be 'textured', but I'm pleased with the spacing. The only thing I might change is the size of the command bases. Currently they're on 40x30mm bases, as opposed to the 20x30mm bases for the rank and file. I might put them on 30x30mm bases. I intend for command bases to be supernumerary anyway so base size doesn't matter too much.

The opposing lines. Rebels in the background, Lobsterbacks in the foreground.

American militia in close order

Continentals in loose order

British lights in open order. Based so I can put them in loose order.

British line. In this case the 10th Foot. Being a Yellowbelly, they have to be my first Crown unit.

Tomorrow I'll start preparing the new acquisitions with the intention of getting the whole lot completed this coming week. I have some flags somewhere too to finish off the command stands. Fortunately I have four spare Ferrero Rocher boxes so I don't have to stuff myself with choccies in order to store them safely.

Tuntematon Sotilas/Unknown Soldier Review

I’ve blathered on about one of my favourite war films/books before (Tuntematon Sotilas/Unknown Soldier). If you have nothing better to do, maybe you’d be interested in hearing someone with some relevant experience talk about the same subject. I came across this last night. It’s one of those “reaction videos” that seem to proliferate on YouTube and it’s rather long for that genre at 47 minutes.

The presenter (a US Marine veteran) makes some interesting points from a soldier’s point of view. He also makes some insightful comments about it being a story about people and relationships and not a “war film” (it still is that as well thrill seekers). I found myself nodding along to his comments at many points. And found myself welling-up again at the scenes at Rokka’s farm.

Only quibble is I couldn’t see any subtitles on the little pop-up screen of the movie. This wasn’t always essential to the point he was making. But it did remind me of how little Finnish I do actually understand. On which point I’ve got a lesson I must prepare for.  NĂ€hdÀÀn!

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Regime change

So Lockdown II has kicked in. The 4 weeks from (remember, remember) 5 November to 2 December will see a new nationwide lockdown here in the UK. This time the regime is far more liberal than it was in the Spring, a double-edged sword in my mind, but it's a difficult balancing act.

This has an immediate impact on my exercise plans. The pool has shut for the duration. Let me re-phrase that, the open-air pool has shut. I'm going to miss it, particularly on days like Wednesday when the weather was cold but with beautiful blue skies. I sat and had lunch on the cafe roof terrace after my swim. Then after soaking up the sun I soaked up the sounds of people swimming as I walked around the pool (observing the one-way system) to the exit. It's odd what catches the attention. On Wednesday it was the realisation that I would miss that sound. There's nothing quite like the noise of people swimming or playing around in water outside. Indoors it's quite an unpleasant sound, but outdoors it becomes the opposite.

Taken a couple of months ago when the weather was warmer, but not too dissimilar to how it looked on Wednesday. I couldn't get the whole 36m length of the pool in the shot. It's an odd length (40 yards when built in the 1930s) which must make it tricky for people training for competitive swims as they will be used to turning after a shorter distance than you would in a 50m pool.

This was the thing I missed most about Lockdown. Almost the only thing in fact. I never truly appreciated how much until it re-opened on a beautiful day in July. The other thing I'm missing now is going to football matches. Sure I can, and do watch them streamed live - in fact I'm able to get to see more games than I normally would. But much of the pleasure comes from meeting friends and acquaintances. Even just seeing people that you're only on nodding terms with. And also, those occasions when you feel part of something bigger. That for me is the extent of my 'hardship' in all of this*. Another reminder that my life is blessed.

* Subject to me or someone close not catching the virus and getting really ill.

Arrival of three and fourpence

I can now go to the dance. The small order I placed with Pendraken arrived today, and very chuffed I was too. One because the receipt of any new toys is always exciting, two because it means I now have the bases I need to move my AWI project forward*, and three because the models are so bloody good.

* I know what I'm doing this weekend 😊

I particularly like the American riflemen. What you need with skirmishers is a good variety of poses to avoid that regimented look. And in a pack of 30 figures you get eight different poses, so plenty of scope for a ragged line of sharpshooters.

American riflemen. A couple of these look suitable candidates for 17th century musketeers too....

The other packs I got were pretty good too, like these AWB34 (British infantry in cutdown coats and round hats charging). Four different poses so enough to give a little variety in a regular line unit.

British infantry charging. Like the other, need a bit of prep before undercoating - just a little filing

Also in the delivery were AWB26 (British light infantry command), AWB37 (British mounted officers) and AWB29 (British 6-pounder battalion guns). The light infantry command will allow me to round off the unit I prepped before. I have enough figures now for 3 units a side for a tidy little test game. I'll share the guns between the Brits and the Americans.

The mounted officers include a Highland officer in a cap - I have no hope of painting the tartan band like in this picture. Superb.

Screenshot from the Pendraken catalogue

As I write this I'm mindful of the unfolding situation across the Pond. For all our sakes, but particularly for the hundreds of millions of people in the US, I'm praying that there is calm and that the officials are allowed to complete the task in accordance with the constitution and laws of the several states.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Some actual wargaming

Yes, last week I got some actual wargaming in against a real life opponent that I'm not related to. Admittedly via Zoom, but it was a proper game. The estimable Max Foy invited me to participate in a Peninsular War game against prolific blogger, Stryker, using Max's Command and Colors Napoleonic 'Ramekin' variant. The good count was umpire/gamesmaster, dice roller and anecdotist. I will never look at a chocolate on a hotel pillow again without chuckling. Stryker took the part of Wellesley and I was Marshall Masséna.

I have used these rules once before (and their ECW cousin) and they are very easy to pick up. I had to ask for a few clarifications as we played the game, but the game fairly tripped along. The clarifications were more to do with me not having command of the detail than any lack of clarity in the writing. The actions and results of combat were plausible even if there were some surprises (mais c'est la guerre) along the way.

The battle was Fuentes de Oñoro, something that I'm not overly familiar with. The set-up was great (I suspect huge amount of work went into the scenario design, planning and preparation) and the guys were both gents and a pleasure to wargame with. I have no pictures, but if you haven't seen it already, I commend Max's post on the game here.

Plans & Thoughts on AWI and Colonial Wargaming

No, I'm not conflating the American War of Independence with Colonial Wargaming (though come to think of it....). A post by Jonathan Freitag on his Palouse Wargaming blog reminded me of an error I made recently. The post (partly) concerned a game he played via Zoom of Patriots and Rebels. For the unitiated Patriots and Rebels is a set of skirmish rules published by Osprey for wargaming the petit guerre in North America from colonial times to the ACW.

Now if you've noticed I have been thinking a lot about wargaming the AWI lately. Mainly this entailed agonising over base sizes for a long-delayed attempt at loose Files and American Scramble. Maybe that was at the back of my mind one night recently when I was looking at ordering something on my wife's Amazon Plus account (so I could save on postage). I did declare the purchase and offered to pay (which the kind soul declined to accept). Honest!

So I was excited a day later when a slim volume shaped package was delivered. Excitement faded to disappointment and I thought "the plonkers have sent the wrong book".

My reader might be thinking "that book looks apposite bearing mind nundanket's recent blogospherical cogitations". Apposite, but not what I'd ordered. Or rather what I thought I'd ordered. You see I was after this:

Now I'd been looking at this on Amazon and even added it to the 'basket'. I was then distracted by the 'people who bought X also looked at Y and Z' thing. The ordered was duly placed and when I found the 'wrong' book had landed on my doorstep with the accompanying delivery note "'claiming'" that was what was ordered, I rushed to the laptop and dug up the order on Amazon. I was building up for a good old "can't people get anything right these days" rant, but the wind was taken out of my sails. I had ordered Rebels and Patriots. Dimwit!

Any road up, I placed a correct order for The Men Who Would be Kings, and promptly compensated my beloved's bank account without giving her the chance to politely refuse.

I read both sets of rules and pronounced them 'good enough to try'. I will use multiple based figures for Rebels and Patriots since I've got 10mm AWI figures. This will be a side order to my intention to play 'proper battles' using Loose Files. The Men Who Would be Kings, however, I plan to use singly based figures as I'm thinking of making a departure from my usual tiny scale wargaming and venture into something bigger. Both sets of rules have a lot in common, naturally, but each has 'period chrome'. They don't look terribly innovative, but do look reasonably simple and potentially fun. The declared intention with The Men Who Would be Kings is for wargaming with a hint of Carry on Up the Khyber or Flashman. Well that sounds right up my strasse! The Men Who Would be Kings also has a 'programmed opponent' called Mr Babbage's engine, which is spiffing idea.

The exact period of 'colonial', I intend to play is not certain. The location is likely to be the Indian Subcontinent and Afghanistan. Probably 1850s. And maybe with a touch of the Great Game thrown in. I've been looking at Irregular's 20mm range. I might then extend the period through time (got to have some pith helmets somewhere alomg the line) possibly right up to the 1920s. The Irregular range looks good for the 'Mutiny' period but the others are all for the earlier periods such as the Sikh Wars and First Afghan War. Ironically, my usual preferred manufacturer, Pendraken, does the Mutiny, 2nd Afghan, NW Frontier 1890s, plus 2nd Boer War and WWI Middle East which would give me Brits at least for the whole period. That would also give me the opportunity to have a crack at Johnny Turk too. Plus Cossacks from the Crimean and Russo-Japanese Wars, which would do for Great Game Counter-Factuals. Hmmm!

Any suggestions as to other manufacturers with 20(ish) mm figures that cover the periods I'm interested in?