Sunday, 31 January 2021

A load more Hogsmill

I took today's permitted outdoor exercise with 1 person from another household walking the route of the Hogsmill again. The other person being my old pal Lincolnshire Tom, fellow exiled Grimsby Town supporter and resident of this postcode area. We rendez-voused at the confluence of the Hogsmill and the Thames at Kingston Riverside and started the walk upstream. Whilst waiting for Lincs Tom I strolled up to the bridge and back, past the houseboats (there are probably about 20 on this section.).

Kingston Bridge from the upstream side

Casting on a houseboat. The elf was probably about 4 feet high.

Houseboats on the Middlesex side of the river


Looking up the Hogsmill from a bridge over the river mouth

In the development of the Thames riverside around  the year 2000 the mouth of the Hogsmill was made into a sort of mini-delta with a section for water fowl to nest

For much of the walk the ground was very boggy and in parts it was difficult to keep our feet dry, as we've had a lot of rain in January. A lot. Fortunately we found a couple of sturdy sticks to help us keep our footing. The word of the day was 'rasputitsa.

Bit of history about the gunpowder mills. The packhorse bridge  is pictured in last Summer's post about the Hogsmill. 

Not sure if this is an overflow channel....

....or a mill chase

Lincs Tom spotted this near the springs outside what looked like a Scout hut but was in fact the HQ of the Epsom branch of the Surrey Beekeepers Association.


Wonder how this has been affected by Lockdown

This was intriguing. Neither in alphabetical order, nor rank or regimental order. Date of death?  

The initials for some of the regiments had us stumped. We got Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, the Rifle Brigade, East Surrey, City of London, East Yorks Regiment, Royal Fusileers, Surrey or Somerset Yeomanry and Somerset Light Infantry. Others had us stumped. LRB? KRR? RMLI: Royal Marines Light Infantry?

When we got to the area of the springs, where my previous walk up this river ended, we decided to continue on to Nonsuch Park, site of one of Henry VIII's palaces, then on to Cheam* to catch a bus back to our 'endz', thus making the trip circular. My health app tells me I walked 23,000 steps or 15km by the time I got home.


For some reason this church tower was left standing  when the rest of the church was demolished in the 1450s.

Nonsuch Palace was towards the bottom left of this map. No trace of it remains 

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Defence of the Sasquahannoc River

Spotting the rebels' earthworks before the river, and quickly surmising that the woods to the right held a nasty surprise, Colonel Haberghan ordered his light battalion into line to face the wood. The guns and two line battalions would take care of the earthworks.

Unfortunately, the Colonel was off-colour that day having picked up something unpleasant in Hazzard. I.E. I rolled a 2 on his command dice. Even with the usual +1 he would have limited options each turn. It takes 2 command points to issue an order to a unit. The Americans did better, with his opposite number (General 'Hannibal' Smith) getting a 4, and they had a subordinate brigadier with an additional 3 command points. This was part of the evening up of the odds after the last battle. In addition to that I gave them the earthworks. And they would return to full complement again. The British brought forward the troops they had left after the last battle. I.E. everything. I reasoned that the Disorder Points were rallied off in the interval.

I forgot to take any photos early on, so the first is after the 69th Foot have shrugged off fairly ineffectual fire from the militia in the earthworks and the gun section across the river. And whilst the Lights faced off against the American riflemen in the woods, with a manly hurrah, the 69th stormed the defences. On the lip of the parapet they poured point blank fire into the stunned defenders before levelling their bayonets. The militia didn't give the redcoats the chance to skewer them, and took to their heels.

The British 6-pounders following in their wake were ordered to deploy in close range of the American artillery and the town of Vallance. By then the Continentals had been marched into the town, and four companies engaged in a long range fire fight with the 69th. The 6 pounders deployed just in time for the 69th were getting closer to 5 DPs. (After 5 DPs any further hits are taken as Casualties - i.e. removal of a base - that's when the attrition really takes its toll).

The Lights engaging in their foolish firefight in the wood with the American marksmen. The 69th hold the eastern side of the bridge. The 10th begin to arrive on the road.


The 69th in the American 'redoubt' exchange shots with the Continentals across the river, whilst the guns silence the American artillery.


Over in the woods, the Lights stayed in line and engaged in a fire fight with the American skirmishers. They should have charged straight in, having a big advantage in combat but not in a firefight when deployed in line, or they should have deployed in skirmish order to reduce casualties. I could put this down to the lack of Command Points - I concentrated on getting the guns into action to soften up the defenders across the river before an assault over the bridge. In reality I was probably not concentrating properly. The Lights suffered significant hits before finally charging. The first round of combat was indecisive, but in the second, without the benefit of the bayonet charge, and having suffered a couple more DPs they were punished by the riflemen. In all the Lights lost 5 casualties and had 5 DPs still on them when they came to a halt alongside the 10th Foot.

The 10th didn't make the same mistake as the Lights. they got stuck in straight away and routed the Americans. Fortunately for the rebels, they were able to easily outpace the Yellowbellies and reach the ford. In the course of the action 'Boss' Hogg in charge of the Blue Mountain Boys took a ball in the arm and another grazed his temple, dazing and disorientating him. In other words, he suffered an injury under the Risk to Generals rule and a deduction of 2 Command Points.

The 10th march into the woods, leaving the Lights to the right rear licking their wounds.

Meanwhile the British guns had surpassed their opposite number and turned their fire on to the Continentals in the town. It wasn't long before the Continentals too were beginning to suffer badly.  'Hannibal' Smith (so-called  because of his girth - he was, one Continental captain quipped, "the elephant in the room"), called for a withdrawal. He had caused nearly as many casualties on the British as they had on him, and he could retreat towards more help, whilst the British would be getting further from their bases on the estuary.

The end. 

By the end of the action, the Americans had lost four rifles bases, two militia and one gun. The British came off nearly as badly losing five Light infantry bases and one Line from the 69th. Arguably the Brits' loss was worse since the Lights are classed as first rate. The British losses will be carried forward to the next game, but the Americans will be allowed to return to full strength again. I'll probably have one or two more games in this little mini-campaign. Depending on when the new order arrives, I may get new figures into the final game. If the timing is right I can forsee an outnumbered British force desperately awaiting the arrival of relief in the form of light dragoons.


Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Teaser

The British lights advancing towards the bridge at Vallance and cresting a small rise spot the Americans earthworks. In wait lie more rebels on both sides of the river.


The Blue Mountain Boys lurk in the woods ready to take the redcoats in flank. Under orders to hit and flit, the Blue Mountain Boys know a ford across the Sasquahannoc River.



After their success at Hazzard, Habaerghan rested his weary brigade. They also took the opportunity to requisition supplies for their onward march to clear the country of rebels. The rebels had been soundly beaten at Hazzard and Haberghan would have given his best hounds for a troop or two of light dragoons*, even Loyalist ones, who would have been able to press home the advantage whilst the foot rested. Instead the rebels had time to prepare their next position where further regiments of militia, riflemen and regulars met the defeated troops from Hazzard.


* Note to self: must order some light dragoons. I also need to get some buildings more sympathetic to the theatre.

PS I've just noticed that this is my 200th published post. Crikey. I really must get out more.

PPS Order placed for light dragoons, reinforcements for the Americans, plus top-up for my ECW Foot, and more Soviets and Finns.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

War Without an Enemy - Choosing Terrain

In the last but one post in this series I talked briefly about which battles to choose to represent on the tabletop as it looks like there will be too many to do. In the comments Steve J suggested a method that I think I will adopt: pick a leader and play out his battles as figure games and run the rest using the board game's battle rules.

Next step then would be how to select the terrain for these battles. One option is to use Peter's method of picking terrain cards from a deck. Here's how it works: 

https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2018/12/ecw-campaign-cards-and-terrain-cards.html

Another option that occurred to me today was to pick an historical battle, preferably one in the same area as the battle on the board, and lay the terrain out using that. So if I chose to follow Sir Ralph Hopton around I could use the terrain from Braddock Down, Stratton, Lansdowne, Roundway Down etc. Force composition would be as described in my last post on the subject, with each Horse Strength Point converting to one unit (4 bases/troops) and 3 Foot SPs converting to a battalia (1 pike and 2 shot bases). If there wasn't a historic Hopton battle available I would find the next nearest one.

The slight down side of this second option would be that my table is narrow and long (3 feet by 5 to 8 feet) so some fudging will have to be done. If I used the card method, I would just use the requisite number of cards say, 1 card to every 1' or 1.5' square. No firm decision needs to be made. I always have the option of changing my mind mid-campaign.

Next issue is working out an efficient method of packing the board away when I need to get the toys out, and setting everything up properly again after the battle.

Monday, 18 January 2021

A brisk action at Hazzard

I finally got a small game in tonight with my AWI troops using Loose Files and American Scramble. It's the first time I've actually used the rules 'in anger' (if you describe a solo wargame thus). The scenario was simple. A British brigade under Colonel Haberghan had to seize the town of Hazzard in North Carolina, vital to their push inland from the tidal waterways.

Unbeknownst the British, the Rebels were already converging on Hazzard. A regiment of NC militia was already ensconce south of the town hidden in a cereal field by the road. A regiment Continentals was heading down the road from the north and Colonel 'Boss' Hoggs' Rifle Regiment was heading towards the town from the north west

The British

Commander, Col. the Hon. Henry Haberghan

47th foot (2nd class)

10th foot (2nd class)

Combined light companies (1st class)

2 sections of 6 pounders

The Americans

In command, Colonel Roscoe P. Coltrane

N.Carolina Militia (4th class)

30th Continentals (2nd class)

Hoggs' Rifles (2nd class)

1 section of 6 pounders

All infantry were 8 companies strong except the militia which were 6.

Opening set-up. British column entering from the south, militia in the cereal field to the right with further Americans due to enter from the north.

Militia lie in wait.
The British weren't allowed to deploy to face the militia until the militia opened fire. The militia were to try to hold-up or at least slow down the Lobsters until the reinforcements arrived. Meanwhile the Continentals could only enter on a 6 on a D6 (then reducing by 1 on subsequent turns). The rifles could enter on a 5 or 6, with that target reducing by 1 each turn.

As things panned out, the militia fired a surprise volley on the 47th and on the head of the Lights inflicting a DP (Disorder Point) on each. Haberghan urged the 47th on to Hazzard whilst getting the Lights to swing into line. His guns followed the 47th down the road with the 10th following in turn. The Lights launched a bayonet charge on the rebels, handing them a heavy defeat in close combat. The militia fled to the farmstead, taking losses and DPs on the way. Meanwhile the Lights halted to rally off their DPs.

After 3 turns both the American reinforcements arrived and headed to town as fast as possible.

Here we see the Continentals marching southwards, with the Rifles the northwest. The 47th form a line at a right-angle pending support from the artillery and 10th. The militia can be seen at the farmstead on the right with the Lights rallying just inside the fence.

The Lights eye the Militia in the farm and gear themselves up for another assault.

A firefight broke out between Hoggs' boys and the 47th and the guns. Initially the fire from both sides was ineffective with DPs building up very slowly. Whilst this was happening events at the farm were much more dramatic. The Lights' blood was up and they stormed the farm scattering the Militia to the four winds. The Americans were one unit down.


The Continentals have deployed in the town and advance to firing range but do not assault the 47th because of the approaching Lights. The 10th Foot have arrived (bottom right). The Rifles turn their whole attention on the Yellowbellies.

The Lights have charged the Continentals and driven them out of the town with casualties (down from 8 to 7 companies). Meanwhile the Continental gunners have also been chased off. Similarly, below the road, the Yellowbellies shrugged off the DPs inflicted on them by the Rifles and see them off at bayonet point with heavy losses.

So the action was over. It took about an hour and a half, which isn't bad for a first try with the rules. I've probably made lots of mistakes (indeed I remembered a few omissions which I did my best to rectify as soon as I realised). But so far so good.

Table size used was 3' by 5 ' used length ways. Figures are all Pendraken 10mm. I used my ECW casualty figures as DP markers and ECW limbers which don't look too out of place at table distance.



Thursday, 14 January 2021

Why we won't win Eurovision again - or I'll have extra cheese with that

I put up a post the other day with a dead link. Tradgardmastare Alan pointed out that it didn't work and in my ham-fisted attempt to correct it I deleted the post.  Apologies Alan. So as not to deny you of my exposition on this most important of current issues, I'll re-post the link and offer up a couple more in the same vein.

What I was trying to say before is that there is a fundamental cultural gulf between Britain and the Continent which might be explained by our resistance to the delights of Schlagermusik*. When it is enjoyed, it is regarded as something of a guilty pleasure for us in this Sceptered Isle.

* supposedly it has nothing to do with lager, although come to think of it, the nations that like ale are relatively immune to it. Given my inability to ever find real ale in Cork, that might explain a few things.

The link I attempted to post before is below. My 'discovery' of the lady's oeuvre has been one of my 'Guilty Pleasures' of recent months (though I'm not cool enough to feel any guilt about enjoying this). I don't think you need a word of the language to appreciate it, but by the end you will have picked up enough Finnish to sing 'laiii lai lai lai lai lai laiiii lai'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gc_pVBAVzlk&list=RDTUVcCTpkyZg&index=7

FYI Karjala means Karelia and through my extensive research, I have discovered that it is virtually compulsory to sing about it in the Finnish version of the genre. It pops up in the above song (Viipuri is the city of Viborg) and countless others. Like this one. And if you don't like extra cheese on your cheese toastie, it's best to avoid it. Me, I love it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZD8s-9wEQE

And then there's this video which fascinates me, despite not being able to find any reference to Karelia. I think it must be because the roof appears to have an alarming leak above the singer's left shoulder.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pwSwcLptow

Incidentally, I was led to Ms Tuupnanen's videos through my love of the song Josef Josef referred to last March.

Enjoy!



Wednesday, 13 January 2021

War Without an Enemy - Converting Numbers

Notwithstanding Iain's astute comment that War Without an Enemy ('WWAE') looks a little too involved to just be a battle generator, I ploughed on to have a look at how many models might be needed.

First off I did a stock take of my models and came up with the following numbers.

13 Jan 2021

Horse

Foot

Dragoons

Staff and Train

Command stands

20

17

1


Trooper stands

94


8


Pike blocks


16



Musket/dism.dragoons/firelocks


35



Clubmen stands


3



Mounted officers/staff




26

Field guns




8

Ships/fortress guns




4

Limbers




4

Wagons




3

To put some context on this, each Horse stand is 3 figures, notionally representing a troop of about 60 men in my rules. A Foot stand is 10-12 figures representing a pike block or a shot wing of 200-240 men. In my tactical rules ('Jacob Astley's Prayer' see below*) the command stands are supernumerary and are to show what the unit is doing - e.g. in front of the unit means it's advancing; behind it is stationary. [Aside: looking at these numbers I'm short of a Foot command stand, but have plenty of spare command figures].

Then I totted up the Strength Points on the wooden blocks that come with WWAE, and came up with the following.


Royalist

Total Strength

Units

Horse

30

10

Foot

69

8

Guns

6

3

Clubmen

3

0




Parliamentarian

Total Strength

Units

Horse

27

9

Foot

87

10

Guns

8

4

Clubmen

3

1




Combined

Total Strength

Units

Horse

57

19

Foot

156

17

Guns

14

7

Clubmen

6

2




The Total Strength shows the theoretical maximum numbers. However, it is unlikely that it would get to the point when more than 1/3 of the total armies got into in a battle. The rule mechanisms encourage you to disperse your armies in order to take cities and territories, and to avoid attrition by having too many troops in one area.

The final column shows a notional number of units if say 1/3 of the totals came face-to-face. In this scheme each Horse Strength Point converts to 1 unit and each 3 Foot Strength Points convert to 1 unit. The relative ratios of Horse and Foot to SPs fits with the fact that my horse units are a dozen figures whilst my foot are 3 dozen. Gun SPs are halved to arrive at the required number of model guns. That all works out very conveniently close to my total collection. Strictly speaking I'm about 30 figures short of the horse total - 2 packs of Mr Pengilley's excellent little models.

So a little army under the command of Old Robin like this on the board.......

Strength Points: Horse 3; Foot 12, Guns 4. The little halberd icon on Essex's block shows it is foot as well as a Leader.

....would convert to something like this on the table.


To be honest though, if it ever got to a full on mash-up I would not use Jacob Astley's Prayer, which are more suited to medium sized battles. I would run such a large game with In Deo Veritas or Ramekin ECW C&C. In both of those two I can use the command stands as whatever is the opposite of supernumerary, so I can eke out more units.

Glad I've got that sorted. I can move on to the next challenge.

* "Lord, help me today to realize that thou wilt be speaking to me through the events of the day, through people, through things, and through all creation. Give me ears, eyes and heart to perceive thee, however veiled thy presence may be. Give me insight to see through the exterior of things to the interior truth. Give me thy Spirit of discernment. O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget [the rules], do not Thou forget me. Amen.”


Tuesday, 12 January 2021

War Without an Enemy - Sample Game and Further Thoughts

At the moment this is still very much a War Without a Game. Tonight I finished off the sample game in the Playbook. The sample game takes you through a hypothetical game between Charles and Robert during which no aspersions were cast on Robert's marital relations. It consisted of two turns in late 1642 - the scenario starts as the historical war did in September. Remember a turn normally contains 5 phases (with 6 in the Winter Turn). 1642 is a bit different in not having a Winter Turn.

It was good that I did run through the sample game. I would never get through a game turn unaided. The Playbook explains each phase in clear detail, but even then I found myself looking up sections of the rules to check why such and such a unit has dice in combat. I'm glad to say I got there in the end. The whole process took me 3 hours on two different days, including setting up. It would probably be quicker if my mind were more nimble, and obviously it will speed up as I get more used to it. Bear in mind that this was only a 2 Turn year - the other 4 years have 6 Turns, with the last (Winter) Turn having an extra phase!

During those two Turns there were half a dozen battles, so used as a campaign to generate tabletop action you will be setting up the figures a LOT! I played through the battles using the abstracted battle format the game gives you. Each battle has lots of clever nuances so I can this can become absorbing. And lots to learn, but if each turn is generating at least one battle you will get used to it quickly. At anything like this frequency however, playing out battles as miniatures games would drag the campaign out inordinately. This would lead me to either abandon the idea completely, and just play the game as it was intended, or decide to play some games with figures and some using the game rules.

One of the little features I like are the options to Withdraw Before Battle and General Retreat during a battle. These allow players to decide discretion is the better part of valour, but you suffer consequences. And you really should only do this if you have some cavalry left! 

The battle mechanics are quite nice. Units (blocks) have strength values which get eroded with action, and Effectiveness which doesn't. The Strength determines the number of D6 rolls a unit gets, and Effectiveness determines the maximum roll on a D6 that will inflict a hit. Thus a unit with Strength of 3 and Effectiveness of 2 gets to roll 3 D6 scoring hits on 1 or 2. Artillery only get to fire in the first of 3 Battle Turns. Infantry can opt to either Fire (-1 on the effectiveness score) or Engage (no deduction). Horse only Engage. If no enemy Horse are present, your Horse get a +1 on Effectiveness. For some reason that I haven't figured out yet, the defender gets to fire first.

One of the battles was actually a Storm (Waller capturing Plymouth from Hopton) and this had some slightly different factors, but similar enough to field battles to keep it understandable.

In terms of the practicalities, the board, cards and associated sheets took up the best part of a 5' by 3' table. The wooden playing pieces need to be handled with care. You need to make sure that the pieces face the right way in order to keep track of their strengths. They are only flipped over to show the opponent what they are when they actually end up in a battle. There isn't a huge amount of space within some of the areas on the map to fit many blocks into the same area. It won't really be practicable as a remote game.

I'll probably have at least one more walk through the sample game to make sure I get the processes hammered home. Then I can think about where I go next with this. So as the managers of just defeated football teams say, "we go again".


Friday, 8 January 2021

Annual Review

Late to the party here. Lots of people seem to be doing it and after humming and ahhing I decided it would be useful for me to review what happened in 2020 and reflect on it. And what a different year it has been. I'm going to break this down into Books, Games Played, Blogging and Real Life, before having a look forward to this year. 

Apologies this is going to be long. I'll just give you time to get your coffee ready first. You'll need it. And a couple of biscuits.


Right! Ready?

Books

2020 saw me buy 28 books and booklets. A lot more than usual for me. This was a result of the Lockdowns. More time, more cash and libraries being closed. This year's purchases included some stars and some 'put-downables'. The pick of the bunch were the Wild Goose and the Eagle, Hey For Old Robin, the Barratt books, plus the Chester and Alton booklets. Put down before finishing: the Symond's diaries and Wanton Troopers (what a sadly misleading title!). The best of the rules purchased were In Deo Veritas.

Title

Author

Period

Comment

In Deo Veritas

Philip Garton

17th Century

Playable rules for large (and small) 17th Century battles.

Rebels and Patriots

Michael Leck and Dan Mersey

America - SYW to ACW

Skirmish rules. Not tried yet.

Wargamers Handbook of the American War of Independence

Donald Featherstone

AWI

Old edition.

Wargamers Handbook of the American War of Independence

Donald Featherstone

AWI

John Curry history of wargaming edition. Don’t know why I bought this second copy. Whoops!

Uniforms of the American Revolution

Mollo and McGregor

AWI

Useful colour plates showing all branches of both sides.

The Men Who Would be Kings

Dan Mersey

Colonial

Skirmish rules. Not tried yet.

More Like Lions Than Men

Andrew Abram

ECW

Account of the Parliamentarian army of Cheshire. Narrative parts very interesting. Some of the 

Hey For old Robin!

Chris Scott and Alan Turton

ECW

Earl of Essex’s campaigns. Excellent read.

Richard Symond’s Diary of the Marches of the Royal Army

Ed CE Long. Intro by Ian Roy

ECW

Quite frankly, mostly dull. Much of the diary is taken up with Symond’s interest in heraldry, genealogy, church architecturals.

For Duty Alone: Ralph Hopton’s Account of the Last Campaign in the West

Ed John Barratt

ECW

Booklet. Haven’t actually read it yet.

Wanton Troopers: Buckinghamshire in the Civil Wars

Ian Beckett

ECW

Study of society & war in Bucks. Quite frankly too much background for my liking. Lots about the value of different families’ property. Not one for thrill-seekers.

Royalists

John Barratt

ECW

Overview of the Royalist army. I previously read a copy from the library, but haven’t read this copy yet. Highly recommended reading. Inspired me to get cracking with this period a few years ago.

The Battle of Nantwich 1644

John Barratt

ECW

Booklet. Lots of useful detail.

The First Battle of Newbury

John Barratt

ECW

Very good

The Storming of Alton & Arundel 1643

Robert Morris

ECW

Booklet. Very interesting and useful account of Waller’s campaign.

The Great Leaguer of Chester

Stephen Pickstock

ECW

Booklet. Great holiday reading. Inspiring account of the epic attempt to take Chester.

Prince Rupert the Cavalier

Clennell Wilkinson

ECW (mainly)

Inter-War biography of the original Rupert in the British Army. Good read. Clearly pro-Royalist

For Orange and the States: The Army Of The Dutch Republic, 1713-1772, Part I: Infantry: 15

Marc Geerdink-Schaftenaar

Late WSS-AWI

Useful introduction. Rare to find something dedicated to this subject.

For Orange and the States: The Army of the Dutch Republic, 1713-1772, Volume 2: Cavalry and Special Troops

Marc Geerdink-Schaftenaar

Late WSS-AWI

I ordered volume I ‘because it was cheap’, got sent vol.2 and they then sent me the right one so they let me keep it for the same price.

The Longest Afternoon

Brendan Simms

Napoleonic

About the 2nd Light Bn of the KGL at la Haye Sainte. Interesting read. The subtitle (The 400 Men Who Decided the Battle of Waterloo) seems more than a little overblown as a claim.

The Wild Goose and the Eagle: A life of Marshall von Browne 1705-1757

Christopher Duffy

Polish Succession/WAS/SYW

New edition of Duffy classic. Highly recommend it to anyone interested in the mid-18th century.

With Frederick the Great

GA Henty

SYW

Late Victorian novel about a young Highland noble who serves in Frederick’s army. Everything works out splendidly for the lad. All the blooming time!

The Battle of Minden

Stuart Reid

SYW

Subtitled the Miraculous Victory of the Seven years War. Why do publishers do this? Mostly Anglo-centric version of events. Nothing much about the Germans and next to nothing on the French side.

Der Alte Fritz

Richard Knötel

SYW (mainly)

Postcard size plates from the famous artists. Accompanying text in German. A must have!

Solo Wargaming

Donald Featherstone

Various

Classic Don. Collection of re-print of various older articles.

Wargaming: An Introduction

Neil Thomas

Various

Thomas intro and rules. Probably needs no introduction from me.

Microcosm: portrait of a Central European City

Norman Davies and Roger Moorhouse

Various

History of the city known by different names: most familiar as Breslau (it’s easier to pronounce than Wrocław). Very interesting.

Almost forgot that I got the Age of Reason, SYW Campaign Rules by Tod Kershner. These are an old set covering the Prussian invasion of Bohemia in 1757. They look an excellent. Hopefully they'll get a run out in 2021.


Wargames Played

Well this aspect of my spare time also greatly surpassed 2019. I only managed 6 wargames in 2019. In 2020 I nearly tripled that with 17. Of these 7 were ECW, 6 were SYW, 3 Napoleonics and 1 WWII. One ECW battle (Nantwich) and one SYW battle (Lobositz) were fought solo 4 times and 3 times respectively. 10 games were played solo and 7 against real people via Zoom/FaceTime. So again Covid-19 had an impact with remote gaming being a new feature.

In terms of rules used, 6 games were played using my own rules (3 different periods), 11 using other people's rules. The other 11 were In Deo Veritas rules (1), Polemos Marechal de l'Empire (1),  Peter's ECW D3 rules (1), Prinz Eugen (4), and Tony's Ramekin C&C variants for Naps (2) and ECW (2). I have to say I enjoyed all the sets. Each set has a different angle to them, different benefits, and suit slightly different levels of action This has been the most varied year for many years in terms of periods and rulesets. I would conclude it's been a richer experience all round.

Battle

Period

Rules

People

Hex?

Fuentes de Oñoro

Napoleonic

C&C Napoleonics Ramekin

Remote

Y

Kluis

Napoleonic

C&C Napoleonics Ramekin

Remote

Y

Koski’s Last Stand*

WWII

Own - Metsäsota

Remote

N

Kunersdorf

SYW

Own - Bellona et Fortuna

Solo

N

Lansdowne

ECW

ECW D3

Remote

Y

Lobositz

SYW

Prinz Eugen

Solo

Y

Lobositz

SYW

Prinz Eugen

Solo

Y

Lobositz

SYW

Prinz Eugen

Solo

Y

Nantwich

ECW

C&C ECW Ramekin

Solo

Y

Nantwich

ECW

C&C ECW Ramekin

Solo

Y

Nantwich

ECW

Own - Jacob Astley’s Prayer

Solo

N

Nantwich

ECW

Own - Jacob Astley’s Prayer

Solo

N

Newbury

ECW

In De Veritas

Solo

N

Tadcaster

ECW

Own - Jacob Astley’s Prayer

Remote

N

Torgau

SYW

Own - Bellona et Fortuna

Remote

N

UnruhigeWasser*

Napoleonic

Polemos

Remote

N

Zinna

SYW

Prinz Eugen

Solo

Y

* imaginary scenario

As well as the above mentioned rules I also acquired Rebels and Patriots and the Men Who Would be Kings, Age of Reason Campaign, and the boardgame War Without an Enemy, none of which I have played yet.


Blogging

Blogging took off for me, unsurprisingly in 2020. The total number of posts (135) more than doubled the 2019 total of 54, though I didn't get started until April in that year.

I haven't analysed the numbers (that would be too much like real work) but my walking posts seemed the post popular. I certainly enjoyed writing them. I got satisfaction from the walks at least twice. Once through the actual walk, and once through recalling them and blogging about them. I had done some walking posts in 2019, but they became a feature of 2020 with the original lockdown here in the UK.

Another significant feature for me was the increase in comments and level of interaction through blogging. The time, courtesy and effort people have put in to responding to my humble efforts has been rewarding. I'd like to extend my thanks to all who have read, commented, offered suggestions and given support.


Real Life

The big event, what could be seen as the big divide this year for me, was not Covid-19 and the Lockdowns, but my Mum's not unexpected death in April. For much of the year it didn't feel like the big divide. As I mentioned in Good Friday post, it seemed like a release at the time. The person I knew seems to have passed on a couple of years before with her dementia. Only more recently has her death's import sunk in. I think there will be more to unravel over the coming months. By contrast, after my father's death I noticed an immediate gap and my grief (though not dramatic) was much more palpable and I thought about him every day. I've only very recently acknowledged the affect 'all this' has had on me.

February saw what in retrospect was the lucky timing of our Liverpool trip. Whilst Offspring #1 has been back down this way since, we only saw him fleetingly and that was several months ago. A Christmas re-union was first off the cards (due to work), then on the cards (change of work situation), then off the cards (job for son), on again (shift change) and off finally with London being relegated to Tier 4. Tch!

Lockdown did bring its positives. I spent more time with the twins as they were home-schooling from early March and not back until after Summer holidays. It was great having that human company  as I've not been in the office since early March either (and hey, they're great company).  I've been lucky in my work too. My job is 90+% working with people remotely anyway, and my income didn't suffer. It was nice having the place to myself for a while in the Autumn when they did finally go back to school - at least they were back home after 3PM. Sometimes. Not commuting saved me over 2 hours a day, to say nothing of savings in fuel. In fact the second car got sold. Lockdown 2 hit me more though, mainly because of the impact on exercise.

I had an operation in April - again lucky to get it done at that time given the closure of most non-elective surgery. It was no biggie, basically in and out in a day though the general anaesthetic had an interesting affect. Discomfort for a couple of weeks and so far no unwelcome side effects. More good luck!

Leading on from that topic, health and exercise has been an up and down experience this year. There was the condition that led to the op - painful and disruptive, but there are worse things to have. The pool I use normally closed with Lockdown. I did start running a bit but a 'dodgy knee' severely limited that. Why I didn't get out on my bike in the beautiful Spring weather I'll never know. So walking became the thing, and it was pleasurable for several reasons.  It came about because of good weather, longer evenings, more spare time and initially an inability to exercise in other ways. Most of the walks were in the company of my wife, who has always had the knack of being a good companion, even in the days when her level of English inhibited her saying much. On some of them I also had the company of at least one of the twins (usually the 'younger' one). I knew the main historical features of the local area, but by walking more, especially in places I hadn't walked before I discovered more of the local history. Even areas I'd been to before gave up new revelations simply because I was moving slowly enough to observe more. The third way I derived satisfaction was that it helped build up fitness and stamina.

By June I decided to tackle the fat round my midriff and started a successful diet. Since finishing that in mid-September I've put about 2 of the 10 kg back on. It could have been worse considering. The pool re-opened in late July and on my first visit it hit me like a thunderclap how much I missed it. It felt great to be back. Bus there and walk back, then after my holiday I was biking there and back. The swimming increased and the bike route lengthened as I built up a level of fitness I haven't reached for years. I was feeling cocky when Lockdown 2 happened. Motivation went out the window and exercise fell off a cliff. It built up again in December (the pool remained open despite Tier 4 regs being imposed) and then Lockdown 3 started. I'm determined to react better than I did in November. Famous last words?

At home we finally got the kitchen refurbished after 5 years of prevarication. We'd delayed due to thoughts of building an extension but my better half decided she didn't want a mortgage hanging over us for longer, so an unambitious refurb happened and it's made a surprisingly positive impact.


Football. 

To describe what has happened to the club I support over the last year needs a post of its own. I've tried to do it here but I can't do it justice in anything that's halfway grammatical. I tried to do it a quarter way grammatical. Still too long for this! So see separate post. Does it matter in a wargaming blog? Well no. But I did threaten opinionated 'dribble' about Grimsby Town Football Club when I started this blog. I offer it up as a way to vent some steam and maybe it throws up some wider themes for these times.


Plans for 2021

Like nearly every wargames blogger I read, I hope to get more gaming in this year. Maybe colonial at some point.  I have thoughts of running a SYW campaign using the AOR rules. I should get the AWI toys out too. I've talked in the past about a narrative ECW campaign set around this corner of Surrey, rather like the Lincs campaign I covered in 2019. Then there's the ECW campaign using This War Without an Enemy. Also there's the merest soupçon of a hint of a new recruit. Or more accurately a re-recruit. My old mucker, Lincolnshire Tom (also of this postcode area) revealed he used to do WWII aerial and naval games. After 25 years he let's this one out.

I expect a fairly light year in terms of painting and new model acquisitions. Some buildings for the AWI. Some more AWI figures. But I will only do these last two 'sub-projects' if I actually get some games in first.  Obviously if I do take the colonial plunge I will need a complete new set of toys and terrain.

Health-wise, I have to make sure I don't slip into the mire that I slipped into in November. I'm not setting any exercise targets at this stage. But I will keep active. I'd like to trim some of the recently re-acquired fat off too. I'm also going to make an effort to vocalise my concerns more. It's not that I have any hang-ups about 'weakness'. It's just I am generally built to 'get on with it'. I think I downplay stuff that others make more of a song and dance about. I'm not planning to become a drama queen, just to say "I'm here, this affects me" more often.

With vaccines being rolled out, the end of the current blight is theoretically in sight. But if the last 12 months has taught us anything, it is surely not to make plans based on this thing finishing by any set date. A holiday would be nice. There was talk of a Winter train trip to Finnish Lapland. If it's a staycation again then I'd like to finally go coasteering. Failing that anything with lots of 'wild swimming'. Also if we do get to the point when it is safe to do so, we (the wider family) would like to arrange a big extended family get together as we were prevented from doing this when Mum died*. Hopefully family members whom are currently very ill are all still with us then.

* And I'm still angry about Dom Cumming's magical mystery tour around that time.

Subject to the sale of my parents' house, we want to have a garden studio (which is my codename for Shedquarters). It might not mean a permanent wargames table, at least not one fixed in position, since there are competing demands on the space. There's talk of yoga, dance and parties. This will take some careful planning, if the funding comes through.

The house needs external insulation and new cladding. In a country where millions are unemployed it should be easy to find a firm with the capacity shouldn't it? No?

Personal finances: recent months has seen me take a new approach to saving (well new to me). Hopefully it will pay off. And I've started to make bigger pension contributions. Something I've put off for too long.

Finally, I talked myself into a couple of interesting, major initiatives at work. One of which could notionally lead to me making myself partially redundant. Hmm! Might have to re-think some of the above.