Monday, 29 February 2016

Uhh, one, two, three, four...

'Jeremy Hunt, Jeremy Hunt
Can't think of a rhyme for Jeremy Hunt'

Still no wargaming, painting or anything remotely relevant to the purpose of the blog, but there has been yet more music. Live albums used to be all the rage. Think "Get Yer Ya Ya's Out", "Live at Leeds", "Live at Folsom Prison" or "Stupidity". Double live albums were particularly popular and I owned a few on vinyl. I think I'd have to go for Dylan's "Before the Flood" as my favourite, but being the age that I am Lynyrd Skynyrd's "One More from the Road" would also feature highly (I can't think about it without shouting out "Give me a T for Alabama"; possibly that's just me.). I even owned a Judas Priest double live album, although in my defence I won it in a raffle at a Bradford working man's club on my 8,000th birthday, never actually listened to it and long ago gave it to my ex-wife's sister's first husband. However, despite all that intimate association with the format, I've never been present at the recording of one - until now (1).

I have been to see the Jon Palmer Acoustic Band record a live album and very good it was too, a band that usually plays to a couple of dozen people in pubs relishing a sold out venue full of, let's face it, friends and family. But it was a great atmosphere, they played their brand of uptempo folk with passion and ability, and they were very rude about Jeremy Hunt and the rest of the 'posh boys talking bollocks'. What's not to like? Mostly JP's own compositions, but with an idiosyncratic cover of 'Dirty Old Town' and a moving one of 'Meet on the Ledge'. I look forward to the CD, a free copy of which was included in the ticket price.

(1) Like so much on this blog, that statement isn't actually true. I was in the audience when the Ramones recorded "It's Alive" - New Year's Eve 1977 at the Rainbow, Finsbury Park, and what a night that was. See if you can spot me. Gabba Gabba Hey.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

The devil hath the power to assume a pleasing shape

No wargaming to report, simply because there hasn't been any. There has been more music though, starting with the excellent - and Otley based - Yan Tan Tether. Apart from doing the second version of 'Wayfaring Stranger' that I'd heard in three days and an always welcome Jake Thackery cover, they performed 'The Widow'. I urge you all, but especially the knitting wench, to listen to the lyrics.

Friday, 26 February 2016


About a month ago I ordered a couple of Ospreys for my WWI project. After a few days I was told that I'd have to wait a month because they were print on demand, which is in itself an interesting use of the English language. Anyway, they turned up today and in both cases only the odd pages are there; all the even pages are blank. Clearly the print on demand bit refers to the fact that if one doesn't explicitly demand that they be printed properly, then they won't be.

In other news, I've been to Sheffield. Nothing of any significance whatsoever to report except that I did have the by now traditional Greggs sausage roll.

In other, other news there has been music. The ever reliable Dr Bob and the Bluesmakers were as good as usual and I also saw Karin Grandal Park and Rosie Clegg, an excellent folkie type duo mainly playing Grandal Park's own compositions. As regular readers will know I have an aversion to the banjo, but if it is ever going to be acceptable anywhere it's in playing 'Wayfaring Stranger', and a very nice version they did. The original stuff was very good - if a tad depressing in tone - and sat well with covers of songs by such as Buffy St Marie, Richard and Linda Thompson, Mary Chapin Carpenter and a lovely take on Boo Hewerdine's 'Patience of Angels'.

In other, other, other news I went to see the National Theatre live broadcast of 'As You Like It'. The elder Miss Epictetus declared it even better than 'A Winters Tale', but I'm not sure whether the better play made up for the absence of Dame Judi. The conceit of hauling lots of office desks and chairs up into the air to create the Forest of Arden worked wonderfully well, but it was never explained what they were doing on stage in the first place. And a mention must go to the casting of Leon Annor as Charles the wrestler. When he bellyflopped onto Orlando, both audiences - in theatre and cinema - audibly winced. Not the sort of chap you want to sit next to on a plane though.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Jeremiah 51:21 - tempting, but no

"There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method." - Herman Melville

I have been painting again, somehow overcoming the emotional scars from the hurtful words of the big, bouncy woman. The first, small, batch of the Great War project is now complete and I am reasonably pleased with them. I went for a light khaki, packs and webbing in yellow ochre and leather as appropriate (or at random depending on how you look at it) and then a heavy brushing all over with Ronseal teak varnish. I think the end result could have done with being a bit greener, but then again - and I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned this before - I am severely colour blind so my green is probably different to everyone else's. The varnish has highlighted that I wasn't as thorough in removing the mould lines as I should have been, especially from their helmets. I'll have to think of some way of testing that prior to painting; it appeared OK to the naked eye. Anyway they will look fine at arm's length on the table. Extrapolating out my current rate of progress I shall be able to stage a game to commemorate the centenary of the Armistice.

Just in case anyone is interested I normally only use the teak varnish on horses; other figures get beech. I also rashly bought some mahogany, but have never found an occasion to use it. For the Germans I thinking of perhaps a black wash of some sort will be best; I shall have to experiment. I have also broken with the habit of a lifetime and gone for a matt finish for this period. I've always been a gloss man - they are toy soldiers when all is said and done - but it didn't seem right here.

The chariots have continued to receive attention in the background along with the French line lancers. They, the chariots, seem to get worse every time I go back to them, but I don't have the energy to take them apart now. They will be finished and used, and I am tempted to buy another box, just to cut them up and reassemble them in a sensible looking way to prove it can be done. And as someone once wisely said in the comments to this blog "You can never have enough chariots".

Saturday, 20 February 2016

The course of true love never did run smooth

And so to the opera. In fact I've been two nights in a row, which is excessive even for me, although not unprecedented. First up was 'Cosi fan tutte' by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a young composer who shows much promise. The work wasn't performed much for many years because it was considered immoral; to modern eyes the failing of its story is more due to misogyny than lack of morals. The title means roughly 'women are all the same', an irritatingly immature attitude for a major work of art to profess. The music is sublime though and, as usual, was done full justice by the orchestra of Opera North and the singers. The production was a revival from a decade or so ago, with all the action taking place in a giant camera obscura. This isn't as odd as it sounds and works rather well, but I can vividly remember the tutting from behind me years ago when it was first staged. As an aside there is also a moment to please all those of you - those many, many of you - who appear to have a thing for women dressed in male military attire.

All that the performance of Donizetti's 'L'elisir d'amore' has in common is that it is also a revival, it made me think of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' (1) and it seems to set out to demonstrate that women are fickle and shallow. So quite a lot in common then. Notwithstanding Mozart's genius, my own taste runs much more to bel canto and so I actually preferred this. Plus it's funnier and has a hot air balloon. Again this is a fine interpretation, with everyone on top form, although I'm going to pick out the female chorus for particular praise.

Returning to Mozart, he and/or Da Ponte might have had somewhat dodgy views on sexual equality, but they did at least give us a character, Despina, who overtly challenges the idea that the rich and idle are entitled to hot chocolate while the workers have to make do with the aroma. Right on, sister.

(1) I have read that the plot of 'Cosi fan tutte' more closely resembles 'Cymbeline', but despite a quote from that play appearing on this very blog less than a fortnight ago I've never actually seen it. There is a production on a the Globe this summer, so perhaps I'll have a chance then.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Good game it is

“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” – Yoda

Presumably everyone reads James' blog, especially after all my recommendations. You will know therefore that he has had a bit of a mid-life crisis and strayed - hopefully temporarily - from the righteous path of historical wargaming. This has led him to buy lots of models based on a long-forgotten science fiction franchise, to use his superb modelling skills to turn razor blades into things that look like razor blades and to forget the word transceiver. So it was that earlier in the week we found ourselves playing X-Wing.

This was the second time I'd played the game and despite the fact that it ticks very few of my boxes I think it's a very good, very enjoyable game. I don't like sci-fi, I've never seen any of the films so don't know the back story, I have philosophic objections to collectible card games (admittedly partly based on the fact that I didn't think of such a brilliant money making idea first), and the idea of competition gaming just makes me laugh. But notwithstanding all that, it's a fun game to play. I regard it in the same way as I do most boardgames I play, Eurogames particularly, forget the theme, play the rules; sort of the opposite of the 'play the period not the rules' mantra. There was one slight problem with the scenario design in that the Imperial forces had zero chance of winning (despite sporting some impressively oddly named pilots), but that didn't seem to make much difference.

In other wargaming news, for some unaccountable reason I thought that a female visitor to the Casa Epictetus might be interested in the story of the great base fire. When I showed her the scorch marks she ignored them and went straight for the chariot. "Did you paint this?" she asked. When I replied in the affirmative her judgement was unequivocal. "It's crap." she said. In vain did I point out that whilst it almost certainly be crap when I'd finished it, as all I'd done so far was prime it (for details of that disaster see earlier posts), undercoat it (in terracotta as always) and slap a base coat on the horses and flesh on to the Celts, it seemed a tad harsh to write it off just yet. Sadly, she was unmoved, although she was more complimentary about the home made orange and mixed spice oat cookies.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Meeting at Night

So, still no za'atar (it's grim up North), but I have managed to score some preserved lemons. Other than that all is well.

The grey sea and the long black land;
And the yellow half-moon large and low;
And the startled little waves that leap
In fiery ringlets from their sleep,
As I gain the cove with pushing prow,
And quench its speed i' the slushy sand.

Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach;
Three fields to cross till a farm appears;
A tap at the pane, the quick sharp scratch
And blue spurt of a lighted match,
And a voice less loud, thro' its joys and fears,
Than the two hearts beating each to each!

                   - Robert Browning

Monday, 15 February 2016

Psalm 51 verse 7

Well the week is off to a terrible start; Waitrose have sold out of za'atar. I know that you feel my pain. I hope all those smug middle class bastards who have bought it choke on their pitta breads. However, I am not going to let a little thing like this spoil my day. In fact I am quietly confident that things will have improved significantly by the time that I go to bed. 

There has been lots of painting over the weekend. The chariots are not going well - they've sort of tipped back at such an angle that no amount of bracing against the side by the occupants could possibly stop them falling off the back as soon as they moved forwards - but I am quite pleased with progress on the first section of Tommies. These include duplicate figures for the Lewis gun team: firing and carrying. The rules don't demand it, but it will look better. Obviously I still intend to use the chariots despite their being seriously aesthetically challenged, but hey ho.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

You Got To Be Startin' Somethin'

I have commented before on my incompetence with superglue and even with gloss varnish. I must now add plastic primer to that list. Storm Imogen having departed and Storm Joshua/Jasper/Jeremy not having yet arrived the weather is calm. OK, so it's snowing heavily on and off, but there is no wind. I therefore decided to get out into the garden and do some spraying. Obviously this had to be quick in order to dodge the snow, so I may possibly have cut some corners. As a result I look as if I am suffering from sudden onset vitiligo. Not good.

Your bloggist tries his hand at drybrushing

Anyway, the toys also got covered so there was some upside. Three chariots and a French Napoleonic artillery caisson now await paint. The 3rd Lancers are about half way through so I'm running out of excuses for the First World War stuff. I think the basing question has been pretty much settled. I'm going for 2p pieces for everything and I'll worry about the 'big men' later. Prone figures - which  in the first instance means firing Lewis gunners - will be on a larger circular base, dimensions still to be decided. Heavy weapons will be on bases of a size and shape to be determined later. I think a bit of self-congratulation is order, that's a fairly comprehensive plan all mapped out there.

STOP PRESS: While writing this blog post I became aware of a strange smell. It turned out to be the base of one of the chariots mentioned above, which had started to smoulder quietly. Leaving aside the sheer unlikeliness of this and the ineptitude required to allow it to occur, the real issue is what's up with the smoke alarm? It won't let me make toast without going berserk, but a bit of cardboard on fire and it doesn't react at all.

Friday, 12 February 2016

'Cause many years from now there will be new sensations

I wanted to draw to your attention the comments section on a recent post, in which there is speculation as to what Edmund Blunden, the war poet, would have made of Noddy Holder, the shouty chap from the Black Country with the sideburns and the mirrored hat. Perhaps, if he did indeed watch the Christmas 1973 edition of Top of the Pops (and given how few channels there were in those days, I think we can assume that he would have) he may possibly have recalled these words of his own:

"And some are sparkling, laughing, singing,
Young, heroic, mild;
And some incurable, twisted,
Shrieking, dumb, defiled."

Or perhaps not. In any event, I hope you've all noted the spooky synchronicity that, among the very same pop highlights of the year, he would also have seen the Suzi Quatro performance that I posted yesterday.

And were I ever to direct a film of Blunden's life in a Baz Luhrmann musical stylie - which I hope we can agree is not the strangest idea ever to appear in this blog - then I would depict him sitting in the trenches singing this song, which sadly he never got to hear, having died before it was released:

And some are sparkling, laughing, singing,/Young, heroic, mild;/And some incurable, twisted,/Shrieking, dumb, defiled. - See more at:
And some are sparkling, laughing, singing,/Young, heroic, mild;/And some incurable, twisted,/Shrieking, dumb, defiled. - See more at:
And some are sparkling, laughing, singing,/Young, heroic, mild;/And some incurable, twisted,/Shrieking, dumb, defiled. - See more at:

Thursday, 11 February 2016

No need to laugh or cry

I am tempted to start with a moan about Windows 10, but let's do wargaming stuff instead, despite it being a bit thin on the ground. The battle of Neuestrassen rather fell away and we gave up half way through the third night. It was mainly my fault as I wouldn't attack, but I didn't think I had enough infantry and they certainly weren't in the right place. I would have won eventually just by picking off morale chips from the Austrians here and there - my artillery had to come good eventually - but it wasn't making for a terribly good game. I think luck was fairly even over the three weeks, but Peter failed Major Morale multiple times and then lost a cavalry melee with a fresh Cuirassier unit charging a Dragoon unit that had lost three quarters of its strength to musket fire; all of which he took well. The new roads are good though. And have I painted anything myself this week? Not as such. Have I worked out the basing for the WWI stuff I bought? No.

In other news, I was at a breakfast meeting with the Yorkshire and Humber agent of the Bank of England for a run through their latest forecast of the economy, and I have to say that it all seemed rather over optimistic to me. If I correctly understood the process that they go through it mainly consists of looking at whatever assumptions are priced into futures markets for key factors such as oil prices, house prices, unemployment etc; in fact everything except for UK interest rates and that's only because it's the BoE that sets those in the first place. Given the track record of the financial markets for correctly pricing anything perhaps it's best not to take it all too seriously. She asked not to be quoted on the record, but I can't resist one small transgression of that rule. When asked how their forecast reflected the possibility of the UK leaving the EU she simply said that they didn't make judgements on political issues and that when markets started to price in that risk then so would the BoE. However, when asked what she thought the possible impact would be on the UK economy of a crazy person becoming President of the United States, she visibly blanched and her speech became incoherent for quite some time before she recovered sufficiently to say that they would worry about that when the markets started to price in the risk.

And there has been music, with gigs by Nick Hall and Kushty Rye, both excellent. The former, who included a lovely version of 'Wonderful Life' as a tribute to the late Colin Vearncombe, is usually to be found in a duo with his wife, but she is seemingly currently appearing as an ersatz Suzi Quatro on a tour of the Czech Republic alongside a former member of Smokie; apparently it pays well. I must confess to having seen Smokie, who were from Bradford, in concert about forty years ago. Once you discounted the hits ('Living Next Door to Alice' anyone? Thought not.) they weren't bad. Sadly I never saw Suzi Quatro in the flesh, so let's remind ourselves of what I missed:

Kushty Rye (which I believe to be Romany for 'good bloke') are a sort of homage to the late Ronnie Lane, although only two of his songs (How Come and Ooh La La) actually featured in the set. Other than that it was all self-penned, but high quality country/folk/rock.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

C&C Expansion 5

"In many spheres of human endeavor, from science to business to education to economic policy, good decisions depend on good measurement." - Ben Bernanke

Some of the new terrain in situ

Before I bought last lot of Hexon terrain I had worked out that four boxes would cover my table. I already had two and so bought three more to allow building of hills whilst also taking advantage of Kallistra's volume discount. Mysteriously, and despite the advanced mathematics involved in the estimate, I had plenty left over from four boxes and ran out of slopes before I had even opened the fifth box. In any event I had specifically bought the fifth box as flocked - rather than the cheaper unflocked suitable for lower levels of hills - because I decided that would give me the flexibility to have a standard size game of C&C on the dining room table while a larger game was set up in the annexe. And so, last night, that's what I did. Equally oddly the dining table, rather than being plenty big enough as it should have been, only just managed to accommodate the tiles with no room left around the outside for the usual accoutrements (1): cards, dice, victory markers, ginger beer etc. I could have sworn that I'd had something sizable on that table before.

My boardgaming friend Chris, who I have mentioned here before has expressed an interest in trying figure wargaming, came round and we had a very cramped, but enjoyable, game. We played the Wartenburg scenario with Bavarians standing in for Wurttemburgers, of whom I have none. This was my - and indeed his - first try of the latest expansion and I was impressed:
  • I really liked the new Tactics cards which definitely added a bit of spice and gave options even with a poor normal hand. There was great satisfaction to be had by laying out the right combination to attack unexpectedly and with greater strength than one's opponent anticipates.
  • The new roles for leaders also added something. Their use is more subtle than in C&C Ancients which is as it should be, although as I think I've pointed out before it doesn't in any way replicate real Napoleonic command structures. I think that the use of commanders will require several plays to understand the possibilities better.
  • There are various other new rules (Garrisons, Grand Batteries, Ranged Fire against Lone Leaders), but none of them arose so I can't comment on them. 
  • I must also just mention the first outing of the new wooden C&C dice also purchased recently via eBay - all the way from Canada - which have nothing to do with Expansion 5, but which were a huge improvement on the plastic version; highly recommended.
So another step in introducing Chris to the hobby and he is very keen to move on to something a bit more wargamey and a bit less boardgamey. Which reminds me, the other set of rules that he has played is To the Strongest! and the as-built dimensions of the new terrain will make it really easy to set it up for that game. All I need is 88 identical markers; suggestions welcome.

(1) Google's spellcheck wants that to be 'accouterments'; Americans have obviously moved on from mangling English spelling to starting on French.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Some griefs are med'cinable

Another day, another storm with a middle class name. However, yesterday saw a brief gap in the weather, allowing Peter to ride the range, herd 'em up and move 'em out. This meant that I fired up the Polo (which reached 90,000 miles last week) and gave James a lift to Vapnartak. It was all most enjoyable although, as at other shows, the number of display games seems to fall steadily year on year. It seemed busy enough with the usual quantity of six-packs and washboard stomachs to be seen. James claims to have bumped into the entire Ilkley wargaming community (individually of course, because as schism builds on schism - they really could give the Judean People's Front a run for their money - they might more accurately be referred to as the Ilkley solo wargaming community), but being a miserable git I saw no one and spoke to nobody.

One game that was being demonstrated was Lion Rampant. We had enjoyed our try out of the rules the other week, but couldn't understand why friendly units couldn't be closer than 3" to each other. There were two theories proposed: either a zone of control issue or simply to stop individually based units getting mixed up together (we of course were using stands). The game on show was a Crusades participation game (someone please correct me if I got the period wrong) and the first thing I noticed when looking at it was the units weren't three inches apart. Sure enough as soon as they activated there was much moaning from the various players that others were moving their troops. Given that the use of stands neatly eliminate that issue I think we shall quietly drop that rule.

The main purpose of my trip - apart from buying some khaki paint; mission accomplished - was to collect a large order of Hexon terrain from the Kallistra stand. I now have much of this laid out in the annexe and I am very pleased with it. On reflection I would have bought more slopes and in different proportions to those in the packs they sell. Building this terrain is a three dimensional puzzle and my brain, magnificent in so many other ways, struggles hopelessly to visualise how it goes together. Still, as I say, I am very pleased with how it all looks.

I also stopped off at the Early War Miniatures stand to check out their 20mm WWI stuff. I did try to do the same at the Tumbling Dice stand, but it was always very busy. I bought a token pack of a Lewis gun team on the move, but feel that I might well be adding some of their other stuff in due course. I also snapped up a set of the out of production Revell WWI Germans at a very reasonable price.

So, a very pleasant trip during which I spent a lot of money, but at least my car, unlike others I saw, didn't need a push to get out of the mud.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Books unreviewed

"Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking." - Einstein

I have been doing some background reading on trench warfare during the second half of the First World War, starting with the relevant Osprey and with Paddy Griffith's 'Battle Tactics of the Western Front'. The first thing to note is that both the author of the Osprey and that of 'Through The Mud and the Blood' are, how can we put this, very familiar with Griffith's work. I've always understood there to be some controversy over his somewhat revisionist view of the performance of the B.E.F. and of the infantry in particular, but presumably the others are on his side.

I myself bring no prior knowledge whatsoever to the table. Griffith's book wasn't really what I had envisaged - not being particularly polemical - but was very interesting nonetheless. I've worked in a lot of large organisations and his description of a blend of front-line operational kaizen coupled with layers of highly political management of varying degrees of competence rings very true. I shall keep reading (anything to avoid thinking about basing) and have moved on to Wyndham Lewis' autobiography. I have obviously already read the relevant works by Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, but have retrieved them from the old marital home for a second look. My ex-wife is familiar enough with my pretentiousness not to be taken aback by urgent requests for books by long dead poets.

Speaking of which, lets have a poem by Graves that has nothing to do with the war:

Love is universal migraine,
A bright stain on the vision
Blotting out reason.

Symptoms of true love
Are leanness, jealousy,
Laggard dawns;

Are omens and nightmares -
Listening for a knock,
Waiting for a sign:

For a touch of her fingers
In a darkened room,
For a searching look.

Take courage, lover!
Could you endure such pain
At any hand but hers?

          - Robert Graves

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Early in the morning, just as the day is dawning

The postman has been, bringing with him my order from Hannants, an impressively quick dispatch and delivery time. So to start my new Great War project I have for the British: WWI Canadian Infantry, British WWI Infantry and Tank Crew, and WWI British Artillery Crew; for the Germans: WWI German Army, and German WWI Infantry and Tank Crew; and for the Celts: Gallic Chariot. More goodies are on back order.

It's probably the last item that will get painted first because I have a couple of problems with the First World war stuff. Firstly, no khaki paint, which is rank bad planning, although hopefully that can be sorted at Vapnartak tomorrow. The second issue has me copying James. Not, sadly, in his painting ability, nor in his rigorous scoping of projects and focus on them once they are planned. Instead I refer to a habit which you will recognise if you read his blog (and if you don't read it then you certainly should), namely his public agonising about basing protocols.

These figures will certainly be individually based, but after that it gets complicated. What size individual bases? Coins or MDF? If it's coins then I'm leaning to 2p pieces rather than 1p to represent the fact that they would always be in loose order. The rules I have in mind are Through the Mud and the Blood which in itself raises questions. How to represent the 'big men'? Should one mark the bases to represent the different troop roles (rifleman, bomber, trench clearer etc.) or rely on the model delineating things clearly? If one is going to mark the bases then does that imply sabot bases? What about Lewis gunners, all the models of which (and I have quite a few) are lying down and so can't be based in the same way as the others? And notwithstanding the starting assumption, heavy weapons certainly won't be based on coins and probably won't be based individually. Should I try to work out the likely format of bunkers and other strongpoints that the HMGs will go inside before then deciding how the figures will be based? It's all very difficult.

So, chariots it is then.

Friday, 5 February 2016

If you really mean it, it all comes round again

"Little Matty Groves, he lay down and took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Donald was standing at his feet
Saying "How do you like my feather bed and how do you like my sheets
How do you like my lady wife who lies in your arms asleep? "
"Oh, well I like your feather bed and well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady wife who lies in my arms asleep"
"Well, get up, get up," Lord Donald cried, "get up as quick as you can
It'll never be said in fair England that I slew a naked man"

I have been to see Fairport Convention yet again, and they were as excellent as ever. In fact I am tempted to simply point you at the last blog posting about one of their concerts. The set listing has changed a bit over the last year, but not that much and the highlight for me was once again 'Matty Groves' from Liege & Lief. It's a traditional folk song of 'two chords and nineteen verses' which ends badly for the title character, but then again I think we'd all agree that he deserved it. Anyway, none of the above should be taken to suggest that I didn't enjoy seeing them. I did, very much, and I shall hopefully be there to watch them on their 50th anniversary tour next year.

The Great War has featured in this blog recently and here's a sad song on the subject that they performed last night:

Thursday, 4 February 2016


"So I started to work my mojo, to counter their mojo; we got cross-mojulation, and their heads started exploding." - Austin Powers

I have, I think, mentioned before my admiration for those who regularly post photographs of what they have painted. I don't do that because my painting is no good, I don't have a camera and, most depressing of all, I never paint anything. Or do I? The mojo has suddenly, out of nowhere, reappeared. I rushed to my secret drying cupboard and retrieved everything to remind myself of the state of play. Some French Napoleonic line lancers requiring their arms attaching - check - and an ammunition caisson from the same period and country requiring assembly - check. After a thankfully disaster-free use of superglue and a rare trip to Guiseley to score some plastic primer (the car accessory shops in both Ilkley and Otley having recently gone bust as part of the ongoing economic recovery in the UK) the paint has begun to flow once more. Happy days are here again.

There was also wargaming chez James last night as we continued the latest Seven Years War battle of Neue Strassen. It was the difficult middle episode of any trilogy, the characters had been introduced the previous week, the denouement  will be next week, but in the meantime we needed to move things along a bit, and so we did. I drove the Austrian Grenzers from the wood - despite initially having completely misunderstood how this could or should be achieved - but then the bastards reappeared and we had to do the whole thing again. Peter made the fatal mistake of listening to James' advice regarding evasion by his skirmishers and it was predictably a disaster. He then took the far more sensible step of ignoring James' advice about charging his cavalry across the stream and it turned out that it would have been a huge success. Who'd have thought it?

There was a bit of a debate about tactics, specifically the way that armies deployed from march to battle line. The vagaries of Piquet, so good for the combat phase of the game, tend to militate against following the historical precedent (the historical precedent as per James; I have no idea at all what they used to do) because the penalty for getting caught in column of route is so big. I would imagine the best way round that is some sort of scenario specific deployment rule triggered by proximity as was indeed seen in a different context in the recent refight of Mollwitz.

And talk of tactics brings me to the subject of the First World War. I have been reading up on the subject and will return to what I have read in a future post. What strikes me is that detailed familiarity with the tactics of the period is quite important to be able to sensibly play the sort of low level trench raids that I was considering; possibly making them unsuitable for the sporadic pick up games that would occur in the wargaming annexe. Add to that the need for specific terrain, the dullness of the uniforms, and my well known dislike of small scale skirmish games and one has a pretty compelling case for not proceeding. I have therefore placed an order for several sets of figures (British and German) and can report that the project is 'Go'. I also ordered some Celtic chariots at the same time, simply because.