Friday, 24 December 2021

Soldier King Campaign : a bloody big battle?

It really is time some wargaming got done. 

One minute it's early December, the next minute it's almost Xmas, it seems.. Real life intrudes far too much for my liking, 'time and space', as always are in short supply. Thankfully, the very sociable Mr. Omicron has not approached our door, as far as we know.  In between the shopping and card-writing (and not forgetting, also work), a small amount of hobby activity has taken place - concerning my Seven Years War campaign based on the 'Soldier King' boardgame.  

We left things at the end of Summer 1757, with a daring Austrian cavalry raid on a Prussian outpost, which made off with vital supplies but at some cost, one unit of Cuirassiers being lost; and a  superior  Prussian force still threatened to overrun the Austrian home territories.   The next campaign move therefore being Autumn 1757, I rolled dice for initiative, and Austria won the right to move first - buying them time to  organise some sort of defences.  The dice gods have a habit of getting things right, it seems - it would have been less interesting if Prussia had taken the initiative and possibly just overrun the hapless Austrians before they could get organised.  Rolling a further die gave them four 'marches' , i.e the opportunity to move four 'stacks' of units, each unit being allowed a maximum of two marches. These were used to reinforce the main Austrian army at the city of Zouache, with a small flank guard at the crossroads of  Landsburg - and both of those commands were able to use one 'march' activation to entrench.   Austrian forces are notably weaker than the Prussians, but have made the best of their precarious situation.  With apologies for less-than exciting illustrations, here is the situation:

Zouache on the river, Landsburg to the NE

So, Prussian turn next - they rolled a splendid six marches.  A dilemma presented itself - would they go for the blunt instrument of a straightforward attack on the main Austrian force at Zouache, or try to manoeuvre and outflank them? The lightly-held outpost at Landsburg is more valuable for recruitment, so taking it would be a longer-term benefit ( with the winter recruiting season approaching ) , and would outflank the enemy main force and threaten to cut its communications, and leave the Austrian homeland in danger.  However, the season was late, ( this is the last turn before winter ) the roads somewhat indirect,  and the limitation of two 'marches' per unit would not have allowed exploitation of any advantage if Landsburg was taken. If the Austrian main force could simply be attacked and defeated now, their resistance would be at an end, and the campaign won.  Given all that, I put it to the Dice Gods : roll one die, with a roll of 1 or 2 meanng 'manoeuvre', and 3 to 6  'attack'. I rolled... a '3', so 'attack' it is! 

With plenty of moves available, the Prussians were able to marshal their forces and launch a two-pronged attack - with their infantry approaching Zouache from the North, while cavalry swung in from the West. And so, battle will be joined. 

In 'Soldier King' units, the defending Austrians have the following: 

        Infantry : 3 units Veterans,   2 units Levies 

        Cavalry  :  1 unit Heavy ( Levies ) , 3 units Light ( 2 veteran, 1 Levy ) 

While Prussia's attacking army is as folows: 

    Infantry : 1 unit Guard, 5 units Veterans 

    Cavalry : 3 units Guard Heavy. 

Prussians (blue) stronger in all departments

Translating to The Portable Wargame, that would be about 28 Strength Points of Austrians versus 37 Strength Points for the Prussians. Quite an advantage to the attackers, but against 'entrenched' defenders, that should even things up a bit. 

I now have to decide exactly how to play this out - in particular, have I even got enough figures? That's a lot of Prussian infantry units!  I may need to hurry up and finish painting the troops I recently made  a start on.  Or, perhaps try different rules and/or a different representation of units? Some more  thinking will be needed. Owing to circumstances ( i.e the amazing spread of Omicron ) I do not have any social engagements at all over the next week or so - there should at least  be plenty of  time to spend on this, once the big day is out of the way, leftovers eaten and the washing-up done...

So I hope to report on this fairly soon - in the meantime here's wishing a very merry Xmas to all my readers and followers!  Let's hope things are brighter in 2022. Keep safe, and well, everyone. 

Sunday, 5 December 2021

A fine day out: Broadside 2021

TYesterday I paid a visit to Gillingham, Kent for the 'Broadside 2021' show staged by Milton Hundred Wargames Club - and a thoroughly pleasant day it turned out to be.

The venue was the Medway Park Sports Centre, a new location for the show, and it was a big improvement on the old Sittingbourne venue, which was quite small  ( and when I went their in 2019 they had to open doors for ventilation, not sure that would have been good for Covid and in December!).   As you can see, the new venue is a cavernous sports hall, there was masses of space and ventilation was fine.  I was also impressed by the level of face-covering, quite a contrast to last month at SELWG and  Salute where hardly anyone ( myself included ) was covered-up. Our new 'friend' Mr.  Omicron has changed people's attitudes, it seems. 

Enough of that, on with the show. I met my good friend Dave 'St Cyr' at the venue,  and we fell easily into our usual routine of  'games, then lunch, then traders'.  It's not a large show, and that made it all rather relaxing, plenty of time to see the games and chat to the players if we felt like it - I always feel a lot  of time pressure at Salute!   There were 14 club  games listed on the program, plus some trader's participation games, an in contrast to Salute I think the no-show rate was very low, or maybe even zero - good news.  I thought the standard of games was pretty high, there were a lot of really nice-looking tables, and plenty of time to watch and chat. 

Montenotte: French columns coming from all directions..

I think our favourite was  'The Battle of Montenotte, 1796'  staged by Postie's Rejects; a refight of Napoleon Bonaparte's first battle as Commander-in-Chief  of the Army of Italy.   Dave was always going to be interested in this, he's a complete Napoleonic nut!  It was an interesting and 'different' game, being more 'Revolutionary' Wars  than 'Napoleonic', with the French mass-conscript columns taking on the Ancien Regime  Linear warfare Austrians - plus, I really liked the wooded North Italian terrain.  We were warmly welcomed by the Rejects and given a thorough and interesting explanation. We went back at intervals to see progress - which went as per the historical event, with a convincing win for Napoleon. The Austrians always looked to have a tough gig, with French columns emerging from the woods on all sides. 

the end is nigh: note nearest Austrians in full retreat..


'Who were those masked men?'

Several other games looked good, and here's a selection of the ones I managed to photograph: 

Ireland 1798 : rebels mass to assault the castle

 Real Time Wargames are always interesting, and were only 2 years later than the Rejects with their 'The Year of Liberty: 10mm Irish Rebellion 1798' mini-campaign game. One of their trademark  'twists' being  that  players represent the various British district commanders, who are in fact rivals trying to best each other, as much as the rebels.   Again, we were made thoroughly welcome and given an enthusiastic explanation. I think they said they had completed four games in the course of the day!  

 Shepway Wargames Club put on an impressively  large 1914 game  'You Will Be Home Before the Leaves Fall' , played down the length of a long table, complete with Taube and Bleriot spotter planes flying over the battlefield. 


 Old Fritz  appeared to be doing pretty well, with lancers securing a vital bridge, as the local populace (including a party of nuns)  rushed to escape, and presumably blocked the road.


Gravesend Gamers Guild played 'Cold War Gets Hot: Team Yankee 1985'  with masses of armour and Tornado airstrikes.  

Deal Wargames Society ran a great-looking Vietnam War participation game, 'On the Way To Hue' 


South East Essex ( SEEMS )  put on 'An Affair of Outposts'  set in the Peninsular War (I think) using 'Rebels and Patriots' rules  Napoleonic variant    


 That's all the games I photographed - I'm slightly embarrassed to say I omitted to get pictures of the game which was declared 'best in show' - I think that was Friday Night Fire Fight with 'Warmachine Invason'. Sorry I missed 'em!

 After a quick sandwich and a chat,  we toured the traders -  I have to admit that they weren't exactly looking rushed off their feet by the afternoon, so one felt duty bound to spend a little! 

I went for transport for my 7YW forces and  housing for 30YW,  courtesy of Parkfield Miniatures (metal wagon) , 1/72nd models ( HaT baggage wagon )  and Blotz  ( medieval house and shop ). I like a good supply convoy scenario, so  they'll do nicely. 


Dave picked up a bag of trees and some cardboard buildings from the Bring and Buy, at a bargain price, so we may be a step closer to seeing his Napoleonic troops take to the table.  Finally  I sadly failed to  find any excuse to buy from  this stall - aimed at Live Action Role Players, it seems.

 And that's about it. I had a thoroughly pleasant day, it was relaxed and friendly, well-organised by the  Milton Hundred club and a much improved venue. I wonder if the attendance was maybe  a bit sparse, which is perhaps not surprising in current circumstances - the large hall did not seem crowded, but it would have easily soaked up a big crowd without feeling anywhere near rammed.  Anyway, we saw several very nice games and enjoyed talking to the players,  and  made a few essential purchases, can't ask for much more.  A slight bonus for me is the nostalgia factor, having lived in Gillingham as a small child, and then grown up in Sittingourne, home of the Milton Hundred club ( I even had a chat with some chaps from local Rainham Wargames Club, of which I was a teenage member c.1976-81! ).  

The organisers  have already scheduled Broadside 2022 for June, and I will put that in next year's diary (when I get one!). In the summer, you could probably do the show,  and then visit the historic Chatham Dockyard, just down the hill.. Let's hope life is a bit better by then -  meanwhile many thanks to all who worked to put on yesterday's show, and all who ran games and tradestands, hope to see you next year!  



In the meantime keep safe, and well, everyone.  

**UPDATE** : more and much better pictures in Big Lee's report, and he says the organisers told him attendance was pretty good, comparable to past years. The larger hall was clearly a good move! 

Thursday, 2 December 2021

All directions, and none..

After 'Salute' I was quite inspired and motivated,  but 'time and space, dear boy...'  Not a lot of time has been available for hobby activities, but with a true wargamer's butterfly mind I have tried to do several different things at once.  Most practical was at least getting the paintbrushes out :

1760 meets 1943 on the painting table..

On the bottletops we have 16 Prussian  Seven Years War line infantry who will represent the 9th 'Jung Kleist' regiment, when they finally get their  Prussian Blue coats.  Then some  additional artillery of various types for the 'D-Day Dodgers' - German Wespe and 20mm AA gun, British  M7 Priest and  40mm Bofors AA. That Priest was more of a Devil when it came to building - far too many parts and I couldn't get it to fit together!  The Germans also get the mandatory Puma armoured car, much more common on wargames tables than in reality, it seems - but they do look so good...

The plan, in a wave of Salute-based optimism, was to have a 'hobby hour' most days and paint 'little and often',  That hasn't quite taken, I'll admit, but tomorrow is another day.. 

something of a literary warm bath

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the late Charles Grant's 'Wargame Tactics' , which I caught up with at SELWG - a mere 42 years since publication ( sadly it seems he very sadly  passed away just before it was published, so very much his last work ).  His style is complete comfort reading for me, and this is really just a series of reports of games, with a little light military history  ( I hadn't thought about Cataphracts and the Kontos in many a long year ).  The stated aim was to show that usng correct historical tactics should result in better wargames -  and, hopefully,  more victories.   I'm not sure that prinicple was rigorously  followed, but the eight lovely battle reports and introductory chapters on the relevant periods were just a pleasure to read.  No less than three battles were set in the 'Ancients' period, and doubtless would have been played under a version of the  WRG  rules which dominated the period at the time. I was struck by how important morale, and the trademark 'reaction test' was for them - quite often the rout of one unit suffering in combat would have quite a large 'ripple' effect on friendly nearby  units, and that seems quite astute. The rules are regarded today as rather too complicated, with all that  counting of individual casualties and massive lists of plus/minus factors, but I wonder if we are missing something if we overlook that emphasis on morale?   After all, 'the moral is to the physical as ten is to one' - as a prominent wargamer ( 1:1 scale ) once said..   My favourite battle report, however, was the Seven Years War game - which Charles grant named 'The Battle of  Langensalza'.   One aspect of Grant's games that I like is the use of map movement to facilitate the initial setup of the battle, giving the chance of some concealment and surprise in the deployments - and that feature was quite important for this game.  By pure chance, the 'real' Langensalza is the subject of a series of blog posts on  'Not Just Old School Wargaming'  blog  - which are rather spectacular! 

As you may have noted, my reading has now moved on to Stuart Asquith's 'Wargaming 18th Century Battles'  which I picked up at Salute, and I am enjoying - more about that in a later post, perhaps.

'From Our Own Correspondent'

More reading matter which I am rather pleased with is the three issues of 'The Foreign Correspondent' , the newsletter of the Continental Wars Society,  which I am now pleased to be a member of. The magazine is a rather lovely production, with a great 'period-appropriate' style and illustrations, and of course interesting articles too. Twenty pages four times per year, for a subscription of £8 - great value, too! Many thanks to Ralph Weaver for his prompt and friendly service too - I can't resist quoting from his email to me, after I said that my interest in the period sprang from reading G.M. Trevelyan's ‘Garibaldi and the Thousand’ many years ago, and  more recently, Neil Thomas’ ‘Wargaming 19th Century Europe’ . Ralph replied  "We cannot claim Trevelyan as a member, but Neil Thomas certainly is" .

Finally, and just to confuse matters even more, I have ordered a copy of the 'Twilight of the Divine Right'  wargames rules for ECW/30YW period from The Pike and Shot Society, of which I am also a member. I've been meaning to get them for ages, and the final nudge was provided by chatting with the P&SS chaps at Salute where they put on their fine Poltava game.  I await delivery and will be very interested to read, and eventually play, the rules.  

So, we have covered the Seven Years War,  World War 2,  19th Century, and Pike and Shot periods - which of those to spend time on next?  And there's the rub - finding the time. Well, given 'the current situaton'  and word of the week 'Omicron' , it's not looking like I'll be going out to many parties in the near future, and there may be plenty of time at home this winter... 

Thanks for your patience if you have read this far; admittedly this post has been something of a wool-gathering exercise, but it has at least got the writing mojo working after a slightly longer than planned pause. Next on the agenda, I hope, is a visit to Gillingham in Kent this Saturday for the 'Broadside' show - I'll take my camera,  notebook and pencil, and hope to report back after the event. Meanwhile keep well, and safe, everyone.


Sunday, 14 November 2021

Salute 2020 + 1 ( and a 1/2 )

Yesterday I went to 'Salute 2020' - albeit 18 months late. The 2020 show having been cancelled with less than a month's notice, the South London Warlords ( probably wisely)  left the show program and general theme unchanged, so yesterday we were marking the 81st anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Since this involved the chance to look at impressive full-size replicas of a Spitfire and Huricane, I have no complaint on that score. 


 In order to enter the ExCel complex, one had to provide proof of Covid Vaccination/Negative Test etc, which I thought was reassuring - it actually made me feel a bit safer.  On arrival things were mildly surreal, as another of the halls was hosting the 'Destination Star Trek' show, with the result that literally hundreds of people in various 'Star Fleet' uniforms were wandering around the centre. Quite strange, but it did make  me smile - some of the cafes resembled what I imagine the Starship Enterprise's mess decks might look like!  I met my old buddy Dave ( aka St. Cyr on Wheels ) at the 'Salute' hall  entrance, and in we went.  

Once inside Salute, things were a little different to the usual. The space is of course huge, but it was noticeably quieter, less crowded, and sadly there was a lot of 'unplanned' empty space. Many tables in the games areas were unoccupied, and even a few trade stands were missing.  It seems quite a lot of clubs/gamers had decided not to attend - I wonder if this was due to worries about Covid safety in the large venue, or maybe even dislike of having to produce a Covid Pass?    I am hoping that the ventilation in there should be pretty top-notch - remember the place was set up as a 'Nightingale' hospital last year, and has hosting been a vaccination centre since then, too ( but of course I'll just have to wait and see what a lateral flow test shows in a few days time, I guess ).        

Dave and I have a routine of 'see the games, have lunch, then do the traders' , and we stuck to that - though of course with less games to see. Luckily there were still quite a few that I was interested in, and with somewhat less people around, it was easier to talk to game organisers, and I think they were quite keen to chat  to the punters too!  

The very first game one encountered was one I'd been keen to see - Wyre Forest Wargamers'  'Poltava 1709'  using Twilight of the Sun King rules. I'm quite keen to have a go at the ..Divine Right variant for ECW/30YW, and am planning to order them from the Pike and Shot Society  ( members' discount available !), so it was great to  talk a bit about them. The table layout was rather fine, it really showed the scope for large battles using 6mm figures, with loads of space. Look at all that forest! 

Poltava - a really big battle

I also liked Anchluss Wargames 'Panzer Lehr Counter-Attacks, July 1944' .game showing off their new  The War on the Ground rules, with very friendly explanation from author Peter Heath. We were invited to view the bocage terrain using genuine Sherman Tank viewing persicopes - and the resulting very limited view was pretty thought-provoking. I liked Peter's stated aim to produce a game  that requires the player to learn about the actual tactics of the  period, not just turn up and roll some dice. The rules have been well-reviewed, I think, ( though really designed for 10mm/15mm scale, not my 20mm )  and they also have some scenario books which are suitable for any rules - the book on Sicily 1943 is on my future shopping list! 

'War on the Ground' 1944 - and Dave wielding a periscope

The Continental Wars Society had a nice small game of Prussians vs. German Confederation in 1850 : 

This was played with a very simple, but interesting, set of rules - pretty much 'back of a postcard'.  See what you make of them: 

'Back of a Postcard' -  but more than 'one brain cell'

I've been interested in their period since reading Neil Thomas' excellent book on it, and having seen the quality of their quarterly magazine,  I am going to become a member, and an old-school cheque is in the post to chairman Ralph Weaver.  Actually gaming in the period may be a long way off ( I think 6mm scale would suit ), but one can dream..

A real highlight for me was the Warlords' tribute to the late, great  Stuart Asquith, a 'Wellington in India' game using figures from Stuart's own collection, which were beautifully painted. We had a thoroughly pleasant chat with the game organiser  [ who,  I now know, was Martin Gane ], and I felt a (slightly tenuous, admittedly) connection given my own games using troops formerly owned by Eric Knowles - it's nice to keep these veterans on the table. 

Stuart Asquith's Indian collection revived

Several other games  caught my eye sufficiently to try a photo or two, so let's spin through them (with apologies, I know absolutely nothing about Sci-Fi / Fantasy, so those games aren't here ) :

Loughton Strike Force  ( my favourite wargames club name! ) can be relied on for something quite spectacular, and did not disappoint with their hugely detailed Stalingrad - fire on the Volga  game (15mm scale,  O Group rules ) 

I liked the 'raised bed' gaming table 


individual bricks rubble: wow

Also on the Eastern Front were Grimsby Wargamers 'Retreat to the Dneiper' which looked great, I liked the backboard and the fires and explosions especially,  

 and I bet this doomed  Heinkel was one of the most-photographed models in the show: 

From Luton, Wigmore wargamers  kept the 1940 theme going with their 'Raid on Piddling Down'  German glider-borne assault on a radar station ( Iron Cross rules ), and were another example of cheerful friendliness: 

Wyvern Wargamers 'Imjin War' ( Japan invades Korea, 16th Century ) in 12mm scale won my prize for 'wars I had no idea about'  and it was  inspiring to see how good  a large layout of 'Hexon' terrain can look - my 9 by 9 hexes home setup would go several times into this!  And these guys were welcoming and happy to chat, too. 

The always-reliable Society of Ancients weighed in with Macedonian Successors in a game of  Paraitacene, 317 BC  using Impetus rules - I always like a good Pike Phalanx;


and finally, Caseshot Publishing promoting their newly-published book Wellington at Bay: Battle of Villamuriel 1812 kept the Napoleonics flag flying, in 15mm with Black Powder rules  and was another nice example of the possibilities of hexed  terrain systems. 

possibly the sole Napoleonic game?

 My pictures are a bit variable - at first the lighting in the venue seemed very dim, and I tried using the camera's  flash light,  but it's never sufficient to illuminate the whole of a decent-sized table.  Strangely when I switched the flash off,  things looked much better. A small lesson learned.. 

At 2pm the almost-legendary 'bloggers meet-up' took place, and I screwed up my courage to belatedly join them - only knowing David Crook beforehand, and he promptly disappeared.  But I was made most welcome by Ray, Tamsin and Big Lee - really nice  to meet you all!   We did catch up with Mr. Crook a couple of times later - one feature of the lower crowd density was the tendency to keep repeatedly bumping into people around the show.  

What with all the chatting and games, the vast array of traders rather got away from me, despite staying until almost 5pm!  I'm a sucker for the bookstalls, though, and a few purchases ensued from Helion, Paul Meekins and Dave Lanchester.  I also picked up a few bags of pre-cut MDF bases  for my 15mm Pike and Shot chaps, and a couple of small Hexon hills in 'Desert Transition' colours, which I hope will work for the 'D-Day Dodgers' in sunny Italy.  Dave was pleased with his acquistion of a couple of nice ready-painted bridges from Kallistra, and  took a punt on Osprey's 'big-battle' Absolute Emperor Napoloenic rules. So his nice 28mm French and Austrians may get to fight Austerlitz or Wagram yet..

And that was about it.  It was a bit of a low-wattage show, to be honest, compared to previous years, but I suppose perhaps  only to be expected, and hopefully things will perk up next time - I think Salute 2022 is back in April -  and one just hopes the Warlords' finances were not too hard-hit. In some ways, there were sliver linings, such as the lower crowd densities, but I think the absence  of so many programmed  games was quite a blow. Let's hope for better next time.  Many thanks to everyone who did turn up, and did their best to put on a good show,  and to Dave 'St Cyr'  for being good company as ever, and putting up with my marching and counter-marching across the empty wastes of the exhibition hall!  

Meanwhile, I hope I've done the show justice and you've been interested to see my report, if you weren't there yourselves. Many of the other bloggers mentioned here will have made reports of the day, too - probaby with better photos! So, don't forget to check them out.  Keep safe and well, everyone.



Sunday, 7 November 2021

Fnurban #12 : I LIve on a Battlefield


"My new home is a shell hole filled
With tears and muddy water
And bits of broken heart
All around there is desolation
And scenes of devastation
Of a love been torn apart.." 

Not a lot of wargaming going on, alas - real life has been getting in the way. One really good thing, though, was  getting to see some live music recently. This was courtesy of  my all-time musical hero Nick Lowe, at a small venue in London. Three-hundred plus people in an 'intimate' venue  was probably the covid-riskiest thing I've done, but the demographic was reassuringly double-jabbed, Nick was great, of course, and the effect on my morale rating  was entrely positive. Seven days later there have been no ill-effects, fingers crossed!  


courtesy of my rather decrepit phone

One of the many songs Nick entertained us with could just about stretch to a connection with our subject matter, so I will take inspiration from the excellent Mr. Epictetus,  and share a Youtube link.  From the 1994 album 'The Impossible Bird' - which I'd say is probably his best, here is 'I Live on a Battlefield':    


 I'm not sure if the coming week will facilitate much more hobby activity, but I have bought a ticket for 'Salute' in London on Saturday and am looking forward to going along.  I've also been enjoying reading Charles Grant's 'Wargame Tactics' book, and may just about get to slap some paint on some slightly wonkily built 1:72 scale armoured vehicles for the 'D-Day Dodgers'. So there may be some progress made:  but it really is about time some troops were deployed on the table.. 

Keep well, and safe, everyone.

Monday, 25 October 2021

Fnurnban #11 : Waterloo Remodelled - mind re-boggled


Having been tipped off by James Fisher on his excellent Chauvinistic Blog, last Friday I visited the National Army Museum in Chelsea, to see the temporary exhibit of James Cowan's work-in-progress 'Waterloo Remodelled'.  This is a model diorama of Waterloo in 1:72 scale, at a truly epic level - the version shown contains 30,000 figures, but is only about one-quarter of what is hoped to be the eventual completed size.The final version will be, they say, 'about the size of a tennis court'. Think about that for a moment..


 As described above, the display consisted of several sections of the battlefield ( a sort of 'edited highlights'? ) .  Rather like a large wargames display, the sections were on individual boards, though thankfully ( unlike a wargames table ) all the figures were permanently stuck in place. I did wonder at first how long it had taken to set up!  It is the brainchild of Major-General James Cowan, who was in attendance along with with his elderly father, who cheerfully manned a table with further work-in-progress  model buildings, accompanied by one of the disabled veteran volunteer figure-painters. The project is affiliated to 'Waterloo Uncovered' , an archaelogical project investigating the real Waterloo battle site, staffed largely by veterans of such theatres as Iraq and Afghanistan, with a view to the work's  therapeutic / rehabilitation effects. Similarly, the team of figure painters and modellers include veterans who appreciate the relaxing and de-stressing effect of such activities.

I had seen some information and pictures on blogs before visiting, of course, but I wasn't really ready for the full  effect - it was truly amazing, mind-boggling stuff!  The 'figure scale' is about 1.5:1, so each battalion is made up of perhaps 300 figures,  and thus when the whole thing is complete there should be about 120,000 figures in all.  

While I was there, there was an explanatory talk  given by James in the museum's lecture room,  but I'm afraid I  managed to miss that, so my information is a little sketchy - but I did have a nice talk  with his 80-something father, who is very 'game' and was happy to chat while also getting on with building another model farmhouse!  The big quesiton for me is 'where is it going to end up when finished?', and somewhat surprisingly perhaps, it seems that question has not been settled yet. How will it be displayed, and by who?  Remember that 'size of a tennis court' line... how do you allow people to view such a monster?  I think it would need a similar setup to that which the museum gave it, with a viewing balcony or gallery - it's going to need a substantal building to itself! Let's hope that question can be settled. 


In the meantime it was a privilege to see it, I am very glad I made it along there. In all the excitement my camera broke, but I got quite a few pictures before that happened, so I will just let them speak for themselves. 




A great shame it was only on display for 4 days, I do hope they can find other occasions to show it to the public - a genuinely amazing spectacle, with an appropriately Napoleonic scale of ambition!  For further information - and much better photos than mine -  look no further than James Cowan's own  Waterloo in 20mm  blog.   Now I think I need a little lie down..

Thursday, 21 October 2021


I was at the SELWG show on Sunday. Normality returns? Not quite, but it's a start. 


Like many others, my last show attendance had been SELWG 2019 at Crystal Palace. The venue was changed this year, surprisingly to North London,  at the Lee Valley Athletics Centre.  This turned out to be pretty decent, I thought -  the main space is an indoor running track arena with a high arched glass roof,and lots of spectator seating, which came in handy.  The games and trade stands easily fitted inside the area of the track. The program listed about 30 games and 50 traders - though there may have been one or two no-shows (most notably it was announced that one of the two catering vans due to attend had been stolen the night before!).  I don't know what the official attendance numbers were, but maybe it felt a bit quieter than previous years, and I suppose that's not surprising.  I felt almost no concern about social distancing, the space felt so - well, spacious (I'll admit I walked into the main hall and immediately discarded my face covering ).  

Night manoeuvres, 1685 style
 There were some fun games, the most unusual being 'Moon Over Sedgemoor' by the Prince Rupert's Bluecoats group,  This simulated Monmouth's night-march to attack the Royal army, by the device of covering up the terrain that the rebels needed to cross.Thus they wouldn't know if they were about to run into a wall, or a dyke, or other obstacle until they hit it - and then perhaps made enough noise to alert the Royal sentries.   Note how the scenery is all painted in dark 'night-time' tones - nice touch.  A worthy 'Best in Show' winner, I think ( see 'Iron Mitten' blog for more ).


In old ( 1930s ) Siam

I also liked 'Shall We Dance? The Boworadet Rebellion, Siam 1933'  by Deal Wargames - and they win 'best explanatory leaflet' with a really nicely-produced 8-page illustrated booklet. They used 'Rapid Fire' rules, about which more later.  There were special rules for units being charged by elephants or buffalo!


2mm scale? hmmm...

A bit of a first for me was  a battle in  ( I think ) 2mm scale - Mark Backhouse's 'Bibracte 58BC' participation game  using his 'Strength and Honour' rules.  Judging by the vocal hubbub from the players, it was going down well -  but I'll admit that the armies looked a bit 'brown blob' for my taste. I really like the idea of playing large battles with small figures, but maybe my limit is going to be 6mm. 


GLC Gamers SCW: note 'decisive moment' of die roll

I failed to take many pictures, to be honest, but another quite nice-looking table  was this Spanish Civil War game put on by the GLC Games Club - who have lasted much longer than the GLC, it seems!  This one wasn't listed in the program ( there were a few changes, perhaps unsurprisingly ), and I'm not sure of the rules they were using - was it maybe  Osprey's  'A World Aflame'?  Other honourable mentions must go to The Society of Ancients'  'Battle of Trebbia 218BC' using Impetus;   Cheshunt Wargames Club 'Battle for Hoa Binh, Indochina 1951' in 6mm; and South London Warlords good old reliable 'Stingray' game - do they make the naval peaked caps larger for every outing? 

( Other bloggers have of course taken loads more pictures, in particular see Ray Roussel's 'Don't Throw a 1' and  'Big Lee's Miniature Adventures' which has a 10 minute video, no less. ) 

Obviously, after 2 years with no such events, one of the best aspects of the day was a bit of social contact, and the ability to chat to fellow gamers.  It was a pleasure to  meet my old buddy Dave (aka St Cyr on Wheels )  for the first time since February 2020 , and to  renew our customary  'Stadtler and Waldorf go to the SELWG show'  routine.  Apart from chatting to some of the game hosts, we had a nice chinwag with the chap from Mili-Art, who did a great job of painting  Dave's Napoleonic armies a couple of years ago.  Better still, we also met up with that most excellent blogger and generous commenter  Nundanket, and had a good yarn over coffee/tea. The other two live fairly close to each other, so there could perhaps be scope for gaming..  Nundanket  ( can I call you Chris? )  also made me a most generous gift of some metal Spencer-Smith figures , which will fit in nicely to my 'Portable 7YW' forces.

These were apparently the remnants of a failed  attempt by another friend to tempt him away from 6mm scale a few years ago! Anyway they are great, and will make at least one 'Portable Wargame' Infantry unit ( complete with Grenadier company ); the horsemen may become officers.  A very kind gesture, thank you very much!

Of course no show visit would be complete without a little shopping. Usually any purchases I make at shows are happy accidents/mad impulse buys,  but this time  I had managed to compile a short list, and even managed to score most of it, with only one spur-of-the-moment extra. 

First a couple of additions to the 'D-Day Dodgers' collection for Italy 1943-1945: 

 Next, rules: 


I've been meaning to pick up 'In Deo Veritas': I like the idea of doing 'Big Battles' in the Pike and Shot period, and it should be a good excuse to get my 15mm 30YW forces on the table. 'Rapid Fire Reloaded' is intriguing,  with only 16 pages of A5 - so it must be simple! Another possibility for the D-Day Dodgers, I hope. 

And there's always books:

Christopher Duffy's 'Instrument of War' has been on the wish-list for a  long time, and became a must-have once I got involved in 7YW gaming: I'm sure it will live up to expectations, and it's only fair to have as good a reference about the Austrian Army as Duffy's earlier work on the Prussians. Frederick gets all the glory, and the balance needs redressing.   Finally the impulse buy:


Charles Grant's last book, published after he passed away in 1979 - I'm hoping it will have the same mix of charm and erudition as 'Battle!',  'The War Game', 'The Ancient War Game' and 'Napoleonic Wargames'.  Does that complete the set? In the introduction he says 'I can conceive of no more lively pleasure than that of seeing unfold upon the wargame table a tactical situation which is a true reflection of a historical event', which seems eminently appropriate. 

So, now I have far too much reading, rule-learning  and modelling than I can possibly keep up with, but absolutely no buyer's remorse; and I enjoyed the day, felt entirely safe and was lucky to meet friends both old and new.  Next 'Salute', in a month's time?  We shall see - sadly Covid infeciton rates here are on the rise again. Meanwhile I'd better get reading/modelling/gaming... keep safe, and well, all !