My, it's that time of year again.

As I wait for the iron to warm up, I thought I’d take the opportunity to wish all my readers a Happy New Year! I hope you both have a much better year than this one/the least one (depends when you read this) and you don’t have to settle for what you deserve.

I had intended to get another, proper post in before the turn of the year, but that ironing isn’t going to do itself (nor will anyone else do it for that matter!). I thought about doing a review of 2013 – no I didn’t, just kidding. There will be thousands of people reminiscing for the next few days, so why should I recount everything I’ve made a mess of (again)? Although, in fairness, it wasn’t such a bad year: only one death, but I suppose there’s time yet. AND for 2014 I’m not going to mention the World Cup or the Scottish Referendum either because there’ll be lots and lots of people posting about those. Oh yeah, I forgot the Winter Olympics, but nobody watches those anyway.

So, I’ll end on a joke I just heard from an old matelot:

 “I must be ill - I thought I saw a sausage fly past my window, but it was actually a seabird. I think I've taken a tern for the wurst.”

Quid agis?

Quite a bit really, some of it even wargames related.

The past month or so has been a bit of a smorgasbord of events, including hospitals (not me), mortuaries (not me – I think!), house moves (again, not me), disputes with neighbours (strangely, not me either) and not forgetting Christmas.

Going to follow the usual pattern of 'wot I got for Christmas' and then on to the usual fantasies. So, had a nice haul of goods and, strangely for a blog like this, only one wargames related gift. The overall total was certainly a collection worth having and I'm pleased as punch. The wargames present is best described as a 'birthmas' gift from my son who had been badgering me for weeks for some idea of what to get me for my birthday (November) and Christmas. I finally got round to giving him a list for my projected Prussian force C1806 and received a couple of pounds of AB pewter in exchange. Proper chuffed. This was followed up with a copy of Al Murray's book 'Watching War Films With My Dad', one of only two books received this Christmas.

Now, it's certainly a niche book and not to everyone's taste either because the subject doesn't appeal or you don't like Al Murray, but I've started reading it and find it enjoyable. He writes pretty much the way he speaks so it's almost like listening to him talk you through it.

This is actually Al Murray but the way and not 'The Pub Landlord'. He strolls along discussing Airfix kits and Action Man as well as some bloomers in war films and dismissing some awful titles from the Hollyweird catalogue. However, it's much cleverer than it first appears and draws in a variety of topics such as how generational change has led to a view of the Second World War which is far removed from that of our parents.

It's not belly laugh funny and not intended as a comedy piece at all, but it certainly generated at least a smile a page for me. I've certainly recognised myself and a few others in it so far and I think it's worth giving a go. It'll almost certainly be in libraries by now (if you've still got one near you, that is).

As many of you will know, the world's gone completely mad with this Analogue Hobbies' Painting Challenge, well sixty one people have and they're (mostly) going flat out in the pursuit of glory and painted lead. Personally, I'm far too indisciplined to follow such a path: I'm still trying to convince myself to base the Maine battalions I painted recently. Real life does tend to get in the way though and I do get seduced away by books and films too as well as other pleasurable things. I am, however, ploughing on with the Bloggers for Charity painting quota for the 2014 demo games and, when these are put to bed, I'm likely to start on my new 14th Brooklyn ACW figures from Forgotten and Glorious. Lovely figures, very cleanly cast. The company has also got an Iron Brigade funding campaign underway.

Swiped from the Forgotten & Glorious website.

About a month ago I went across to a mates' house in Welsh Wales (it's 'English' Wales really) for a couple of days for an old school style game. 
He hasn't got a bloody clue!

Good fun and the food and beer were good, but it's not really my thing to be honest. However, the important bit it that he's thinking about making the rules available on the net free of charge. This will come as no surprise to anyone who knows him, but might be something of a shock to the more money or kudos driven. The rules have been at least three or four years in development and now look nothing like their original form, but they do work, they're simple (but not unsophisticated) and, if you're experienced enough, reasonable easy to adapt/modify without destroying their balance. So, we're still thinking about the best way of doing this, but watch this space for more details later.

Now then, I've been thinking again. During the course of that weekend foray (and other conversations) it became clear that there's a certain cachet to being a wargamer. True, it only has value amongst those of the wargaming persuasion and many proud wargamers wouldn't be so proud if it came out in mixed company and it can be a deal breaker in some situations: “Have you seen my 28mm Seleucid Companions?” doesn't seem to have the same innuendo as “Have you seen my etchings?” - or, God forbid, maybe it does. Nevertheless, solo gamers are a type sometimes sidelined, tournament gamers can be looked down upon, wargame developers revel in the esoteric and so on. So, what is a wargamer? If there was a Euro-standard for such a beast or there was some financial benefit to being a wargamer, how could that animal be defined? Is a solo gamer a lesser being than a club gamer and which clubs are more desirable to seek membership of? Is a fringe interest more or less beneficial to the hobby than mainstream periods? Do 'rule mechanics' gain extra kudos? There are league tables, mostly associated with particular rule sets, but do they show anything other than who's best at playing to those rules or, possibly more accurately, of those players who have access to sufficient opposition, enter tournaments or simply can be bothered, who is best?

National associations have tended to be eschewed: a natural reaction by a group which can't even agree on a common set of rules for a given historical period or conflict and certainly can't seem to decide on a definition of what a wargame is. Ergo can anyone define a wargamer?

A Quick Competition!!!!!

(by cartoonist and caricaturist PaK)

Not mine, but over on 'Prometheus in Aspic', MS Foy is having a competition with two types of glory: one for those who simply desire the honour of winning and seek no reward or, for others not of the Lasalle school, the chance to win two excellent Napoeonic themed DVD's (Region 2). It's a simple competition and worth entering. Details are here.

Go to it!

One Man and His Give-away

Dave Docherty is having a give-away on his 'One Man and His Brushes" blog to celebrate 100k hits and 150 followers (it was 166 when I looked). There are some excellent books on offer, many of which I can vouch for because I have them too. Instructions on how to participate in the draw are here and you've got until 30th November to register  your interest.

I was staggered to find that.although I've read Dave's blog many times, I wasn't actually a follower, which just goes to show - er  . . . something. Anyway, it's another great blog and well worth adding to your list.

Sometimes the thoughts in my head get so bored they go for a stroll through my mouth. This is rarely a good thing.

Finally got over the mother of all colds with just a cough like a sixty a day man to shake off now. However, I've done a bit of dabbling – mostly touching up – and a bit of a stock take. At my present rate of knots I'll be about 170 when I get everything up to date and tickety boo with the existing projects, which makes me wonder what to do about it. Being essentially a solo gamer, I have to build both sides to a conflict. This is no big problem because before I went back into the closet, I still tended to hanker after periods which weren't, for those days, mainstream. 

I got through the Ancients itch which was only finally killed off primarily by pretty tedious rules that seemed to be engineered to design out the 'rule lawyers', but then by reflecting on the character of many of the opponents I met. Everything seemed to be a clone of the latest WRG thinking (still is to an extent) and quite a few of the players knew lots about the rule mechanisms and precious little about the history. Oh yes, and they also knew about the drive to win. Just as King Arthur's knights went in search of the Holy Grail, so Ancients wargamers went in search of that elusive killer army fueled by the previous year's army statistics from the WRG and reports/rumours of who won what with which troops at such and such a convention. Sassanids, Seleucids, Late Romans, every Byzantine army combination imaginable; they all had their time in the sun. They might just as well have been playing Tiddlywinks as historically based wargames. I can only say “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries!” 

As usual, I digress. So, the upshot of all this cerebral activity (well, moderate cerebral activity anyway) has been to actually focus on a couple of things and let the others barge in as and when. While I admire those gamers who drive forward in the relentless pursuit of a particular project, be that simply a new force for skirmish gaming or the development of a demonstration game for the circuit, I'm not wired that way. I like more than one pot on the hob and the ability to chop and change if I get the impulse, though I do have just enough self discipline left to grind away at a particular job.

A job I'm grinding away at presently is the start of my WSS project. I got through it once in 15mm, but it didn't give any satisfaction. However, the 'Beneath the Lily Banners' rules and the release of the Ebor figures provided another spark. Unfortunately, I think I might have come unstuck by deciding to focus of the 'boring' French first. Good armies and nice enough uniforms, but the fire won't catch. Nevertheless, I'm slowly battling on and I'm (still) working on my first regiment.  I've added some photos to the brief outline. They're not tricky, just front and back views of the foot officers: one for each battalion. The mounted figure is from Warfare Miniatures (the League of Augsburg lads) and the foot figures from Ebor. They're a bit sloppy, but they look good in the flesh.

Regiment De Maine

This regiment effectively came into being on 14 August 1675 when, following the death of its colonel, the Turenne regiment was given to Louis August de Bourbon Duc du Maine, the most favoured of Louis XIV's bastards. As Le Duc was only five years old at the time (a practice not unusual for the period), Roger Brulart de Sillery Marquis de Puysieux was appointed as Lieutenant Colonel and took command in the field. He was succeeded by Henri d'Harcourt Marquis de Thury on 19 December 1679 who was in turn replaced by Marquis De Seguiran this could be him:

The regiment spent the war against the Dutch and the nine Years' War fighting in Flanders and western Germany where it also spent the opening years of the War of the Spanish Succession until De Seguiran was killed at the Battle of Ekeren in 1703 The regiment received a new colonel, François Arnauld de Courville, and departed for Spain with Berwick, arriving at Vittoria on 2 February 1704 for the opening of the campaign against Portugal.


De Maine was particularly active in this theatre and operated in several regions undertaking a variety of tasks from open battles and sieges to anti-guerilla operations against the Miquelets (an irregular militia). It didn't do so well at the Siege of Gibraltar in 1705 ;O)

De Courville was mortally wounded during the daring capture of Ajora Castle in April 1707, after which De Maine was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre de Dammartin Marquis de Belrieux, under whom it played a key role in the Franco-Spanish victory at the Battle of Almansa on 10 May 1707.


In July 1709 the Maine was recalled to France in order to guard the Dauphiné. In 1710 it turned to Flanders and in 1711 it was in the attack of Arleux. In 1712 it distinguished itself at Denain and in the sieges of Douai, Quesnoy and Bouchain.In 1713 the Maine regiment was in the last siege of Landau, the battle for the works near Freiburg and finally the SIege of Freiburg. On 15 November the regiment d'Aunay and d'Epinay were incorporated into the regiment. On 5 January 1715 the regiment of the Marquis de Valence was incorporated. In 1718 the Marquis de Valence became Lieutenant Colonel.
That's it for the period I'm interested in, but its descendants fought at Fontenoy, Essling, Wagram, Leipzig, Verdun and the Somme. Not a bad unit considering I only picked it because of the nice flag!  By the way "Du Maine" and De maine' seem to be interchangeable. I'm not sure why: possibly "du' was older style usage?
I'll finish these two battalions and then maybe do a 'foreign' regiment before returning to the white coated French line.

Loki's having another one . . .

 . . . but this time it's an easy entry (oooooer misses!).

Get over to his blog:
and follow the instructions in this post. It's so simple even I've entered.

The prize is a Foundry give-away of a Thirty Years' War/ECW cuirassier hand painted by eye by the illustrious Mr Loki:

There you go. Even a trained chimp could manage this one so get an entry in. You might also join his blog, join Bloggers for Charity (and support it!) and be thinking about Blog-Con 2014 while you're at it. Just a thought.

I should've been at Blogcon!

All my bags are packed I'm ready to go (wasn't John Denver a tosser?!). This weekend I was all set for a trip to Blogcon. I had my train tickets booked and I was mentally there, but cruel Fate stepped in and banjo'd it. I've had an issue with my right knee for ages and, two years ago, was chalked up for an op to cut away all the ripped cartilage and clean out all the muck (I'm not sure you realy wanted to read that). As has become usual with the NHS, I simply dropped into limbo with occasional excuses proffered by the local ossie as to why I couldn't pass 'Go' and collect £200. It's a not very long, though pretty boring, story which ends with me under the knife last Friday.

Now, for those of you not from these parts, “last Friday” was 1st November, whereas the Friday just passed is “this Friday” and often used in the past tense, e.g. “That was this Friday just gone”. Should not to be confused with “this Friday” when referring to the coming Friday. It seems to be a device to ascertain whether or not you're paying attention. O.K.?

Right, so by yesterday I was hobbling still, but not hobbling as well as I thought I should be or well enough to make it anywhere further than maybe fifty yards or so and not to be standing around for more than a few minutes. So, any sustained movement was out. Not at all satisfactory because of the planned trip to Blogcon – did I mention that?

By the way, they gave me a brand new pair of those sawn off crutches, but I can't use them properly and they're too cumbersome to move with effectively. Instead I've been using my Dad's old walking stick (Circa 1972-ish). This is much handier and, when not in use, can be stowed inside your coat with the 'crook' of the stick hooked inside the arm hole. Well, I know what I mean.

About tea time last night (this is all real Northern stuff eh?) I got that familiar feeling in the nose and throat and then those good old watery eyes and a couple of hours later I'm about to joss it. Ergo, the waning dreams of making it to Nottingham other than by air ambulance were finally shot.

All this finds me still doing my Long John Silver impression (with more of an “Arrrrgh!' than an “Arrrrrr!”) and a snot factory on overtime. Oh yes, and if you haven't already picked up the thread, not at Blogcon . . . .

No flowers by request.

So there's this book survey . . . .

Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it . . . . (it's a song!)

I saw this on a few blogs and so, not wanting to appear illiterate, I felt obliged to give it a go. It's taken ages because I keep getting sidetracked and having a quick look at the books I mention and scratching my head trying to remember things in particular. It's also the ideal decoy to cover my lack of W/G output, which isn't as low as you might think, but I need some input on some rule ideas and I haven't got them down on paper yet. There's also plenty of stuff painted up, but even I think they're a bit rough!

You'll notice that there's something up with the formatting of this (again!). I've no idea what's up, but there you go. Sorry.

Authors you've read the most:
I changed this question to 'authors' because I could give a tally with a bit of thought, but I'm far too lazy.
Probably Philip Pullman, but Neil Gaiman is pretty damn good (but can be patchy) and there's also Philip K. Dick and Umberto Eco. I've got a feeling Ben Aaronovitch is going to be high up there when he gets his arse in gear.

Best sequel ever:
'Gormenghast', the second volume in the Gormenghast trilogy. The awful Steerpike continues his rise to power which leads to an inevitable and climactic confrontation with Titus! This is poetry in prose. Wonderful books.
Currently reading:
'Becoming Johnny Vegas',
Michael Pennington

'The Renaissance at War', Thomas Arnold

'The Castle', Franz Kafka

'Through Fire and Water: HMS Ardent: The forgotten frigate of the Falklands', Mark Higgitt

Drink of choice while reading:

 I usually get told off for not drinking!

E-reader or physical book:
Like 'em both, but I'm still a book lover. E-books seem too ephemeral. I like the practicality of my Kindle (mobility, convenience etc.), but it'll never replace the real thing. Military books just don't seem best suited to the e-book format.

Fictional character you would probably have dated in high school:

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away a bearded man wrote a fairy story about intergalactic wars between an evil empire and rebels. It generated six films, spin offs and a TV series along with limitless merchandising opportunities and vast wealth for its creator who, strangely, has never been able to afford a razor. 

Many sad buggers cling to the saga and forget that it's only pretend and is unlikely ever to make its way into the English canon. Still, I suppose it beats real life . . . . Princess Leia – there has only ever been one! I couldn't care less that she doesn't really qualify: argue with this:

Glad you gave this book a chance:
'If, on a Winter's Night, A Traveller', Italo Calvino. Came highly recommended by an old friend who's a bit of a literary wizz. Best desrcription:
“The narrative is about a reader trying to read a book called If on a winter's night a traveler. Every odd-numbered chapter is in the second person, and tells the reader what he is doing in preparation for reading the next chapter. The even-numbered chapters are all single chapters from whichever book the reader is trying to read.” (Wikipaedia) 

Hidden book gem:

 'I am Legend', Richard Matheson. I can do no more than quote the opening of the Wikipaedia entry: “Robert Neville is the apparent sole survivor of a pandemic whose symptoms resemble vampirism. It is implied that the pandemic was caused by a war, and that it was spread by dust storms in the cities and an explosion in the mosquito population. The narrative details Neville's daily life in Los Angeles as he attempts to comprehend, research, and possibly cure the disease, to which he is immune . . . .” Forget the films, they're crap: read the book!!!!!

Important moment in your book life: 

Reading 'To Spare the Conquered' by Stephanie Plowman sometime between about 1962–1963 so , say I was eight or nine years old. First 'proper' book I read fully without becoming bored to death, except for 'Vulpes an English Fox', 'Robin Hood' and 'Treasure island'. Not bad for a kid who was dyslexic (though not terminally so). They hadn't actually invented dyslexia then – or at least not in Salford – so I was just considered to be a bit thick.

Just finished:
Ben Bova's 'Mars' series – OK, but a bit predictable and formulaic. Stick with the chocolate bars.

'Fighting Them on the Beaches', (D-Day etc.) Nigel Cawthorne. Not brilliantly researched and contained a few technical slips, but OK for anyone wanting a first stab at the subject. Thankfully dead cheap for Kindle: there are plenty of better books out there if you wants to pay yer money.

Kind of book you won't read:
There's so much bilge out there. Crime stuff and unoriginal sci-fi/fantasy; the list is pretty long.
Good example would be George RRRRRRRRRRRRRRR Martin's current, overlong attempt to be the Tolkein of the 21st century. It could have been knocked together by most teenagers, but for the fact that the sex would have been more ably handled and the swearing would have been better. The TV series is easily more enjoyable because of the soft porn and because you don't have to make the physical effort to hold the book.
Longest book you've read:

Done 'War & Peace' plus Tolkein and Peake's respective magna opera.

Major book hangover because of:

Predictable plots and poor characters.

Number of bookcases you own:

Five, plus seven stacks of between eighteen and twenty four inches. When I've finally got round to doing up the house (after Henry's gone to school, I think) I'll attend to this.

One (lots of!) book(s) you've read multiple times:

Probably 'I am Legend', 'Lord of the Rings' set and the 'Gormenghast' trilogy.

Preferred place to read:

Haven't got one. Common locations include easy chair, bed, train carriage, waiting rooms.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels
from a book you've read:
“Sections in the bookstore:
- Books You Haven't Read
- Books You Needn't Read
- Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
- Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
- Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
- Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
- Books Too Expensive Now and You'll Wait 'Til They're Remaindered
- Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
- Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
- Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too
- Books You've Been Planning to Read for Ages
- Books You've Been Hunting for Years Without Success
- Books Dealing with Something You're Working on at the Moment
- Books You Want to Own So They'll Be Handy Just in Case
- Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
- Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
- Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
- Books Read Long Ago Which It's Now Time to Re-read
- Books You've Always Pretended to Have Read 

and Now It's Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them”

Italo Calvino' 'If, on a Winter's Night, a Traveller'

Very true and probably the most appropriate quote for this questionnaire!

Reading regret:

So many books, so little time . . .

Series you started and need to finish:

None I can think of, but I can think of some I started and binned without regret.

Three of your all-time favourite books:

'The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman', Laurence Sterne

'I Am Legend', Richard Matheson

'Borodino', Christopher Duffy


Unapologetic fanboy for:

Hmmmmm . . . Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman, Umberto Eco, Ben Aaronovitch – quite a few really.


Very excited for this release:

'Broken Homes', Ben Aaronovitch, but I'm too tight to buy the hardback. Actually, I've simply not got round to it yet, which is a damning statement for someone who claims to like his books so much!


Worst bookish habit:


X marks the spot - Start at the top left of your bookshelf and pick the 27th book:

  1. 'Frederick the Great; a Military Life', Christpoher Duffy
  2. 'The Complete Maus', Art Spiegel
  3. 'The Washing of the Spears', Donald R. Morris
  4. 'Cities in Flight', James Blish
  5. 'The Crusades through Arab Eyes', Amin Maalouf

I'll ignore the stacks . . . 

Your latest book purchase:

'The Franco-Prussian war 1870-7' (2 Vols), Quintin Barry

Zzz snatcher book (the last book that kept you up waay too late):

'Whispers Under Ground',
Ben Aaronovich – too tight to buy 'Broken Homes' yet.

Monty's having a give-away!

His actual name is Stefan, but his blog is called 'Monty's Caravan'. He's celebrating having 50,000 hits. He's having two raffles, the prize for the first one being:
The entry details are here.
The second raffle prize is:
and the entry details are here.
You've got until 09:00A on 2nd November to get your name in the hat for both parts. You'll have to get a wiggle on though as it's already proving quite popular!

Loki's Celebratory Give-away

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water (name that film!) Andrew Saunders ('Loki') has announced a give-away on his blog:
It's to celebrate the aforesaid blog reaching 200 followers and the prize is this limited edition Dark Age Scottish Warlord, painted by Andrew:
As you might expect, as well as the usual suspects, there are likely to be plenty of people going in for this, so you'll have to move sharpish - and you only have until 18:00Z on Bonfire Night!

Chris Stoesen scenario books

A short(ish) while ago I received a set of scenario PDFs from Chris Stoesen ( 'Wargamer's Oddsand Ends' blog). There was no ulterior motive, just have a read through and let him know what I thought. So I did and here's what I think.

There are four books involved, two for the WWII air war in the Western Desert, one for the Italians on the Russian Front in WWII and a set for the ACW. All very nicely produced and packed with information. You can get more information and buy the sets from Chris' blog.

I have to confess to a problem with scenarios. The standard I'm used to is that set by the Royal Navy for their own and NATO exercises and for little bits of 'shufty' work which, of course, never happened. We were given huge amounts of (relevant) tasking information and data and superb briefing notes and guidelines. I've yet to see their equal and it's a rare bird in the wargaming world. So, my view of the majority of scenario publications I've seen over the years has been pretty dim. They've been mostly O.K., but generally 'could do better' and not really worth spending money on, with a few notable exceptions. Thankfully, Chris' four sets fall into the 'a few notable exceptions' tray as they're pretty good in my jaundiced opinion. I've seen plenty of hypothetical scenarios, which are relatively easy to compile, but the challenge of writing historically accurate ones and, more importantly, historically accurate ones that work, isn't one to be taken lightly. “Well of course he'd say that, wouldn't he!” No he wouldn't.

To begin with, I'll talk about the two sets of air scenarios. I was drawn to these first because I've never played an air wargame and wanted to get an idea how they worked. Obviously the books are sequential and cover the whole of the North Africa campaign.

Falcon and Gladiator: June 40 to February 41 for use with 'Bag the Hun' and 'Check Your Six'

Air War in the Western Desert: June 41 to November 42 for use with 'Bag the Hun'

They are 122 and 120 pages respectively and a mine of information. I'm sure die hard air wargamers will be familiar with much of the background information, but, as I've generally focused on the land fighting and the Mediterranean naval campaign, the air warfare has always been linked to these. Not too unrealistic a view actually as the air battles were governed by the need to support the ground offensives and attack of defend the naval convoys.

The books follow similar formats, containing background campaign information, orders of battle and briefing notes, but, more than the other two books, they launch very quickly into the rule related information (plenty of that!), which, in itself, was interesting to me. The information and scenario specific rule amendments/additions are absorbing to a novice like me and they're well written so that even I could grasp the situation first off. They also include plenty of references and are supplemented by game templates. If you're sad like me and actually like reading orders of battle/TOEs, you'll understand why I found this aspect of the books the most interesting.

So, you can cover just about the whole of the air conflict for the campaign with minimum stress other than having to do the actual gaming. I thought air wargaming was really only doable on a PC to give a convincing game, but I'm in the process of changing my mind!

The Coming Thunder. Seventeen scenarios (June to December 1861) for 'Terrible Sharp Sword' (American Civil War)

Despite being the baby of the four books, coming to a mere 92 pages (!), this set was my immediate 'favourite' because of the period, but (see below) they're not limited to the ACW. The scenarios are linked by a 'campaign generator' to recreate the Battle of the Peach Orchard, actually a series of skirmishes over a period of weeks over an area of peach orchards in the Falls Church area of Virginia. The peaches themselves could well have been the actual object of the engagements as fighting ceased once all the peaches had been pinched by the soldiers. So, not the more famous 'Peach Orchard' at Gettysburg!

Now, I'm not much of a skirmish gamer and “Terrible Sharp Sword' is an ACW derivative of Too Fat Lardies' 'Sharpe Practice' rules. They're designed for what I'd describe as a large skirmish game with, say, two dozen to twelve dozen (keep it imperial!) figures a side. However, as with all scenario books worth their salt, the seventeen set pieces can be altered as you wish and the option for larger scale actions is an easy one to take up. I'd have little difficulty upping these to at least brigade level affairs, if not divisional squabbles, so a big plus from my point of view. There's also a decent bibliography, including URL's for websites.

In the Name of Roma!: Actions of the 80th Roma Infantry Division on the Eastern Front, August to December 1941.

These are designed for use with 'I Ain't Been Shot Mum', 3rd edition; 'Troops, Weapons & Tactics' and 'Chain of Command'. The Spanish Blue Division is familiar to many gamers, but I don't recall much being published about the Italians on the Eastern Front.

As if the other books aren't good enough, this is the magnum opus of the set. In fact, it's more of a labour or love, weighing in at a healthy 209 pages according to my laptop. It's a very good history in its own right and worth having without any wargaming interest. Those who do buy it for the actual scenarios will find they've got an extended bargain in that they can be transposed to other periods quite easily. The maps themselves should be easily modified to accommodate, say, Napoleonic brigade or even divisional actions.

As you might expect by now, each scenario is a complete package with orbats, map, background, conditions etc. and, importantly, umpire notes, so you can literally pick up and play. Those who want to adapt these for use in other periods will have as much to do as they wish. The briefing and notes are fine as is, but work will obviously need to be done on the weapon systems and orbats. If you simply want to game the scenarios as they were intended, but with another rules system, the notes contained in the introduction are excellent for this and I think they'd do well for use with the Force on Force rules, transposed to more modern conflicts such as the Balkans (or just about anywhere else for that matter). However, it's a much neglected subject and I think it's well worth looking into, particularly with the advent of the Perry WWII Italians.

I haven't gone into too much detail about these books because, to be honest, they speak for themselves. I've possibly been a little excited by their adaptability, but that's the sort of thing I tend to look for. However, I've got to say that they're excellent value for money and, being PDFs, you can get them from Chris's blog more or less instantly. Chris has written other scenario books which are available on the 'Too Fat Lardies' site.

More of a raid than a post

Bit of a quick one to do a catch-up because real life continually intrudes and is making a bit of a mess of my otherwise moribund timetable.

Well that last post certainly caused some disquiet. I even had a couple of emails asking if I was alright. Alright? I'm always like that/this: what's the problem? Anyway, as a week has passed, it's about time to come up with the 'winners' of the little conundrum which finished the entry. Actually, nobody came up with all the answers (surprise, surprise), but two did identify me – damn! However, for the sake of the curious, I'm the one on the left. It's frightening how nature can contort Adam's perfect form, but there you go. For the record, the Royal Machine is the one in the middle who is also the other wargamer and he and the chap on the right are the motorcyclists. The evening in question became quite an adventure, but it's not for publication here, even though, to the best of my knowledge, no by-laws were infringed. I did have a little trouble with gravity though.

So, the winners are:

MS Foy (you know who you are!)

Andrew Saunders

and I'd better include Paul even though he bottled out. Actually, (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) as only five of you had the gumption to have a go, if you all send me your addresses, you can all have something, even Ray ;O) That should sort out who actually reads this thing . . . .

Oh and the labels for the post did seem to have some effect. I can't believe so many people read that drivel, but I can't see any evidence of search bots. I'll leave them on a little longer though just to see if the entry dies the death as entries are prone to do.

Other things . . .

Jonathan Freitag is having a give-away to celebrate his Palouse Wargames Journal's first birthday:

So, go to: However, you're going to have to be sharp as it closes on the 19th. There are some really excellent books on offer, aside from which, it's an interesting blog worth following.
Exciting for me anyway, was an email from Chris Stoesen of 'Wargamer's Odds and Ends' with some of his scenarios for comment. Four sets: two WWII North African Campaign air war, one for the Russian Front and an ACW set. I haven't given tham a proper read through yet, but they look excellent for their designated periods and, equally important in my view, the land scenarios are easily adapted for other periods. The wise will go to his site and investigate. So, more of this anon.

There's some sage advice from Trabian on his 'Wargaming for Grown-ups' blog for those of us (you really!) who have difficulty completing wargame projects. I have no trouble at all in finishing projects as I have absolutely no conscience or self discipline, which is just as well. Trebian's advice is uncomfortably logical and includes a few home truths and it won't sit well with 'butterflies', but will get your project completed. It's at:

There's a follow-up post on Prufrock's 'Here's no great matter' (an understatement if ever there was one):

As another reminder, go across to the Blog-Con site (see above right). Join and get to the (first annual?) meeting at the Foundry HQ in Nottingham on the 9th/10th November. It's not only going to be interesting, with plenty to do, but you'll also be able to meet other bloggers who you worship and adore from afar. I'm going just to touch the hem of Ray's toga to see if any of his luck will rub off . . .

I've actually had a bit of a run of luck on the give-aways front lately. As I said, forty five years of nothing and then more wins than you can shake a hairy stick at. When I get my act together I'll list them. Despite this, I'm not resting on my laurels and I do intend to have a November give-away once I've sorted out the crap wargaming delights in the loft. By the way, I've noticed that some bloggers actually welcome new followers, which is something I've not done. I ought to, I suppose, as it at least gives a nod to those who've made the effort, but, for now, please accept my thanks. I also know a a couple of good counselling services to compensate for this blog.

And finally, Google +: what's the point? Against my better judgement, I got part of the way through adopting it and then changed my mind. Seems a lot of fuss over not too much. Unfortunately, I'm now in limbo: parts of G+ appear all over the place. I'm in and out of circles (whatever they are) and I get all kinds of strange messages about things I don't understand. I'm open to advice. Do I ignore it or adopt it?

Yes, it's been a long two years and much has happened. Not much to laugh about and a fair bit you'd want to forget, but that's ...