Friday, 30 August 2013

The Other Partizan






I know I can be a bit absent minded, but I almost forgot that it's P2 this Sunday! Chris reminded me last night, but then I forgot to put a prompt on here so you good people can be advised. Not too late really, so just Google 'The Other Partizan' and you'll get the low down (and it saves me writing reams of stuff here).

I've attended, off and on, for years. It's usually a good event and, despite a short period when the show was quieter than normal, it's back on the right footing again. The traders are always interesting and the games are usually very good. 

Thankfully I'm skint.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Big Giant Head


Well, it's been a really strange couple of weeks during which some sad things have happened and some odd things too. For instance, I've lost/mislaid THREE memory sticks. I can't have actually lost them, but I have no idea where they are. Naturally, they contain various rule rewrites, notes and such as well as some photographs so I'm more than a little agitated about it. This being the case I'm going to have a bit of a change and scatter “A man walks into a pub” jokes throughout this posting because a) I feel like it; b) it's my blog and c) I feel like it. In any case it's the Edinburgh Festival.



So an American tourist walks into a pub in Edinburgh and asks for a beer. The Barmaid says “That's thrrrrrree pounds thirrrrrrrty pence please .” The tourist says “Gee, I like the way you roll your r's.” and the barmaid says . . . . (wait for it . . . .) “Och, it's ma high heels.”



Right, so what's been happening on the wargaming front? Well . . . .



Rob on his 'Independent Wargames Group' blog has started a hare running with the simple question of whether wargaming is ethical with the secondary question: does wargaming glorify war? It's prompted by part of Mike Siggins' regular feature in Miniature Wargames. Every so often this debate resurfaces at a variety of levels and usually generates a fair bit of agonising and hand wringing, wailing and a gnashing of teeth and a beating of breasts. However, given the number of off pat responses this issue generates when it's raised on sites like PMT, think it's just hokum. I'd hazard a guess and say that a fairly high percentage of wargamers are aware that their hobby has a potentially unpalatable nature.



It's probably a good idea here to differentiate between the professional wargamers who devise simulations for the armed forces, including the people who have to play in them as part of their training (basic and ongoing) and those who wargame (at whatever level and in whatever genre) as a recreational activity. I think it's pretty clear that I'm only discussing the hobbyists here: national defence is an entirely different aspect.



I'm inclined to agree that wargaming does glorify war. If it didn't, we'd all have settled for Chess or Go and had done with it long ago. Playing with toy soldiers and reconstructing the full panoply of war is much sexier than a chess board, but let's have a look at some of the arguments more frequently offered in support of the hobby as an essentially pacifist pursuit.



It's driven by a study of history, the psychology of war, leadership etc. - Then stick to the books. (Some ought to. The level of historical knowledge among many wargamers is execrable!)



It's far more involved with painting and modelling. It's an essentially aesthetic pursuit. - Then why do we amass armies and play wargames?
 

It's an intellectual exercise. -  So are Chess, Go and crosswords. Buy Scabble.



It teaches the horrors of war. - No. Most wargamers' appreciation of the horror of war simply reflects what they think happens in real life when somebody scores a six when firing against a dispersed target. I've never seen a wargamer with a 'thousand yard stare'. As Bill Sherman said, “War is Hell” and the horrors do not limit themselves to the battlefield.



Wargamers are essentially peaceful by nature. - As is the vast majority of the population or we'd be in a state of anarchy. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us could pass for part time library assistants rather than great captains. Then again, Himmler was a failed chicken farmer, so what do I know? However, I know a few ex regulars who are wargamers and, as a group, ex service personnel are generally far more 'war averse' than civilians. By the time politicians have had their two penneth and jingoism has played its part it's usually the civilian population baying for blood, not the forces.


So, is wargaming ethical? Well here I think the answer's “Yes, why not?” It's a game and certainly not a proper simulation. I don't care what the purists think. If it were even approaching a proper simulation we'd all have to give up life and devote out time wholly to what would then cease to be a hobby. Nobody dies and, as one great man said, there are no lead widows or orphans. However, I think there are limits. The Salute 'Nazis' were way beyond the pale for me, but we set our own boundaries. Are suicide bombers now acceptable in games? There was a HUGE outcry over this on PMT a few years ago involving the Stan Johanssen and TAG ranges. I wonder if this is the case now?



Anyway, there you go: food for thought. Do go across to Rob's blog and read the responses; add your own if you like or have a go here, but I think it's a question you ought to think about. If you're not comfortable with it then how will you feel about introducing others to the hobby?



A bear walks into a bar and says to the bartender, “I’ll have a whisky and ……… soda.” The bartender says, “Why the big pause?” “Dunno,” says the bear. “I’ve always had them.”



I mentioned TAG just now, so I'll mention them again. A couple of days ago I ordered some more ECW figures from TAG (beautiful) and Perry (not quite as beautiful, but bags of character) and I received emails today advising me that both orders were in the post. That's service. A couple of days before that (during the bank holiday weekend) I ordered some of the new Blue Moon French Napoleonic cavalry from Andy Copestake at OGUK who had just received another bulk order of stuff from the States – this is usually a full day's work to sort out. I was surprised to get those in the post this morning, which means that he was probably even faster in real terms. Can't argue with that for speed of service. 
 

A priest, a rabbi, and a vicar walk into a pub. The barman says, “Is this some kind of joke?”


An Englishman, an Irishman and a rabbi, walk into a pub. The rabbi says “Shit, I’m in the wrong joke!”


As I frequently tell my mates, I'm the master of self control, so the very idea of an impulse buy is anathema to me. Now that lie's out of the way I'll show you a great buy I've been keeping an eye out for for ages and finally cracked last week. I sometimes take Young Henry to the local Petsareusathometogoworld or whatever it's called so he can threaten the rabbits and intimidate the Guinea pigs. While there last week I spotted a Big Giant Head, the sort of which I've been thinking about getting for years. Many see this sculpture as a decoration for the bottom of a fish tank; I see it as an addition to any jungle terrain from any Darkest Africa scenario (Darkest Far East really) to Vietnam by way of WWII. It cost a mighty thirteen quid, but, as one of the assistants let Henry watch him feed live crickets to the lizards (with replays on demand), who could argue?








Shakespeare walks into a pub and asks the barman for a beer. “I can’t serve you,” says the barman. “You’re bard!”



As part of the desk clearing exercise (it's like a carrier's flight deck!) I finally got round to polishing off a couple of ACW (Confederate) gun crews and some other odds. The crews are an amalgam of Perry artillery figures and some of the civilian rioters which came out as a group of sets for a 'Gangs of New York'/Draft Riots scenario maybe a couple of years ago. I'd planned this for ages and had the figures hanging around, but no impetus to actually do anything. However, my conscience got the better of me and I finally put together a 'battery' . The conversions were minimal really and mainly consisted of a bit of chopping here and there, a head swap or two and the addition of artillery tools. The painting is the 'get it on the table' block style with an Army Painter Dark Tone wash and the odd bit of touch up work.









They were originally destined to represent the Pee Dee Light Artillery, AKA Zimmerman's Battery (organized during the winter of 1861-1862 with men from Florence County. After serving in the Department of Norfolk and the Department of North Carolina, it was assigned to R.L. Walker's and W.J. Pegrams's Battalion of Artillery, Army of Northern Virginia. It was then transferred to the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Fought at the Seven Days' Battles, Cedar Mountain, Second Manassas, Chantilly, Harpers Ferry, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg). However, until I get them the correct allocation of pieces, they'll be anonymous . . . .



A man walks into a pub and asks for a whiskey. The barman says "Single?". The man says "No, I’m happily married, but curious"



I also did a quick chop and change on a figure I assume is meant to represent Bill the Butcher, but who has now become an infantry officer in semi-civilian clothes.







A woman walks into a bar and asks for a double entendre – so the barman gives her one.



To round off the ACW batch I did a straight paint job on what was once a Foundry Confederate artillery officer, but is now a cavalry officer. This time the wash was my old trusted oil paint and varnish formula simply to see if there was any appreciable difference. Although he could do with a little touching up here and there, I think there is a difference in that the staining isn't quite so striking and the mix has got into finer areas such as the coloured seams to the trousers. The formula for this can be found here.











A dyslexic man walks into a bra...


Finally, as you know, I like to mess around with finishes and paints etc. I've finished off four cavalry, but in different methods/styles. The first two are Foundry figures, although the officer has had an arm and head swap. They're straight three shade painting (but the horses don't show it very well in the photo) and are sort of control figures for comparison.







A man walks into a pub and asks the barman "When do you finish serving?" The bar man replies, " when I get to the "g"



The second figure is another Foundry model, but this time:



  • the horse is a straight block paint with Army Painter Strong Tone washed over. This was then dry brushed in areas such as the fetlocks and painted main and tail and muzzle;
  • the trooper was a straight block paint and Army Painter Dark Tone wash.







The final figure is a Salute give-away from a while ago and was donated by my old mate Lee (Daywalker's blog). This time:



  • the horse is an oil wipe with other colours painted in as normal;
  • the officer is a block painted figure with my oil wash formula applied.





Now, I may be biased, but I think the oil wash finish on the officer is better than the Army Painter finish on the trooper.





Descartes walks into a bar. The barman asks, “Can I get you a drink?” Descartes replies, “I think not”…and disappears.



And that, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls is that. See you anon.


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Another give-away

The latest give-away (that I've seen so far anyway) is from Edwin on his 'Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomatist' blog. He's offering a whole raft of interesting things, including some very tasty books so if you want to have a go, look here.




This isn't Edwin, but he's a thoroughly decent chap (Edwin, not Edward VII - though he may have been) so give it a go. He's  too honest to fiddle anything so you're safe.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Fighting 15's


Ian Marsh is the owner of Fighting 15's, purveyors of fine wargames figures from a variety of manufacturers in a number scales. He's a thoroughly decent chap who runs a fast service and has been known to remind me when I've forgotten something on an order or there's likely to be some delay etc. I've had most of my AB Napoleonics from him and also some Eureka AWI figures so I can vouch for the firm's efficiency. So why the accolade?

Well, Henry and his mates at 'Miniature Wargames', of Ian's advert for his appearance at the forthcoming Colours show (14th/15th September). In order to try to salvage the situation, MW put out a plea on FaceBook for any bloggers (that's us) to promote Ian's attendance, so here's the ad as it should have appeared:



NOTE

This post originally claimed it was 'Wargames. Soldiers & Strategy' magazine, but I must've had a brainstorm as it was clearly MW! I've just noticed is now, so it proves nobody's actually read it! Sorry Guy!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Don't blink . . . .

 . . . . or you might miss another give-away! This one is from Andy of (strangely enough) Andy's Wargaming Blog in which you cold win this:



You can get all the details here.

It's a rather good blog and worth following anyway,  which I think is worth doing irrespective of the opportunity of blagging a nice figure.

How long can this wave of insanity last I wonder? Why anyone would want to give away perfectly serviceable stuff to complete strangers is beyond me, but there you go. I have a feeling these give-aways will eventually become a tradition as we accumulate mathoms like bloody Hobbits. All except me, that is, who never wins a jot.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

And the next one right this way . . . .

Strewth, another blog give-away, this time from The Laughing Ferret Lab.



Go and read the instructions and preamble; it's worth it even if you don't enter, but you should enter cos the prizes are good. The requirements for entering are clearly explained and well reasoned which only goes to show that he probably didn't have much to do today or maybe he's picketing a fracking site or something. However, best of all, he hates the use of 'pimp' and prefers 'plug' when referring to the promotion of his site so it's worth promoting just for that!

For those of you who like Blood Bowl (I used  to play it) there's an interesting team covered here.

It's generally an interesting blog and worth following anyway, but I don't think his name really is Laughing Ferret . . . . can you imagine that on a library card?

Saturday, 17 August 2013

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” ― Groucho Marx


There's a disturbing amount of literature flying round these blogs of late so I thought I'd better give a bit of a run down on what's afoot chez nous on that front too just to show I can read. In fairness though, it could just be a case of tsundoku or a cover up for not doing any painting etc.



I've accumulated several books lately for a variety of reasons (does anyone need a reason to buy a book?) and even I think there are some excellent volumes among them. That week in Venice rekindled ('scuse the pun) my long standing desire to get started in the C15/C16 Italian wars. I'm interested in both the 'main periods' so I like the Condottieri as much as I like the Landsknechts and the period before the Valois/Habsburg fracas and the Great Italian Wars.



I already had Mallett's 'Mercenaries and their Masters' 





 

(got it in '74 – that's what I call a slow burn!). An excellent introduction to the Condottieri and the state militias. It covers all aspects of their warfare from the origins and organisation to actual engagements as well as the working of the condotta system. Very good book. I've also got a couple of ospreys which do an adequate job:




 

and the mandatory WRG Medieval armies books. However, not all the story and so I bought:




 
The 'Military Memoires' is an academic text and examines the mind set of the Renaissance soldier; his drivers, attitudes to war and society and the like. If I'm going to cobble together a set of rules for this project, then I need to have some idea what made the men tick rather than just a mechanical representation of formations and tactics. You need a good idea of the men's reactions and attitudes: the why as well as the how.



The other two books pretty much speak for themselves. Turnbull is a long time favourite of mine and I have a couple of his samurai works. Mallett again (as well as Chistine Shaw) is an expansion of his previous book into the later period.



So, that's the 'Italian Job' on the way, but, being a bit of a grasshopper, I've got far too many interests for any sane person. I've also acquired:





 

which has been on the 'get it if I see it cheap' list for years. Spotted a second hand copy for £22 which is in excellent condition. The only down side to this book is that it only covers the French armies yet the Allied armies are at least as interesting. Still, that's for another day. Again an excellent book with enough detail to keep even the most pedantic Napoleonic gamer happy for years.



The penultimate book was a gift from Chris (my wife) because she thinks I'm worth it. I'm hopefully worth more than sixteen quid, but you get the idea.






Being an ex matelot, it's understandable that I'd have at least a passing interest in naval warfare and I saw BBC's 'Meet the Author' a week or so ago when they were discussing this tome. I hadn't heard of Ben Wilson before, but he gave an interesting interview and I made the rash statement that I'd like to read his book. Chris leaps on this sort of thing because I'm notoriously difficult to buy for come those awful (to me) festive periods where people insist on buying me things I don't need. It's a combination of a childhood where times were often tight and my time in the navy where your world revolved around what you could fit in a small locker and could be carried in your kit bag. Obviously doesn't apply to books though!



And so to the final acquisition which I hadn't planned to buy, but it was for a very good cause and (as it turns out) well worth the investment. In support of the 'Bloggers for Charity' scheme (What do you mean you've never heard of it? Look to the upper right you klutz!) Edwin King - who has also had a present from his wife - is selling a few (now only a couple or so left) of:


 

for a mere £5! You can order it from here. It's certainly one of the best military histories I've read and you'd be mad to miss out on it. It not only gives an account of the battle, but a complete back story to the whole campaign and plenty of information on the armies and their 'tails' as well as the militias and the environment. This book has already been promoted on a couple of blogs so there will only be a couple of copies left, after which you'll have to resort to Amazon (and pay more than twice the price). Get it or be sectioned!



So, enough of books for now. I've also been pursuing the clear the desk exercise and knocked out a few ACW bits so I'll post about them when I've done a modicum of basing.












Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Hell's bells, another freebie fest!

This time  Mike Whitaker  of the "Trouble At T'Mill" blog has decided to celebrate his 50th birthday by giving away twenty five quid to be spent on the new Too Fat Lardies "Chain of Command' rules (or put towards one of their rules bundles).



If you  go here he explains his sudden burst of insanity and you can enter the fray along with about half a million others who, like me, are enthusiastic about the CoC rules, but not enough to actually pay for them ;OP

When I win (how likely is that?) I think I'll opt for "Charlie Don't Surf" instead and get my three ton of 28mm Vietnam stuff into action.


I've got "Le Feu Sacre" 



which is not a medical complaint, but a fine set or rules for the Napoleonic period though I guess it's fair to say that rules from the Too Fat Lardies stable fall pretty much into the 'Marmite' category. However, either their fans are more vocal than most or their rule sets do have a large following. I think it's the latter.

Right, if I don't win this prize draw, I ought to get a back hander from the TFL chaps for all this free marketing, although I admit that quite a few people think I ought to get a back hander anyway!