Monday, 25 April 2016

Rules, painting and moaning.



I got a small amount of painting done last week, which was something of an achievement, but not the only positive aspect of the past seven days. I also won a book in Max Foy’s photo quiz and took delivery of the new Black Powder ACW supplement “Glory Hallelujah!”. So, if you ignore the quote for the rewiring work, the news of Prince’s death and then the demise of Victoria Wood, it wasn’t a bad week at all. Actually, it was a pretty shitty week.


However, “Glory Halleluja!” is something I’ve been waiting for for what now seems like ages. I got mine from the Perry Twins because the free figure (vignette) is better. To be honest, you’d have to know nothing about the ACW or be a real klutz not to be able to produce your own ACW Black Powder variant, but I’d always intended to take the BP approach with my 28mm ACW types because of its flexibility and I’d been impressed with Steve Jones’ “Rebellioin” AWI variant which is a bit of a scoop, so I decided to let nature take its course and hold off until the supplement was produced.
  


It’s written by Dr. David James, runs to 180 mostly useful and very easy to read pages and is filled with photographs for those who struggle with words and put off actually reading things like this until the very last moment. It breaks down into unevenly sized sections: introduction and background information, organisation, weapons and tactics and uniforms summary, standardised tables of troop types broken down by phases of the war, specialised rules and a batch of ten scenarios (of which Gettysburg accounts for three). It’s also peppered with anecdotes and tit bits of information to help with the flavour of the period.


The uniform information is a bit sketchy, but then this isn’t a uniform book. However, the ”Rebellion” book did have decent uniform information, so, what’s good for the goose etc. Fair to say though, that the relative rarity of unit specific uniforms as the war dragged on lessens the importance of this section and there’s plenty of information available online.


So, is it worth twenty quid? Given the current price range of rules and supplements these days and the apparent inability of wargamers to manage to digest anything without any pictures in it, yes, it’s money well spent even if you’re not a Black Powder fan. The information can be easily translated to other rulesets, the only reservation being that no units are actually identified in the OOB’s and the maps aren’t scaled so you need to have a look at a more accurate map of the actual battlefield for which the scenario is set. However, there’s a half decent bibliography (you’re not doing a BA thankfully) and the internet simply oozes with the necessary information.  


While we’re navigating dangerously close to wargaming for once, I thought I ought to catch up with the rest of the squadron and post a photo of my painting desk. Well, I say desk but I actually mean a modest painting station, which is really one of those overbed tables they use in hospitals on which the nurse puts your watery food when you’re (usually) too infirm to give a bugger what they feed you or you’re dying. Oddly enough, it was liberated from a store of redundant hospital equipment, though I should point out that it had been clinically cleansed of all bodily fluids. Can’t say the same for it now though. So, here she is in all her glory:




Oh yes, a couple of weeks ago we took Young Henry to the Royal Armouries in Leeds. He was only still long enough for one photo, so here he is doing what he seems to like best. Naturally, I got the labouring job . . . .






Circumlocution


Now, while lying awake earlier this morning at stupid o’clock, with my mind ticking over and drifting along seemingly unrelated paths, I wondered when or why other people get the urge to post a blog entry. In my case, it seems to be at times like that, when sleep is evasive, but the mind must have something to do. Not a conscious drive, but more a consequence of the mind wandering around the cerebral equivalent of a demilitarized zone. I know many to whom blogging is as natural as breathing and others who’re dedicated to providing hobby news or updates on projects or games but there appear to be quite a few who are less regular in their posting, even though they keep to an overall theme. Then there’s me who’s been described as being “all over the place”. Well, my blog and all that . . . .


The cause of my wakefulness is a consequence of being polite and letting myself be talked into something I didn’t want to do. A week last Saturday night, Chris and I went to an 80th birthday party for a person we barely know, but whose daughter we do know well. To my mind, this is a pretty flimsy excuse for subjecting myself to a period of enforced jollity among people I generally don’t know in a social club which is anything but social and of which I’m not a member. The thought of sitting for hours nursing a fruit juice of some description, making polite conversation with strangers while Chris chatted with her cronies was beyond the pale, so we did the taxi thing so I could imbibe. As such occasions have a habit of doing, the evening turned out to be better than expected, helped along by several pints of Guinness and fortified by rum. The only disappointment was being saddled for a while with the new vicar of – I’d better not say where – who freeloaded several pints of Guinness from is flock and consumed a bin lid full of food from the buffet. There was a lot of Guinness: it was a Catholic club.


I can sense that, by now, you’re wondering where this is going, so I’ll cut to the chase. Later that evening, when I went outside to phone for a taxi home, it transpired that my good old beer overcoat is not nearly as effective as it used to be and I returned to our table with a mild case of hypothermia. By Tuesday this had developed into a gruff voice and mild cough and has now achieved the status of a genuine cold – NOT Manflu. When I can be bothered to speak I do so in a dull baritone accompanied by a hacking cough and the snot factory is on overtime. This makes sleep difficult at best, which, in turn, leads to task-unrelated thought and thence to this. So, being antisocial shouldn’t be viewed as a negative trait.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Bits'n'Bobs



Each week there’s challenging post on the Polemarch blog, which I try not to miss, but frequently do. It’s usually an evolving topic, though not always, but it is an addictive read. I want to continue my thoughts on a  recent post, but with a slightly different slant. I’ve used my comment on Polemarch as framework.


The recent rumblings about the Triples, both pro and con, have shown how the same event can be the subject of widely divergent views. In some cases, it’s a bit of a challenge to imagine that all the correspondents are wargamers because their views have been so different. I’ve touched on this before; that there are several flavours of wargamer and there’s maybe no such thing as vanilla.


I was going to start with "As we grow up", but that seems an odd thing to say when discussing wargamers, so I'll try it another way. When we first start playing with the toy soldiers we're gifted by indulgent parents or relatives, we always have 'Goodies' and 'Baddies' and certain figures take on personalities which we inflict upon them. Later on, if we become infected with the wargaming bug, we begin a transformation influenced by many things from interest in history to the influence of our peer group of wargamers and start to develop our own wargames personality. Now, as we're human beings, the end product is as varied as in all walks of life and as complex. The gamers among us set off in pursuit of the killer army, the historians chase the impossible dream of the perfect simulation, with all varieties of wargamer in between. The wargamer's development is further influenced by all sorts of drivers such as aesthetics, competitiveness, personal recognition and the like. If there is an end product (because many wargamers never cease to evolve), it's got to be unique because there are always strong influences from outside the hobby - even complete freedom from these is still an influence. 


So, we’ve got our wargame being, replete with his/her preferences, likes, dislikes, prejudices, aspirations During our wargaming lifespan we adapt the mores of our approach to the hobby, with some gamers becoming able to switch between two or even three wargame ‘personalities’ depending upon choice or circumstance. It's not unusual for wargamers to be avid skirmish gamers while, at the same time, being devoted to map based gaming. In fact, it’s common to see gamers drop from map based campaign games to tactical level games with figures to fight out engagements on the table – it’s long been a wargaming tradition. However, even though we coalesce into groups/tribes, our separate customs include variations which are more finely tuned to personal taste. This can manifest itself in such things as house rules, just as English has regional dialects. Psychologically, we're much more agile than we are in the real world and we can be comfortably schizophrenic (or maybe it's just me). I’ve periodically gamed with a chap I've known for about fifty years. When he moves a unit of cuirassiers into the attack, he's simply moving a chess piece, although he can appreciate the aesthetic aspect presented by the figures and the board etc. When I do likewise, my cuirassiers take on a far more exciting character with waving swords, cheers and thundering hooves. We're using the same rules on the same board and the same sorts of figures, but I find my 'dialect' far more comfortable than I do his. 


The Russians are coming!


Well, so to speak. I’ve been sorting out the lead pile and I think I ought to give the Russians a bit of a start as they’ve been hanging around for a while and the Austrians are mind numbingly boring to paint. That led to a problem I’ve been trying to avoid for a while, which is the headgear of the grenadier regiments around 1805/07. 


I specifically needed clarification for the shakos of the fusilier battalions of Russian grenadier regiments - did they have the busch or a pompom? The picture began to clear when I read "Uniforms of the Russian Army during the Napoleonic war Vol. 8 - The Grenadiers”  by Aleksandr Vasilevich Viskovatov and Mark Conrad (Trans). I have the cheaper Kindle version, but the issue of the pompoms does get a mention and I thought I was on the way, although slightly less than over confident about it.


I’d put a note on the “Napoleonic Units and their Uniforms” Facebook group, but noting much happened in the way of responses until I got a reply from none other than Alexander Mikaberidze, author of a number of books on the Russian Army and its campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars. Speaking Russian, he had a marginal advantage over me (!) and posted two illustrations from Sergei Popov’s book on Russian uniforms (nope, can’t find it over here either) so, if anyone’s in the same boat, I’ve included them below:




Grenadier regiment (1 grenadier battalion, 2 fusilier battalions). You only need concern yourselves here with figures 1a, grenadier shako; 2a, fusilier shako (it’s actually an NCO’s shako; the ‘busch’ should be all black); 16, grenadier cartridge box and 26, fusilier cartridge box.




Musketeer regiment (1 grenadier battalion, 2 musketeer battalions). You only need concern yourselves here with figures 1a, grenadier shako; 5a, musketeer shako; 16, grenadier cartridge box and 36, musketeer cartridge box.



While I was avoiding getting on with some WSS French, I decided to try an experiment with the new Boki Russian generals, which I did, However, the green is far too bright and should be very dark, almost black. Nevertheless, I’ve posted a couple of photos of the trials below, if only to show the Boki riders on two AB Shetland ponies:





The Boki figures probably won’t present much of a threat to AB, but the character and animation is, I think, better. The faces have expressions and the posture of the riders is more appealing to me. I have a couple of others underway with a ‘corrected’ green Which I’ll put up next time (slowed at the moment by hands and work on the house etc.)


Here endeth the epistle.