Friday, 5 April 2019


Real life does get in the way of hobby time doesn't it. I have been flat out at work since before Xmas with one job that just kept giving and not in good way! Thankfully I have been getting some games at Meldrum thumping or being thumped by the fuzzies (ouch!) playing TMWWBK. 

I've also started to recover my painting mojo a bit and have finished off some WW1 German Jäger. Why I am not sure but that's never a question a Wargamer should let come in the way of a game and one of the lads happens to have some Belgians so I have no excuse whatsoever. 

I shall be making the trip south to Salute on Saturday, primarily as a social call to catch up with Graham Cummings on the Crann Tara stand and take a peep at his new stuff. I'll also be having a sniff around Warfare Ottomans or Swedes and seeing what Helion to read for the flight home. If anyone else is around drop me a line and let's grab a coffee.

I will be taking copies of Wargaming the Sugar Islands Campaign with me and these will be available from Crann Tara on the day. Stock will be limited though!

I have to collect some Spanish from Graham which will form the basis of the Havana garrison and with their compatriots in Manila, they'll be central to my next book which I have started to assemble material and written an outline for.

My workload has slowed down the Campaign Cards project which I have been working on with Charles Grant too. However all of the text for these has been fixed and checked and they are now being set up properly so that I can have them printed. I hope to have them ready to show off at Carronade in Falkirk in May, if not for sale then certainly as proofs for perusal. 

One reason I think I've got the painting bug again is the purchase of a record player. Nothing beats the subtle "bump" and crackle as you lower the needle to vinyl. A tasty glass of Blanton's Original Single Barrel Bourbon and Free's "Heartbreaker" (1972 original pressing - one of my desert island discs) accompanied this post when I wrote it up last night. 

Oh and it will soon be time to wake up the Spider....things are looking good after all.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Getting back into the swing of things....

Yesterday I had a nice afternoon catching up with some mates. John Allen owns Commando Miniatures so we played a game set in the Indonesian Confrontation of 63-66. (I was on Borneo some years ago, in Miri, in Sarawak with work. Sadly I saw no jungle, only miles and miles and miles of palm oil plantations. Anyway....)

In this mission the British force carrying important intelligence had to cross the table diagonally from corner to corner while to Indonesian forces advanced from the opposite corners to cut them off. 

This isn't my period at all, but I do like a bit of asymmetrical warfare and John's chunky figures have lovely toy soldier poses and the style of them reminds me of a similarly titled set of comics which I devoured as a kid. He's also invested in a 3D Printer and makes a few vehicles to go with the range.  

The game played quickly with the Brits moving quickly from cover to cover while the Indonesians advanced equally quickly. The firefights were quick and deadly and a couple of close assaults led to hand to hand action. The Brits took up cover in jungle hut and animal pen and saw off the attackers on the left flank, while Gurkhas and the remainder of the Brits took on the right. It was a close call there with casualties being heavy enough on both sides to knock out some units. On the left however the fight wet more of the Brits way and they were able to make a break for the table edge and bring the intelligence to safety. 

My only pic, I forgot to take any til the end! 

Nice to catch up with John, Eric and Carlos and have a different type of game. 

Back to horse and musket next week! 

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Campaign Kick Off.....

It's been a while....

Welcome to 2019! It's been a while due to a hefty work load, flu and a car crash but time to get back to the fun stuff. 

This weekend Graham H and myself kicked off our 18thC campaign using Graham's superb 40mm figures. Using the Murat campaign maps and a very simple set of campaign movement (weather mod+terrain mod+command mod+random die= movement ok, delayed or halted), we played the first few moves yesterday. 

The Prussian army commanded by myself were based on Dresden and at Waldenburg near Breslau. Graham commanded the Austrians and Saxons, based around Leitmeritz. Forming and not yet involved in the War was a French Army somewhere off to the west.

My first move, with the main army under Frederick, didn't get off to a good start and I was halted by poor weather. However my other column, a smaller force under Brunswick, moved off into the mountains forming the border between Silesia and Bohemia, heading for Koniggratz. 

To add a further random factor and some campaign effects we trialled the Campaign Cards which I have been putting together. These add events and other effects just to add a bit of extra flavour. This they certainly did. Fredericks troops suffered from the hostile Saxon population which halted their march. Brunswick's column had a boost however when they discovered some wagons which helped them move a bit quicker. Graham received cards which gave him a fierce first volley but suffered from standing too most of the night which caused his army to move slowly the following morning. More about these cards later....but suffice to say they work and are great fun!

Graham split his army and sent columns to find out what I was doing up around Konniggratz and we had an encounter battle around Nachod. My column, that of Brunswick was a compact all arms force of cavalry, infantry and guns. Graham had a mounted command of Hussars and Dragoons, handy for scouting but not for holding ground. The Prussian 5th Hussars clattered toward Nachod and spotted the Austrians coming up the road. They halted and deployed, waiting on the infantry to come up. Two units of Fusliers were hard on their heels, followed by Dragoons and Brunswick himself, eager to see what was going on. Graham swung his two regiments of Dragoons out towards the high ground above Nachod and my Fusiliers raced them up the hill, gaining the summit and managing to get a couple of rounds off with their battalion gun before the Dragoons were upon them. They stumbled back in recoil which brought the first Austrian squadrons up short. However the second unit charged home. A short melee ensued and the Fusiliers legged it back down the hill, but the Dragoons were also badly shaken and faced with fresh Prussian cavalry plus more blue coated troops marching down the road towards them, decided they had done enough to satisfy both their orders and their honour and retired. By now the Prussians had occupied Nachod and so the first encounter ended. Graham had located Brunswick's column whilst I succeeded in reaching my march objective.

The Austrians ride into Nachod.

But the Prussians are ready.

But what of Frederick?

The main army moved swiftly after its initial delay and moved up, into and through the mountains from Dresden to Sayda, Marienburg and Komotau. Approaching Leitmeritz from the east, they could see the main Austrian army and its Saxon allies encamped to the south of some hilly terrain between Lobositz and Klapy.

Frederick deployed his army. 18 regiments of infantry, 5 regiments of cavalry and three batteries of heavy guns. Facing him were the Saxons, in Lobositz  itself, with 7 regiments and the Austrians in Sulowitz and stretching southward from there with a further 10 units of infantry, 5 heavy gun's and 2 regiments of cavalry. 

A truly massive battle stretching all the length of Graham's table with around 950 figures on the move......

Graham and the table.

Frederick deployed his army in two lines, closed off by columns of Grenadiers. His plan of attack was to hold on the right wing, covered as it was by boggy ground, and break through the centre, cutting the road to Prague and splitting the Austrians from the Saxons. He hoped his heavy guns would batter the way through and break up the Austrians. However it was the Prussians who were roughly handled by the Austrians guns as we shall see. 

The Prussian right.

The Prussian centre advances

The Austrian left wing, behind the boggy ground, heavy guns firing.
Von Browne deployed his mixed forces along the line of the Prague road, and sat and waited. His heavy guns were massed in two batteries on either side of Sulowitz. The southernmost battery dealt great distraction to the weak Prussian right wing. With nothing to reply with all Fredericks men could do was to stand and try to survive. The Grenadiers launched an attack on Klapy to gain a strong point but were driven off. The Prussian cavalry put in several charges but were not able to break their Austrian counterparts, despite causing heavier casualties. On the whole this wing was poorly handled and sustaining heavy casualties from the Austrian guns made it very vulnerable. Only suicidal bayonet changes by the Grenadiers managed to disrupt Austrian movement long enough until late in the day.

In the centre four Prussian regiments attempted to batter their way through the Austrian line. However the Prussian gunners repeatedly fired high and for several hours the attack was paused until enough damage had been done to drive in the Austrians. This was achieved but not without cost. Two more Austrian guns played on the Prussians and wore down the leading units, blunting the attack. 

The battle for the centre.

Only on the Prussian left, the northern end of the Austrian line around Lobositz, where the Prussians had not planned an attack was there any actual success.  4 Grenadier battalions and three regiments of infantry advanced on the Saxons supported by cuirassiers. With an almighty crash this wing of the Prussian army smashed into the far end of the Austrian line and sent them running for the bridges over the Elbe. 

The Austrian right. The Saxons are driven back into Lobositz

By this time it was clear the that attack on the centre was not going to succeed. The Austrians had crossed the bad ground and were threatening the Prussian right however their attack had been disrupted and they now hard three regiments of Prussian Dragoons and Cuirassiers to their rear. Light was beginning to fade (we'd been playing for a day and a half) and it was clear that no one was going to get the upper hand. Frederick called a halt to further attacks. Browne dragged his battered army off the field and headed down the road to Prague. The Prussians were in no state to follow up but, camping on the field, claimed a victory of sorts. The campaign would continue !

What a wonderful game with lovely figures. Thanks to Graham for hosting and for letting me play with those wonderful 40mm's again.

Monday, 31 December 2018

It's the End Of The Year Post

The End Of The Year Post!

Well 2018 has almost come to an end and it's been quite a year. We've settled into a routine between home and the OH's posting in Moray and work has gone bananas as the downturn in the industry came to an end. I've seen some great gigs and added a new Spider to the garage. 

Oh yeah and played some great games with some great folks too and managed to get my Wargaming the Sugar Islands book published too. 

The Book
I started writing this in 2017, initially just to see if I could do it. It was published in November and I've managed to sell 65 copies in since then (more than I thought I would and far quicker too!), posted out to Australian and New Zealand, America and Canada, to the Uk and to Europe, to folk I've known for ages and some newer friends too, to visitors to my blog and to gamers who've read about it on other forums and sites or from other gamers. 

Thank you all. 

The feedback has been great and I've heard of versions of the scenarios being fought with Spanish and Brits as well with Great Northern War Russians and Swedes. There's plenty stock so anyone who wants a copy please use the contact form on the side of the blog and drop me a line.

There will be a sequel of sorts. The provisional title will be "Against Spain. The War of Jenkins Ear and the capture of Havana and Manila".

I have started gathering material, working from the original sources as much as possible once again. I have no publication date in mind as yet but will keep you up to date via the blog.

Campaign Cards
My next project is already well underway. Charles Grant and I have been working on a deck of campaign event cards that can be used to generate events to spice up your battles - morale and fire modifiers caused by weather or supplies, raids and skirmishes on your marching columns for you to fight out and some cards which deal with individual leaders and units. As well as the printed cards there will be blank ones for you to customise yourself. 
We will be finalising the design after the holidays and hopefully have things ready well before Easter.

I've had some great games with my local club, the lads at Oldmeldrum Wargames Group. They were great help testing the scenarios for the book and we've also played a lot of The Men Who Would Be Kings - vs Zulus, Boers, Sikhs and even against Garibaldi's Redshirts. A great set of skirmish rules, it looks like we will be hitting the Nile and the Crimea in 2019. We've also been playing Blood Eagle - a skirmish set based in the Viking age. These have been great fun too. 

June this year saw me at the annual gathering of gamers now called The Wild Geese. Admirably organised by Colin (and Katherine!) Ashton, I had some great games with a lovely bunch of chaps. Burning a Zulu Kraal, rescuing the ladies of "Versailles", seeing off the Highland Clans on teddy bear fur and a big battle with loads of old school spencer smiths which really topped off the weekend for me (nice one Will!). Much booze and food was consumed and my table even won the quiz🤓. I'm looking forward to next year already.

I also had the opportunity to play several 40mm games with Graham Hilditch. Graham's lovely figures really stand out and together with his excellent scenery have graced many of the reports on the blog. It's always a pleasure to head up for a game and we're planning a SYW campaign to run through 2019. Graham's a nice chap and it's always good to catch up with him. I may even get some 40's of my own to play with!

Figs and Rules
I've not had a lot of time to paint this year but I've really enjoyed the clean, proportionate sculpts from Crann Tara and have some French Calvary and Spanish sitting waiting to be prepped. Graham Cumming also made some special figures for the Sugar Islands and his newest figures are just superb. 

I was lucky to purchase a Sikh Wars set of armies from Graham and am working on some Akali fanatics at the moment to complete the Sikh army. I was also able to purchase a WSS Spanish force from Grimsby lad Paul Robinson and have bought dragoons and artillery from Ebor to paint up. I have made some head swaps using Warlord heads to give me dismounted dragoons too so hopefully these will grace a Lily Banners game sometime soon. 

I'm eagerly awaiting Rebels and Redcoats, Ospreys latest offering, as it will tie in with my next book project and also considering some of Warfare's Cossacks. Helion have a load of books coming which tickle my fancy and I'm planning a trip to Salute next year too.

Well that's all folks. Have a happy Hogmanay. I hope last year hasn't been to harsh, (it's been trying at times for many I know), and that next year is good to everyone.

See you in 2019.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

A Sugar Islands Battle - "Surrounded"

A lovely afternoon spent with GrahamH playing the "Surrounded" scenario from the Sugar Islands book today.

In this scenario, representing the British attempting to advance on Port Royal, Martinique, the Grenadiers, Highlanders and 63rd Foot come under attack from French militia and marines.

After a nervous start, becoming shaken by the sniping from amongst the trees , the Grenadiers squared off to take on their attackers on the left flank. They drove off the first unit of French skirmishers with a couple of volleys and changed into the second, scattering it. A unit of militia came up and deployed and a sharp melee ensured. After winning the first round the Grenadiers recoiled but by that time the flank had been secured.

On the right the Highlanders and 63rd faced off against a unit of French marines and a large group of militia (Prussians in disguise! ). 
The highlanders traded volleys with the marines but their shots told more. The marines were first shaken then forced back. The highlanders moved into the undergrowth and followed up their success, drivng back the marines again. The 63rd also had success against the militia. After another firefight they were driven back and the 63rd followed up with the bayonet. In the melee the militia routed back and although they reformed they took another volley and turned and fled. 

The British were now in control of the road, the French had all been driven off. Success like this wouldn't lead to the capture of the island however. All the French units would be able to reform and return to harass the British on the next stage of their march.

A lovely afternoons gaming with Graham's 40mm figures and scenery. Always a pleasure and already looking forward to a game later in the month, using Muskets and Tomahawks to fight the attack on the bastion at Point Negro.


Response to the book has been excellent and copies have winged their ways to Australia, New Zealand, the US, Canada (despite the strike!), the Netherlands, Ireland and France as well as all over the UK. Thank you very much to everyone who has purchased a copy. If you'd like one, drop me a line via the blog and I'll get in touch

Thanks to John Ray who was inspired to run his own version of "Madame Ducharmey's". Please visit his blog and take a look. I think you'll find it quite a spectacle.