Saturday, 27 May 2017

Is there anybody out there?

Been a week or two since I last tickled the ivories, due mainly to a stint of DIY and feeling guilty enough to do good works. Nevertheless, th'house moves ahead and we're we're on the home straight (gerrit?). Tony the Kitchen man (or it might have been his mate Dave) was a bit taken aback when he asked what we're going to do once we're got everything tickety boo and Chris , in an off handed way, said “We're going to die.” She's a dry one, that girl. Probably comes from too long working in mental health . . . .

Anyway, a bonus for little old me for all the piggin' around with plaster and paint is I've finally got a man cave. Nothing too ostentatious, but quite comfortable with enough room for most of my kit and room for a modest 6'x4' table. It'll no doubt evolve because there's a proviso that larger games will need to be in the garage which also houses the scenic stuff and the lead mountain. Still, better than I've ever had and I bet it would be a boon to the majority of gamers.

The Library

The Nerve Centre

The Troops (and such)

Young Henry has declared a limit on access: him, me, his Dad and Uncle Chris and absolutely no girls, except for Nana and Mum and maybe his mate Talula (!). I'm working on that one, but he's not six yet, so I think I've got time.

Tickled up some Confederate cavalry who've been skulking in the painting queue for a while and, after some experimentation, come down in favour of Black Powder for the rule set of choice for the 28mm units. That's for now and may change to Mr Lncoln's War – I'm like that. The 15mm armies will continue to scrap to Fire & Fury because I'm quite happy with them.

I'm still clearing up the ECW backlog (apparently, “The War of the Four Nations” nowadays). I'm going at a leisurely rate and I'm concentrating on the King's troops first, basing the core of the force on foot regiments recruited in North East England (cos I like it up there and it's got some good units), Cheshire (Chris' home county) and Lancashire (my home county). Alright, I know this means I have to include the Early of Derby's regiment and he was something of an oxygen thief, but anyone brought up in this neck of the woods will be familiar with the name (and a few others).

The good news is that Warfare Miniatures have confessed to the imminent release of some ECW?Thirty Years' War cavalry over the next couple of months, so that can't be bad. I'm a bit bored with the Perry range (lack of variety) and the Bicorne figures, although including some nice sets, are too big for my tastes (until proven otherwise). That leaves the fairly modest TAG range which are expensive, although their new subscription scheme looks like it will reduce costs.

So, there you go. I shan't leave it so long next time and, to be honest, given Brexit, Trump, a regional mayor not that may people want and a general election which is turning into a Brian Rix production, wargaming is a blessed escape. I'll be back – one day.

(Title is a track from Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' album, if anybody's interested . . . . anyone spot another reference?)

Sunday, 26 February 2017


Struggling manfully to get a post in, but, you know how it is eh?

In the meantime, a quote from the film 'T2: Trainspotting', which reflects a lot of what many people call 'life':

"Choose life. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, wishing you'd done it all differently. And choose watching history repeat itself. Choose your future. Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn. Choose a zero-hour contract, a two hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's kitchen. And then... take a deep breath. You're an addict. So be addicted, just be addicted to something else. Choose the ones you love. Choose your future. Choose life."


Should be on Radio4's 'Thought for the Day'

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Painting the Clouds with Sunshine

Writing this exactly a week before Christmas at the time of year you realise the Christmas card list has been subject to the attentions of the Grim Reaper. To quote Flight Officer David Campbell in ‘The Longest Day’, “I don’t mind being one of the few; trouble is, we keep getting fewer”.

There’s an element of entertainment too, like seeing who hasn’t sent you a card by a particular cut-off date and then sending them a card on the last possible posting date before Christmas, when they have no possibility of send you one in return. If they had actually intended to send you a card, but got delayed or distracted (it happens), you have the satisfaction of imagining their guilt and if they hadn’t intended to send you one, then you have the moral (or game) advantage for the coming year while you decide on the tactics for Christmas 2017. Of course, that could be another reason why my list gets smaller each year . . . 

However, enough of this and on with quick summary of what I’m working on at the moment. I’ve included below a few photos of some of the command figures which will make up The Marquis of Winchester’s Foot:

They’re all Perry with a few Foundry mixed in and were originally intended for The King’s Lifeguard of Foot but for two reasons: everybody’s got that regiment and Charles was a thoroughgoing dunce. However, I’m a fan of red coats, so I sought out another regiment that would fit the bill. I already have plans for a couple of such regiments, but, as the pike figures are particularly well equipped, I thought this unit ought to represent one formed by someone with access to his own source of arms or wealthy enough to buy in sufficient arms and armour from the Continent. A certain John Paulet, 5th Marquess of Winchester fitted the bill nicely, being a particularly wealthy Royalist supporter who recruited his own foot and horse regiments for the King. 

Both units were quite modest, the Horse numbering around fifty troopers and the Foot only mustering around two hundred (but when has that ever bothered a wargamer?). However, the really attractive thing for me is the beautiful irony that neither regiment ever served in the field, both being engaged in the three sieges of Basing House, Winchester’s home. Basing House was a thorn in the side of the parliamentary armies as it commanded the main road from the West Country to London and, to make matters worse, had a reputation as a refuge for Royalists and Catholics. So, quite a famous unit with a famous patron and, to add to its prestige, Basing House was finally stormed in October 1643 by troops under Cromwell himself.

The Civil Wars often receive a sidelong glance from gamers and seem to have earned the reputation of being quite tame. It’s probably a good place here to mention that the storm and razing of Basing House involved a significant number of deaths among the defenders. Although atrocities against civilians during the Civil Wars weren’t common, aside from the attentions of passing armies, (Ireland was, I think, a different issue) and generally discouraged by both sides (if you ignore Bolton and a few other places and the King's 'Irish' troops might argue differently), the explanation may be the presence of a number of Catholic priests among the defenders. Interestingly, it later came as quite a shock to potential victims that Fairfax’s New Model Army was well disciplined and not given to the behaviour of other armies during the Wars.

Not satisified with ploughing through one regiment, I thought I might as well knock off two at once as they were stored in the same box and I could simply promote another of my ‘red’ regiments. So, the second lot I’m working on is Sir Thomas Tyldesley’s Foot which was raised in Lancashire (Hurrah!) and featured in some of the more famous actions of the Civil War. Oddly enough, one of these was the Storming of Bolton and subsequent massacre, so maybe I have a natural inclination for that sort of thing. However, unlike me, Tyldesley was extremely wealthy and raised regiments of horse, foot and dragoons for the King and began his service at Edgehill, which earned him his knighthood. 

Unlike Winchester’s regiment(s), this unit actually took the field and fought at quite a few engagements, including 1st Newbury, Nantwich and Marston Moor. Some command figures: