Thursday, 29 September 2016

A few more 'fine fellows'

After a bit of a hiatus, I've resumed work on my Napoleonic project.

The latest additions to my British Napoleonic army include an Infantry unit and two units of Rifles.

The Infantry unit was made up from a number of figures that did not fit in with the majority of the rest of the British Infantry figures in my collection, and it is my intention to use them as Fencibles, Volunteers, or Militia.

Note: Fencibles were temporary units that were recruited to serve solely as garrison or home defence troops within Great Britain.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 29th September 1936

The Republican destroyer Almirante Juan Ferrandiz was sunk by the Nationalist cruiser Canarias during a naval battle off the coast near Gibraltar.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

I have been to ... the Banqueting House, Whitehall

After our visit to Horse Guards and the Household Cavalry Museum, Sue and I crossed the road to have a look around the Banqueting House.

The Banqueting House, Whitehall, is the only remaining building of the Palace of Whitehall. It was designed in 1619 by Inigo Jones in the Palladian style, and completed three years later at a cost of £15,618. In January 1649 King Charles I was executed on a scaffold built outside the Banqueting House, and this is commemorated by a bust of the King that is above the entrance to the building.

Our first stop on our brief visit was to the building's undercroft.

We then ascended the stairs to the main hall ...

... which is a double-height, double cube with ...

... a ceiling that was painted by Peter Paul Rubens during the last decade of his life.

The painting was commissioned by King Charles I and was entitled The Apotheosis of James I.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

The Men Who Would Be Kings

As wargamer with a long-time interest in Colonial wargaming, it follows that I would have to buy the latest offering from Osprey Wargames ... THE MEN WHO WOULD BE KINGS. The rules have been written by Daniel Mersey and were published last week by Osprey (ISBN 978 1 4728 1500 2).

I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon some months ago, and was a little upset when it began to be sold by other retailers ahead of the stated publication date. That said, I did pay a lower price as a result, and in some ways that mollified my feelings of annoyance.

The book is split into seven main chapters:
  1. Introduction
  2. Battle Rules
  3. Building a Field Force
  4. Optional Rules
  5. Playing against Mr Babbage
  6. Scenarios
  7. 24-point Starter Field Forces
It also included a single page Quick Reference Sheet inside the back cover.

In his introduction, Daniel Mersey has laid down his design objectives ... which is something that I wish a lot of other wargame designers would do as it helps readers to understand the decisions the designer has made with regard to the mechanisms they have used. I also like the fact that he has listed a large number of great films (including all my favourite Colonial films!) as part of what he calls 'essential research'.

The rules are split into subsections entitled:
  • Setting up a game
  • Organising your Field Force
  • Important rule conventions
  • Understanding unit profiles
  • Leaders
  • Unit basing, cohesion and facing
  • Terrain
  • What happens during each turn
  • Activating your units
  • Action: At the double
  • Action: Attack
  • Action: Fire
  • Action: Forming close order
  • Action: Going to ground
  • Action: Move
  • Action: Rally
  • Action: Skirmish
  • Action: Stand to
  • Action: Volley fire
  • Pinned units
  • Retreating
  • Ending the game
I found this structure very easy to follow, and it helped me to make sense of the rules and the game mechanisms.

The chapters that dealt with Building a Field Force and Optional Rules were very clear and concise, and as I was reading them I was mentally ticking off how I could use figures from my existing collection of Colonial figures with these rules.

As a mainly solo wargamer, I was particularly interested in reading the chapter entitled Playing against Mr Babbage, and having done so I can see myself using them – or something like them – at some time in the future.

I was less interested in the scenarios that are included in the book as I like my battles to form part of an evolving campaign. That said, they seem to be well thought out and would be an excellent starting point for novice Colonial wargamers and very suitable for experienced players who want to stage a 'one off' battle.

The 24-point Starter Field Forces are a list of basic armies for a variety of different Colonial conflicts, and it was particularly interesting to see that it was not just confined to British Colonial actions. The inclusion of Darkest Africa, French African wars, the Italian Invasion of Ethiopia, potential conflicts with Russia on the North West Frontier, the Old West, and The Pig War Gone Hot all show the range of warfare that fit under the Colonial banner. (I loved the fact that Danny and Peachey's Private Kafiristan Army is also listed, and that it draws its inspiration from the film that inspired the name of these rules!)

'Hats Off!' Two latter-day MEN WHO WOULD BE KINGS: myself (on the left) and Tony Hawkins (on the right) suitably attired at SALUTE 2003. We were running a participation Colonial wargame that used a set of rules that I had written.
Overall I think that the publication of these rules is likely to encourage an upsurge in interest in Colonial wargaming. They will not appeal to everyone, but they certainly meet the design brief set out in the introduction. Time will tell if they will supplant Larry Brom's THE SWORD AND THE FLAME as the most popular Colonial wargame rules in use. I hope not, as I think that both sets of rules have much to offer Colonial wargamers ... and I could even see wargamers buying and using both sets.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Nugget 293

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N293) from the printer earlier this morning, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments by late this afternoon.

I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print..

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the second issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can still do so if they want to. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website. A printed reminder was sent out some weeks ago to all of last year's subscribers who have not yet re-subscribed.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

I have been to ... the Household Cavalry Museum, Whitehall

After leaving the main Horse Guards building, Sue and I walked the very short distance to the Household Cavalry Museum. The entrance is located on the Horse Guards Parade side of the building, near to a statue of Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley, 1st Viscount Wolseley.

The rooms used to house the museum were originally part of the stables, and the floor is still cobbled in places.

The first exhibit tells the story of the Horse Guards building ...

... and is followed by one that explains the role played by the Household Cavalry in protecting the Queen.

A selection of the ceremonial uniforms used by the current Household Cavalry regiments is then displayed.

Visitors then pass into a section of the museum that had been part of the stable's stalls, and one can still see the working end of the stables through a large frosted glass panel.

Examples of the uniforms worn by the troopers and the tack used on the horses are on display in this section of the museum.

The final part of the museum covers the history of the regiments that make up the Household Cavalry.

It starts with the English Civil War ...

and then moves on to the Napoleonic Wars.

The nineteenth century saw the evolution of the modern ceremonial uniform worn by the Household Cavalry.

In the centre of this part of the display is a magnificent piece of regimental silver known as the Zetland Trophy. It was made in 1874 and represents the role played by the Blues at the Battle of Waterloo. It is topped by the figure of Mars, the god of war.

There are also several exhibits that relate to Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby, who was killed at the Battle of Abu Klea, including items of clothing that he wore whilst colonel of the Royal Horse Guards or Blues.

Just opposite is a tableau depicting the capture of the Eagle and Colour of the French 105th Regiment of the Line during the Battle of Waterloo ...

... and beneath it is the Earl of Uxbridge's wooden leg, which he had to wear after his leg was shot off during the closing stages of the battle. (William Paget was the son of Henry Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge. He commanded the British cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo and later became Field Marshal Henry William Paget, 1st Marquess of Anglesey. According to anecdote he was very close to Wellington when his leg was hit by a cannon ball, and exclaimed, 'By God, sir, I've lost my leg!' — to which Wellington said to have replied, 'By God, sir, so you have!'.)

The modern role of the Household Cavalry is not ignored, ...

... and the medals awarded to one member of the regiment shows how active they have been in recent years.

Almost the last item on show in the museum is a collection of Britains 54mm figures. They depict the Household Cavalry (both mounted and dismounted) as well as representatives of the Foot Guards.

If you are in the Westminster area of London and have an hour to spare, I would recommend a visit to this excellent small military museum.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 402

My copy the October issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine was delivered on Friday afternoon, and despite having been ill with a gastric flu bug for some days, I have now managed to read it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • World Wide Wargaming by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Henry Hyde
  • Spanish Walls: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts by John Treadaway
  • Prelude to Kursk: Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time: Part Six by Andrew Rolph
  • Memoir 1643: A regiment-level game for small ECW battles by Arthur Harman
  • Grenouisse at bay part 4: The Wars of the Faltenian Succession climax by Henry Hyde
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer-Barnes
  • Wargaming my way by Norman Smith
  • Little Wars: The First Miniature Wargames by Benjamin Bourn
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde
  • The Other Partizan 2016 by Neil Shuck
  • It's the little things: The joys of small scale gaming by Craig Armstrong
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Recce
This was a real bumper issue from my point of view. Arthur Harman's Memoir 1643 rules (which were based on my MEMOIR OF BATTLE rules) was excellent, and I really enjoyed the last of Andrew Rolph's Fighting the Great Patriotic War one battle at a time articles. Likewise the final part of Grenouisse at bay brought Henry Hyde's wonderful campaign report to an interesting end, and as I follow Norman Smith's blog, his article Wargaming my way was a 'must read'. In addition to all that, Conrad Kinch's thoughts about running/organising good multi-player wargames were very well presented. Finally, although I would take issue with the description that Little Wars were 'The First Miniature Wargames' (I can think of several wargames that used toy soldiers that pre-date it!), I never tire of looking at pictures of H G Wells's battles.

This is the last issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine to be edited by Henry Hyde. In my opinion he took a rather jaded and poorly produced magazine and turned it into something that was vibrant and well laid-out. I hope that the new editor – John Treadaway – will be able to build on the solid foundations that Henry has created, and that I will continue to look forward to receiving my copy of what will now just be called MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

I have been to ... Horse Guards, Whitehall

On Saturday 17th September, Sue and I visited Horse Guards in Whitehall, London. This building is usually inaccessible to members of the general public, but over the weekend of 17th - 18th September it was open as part of OPEN HOUSE LONDON.

Until 1904 the building was used as the offices of the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, when it was then occupied by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS). Two years later the CIGS moved to new offices in the Old War Office Building, and Horse Guards became the headquarters of London District and the Household Cavalry. It is currently used as the headquarters of London District and the Household Division.

We travelled up to Westminster by Jubilee Line from North Greenwich station, and emerged from the Parliament Street exit. We then walked up towards Whitehall, passing the Treasury, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, and the end of Downing Street. The building was not going to be open to visitors until 10.00am, and we arrived at the Whitehall entrance of Horse Guards at 9.45am.

As we passed through the archway in the centre of the building we saw a dismounted sentry of the Life Guards on guard by the door into the left-hand building.

Once on Horse Guards Parade, we joined the queue to go in. The arrangement was for parties of twenty people at a time to be escorted around the building, and we had to wait until just before 11.00am before we reached the archway.

Whilst we were being given a short briefing about what we would see during our visit, the Changing of the Guard ceremony took place, and we had to stand to one side to allow the mounted troopers of the Life Guards to pass through the central archway.

Our escort was a recalled Reserve Major of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment (who are known as 'The Tigers'). He gave us a brief history of the building before taking inside and down into the basement ...

... where the Cockpit was located! This was one of the rooms that dated back to the original Horse Guards building that was replaced by the existing building in the 1700s.

We were then taken up the main stairs in the central part of the building ...

... to the lobby that is located beneath the tower. The floor is decorated with a crest that bears the Latin inscription Septem Juncta In Uno (Seven joined in One). This is the motto of the Household Division, and makes reference to the fact that the division consists of seven units (the Household Cavalry, which is composed of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, and the Foot Guards, which is composed of the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, and the Welsh Guards).

Above us was the inside of the central clock tower ...

... and above one of the doors leading off the lobby was the date when the present building was constructed.

The first of the rooms off the lobby that we entered is currently used as a conference room.

It is lined with paintings, the most prominent being that of Major General Arthur Wellesley (later Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington) which was painted not long after the Battle of Seringapatam on 5th April 1799 ...

... and that of the two members of the Grenadier Guards – Brevet Major Sir Charles Russell and Private Antony Palmer – who won the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Inkerman.

The next room we visited was formerly that used by the Duke of Wellington when he had been Commander-in-Chief.

Amongst the items on display are a painting of General George Monck (1st Duke of Albemarle), ...

... a bust of the Duke of Wellington, ...

... and the pennant carried by the vehicle used by last Commanding Officer of 4th Guards Brigade.

We then made our way back downstairs, took leave of our guide, and went back out into Whitehall. Two members of the Blues and Royals were on mounted guard duty outside ...

... and despite the unwanted attentions of the crowds of tourists, the horses and the troopers behaved impeccably.