Saturday, 22 October 2016

Miniature Wargames Issue 403

My copy of the November issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered on Thursday afternoon. It is the first issue to be published since Henry Hyde left and John Treadaway took over as editor, and I must admit that I opened it with some trepidation. It had the words 'NEW LOOK' emblazoned in the top left-hand corner of the cover, and the cover showed that it was now being laid out in a very different style from that used by Henry.

I need not have worried. The magazine may look different, but the content hasn't changed that much and I don't think that I will cancelling my subscription just yet.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer by Iain Fuller
  • Wargaming my way by Noel Williams
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Dreadnought Battlefleet by Martin Pike
  • The Battle of Crete by Jeff Brown
  • Back to Back Wargaming by Jim Webster
  • Competition
  • Critical Hits
    • Fantasy Facts
    • New Release
    • Frostgrave in-depth
    • Panzerfauste in-depth
    • What we're playing: Bushido
  • Simple Ancient Rules: Belli Minimi by Harry Pearson
  • Recce
  • Painting toy tanks in double quick time by John Treadaway
  • Teddy O'Rorke: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: WAR – The history of Warfare
  • Club Directory
My only criticism is that the number of pages allocated to Fantasy – an area of wargaming that does not particularly interest me – has been increased but this has been done by expanding the magazine and not by reducing the amount of space used to cover more conventional wargaming ... so I do not feel aggrieved at the change in any way.

My 'stand out' article of the issue is Conrad Kinch's Send three and fourpence because it describes his experience of using Tim Gow's and Bertrand Plastique's excellent LITTLE COLD WAR rules, and the way he has modified them for use with 1:72nd-scale figures and vehicles on a 6' x 6' 6" tabletop.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Nile River Gunboats 1882-1918

Yesterday's post included a copy of the latest offering from Osprey Publishing's New Vanguard series ... NILE RIVER GUNBOATS 1882-1918 (ISBN 978 1 4728 1476 0). It has been written by Angus Konstam and illustrated by Peter Dennis, and as a result I knew that would be very good value.

The book's contents include:
  • Introduction
  • The River
    • British interests on the Nile
  • Nile Gunboat Development
    • General Gordon's 'Penny Steamers'
    • Tamai-class gunboats
    • El-Zafir-class gunboats
    • Sultan-class gunboats
  • The Nile Gunboats
    • The 'Penny Steamers'
      • Other Khartoum gunboats
      • Later gunboats
      • Protection
      • Propulsion
      • Conditions on board
      • Firepower
  • Gunboats in action
    • The 1884-85 campaign
    • The 1896-98 campaign
  • Further Reading
  • Index
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to re-fight either of the Sudan campaigns as its coverage of the ships that were used and the service they gave is sufficiently detailed enough to satisfy all but the most ardent 'rivet counter'. I have been waiting for this book to be published ever since Osprey announced that it was being written ... and I am not disappointed by it in any way. The illustrations are excellent, and I must admit that seeing them made me give serious thought to setting aside my current Napoleonic project for a while whilst I scratch-built some Nile gunboats!

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Some opponents for my 'fine fellows': French Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs

I had intended to take a short break from my Napoleonic project ... but I hadn't cleared away all my painting gear and the storage box of yet-to-be-renovated French figures was on my tabletop ... so my good intentions came to naught.

As I already had several units of French Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in my collection, I decided to do a paint-conversion on some suitable figures in the storage box so that they would be a passable representation of the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs. The main differences in the uniforms are that the Imperial Guard Foot Chasseurs have:
  • No metal plate on the front of the bearskin
  • No embroidered fabric panel in the top of the bearskin
  • A bearskin plume that is red over green
  • Epaulettes that are green with red fringes
These changes were quite easy to include when I renovated the figures, and the results can be seen below.

These figures will serve alongside the Imperial Guard Foot Grenadiers in an Imperial Guard Infantry Division in my collection.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Maps from The Shadow Campaign books

I am always on the lookout for maps that might be suitable for use in wargames, and Django Wexler's THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS books contain several very useful ones.

In THE THOUSAND NAMES the map shows that part of the Vordan colony of Khandar in which the fighting takes place.

In THE SHADOW THRONE and THE PRICE OF VALOUR the action switches to Vordan, its neighbouring countries, and its capital, Vordan City, ...

... and in THE GUNS OF EMPIRE the map covers the area of Murnsk that the Vordans invade.

(The map names the area as Mursk but I suspect that it a typographical error as the country is referred to as Murnsk throughout the books.)

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

The Shadow Campaigns series by Django Wexler

As a child I was lucky enough to have THE HOBBIT and LORD OF THE RINGS read to me. (When I was a child in Junior school, teachers used to read stories to their class at the end of every day, and one year I had a teacher who read us THE HOBBIT followed by the recently-published LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.)

This early exposure to fantasy fiction rather soured my view of other books in the genre, especially after I re-read Tolkein's books when I was at college in the early 1970s. I suppose it was a case of 'I've read the best, why bother with the rest?' I have tried reading other fantasy novels - including EMPIRE OF FEAR by Brian Stableford, which features Edmund Cordery as one of its main protagonists - but until recently most seemed to be pale imitations of Tolkein's books.

(One book that did stand out as being an exception to this was JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELL by Susanna Clarke. It is set in an alternative/fantasy version of England during the Napoleonic era.)

My attitude to fantasy fiction changed when I chanced upon the short story THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler.

It was the first of his series of books that form THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS series. (I understand that they classed as being 'Musket and Magic' fantasy books.) Since then I have read each of books in the series as they have been published:

The stories are set in a time somewhat akin to the end of the eighteenth/beginning on the nineteenth century, and other than the magic element (and some more adult themes that probably make them unsuitable for younger readers) they can be read as the 'histories' of a number of imagi-nations. There are some obvious parallels with European history at that time (e.g. a revolution against a repressive regime; the invasion of a Russia-like country and the impact of fighting during its winter) and from slightly later (e.g. a colonial campaign in an Egypt-like colony). I understand that the writer – Django Wexler – has used European history to inspire elements of the plots in his books and that he is also a wargamer ... which might account for the way in which the battles that are featured in the stories are described.

Monday, 17 October 2016

My Napoleonic British Army

There are 230 figures in my British Napoleonic Army, and they are organised into five Infantry Divisions and three Cavalry Brigades plus several unattached units that will be used to reinforce any expeditionary force, for home defence, and for garrison duty.

The First Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (1st and 2nd Foot Guards and 1st and 2nd Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (1st Rifles), an Artillery unit (1st Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (2nd Rifles), an Artillery unit (2nd Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third (Highland) Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (8th (Highland), 9th (Highland), 10th (Highland), and 11th (Highland) Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (3rd Rifles), an Artillery unit (3rd Field Artillery Battery), and an officer on foot.

The Fourth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th Infantry Regiments), a unit of Rifles (4th Rifles), an Artillery unit (4th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Fifth Infantry Division comprises four Infantry units (3rd Foot Guards, 5th Infantry, 12th (Highland), and 17th Infantry Regiments), an Artillery unit (5th Field Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

(I have christened this Division 'The Orphans' as they are a mixture of all the Infantry Regiments that I had left over when I was organising my British Army.)

The First (Heavy) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Horse Guards), an Artillery unit (1st Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Second (Light) Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st and 2nd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (2nd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The Third Cavalry Brigade comprises two Cavalry units (1st Dragoons and 3rd Light Dragoons), an Artillery unit (3rd Horse Artillery Battery), and a mounted officer.

The rest of the British Army is made up of the following units:
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd (Highland), 4th (Highland) and 5th (Highland) Militia Infantry Regiments
  • 4th Horse Artillery Battery
  • 6th and 7th Field Artillery Batteries
  • The Commander-in-Chief and numerous supernumerary officers

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A new kid on the block?

A couple of days ago Greg Horne (The Duchy of Alzheim) and Stokes Schwartz (The Grand Duchy of Stollen) announced that they intend to publish a new, free wargames publication entitled THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK. They hope that each quarterly issue will include:
  • Three or four battle reports and/or scenarios per issue;
  • ‘How to ...’ articles;
  • Articles on game or campaign mechanisms;
  • Miscellaneous ‘fun’ articles.
The new publication will not include advertisements, articles aimed at supporting a particular game system or set of rules, reviews, potted historical articles, or what the editors refer to as wargames-related ‘navel-gazing’. It will be published in PDF format.

I’m always willing to support anything that helps to ‘spread the word’ when it comes to wargaming, and this publication will certainly be getting my support. In fact I’ve already signed up to be a recipient and may well offer them the odd article or two. If you are interested in receiving THE WARGAMER’S NOTEBOOK or writing for it, contact them via the following link.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

My final batch of 'fine fellows' is finished!

I have finally finished renovating, varnishing, and basing the British figures in my Napoleonic collection. They comprise of a second unit of Horse Guards, a third unit of Light Dragoons, and three Mounted officers.

One of the latter is a slightly repainted model of the Duke of Wellington. I did this so that I can use the figure to represent a different officer.

The next thing that I want to do before I begin work on the additional French figures in my collection is to organise my British Army into Divisions and Brigades.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th October 1936

The Popular Army established a system of Commissars (Political officers) for each unit.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Sad news

I have only just picked up the news that Jeff Hudelson (who was well-known by his tag, Bluebear Jeff, and for his excellent blogs, including Saxe-Bearstein) died on 2nd October after a long battle against cancer.

My condolences – and those of all wargamers who knew Jeff personally or via the Internet – go to his family. He will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.