Monday 30 September 2013

Three Inch Brush

Posties Rejects gathered for a game at the weekend. Unfortunately I couldn't attend as I had made a prior promise to get a load of painting done. So instead of rolling terrible dice and having a laugh in Posties Shed-o-War I spent the whole weekend painting...  with a 3" brush. Yes, my promises to get some DIY done in the house finally came home to roost and I had to make good on my word. This weekend I was just focusing on the entrance Porch but despite being the smallest room in the house it took the best part of a week to clear & prep and the whole weekend to plaster and paint. Still, the job is done now. I've earned a bucket load of Brownie Points with Mrs BigLee and we've cleared another corner of the house of stuff we should have thrown out years ago (It's amazing how much detritus accumulates in the house over the course of 21 years of marriage!). 

So that's it really. Nothing else to report. Despite having a painting to-do list as long as my arm I never got near any of my projects this weekend, so I don't actually have anything to post about. No doubt this 'non-event post' will elicit a grumpy comment from the Angry Lurker but I don't mind.* Come to think of it, maybe he should change his Screen Name and become the Grumpy Lurker instead. What do you think?

The Angry Lurker?

...or the Grumpy Lurker?

*I'm feeling a bit mischievous this morning. Does it show? 

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Reenactors in WWI Uniform

I forgot to post these pictures last week and thought they would be of interest to WWI players. I took these at a very small event at Damyns Hall Aerodrome (they host a much larger event in the summer) a couple of weeks ago. The 10th Essex Regiment Living History Group put on a fine display despite the cold wind that drove most sensible visitors inside for a hot cuppa. Thankfully I'm not sensible and I stayed outside for their display which included a review of the kit they carried and an example of bayonet drill. 

Interestingly the group took part in the making of a short film last year (embeded below) and there is a great article on their website about the filming with some excellent pictures from the shoot.

Tuesday 24 September 2013

1940's Weekend at Chatham Docks

Its getting a bit late in the year and as the weather begins to turn colder so that fairweather breed, the Reenactor, starts to pack away their gear for another year. The living history season isn't completely over just yet but all the major events that I attend have now run their course. The last of the year (for me at least) will almost certainly be the Chatham Docks 1940's weekend that I attended on Sunday. It's a nice one to finish on - if the weather plays ball - because its a family oriented and varied event with everything from military vehicles to 1940's fashions and all within the grounds of Chatham Docks which is itself an excellent museum. 

As usual I took my camera, although the grey weather made photographing the Spitfire flyover a bit challenging. Here's a selection of my pictures. 

British 3.7" Mobile Anti-Aircraft Gun (c.1942)
QF 40mm Mk 1* (c.1943)
A beautiful Austin Six
Chieftain AVRE, Mine Plough & Trailer
A Replica (static display) Spitfire
Period fire engines attended several 'incidents' during the day
A view across Chatham Docks towards the huge Slip 3 building which houses part of the Royal Engineers Museums collection including the D Day locomotive ‘Overlord’.
View from the bridge of the WWII Destroyer, Cavalier which served in the Arctic Convoys. 
40mm Bofors Single Mk VII, one of two on each side of the Cavalier
Shells for the 40mm Bofors
40mm Bofors Single Mk VII
A Jeep from the Long Range Desert Group
A Parade of vehicles
A beautifully restored Chevrolet Stylemaster US Navy Staff Car
A reenactor 'working' on a replica Hurricane
Patton reviews the troops
A Pearly King entertains the visitors with a redition of  'The Lambeth Walk
The MkIX Spitfire 'Spirit of Kent' gives a victory salute to Chatham Docks despite the low cloud. 
The weather was a bit grey throughout the day but it wasn't cold and at least it stayed dry. There are a couple of late Air Shows still to come in the UK but I won't be going to any of these so as already stated this will almost certainly be my last living history event of the year. 

Thursday 19 September 2013

Misleading Maps

I have started work planning for my first game for The Rejects. I've not really umpired a game before so this is a big leap into the unknown for me, but one that I promised I would do before the year was out. I can't give away too many details at this stage but I can say it'll be set in North Africa during one of the series of battles that occurred around the El Alamein area of Egypt between July & Nov 1942. There were three major battles during this period and I have settled on one particularly crucial engagement of one particular battle...but I'm not saying which until after I have run it for the guys.

"I think we may be lost"
I launched into the planning stages earlier in the week and I very soon realised that I have a lot of work to do. I have already started making some custom terrain for this game and I've ordered some scenery specific to this battlefield from a supplier in the US. I still have some painting to get finished and I'm sure I'll end up adding a few more units to the Order of Battle as the game approaches. For obvious reasons I don't want to reveal too many details but rest assured I'll be taking pictures and will post more details after we have had the game.

So far the biggest problem I have encountered (other than the shear amount of work I have set myself) has been pinning down the details of the battlefield. I found eight maps of differing quality and detail that showed the area I wanted to focus on but some of the details vary enormously from map to map. I even tried looking up the area in Google Earth only to find the screen filled with an apparently barren stretch of desert with absolutely no features whatsoever! After discarding the most simplistic maps as being far too vague I was eventually able to recreate the topography of the battlefield by combining the details from the maps that remained. This took quite a bit of time as some of the 'features' of the battlefield appear to move depending on which map you look at!

I have now settled on the layout for the game, but I have had to use quite a bit of poetic licence with the exact placement of topographical features. For a start I have condensed a battlefield that actually covered several miles to an area that four companies can fight over (I guess at most one mile). But given that few of the maps I have referenced seemed to be able to agree on the exact placement of some features I'm not going to stress too much over my rearrangement of the field of battle.

My posting schedule for the next few weeks may drop off a little, mainly because I will be focusing all my efforts on preparing for this game. It's all very hush-hush but rest assure that I'll be working hard in the background building terrain, painting models, writing player briefings and above all studying the rules! 

Sunday 15 September 2013

The Battle of the Islands

Over the weekend a few of Posties Rejects gathered in the Shed-o-War for something a little different from our usual fare. Postie dusted off his Napoleonic ships and hex tiles for a game called Man-o-War. I think these are another one of Posties own 'customised' rule sets that are simple to play and quick to learn. They certainly gave all of us pause for thought and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the game (although some enjoyed it more than others for reasons that will soon come clear). One of the best aspects of these rules was that there was minimal dice rolling and most of that was just to determine the location of, rather than how much, damage was inflicted.

Setting the Scene
28th August 1793 - Somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea a French Fleet is on patrol trying to stop any British ships from coming to the aid of Toulon which is being surrounded by French forces. The game begins with both forces blindly heading towards each other...who will spot who first?

Order of Battle
British (Richard & John)
Ville de Paris - 110 Gun Ship of the Line  (Flagship)
Thunderer - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Tanais - 38 Gun Frigate
Africa - 64 Gun Ship of the Line

Canopus - 80 Gun Ship of the Line  (Commodore)
Implacable - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Glatton - 54 Gun Ship of the Line
Empervier - 16 Gun Brig

French (Surjit & BigLee)
Commerci de Marseilles - 120 Gun Ship of the Line (Flagship)
Le Pompee - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Le Rivoli - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
La Pomone - 40 Gun Frigate

Le Hoche - 76 Gun Ship of the Line (Chef d'escadne)
Le Superbe - 74 Gun Ship of the Line
Mars - 20 Gun Corvette
Duguay-Troven - 74 Gun Ship of the Line

The models used are 1:2000th scale and I am told most (possibly all) are from the NavWar range of white metal models. All were painted by Postie.

The Action
The game was played out on an 8'x10' table using plastic hex terrain.

The French fleet (foreground) and British fleet converge while Postie explains the basics of the rules to the two British commanders.
The French Fleet in two neat wouldn't stay in formation for long.
The French Admiral diverges from his own plan to attack a British Frigate with three Ships of the Line. 
The french sub commander (me) however stays in line. I know this is the best formation to be in, and at this stage of the game we had the Weather Gage (the wind was in our favour). 
The British and French Frigates, Tannis and La Pomone engage each other and both vessels are damaged. The Tannis is eventually sunk but the French effort to achieve this has split its fleet and sent each squadron heading in a different direction (that's what happens when your admiral drives his line of ships into the path of yours).
 The French Admiral is now heading SW while my squadron is heading north again. Then the wind changes direction fortuitously giving the French Admiral the weather gauge. The Commodore (me) attempts to turn to port before his squadron is blown too far North to join the action, but the Admiral overrules him!!!! Rather than mutiny I continue North but I know that it will take me ages (sailing into the wind) to get back into the battle.    
Despite loosing the wind the British move into the attack anyway because they know they are effectively only fighting half the French fleet.  Its will still be tough fight but the battle is now theirs to loose.
The French Admiral shows his inexperience (sorry Surj) and sails his flagship Commerci de Marseillis down the whole British line taking heavy damage from broadside after broadside from the British. Holed below the water line the French flagship struggles to stay afloat and in the battle. The hopes of the French fleet however are dashed when the tiny British Brig Empervier (with a mere 16 guns) inflicts the coup de grâce and sinks the Flagship.  
Now the British ships turn their guns on the Le Pomone and pound her mercilessly (ooer missus!). She is soon on fire, with many of her guns destroyed and missing a mast. There is still plenty of fight left in her yet though.
British commodore Richard directs his ships. Richard is normally what I would
describe as the Gentleman Wargamer (especially when compared to the other
Rejects) but I saw a whole other side to him in this game!
My Squadron is trying to work it's way into the battle but sailing into the wind means I have very limited movement or maneuverability. It was incredibly frustrating only being able to move one hex per turn and knowing that the battle would effectively be over by the time I reached it. 
The La Pomone has multiple holes below the waterline and is both sinking and on fire. In last desperate move she tries to ram the Thunderer but British seamanship beats french desperation any day of the week. The Pomone sinks shortly afterwards. 
My squadron arrives just in time to take some damage but is still struggling into the wind and at that point the Umpire calls it as a British Victory.
Two deserving winners. Richard and John handled their ships well, had a good strategy and most importantly use the wind to their advantage. Well done lads.
What can I say that won't offend my commanding officer? Next time I think a little mutiny might help our cause! For a change I can't blame defeat on the dice rolls because this rule system uses relatively few. I can't even pass it off as a case of our plan not surviving contact with the enemy, because for the most part I don't think we had a plan. All I can say is that we (meaning me and Surj) learnt a lot in this game, especially the need to think several moves ahead and to take the wind direction into account of everything you do or plan to do. Fighting into the wind is exceptionally hard and, as we found out, it is all too easy for the enemy to divide your forces and destroy you piecemeal. 

Despite the defeat I would relish the opportunity to give these rules another go and I hope to earn my sea legs in a future game. At the very least I would like to have a chance to go down fighting instead of spending the game tacking into the wind like it was the Americas bleedin' Cup.

Thursday 12 September 2013

Cluttered Workbench

It's been a while since I last posted pictures of a completed project....and today isn't going to be any different! My apparent inaction is partly due to having had a very busy, and very hot, summer. Like many other wargaming bloggers out there the hot evenings and the kids summer holidays just made getting anything completed really hard work. It also doesn't help that my current project (a whole Afrikakorp Motorised Infantry Company) is quite large and is therefore taking a long time to work through.

I am making a little progress each evening, and now that I have overcome the inertia I feel whenever starting something new, the project is moving along steadily if not rapidly. In fact I'm already looking ahead to the next project with several terrain building ideas floating around at the thinkin'bout it stage. My main objective however is to start planning and preparing to put a game on for the Rejects before the year is out. I haven't umpired for the group before and I have to admit its quite a daunting prospect! I certainly have my work cut out over the next few weeks. 

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Below Average

My dice rolling is bad, really really bad. And by that I mean 'defying the laws of physics' bad. In fact the situation has become so dire that the Rejects own Ray has taken to referring to me as "Poor Lee" rather than Big Lee (the git). I'm a normally rational bloke - I don't belive in 'luck' or 'fate' -  but my dice rolling performance is begining to make me wonder if I am cursed. I have another game this Saturday and I fully expect the dice to be just as goddamned awful as they have been in the last few games. So (more with a morbid sense of curiosity than hope) I decided to test my dice throwing mojo.

My methodology is simple. I will roll three different dice ten times each by hand and then repeating the same test using an electronic dice roller. Hardly scientific but it'll do for the puposes of this test.

So the first batch of real dice, rolled from my own cursed hands:
  • 10d20.... 2,4,7,2,8,15,1,5,4,3 - Average 5.1 
  • 10d10.... 1,1,4,2,5,9,3,1,5,2 - Average 3.3 
  • 10d6....   6,1,2,4,3,1,2,1,2,4 - Average 2.6
Dismal, by anyones standards. Now the same again this time a digital dice rolling programme, so no physical contact with any dice:
  • 10d20....  4,17,19,11,19,4,18,4,8,18 - Average 13.2 
  • 10d10....  8,2,9,9,2,9,10,7,6,8 - Average 7.0
  • 10d6....    6,5,4,6,6,2,1,6,4,4 - Average 4.4
Right. I think that confirms I am cursed! I may have to take drastic measures to rectify this, such as wearing gloves or using tongs to handle the dice so my hands don't come into contact and thereby infect them! I could get someone else to throw the dice for me but them I might as well not take part. Another option would be to shake the dice in a clear plastic box with a lid so I can 'roll' without touching them. My personal favourite option however is a bit more extreme but a lot more satisfying. Threatening dire consequences if the dice misbehave. Such as....

Purged by fire!    (source)
Shot at dawn    (source)
Setting them adrift    (source)
Diecicles!    (source)
Pulverised for bad behaviour     (source)
Made to watch while their buddy is executed    (source)
Ground underfoot    (source)
Driller Killer    (source)

You know your dice are bad when you start having psychotic fantasies about destroying them!