Wednesday 29 November 2017

Solo Wargaming

Following on from my recent Solo wargame I decided I would review my collection of books for advice and ideas on the subject. I have a wide but by no means comprehensive collection of books on wargaming and many of them include some advice on how to play solo games. Its been an interesting exercise to look at how the subject has been approached over the decades and maybe this has had something to do with changing fashions in our hobby. Most of these books can still be purchased (although you may need deep pockets for some of them!) and all are worth reading for ideas and inspiration. 



This is by no means a comprehensive list and is based purely on the books I already have in my collection. I'd be interested in any suggestions for further reading on the subject so if you know a great book please leave a comment below.

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Lots and lots of Zulu's

More Challenge prep and this time I'm returning to a historical setting with the Anglo Zulu War. I'll refrain from using that line from the film but it is what leaps to mind seeing these laid out. This is over 760 Baccus Zulu's and, would you believe it, I don't think I have enough!

This lot will get me started but I'm going to need double this at least so last night I ordered another Baccus Zulu Army Pack. Hopefully they will arrive quickly and can be prepared and undercoated before the Painting Challenge Starts.

Incidentally I have thrown my hat in the Analogue Painting Challenge ring (the call went out for entries yesterday) and I have set myself my most ambitious target to date. 1000pts isn't much compared to the output of some of the big beasts of years gone by, but its higher than my previous personal best so will really test my stamina... it isn't called a Challenge for nothing!  

Sunday 19 November 2017

Brooklands Military Vehicles Day

Yesterday I went to the Brooklands Motor Museum in Surrey for their Military Vehicle event. Its probably the last such event of the year for me and one that I haven't been to before so I was looking forward to it. I have been to Brooklands before though, a few years ago I was here for a corporate day with my old firm. When I and my boss finished the event we spent a couple of hours exploring the site before heading home, our 'official' reason for being there completely forgotten! This time I was able to take my time looking around the site and unlike my last visit I came equipped with a decent camera. 

Brooklands was the world's first purpose-built motor racing circuit. Local landowner Hugh Locke King wanted a race track but it was the design genius of Colonel H.C.L. Holden that saw it develop into the 3¼ mile concrete banked circuit that became synonymous with British motor racing. Work commenced in late 1906 and was completed in just nine months with the first race in July 1907. Very soon afterwards the site also began its long association with aircraft design and testingBAC, Bleriot, British Aerospace, Hawker, Sopwith and Vickers have all tested here and it is estimated that over 18,600 new aircraft of nearly 250 types were first flown, manufactured or assembled at Brooklands. (Source:

The museum boasts a wide range of exhibits, from its Aircraft Hanger; Workshops; Motoring Sheds including an exhibition of British Grand-Prix racing vehicles; a selection of aircraft including Concord outside; and of course the remaining sections of race track and banking which have recently been restored. The Military Vehicle rally was just the sort of excuse I needed to revisit this excellent museum and explore it properly. 

Bedford RL Recovery Vehicle

Bedford RL Recovery Vehicle

German BMW and sidecar in North Africa colours

Harrier Jump Jet

105mm Howitzer

Austin 7 Bomb Disposal Vehicle

Barnes Wallis 'Grand Slam' Bomb - 10 ton of awesomeness! 

Vickers Vimy Replica

'Aircraft Factory' display featuring a Wellington Bomber

The wellington has been restored but the skin left off so you can see the latticework frame designed by Barnes Wallis
Test Hill - This 1:8 Gradient is a tough challenge for some vehicles

The new 'Aircraft Factory' hanger

The Taureg was classed as a remote area patrol vehicle and was one of only two built to order for an unknown African or Arabian customer in 1978. 

M3A1 White Scout Car

Despite the cold weather it remained sunny all day ensuring a good day was had by all.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Skirmish at Isentium

Today I decided I needed a game come what may so I decided to give a solo game a try. I've not done much of this in the past but I think this may be the way forward for me. I've missed a lot of games with the Rejects this year due to unfortunate timing and illness and while I'm determined to rectify this I think a few home games on my day off work wont do me any harm. So today I decided to have a small solo game of To the Strongest!

I made up two small cavalry only forces from my Greek/Epirots and Polybian Roman armies. The scenario is that both sides are sending out small cavalry forces to scout a crossing point along a river for the main army. Both forces approach each other unawares on opposite sides of the bank of the river. The game starts as both sides spot each other. There are several fords in this area and lots of woods and small hills. Not ideal country for a major battle but certainly suitable ground for two scouting forces to have a go at each other. 

Order of Battle
Greek/Epirot Forces - General (Pyrrhus) Mounted
  Greek Allied Cavalry + Hero
  Greek Allied Cavalry + Hero
  Thessalian Cavalry + Hero
  Greek Light Cavalry + Hero
  Tarantine Light Cavalry (Veteran) + Hero
  Tarantine Light Cavalry (Veteran)
  (Total 60 Points)

Polybian Roman Cavalry Command - General Mounted, Detached, Senior, Brilliant
  Equites Romani + Hero
  Equites Romani
  Equites Latini
  Equites Latini
  Equites Extraordinarii (Veteran) + Hero
  (Total 60 Points)

Opening Deployment with both sides approaching each other on opposite sides of the river. The game begins as both forces become aware of each other. 

The Roman commander decides to keep his forces together and heads immediately for a strategic crossing point. Meanwhile the Epirot commander, knowing he is numerically inferior, decides for a more risky strategy. He send his light cavalry in a wide flanking move to harass the Romans from behind as his veteran cavalry force the crossing. 

The Romans move fast but find some of their troops hemmed in by the river. This pauses the crossing as they try to reform

Meanwhile the Epirot leader has a terrible time just crossing the first ford. He looses valuable time getting hi forces across the river and only the Roman delay stops him from loosing the second crossing without a fight. 

The Romans have reformed and decide to let the Greeks have a go at crossing the ford.Roman Javelins are raised in readiness. 

The Greeks do not disappoint and charge across the Ford. Javelins darken the sky and...not a single hit results! 

Thessalian Cavalry battles it out in Melee with the Veteran Extrodinarii but it is the Romans that come off worse. For a moment it seems this crazy plan of Pyrrhus may actually work! But melee and an further exchange of Missiles wipes out the Thessalians before they have time to react. 

Now the Greek Allied Cavalry sweep in to attack the Ford and at their head is Pyrrhus himself. He knows that he needs to keep the Romans occupied at the ford while his flanking force gets into position. 

The Greek Light Cavalry make the upper ford and are now working behind the Romans. One good turn of luck and the Greeks plan will have worked. 

The Greek Cavalry at the Ford are forced back and their is a the Romans a chance to turn a couple of their rearward units around to deal with the Greek Light Cavalry that are coming up behind them. 

Now its the Turn of the Romans to cross the Ford. In one very successful round of melee they sweep away another Greek Unit and it looks like the door is finally open for them to cross and finish Pyrrhus. 

Meanwhile the Greek Light Cavalry try to use their speed and agility to hit-and-run the Romans but they fail to hit a thing with their Javelins (a recurring theme in this game!)

Its starting to look like a clear Roman victory as they pin down the flanking force and cross the ford. Pyrrhus should have thrown in the towel at this point!

The end. A combination of Latin Cavalry attacks and javelins destroys the last serious Greek Cavalry unit. Pyrrhus escapes with his life but leaves the best of his cavalry to be buried in Roman soil. 

The final positions. The Greeks have lost three heavy cavalry units while the Romans remain largely unscathed. 

Well that was fun. I honestly didn't know which way this was going for most of the battle but when the end came it happened in just a couple of turns. 

Saturday 11 November 2017

To the Strongest for the Anglo Zulu War

So the Zulu madness continues. For the last couple of months I have been tinkering with various ideas for a set of Zulu War rules. I started out conventionally enough by looking at lots of different rule sets that were already available. None felt right to me, especially for 6mm, and I reasoned that if I had to make significant adaptions to make a rule set fit 6mm wargaming then I may as well write my own (such an idiot!). Then a few weeks ago I read something on the To the Strongest forum pages that really piqued my interest. Someone else was working on a variant of the rules for colonial wargaming in the 19th Century.

Various conversations later, and an few photo's from Partizan that showed an early play-test of the rules in a demo game, and I am very very interested in this idea. TtS! is a very simple game to play but difficult to master. The basic mechanics of the game cut through a lot of the irritating complexities found in more 'realistic' games (ie they cause less arguments with Rules Lawyers!). The subtleties of the rules however make for interesting games and sometimes surprising outcomes, which is what I want from a game system. I can definitely see scope for the TtS! rules to be expanded into this period.

So have I written a set of TtS rules for the Zulu War? Err... no, not yet. I have lots of ideas (including several intriguing ones from that recent discussion on the TtS! Forum) but so far I haven't made any firm decisions other than to jot down some general ideas on paper. I have however had a go at deciding how to base my figures at long last. I used my paper troops that I printed a while back and put them on the bases I'm thinking of using. This is helping me to play around ideas before committing any cash to models and bases.

TtS! uses a grid system and the exact basing of troops does not need to conform to a particular design. This has freed me up to make some general basing decisions that suite my own aesthetic requirements for the game. I want big units and therefore a lower figure ratio is required but I also want to fit medium and large scale games on a reasonable sized table. 

Imperial troops, indeed all 'Europeans' will be based on 30x60mm bases (Baccus Standard). Formed units will be represented as double lines, skirmish units as single lines with Guns etc on 30x30 square bases and commanders on 20x20 square bases. Initially I was considering putting the Zulus on the same 30x60 bases but as these will be Extra Deep units I will make them up on 60x60 bases. Multiple bases will make up Zulu Regiments. This basing option means I'll end up with a figure ratio of about 1:5 so I can play medium sized battles on a regular table or big actions on the Rejects super sized gaming table in the shed-o-war.

I'll be tinkering with some the rules adaptions in coming weeks but I'm in no rush...especially as I know others are doing the same. If I prevaricate long enough someone else will eventually publish a supplement to the Standard rules and in the meantime I have a LOT of miniatures to paint.

Wednesday 8 November 2017

The Challenge Prep Begins

The long process of Prep'ing for the Analogue Challenge has begun, and I thought I'd start with a little something to get Ray's blood pumping! I bought these Martian Tripods earlier in the year from Pendraken when I briefly flirted with the idea of doing the Anglo Martian War of 1895 in 6mm. Ironically it was the asymmetric nature of the struggle that eventually put me off pursuing the idea. I say ironically because I eventually decided to do the Anglo Zulu War instead, another asymmetric conflict from a few years earlier and one that probably inspired H.G. Wells to write his most famous work. 

I'm waiting for some large round bases for the Tripods then I'll undercoat them ready for the Challenge. Although I have pinned all the legs they still feel too fragile not to base these models to dd some extra rigidity. No idea if these will ever end up on the games table but I'm looking forward to painting them non-the-less.  

This 'Guide' to the Anglo Martian War of 1895 is an excellent companion
to the H.G.Wells Novel.

Sunday 5 November 2017

Gaming my way to Happiness

One of the regular reasons wargamers often give for not indulging our hobbies is work, be that the type that earns money or the type that keep the house running. Many of us are busy trying to hold down a decent job - sometimes two! - just to make ends meet. And when we aren't making money for 'the Man' we have a list of household chores as long as your arm to deal with. Finding time to play with our toys can often be hard to justify. I'm sure most of us can cite many moments when the 'work/life balance' has tipped a little too far in favour of work and most of us can cope with that in the short term. But when this goes on without an end in sight it can be detrimental to our mental and physical health. I'm a firm believer in hobbies being an effective remedy for stress. 

I was recently sent on a Mindfulness course by my company and when I stopped laughing at this 'bunch of hippy nonsense' it did make me think about how I use my hobby as a distraction from everyday life. Without getting all metaphysical on you I think that having a passion or even an obsession that isn't work related is one way to clear the mind. The so call mindfulness coach I spent a 'delightful' afternoon with, believed that meditation was the answer to dealing with stress. I'd argue that concentrating on skillful activity - especially something utterly removed from your regular job - is a form of meditation, and the benefits are just as measurable. Before you think I've 'lost it', let me explain myself.

Grab a dictionary (or Google) and it will give a definition of meditation that will probably read something like this; the act of focusing ones mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting or music, for spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation. Well that pretty much sounds like a typical painting session to me. I get 'in the zone' by blocking out distractions such as the TV by listening to music. Some people find the sound of talking soothing and enjoy listening to Pod casts while they paint. The effect is the same as meditation, its about cancelling out other distractions and bringing focus to the hear and now.

Now having expounded the benefits of gaming as a means of stress relief I have to say the last few months have been a bit spartan in terms of painting and gaming for me. The reasons have been many, varied and often hard to define. The summer holidays are always a hard time to fit games in as many of our group have busy summer schedules. I've also missed several games with The Rejects and the last two games have had to be cancelled at the last minute. In fact I was supposed to have a game today but this has had to be cancelled because our glorious leader, host and umpire Postie is feeling under the weather. It can't be helped but I was rather looking forward to a game today and I have been talked into going shopping with the wife instead (eek!).

I've lost count how many times I have written about a slump in hobby activity but I know that the next few months will see things turned around. Over the winter we have the Analogue Painting Challenge and I'm trying to prepare as bast I can for that. I have a lot of figures that need to be mounted and primed before the starting pistol fires so I will be cracking on with this process in the next few days. I also have a bit of holiday time scheduled so hopefully as well as painting I can get a couple of games in with the Young Padawan. I may even get a few Solo games in, something I haven't indulged in much before. It'll be interesting to see if I can outwit myself... everyone else does.