Thursday 29 September 2016


I'm an avid follower of the news and have, like many others, taken a particular interest in the US Presidential race. So it came as something of a surprise to hear Donald Trump seemingly endorse BigLee for president. I never even knew he was a reader of this blog! It's even made the BBC News

I don't know whether to be honoured or horrified, Bigly. 

Enter #Bigly on twitter and this is what you get!!!

Bigly Presidential
One day we'll look back on this an laugh...but for now just hide the nuclear codes somewhere safe.

Saturday 24 September 2016

Wargamer vs The Elements: A Battle Report

It was a sunny Saturday morning in 2016 and the weary wargamer (me) had been hatching a plan. I had all the raw materials for some terrain work and now saw an opportunity to forego the housework in favour of some groundwork. My felt gaming mat and some styrene hills were going to get a desert makeover and today the weather looked bright and dry enough for the repainting to take place out in the garden. 

Thus was set the scene for an epic struggle between the time starved wargamer and the elements. 

Order of Battle
One wargamer (wielding three cans of spray paint)


A Gentle Breeze (that might as well have been force 9 for the destruction it wrought)

The Action
I used car spray paint for this project, selecting three beige colours that would compliment the sand colour of my felt game mat. I started with the darkest colour and worked my way through to the lightest until I was happy with the result. I also painted my collection of Styrene hills from TSS in the same style. 

Needless to say using spray paints inside the house would have brought down the deserved wrath of my wife, so I decided to spray the mat and my styrene hills out in the garden. However the supposedly 'gentle' breeze played havoc with my plans. 

And wind blow leaves and sycamore seeds didn't help either.

My plain sand coloured felt mat is ideal for draping over my small games table or laying out on larger ones, but was rather plain so it needed a little bit of a makeover. The finished effect is better seen indoors but this is what it looked like when I had finished. 
Exhausted victory! 
I need a man cave, preferably shed shaped. 

Tuesday 20 September 2016

1940's at Chatham Dockyards

On Sunday the family and I spent a day at Chatham Dockyards for their 1940's weekend. This is a quite varied event and is as much about music, antiques and shopping as militaria. And of course the whole event is situated within the Chatham Historic Dockyard which is itself a massive museum filled with amazing exhibits. 

Another fun day at Chatham Docks

The site is massive (extending way beyond this photo) and includes some amazing exhibits.

A Cheiftain AVRE, part of the REME 'Big Exhibits' collection. 

Midget submarine XE8 'Expunger' built for Royal Navy 1944

HMS Cavalier is a retired C-class destroyer of the Royal Navy and a veteran of the Arctic Convoys.

Two LRDG Jeeps fully kitted out and excellently restored.

A model of the Chatham Docks showing how it would have looked c1855

Ropes have been made at Chatham historic dockyard since 1618. 

The Submarine Museum has a whole series of excellent model of ships built at Chatham

1940's period singers The Polka Dots are driven around the site before a show.

Re-enactors, using authentic period equipment gave a real  1940's flavour to the event. 

Model ships.

When it was built in 1838 this immense covered slip was Europe's largest wide span timber structure.

This Victorian railway carriage was used by General Kitchener in the Sudan
On board ‘Overlord’, a railway locomotive used in the D Day landings. 

The only downside of attending this event was that I missed the Skirmish Toy Soldier show in Sidcup. An unfortunate clash of family calenders meant we could only do the Chatham event on the Sunday. Having said that this is probably the last Living History event I will do this year with the family, and I still have SELWG Wargames show to look forward to next month for my hobby fix. 

Monday 19 September 2016

Preparing for the Winter offensive

Not a lot of painting has been done at BLMA HQ recently. Four units of Gauls are sitting on my desk and have been for a couple of weeks. I started them but haven't had the time (or the energy) to continue...I will slap on some extra paint this week and I'm sure once I restart things will move along. However before I do this I decided to distract myself buying some more miniatures! Its OK, I've not completely lost my mind, I have a plan....

My recent purchases are phase one of my Winter Offensive (meaning the Analogue Challenge Winter Challenge). This year I want to go into the challenge prepared and with a proper plan of attack. I know that as usual time will be limited - possibly more so than last year - so the more I can do before the challenge starts the better. We can prep and undercoat our mini's before the Challenge begins, we just can't start painting them. Some of the figures I have in mind will need a LOT of prep beforehand and if I can this done before I start all the better to hit my target. 

So what is my plan and what have I bought? I'm determined to skip the bonus rounds not because I don't enjoy them - I always enjoy seeing the submissions of fellow challengers - but I find them too much of a distraction from the task of completing models I will actually game with. Instead I am going into this years Challenge with three armies to paint for both my WWII North Africa project and for my growing collection of ancient farces for use with the To The Strongest rules. 

North Africa - I am planning on painting British and Italian tank companies for Operation Compass (General Wavells 1940 offensive against the Italians in western Egypt and Libya). Initially I planned on buying these from GHQ as the quality of their micro-armour is outstanding, unfortunately the price is too. My order would have topped off over £150 and that gave me pause for thought. So I checked out the ranges offered by H&R and was able to buy the same force for the princely sum of £27. Needless to say the miser in me went for the cheaper option! 

Pyrric Army - The other models I have bought are an extension of my ancients collection. I have decided to give my Polybian Romans someone else to fight, aside from the Carthaginian's. I have long wanted to paint some units of Macedonian Phalangitai and in the end I opted to build an army around this objective. So I will be starting a Pyrric army in the early part of the period I have been working on. I have made more work for myself though as I have chosen to buy pikemen with 'open hands' and will use clipped dressmaking pins for the pikes. This is a lot of prep work (prep and undercoating can be completed before the challenge starts) and I have no idea how hard this may be or how long it will take, hence my desire to buy the models now, three months before the Painting Challenge starts.

I must be crazy, but I'm quite excited by all this expenditure. Clearly happiness is a growing lead mountain!

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Battle of Horn Reef- 1914

On Sunday Posties Rejects gathered in the shed-o-war for a WWI naval battle. For a change Stuart wasn't umpiring and we weren't using his models or rules. Instead John brought his collection of 1:2400 scale ships, some newly acquired Hex mats and his own rules for us to try out.

The Setup

The German Admiral plans to draw the British fleet out into the North Sea by setting a trap baited with a seemingly inferior force of German ships. The rest of the fleet is ready however to take full advantage of any rash response by the British. Unfortunately the tide is a factor the Germans must take into account as Sandbars restrict movement at the start of the game.

Order of Battle
German High Seas Fleet (Surjit and Ray)
   Helgoland (Battleship) 12" Guns
   Grosser Kurfurst (Battleship) 12" Guns
   Bayern (Battleship) 15" Guns
   Hannover (Pre Dreadnought) 11" Guns
   Schliesen (Pre Dreadnought) 11" Guns

   V45 (Torpedo Boat) 3" Guns + 4 Torpedoes
   B109 (Torpedo Boat) 3" Guns + 4 Torpedoes
   B110 (Torpedo Boat) 3" Guns + 4 Torpedoes
   Sayolitz (Battle Cruiser) 11" Guns
   Lutzoli (Battle Cruiser) 12" Guns
   Leipzig (Light Cruiser) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Nurnberg  (Light Cruiser) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes

British Grand Fleet (BigLee and Postie)
   Ajax (Battleship) 13.5" Guns
   Benbow  (Battleship) 13.5" Guns
   Ramillies  (Battleship) 15" Guns
   Thunderer  (Battleship) 13.5" Guns
   Britania (Pre Dreadnought) 12" Guns
   Inflexible (Battle Cruiser) 12" Guns
   Indomitable (Battle Cruiser) 12" Guns
   Tiger  (Battle Cruiser) 12" Guns

   Monmouth (Armoured Cruiser) 6" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Glouchester (Light Cruiser) 6" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Rifleman (Destroyer) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Fury (Destroyer) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Africa (Pre Dreadnought) 12"
   Liverpool (Light Cruiser) 6" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Mameluke (Destroyer) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes
   Oberon (Destroyer) 4" Guns + 2 Torpedoes

The Action
The vast open ocean (well North Sea) courtesy of Tinywargames. John got a deal on three mats and they looked excellent. The hexes are very subtle but clear enough to make movement and targeting easy. The German High Seas Fleets Destroyer group hopes to draw the British towards the big guns of the Battleships. 

Two groups of British Destroyers are heading towards the Germans...but at this point haven't spotted them.

The German big ships must spend the first few turns unable to move until the tide rises.

The British Destroyers and Light Cruisers spot the Germans and train their guns on the enemy.

The first target, the German Torpedo Boat B110. The waterspouts represent targeting by British ships. The British hit on a roll of 8 on 2 six sided dice. The Germans only need to roll 7. However once an enemy vessel has been targeted and hit, providing the shooting vessel doesn't change its target next turn, the to-hit roll drops to 4. 

The two destroyer groups edge closer to each other and the British start to open fire.

The basic rules are very easy to master. Movement, targeting, resolving fire and then start again. Simples!

The British make a mistake...they get within torpedo range of the Germans and several Torpedoes head towards the Brits. John was going to use string to show the Torpedo tracks but these refused to lay in a straight line! Pencils were used instead but in the end lengths of Pipe Cleaner were used (look at later pictures). 

The fight ins't one sided though and the German Torpedo Boat S56 is hit by gunfire and catches fire. Fortunately the German fire control teams are very good at their job and the fire is put out the same turn.

More Torpedoes speed towards the British ships. However the HMS Fury destroys the S53 with one Broadside and the S56 succumbs to the gunfire of the HMS Rifleman. However the Glouchester has taken serious damage and is reduced to slow speed. The Mamaluke also suffers serious damage from Torpedoes and is also reduced to minimal movement. 

The German Destroyer and Torpedo Boats decide to start pulling away from the British ships...but one more turn of shooting first.

Yet more Torpedoes streak through the water. 

The Liverpool and the S54 have been battling it out for a while now. The German boat launches a Torpedo and the Liverpool opens with its guns. Both ships are destroyed in a double explosion that lights up the sky. 

The German Battle-cruiser fleet is finally starting to make its way towards the area of the battle. This group of ships are massive, sporting huge guns and lots of armour. 

At the Far end of the table two groups of German ships head towards the battle area. I couldn't figure out why the German players didn't immediately manoeuvre these two fleets to join up but we later found out that they couldn't do this. That entire end of the table (on the smaller mat seen at the far end of the table) was Mined and only two clear channels were available to the Germans. Once past the minefield they quickly regrouped, along with the remaining Torpedo Boats and Destroyers that had survived the earlier encounter with the British.

Meanwhile the British main Battleship fleet is also steaming towards the same area of sea. 

The British and German fleets starts to circle each other slowly getting closer. The German commanders manage to get their ships in a right mess (Surjit, I'm looking at you!). The British fleet is better handled and begins getting into a battle line. 

Disaster, the first Salvo of the big guns sees the HMS Indefatigable is blown out of the water! (the black marker in the centre of the line is an oil slick).

Return fire deals damage to many of the German ships but its not nearly enough to deal a deathly blow to the enemy. 

A lone German Torpedo boat manages to get up close for a final Torpedo run! Brazen but worth if for the Germans at this deals out yet more damage to the British fleet. 

The HMS Thunderer is taking a bashing. The dice shows that one turret has been destroyed and now the ship is on fire. The control teams fail to put out the fire so next turn the roll will be harder. But this is the point at which darkness forces both sides to break off. 

Two happy German Admirals. Their handling of the fleet could have been better but their gunnery was much better than the British. In particular they used their Torpedo boats more effectively and were able to claim a victory at the end of the game.

HMS Thunderer
This was a disappointing result for the British. We failed to use our own Torpedo capability properly and I think this cost us the battle. We also had more than our fair share of bad luck and bad dice...although to be fair it seemed to be Postie that was cursed this game rather than me for a change. All in all a fun game and a simple but very effective set of rules. We were able to play out 17 turns of action over about six hours.

On a personal note, I enjoyed playing the British an in particular handling the HMS Thunderer. This was the last big warship to be built at the Thames Ironworks in Canning Town and my Great Great Great Great Grandfather was part of the workforce that built her. After construction the vessel was moved down river to Dagenham (where I now live) to be fitted out and armed.

Thunderer's launch from the Thames Ironworks at Bow Creek, Canning Town in 1911

Being fitted out at Dagenham. Thunderer Jetty is still in use today, albeit for a smaller class of vessel!