Friday 22 December 2017

Jingle Bells!!

Its Christmaaaassss! Which means the Challenge has started and for a change I'm hitting the ground running with no illness to scupper my opening week plans. My first entry is in keeping with the season (and the 'Monstrous' Theme) and is just a fun way to kick off my assault on my highest target to date. 

This 28mm Wargames Foundry model is full of character but when I first considered painting him I had the distinct impression this Orc Santa was looking at the floor rather than the viewer. I decided to make a slightly built up base for him that elevated the front of the figure slightly and improved the composition of the final model. Building the base and priming the model before the the challenge started saved me a lot of time and meant I could crack on with painting straight away for a quick opening entry (yes, that is permissible!). The finish touch was a layer of crisp snow, care of some Tamiya Diorama Texture Paint, which goes on like a paste but dries rock hard so its quite durable and really looks 'snow like'!

I've also started making significant progress on my first batch of 6mm Zulu's. I have all of next week off work and although I will have to do some stuff with my family I am also hoping to get in some significant painting time as well to kick start my Challenge.  

Sunday 17 December 2017

Battle of Tchorgoun 26th Sept 1854

On Saturday the Rejects gathered in the Shed-o-War for our last game of the year. This was a special event as we were being joined by Miles (of Lair of the Uber Geek fame) and for this Postie put on a real corker of a game. 

It is the 26th September 1854, the Battle of Alma was fought six days before and won by the British, French & Turkish allies. The beaten Russian army retreated back to Sevastopol to reorganise but has departed for fear of the main army in the area being trapped inside the town. Prince Menshikov has led his men to the open plains North East Sevastopol. 

Heading slowly south to invest Sevastopol the combined armies make what was known as the 'Flank March' to avoid the towns big guns, spending the night of 25th September in their encampment at Machenzies Farm and around the Traktir Bridge. The British, French and Turkish forces have decamped and are heading south to invest Sevastopol in a bid to secure the vital supply  ports of Balaclava and Kamiesh. 

The game is a 'What if' scenario; What if the Russian Army under Prince Menshikov had decided to threaten or attack the Allies on their Flank March. Scouts have spotted Russian troops gathering on the heights near the village of Tchorgoun not far from the Traktir Bridge. Lord Raglan being informed of the situation does not wish to be caught with his troops in march order, so orders those units which are close by to engage the Russian forces that are now in his rear and flank, while the rest of the army continues on its way. Mist hugs the battlefield and neither side can be completely sure where the enemy troops are at the start of the game...indeed some of their own units have become a little lost on the mist.

Order of Battle
Russians -  C/O Prince Menschikov (Overall Commander Miles)
  16th Div  c/o Lt Gen Kvetzinski (Miles)
     1st Battalion Vladimir (4), Susdal (4)
     2nd Battalion Uglutz (4), Kazan (4)
     2x Heavy Guns, 2x Light Guns
  17th Div c/o Lt Gen Kiriakov (Lee)
     3rd Battalion Moscow (4), Butirsk (4)
     Attached 6th Schutzen Battalion 
     1x Heavy Gun, 3x Light Guns
  6th Cavalry Div c/o Lt-Gen Ryzhov (Ian)
     6th Battalion  11th,12th Hussars
     6th Battalion 11th Uhlans (4Sqn), 53rd Don Cossacks
     2x Horse Artillery Light Guns
  Reserve 14th Geavy Gun & 14th Light Gun
(660 Infantry Figures, 78 Cavalry Figures & 12 Guns)

British - C/O Lord Raglan
  1st Div  c/o HRH The Duke of Cambridge
     1st Battalion Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Fusilier Guards
     2nd Battalion 42nd, 79th & 93rd Highlanders
     2x Medium Gun
  2nd Division  c/o Sir George Lacy Evans
     1st Battalion  41st, 47th & 49th Line
     2nd Battalion  30th, 55th & 95th Line
     2x Medium Guns
  Light Cavalry Division c/o Lord Lucan / Brigade c/o Earl of Cardigan
     Cavalry Battalion 8, 11th Hussars, 4th & 13th Light Dragoons, 17th Lancers
     1x Horse Artillery Light Gun
French - c/o Marshal St Arnoud
  1st Div c/o Canrobert
     1st Chasseurs aPiel, 1st Zouaves(2), 7th Line (3)
     1x Heavy Gun
  2nd Div c/o Basquet
     2nd Battalion 3rd Zouaves (2), Algerian Turcos (2)
     Light Cavalry Brigade   1st, 4th Chasseurs d'Afrique
     Heavy Cavalry Brigade  6th Curassiers, 6th Dragoons
     2x Medium Guns
Turkish c/o Suleiman Pasha
  1st Division c/o Selim Pasha
     1st Battalion  Line Battalions (6)
     2x Medium Guns
(426 Infantry Figures, 86 Cavalry Figures & 11 Guns)

The Action
The game started with the Russian 16th Division on the far left of the picture looking across the valley at a thin red line of British. My 17th Division are in the middle looking towards Elite french infantry. 

On the right side of the Russian line the battlefield was much more open, with Russian Cavalry and some Cossack's facing the British Light Cavalry Division. Postie can be seen explaining the forces arrayed to Ian (out of shot to the right). 

The Russian plan was deceptively simple; smash our columns into the Allied lines and hope we don't take too many casualties on the way in. Our Cavalry needed to keep the Allied cavalry occupied over on the right to keep them off my right flank. My division in the centre would keep the French busy and thereby stop Surjit from providing support to the British Division on the hill. This would isolate the British forces there, forcing them to fight alone and unsupported, which we hoped would maximise the chance of success for Miles' frontal assault on the left. The question was, would this work?

Miles division looks formidable and stares across the valley as just a handful of British units and a few medium guns. 

My Line units similarly have a large open plain to cross. Thankfully there is little by way of terrain here to complicate our advance. 

The game starts and after the Russian moves its the turn of the Allies. Here Surjit measures the movement of his French infantry. 

The French centre advancing means I can get into contact quicker, has Surjit over estimated the quality of his troops? 

The Russian advance presses forward and Miles was quick to move his guns up into effective range as quickly as possible. These four guns proved invaluable and dealt a lot of damage to the Allied line during the course of the game. 

Looking across from the British perspective... Postie is laying out much needed Russian reinforcements (more cavalry!) while Miles looks on and wonders why he volunteered to spend the day with such an unruly group of rejects! 

Postie places yet more Russian Cavalry reinforcements, while Ian looks utterly unimpressed and miserable. 

Now for some British reinforcements... a Battalion of Grenadier, Coldstream and Scots Fusilier Guards right where the Russians least wanted them! 

My Columns position themselves for a well times and coordinated assault. I move one of my light guns to shield the infantry and while it is knocked out quickly it buys my infantry another turn free from casualties and lets them get into position unscathed.  

Looking at the Russian advance and everything still looks quite won't be this tidy for long!

Miles takes a look at the game from the Allied perspective. 

Now the action begins as the Russians start to get within charge range. One column chases off the British gun on the left and another moves to secure the right flank. Russian guns have now set themselves into a position they will occupy for most of the game. 

My columns in the centre have reached charge range unscathed and in perfect order (amazingly!!). I use some skirmishers as a screen to protect my units from the French gun on the right while I move another column on the left as a shield for the right...I expect these to take a battering but its a price the Russians know they need to pay. 

Wooohoo! Russian reinforcements!! Miles gets eight more columns appear. It'll take a while for them to reach the action, but they will be marching as fast as they can in the meantime. 

Likewise I also get eight more columns of infantry. At first I am a bit undecided how to use these but know that directly opposite the take I now face a Turkish Division. However on my right (just out of shot) these is a massive build-up of Russian and British Cavalry about to have a massive melee...if the Allies win this decisively they can sweep round and hit my flank.  

The British under Ray form an orderly retreat ready to fire on the Russian Charge. meanwhile Surjits French and Turks advance providing a very tempting target for my infantry. 

Ian's Cavalry lines up ready to face off against the combined French and British Cavalry. Ian is convince this can only go one way and can be heard plaintively bemoaning the fact that this can go only one way...The words "We can't win this game. 100 percent, 100 percent" are heard by all. Such confidence from the General charged with protecting my flank is not entirely reassuring!

Ignoring the negativity coming from the other end of the Shed-o-War, Miles send in his columns and begins to assault the British lines. 

Likewise my attack starts and I force back some of the French Artillery and an infantry unit. Some of my columns have taken a severe battering but the attack presses forwards non the less. 

Ian had to leave early due to a family emergency so I had to take over his cavalry just at the crucial moment. Despite his earlier assessment of the chances of success I thought this mixed bag of units would probably produce a messy result for both sides. A massive cavalry clash now takes place as both the Russian, British and French units smash together. 

Ray is starting to look a little hard pressed. However he still has a strong position and a a secure flank. 

My reserve infantry press forwards despite the risk from the enemy cavalry on the hill. My hope is that enough disruption will be caused up on the heights that the Allies will not be in a position to sweep around my flanks. 

Russian infantry steamroller into the British positions while their guns pound any Allied unit that gets too close. Meanwhile my skirmishes - having done their job of shielding my advance in the centre - are now free to harass the flanks of the British on the edge of the village. 

A crucial moment as the Russians prepare to charge uphill into the Guards. On the right a British unit that had already fled after being assaulted disrupted one of the guards units as it passed through. Now Miles aims one of his Russian columns at this weak point. 

Up on the hill the Cavalry battle has resulted in something of a mixed result. Two melee were won by the Russians but both sides lost many brave men in the clash. Only one unit of British came away relatively unscathed and now threaten my reserve infantry in the centre. 

The second wave of Russians starts to cross the valley. Meanwhile two of their guns continue to pound the closest British units and my Skirmishers continue to harass the enemy in the village. 

In the centre my Russians reform and prepare to continue their attack on the second line of French and Turkish troops. The fallback means that the Russians must endure more casualties but the continued advance means the French cannot send any support to the hard pressed British on the hill. 

More Russian utterly superfluous ammunition wagon!  We had two arrive but they are so far from the front lines as to be utterly pointless. Thanks Postie!!

The British cavalry charge down the hill and into contact with one of my columns. I decide to leave a second column to occupy the cavalry but continue the march of the remaining six columns. They can see the Turks ahead of them and have set their sights on this apparent weak spot in the Allied line. 

Miles Russian steamroller continues on. Troops pour up the hill and into a Guards unit. All the while the Brits are loosing leaders and crucially a Divisional General in this encounter. 

The Russians have pretty much broken through what at one point looked like an impregnable red wall. The British now face several Battalion and Divisional moral checks. 

Over on the right flank the cavalry skirmishes continue as the remaining units keep each other busy in a series of hit and run melee the see little battles taking place all over the hill and valley beyond. 

Rays' face tells it all. The combined British and French forces have taken a battering but more importantly they have lost a lot of leaders in the process and several units have also lost their colours. These vital victory points will count heavily against the Allies in the final tally. 

This was a really tough game with both sides having to show a lot of nerve. The Russians had the simpler task as it was a matter of lining up our columns and trying to smash through the allied lines. Having said that the British didn't make it easy for them and the Russians had to endure a lot of casualties before they could deal back some pain to the allied army. The British French and Turkish forces had a somewhat harder job in they they had to hold their nerve as the Russians advanced. When the columns finally hit the British in particular had to use every ounce of reserve to stop a breakthrough, and by the end of the game they had taken serious casualties, including many Battalion commanders and one Division General.

Despite Ian's dire predictions of disaster early on, the remaining Russian commanders stuck with the plan and won the day. When Postie added up the final points tally the result was 23 points to the Allied Army and a resounding 33 Points to the Russians, although much of that was for enemy generals killed and unit colours taken in Melee.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable game that tested both sides and where the outcome was in the balance for most of the game.

UPDATE: I've had a couple of people ask me who makes the figures used in this game. I'm reliably informed that pretty much all the figures are by Minifigs. Only the French Cuirassiers and Dragons are by other manufacturers and we're not sure where they are from.

Friday 8 December 2017

Feng Shui for the Worktable

My Painting desk is clean, tidy and ready for the Painting Challenge to start. It won't stay this pretty for long so I thought I'd take a picture to remember it by! 

All overseen by 'Rex'

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Successes and Failures

The build up to Christmas in the Hadley Household is progressing well this year and for a change we are ahead of schedule and actually feeling rather relaxed in the final weeks before the holiday. Of course what I'm not telling the Mistress of the House is that I'm making an effort to be organised so I have plenty of time to get my Painting Challenge off to a good start. To that end I have been buying the last few items of supplies, and a few more models, before the December 20th kick off. I have even been able to combine Christmas activities with painting prep and though I may fool myself into thinking the wife doesn't see my ulterior motive, she probably does and is letting me get away with it non-the-less. 

So over the weekend I took the family to Rochester to visit the Christmas market. It was a great event and definitely something we will do again next year...especially as I was able to nip round to Rochester Games and pick up some model supplies. I came away with several bags of basing materials, some much needed paint and a couple of figures for the challenge Bonus Rounds. I was also able to pop into the excellent Baggins Book Bazzar and pick up an old Airfix Guide that was missing from my collection. All in all a very successful day out.  

Unfortunately I can't be as upbeat about everything this week because yet again Royal Mail have proven themselves utterly rubbish at delivering parcels. Maybe a little controversial but non the less true. As a wargamer I do a lot of shopping online and I have made a lot of purchases in the run-up to the Painting Challenge which starts in a couple of weeks time. And as a family we have increasingly done most of our Christmas shopping online as well. This year we have bought almost all our presents online and to the credit of retailers we haven't had any problems with the goods delivered or the service received. Nearly all the parcels we have arrived via a range of courier firms and without exception all have been delivered on time and in good condition. We get on well with our neighbours and between us we often take in parcels for each other and so we have had in excess of 20 deliveries that have proceeded without a hitch. 

Related imageFour parcels however were sent via Royal Mails parcel service and every delivery has been shoddy at best. One parcel was thrown over the garden fence; One was left behind the bin in our front yard; one was returned to the dept for us to collect, despite the fact I was home when the delivery supposedly took place; and the third was also returned to the depot but no card was left to tell us and I only found out when I went to collect the other parcel. Royal Mail have reached such a level of ineptitude that I actually factor in the delivery method when making purchases and I am willing to pay more for a proper courier instead of Royal Mail if the choice is available.

Ok, rant over. I'd better crack on and get some more Zulu's undercoated! 

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.