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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The stage...

... is set.

Finally, finally, my 'Old School', 20mm plastics and Roco Minitanks 'Bay of Pigs' has come to the table. The original idea foundered on the apparent need for quite large numbers of figures, and a larger table than I have. However, I have, in my dotage, decided that I really don't have the time to build massive armies, or plan to build huge tables. Instead, I have moved to the approach encapsulated by the gridded wargame, and the 'One Hour' wargame.  So:

Above: this is the set up for the defence of the road to Playa Larga (Red Beach)by the anti-Castro Brigade 2506. The small town is Palpite, and in the far distance is the old sugar mill of 'Central Australia'.

Here are the Brigade 2506 paras in defensive positions blocking the road, with, below, one of the mortar teams that were so important for the Brigade.

And, below, the Fidelistas get ready for their drive against the beaches and the 'Yangui-backed' beach-head.  Below are the Fidelista PNR Police Battalion:

Supported by units of the Militia:

While. back at 'Central Australia', the Cuban regulars form up:

And that was enough for the moment:


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Nothing says 'Old School'...

... quite like a pipe, and Roco Minitanks.

These days, I smoke a good pipe only rarely, but today had a number of good stimuli for a smoke.

It was a Saturday, and Spring is really getting into its stride now, and, yesterday, on returning from work, a package was waiting on the doorstep, containing:

A marvellous ebay buy. A job lot of Roco Minitanks, costing not much over £30, or a tad more than £1 per vehicle!  Oh, joy! Oh, delight!

I've recently been revisiting various uncompleted war games projects, and there are two I'm keen to finish and bring to the table and the roll of dice. The first is the War of 1812 in 20mm, and the second is the Bay of Pigs. It must be two, or three, years since I started that, and my idea was to have a sort of retro wargames approach, using plastics and Roco Minitanks.  I'd found a couple of tanks and trucks, but  decided I could do with a few more vehicles, jeeps, trucks etc.  However, Minitanks are still as hard to find in my neck of the woods as they were in the 1970s, when almost all books and articles on modern wargaming featured Minitanks, often heavily converted. Mind you, it  was difficult to tell sometimes, given the tiny, grainy, black and white photographs of the day. A scroll through ebay revealed quite a lot of vehicles from a supplier in Germany, but with ridiculous postage of around £14 per item!! But, it also revealed this lot:

Including some still in their yellowing packaging. The kubelwagen box is marked, 3/3. I wonder if this is 3/3d, i.e., 'old' UK money, dating back to at least 1971?  

The other thing I've been doing this past week is helping my 8 year old grandson to get ready for his school's 'Rome' day.  He is going dressed as a Legionary (he decided against an Auxiliary), so I made him a wooden (hardboard) scutum:

and schooled him in the ways of Jove and the eagle.

Meanwhile, out in my garden, spring is forging ahead:

And today  I planted two roses - 'Princess Anne' and 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. The latter was not, as it should have been, bedded, but potted.

Sunday, 5 March 2017


... or SNAFU?

The clash of mighty portabling forces, of brave, deluded, patriotic, desperate, 28mm figurines reached something of a resolution this evening.

Reviewing the table, it was clear (from my Olympian position - near the stove) that the key to events lay on the Reds' right:

As the photo above shows, the White armour very effectively pinned the Red cavalry, their command, their artillery, and their machine-guns. The long drawn out slogging match between the Whippet and the Red artillery meant that the other Red units there were stuck.  None of them had the capacity to destroy the White Whippet, so they had to wait for the artillery to clear the way...

That left the infantry action at Bowanski Junction:

Above, another view of the French fighting through the streets. While, below, the Red unit of clerks, ticket collectors, and suchlike, turned out to be a pretty useful group of chaps (well, they couldn't really be 'chaps' if they were Bolshies, but you get the idea). They did more damage than any of the other Reds.

Back on the armour vs artillery front, the Whippet finally put paid to the gunners, who certainly wouldn't be going back to old Shanghai. It was, 'Cheerio, Chin, Chin' for them.

To make matters worse for the Bolshies, it seems that treachery was afoot, and, surprisingly, it was to be found among the Red sailors. Had the Krondstadt virus appeared earlier than thought?  Whatever the cause (and rumours that the dice-thrower had forgotten that he had placed a unit in a building, that his mind was on seed catalogues, can, of course, be discounted), the outcome was that the sailors had taken no part in the earlier fighting.

They, finally, managed one offensive action, but by then, the entire Red force had reached its:

'Exhaustion Point' (TM, Bob C.)  That brought all Red offensive operations to a halt.  The Whites, meanwhile, threw more troops across the rail line to support their armour, now free of any real threat:

And, among the buildings around Bowanski Junction, the Whites surged forward:

Driving the Reds back:

That was a delight. And I can recommend Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame to one and all. The ease of play that comes from a gridded table, and Bob's very nice card-driven mechanism for solo wargames, plus the 'Exhaustion Point', are all just the ticket.

Outside the Hobbit Bunker, and away from my lovely Jotul stove and wargame table, things are moving in the world of soil and growth. I was able to spend a couple of hours on my allotment plot, tackling demented brambles that have only been very roughly looked after for the last two years. That means a really good cut-back now.  And although the rest of the plot is just a sodden wilderness of mud and tufts of grass, it is still time to put the seed potatoes in their 'chitting' phase:

'Charlotte', 'Pentland', and 'King Edward'.

Saturday, 4 March 2017


... match at Bowanski Junction.

The portabling resumed today, in between my peering at hellebores, narcissi, primroses, and other growing things.  Along with haircut, family stuff, DIY shop, and suchlike Saturday stuff.

The Reds had the initiative, turning up a run of red cards.  The Red artillery were first into action, hammering away at the White armour:

This photo (above) seems to show that the Reds on this front have picked up some Warlord support, probably temporary, while the gold lasts. Mind you, they got the range:

Now the White whippet has two hits; one more, and it's 'cheerio, chin, chin'.

On the Reds' left, three Bolshie units pushed into the railway station and town.  Street fighting, and house-to-house. But the Whites made good use of having got there first, and it was the nasty Bolshies taking the casualties at Bowanski Junction:

After a run of red cards, a black was turned up (courtesy of Rubens), and the initiative passed to the Whites.

The French 'advisers' stormed in to lend their allies some support, and helped drive the Reds back.  The Bolsheviks seem to be taking casualties too quickly, and their commander is probably checking his 'Strength Points' and 'Exhaustion Point' (c. Bob C):

Containing the Reds at the rail head, the Whites pushed some units across the rail line itself, hoping to support their isolated armour, and head off any outflanking effort by the Red cavalry.

To be continued...

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


strikes again...

As in the The History of Wargaming Project, that is.

The latest title from the Project is:

And another parcel of specialness it is!  Not only has it Lionel Tarr's very early 1939-45 rules, it also has various additional notes and comments by Tarr, by John Curry, and by a chap called Dave Bradley who bought Tarr's wargames' papers, figures, tanks and vehicles in 1972. Bringing this material together, John Curry has rescued Tarr's rules and something of the life of Tarr himself from the darkness of history.  Tarr saw action, was wounded, and captured at Arnhem, and appears to have been one of the very earliest to game the Second World War. In addition to creating his rule sets, Tarr ran a long, multiple solo game (is that a contradiction?) of the war on the Eastern Front based around maps and on-table action. He also attempted to game Stalingrad on a room-by-room basis (see the photograph on the cover of the Curry edition, above).  A definite must-have!

Speaking of must-haves, the latest edition of Scale Aircraft Modelling is out, and includes Flt. Lt. Alf  Ront's review of a Wellington re-boxing.  Amusingly (well, to me) I did, once, hold the rank of Flt. Lt., albeit in the RAFVR(t). Mind you, it was the RAF section of 'The Corps' at this place.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

.... stopped play

A brief holiday has stopped the portable play.

Where have Alf and Mrs Ront (or Al and Mrs Front) been?

New England....?


It's grand old Blighty!  I ate fish and chips here, drank a couple of pints of ale, then walked along the pebbles, listening to the wind and the sound of the depleted British Army firing bursts at the nearby ranges.

While all around, there are the signs of defence. Above, against the French, who sacked this place several times, or, below:

one who made it home from the great defensive wars for the protection of the rump of Christendom.

While, above, the memory of an Imperial soldier (and was he related to the famous Skinner of 'Skinner's Horse'?).

But, everywhere, the sea:

and, understandably, the sign of Trinity House.

Finally, a new decorative tile on the wall of a house:

The BVM and the Saviour. Blessed art thou among women...

Tuesday, 21 February 2017


...Part the Second.

I was able to spend a little time in the bunker today, with the stove burning away, seeing off the Blighty damp. I've played Bob Cordery's Portable Wargaming in the past, but this current game is using his new book, and it seemed like a good chance to adopt some of the suggestions he makes there regarding solo gaming.  So, on with the action.

Bob devotes some space to the question of representing unit strengths. He covers single figure, and unit bases, with declining strength being indicated by reduced figures in the first case, and markers in the second.  Rather than re-basing my Russian Civil War figures, I opted for individual figures, but with two figures representing one strength point. So, below, we see a 'Poor' unit of rascally, part-time Bolshies, consumptive clerks, ticket collectors, and the like. The strength of this unit is 3, represented by six individual figures, who will be removed in pairs as the unit takes casualties.

The part-time Bolshie unit contrasts with the White unit below. In this case, as you can see, we are looking at an 'Average' unit, strength 4, represented by eight figures. Actually, looking at the mean hombre second from the camera in the front rank, I wonder now if the unit should actually have been 'Hard Core'.

I decided to use Bob's suggestion, for the lonely wargamer, of card-driven turn taking.  The Reds, naturally, took the red cards, and the Whites, the black.  A deck is created from two packs of cards (for details, see pp.38/9 of Bob's book), and drives turn taking, and number of units to be activated.  It works well.

The Whites kicked off, and the infantry units on the right made a bee-line for the railway station.  Which reminds me, I've been reading Dorothy L. Sayers' 'Lord Peter Wimsey' books recently, and haven't picked up so much antique slang since I read The History of Mr Polly when I was 12/13.  A bit of Lord Peter slang: 'I'll make like a bee and buzz off'.

The White Whippet also went haring after the Godless, and crunched up a few rail tracks before coming under fire from the Bolshie artillery.  Here, a near miss.  The rather marvellous resin explosions will be used to mark hits, with a tank being able to take three before its end.

The Whites quickly seized the environs of the station, and, below, it's clear that some French 'advisers' have decided to sort out a few Bolshies before breakfast, providing the Chauchat doesn't get a bunged up magazine.

The Reds began to take casualties as they, tardily, approached the now occupied station. The unit below has lost a point, and two figures have been removed.

And, at that stage, the eerie, soundless call of my forlorn allotment plot reached me, and I emerged, badger-like from my bunker, armed with pruning equipment.

Speaking of Lord Peter, and the 1920s, another good read for those of a yarn-loving, and antiquarian mindset is Nevil Shute's So Disdained - quite a period piece.