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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.'

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.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Portable Wargaming...

As many of you will be aware, Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame is out in the market place. I've had my copy for a couple of weeks, and it really has all the signs of being a classic. Bob has done an excellent job bringing together his thoughts, play-testing, reflections and deep knowledge of war gaming to produce his guide. Top stuff!!

In the Hobbit bunker, two armies stand ready for a Portable game:

Oh yes!  The nasty Bolsheviks, and the fine defenders of Holy Mother Russia....
to be continued...

One hour...

OK, it is tad more than one hour since I lasted posted here, and I shall offer no excuses. Well, idleness, work, middle-aged bollocks, more work, family, idleness - you may well know the sort of thing. However, I have, occasionally, done something in the toy soldier realm.

A few weeks ago, my main (well, only) war game opponent and I played one of Neil Thomas's 'One Hour' scenarios, using his rules. We went for Scenario 15, 'Fortified Defence', and set it in late 1944/early 1945 on the Ost Front. The situation is: 'The red army is expecting an attack from a much larger blue force. The red general has accordingly prepared a fortified position for his troops'. Each side has six units, but the attacking force can totally re-fit at any stage in the game - yikes!

Kick-off.  Col. Front took the defence.  Following a 6 sided die throw, my force consisted of 2 x 75mm A/T guns, manned by Luftwaffe Field Division (LwFD) gunners, a mortar team, two LwFD infantry units, and a unit of Russian ost truppen.   The Soviet general (bottom of the table below) kicked-off with one tank unit, one mortar unit, and four infantry units.

Initial moves.  The Jerries dug in in the two built up areas, with an infantry unit in the woodlands to the right, below.  Each fortified hamlet contained an A/T gun, while the long-ranging mortar was ensconced behind the far buildings. The Reds launched an all-out assault on the nearest built-up area, as both had to be held at the end of 15 turns for victory.

Mixing it.  The Soviets gave the defenders of the first hamlet a tough time, eventually driving out the remaining infantry unit. But there was a cost, with the defenders destroying an infantry unit and inflicting hit points on almost all other units:

Armour loss. Attempting the second stage of the Soviet assault, the attackers came under sustained mortar and A/T fire, and heavy flanking fire from the woodlands. The Reds' armour was destroyed:

and the general infantry assault began to falter.  Being dug in, or well concealed in the woodlands, really added to Col. Front's battle group's strength.

But.... the Bolsheviks re-fitted. All Soviet units came off the board (apart from the burning T34 - I'd found the cotton wool by then), and re-emerged, re-invigorated, and fielding a whacking great
SU-100 assault gun.

It was touch and go for Front's men, with the LwFD gunners, mortar team, and Russian hiwis fighting like little metal men possessed.  

The Reds threw the flanking Germans out of the woods, and surged on...

But, the dug-in heroes fought on in...  Eventually knocking out even the might SU-100.

A VICTORY.  But the Reds will be back,

Neil Thomas's rules do what they say on the tin - good, easy to play, and fun.