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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, 6 June 2017



Seconds out...first two rounds, of 15. In the Blue corner (US invaders):

On the right flank, a unit of US Regulars, an artillery battery, and a militia regiment.  Their objective is to make the town too hot for the British-Canadian forces. After more pondering, I decided to reduce the points value of this militia unit to 10, as opposed to the 15 of 'One Hour' rules.

On the left, the US commander has put in his two best regiments of foot. Their objective is to take the hill.

Meanwhile, the centre is taken by this unit of US militia. Unlike the other regiment of militia, this has better morale and training (as represented by the fact that some of the figures are in uniform), and so has an initial points value of 12. Their task is to secure the woodlands. Under 'One Hour' rules, only 'skirmishers' can enter woodland, so the militia of both sides have been classed thus. Interestingly, the scenario set-up has this large woodland separating the two objectives of town and hill. Added to the fact that the defending force must keep two units within 12" of each objective, this introduces certain constraints.

In the Red (British-Canadian) corner, a militia unit rapidly advances down the turnpike into the town, with our Provincial cavalryman hero scouting ahead:

Skirting the edge of the town is a unit of Provincials and one of Regulars:

While another unit of Regulars takes to the hill:

and militiamen infiltrate the wood:

The scene is set; here, an overall view of the town:

Out in the fresh air, we have been having stormy weather in Old England, with high winds, heavy rain, and temperatures down to 10oC. In my tiny greenhouse, courgette seedlings stand ready for better weather and deployment to the allotment plot:

Sunday, 4 June 2017


... raised.

Short of a sixth unit for the next planned 'One Hour' game, I dug out some already undercoated 'Emhar' 'British Infantry, Peninsular War 1807-14'. These are very nice figures indeed, and a better hand with the paint brush could make a really fine job of them, whether as our noble lads (Irish - given the Peninsular ?) , or as Yankees:

While painting up the Americans, I came across this fellow:

He is a true veteran, and first graced my tabletop (the same table he is on here) sometime back in the early 1970s, sporting an even worse paint job, in gloss blues and greys. Of course, he is a figure from the Airfix Waterloo RHA set.  After years spent knocking around in an old sweet tin, then the last few years in a makeshift sand-pit, his loyalty has been rewarded. Now in the uniform of a Provincial cavalry regiment, he, too, will join the 1812 'One Hour'.

While doing this emergency painting, I had occasional ponders about the planned 'One Hour'. The core rules for all the periods covered are pretty constant, as one would expect, and therein lies the beauty of the system. However, thinking about 1812 and the initial invasions of Canada/British North America, I decided that assigning 15 points to every unit would be just too ahistorical. Militias played an important part on both sides. However, whereas the militias from Upper and Lower Canada performed well, the US militias (with some exceptions) performed very poorly indeed. The answer is, I think, to reduce their starting points value to 12, or even 10. Similarly, although the scenario has six units per side, the British-Canadian forces were very much outnumbered at the start of the war, so I  think one unit needs to go.

Recently, the crazed fuckwits that are the Islamists have been redoubling their murder efforts - in Egypt (against Christians), in the Philippines, in Kabul, in Syria, and, of course, in my homeland.  I hope the UK government ACTS.  

But, in the world there is still beauty and perfection:

Friday, 2 June 2017


.... in a tin.

Well, I found the invaders of 1812, in 20mm.  They were in Amsterdam. That is, in a biscuit tin with a nice reproduction of Amsterdam in the 17th Century on the lid. So, there are the militiamen:


And gunners:

However, I'm a unit short, so there will now be an interlude while I raise another regiment of foot...

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Scenario 14...

... Static Defence.

From Neil Thomas' One-Hour Wargames.  This time, it's going to be a 'Horse & Musket' set-up, specifically the War of 1812 in 20mm.  First deployment by the 'Red' force, i.e., British and Canadian.  The 3'x3' playing area incorporates, a town, road, wood, and hill:

The defending force has to hold both the hill and the town, and must deploy 3 units within 12" of the hill, and 3 within 12" of the town.  Below:

the newly mobilised militia move up towards the town, while, below:

a Provincial regiment, and British Army regulars also move into position.

Now, where are the dam' Yankees....

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

One hour wargame...

... takes two months to finish!

OK, it actually took less than an hour, but it's two months since I posted on my 20mm Old School, One Hour, Bay of Pigs scenario.

As you may remember, I was using Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames' rules to play part of the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961. Specifically, it was a version of the fighting that took place from the 'Red Beach' (Playa Larga) road to the old sugar mill of 'Central Australia'.  The invading Brigadistas, from the Cuban exile's Brigade 2506, were deployed to the north of the small town of Palpite, while the Fidelistas were attempting to push down the road from Central Australia, to collapse the left-wing of the Brigadistas landings. The road itself ran through impassable swamp lands.  So how did the One Hour version go?

The Brigadistas had 6 units: three infantry, two mortar, and an M41 tank. The Fidelistas fielded 7 units: one police battalion unit, two militia units, two regular army, a T34 tank, and a JS3 tank.  There is no option in the One Hour rules for air strikes, which, of course, proved to be one of the deciding factors in the Bay of Pigs. I thought about adding in a randomly, card-generated air strike from the Brigade's air force, and two from the Fidelistas' air force, but didn't.  That was probably the wrong decision. Similarly, I should, perhaps, have added in some limit on the ammunition available to the Brigade (another deciding factor).

The Fidelistas began their drive down the road from Central Australia to Palpite, led by the police battalion, followed by two units of militia:

And, ran straight into the fire of two forward deployed Brigade infantry units, plus that of the two mortars. The mortars have a range of 48", and can fire on any target under observation by friendly units. This was going to prove decisive, as the attacking police and militia soon found out:

As first the police, then the militia units began to crumble, and then the Brigade's M41 came out of cover to add to the mayhem:

The Fidelistas rushed forward the first regular unit, with T34 support:

And the M41 manoeuvred to take the armour threat under fire:

The Fidelistas found it hard to hit back at the entrenched, hidden Brigadistas, and soon both militia units were gone.  Realising the severity of the situation, the last regular unit and its JS3 support set out down the road. (I read, somewhere, that the Fidelistas did, in fact, have JS3s and that they were kept in reserve, and never needed).

But the mortars kept hammering the lead Fidelistas, and they, too, were soon off the board:

With just one unit, and the two tanks left (the T34 with 13 hits against it), it was time for a tactical retreat, and the Brigadistas were left in control of the field, having lost only one unit of infantry.

It's pretty clear that air strikes, and an ammunition limit, would have made an impact.  I'm not sure how that reflects on the One Hour rules, but it needs thinking about if I'm going to use them for modern games again.

I know it's two months since I've posted, but I haven't been entirely idle (idle, yes; entirely, no) during that time. Instead, I've been using leisure time to write this:

which will be available early next year.

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'.