Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Catch up...

....time for a catch up now I'm back from holiday.... 

 First off - I know I'm late for putting up a battle report for the last One Hour wargame scenario I posted about a few weeks ago..  truth be told it was a bit of a damp squib - either my tactics, or incomplete knowledge of the rules, or something else - but the game was over within 5 moves and a resounding victory for DG and the French defenders...  poor dice throwing definitely compounded the issue (failed morale throws and squads disappearing off the table left right and centre...)  DG is coming round again for a game this week so we may have to reconvene if he can face it...  he wasn't happy with a skirmish level set of rules that didn't allow units to go prone (or we didn't see where it said they could!) Either way - a work in hand...

Second - my first wargame show of the year this weekend (which is why DG is down) yay, it's "Warfare" time...  having missed "Colours" because I was in Paris, and "Salute" because I just couldn't be bothered (it's a bit of a trek to the Excel, and I'm less bothered to go now DG has decided it's not for him - part of the pleasure is the banter and chat...) I am more than a little looking forward to the show as I have felt the need for some time of needing something to pump prime the engines and get them firing again...  I shall take cash and let's see what takes the eye...  something ECW I hope as the project is floundering a bit....

Third - the holiday reads were every bit as enjoyable as I'd hoped....

£1.99 well spent - I'd forgotten how good this was despite having read it at least 2 or 3 times over the years - set against the background of the Philadelphia Campaign under British General William Howe, this is an excellent account of the campaign, and the difficulties the British faced in America during the Revolution - the British would have needed an army ten times the size of the one they had in order to suppress the colonists and Parliament didn't have the cash or the inclination to do it...  as it was they only ever had enough men to hold three area's and with the French entry to the war, too many area's to hold...  an excellent story while providing good historical background..  cracker...  9/10
Latest from the master story teller and I'm quite excited to read something that isn't about Uhtred..  also a bargain on Kindle at the moment only £7.90 for a book only just in print...  still reading this one but it's already gripped me - this is a story about Shakespeare told from the perspective of his brother..  more when I've finished reading it...
I had mixed feelings about this one - happily this was a marked and considerable improvement over the previous one (see book reviews). For one, Kydd actually features in the book (which is more than he did in the previous one) but also there is fighting and battles on the high seas (the Baltic again) and although the ending is a little far fetched - Kydd ends up married...  good one 8/10
A new series set in Restoration period England by the author of the superb Robin Hood series...  what a cracker...  the series is based round the experiences of Holcroft Blood, the son of Colonel Thomas Blood, he of the Crown Jewels theft...  the background is superb, the conspiracy theory as to why Blood attempted to steal the jewels is thought provoking (and entertaining) and along the way you get vignettes of Barbara Villiers, Charles II, the young Churchill/Marlborough, and others...  excellent - very much looking to the series as it progresses in his career as an artillery officer under Churchill in the Wars of the Spanish Succession....  9/10
This is the first (published) novel by fellow wargamer, Blogger, and Miniature Wargames columnist, Conrad Kinch... followers of his current written efforts will know that he is entertaining, and a not a little witty, so I was hoping for much from this little tome...  set in Japan at about the time of the Edo Period (think approximately "The Last Samurai" period) when the European and American global powers are beginning to make trading inroads to Japan, and the samurai class are not always happy about it...  the story is about a young American called Robert Hood, and a Japanese samurai called Otaro. Hood is ex-cavalry (it mentions his services in the Plains Indian wars, and Mexico), and handy with a weapon, and languages; Otaro is a Japanese master swordsman and magistrate. Hood is in Japan looking for commercial opportunities for his family (who are merchants), his family have suggested he travel with otaro to learn more of the country. either way, both characters are likeable, and on the journey to Otaro's first case they come upon evidence of bloody murder, and the book is about the background to that..  I enjoyed it very much, lots and lots of period interest and colour, details on the Japanese sword schools/styles was fascinating, and the story fairly rips along without being unbelievable...  it reminded me (very favourably) of Henty..  recommended! 9/10

Friday, October 27, 2017

Holiday reading..

...the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer and I are bogging off to the sun for a week of late season warmth in Cyprus...   I have intentions of doing absolutely nothing (though I may wonder up the road for another look round the castle, and perhaps the archaeological diggings) but I have prepared a truly sumptuous reading pile...  these are all already loaded on the Kindle and I am having to restrain myself from starting early...

I have read this one a couple of times, and in fact still own the paperback (how quaint ) but have not read it in some considerable time, and having seen it at a stupidly low price  (£1.99!) when I downloaded the "Fools and Mortals" book it was a no-brainer...
Latest from the master story teller and I'm quite excited to read something that isn't about Uhtred..  also a bargain on Kindle at the moment only £7.90 for a book only just in print...
Mixed feelings about this one - hope it is better than the last one was (see book reviews)!
Very much looking forward to this one as well - this is the fellow who wrote the truly excellent alternative versions of the Robin Hood legend set in the historical period...  this one is a new series set in Restoration period England
Also quite interested in this one - anyone with a wargaming background will know CK - I'll be interested to see if he can tell as good a long story and he can the short one's! 

.. now lead me to my sun bed, and polish my glims...

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 14 - "Static Defence" - Setup

For reasons many and varied, and not altogether happy to be honest, DG is down currently, and contacted me last week to ask for the possibility of a game..  needless to say I was more than happy to bit his arm off...

Conversation then changed to the delightful subject of "what to play?" - casting my mind back over previous games I offered him Marlburian or 15mm WWII skirmish (DG is not fond of Blitzkrieg Commander so a big battle WWII was not an option) neither of which we'd played before..

So DG went and surprised me slightly by going for the WWII Skirmish option - now I say surprised because DG plays a fair amount of Chain of Command for this scale of gaming, and, errr... I don't... I use a fairly unknown set published by Crusader a number of years ago called "Rate of Fire" [clicky] and still marketed by them (I also note you can get a PDF of the rules for a mere six squids - that's less than the price of a pint and a half!). Either way, it looks like the forces of France will yet again attempt to stall the Wehrmacht in it's tracks, somewhere near the Belgian border in May 1940..

For the scenario I have turned yet again to "One Hour Wargames" and we are playing the next scenario in the book - #14 "Static Defence". The scenario calls for 6 "units" per side which translates quite nicely into the sub-platoon size elements that Rate of Fire deals in - so I envisage Platoon HQ, two rifle squads (each with Rifle section and MG section) and then each side can choose a support - either another MG section, mortar section, or another rifle section - no need for anti-tank.

French will defend, and deploy as per the scenario requirements - they will be allowed to deploy concealed if they wish (Germans have to spot them, or they are automatically revealed should they move or fire). The Germans then will attack; in order to balance the game, and because they are attacking, I will give the Germans improved training and or command factors.

Table is as follows - French deployment area is top third of table and as per the scenario, Germans arrive at the bottom edge... the victory conditions are as per the scenario, objectives are the "town" (which in this instance constitutes the terrace), and the hill top left...

On y va, mes enfants!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Portsea Island Beer Festival - 2017

Time again for the Pompey beer festival at Groundling's Theatre and if it was hard to believe last year, it's even more difficult to that this is the 7th one!

A good turn out from the Jolly Boys (Beer Chapter) all present and correct with the sad exception of little Kev who has an infected cut on his elbow - antibiotics and no driving, never mind drinking..  next time, Kev..

After last years brandy snifter like glass (which the current Mrs Steve the Wargamer likes very much as it is perfect for G&T's) this year we returned to the more traditional type (see picture)..as usual they were left behind when we went - wish they'd do pint glasses....

I've spoken of the venue many times before and it is still the best venue for an event like this - chock full of character (and as a reminder it is a Victorian era building, now a theatre, but originally a school, and the site where Mrs Dickens went into labour the night before Charley arrived), but again, not an outstanding festival in the humble opinion of the cognoscenti I was with... the poor'ish beer choices of last year continued,and attendance was hugely down - though the staff said the Friday evening session had been well attended...  we chose to sit downstairs, it's less noisy and more comfortable but there was only one table in the entire room which happily I managed to snaffle...

...last year - they could have done with a few of those tables this year..
So..  as I've seen it again and again over the years, the organisers (the local brewery) are trying to save money by buying from lesser known breweries, but if you pay £8 to get in, and then pub prices for beer (£3.20-3.60 a pint roughly), and you know that only a mile away there is a pub selling a good selection of premium real ales without an entry price, what would you do? I provided feedback last year, but nothing has really changed, numbers are well down, advertising for the event was poor, tickets were only available in two locations...  I'll go again as 50% of the fun for me is friends and location, but it really does have the feel of a festival that will disappear unless something is done..

So without further ado here were the beers partaken of.. these were full half's only...  good swigs of a few others were also partaken of...

Brewery (clickable) Beer (click for more info) ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Bakers DozenJentacular3.5%"Pale 'breakfast beer' with Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Simcoe hops, one to enjoy pint after pint"A cracking first choice from a list that most unlike me I had made before I even went... crisp, refreshing, grapefruit bitterness from the brewery that also does "Electric Landlady" - see below..  a very good start! I seem to remember having a couple of these...
Oakham Ales Inferno 4% "This light igniting ale flickers complex fruit across your tongue leaving a dry fruity bitter finish smothering your thirst." Oakham are Champion if not Premier league in my top 10 brewers so this was always going to be on the list as you rely on the brewer even when you don't know the beer..  another good one, but as above, the only one from them on, and an unknown.. why not a barrel of JHB or Citra as well?
Milestone Shine On 4% "Straw coloured bitter with herbaceous and floral aromas and a citrus flavour from the Liberty and Cascade hops" 'Sour/earthy/not good'..  I wrote...
Fallen Acorn Hole Hearted 4.7% "Cascade hops give this golden ale powerful floral and tropical fruit flavours, with a delicate bitterness. Hole Hearted will surprise with every mouthful." This is a tried and trusted, a bellweather beer.. from the ashes of the old Oakleaf Brewery, Fallen Acorn (get it, get it?) have resurrected Hole Hearted and it is now very definitely up to the standard of the old brew (it had a slightly shaky start for me) - cracking ale and pure deliciousness after the previous beer!
Bristol Beer Factory 12 Apostles 5% "Brewed to showcase a trio of Australian hops. Galaxy giving citrus & passion fruit, Ella bringing anise & floral aromas and Enigma redcurrant and melon. A clean base of extra pale malts let the hop aromas jump out of the glass." This is an up and coming brewery for me - they've had a few beers now that I've thought "corr!" about and this was my beer of the festival..  also a few of the other jolly boys... hugely complex flavour, every time you thought you'd finished you'd get some other taste coming through...  from memory I had a couple of these...
Bakers DozenElectric Landlady5%"Mosaic hopped golden beer. A clean malt base paves way for the tropical fruits delivered in abundance from bucket loads of US Mosaic (hops)"A previous years best of festival winner (mine - not official ) but this year it was universally agreed the beer on offer was a little past its best..  bit tired.. end of barrel?










Thursday, October 12, 2017

Catch up on some reading....

..if only because I rate these VERY highly and recommend wholeheartedly..


Prompted by the excellent "Airborne" (see book reviews), I was prompted to go back and read those original two books I read all those years ago... have to say I was not disappointed, despite only being able to find number 2, a swift Kindle purchase saw me launched into volume 1. Radcliffe wrote three WWII books loosely linked, but on different subjects - some of the characters in one book may appear briefly in another, but in essence they are all stand alone and can be read in isolation. This one, the first one, is based about the American bomber offensive in Europe and the truly terrible time they had of day light bombing deep into Germany prior to the existence of good long range fighter cover...  so the book is about an American bomber wing based in eastern England, about the sorties, the casualties, the hideous attrition, the relationships they form with local people, their mental state, their physical state..  absolutely excellent...  read this, and then read Deighton's "Goodbye Mickey Mouse" for some of the best (fictional) insight into the American bomber offensives..10
..for the second book, Radcliffe shifts focus to the Battle of the Atlantic - the story is about the crew of a Flower class corvette (*sound familiar? ) but there is also a truly compelling side story based around pone of the officers upbringing in Uruguay, and features certain events around Graf Spee. Once again the book is about all aspects of what it was like to serve in corvettes, the discomfort, the poor food, the cold, the danger, and the fear of fighting a foe that (at the time of the book) was largely undetectable..  basic ASDIC only.. superb... *then go read the "Cruel Sea" you know you want to...  in my view this boiok is easily as good as Montserrat10
..for the third book - only recently released despite having been finished for some time, Radcliffe shifts focus to the fall of Singapore...  in one of the blurbs he wrote that the reason the book wasn't originally published at the time of the first two was because his publisher told him it was too grim reading..  so for this one he self published..  glad he did as it too is an excellent read... the story is based round an RAF pilot who after completing training in one of the northern squadrons ends up being posted to Singapore in time for the defeat..  he is captured, and put to work on the Burma railroad, and the book is about what it was like to be a prisoner, the conditions, the disease, the filth, the lack of food, the brutal and inhumane treatment, and the work...  very, very, dark, but a hugely readable book as he also describes what life would have been like for family and wives/girlfriends at home...  not finished it yet, score when I do...