Sunday 26 April 2009


Returned from York on Wednesday. Had a great time. Photos will follow. As well as the usual site around the city I managed to pusuade Lisa to join me at Marston Moor and later Towton. Fortunately the weather was glorious meaning Lisa could top up her tan. Towton in particular was excellent with lots of information available and a battlefield walk well marked out.

The new car is chosen and ordered, but a 4 to 6 week wait, so end of May beginning of June should see its arrival.

Upheaval at work due to essential maintanence in my building has meant I have had to move twice in the last week. Such excitement has curtailed my painting time meaing I haven't lifted a brush for nearly two weeks. Not good! Hopefully back to it in the next few days.

More soon!

Thoughts on WW2 Highlanders in Kilts

It always amazes me the capacity for we wargamers to moan at our lot in life. Whether its WW2 Highlanders in Kilts or skiing Illyrians or whatever, any one would think we have it bad.
This is surely a golden age for wargaming with more choice of figure ranges across just about every period of history in every scale and size of figure imaginable. We have, for better or worse, more Wargames magazines than ever before. There is far more access to uniform information, campaign histories and the like. And then there is the t'internet.

Figure manufacturers seem to be constantly bombarded with requests for new ranges, new periods, new poses etc. And what happens the moment said ranges are done and available for sale? I guarantee someone, somewhere will post on a forum or ask at a show "Those xxx figures that I badgered you for are very nice. I'll buy 2. Now, if only you did yyy wearing zzz, I would be really happy. I would buy a lot of those."

To some extent I imagine we are all guilty from time to time. But it is useful occasionally to sit back and consider why the figures you wont are sometimes not available or are on a 'to do' list. Certain codes within figure ranges must be constant sellers whereas others sit unloved and unwanted apart from one or two sold here or there. I imagine whole ranges of figures can see fluctuations in sales as periods come in and out of favour due to a new set of rules, a good film or book or hype in the wargames press. Darkest Africa, Pirates, Pulp Action and Cowboys are recent fads. 1938 British Civil War seems to be the flavour at the moment (for which, interestingly, Peter Pig may see some benefit with the WW1 and SCW ranges being very suitable for such a project).

I often come to periods that I game from two angles. Firstly the love of a period, generated through films books and the like. American Civil War was, is and always will be my favourite period for a variety of reasons. Hence I have gamed and collected with figures from 2mm to 28mm and used coutless sets of rules. In 15mm alone I have collected 3 generations of Peter Pig ACW armies as the range has been redesigned over the years.

Secondly, a range of figures or rules has inspired me. The best example being Peter Pigs Samurai range which I had never previousley considered as a period. Most importantly for me, I trust the designers of the figures I buy in whatever scale or range I choose to buy, to deliver the goods. Yes, there are certain figures I would like to see, just like veryone else, but you wont see any teddys flying out of my pram should they not appear! I have more than enough unpainted figures that at the time I just had to have that have sat unloved in a dark drawer and forgotten about to keep me going for some time.

My message? Lets not get upset over toy soldiers. Have a nice cup of tea and a biscuit and enjoy this broad church called wargaming we all love.


Thursday 16 April 2009

Exciting times in the Clark house as we are test driving some new cars over the next couple of days and then on Monday going upto York for a few days, hopefully taking in Marston Moor and if Lisa can stand it, Towton too.

The new car thing is exciting because I change cars very infrequently, prefering to spen money on other things, but the time has come. I'll let you know which we go for. Which ever it is, I'll still be taking the 5 year old 1 litre Corsa to work due to the travelling I have to do and keeping cost of petrol down.

Not much time for painting this week or next. I will sneak in an hour or so here or there, but no paint fests for a week or two.

Reading 'Dissolution' by CJ Sansom at the moment about a young lawyer in the early 16th century trying to solve a murder at a monastery. Going well so far.

Just ordered study books for Part 1 exams coming up in Spetember which is a necessary evil and will likely take up alot of free time, particulary end of July and August, but once done, followed by Part 2 in February March, I wont have to do any more.

Work beckons so more soon!

Monday 13 April 2009

Club Night

Some pictures from Fridays club night. I hosted a game of Civil War Battles for Ade and Keith. They played out Salem Church from the scenarios in the rulebook. Remarkably the game only lasted 4 turns, Ade as the Rebs who were defending rolled 5, 6, 4 and 3 on the game countdown. This saved him from defeat, as Keith just didnt have the time to get across the table, though he made a good fist of it. Couple of interesting events were Keith charging into the church yard and beating Ade by 11 on the falter test, kicking out Ades brigade and also a devastating volley of musketry killing 1 and a 1/2 bases of Rebs. Poor motivation rolls by Ade hampered his defence.

A good game. Next time I will use the pregame sequence.

All figures and buildngs are Peter Pig. The green mat is the Games Workshop Battle mat, cut to 6'x3', with the remainder used for wood templates. Dead teddy bears, astroturf and carpet tiles used for fields.

Here we see Keiths Bluebellys in the church yard.

Keiths boys on the advance.

Ade put his unit of Lousiana boys behind this wall.

Reb guns lined up to deliver shot and shell.

Somoe more Rebs looking towards Salem church.

Union troops making steady progress.

Had a good night at the club chatting to mates. A couple of pictures from other rooms. First is the large Napoleonics room ith a battle that started before Christmas. This picture shows the 12'x6' table crammed with probably over a thousand beautifully painted 28mm Napoleonics (mainly Front Rank) owned in the main by John Barlow..
Rules used are a very old computer moderated set by a company called SoftwareTactics (SoTa) that were written for the Spectrum 128k. Stefan (pictures to the right recently used an emulator programme to run them on an old PC. These rules have been played at our club for 20 years and are great for big multi player games. Sat at the computer is 'young' John, a relatively new member. Also playing are Tom Barlow, Matt Barlow (not related) and 'young' Ben. Great fun. This is a ficitonal enounter sometime in 1813 with French and Bavarians fighting Russians and Prussians for control of a village and surrounding hills. Very tactical play with fortunes swinging back and forth. This is the table that the Hammerin Iron photos from a few months ago was played on.

The shelving behind John hold thousands of 28mm and 15mm figures and boardgames and scenary. Lots of scenary stored below the table too.
This picture shows the start of a recreation of the Battle of Issus, played in what is known as the Renaisannce room!

Mal, Keith, Dave, Dave and Jase (of the Bunker) are playing using the 'Crusader' rules. this game will last for a couple of weeks or so. These guys play a wide variety of periods. Mal used to game with Peter Gilder! Some of the figures in use here are 40 years old! This table is 10'x6'. Off screen to the right is another room with an 8'x4' table. Mal has a large Samurai castle in 28mm scratch built by Jase. Very nice.

Painting continues with more Wars of the Roses!
More soon!

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Points and thoughts

Closing in on 1000 points for the year. Another unit of 24 done yesterday, looking at doing another or maybe 2 today. I have some Union dismounted staring at me on the painting table too but cant get round to them at the minute.

The early war Russian army arrived from ebay. As well as lots of troops there are 4 T34's and a couple of SPG's though I will have to check what they are (I have never been much of a tanky!) the painting on the figures is ok but I cant find any reference that says they wore dark green overcoats so I have resprayed them white and will be repainting them This would have been a mammoth task a couple of years ago but not now! I have already put Vallejo 'Khaki Grey' all over them. I have put this on slightly thinned. Detailing next and I may expeiment with Army Painter Strong tone. They are all going to have snowy bases too. Should be done by next week. I reckon there is over a 100 points just in the figures. The tanks will follow.

Back to my Bloody Barons project, I miscalculated how many packs I have. I am 15 packs short (all retinue types). Not sure when to get these. I think I may paint everything I have which amounts to 5 more units prepped and ready to go, plus markers and a couple of general bases and then pick up the balance when I go down to the STAB PBI day on 16th May. I am looking at completing then by the end of May. Of course I may change my mind and order the extra bits later today but I miss out on the 10% discount then.

Having finished 'Azincourt' I have dug out 'Rebel', the first Starbuck novel by Cornwell set in the American Civil War. I read this when it first came out in 1993 when I was in the early stages of my love for the period. Blimey thats 16 years ago. I am fairly certain it was around this time that I bought my first Peter Pig figures too. Tempus fugit or something, my Latin teacher would have said.

I am always interested in peoples wargaming history, as in how they got into playing with toy soldiers in the first place what attracts them to certain periods or methods of playing. My story is probably typical in that I collected Airfix plastics by the box load as a child, but never did much more than line them up and knock them down. I never painted them (didn't see the point) and none of my friends saw the fascination. I remember my dad taking me into a little toy and model shop in Burslem (one of the five towns that make up Stoke on Trent) and seeing a glass cabinet with rows and rows of exquisitely painted Romans and Greeks. They were Hinchcliffe models and my dad bought my 3 or 4 of each. I took them home in a little blue box and marvelled at them, as my dad tried to tell me about Hannibal, elephants and the Alps. I just wanted to line them up and knock them over of course.

It was around this time that my dad bought me a little book called 'Know the Game - Wargaming'. This was a series of books generally on sporting subjects but also pastimes like chess and bridge. I gazed at the black and white pictures of wargaming figures in various scales and actual battles being fought with them using proper rules and dice. How exciting! That book held fond memories for me and was chuffed to pick it up again at Alumwell back in March. Of course my memories of it were some what rose tinted as it really isn't that good but back then it was my bible.

Trips to the library in later years led to the discovery of Donald Featherstone titles such as 'Battles with Model Soldiers' and 'Advanced Wargaming'. Charles Grants 'Wargames Tactics' was (and still is) a favourite. But the wargaming they described was a distant dream for me as I didn't know of any clubs local to me and had no idea of where to get the rules and figures from described in the books.

Around about the time I moved to high school I discovered role playing with Dungeons and Dragons and Runequest. Throughout high school and college this took over my life. I became a bit of a nerd, reading DC comics, drawing and writing about fantasy worlds and DMing for a group of mates numbering between 4 and 12 at any one time. I always DM'd the games and this has carried over into adult life as I like nothing better than setting up a game and running it for others to play. We played AD&D, DC Heroes, Gangbusters, Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, James Bond, Traveller, Judge Dredd, Star Trek, Boot Hill, in fact anything we could get our hands on. Strangely when I moved away to university my role playing dried up for one reason or another. I still had an interes in it, reading mostly fantasy novels but by then (late 1980's) I was picking up the various wargames magazines and even sending off for a few figures here and there to start painting. Obviousley I use enamels and had no idea about undercoats or highlighting but I enjoyed having a go.

In 1990 I remember looking through the local newspaper and reading that the local wargames club in Stoke on Trent were having an open day at the town hall. Up until then I had no idea there was a club in Stoke. Intrigued I went along and suspect the moment I walked through the door I was hooked. For the first time in my life I saw real wargames with hundreds of figures in action. And the figures were painted! I remember two games in particular. One was by the Burton Wargames club, a large 15mm Napoleonic 'Albuera' with British, Spanish, Portugese and French swarming over a table with hills, trees and buildings on it. It looked fantastic back then and I am sure would still hold up today to the standard of demo game at modern shows.

The other was a 25mm ACW game recreating 'Chickamauga'. This had lots of Dixon figures painting to a stunning standard on sculpted scenary and played using a set of computer rules running on a Spectrum 128K. The lads running this game were from Stoke and all remain friends to this day. I spent most of the day chatting to them about the game and the period and can trace my interest in the ACW back to this moment. From there I went to a trader selling books and bought Bruce Cattons 'Penguin History of the American Civil War' and read it cover to cover several times. I then started to attend the Stoke Club (Friday nights from 7pm).

Stoke Wargames club has been around for nearly 40 years and have their own premises above a row of shops just of Longton (another of the 5 towns) town centre. The club is divided up into rooms that each have their own period of interest with fantasy having a strong hold at the present time but back in 1990 there were more historical games being played alongside some rolw playing. I joined in the room with the lads I had met at the show who at that time played exclusively ACW. Usually there was between 8 and 12 of us playing out historical battles that would last several weeks. We had great fun. Most of the kit was owned by Jeff Davis, a real civil war nut to this day like me. He painted the figures, scratch built the scenary and umpired the games, setting up campaigns and generally ensuring everyone had a good time. I have fond memories of these games and even began collecting a few Dixon figures myself.

I also wanted to game at home and decided on 15mm figures buying a mix of Essex, Warrior and Peter Pig. I gamed mainly with Martyn but also Barry, Mark White and the Barlows, John and Tom. All are still active gamers and whom I see and game with as often as I can. I built up collections of figures but around this time i discovered bring and buys. Martyn and I began to travel to wargames shows up and down the country (mid 1990's now). We went as far as York and Leeds in the North and down to London for Salute at the Kensington town hall. Martyn had at the time the largest collection of figures i knew of, in numerous periods. On getting to a show he would disappear off with a list in his hands only to reappear with a carrier bag full of lead. Within a week he would have most of it painted! We had great fun at the shows, getting lost on the way to them, talking about things most wargamers talk about like the next big project or the facing colours of some regiment or other. Occasionally this chat led to wrong roads being taken like when driving back from Salute we found ourselves instead of heading north back to Stoke, after an hour or so we approaching Reading.!

We games at Martyns house quite alot back then playing ACW, AWI, Napoleonics, Ancients and WW2. In the summer it was in his garage, in the winter in his dining room. The games could last all day sometimes with a break for a chip shop run. Martyn is now a grandad and his gaming has tailed off. He no longer comes to the club but we games occasionally at my house. Most of his figures have been sold off too and he collects plastics. At shows Martyn would often sell off figures on the bring and buys to fund other projects and this is a habit I got into which has now led to ebay trading. I have over the years collected 1)15 ACW 2) 25mm ACW 3) 25mm Naps 4)15mm Naps 5) 15mm Ancients 6)15mm WW2. All have been collected, painted, played with and sold off. I think I have collected 15mm ACW 3 or 4 times now. Currently I am contemplating selling most of my fantasy and scfi stuff.

Along with Keith, Ade and the others at the club, I have a wide circle of friends locally and look back on those first days with great fondness. Wargaming is a sociable hobby that stimulates creativity and thinking unlike most other hobbies (such as playing computer games for instance).
Long may it continue.

More soon.

Sunday 5 April 2009


I have really cracked on with the Bloody Barons project. As of today I have painted 12 units of 24 figures. Thats 288 figures in all. Not painted anything other than these for a couple of weeks now. May break it up a bit with something, perhaps the Confederate cavalry next week. Having said that the order of battle for Towton calls for 23 units so I may just crack on with them. I have 6 more units prepped and ready to go. Also I have the Generals bases and all the necessary markers to get done. I can knock out a unit in just over an hour. I was right in that I have speeded up with getting to know the figures. My simplified basing helps too and I am getting to like it. I picked up some 'spring meadow' flock from Coriatani (sp?) at Triples yesterday and mixed in some of their basing sand and it looks very nice. You can see the mix below

Next is a tray of painted Peter Pig Wars of the Roses. Prior to putting the flock on I paint the base green then PVA it and dunk it in the flock. Really simple but nice effect.

As I have gone on about before I swear by the Army Painter painting method. This base of Billmen was sprayed with Army painter bone colour and then basic colours painted on top with no highlighting or shading. The padded jackets and some clothing bits are left in the bone colour.

Here is another base after painting on 'Strong tone' Army Painter Dip. I then give them a coat of spray varnish (GW 'Ardcoat I think). This is done after the base is flocked which helps to seal rthe flock as well as getting rid of the gloss finish of the dip.

This is a shot of a unit of Retinue prior to the dip being applied. As per the Bloody Barons rules this is a unit of 8 bases of 3 figures, made up of 4 Bow bases, 3 Fighting (Bill) bases and a Captain base.

For my Towton game I am thinking of using a white sheet with some embelishments (bits of green and brown sprayed on). I may even look at taking it to some shows if it works out. The set up will include trees and buildings with snow on them and some hills either underneath the sheet or placed on top.
Triples, the Sheffield show was good, but I was a bit worn out to be honest and left around 2.30pm. Other than a few bits of flock as described, a couple of books and some freezywater banners I managed to avoid buying ANY figures. Good news for the pledge. Had a nice talk with Dace Lanchester on the Lance and Longbow society stand about Towton. I also bought a nice book on Richard III to add to my library. Lisa will be pleased!
Nearly finished 'Azincourt' by Bernard Cornwell. People seem divided by Cornwells output. My stance is you get what you pay for. Dont expect any Booker short list title. Yes some plots tend to be repetitive and you may even accuse Cornwell of bieng formulaic. But they are rip roaring reads that demand nothing from the reader. Other than having a nice cup of tea and a dark chocolate kitkat to accompany you on the ride. Having done all the original Sharpe (not got around to the new ones yet though my grandad has them all) and the Starbuck chronicles which I love, I yet to read any of the Arthur or Alfred books. Azincourt tells the story of Nicholas Hook an archer in Henry V army and centres around the siege of Harfluer and (suprisingly) the Battle of Agincourt. Ok we all know how it ends, but the little subplots, the attention to detail and the battl scenes are great. Well worth a go!
More soon.