Thursday, September 30, 2021

Truth and Reconciliation

We have a new National Holiday in Canada, Truth and Reconciliation Day, but like Remembrance Day, its not a party day but a day for reflection.

Now, I was born in Montreal, as were my parents, but all of my grandparents were born across the ocean. Growing up, most of my friends were the same, except one whose ancestors were United Empire Loyalists who had come north after failing to suppress the rebellion in the American colonies. When I got to college though, I met friends whose families had come to Quebec nearly 500 years earlier. 

I was of course aware of the original inhabitants but had never actually met one until my navy days in the 70's on the West Coast, at a little place called Gibson's Landing.   That meeting started as a confrontation with some rather angry and possibly under the influence, young men who were looking for revenge for some friends who had been beaten up a week ago. Once we'd explained that it hadn't been us and shared a few beers with them while chatting, they invited a couple of us to come along to a public celebration they were having and it was a great evening.  

Now I live on the East Coast where first contact came over a thousand years ago with Viking settlements and trading coasts followed later by Basque fishing stations for salting cod and one of the the oldest permanent European settlements (Port Royal on the Bay of Fundy 1605) but it was only when I relocated to the shores of the Minas Basin that I started to meet some Mi'kmaq as individuals and members of my community. Even more surprising was when it came to light that the Mi'kmaq and Abenaki had never fully ceded Nova Scotia to the crown but had signed a treaty of friendship in 1752 in which they essentially agreed to share the land while maintaining their rights to hunt and fish and trade. 

However, that's distant history. The main trigger for this day of reconciliation came late in the 19thC when our Federal Government passed a law requiring all Indian children to attend residential schools, paid for by the Federal government but run by various Christian churches. The intention appears to have been a desire to bring the first nations people more closely into Canadian society but whatever the intention was, the result was essentially an exercise in cultural genocide which also led to the deaths of  thousands of children from disease aided by inadequate diets and abuse not to mention many long lasting mental and emotional problems. The stories that have started coming out from some of the survivors of the improved 20th C schools are at times horrific.     

Sometime we forget how good some of us have it, or what harm people with good intentions can do.   

Monday, September 27, 2021


Ummh, well I don't actually have a name yet, or a name for the fortified city he is governor of....but apparently, according to Wiki, (yeah OK remember that this collection is inspired by a Saturday illustrated strip about a wandering prince "in the Days of King Arthur")  during the Sassinid era, the title Satrap wasn't reserved for provincial governors but was sometimes used for positions of authority as low as governor of a fortress or city, which is what this noble warrior is. 

I'm not asking for name suggestions but will consider any that are made.

I'm still working on the story line and scenarios but I'm pretty sure that there will be at least one scenario including at least one ship, it'll probably have to involve the Black Sea rather than the Mediterranean if its going to involve 5thC Persians. The Eastern Roman Empire will also have a role to play. 

Yeah, I know, those are 16thC Turkish infantry escorting Ellie but they are factory painted Elastolins so I'm not about to chop them up to make pseudo Persians, besides they fit well enough considering Foster mixed Romans and medieval knights with Saxons, Vikings, Attila's Huns and North American tribes. 

Just need to finish up my Persian knights..errr....Clibinari, and some Persian infantry, maybe hire some more of my Huns, then I'll be ready to work on an opening scenario.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Making of a Satrap

OK, I  don't know if the Sassinids called their regional governors Satraps or something else but that's what I'm going to call my Persian commander, once he's done that is.

This Persian commander began life as an Elastolin knight. He almost became some sort of Romano-British  cavalryman but today I countermanded the order. His chainmail will be returned to his legs and arms, his helmet will get a plume and a scarf and a spare cloak will fly behind him. He will also get an escort of clibinari or armoured Persian noble lancers with plumes flying and so on. 

These, plus a few light infantry to escort the elephant, and some Hun mercenaries, should be enough for an initial skirmish to test the waters for a minicampaign. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

In The Nick Of Time

"and in this corner, raring to fight:"

As expected, I screwed up the shield  design. I had made a mental note not to use metallic paint because, not only am I challenged when it comes to painting patterns but  the cheap brands I use can be hard to control when painting designs. Then I promptly forgot. I also forgot that the locating plug was square instead of round so the other side is skewed. I could paint over the shields ain't going to happen. 

I tried to think of things to make them look more Persian but alas, once an ad 5th/6thC Persian put on mail and a helmet, they just didn't look all that different. Still, if the guys they are fighting haven't figured out that the elephant is one with the enemy, they probably don't have much hope anyway. 

Now, why just in time? Is there a battle coming? Nope, not soon anway, I need to paint my Persian General and Elite cavalry, and some infantry. No, its because something else arrived:

We have work to do!!

"Aux pots camarades!"  (sic)

Monday, September 20, 2021

Ollie: Progress Report

Managed to do some assembly this morning and painting this afternoon.

Tomorrow I'll add the shields and cases of feathered javelins and 2 crew. 

Not bad so far I think and it distracted me from the pains in my knee and calf! 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Dealing With A White Elephant

 Its time has come!

Nearly 20 years ago, while looking for affordable Elastolin Landsknechts on ebay, I  came across this Germania resin kit of a Carthaginian war elephant.  Well,  I had no need of one but I mean it was a 40mm WAR ELEPHANT! and at a price I shouldn't but could afford. 

Since then it has snoozed in storage, occasionally coming out to look at me or hang out on a shelf while I tried to decide whether to send it to 19thC India or ..... hmm. Building 40mm ancient armies was a no go but enough Sassinids for a Roman/Prince Valiant style encounter soon became an option as that collection just kept adding to itself despite orders to the contrary. A raid of some sort? A shipwreck and rescue maybe?

I'm ready to resume painting  and all of my remaining collections are table ready for at least a small game so it seems like a good time to start doing some of the different and interesting, if only occasionally useful, bits that I've long wanted to do.

My handful of small slim Elastolin Turks look like bearded children next to my tall stockier French Rev troops so I've decided to use my homecast Turks for my Egyptian campaign. Given Foster's drawings of Easterners in the Prince Valiant strips, I think I can allow myself to use them to make some turbanned Persians along with a handful more armoured cavalry, some archers and some Hun mercenaries. 

The time has come for the White Elephant to come to life!

(Hmm I  wonder where I've tucked the little bag with tassels and mahout?)

Friday, September 17, 2021

Patience Is A Virtue

For a long list of boring reasons, this week I've not done any painting or playing or rules tinkering or....well OK I have rearranged my games room and replaced the crappy little painting desk I've been using  for an old kitchen table (my 1st piece of furniture from my first apartment back in '77 awwwww). Its not ideal but its higher so my back is not crouched over and its bigger and its in a spot with better light for my old eyes.....   but that's not the important thing for today. 

After disappearing off the international tracking system for a month, my Birthday present from Prince August (Is it still a present if you ordered and paid for it...) has finally reappeared on the screen and is in now finally in Canada! It is currently being paddled and portaged  across country and should be delivered next Wednesday. 

See that little spare head with the false front? It may not be perfect but does anyone think I won't get away with fudging it as a 1793 Austrian infantry cap? I'll need different bodies to easily fudge a closed coat without lapels but the firing pose with open lapelled coat will come in handy for some French, German and Emigre units with bicorne, roundhat, helmet or bearskin as appropriate. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Once More Unto the Bridge

Well, the terrain was all set up and the last game left me craving a battle with toy soldiers rather than fancy 3d counters, so I swapped out the buildings and bridge then summoned MacDuff and my French Revolution forces for a do over.

1795: Somewhere in Brittany

Teaser: Bitter street fighting as the French take the bridge and move into the town.

General de Brigade St. Michel had been ordered to be in Belmont by nightfall but as his column approached the bridge at Ste Croix, the village was full of Redcoats. A few inquiries led to him detaching a battalion of infantry and his squadron of Hussards de la Morte to outflank the enemy's position. That was going to take time so he decided to probe the enemy's defences to draw their attention. Suddenly the woods exploded in smoke and fire. Les Chouans had linked up with les m-----s Anglais!

It took time but eventually the cavalry was approaching the English flank, possibly a little rashly since they left their infantry escort far behind in their rush. Still, with a little luck they might catch the flank of the Scots.

Alas for the republicans, the Breton royalists moved fast and shot accurately. The Hussards quickly fell back and rallied. A few emigres were still holding on to one house in the village but the Highlanders, now alerted to the threat, retired a little and wheeled back to face both threats with the wood protecting their right.

The Hussars had rallied and chased the Chouans into the woods but couldn't follow and they couldn't face both ways, a scatter of deadly shots send them racing back to the ford. Meanwhile, the Veteran Whitecoats charged forward into the Highlanders only to be driven back when General Stewart threw himself into the fight, steadying his men.

Les Blancs were no children to be so easily scared though and a second charge saw General Stewart shot from the saddle and the highlanders wavered then fell back. The road was almost open!

The Highlanders were not children to be so easily scared either. With the Colours flying, the piper piping, and the gruff old sergeant pushing even some of the wounded back into line they prepared for a last stand. But the rest of the field had not been quiet, the 3rd battalion had finally caught up, only to be shattered by fire from the Royalist guerrillas in the wood.   St. Michel rushed to steady them but the Royalist bullets found him as well and the conscripts broke and ran. The affair was over as the sunset. 

At first I thought the French had no hope but by turn 10 of 15, I was beginning to doubt that they could be stopped. As it was the decision came late in turn 14 of 15 when it became clear that the French did not have the necessary 3 units capable of exiting the board before dark even if the English gave  up and retreated. 

A couple of hours well spent from set up to pack away, in fact, a great way to spend part of a convalescent day home alone. I'll leave the rest of my reflections for another day.

Friday, September 10, 2021

The War of 1812 in One Hour

 Well, OK, not the whole war, just One Hour Wargame Scenario #9 set up as a minor affair in the War of 1812. The scenario has  force defending a river line against a larger attacking force. His roll is to prevent the enemy from crossing the river and exiting the battlefield with at least 1/2 of his units. As usual, I doubled the number of small units on my larger table to keep the army footprint closer to the original. Apparently I also forgot to put the hill on the British right. Oh well. 

The British commander, under the mistaken impression that the Americans had to exit by the road, deployed all of his line infantry and artillery to defend the bridge. A unit each of Voltigeurs and Mohawks were sent across a hidden ford into some woods while some militia skirmishers, supported by a Squadron of Light Dragoons, held a ford on the far side of the woods.

The US player, deploying second, reread the scenario and seeing that he could exit from anywhere on the British table edge, split his force in half. 

The Americans began the ball by assaulting the bridge but the British fire was too hot and the attack was easily repulsed. 

The ford was taken as easily as the bridge had been held. A long delaying action followed while the skirmishers across the river, having mauled the US riflemen, were called back to help hold the line.

There were some worrisome moments for the British commander but the second, forlorn, assault on the bridge by tired units was easily repulsed. It was also late in the day, too late to send units from the bridge force around by the ford before dark. Reluctantly the US commander ordered his units to fall back to camp. There he cursed himself for not having held a reserve in the middle until he judged the difficulties of each crossing.    

As usual,  I revisited the rules before playing, taking advantage of some of my other recent games with variants of the rules, and streamlined some of the clunky rules. They are too simple to be comprehensive and accurate in detail, but the game flowed well and produced what felt like like a reasonable recreation of the war if not of the low level details. I may have to do another Chrysler Farm game again!  

** Update: While rereading the scenario, I realized that the victory conditions just specify that the attacker has to exit 1/2 his force. Its in the special rules section that says the attacker may only exit by road.... OK so solid win for the Brits then.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Somewhere in Lower Canada in 1813

Having sorted and put away my remaining ACW recruits for later, I  decided to set up a game, but what period to play?

Looking through the options,  I  remembered that I had two updated and refurbished 1812 units that had yet seen action in their new role. That was good enough for me.

A One Hour scenario on a 4x5 ft table with 2 Square Brigadier stands for each OHW unit to keep the proportions in line. Turn 1 has been played to get the Americans on the on the table.

Might get a chance to play Friday but Saturday is more likely.

Monday, September 6, 2021

The Generosity of Wargamers.

After my Battle of Iuka post earlier this year, my mention of needing more trees resulted in several generous offers which helped tremendously. One of the tree reinforcements though, was accompanied by a trainload or two of ACW volunteers. (Thanks Chris)

I guess my armies aren't quite big enough yet.

This Airfix ACW thing started so simple and small. In '83, out of the navy for 2 years and finally employed but without regular gaming opponents,  I reread the chapter on Solo gaming in Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers and decided to give it a go. Not quite 30 at the time and having never played solo, I had only ever painted one side for each period. MPC had re-released the old Airfix ACW, so I ordered a few boxes and started painting. I managed 48 figures and a gun per side and 1 small test solo game before normal (sic)  life and wargaming resumed and they moved from shelf to shelf and then eventually got dumped into a big box of 1/72nd plastic and put in a cupboard until 2011. 

The Belmont Bugle from November 2011

Years passed, I had my little heart incident, and being prematurely retired, money was again an issue as were periodic new physical limitations.  In 2011, I was looking for a sit down game and the 1/72nd plastic ACW came to mind, so I dug back through the big jumbled box of mostly unpainted 1/72 and lo and behold, my guys had survived with barely a flake, even the muskets and the conversions!!  That wash, acrylic undercoat and final acrylic brush on varnish combo had worked. So out they came, I retouched them, based them, and started playing with them. 

Then one of my regular opponents expressed an interest and painted a few. 

2012: Jerry and I face off on my home turf. That is to say, not just my table but the terrain its based on a government topographic map of the area around my house. (The white house and barn on the left, it was built in the 1850's so deserved to be on the table I thought) . Turned out to be the last game in our fictional narrative campaign based on this part  of Nova Scotia.  

Then a friend passed on a couple of boxes full of painted ACW figures, most Airfix, that had been passed to him from Rob of the Captain's Blog who had them from.......well, anyway, it seems it was the armies painted by several unidentified Halifax gamers from the 70's? or 80's? All of a sudden I was in a position to play some decently sized ACW games. Nothing like that to encourage one to paint even more!   

When the first big reinforcement came, I was a bit dubious but just cobbled together as many units as I could and threw everyone onto the table at Cobb's Farm to see how it felt. Must have felt good since the armies didn't shrink afterwards.

Anyway, I'm not finished painting but my table can't handle too many more figures and once I touch up and base a brigade a side, some much needed guns and some cavalry from the latest of several contributions from several generous readers over the years (at least 4 off the top of my head) and buy some Scrubies from Historifigs and some of the new Jacklex, I'm going to have to think about how to see that what's left over gets painted and played with by someone.

 Drop me a comment or email if you're interested in sharing in some of the excess of 1/72nd recruits in my cupboard.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

How Went the Day? (6 Sep: rules just proof read and edited)

 ****Spoiler Alert***

Really well actually. 

As more Rebels deployed and began their grand attack on either flank, the Federal General recalled what was left of the Regulars to the hill and prepared to hold the line. 

Firstly, I did a rethink last night and came up with a new minor tweak to the rules I was trying to write that looked like it would solve my issues.  The game played easily and quickly with about 2/3 of my existing armies on table, gave the feel I wanted, and had enough moments of drama to get the juices flowing.

Along the ridge, the Confederate left had suffered too much in the early fighting to break through the final Yankee line even though its last supports had been detached to meet an emergency on the other flank. 

Secondly,  it was a white knuckle finish.  

On the other flank, the tardy Rebel brigade finally showed up at the ford and then struggled to fight their way across despite facing a single Yankee cavalry unit. A push across the front from bridge to ford, buckled the Union line and forced it back until only a remnant of a few shattered regiments stood between the Confederate left and the vital roads leading to the Union camps and beyond. Only the hasty redeployment of a few regiments from the ridge allowed the Federals to form a thin line to hold the Confederates away from the crucial road. In the end, it was the brave intervention by a Brigadier to rally the last remnant of one regiment that stopped a break through.   

There is only a both sides of a page draft summary of the rules as yet if someone is interested (<click> here). I'll play a few more games before I think about writing a complete set with engineering, supply trains, amphibious ops and so on. Its also time to get around to naming and labelling all of my commanders and units and making the unit id's more easily legible.

In the meantime, there are some other collections lobbying to use the table on Monday.


Friday, September 3, 2021

The Weekend Is Here!

 And the weather is forecast to be cold and damp, good indoor wargaming weather!  

Having had time and opportunity this week to test each of the variations that I have been considering, I now understand why they worked for some purposes previously and why they aren't working for what I want to do now.  Essentially, giving each of the 3 stands in a unit the same fighting power and endurance as a single unit in the Square Brigadier, increases the average longevity of the units while still leaving a small possibility of a quick collapse or a heroic stand, all of which seems to mesh well with the history I read. Unfortunately, with some 40 or 50 units in play, it also tends to make the game both longer and less exciting for a solo player.

The first attack is struggling and the last Confederate brigade is late to arrive but the game is playing more quickly and feels a bit edgier.

So I turned back to the solution that I have been deliberately avoiding for the sake of variety, an ACW variant of the  Square Brigadier. It is basically the same game, but with each multi-stand unit being treated like a one stand unit. The result is more uncertainty and a quicker pace. 

I played through 2 more turns today and will finish the game on Saturday then set up something for Sunday. (Yup, dog shows are making a comeback!! Yay!)

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Patience is a virtue

 Well, what a surprise, this week isn't going as expected.

None the less, along with the slow creep of an occasional turn being played, I'm having second thoughts about the proposed  organization and level of game. In essence, it is neither this nor that, which could be forgiven if the game was playing smoothly and was enjoyable but 'dangerously close to tedious ' is closer to the mark. There is too much time spent rolling dice to achieve incremental results and too few meaningful decisions to be made.

The game after today's turns, about 1/2 way through the game.

The debate now to be resolved, is whether to give the brigade units another try, looking at using a Fire&Fury/ On To Richmond/Volley & Bayonet sort of approach to fight size-able historical battles, or step back and have another go at my customary approach with more regiments per brigade and thus fewer divisions, if any, to fight small battles like Iuka and to play my usual generic scenarios. 

Needs thought but at least the weekend looks promising for gaming as well as thinking.