Monday, 2 April 2018

Double Delay!

Double Delay is the name of scenario no. 9 in One Hour Wargames, written by Neil Thomas, and it's the game that Anthony and I chose to play this weekend. In light of our previous experience using OHW we decided to use the full 6'x10' table, nine units per side instead of six and five troop types instead of four. We diced as normal for units to get a mix of infantry, cavalry, artillery and skirmishers then switched one unit of infantry for Guards (who use the Zouave profile from the ACW section of the book)

The British have occupied the town of San Antonio somewhere in the Peninsula, they are preparing to leave and rejoin the main army when the French appear on the horizon.  They must delay the enemy and, if possible, deny them the town.

My poor old mother, God rest her soul, would have had forty fits if she'd seen what I've done to her finest Irish linen sheets.  After several days of sponging and stippling they started to look like barren scrubland.

I was still painting the rocks at eight o'clock on the morning of the game, and they were still a bit wet when we were setting up!  There's nothing like a deadline to get your productivity racing.

In true Wellsian fashion the toy soldiers all huddle behind hard cover to shelter from the enemy guns.  They needn't have bothered, although the guns have a range covering virtually the whole table, their limited casualty effect means that troops in the open can take a hard pounding for some time before their capability becomes too seriously depleted.  This is a good thing, it stops the guns dominating the game and reflects the effect of roundshot.

To add a bit of spice the British contingent included a band of Spanish Guerrillas (using the skirmisher unit profile) who act independently and can appear from any piece of cover or enter from any edge of the table at any time subject to the British player achieving an activation score of 6+ on a throw of 2xD6.  Thus there's a good probability they'll appear on cue but it can't be taken for granted, here they emerge from the rocks to give the French artillery a nasty shock!

I take any opportunity to get this old Spanish town out for a game, I bought it for £10 at the very first Plastic Warrior Show, (read about it here) I didn't really want it but it was destined to go in a skip if I hadn't taken it, also it had featured in Donald Featherstone's book "Skirmish Wargaming" (page 50) so I felt I had to save it.

French skirmishers scale the heights on the left of the field supported by the Guards and Chasseurs a Cheval, forcing the British artillery to retire.

The larger table size and additional units made for a lively game with lots of manoeuvre and three actions playing out: forcing the bridge on the left, the main assault against the town on the right and a fight to suppress the guerrillas in the rear centre.  The poor marksmanship of the Guerrillas caused few problems for the French gunners but to contain them tied down an inordinate number of French infantry that could have been put to better use elsewhere, such is the purpose of these irregulars.

The river is a sectional model that clips together, made by Pegasus, it arrived in the nick of time the day before the game and went straight from box to table.

The French eventually took the town and pursued the British off the table, as the scenario required, we played the full 15 moves in about two and a half hours.  I think we have found a formula that makes the OHW system work well for 54mm toy soldiers.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Plastic Warrior Show 2018

For those that don't already know, or who are searching the web for information on the UK Toy and Model Soldier Show, more commonly referred to as the Plastic Warrior Show 2018, it will be held on Saturday 12th May 2018. 

The venue is: The Harlequin Suite at the Winning Post Inn Chertsey Road, Twickenham, TW2 6LS.  Doors open to General Public from 10.30 (there is no earlybird entry).  Link to website: 

  This will be our 5th year at this venue and it has proved popular with dealers and collectors. There are a just a couple of tables left before it's sold out so this year looks like it will be a bumper event with many collectors taking space to shift some of their surplus.  Travel information and directions are at the bottom of this post.

If you've never been before here's a taster of last year's show:

A boxed Cherilea 7th Cavalry and Indians set, the buckboard and canoe are quite hard to find and I don't think I've ever seen that tepee before.

While primarily a show for collectors of old plastic toy soldiers there are plenty of accesories and recent manufactured figures for the 54mm wargamer.  This table had a model of Rorkes Drift and a whole Wild West town for sale.

All sorts of unusual bits and pieces here, the show attracts traders and collectors from all over Europe and beyond offering figures we otherwise don't get to see so often in England.

A large part of the fun is rummaging through all the cheapo junk boxes.

You never know what will turn up.

The show is primarily for for 54mm plastic figures but there is also usually plenty of 1/72 stuff and even a bit of Action Man stuff slips in, so if you fancy a little wallow in nostalgia you should go along and treat yourself to a few new toys.

Travel Directions to the Plastic Warrior Show 2018. London Toy Soldier Show.

From Outside London take M25, M3, A316, go over one roundabout and entrance to the winning Post is after 500 metres on your left.  From Inner London, after Richmond Circus follow A316 and continue straight on over 3 roundabouts.  You will pass the Winning Post on your right.  At the next roundabout take the 4th exit and entrance to the Winning Post will be on your left after 500 metres.

FREE PARKING.  There is extensive free parking at the site and in the residential roads behind the Winning Post, The Harlequin Suite is to the right of the main building.

By Public Transport.  From Central London and the South of England by overground train (South West Trains) from Waterloo or Clapham Junction to Whitton Station.  There are 8 trains an hour and the journey time is approx. 30 minutes, this is a loop line so 4 trains an hour run from two different platforms at Waterloo Station.   From the North of England by train to London arriving at Kings Cross St. Pancras or Euston. take the London Underground Victoria line just 6 stops to Vauxhall and change for South West Trains to Whitton Station as above.   Whitton Station is just 3 minutes walk from the Winning Post - turn left out of the station past Jubilee Avenue and Pauline Crescent, the next turning on your left is the entrance to the Winning Post.

At the time of writing (16.03.2018) there are no planned Engineering Works on this line.

Should you wish to take the London Underground to Richmond as in previous years, the easiest thing is to change platform and take a South West Train service to Whitton Station as above (4 trains an hour from Richmond, journey time 8 minutes).  Alternatively you could get a black cab or a H22 bus from the taxi rank and bus stop outside the station.

Oyster cards are accepted on all London Underground lines, buses and South West Trains to Whitton Station.

The Winning Post Inn opens from 08.00 to 11.00 serving breakfast or coffee for those who arrive early, the pub serves drinks from 11.00 and Lunches from 12.00.  There is a cashpoint on site but Whitton town center with a full range of shops and banks is just 3 minutes walk from the hall.  Within the Winning Post complex is a Premier Inn travel hotel for those who want to break their journey and stay overnight. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Little Wars Revisited - 54mm in Woking

Yesterday saw various members of the Little Wars Revisited Forum gather together in Woking, Surrey for a day of 54mm wargaming. Five different games were played throughout the day, each a different period and rule set, here are the all important pictures:

Anthony Morton brought out his English Civil War armies for an airing of the Pikeman's Lament rules written by Daniel Mersey.

I should have taken more pictures of the terrain and buildings (and I thought I had but apparently not!) which were superb, but as usual I was beguiled by the figures.

At least this time I remembered to include the cavalry, which I omitted when his collection last graced this blog.

Here we see Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame as presented by Mike Lewis using his Little Wars Revisited range of figures and new modular terrain.  The 54mm Wargames Day was Mike's brainchild and he did all the work, so many thanks Mike (and can we do it again next year?)

This was the North West Frontier game that I participated in, the rules used were The Sword and the Flame, written by Larry Brom

This was my first time using these rules and my thanks go to Alastair (sorry don't know your surname) for patiently steering me through them.  The scenario shows a relief column trying to fight it's way through hostile Pathans to save a beleaguered garrison.

A well sighted Pathan gun plays havoc with the British troops pinned in the rocky landscape.  Again there was great use made of simple terrain pieces to create a visually enjoyable game.

We used activation cards designed specifically for TSATF and available from The Virtual Armchair General which all agreed made the game a lot easier, quicker and more fun to play.

This impressive display was brought along by Eric Kemp and features figures from numerous manufacturers including his own Helmet Soldiers

Eric was using his own rule system to refight the action around La Haye Sainte every roof tile has been individually cut and fixed to the the buildings, wish the slates on my house were as well layed.

Eric is aiming build up his collection to 1,500 figures for a massive outdoor game at the end of this summer, we wish him luck!

My own humble offering was a pitched battle between the French and English using Lion Rampant rules and my well worn medievals.

A fast flowing game, helped or hindered, (the jury is still out on this) by a quick reference sheet that I had prepared in advance.  Here the French men at arms are about to serve the coup de grace on the English.

After a long tiring day of playing with toy soldiers I retired home and met Mrs C in our local pub just in time to watch the French trounce the English for a second time in a day, this was a rather more serious matter, it was the 6 Nations rugby match in Paris.

 A great day had by all.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Fighting Retreat

Last weekend our stalwart wargaming friend, Anthony, called over to test out another scenario from One Hour Wargames (OHW) by Neil Thomas. This time dice were thrown to select the scenario and fate handed us Fighting Retreat, myself on the run with two units of knights, one of men at arms and one of archers, while Anthony took up the chase with four units of knights, one of archers and a hotch potch of the levy.
Here's how the action panned out:

The opening moves see the renegades cross the river, do they make a stand and hold the two fords or run for the hills?  My natural instinct was to pull the archers back into the treeline where they would be safe from the thundering hooves of the knights, I'm sure this is what they would have done in reality but the rules don't allow any units into the woods. With these medieval rules, archers in woods would be nigh on unassailable so we went with the premise that if the footmen reached the safety of the woods they would just disperse and melt away into the undergrowth.

The archers got off one volley before the horsemen were upon them, the outcome was never in any doubt but the footmen were now playing for time and held out rather longer than one might reasonably have expected.

I couldn't think what toys to use for the levy (in the right foreground) so I quickly cobbled together some odds and ends of Robin Hood figures. I really don't like putting unpainted figures on the table and was doubly annoyed after the game to remember my Elastolin swappet Saxons which would have been perfect for this role, drat!

The archers succumb to the onslaught from the pursuing knights and their own horsemen, waiting in support, finally pile in to hold the line at the ford.

It was much the same story at the second ford, where the men at arms held off their attackers until being ridden down and eventually reinforced by their own body of knights.

And that was about it, the renegades held out until about round 12 before being eliminated, leaving the pursuers to ride on and capture the objective by round 15, thus winning the game.

There's a lot I like about OHW, primarily the simplicity, easy to learn, quick to set up and play, needing little space and few figures. But after two games it's feeling a bit limited to me, I feel a larger area and more units are needed to give more flexibility, as it stands there isn't much room for manoeuvre and units in melee can't disengage until one is eliminated so it's all too easy for a game to end up as one long slugfest (or perhaps I'm just a crap General?).  

Where we see this going is to continue using the core game system but use the whole 10' x 6' table area (as opposed to 6'x6') increase the max number of units from six to ten, increase troops types from 4 to 5/6 and set out terrain based on sections of historic battlefields.  Will these alterations change the dynamic of the game? What do you think?

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Shambolic Command!

What a great phrase! it's the title of a scenario from "One Hour Wargames" written by Neil Thomas, which Santa brought me for Christmas, and it's the action which AM and I played yesterday using his rather sumptuously painted English Civil War figures.

The opening positions see the forces of Parliament above occupying a contested hill while the Royalists approach from the north.  The winner will be the side that either holds the hill at the end of fifteen turns, or eliminates their enemy, whichever comes first.

The figures are made by "A Call to Arms" and the rather wangy plastic pikes that they come with have been replaced with brass rod.  

Parliament fields six units but are led by a poor commander (hence shambolic command) who exhibits his incompetence by being allowed to only move two units per turn. The Royalists have only four units but are more ably led and can move all units each turn. A nice, simple mechanism to distinguish variability between commanders, I thought.

The Royalist infantry use their greater mobility in a frontal assault while their horse move around the flank, massed volley firing blows away a Parliamentary Regiment but the Royalists begin to run short on ammunition!

As the ammunition runs out the royalists charge home but are greatly weakened by counter volley fire and hand to hand fighting.  The twenty sided dice, seen behind each unit were used to keep track of the casualties it had suffered.

During the first half it looked as if my Royalists had the game in the bag but then attrition began to take it's toll and with fresh Parliamentary Regiments moving up they could no longer take the pressure, and it was all over.  Victory to the Parliamentarians.

Each scenario in the book is based on an actual battle so you can look it up afterwards and see what should have happened, in this case the course of history was changed!  The game took us about two and a half hours to play but could probably be done in about half that time had we been more acquainted with the rules and not spent so much time gassing on about toy soldier stuff.

We played on an area 6' x 6' and doubled the movement/firing distances, the rules are quick and easy to pick up and I thought they were ideal for skirmish games with 54mm figures.  I liked their simplicity and the fact that much the same structure, with just subtle changes, was used for every historical period, which is ideal if you tend to flit from age to age as we do.

The rules have come in for some criticism of over simplicity and I can see how they wouldn't sit well with some people but I felt they were fine for giving the feel of a period without tying one down into the straightjacket of too much detail.  The only thing I wasn't too keen on was trying to keep track of the casualties/hits for each unit, we attached a D20 to each unit to record this, which worked well enough but was a bit fiddly and would be rather onerous on a larger sized battle (to which I aspire)  and I'm sure we can find a better way to tackle this.