Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Another tragedy

My wife and I were getting ready to go to bed last night when the first news of an 'incident' in Manchester began to feature on the two main news channels. The situation was somewhat confused, and we both hoped that whatever the cause, it would turn out to be nothing serious.

We were both wrong.

When we woke up at 7.30am this morning and saw the news, we were both saddened to find that at least twenty two people (including the bomber) are dead, and nearly sixty people were seriously injured.

I cannot conceive of what would induce someone to think that killing oneself – and a lot of innocent people – with a bomb is going to change a single thing in this world other than to cause massive grief and sorrow to the families of the victims. This has been shown time and time again ... and yet despite this some people still think that self-immolation that causes the deaths of others serves some sort of higher cause. In my opinion, it does not.

Needless to say our thoughts and condolences go out to the families of everyone who was killed or injured in this incident, and we offer our support to all of those who have been affected by it, whether they were event attendees or responders.

It has been pointed out in the media that yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, South East London, and the two incidents have been tentatively linked.

As I live only about a mile from the scene of the murder, I was aware of the fact that at some time during the past week the memorial to Lee had been vandalised, and that yesterday there was a ceremony at the memorial in remembrance of him. I hope against hope that the date chosen for yesterday's attack was purely coincidental, as is the fact that Lee came from Middleton in Greater Manchester.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Nugget 300

The editor of THE NUGGET sent the latest issue of the journal to me on Saturday, and I am taking it to the printer later today. This should mean that it will be printed and posted out to members of Wargame Developments by the end of the week.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the ninth and last issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2016-2017 subscription year ... and is the three hundredth to be published. This is an important milestone in the history of Wargame Developments and THE NUGGET, and this issue will be published just a month before the 38th annual COW (Conference of Wargamers) takes place at Knuston Hall, Northamptonshire.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Scenarios for All Ages

Whilst writing the chapter about scenarios for my forthcoming DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book, I realised that I had somehow 'lost' my copy of Charles Stuart Grant and Stuart Asquith's SCENARIOS FOR ALL AGES.

This book was published by CSG Publications (Wargaming) in 1996 (ISBN 0 9525146 5 6) and is still available from John Curry's 'History of Wargaming' Project ... which is where I bought my replacement copy.

The book contains fifty two different scenarios, many of which are convertible for use with THE PORTABLE WARGAME. This is an excellent book, and now that Charles Stuart Grant's earlier SCENARIOS FOR WARGAMERS and PROGRAMMED WARGAMES SCENARIOS only seem to be available on the second-hand market at quite ridiculous prices, it serves as an easily available and affordable source of scenarios for wargamers.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Miniature Wargames Issue 410

The May issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES magazine was delivered a few days ago, but I have been so busy that I have only just managed to read through it.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Welcome (i.e. the editorial) by John Treadaway
  • Forward observer
  • Send three and fourpence: 'Get to the chopper!': A chat and a game with Brian Kenny, AvP (Alien vs. Predator) Unleashed Team by Conrad Kinch
  • Rules of Engagement: Asymmetric Warfare on the North West Frontier and modern conflicts by Andy Copestake
  • Some you win, some Zulus: A card-based system for producing the element of surprise in late nineteenth century colonial wargames by Andrew Rolph
  • Recce!: An Airfix Battles scenario by Alan Paull
  • Darker Horizons
    • Fantasy Facts
    • The Army of Gondolin: Painting a realistic Elven army (Part One) by Graham Green
    • Designing ulterior motives: A chat with the author of the latest add-on to Frostgrave by John Treadaway and Joe McCullough
  • Salute 2017: Show report by John Treadaway
  • Recce
  • Big Boys' Toys: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Club Spotlight: Falkirk District Wargames Club by Douglas Thompson
  • Club Directory
I was rather disappointed with this issue, and it pretty well confirmed my decision to cancel my subscription when it is next due. The only two articles I really enjoyed reading were those written by Andrew Rolph and Alan Paul (both of whom I have met at recent COWs) ... and when I saw that one article in the Darker Horizons section was subtitled 'Painting a realistic Eleven army', I nearly fell off my chair!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Retail therapy ... at Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop

As I reported in yesterday's blog entry, I drove our visitor to North Greenwich underground station via Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop. There we were both able to indulge in some retail therapy, and I came away with a copy of an AFTER THE BATTLE magazine ...

... and a book entitled GUIDE TO SIEGE WARGAMING by Stuart Asquith.

The former covers the four Battles of Kharkov as well as containing articles about Battery Maxim Gorkii I and re-enacting Operation Anglo. Stuart Asquith's book was one of a series published under the aegis of MILITARY MODELLING magazine by Argus Books (ISBN 1 85486 009 7) in 1990. Although I have owned the others in this series, this was one I had never bough before, and it was on sale at what I thought was a bargain price ... so I bought it!

I thoroughly recommend that anyone visiting this part of south east London should pay a visit to Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop. It is usually open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and can be found at 5 Falconwood Parade, Welling, Kent, DA16 2PL.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Here's hoping for a restful few days!

The last four days have been a bit busy with lots of non-wargaming activity, but with a bit of luck I hope that the next few days will be a little less hectic.

On Sunday Sue and I spent the morning at the Bluewater Shopping Centre, where I had an eye test. The results were encouraging (my eyesight has not degenerated very much over the past ten years) but I did end up buying two new pairs of glasses; one for normal every-day wear and one for close work such as reading and painting toy soldiers.

On Monday morning we went looking new sofa for our conservatory. Our search involved a visit to Orpinton in Kent which proved to be fruitless. After lunch I then went up to Freemasons Hall in Central London to attend a meeting of the London Lodge of which I am a member. This started at 4.00pm and ended at just after 6.00pm, which gave us plenty of time to get to the Kingsway Hall Hotel for a pre-dinner drink. The after meeting dinner ended by 9.00pm, and after an uneventful journey I was home at 10.00pm.

The hunt for a new sofa continued on Tuesday morning. We began by visiting a couple of furniture stores in Chatham, Kent, but yet again our efforts went unrewarded. After lunch we concentrated our search in Charlton in South East London where we finally found what we were looking for. I just about managed to load the new sofa into the back of my car to get it home, and had managed to unload it by the time I had to leave to go to Cheshunt for a Lodge Committee Meeting followed by a Lodge of Instruction meeting.

By early on Wednesday morning the new sofa was in its place in our conservatory, and well before midday Sue and I were in a supermarket in Welling, Kent, buying some much-needed food supplies. We had eaten lunch at home by 1.30pm, and an hour or so later I was on my way to North Greenwich underground station to pick up an old friend and fellow Freemason prior to us going to a Lodge Meeting in Cheshunt. We were held up by a combination of bad weather, heavy traffic and vehicle breakdowns, and we did not arrive at the Halsey Masonic Centre until 4.35pm ... only to find that quite a few other attendees had also been delayed.

The meeting was an Installation, and I did my small part in helping to place another old friend into the Chair of my Mother Lodge. There was a special surprise for me towards the end of the meeting when the current Provincial Grand Orator presented me with the dress and undress aprons he has worn for the past eight years. I will therefore be able to wear them with pride when I am formally invested as his replacement in September.

The journey home from Cheshunt was somewhat less fraught than the journey there, and my guest and I reached home not long after 10.30pm. We then spent the next hour having a relaxing chat and a drink, but by midnight we were all feeling very tired, and not long afterwards everyone was in bed and asleep. We were all awake by 8.00am, and by 9.30pm we had all eaten a very pleasant cooked breakfast. Our guest took his leave just after 11.00am, and I drove him to North Greenwich underground station via the Falconwood Transport & Military Bookshop, where we stopped for a spell of retail therapy. I was back home by just after 12.30am, and after a short break for a drink, Sue and I went out into our garden to fix one of the bird feeder stations which had fallen over during a rainstorm.

With a bit of luck we should now be able to relax a bit for a day or so, and I may even manage to do some more work on my DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME book.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 17th May 1937

After the resignation of Largo Caballero, Dr Juan Negrin (a Socialist) became Prime Minister.

Dr Juan Negrin.
His new Government was dominated by Communists.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Developing The Portable Wargame: Latest update

Thanks to the feedback I have had from my small team of play-testers and proof-readers, work on DEVELOPING THE PORTABLE WARGAME continues apace, and with luck it should be ready for publication by the end of this month. Final checking and the need to finish one chapter – for which I have to borrow some figures – are the only things that I can foresee that will hold up this process.

At present the contents look like this:
  • Introduction
  • Pinning and Unpinning Units
  • The Two Kills Option
  • Army Lists, Balanced, and Unbalanced Forces
  • Big Board – and Small Board – Gridded Wargames
  • A few observations about Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Portable Wargame Rules: Ancients
  • Army Lists for The Portable Wargame: Ancient Army Lists
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some example from the Ancients Rules
  • A few observations about the Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Developed Portable Wargame Rules: Early and Mid Twentieth Century
  • Adding another dimension: Some thoughts about Air Combat Rules
  • Portable Wargame: Air Combat Rules
  • The Portable Wargame in Action: Some examples from the Air Combat Rules
  • Simple Mini-Campaigns
  • Scenarios
  • Bibliography
  • Endnotes

Monday, 15 May 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 15th May 1937

Largo Caballero resigned as Prime Minister of the Republic.

Largo Caballero.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Dictionary of Imaginary Places

During my recent rip to the local Royal Mail delivery office to collect my second copy TRAVEL BATTLE, I also collected a parcel from Germany that contained a copy of THE DICTIONARY OF IMAGINARY PLACES.

I had read a short review of this book online, and decided that for someone like me who has an interest in imagi-nations, it was an absolute 'must have'. My copy is 755 pages long, was published in 2000 by Turtleback Books (ISBN 978 0 613 56311 6), and was compiled by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi. I opted for the edition that was produced in what is termed 'School and Library Binding' as this is a big book and I wanted to make sure that I would never have any problems with it falling apart over years to come.

As to the content ... well as one would expect, many famous imaginary places are included within its pages (e.g. Ruritania, Nania, Middle Earth, Earthsea, Hogwarts, Utopia, Atlantis, Arkham) and some that are by no means as well known (e.g. Cacklogallinia, the island in the Caribbean). What is also interesting is what is missing. This list includes such places as:
  • Graustark, and its neighbours Axphain and Dawsbergen (as featured in the GRAUSTARK novels by George Barr McCutcheon)
  • Borduria, Syldavia, San Theodoros, and Nuevo Rico (as featured in the Tintin books by Herge)
  • Costaguana and Sulaco (as featured in Joseph Conrad's NOSTROMO)
  • Eastasia, Eurasia, and Oceania (as featured in George Orwell's 1984)
  • Maltovia and Lovitzna (as featured in Captain W E John's book BIGGLES GOES TO WAR)
  • Melnibon√© (as featured in Michael Moorcock's ETERNAL CHAMPION stories)
  • The nations of Hyboria (as featured in Robert E Howard's many stories)
  • Barsoom (as featured in the science fiction stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs)
  • Laurania (as featured in Winston S Churchill's only novel, SAVROLA)
Bearing in mind the date of the book's publication, it is less surprising to see that George R R Martin's Westeros doesn't seem to get an entry, but I would have thought that Sir Terry Pratchett's Discworld's Ankh-Morpork might have done.

The big plus this book has for me is its maps. There are 150 of them, all drawn in black and white and all full of potential inspiration for the users of imagi-nations! One map in particular caught my eye. It was of the Karain Continent, which was situated in the South Pacific. Most of the coastal areas were under the control of the British, French and Germans, but the remainder was an independent nation populated by different tribal groups. It all sounded very reminiscent of Eric Knowles's MADASAHATTA, a place that I know well from the year-long campaign he ran – and I took part in – many years ago.