Friday, 18 August 2017

Barcelona: Another city, another tragedy

So another group of innocent people has been mindlessly killed, and numerous others have been injured ... and one has the question 'Why?' What did the perpetrators hope to achieve? Martyrdom? Revenge? If the latter, what supposed act was being avenged?

I first visited Barcelona in the mid 1960s when – like so many others – my family went on a package holiday to Spain. We stayed in a hotel along the coast from Barcelona, and travelled there by train for a day trip. Franco was still 'El Caudillo', and Catalonia sometimes seemed like an occupied country. During the daytime this was not obvious, but at night time there were regular army patrols along the beach and local roads. We were told that they were there to prevent smuggling ... but not what the smugglers were bringing in.

It was many years later that I returned to Barcelona, but since then my wife and I have been back there several times. We have walked up La Rambla, visited several of the cafés that line it, shopped in some of the stores in the Plaça de Catalunya, and wondered – somewhat frivolously – how the numerous living statues manage to make a living.

Our thoughts are with the families of the dead and injured as well as with all those people who have been affected by this terrible event.

One would hope that this will be last of these such attacks ... but I am terribly afraid that it won't be.

I wrote the above last night, just before I went to bed. I had originally intended to publish it right away, but for some reason I decided not to, just in case the situation became clearer overnight. It has ... and it would appear that the attack in the centre of Barcelona was part of a bigger, co-ordinated series of attacks, at least some of which have been foiled by the Police.

According to the BBC the casualties include people from Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Taiwan, and that the so-called Islamic State (or as I prefer to call them, Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the 'organisation') is claiming that the attacks were carried out by some of its 'soldiers'.

It has yet to be determined if the latter is true, or whether or not this appalling act of needless violence was committed by people who took their inspiration from the distorted and perverted view of the world that the leaders of Daesh continue to propound. Regardless of this, the second to last sentence of my original draft remains true ... at this time our thoughts must be with the families of the dead and injured as well as with all those people who have been affected by these terrible events

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A Fantasy version of my Portable Wargame rules

One of my regular blog readers is Maudlin Jack Tar, and whilst I and others have been thinking about writing a Fantasy variant of my PORTABLE WARGAME Ancients rules, he has actually gone and done it!

His rules are available on his blog page, PROJECTS & PROCRASTINATION ...

... and besides enough information to actually fight a Fantasy battle using his rules, he has added a battle report.

I strongly recommend anyone with an interest in a possible Fantasy variant of my rules to pay Maudlin Jack Tar's blog a visit. I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Aircraft used during the Spanish Civil War

Over the past two days I have been working on the section of my book that deals with air forces that took part in the Spanish Civil War. This has proven to be bit if a Gordian Knot to unravel ... but I finally managed it. Both the Republican and Nationalist air forces underwent several reorganisations during the course of the war, on top of which the presence of both Italian and German independent air forces in Spain added another layer of complication. Sorting this out was not an easy task, especially as several of the references I am using contradict each other.

I am now in the process of putting together data about the main types and makes of aircraft used by both sides ... and it is quite a long list! With a bit of luck I should be able to get this data together by the end of tomorrow, and then I can move on to the next section of the book.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

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

A new political police force, the SIM (Servicio Investigacion Militar), was formed in Republican Spain. It was controlled by the Communists and contained many Russian 'advisers'.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Some more (not quite) forty shades of green

Let it not be said that I don't read and act upon the comments made by my regular blog readers. I have therefore created an 8 x 8 'mix and match' grid of Heroscape hexes using those that I have already painted and a few originals. The resulting grid looked like this:

It certainly makes for an interesting and varied look ... and has made me wonder if there might not be something worth pursuing here.

Time for a bit of reflection, I feel.

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 14th – 25th August 1937


After capturing Bilbao, the Nationalist forces in the North of Spain switched their offensive towards Santander. The Nationalists, who were led by General Fidel Davila, advanced westwards through the Cantabrian Mountains. Despite the large numbers of troops General Mariano Gamir had under his command, Republican resistance was weak. This weakness was due, in the main, to poor training and a shortage of weapons. On 23rd August the Basque forces in the Republican army surrendered to General Ettore Bastico, and because further resistance was impossible, Ulibarri abandoned his remaining troops and flew to safety in France. The Nationalists were then able to enter Santander almost unopposed.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

(Not quite) Forty shades of green

During the much needed breaks in my writing schedule, I have been playing around with different shades of green paint to see which looks best on some examples of Heroscape hexed terrain. The results so far are as follows:

I am tending towards the use of a lighter rather than a darker shade, but I have not yet made a firm decision.

It is something for me to think about whilst I am toiling away at my keyboard!

For those of you who are not aware, there is an old Irish folk song entitled FORTY SHADES OF GREEN ... and it has been around for a lot longer than new, slightly larger, similarly-named, grey upstart that seems to have gained a spurious literary notoriety over recent years.

The lyrics of the song are as follows:
I close my eyes and picture the emerald of the sea
From the fishing boats at Dingle
To the shores of Donadee
I miss the River Shannon and folks at Skibereen
The Moorlands and the Meadows
And their forty shades of green
But most of all I miss a girl in Tipperary town
And most of all I miss her lips
As soft as eiderdown
Again I want to see and do
The things I've done and seen
Where the breeze is sweet as Shalimar
And there's forty shades of green

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Ploughing on

I have spent the day ploughing on with the re-write of my book about the Spanish Civil War. I've reached the section on the air forces fielded by both sides, and this has involved me sitting at my desk surrounded by numerous reference books and copies of documents ... and three dictionaries. I don't speak or read Spanish, Italian, or German anywhere near well enough to be able to translate anything without constantly referring to one or more of the dictionaries. As a result progress has been slow ... but I have been able to correct some errors and add quite a bit more detail.

With luck I hope to finish this part of the book by the end of tomorrow, but I suspect that it might take longer.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Messing about with my Heroscape terrain

During a break from writing, I decided to try placing some of my Heroscape terrain on to my newly constructed 192-hex terrain board. The first thing I found was that the Heroscape tiles clipped together somewhat easier when laid onto the terrain board than when used without it. I suppose this is because the terrain board guides them into place, thus making the process easier.

The second thing was that hills are easier to model with Heroscape than they are with Hexon II. They may end up looking like 'old school' stepped hills, but the figures don't slide off them and they can be made to be more rugged, with lots of different levels being possible.

The end result of my 'messing around' can be seen below:

The ship models are ones that I built some time ago, the buildings were bought during a visit to Corfu, and the trees are ones bought from a model railway shop and subsequently based by me. I used water hexes for the sea, green hexes for most of the terrain, with sand hexes for the beach and some poor going inland, and grey hexes for the centre of the town and the roads.

I was rather pleased with the end result, and it has convinced me that I ought to make better use of my extensive collection of Heroscape terrain.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Spanish Civil War: Day-by-Day: 10th August 1937

The Council of Aragon was dissolved by the Republican government.