A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Thursday, 27 August 2015

New Toy Shop

Well, hardly new, I think - but new to me. In addition to my terrible addiction to exotic dice, I also love good quality games equipment - counters, markers, all that.

Wooden counters and playing pieces, all shapes, sizes & colours
For the last few weeks I've been trawling around eBay looking for some suitable identifying markers - to denote brigade allocations and for various other purposes for my wargames. Nothing looked quite the right size, and the cheap tiddlywinks and stuff just looked shoddy - and there are never enough colours.

Today I think I hit the right spot - if you don't know them, this is www.spielmaterial.de - Harald Mücke, of Mönchengladbach. They have counters, playing pieces, terrain tiles for popular games, expansion bits for Carcassonne, traditional kids' toys... - recommend you have a look around the site, using this link, if you're interested in bits and pieces of this type.

Tonight I've ordered a stack of 8mm wooden cubes, just to stick a toe in the water - 10 each of 16 colours. 8mm cubes are small enough to be neat and tidy, but big enough to stay put and capable of being picked up by my elephant's-feet fingers.

The website is crisp and bright and logical and friendly, and they take PayPal. Oh - and their prices are good too.

Hooptedoodle #188 - The Psychopath Test


This note follows from a conversation I had with my wife, and an email I sent to Rod, so I must start by apologising to those individuals for recycling the same material into a blog post. Waste not, want not, my grandmother used to say.

I have recently read Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test – a friend recommended it, and I found it a worthwhile, absorbing read. It is, admittedly, written rather in the style of Bill Bryson (Notes from the World of Psychiatry?), but it is entertaining, informative and thought provoking all at the same time. The big messages for me were the surprising numbers of scary people who make it into positions of power and influence, and the extent to which the psychiatry and pharmaceutical industries have exploited public fear of mental illness, and have (apparently) even invented disorders – especially in childhood – whose very existence is debated, but which produce a very considerable revenue.

I am not going to trot out a full review – my mind doesn’t seem to work like that. I will mention, however, some small disquiet I felt as I was working my way through Bob Hare’s psychopathy checklist, which is an established diagnostic tool, especially in criminal psychiatry – it struck me that it seems remarkably crude, for a resource which is so highly valued and which actually results in people being placed in institutions – but then, what do I know? I also found, as I was going through the checklist, that a fair number of the characteristics described might apply to me. Good heavens, that one sounds like me as well.

No, no - that's a cycle path
Of course, I played it down to myself, but I was really quite relieved when I came to a section which stated that, if the reader was growing concerned that they might themselves have psychopathic tendencies, then they almost certainly did not, since a true psychopath would not have been concerned.

So that’s all right then – now I wasn’t worried at all. Then I started to consider, how would a psychopath have reacted to the news that anyone who was worried was probably not a psychopath? Would they then have become worried, since they had not been concerned about the checklist questions, or are psychopaths unlikely to be worried about something as cerebral as a book anyway? Should I be worried about the exact point at which I ceased being worried? Hmmm.

That's more like it - there's a man who had an accident with the ketchup bottle
By this stage I had finished reading anyway, so I have stopped worrying now. I’ll go back to worrying about my book about quantum mechanics, which was the worry I interrupted with this most recent book, though I am faintly puzzled to learn that The Psychopath Test is to be a film, starring Scarlett Johansson. I shall leave out the obligatory picture of Ms Johansson, since no-one else will.

I drafted this post yesterday, and this morning I find that my timing was inopportune. I am sickened, like everyone else, by the news coverage of the live execution of a TV news team in Virginia – having heard the BBC talking, once again, about “media coverage”, I am keeping the TV switched firmly off until things quieten down. I am upset by the event, the coverage, the reaction and the implications.

Apparently, this is what a TV looks like when it's switched off
Of course, this is a tragedy involving people in the news industry, so the TV people are very focused on that; they happen to have been rather attractive, young people, which makes the story even more interesting – complete with statements from fiancés, tributes from neighbours and former schoolfriends, etc; most obvious of all, the availability of a clip showing someone being killed on live TV is too much to resist – the media will get as close to the boundaries of the law and public decency as they can to outdo each other. I am not going to invite death threats again by lamenting the gun situation in the USA, but I observe that the perpetrator was a black guy, which will have been duly noted by those who keep score and those who support the present gun laws.

I wonder – to give us a context, how many unpublicised fatal shootings take place each day in the US? I also wonder – since I am now a bit of an expert – are the psychopaths the people who:

(1) Kill people on live TV?
(2) Televise the shooting in as explicit a manner as possible, to score viewing figures?
(3) Watch it again and again, to catch new details?
(4) Think about doing something similar?
(5) Keep the TV switched off, to avoid being confronted by it?

The questions are, of course, rhetorical – I do not expect anyone to provide answers. Thanks, anyway – if you are upset by this post, please purchase a bunch of flowers from your local filling station, and place them in front of your TV.

Just out of interest, I thought I’d have a look this morning to see if there are any prominent black members of the NRA. I got depressed before I’d formed a clear opinion, so I’ve done with the subject. Back to quantum mechanics.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hooptedoodle #187 – But Clouds Got in My Way

The Technology Illusion


When I first started driving, I owned a series of fairly dodgy pre-owned cars, and – though I sometimes look back on this period with some affection – the reality is that a journey was far more of an act of faith than I would be prepared to put up with now.

A number of things have moved on, of course: the technology has improved, the reliability of robot-built, computerised vehicles is unrecognisably better, the roads are better, the annual “MoT” tests have put most unserviceable vehicles off the road in the UK, and the whole approach to motoring has changed. When I consider the risks I put my young family through back in the 1970s I cannot help but shudder - driving in the Scottish Highlands in a Renault 12 which only worked some of the time, or travelling to France in an ancient 1300cc Cortina (yes, 1300cc - that’s about 1.5 horsepower with a tailwind, in a 2 ton vehicle consisting mostly of angle-iron girders, packed to the gunnels with kiddies’ high-chairs, camping equipment, and actual people).


It was not possible to go motoring in those days unless you had a working knowledge of distributors, carburettor jets, hydraulic bleed nipples and a whole catalogue of suspect bits. Far too often a long journey would require an early stop in a layby somewhere, with the bonnet up, trying to find where the power had gone, or what the strange noise was – or had we imagined it? The AA patrols were like guardian saints in the wilderness – if you got to your destination without some kind of mechanical catastrophe then you felt you ought to go to evening mass to give thanks. Those cars I had were really not fit for purpose – I used to lie awake, in my tent on my holiday campsite, wondering where in the Jura mountains I could get hold of an alternator for an obsolete British Ford, whether the brakes would make it all the way to Lausanne, whether the water-pump leak was serious, whether the exhaust pipe repair would last. If you listened really hard, you could hear these jalopies rusting. The only bits of the bodywork which were not rusting were the bits that had already rusted away and been replaced with fibreglass and porridge.


Nowadays, a car consists of a number of sealed boxes. Nobody really knows what they do – they are made by robots in a factory far away. If your car causes problems, which is very much less likely now, it is no use hoping to have a techie discussion with a proper mechanic about the distributor rotor – the mechanics are just fitters these days, and no-one remembers what a distributor was – diagnostics are carried out by plugging in a laptop computer, which will tell the man which box he needs to replace; if he has one in the store-room then you might get your car back today, otherwise he will email the supplier for one and you’ll get it back tomorrow.


It’s a different thing altogether, and I cannot pretend that it is not better. It seems to me that in the 1970s the reality of owning a car was that you had to understand, more or less, how it worked, or else you had to have a friend who could understand on your behalf. You were the direct successor to a whole line of men wearing their caps back to front, who knew that being a proper motorist required that you were also some kind of engineer. Now we are completely at the mercy of the repair-shop’s laptop, and everything is expensive, but at least we are excused the need to know how a car works, and – most importantly – we can now almost afford to take for granted that when we set out on a journey we are going to arrive at the far end.


The man with his cap back to front is a useful icon for my view of technology. When my father moved up to Scotland, in 2001, I took my laptop around to his new house to sort out a few issues with utility suppliers and so forth, and he was very interested in it. My dad was a very smart man – he was an electronics engineer who worked latterly for the UK Atomic Energy people, and he had lived through the development of computers. He had been involved with some of the earlier commercial applications of computers, performing forecast estimates of electrical supply requirements for power stations, doing mathematical modelling of reactor performance and so on. The computers he had worked with were the size of a room, with cabinets full of tape drives and deafening air-conditioning, and you communicated with them via punched paper tape or punched cards, but he knew all about computers.


My laptop intrigued him. “So what is it?” he asked, “Is it a word-processor, or a calculator, or an information storage device? – what is it?”

I said it was all these things, and could do a whole pile more – all we needed to do was provide a suitable application program, and the scope was almost limitless. I tried to explain conceptually what the functional bits of the machine were, and how an operating system glued everything together as “services” for the end-user. I also emphasised that I was not any kind of engineer, though I used computers a lot, and in fact earned my living with them. My dad was disturbed by the fact that he really couldn’t grasp this at all. For a start, anyone who was not any kind of engineer was probably beneath contempt, but he found it a surprise – and not a very comfortable surprise – that he was in a room with a small device costing a few hundred pounds, the nature of which he couldn’t get a feel for at all.

So he fell back on the engineering bit – “How does it work?” – and when my dad said how does it work, he meant semiconductors, bits of wire, transistors and logic gates (or their modern equivalent), diodes. When I admitted that I really didn’t know, had never built one and would be terrified to open one up, he snorted and jammed his cap firmly on, back to front, and that was the end of his interest in computers. 


One alarming aspect of the passage of time is that we catch ourselves turning into our fathers. We use the Internet a lot here – well, as much as our rural broadband allows – and the other night the Contesse was doing some digging into her family history, and found that she had a great-uncle who served in France in WW1. She found him on a Roll of Honour listing the WW1 service of people who were natives of Morayshire (North East Scotland), though he was a sapper in the Canadian Army. She had no record of this great-uncle previously – he does not appear on any family trees which have been produced to date – so this was all interesting and new.

Good. Very good – but it occurred to me that we would have been unable to explain to my dad, for example, what we had just done. Not least, this is because I for one simply don’t really know. Where did the information come from? – where has it been stored? – how does the search engine work? how does the information get organised and returned? – and how does it happen so fast? Don’t know. I have a vague, doodly idea of how all this works, but I don’t wish to understand it in detail – I am an end-user; I only need to know how to make use of it. My dad would certainly have regarded the term end-user as derogatory. He would have realised that the information had not somehow been stored in some dark place within the Contesse’s laptop, but his attention would have been focused on how the Internet worked rather than how to make use of it. His cap was worn the wrong way round for an end-user. He would have found the Internet wonderful, and intriguing, but would have been distracted by the nuts and bolts. Well, clouds.

Today my son comes to tell me that he has some good news in connection with his computer. Normally the words “good news” and “computer” do not sit together well in this context, but on this occasion I am well impressed. He lost his mobile phone a few months ago – a severe upset which, of course, we all got to experience to the full. A big theme of last week was trying to get Windows 10 to work on his laptop – we succeeded after a lot of research and some in-fighting. As a consequence, he now finds that his Microsoft account includes access to a cloud-type facility (is that the word?) called OneDrive which was available to users of Windows 8 (which was used by his lost phone) but not Windows 7, as his laptop was previously. Now, to his delight, he finds that he has access to all the photos and documents he lost with his phone, since they had all been faithfully hoovered up into OneDrive, without his knowledge or intervention, and are sitting there waiting – like Greyfriars Bobby – for what? Again, I would have had dreadful trouble explaining to my dad where they have been, or how we came to get them back. It doesn’t matter, but I can feel my cap starting to turn a bit…

It would now be possible to go on at great length about the illusory tech-savvy to which a complete generation now appears to attach great prestige, and about how these people are the endest of end-users – my dad would have worried about them – he would even have worried on their behalf, since they do not appear to know quite what it is they are doing. Maybe it doesn’t matter, after all – maybe we don’t need real technicians – maybe we just keep throwing the stuff away and getting our credit card to buy a new one, and trust in the Cloud.

I won’t do that. I’d like to end with an affectionate story about the first time my mother met my SatNav unit. This was about 8 years ago, back in the days when my mum still went out. She was introduced to Martina, the very polite, calm, English voice which my Garmin uses to give instructions. Mum was very impressed, listening to the Voice of Martina as we drove along.


“She’s very good, isn’t she? – she seems very calm, and she must have an awful lot of people to deal with at the same time. Where is she?”

No, no, I said – she wasn’t anywhere; the voice was a computerised thing that lived in the little black box in my car. The only thing that was outside the car was a satellite – or maybe two satellites – I couldn’t remember.

“Good heavens,” said my mum, “you mean the woman is in a satellite?”

No, no – there is no-one in the satellite - the only thing the satellite does is send a signal which says “here I am”, and probably sends an accurate time signal – everything else is done inside the car. I was very much aware that my father would have been very unconvinced by my description, but I stuck with it.

“So there is no woman, then?” said Mum.

No – it is a series of digital recordings of a real woman’s voice, but it is a little computer making the noises. The system is just (just!) a satellite system and a little box on my windscreen.

My mother thought about this for a while, and then said, “No – I can’t see how that would work at all – there must be a woman somewhere who knows where your car is.”

So that was that. Nothing further to discuss about SatNavs.


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Manoeuvring in Hexes


Tinkering-around time again. If hexes bring you out in a rash, I recommend you go and read something else!

As any regular readers will know, I mostly play Commands & Colors: Napoleonics these days, with miniatures, and am very happy with those rules, though I have to make the occasional adjustment to them to suit a particular game.

Principal areas where these adjustments are called upon are:

(1) I mostly play solo – standard game can be compromised by lack of surprises…

(2) The published scenarios give balanced games, with the armies set up all ready to start fighting; I very rarely use these scenarios, and a lot of my games – especially in campaigns – require the bringing up of reserves, sometimes off-table reserves, or rapid deployment of big groups; though there are a couple of the Command Cards which allow rapid movement of large formations, C&CN is not well suited to this kind of action without some special add-ons

(3) Any game which is not clearly across-the-table and divided sensibly into Left, Centre and Right doesn’t fit the Command Card system

(4) A couple of other things which I remember when I see them, but I can’t find all my notes as I sit here…

The whole philosophy of C&CN is that the game moves quickly – you can see the battle develop; the turns are short and very limited, but you get lots of them in quick succession – a battle on a standard-sized board/table (13 x 9 hexes) should last about 2 hours. To enable this, some very clever mechanisms are employed, and a degree of simplification which may be seen as a turn-off by unbelievers – the C-in-C does not concern himself with the exact formation of each unit, nor the placing of skirmishers – with a couple of exceptions (notably squares) this stuff is left to the regimental officers. In C&CN we do not form units into lines or columns, we do not even concern ourselves with which way a unit is facing – if they are still on the table, we assume they are getting on with doing what they are supposed to be doing, and if the combats go disastrously against us then maybe one of the contributory reasons was a lack of tactical skill at unit level – the C-in-C will never know, but it’s a handy excuse if needed…

That is all very fine, and I am very content with the approach, but I used to play an in-house (computer-managed) game called Elan, which also used hexes, and that allowed some tactical manoeuvring and suchlike; I would never suggest that Elan was even half as successful as C&CN as a game, but the tactical bit was rather fun, and it would be nice to do some of that again from time to time.

I have some other tweaks, some of which I have discussed here before, which involve alternative (dice based) activation systems instead of the Command Cards, with a rapid-movement option involving faster marching when distant from the enemy, and the ability to give orders to an entire brigade as a single entity, provided it has been kept together and in good order.

Recently I have been re-reading Neil Thomas’s Napoleonic rules (and especially some very fine work done by Jay “OldTrousers” and others on fitting Neil’s game onto a hex grid), the White Mountain Thirty Years War rules (which are a cousin of C&C Ancients), which allow for units to have a direction of facing, and my own Elan game (the movement aspects of which worked very comfortably for some 25 years before I ever heard of C&C, and which are logically very similar to what Jay set out on his blog).

Two further thoughts  - tickles at the back of my brain – to give the idea.

(1) Just looking at the four wooden blocks in a C&CN infantry regiment (or bases in the miniatures version), I have often often thought it would be possible to form them into a line or a column, though the blocks don’t make it clear which way the guys are facing, and the very idea is a heresy and would cause Richard Borg to shudder.

(2) I did consider just trying Jay’s hexified version of Neil Thomas’s game, as he has set it out. Two slight issues with that – the scale of the board and the size of the actions don’t really fit what I am likely to want to do. Also the C&CN combat dice, with (Hallelujah!) the built-in retreat system (which does away with the dreaded industry of morale testing) would be sadly missed.

Thus I have come around to my current plan, which is to have an alternative to pure C&CN available for games which could make use of it – this is not, repeat NOT, intended as an improvement on C&CN, nor as any kind of replacement. My present thinking is to use C&CN’s combat dice system, with as few alterations as possible, with a modified movement and manoeuvre system and with a dice-based activation system allowing brigade-sized groups to be activated. Yes, this does away with much of the beauty of C&CN, so I do not pretend this is a variant of C&CN – it is merely another game which uses a C&CN-style board and C&CN combat dice. I emphasise that the movement and frontage rules set out here are based on my old Elan game, and that it needs a fair amount of work (especially in the skirmishing department). Today I’m just intending to cover the formations-and-facing rules.

One preliminary note, and it may bring a few hoots from friends who know of my aversion to morale testing: formation changes and changes to front can be ordered, but they may also be attempted, out of turn, as a reaction to an enemy attack. It would be pointless to allow this to be successful on all occasions, and the reality would be that the better units would have a greater chance of success, so – yes, despite all my normal stance on this – these rules require a reaction test. I introduce this reluctantly, and I make a point of keeping it as bovinely simple as possible. When required to react to an attack, by changing formation or facing, a unit will have to score not less than a certain number on 1D6 – troops have 4 basic classes, thus:

1 – The Old Guard, certain very special elites
2 – Steady, reliable, trained troops
3 – Poorly trained, demotivated or raw troops
4 – Militia and levies, dross

"No, no - we are Class 2, and don't you forget it..."
The class of the unit will be improved (reduced) by 1 if a Leader is present, and worsened (increased) by 1 for each casualty counter. The test will be to equal or beat the altered Troop Class with 1D6. Thus, for example, Class 3 troops with a general need a 2 or better to allow them to react successfully; Class 1 troops with 2 casualty markers need a 3 or better. Simple as I could make it. One further detail I am thinking is to add a rule that a straight roll of 1 is always a failure, so the Guard may sometimes let you down, and a straight 6 is always a success, however desperate the situation.

With a nervous cough, I move on hastily.

Units must face a vertex (point) of a hex, as in C&CN. The two sides of the hex on either side of this vertex represent the unit’s front, and they may move, fire or melee only in that direction. They may, however, turn – according to the following, which I’ll come back to later.

(1) as it enters a new hex, a unit may turn by 60 degrees either way – i.e. to the next vertex – without penalty

(2) any bigger turn, or any stationary turn (i.e. turning on the spot before any movement) takes an amount of time equivalent to 1 hex of movement

Some additional points, before we get into the detail of movement allowances and so on:

(a) charges to combat must be straight ahead – there may be a preliminary turn if the movement allowance permits one, but a charge cannot wheel as it goes in

(b) this is similar to the normal Zone of Control idea familiar in boardgames – a unit entering a hex adjacent to an enemy must stop – they cannot slither around an enemy unit to reach a flank. Note that this does not apply for attacks on units in built up areas or woods, or squares, none of which have flanks or rear.

(c) units attacked in flank or rear who do not manage to react and turn are worse off in two ways – the enemy gets an extra die, and they themselves do not get to fight back – again, squares and units in towns and woods do not have flanks or rear.

(d) skirmishers don’t have a front either

Move Distances

Squares, unlimbered artillery                                                      zero (though may change formation)

Infantry in line                                                                            1 hex

Infantry in column, skirmishers, limbered foot artillery             2 hexes

Cavalry, generals, horse artillery                                                 3 hexes

Units in column of march may add 1 hex of movement if their entire turn of movement is on a road (otherwise terrain effects are pretty much as C&CN)

Change of formation, and any stationary turn, or turn greater than 60 degrees costs 1 hex of movement. Limbering and unlimbering is a change of formation.

Unit Types (note that scenario rules may limit this – e.g. some nations are not allowed to use column of attack)

Close-Order Infantry


Column of March - bases one behind the other - this formation gets a bonus on a road, and can march through a wood or town at normal speed, without stopping, but cannot fight or fight back unless the unit changes formation


Column of Attack - 2 bases wide - this formation can shoot only with the front row of bases, but may melee with 2 rows of bases. Note that, in all formations of all fighting units, the number of bases able to take part in a combat is limited to the original number less any casualty markers. The casualty markers are especially useful here, since keeping the bases on the table allows the formation to be indicated. A unit is removed, of course, when the number of casualty markers is equal to the number of bases (duh).


Line - single row of bases - all bases may shoot, but only bases engaged (i.e. same width as opponent) may melee


3-deep Line - I'm still considering this as an option - one-third of bases (to nearer whole number) are in a second row - front row of bases may fire, in melee formation fights with front row bases engaged (as Line above) plus 1 base


 Square - may not move - has no front - each base may shoot once per turn, through an adjacent face of the hex - melee rules are as near to C&CN as I can make them


Unformed - this is just a proposal at this stage - I am thinking that infantry in a town or a wood must be unformed (unless they are in Column of March, passing through) - up to one half the bases may fire through any one hex face per turn - each base may only fire once - melee? - not sure - I think all bases may fight in a town or wood, otherwise an unformed unit in the open fights with half bases. Still working on this...


Light Infantry

First off, let me say that French légère are just classified as line infantry in my games. Actual light infantry appear in two forms:

(1) units such as British or Spanish lights are capable of acting in close order or sending skirmishers out with supports
(2) units of converged voltigeurs or light companies are different - the only formations permitted for these are Column of March or Skirmish Order, in which latter they may be deployed with other, close-order units as a screen - I'm still working on skirmish rules, so this bit is a work in progress

Let's look at the dual-purpose light regiments first - in my organisation, these consist of two normal, line-infantry type, close-order bases, and two, half-strength, open order. Thus a battalion with a total strength of 3 bases may be deployed in the following ways:


With the open-order bases tucked away to the rear, here's a light unit in Column of March, mimicking their normal close-order brethren


They can also be a close-order unit in Column of Attack...


... or in Line (I haven't got a "3-deep" version of this)...


... or in Square.


Or they can do this special trick, which is deploying with skirmishers to the front, supports standing to the rear.

They can probably do Unformed as well, though I didn't bother with a picture.

Now consider the converged units of light companies - these only have two real formations...


...Column of March, if they wish to go along a road in a hurry...


... or in skirmish order, in which case they can be added as a screen to other units - the skirmish rules are still being worked on. Skirmishers caught in melee by close-order troops do not do well - they are just eliminated. Skirmishers, by the way, do not have a front - they can fire or move in any direction, and can hide behind friends if they need to.

Cavalry

Cavalry have only two formations...


... Column of March (can't fight in this formation)...


... or a formation which is Everything Else - it might be Line, or a series of Lines, or Waves or whatever you want - the whole regiment gets to fight in a melee.

Cavalry also move far enough to give a demonstration of how the turning rule works:


First of all, here's an infantry column demonstrating the move straight forward - the unit may follow either of the two red arrows, and move into either of two hexes, still facing in the same direction - having moved forward in this way, the unit may, if it wishes, turn up to 60 degrees in either direction at no extra penalty - they are regarded as having "wheeled" as they entered the hex.


Cavalry have a 3-hex move - here's an illustration of one of the many possible moves the rules would allow. The unit advances (red arrow) into the next hex, and gets a free wheel (of 60 degrees) to the right (the new facing is shown by the brown arrow), advances along the second red arrow, wheels again (second brown shows the new front), and does it yet again, finishing with a free wheel to face the final brown. So the unit may advance in a semi-circle, as an example - also note that such a move would not be permitted to be a charge to attack, which must be in a single direction after any initial turn.

Artillery

Unlimbered artillery only has one formation:


The front is shown by the brown arrow, and the permitted cone of fire is marked here. A stationary turn requires 1 hex of movement, and a battery which turns is thus regarded as having moved for the fire rules.


A single limber represents a complete battery on the move - a limber (like a general, and like skirmishers) has no front and may move or turn in any direction, without limitation - it may not fight, but it may get a Road Bonus if applicable, and may unlimber with the guns facing in any direction.

That is really all I wanted to write at the moment - I don't wish to get into detailed nitty-gritty of the rules (not least because much of it is not decided yet!), but thought that a discussion of how units may behave in a reasonably Old School manner in the world of hexes might be of interest.

I'll keep working on this, but I'd welcome any comments in the meantime. Bear in mind that this movement and manoeuvre system does work, and has done so for years with my old Elan rules - the new bit is attempting to graft it onto the C&CN combat system.

I'm sure that's quite enough for the moment.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

1809 Spaniards - Regimiento de Burgos


Two further battalions - more fine work by Lee (thanks again, mate!).

This 1809 Spanish army is progressing so well that there is only one more battalion of white-uniformed line infantry still to be painted. There are still a couple of battalions of The Royal Guard to come, and a two battalion line regiment in the 1802 blue and black uniform, plus various grenadier and light infantry units. Then, of course, there will be some cavalry, there are two field batteries to paint up, and after that we are onto odd bods like sappers and more generals and ADCs - it seems a lot when you list it like this, but we're getting there.

Really very pleased with all this - if anyone cares, these are NapoleoN figures, though the mounted colonels are a hybrid Kennington/Falcata conversion, one has a NapoleoN horse, the other has a Falcata one.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Bamburgh Castle Again

Here's that silly old fool Max Foy pretending to fire a big carronade. Ironmongery in
the background includes a 32pdr mortar and some 18pdr iron cannons - all Napoleonic
period. It is instructive to consider what serving one of these things would be like - you
have to wheel it back to load it (unless you have a very tall colleague outside the
walls), run it forward, then fire the damn thing, then reload and run it back into
position. A lot of work. I wouldn't fancy it at all - most especially if some beggar was
shooting at me while I was trying to concentrate. 
This week's problem is a lack of electricity. Because our power travels some distance via overhead lines, some work is scheduled to update the kit, and we have two days in the diary - Monday and Friday - when we have what is described as a Planned Outage (or "outrage" in our terms) from 9am to 4:30pm.

Since we seem to be totally dependant on electricity, wifi and TV and are rather lost without them, we took advantage of the good weather and went for a trip to Bamburgh Castle (on the Northumberland coast not far from Holy Island), which is just 75 minutes down the road from where we live. We got there not long after the doors open, but it was quite busy. We spent about 2 hours there and then retired for lunch to the Blue Bell, at Belford, for fish and chips, and very good too.


Back at home, power was restored only 30 minutes later than the scheduled hour, and we had had a good day out, but it is faintly depressing that we are at such a loss without a mains supply. Now the precedent is set, we'll have to think of something worthwhile to do on Friday. Hmmm.