On Thursday I had an invitation to a wargame at Baron Stryker's country seat, rather north of here, so I packed up my lucky tree, tried to convince Siri the Navigator that Stryker does not, in fact, live at the pharmacy in my local High Street, and set off early to avoid the entitled children trying to kill each other on the Edinburgh Bypass.
It is maybe difficult to convey what an illustrious event this was for me. Since I have not been anywhere for 16 months which did not involve vaccinations or visiting my mother in her care home, it was a genuine treat. Ian had set up one of his excellent Old School games - proper wargaming! - an Allied force of about 1815 [I was the Duke of Wellington, though I am not a gentleman, and the Archduke, who had travelled further than I, was Blücher] was fighting against Ian's [Napoleon's] impressive looking French.
Ian, whose photos will inevitably do the event more justice than mine, will probably produce the official blog account in due course, so I shall merely set out here the best of my pictures, to give an idea of the action, with my usual propaganda-laden, biased captions. It was a most enjoyable day, with beautiful toys, an entertaining and absorbing game, great food and amusing company; I really had a marvellous time. My thanks to Stryker and the Baroness for their faultless hospitality, and to the Archduke for being an all-round good chap and a splendid ally.
Oh yes - the reason I still need navigation assistance to get to Stryker's, after a number of such trips, is because I can never, for the life of me, remember which exit from the M90 to take. It's always familiar when I get there, but you know how it is.
The main cavalry action was not going well at all for the Allies - the Scots Greys have already routed (and took a long time to rally - they completely ignored all the fine words of Wellington, and only rallied when Stapleton Cotton joined them after lunch), some Prussian dragoons are falling back, while the Prussian cuirassiers and the battered Inniskillings are struggling against French cuirassiers and carabiniers respectively. Below you can see that the British right flank was now fixed, everyone in square, obsessed by the threat from a single unit of lancers.
At this point, we took a break for a splendid lunch, and the Allies were pretty much convinced that they would be beaten very quickly during the second session. However, something in the wind had changed. Given the choice, if there is a hill, the British infantry always prefer to march over the top. After lunch, the Cambridgeshires received a charge from the dreaded lancers in line, and drove them off with very heavy loss. That was the first encouraging sign for our side!
Allied cavalry still on the field, though the Prussian cuirassiers are about to disappear. The Blues have now taken on the fight against the French cuirassiers, and the Inniskillings are somehow gaining the upper hand against the carabiniers. This was the start of a very good spell for the Allies. [I have to observe that Blogger is a real pain in the neck this morning - uploading photos has been punctuated with a lot of failures and re-tries, and my usual treatment of caption text doesn't seem to be working now...]. Below you see the massed Prussian infantry working themselves up to fever pitch.
Napoleon sent forward his shiny new Grenadiers à Cheval, to support his stalling cavalry thrust, and they were promptly defeated by the Blues - the Curse of the Fresh Varnish strikes again. With the disappearance of the French lancers, Wellington's squares got themselves into column and started advancing on the Allied right.
On the Allied left, the Prussian uhlans keep an eye on a Swiss square (as one does), and the Prussian infantry are wearing down the Poles at the windmill. Below, you see the Cambridgeshires, with Rifles support, involved in a firefight with French infantry at the farmhouse. The last surviving gunner with the Guard Horse Artillery waves his linstock in defiance. I think it's a linstock.
On the central ridge, it's all happening - the Allied cavalry is now going very well indeed, putting the French line infantry to flight. Napoleon sends up the two battalions of his Guard to put things right...
...and ponders which of his axioms, appropriately delivered, might encourage the infantry, who can be seen heading back his way in disorder. Below are two general views of the table, coming into Turn 8 (the end of the day). The mighty Silesian Landwehr have chased away the Poles, while in the foreground the Hertfordshires (?) have decided that trying to form line to meet the oncoming French infantry is too risky, so they plough into them, still in column. I wanted to see what happened when two columns met head-on, so was delighted when the British boys managed to disorder the opposition on this occasion.
At the end of the game, the French were once again scoring a few successes, but the Allies had won on Victory Points by a decent margin. Napoleon could not get his Guard infantry onto the ridge in time to stop the rot, and the Allies were surprised and delighted to have won, considering the disastrous morning session. Stryker admitted afterwards that at lunch he had considered giving us some extra troops, to keep the game going in the afternoon. I've seen games turn around like this before, but I don't recall one turning in my favour for a very long time!
Here you go - you saw it here - British and French columns meeting head-on. Lovely toys, too.
Separate Topic #1 - WSS Rules
I'm very pleased to say that my enforced break from painting has allowed me to finish the playtesting I had planned, and I now have a working "First Edition" of my Prinz Eugen rules. I'm confident they will change some more, but at least I'll be editing something which exists rather than a cloud of scribbled notes! My thanks to Chris G, Stryker, Goya and the others who have helped me get this project shaped up. Another tick in the box, and a great deal of waste paper off to be recycled!
Separate Topic #2 - Troll-Stalking for Beginners
I mention this lightly, with no particular agenda. It would be inappropriate for someone with a blog as ill-disciplined and rambling as this one to have too thin a skin. I don't set out to upset anyone, but it is bound to happen. I don't worry about it - if someone disapproves of what I write, I assume they will move on and not waste their time on it. If they express their distaste then fair enough - words are cheap - in fact, some people's words are without any value at all.
Recently, an old friend of mine drew my attention to the fact that I was taking a bit of a panning on the pages of a hobby chat-forum, not from the point of disagreeing with what I had written, but from a stylistic point of view - in particular, phrases such as "incomprehensible" and "a mess" were in evidence when I had a look.
Well, I'm not really going to get too upset about this. I quite enjoyed most of the invective aimed in my general direction. I am aware that such fora have traditions of being unpleasant for its own sake, but one hero in particular - his ID may or may not be Frobisher, as it happens - went a bit far. His contribution, which was what had triggered the tip-off in the first place, was much too personal and unkind for my taste.
Why do people do this? I don't know, but I guess that one day it will kill off our access to social media as we know it, Jim, so I don't see it as trivial. To quote the uncredited soldier from the Waterloo movie, how can we kill one another? We've never even seen each other (etc). Where is the appeal in being hateful to a complete stranger, with no real motive? Is it just to amuse our friends, or do we actually feel better afterwards?
I have no idea. I thought for a while about why I should be a little upset about something so unimportant, and I decided that it is the "we've never even seen each other" bit. The anonymity. There's a definite threat in receiving hostility from a stranger who could be - well, anyone, really. So I contacted my old friend who had tipped me off in the first place. He, you see, is a member of the forum in question, and thus he has access to a few more details about the Cruel Frobisher. Armed with some simple facts, easily available to any member of the forum, I spent about 20 minutes, online, and poking about mainstream social media, without doing anything illegal, and I now know all about Frobisher. I know his name, I know where he lives, I know what he works at; I have, if I am interested, access to pictures of his friends and family. He is not very threatening at all, in fact he is rather a sad little creep. I have removed him from my consciousness.
Given this amount of extra information, I have reduced forum-member Frobisher from the status of Mysterious Warrior to something rather more entry-level. I have no idea what I could actually use my new knowledge for - almost certainly nothing at all - but it is astonishing how the implied threat disappears when people appear on public platforms as themselves, with their own identities. Maybe a change has to come, in which case MSFoy will have to come clean and admit that he is, after all, the Prince of Wales. Topic closed - if anyone on a forum somewhere takes exception to my views then I'm sure they're right. I could not care less.