Thursday, 31 December 2015

2015 Review

So, 2015 draws to a close:
overall mark for me on the wargaming front: Could do Better!
Mitigation: 2 house moves in 14 months, a very active and productive business period, and the growth of some other hobbies.

Wargaming-wise, here's what I'm currently working on:

1. Astrovians for 18th Century Pils-Holstein project:
I've completed the Deuchmeister Regt (IR4). Once all the Astrovian units are done they'll have their bases finished, and hopefully Mark Allen will have completed all the flags, ready for ceremonial presentation!.

2. The Ghabazaar Imperative: Colonial Project
I've assembled, undercoated and blocked in a box of Perry plastic Ansar. These are two units for TSATF rules.

Above and below: a unit of Hadendowah Fuzzy Wuzzies.

Above and Below: a unit of Sudanese tribesmen.

Next step is to dip them, anti-shine varnish them, and then do some minor finishing touches and base.

3. Thirty Years War
This Swedish Yellow Regt was painted by David Jarvis for me a few years ago. The figures are all Brian Rigelsford conversions. This year I based them, and am now working on the flags.
The awful photos (don't know what's wrong with me today!) do not do David's painting justice.

Parting Thoughts.
Amongst the year's highlights, I've got back some painting and hobby focus with the development of my new Colonial project, and the Pils-Holstein 18 Century project is moving along too.
Gaming-wise, it's been a poor year, but the highlight was the AMG forum game, organised by Graham Cummings, at Partizan.

And finally...
If any of you saw the excellent recent TV series The Detectorists (in fact there are two series, both now out on DVD), you will have enjoyed, I'm sure, the depiction of Lance (played by Toby Jones) and Andy (played by MeKenzie Crook) and their thoughts on what it is to be a male with hobbies. In fact, substitute "wargaming" for "Metal Detecting" and the script sums it up pretty well.
Men have hobbies, and women roll their eyes at them. Men need an escape.

As Harry Pearson observes in his marvellous book, Achtung Schweinehund ...
" 'There is no greater sport than the sport of escape', Major Pat Reid noted enthusiastically in the pamphlet that came with the Escape from Colditz board game. Every once in a while you need to go over the wall. And when Arthur and Tony needed to I had abetted them. And they had done the same for me...
... I thought about Arthur on his trudge into work, swept across London Bridge in the grey tide on a dreary winter's morning, his mind filled with the glossy, brightly coloured deeds of the little men. Every man needs a place to go, Montaigne had said, and, for better or worse, this was mine."

I hope in 2015, sharing my hobby via this blog has abetted you as well as it has me in making momentary sorties into our imaginary world.

Tomorrow, I'll share my plans for 2016.

In the meantime, I wish all readers a Happy New Year.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Day at The Tower

Progress with the 18th century Austrians is going well, but on Tuesday I took a break as Dianne and I went to London for the day, primarily to visit The Tower of London, and to see the Agincourt diorama by Dave Marshall (of TM Terrain), and The Perries.
And all I can say is, if you get chance, go! It's a fantastic spectacle... wonderfully presented. As I posted on Facebook at the time, "Well done guys."
No pictures as photography is not allowed in that part of the Tower, but...
outside Di took a few snaps as we wandered round the site.

Afterwards, we paid a visit to Foyle's on Charing Cross Rd to treat ourselves to a few books... My haul is here, and the influence of the new project is clear!

And today, my fresh copy of TSATF rules arrived from USA. Just in time for Christmas! Now I know what I'll be reading as I preside over the cooking of tomorrow's turkey, with a glass in hand...

And I'll raise a glass to you, dear readers, whether you have simply popped by, lurked, or added comment over the past year. I wish you a peaceful, wargames-filled Christmas.


Monday, 21 December 2015

A White Christmas - Austrians!

Well, it's beginning to look a lot like a White Christmas with Austrians (aka Astrovians) dominating the workbench...

Progress is good so far. All battalions have been blocked in, and a couple have been "dipped", plus IR1 (in foreground) is complete, with just base painting still to do, and flags to be added.

More progress as it happens...

Friday, 11 December 2015

All of a Sudan...

Following on from my previous posts, (and thank you all who commented), you will have gathered I have decided what to do as a "side-project" in 2016.

The post title might give some clue! ...a clue as to The Ansar (see what I'm doing here?!)

... and yet it's not just Sudan. In fact, it's not really Sudan at all. But it is Colonial... or at least my take on Colonial.

It's mainly North West Frontier, with a soupcon of Sudan, and a smattering of other adventures set in my own fictional colonial territories - more of which anon. Let's just call it "The Ghabazaar Imperative" for now (Ghabazaar being part of my fictional Colonial world - crikey, Phil, how much  useless baggage and stuff do you carry round in that fat head of yours?!)

These are pictures of my previous attempt at Colonial wargaming, back in 2005 ish.
I never felt I quite pursued it enough, so this time I'm hoping to do better. Stiff upper lip and all that!

Anyway, here we go...
When setting forth on a new project, there's so much to consider, and even when it's just a passing fancy, like this "side-distraction", I do like to have some sort of plan, so that the butterflies are at least "flying in formation!"

So, in no particular order, here are my notes on how I approach new projects, and some of the thinking behind this new adventure...

1. Rationale and project objectives: What are the drivers for doing it? Is it primarily for Gaming? Collecting? Modelling/ Painting? Display Games? Solo gaming? Casual home gaming? Multiplayer games? Club games? A campaign? 

For me, on this occasion, it will be mainly light-hearted solo games in a loose narrative campaign framework.

2. Scope and scale of project: This will be skirmish-sized games, initially with just a couple of dozen figures per side, but with scope to expand. Eventually, I also want to include a few steam contraptions, and other Imperial powers entering the fray - so Russian and French contingents may become involved, and possibly Prussians too.
And perhaps there's a role for the inclusion of a late 19th century Pils-Holstein (but I haven't fully decided that, yet).

3. Scale/size of figures: In this case, I'm going 28mm.

4. Figures (availability and compatibility of ranges). In this case it will be Perry, Copplestone, Artizan. ... By the way, I'm open to suggestions from those "in the know" on all things Colonial!

5. Rules: Commercial, or homespun? Or a mix? In fact, I rarely (if ever) just play "off the shelf" and find I am always adapting/ interpreting rules.

In this case, I did consider Carlo Pagano's excellent Sudan rules, but wanted a more skirmishy feel to this project, so opted for The Sword And The Flame (TSATF).  Long ago, I played a few small games with TSATF, and felt they had the right style about them for colonial games, so I've ordered a new set (my previous copy having been sold off in the great clear out of 2011!). I've also got GASLIGHT on order, and it may be that I'll do a hybrid TSATF with Gaslight elements for the more outlandish "steamy" stuff... We'll see.

6. Basing: Largely determined by the rules and style/ scope of games, this is still an element many wargamers wrestle with, and many interpretations can exist even amongst those gamers using the same rules, at the same club! Basing styles, sizes, and conventions are always a "biggie" for any wargames project. 
For this project, I'm basing singly... with multi-base options (so possibly using sabots or magnetic bases)

7. Reference material: As well as the usual sources for the Colonial period, this time, I will be following the inspiration of the likes of the old Major General website, and Bill Protz's Pettygree character adventures, along with many others. Further inspiration can be found on a number of Colonial bloggers sites... such as Maiwand Day (see links on right).

Interestingly, I've found that the centre of gravity for Colonial gaming seems to be very much in the USA, rather than in UK. This surprised me at first... but perhaps it's the existence of TSATF "over there" and other resources (such as The Virtual Armchair General, the annual Colonial Barracks convention, etc). Or perhaps it's something in the British psyche that is (possibly through some sort of guilt?) reluctant to engage with an Imperialistic past on the tabletop... But let's not over-analyse this.

8. Terrain,: I'm going to keep this as simple as possible, and may scratch-build a lot of it. Whilst it's tempting to aim at modular terrain boards, highly sculpted and beautifully presented, for this project (which is primarily about the fun gaming aspect), I'll be keeping it simple, functional, and practical for gaming purposes. And at first the tables will be small... I'm happy to be starting small and just seeing where it goes.

So, there you have it...
You might think I'm going totally Mahdi, or that it's all a tremendous red-herring, or that frankly I'm taking the pith.
But, it's my own barmy version of NW Frontier wargaming, all the way...
Well, NW Frontier ...with a little bit of Sudan, some Steam contraptions (but not too many!), a smattering of gunboats, and even an aerial element. Plus an imagiNations dimension aswell. Certainly the setting is fictitious (I'm sketching a map of the territory over Xmas). In short, this will owe more to Hollywood (or Olley-wood?) than reality. More to The Man Who Would Be King and The Four Feathers than the actual period history.
And, there's no doubt that the pages of The Ghabazaar Gazette will once again be overflowing with rumours of war, tales of derring-do, and whimsical despatches from the frontline!

But don't expect too much just yet. The 18 Century Austrians will continue to dominate the painting table for a little while ...

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Can you Guess what it is yet?

I've got...
Bought it a couple of weeks ago whilst in London.
And I've ordered...

... because I had sold my old copy a few years back.

And I've added to our family Secret Santa list...

So, I'm sure you can guess what I'm up to... or at least see roughly where this is heading.

Thanks to all those who offered ideas, suggestions, and comments to the previous post. Most welcome!!

I'll post more details of the new project in a few days...

Friday, 4 December 2015

Many options...

I've had my notebook out again... And that spells danger...

Actually, in all seriousness, I had become a bit bored and stale in Wargaming terms, and felt that whilst tickling along with my 18th century Pils-Holstein project was all well and good, because I am outsourcing most of the painting, I wasn't really engaged enough with the hobby.
Having had a pretty busy year on other fronts, that didn't matter too much. But I've been missing the escapism and creativity and artistry that the hobby offers.

So I've been dabbling, and painting a few Austrian (aka Astrovian) infantry, as I mentioned on a previous post, and there will be more about progress with them soon...

So, whilst regular readers will know that I firmly encourage a focused approach, I've also been looking at what to do as a "side-project" in 2016. Something small, limited in number of figures, and with no particular objectives other than as a passing fancy.
For the past 3-4 months I've been considering the options.
Right on cue, I also bought the latest wargames magazines, and therein I'm treated to even more ideas!!

Time to make a shortlist, I think ...
So, in no particular order... (Some of these will raise an eyebrow amongst those who think they know me!)

1. Pils-Holstein 1676: The North Star / Copplestone 1672 range is a delight, and I've painted a few in the past. BUT... more figures required for this than I really want to do. And it could be considered a bit close to the main project anyway. Perhaps need something totally different?
2. Pils-Holstein 1716: Front Rank WSS range... ditto all of the comments above.
3. ECW: I'm enjoying my re-enactment involvement so much that it was inevitable that this would feature as an option.
4. Medieval / HYW:  see my notes a couple of posts ago... And I'm getting chance to visit the Agincourt diorama at The Tower of London in a couple of weeks too.
5. Middle Earth:  some of the wonderful little Vendel figures... Not too fantasy-ish. My mind's eye view of Tolkein's world, which is very much Anglo-Saxon with a little magic thrown in.
6. Colonial/NW Frontier: I've done it in the past, but felt I never really did it justice, and sold it all off. The recent sad news about Larry Brom had me sifting through the rules pile for my copy of TSATF...
7. VSF: but no Martian walkers though... that's a step too far. I'm more thinking along the lines of some escapades in Victorian England with the odd steam contraption thrown in.
8. Back of Beyond.  the Stuart Asquith article in November WI has a lot to answer for. Having not been in touch with Stuart for some years, I penned him a note and we recently spoke on the phone. Blame him if I take this route!

Actually, I've already chosen the probable outcome here, but your thoughts and advice are welcome...
Particularly interested in your thoughts on rules suggestions for any of the above, and even figure ranges, and websites/blogs to visit to add extra distraction and inspiration...

Santa is going to receive quite a little list...

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Blogroll and Links - are you there?

Having had a couple of days off last month, I did some house-keeping around the blog, and have managed to create a list of blogs I enjoy visiting (see blogroll on right). This is primarily for my ease of use, as I often find myself surfing around the web on a Saturday morning with a cuppa, and sometimes I miss stuff! There's so much out there...

Above: Gentlemen having a chat (that's what the web is about, right?!)

Now, the list is simply a start point, so if you don't see your blog there, and you would like to be, then let me know in the comments. I'm particularly keen to reciprocate with those people who have included this blog in their links/ blogrolls. I sometimes stumble across blogs and see a link to mine, and come over all guilty! Please spare me that guilt!!

I'll also be adding some other (non-blog) links shortly aswell... forums, interesting webpages, and the like.
Meantime, all the best...

Thursday, 19 November 2015

A few little books...

As an aside, and apropos of not very much, I popped along to The Original Re-enactors Market (TORM) last Sunday... it's a sort of 17th century shopping convention. As the event is held not far away, a "drop in for a pint and a browse" approach seemed warranted.
Well, with nothing particular on my re-enactment list to buy (although, to be fair, that didn't stop me actually buying lots more stuff),  it took me only 7 minutes of aimless wandering before I had some reasonably-priced Ospreys in my paws.

As you will notice, I also picked up the old Airfix Guide to the ECW - a nice surprise as I had only thought about this publication the day before when it was mentioned in Wargames Soldiers & Strategy magazine, which I happened to pick up when passing WH Smiths. This particular Airfix Guide I had out on loan from our local library pretty well permanently for what seemed like the whole of the late 70s (I didn't get enough pocket money to save up and buy my own copy!), so it was like bumping into an old friend. Charming.

Talking of magazines, I have recently started to buy the wargames monthlies more often. Is it just me, or are they improving ..?
I've found a few items of interest in them of late, and particularly enjoyed seeing Stuart Asquith's piece in the latest WI. I also enjoyed Charles M Grant's piece on narrative campaigns, a few months back (can't remember which of the 3 main mags it was in).

To add to my reading pile, I'm half way through William Le Queux's "The Great War in England in 1897" on my kindle - a book that I have been meaning to read for some time and which came highly recommended.

It is a rollicking good read!
And, I'm heading back there right now...

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Full Orders of Battle

Since the Pils-Holstein Campaign project began, I have been running to an outline Order of Battle. You may remember I had all the Prussian and French infantry flags painted at the outset, with this orbat in mind.
Well, since then, it's grown arms and legs a little. Sheaves of paper could be found sticking out of my wargames notebook, with additional notes and changes to the lists. The inclusion of the Astrovian army, for example, is a recent development, which was merely on a scrap of paper, hastily penned whilst in an airport lounge waiting for a flight to be called (you know how it is)!!

 Above and below: gratuitous candy shots from recent tabletop outings...

So the other evening, I sat down to log the "definitive" orders of battle for the main nations involved - namely, Pils Holstein (and Allies), Prussia, France, and Astrovia.
Now, this is not to say the orbat won't be subject to minor amendments and adjustments over time, but at least it's something to work to. It helps me plan the casting of the figures, the painting schedule, and provides an idea of which games I will be able to tackle, and when. Of course, as specific scenarios demand, I may yet decide to add militia/ garrison troops, engineers, and other types, but the main battlefield units are there, for now.

I have uploaded these lists to separate pages here on the blog
... links to which you will find on the right...

You will note, I'm keeping track of those units I've completed, and those yet to be painted.

All of this got me thinking. Do other wargamers and collectors set out a planned order of battle like this to follow, or is it a case of simply picking whichever unit you fancy painting next?
There's no right or wrong way, of course, and I rather suspect most people will have settled (consciously or otherwise) somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, but I would love to hear how others approach these things...

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

The Storm Clouds Are Gathering

Professor Klickstich has, over the years, been a fairly regular visitor to the Palace of Altgard, the stately abode of King Ferdinand Adolphus of Pils Holstein. In recent weeks, his visits have become even more frequent. Why? Well (and don't let anyone know I told you this, for it's not to be repeated beyond these closed doors, so hushed tones please), Professor Klickstich runs the network of spies that operate throughout Europe, on behalf of both Pils-Holstein and The Electorate of Teutonburg-Fredonia.

Above: Professor Klickstich (black coat, front right), waits to be called for an audience with Ferdinand Adolphus.

And he has news to share with sweet FA...

He brings tidings from afar, and news of Tessa Pepisa's meeting with The Emperor Arnold of Astrovia.
It seems, The Emperor is going downhill fast. He sleeps long hours, but it's an uneasy sleep, without real rest, and the crown sits unsteadily upon his troubled, ailing shoulders. In his grief over the loss of his wife, Olivia, he has reflected on his life with sadness, and a sense of failing, not least in there being no successor to the throne. And, what's more, he has called upon Tessa Pepisa to share the one big secret he wishes he had shared many years ago... namely, that she is his illegitimate daughter. Her father was not really Alessandro Pepisa, at all. In fact, the Italian financier has been funded over many years in order to maintain the secret. But now, with no heirs to the Emperor's throne, it is time for Teresa Pepisa, Tessa, Tipsi Pipsi, to take on the role, for which she has not been prepared, for which no tutoring has been given. Emperor Arnold has expressed his wish that Tessa should, on his death, become Empress of Astrovia.

At this news, Ferdinand Adolphus, rises from his chair, takes three careful paces towards the small arched window overlooking the central courtyard of the palace, and sighs. Gathering himself, he returns to his seat, and faces the professor. "Are you absolutely sure, my friend?" The Professor's reply is unequivocal. He has no doubt about the source of this news. In fact, he confirms, the Emperor's Inner Council is sitting this very day, and will be appraised of the situation, before presenting Teresa Pepisa to the Astrovian crowds, within the next few days, as heiress apparent to the throne. Not only that, but Emperor Arnold has been told by his physician that his remaining time is not long for this world. In short, Tessa will be Empress within a matter of weeks.

Sweet FA considers the news...  Astrovia has been dormant, ineffectual, for many years. The military needs a good overhaul, that's for sure. So, is there any real threat? Well, time will tell. Perhaps Tessa will be the one to do the overhauling. One thing is for certain: it will be difficult to form any alliance with her. So that will have an impact on the diplomatic machinations of a turbulent Europe.

Back in the real world...
Below:The Astrovian infantry undercoated, on the workbench.

Regiment Kaizer (IR 1) is complete, bar the bases being painted, and flags attached. I used these as the template for the other regiments, and am fairly happy with the results.
This is my winter project. No pressure, just going to be working through the production line.
More updates on progress with these, as I do more...

Thanks for visiting.
And well done to Jim Purky who has followed the unfolding tale closely and pretty well guessed the Tipsi Pipsi storyline in his comments on the previous post. Bravo!!

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Midnight Mutineers

The Taverns, Townhouses, Farms, and Wharfsides of Pils-Holstein are awash with rumour, gossip and tittle-tattle over the latest royal debacle.

Reports and papers from well-respected sources (and some less well-respected ones too!) are being gathered and pieced together to shed light on the mysterious fall out between sweet King Ferdinand Adolphus and his "belle" Tessa Pepisa, and her subsequent disappearance from the Palace of Altgard on that fateful night (see post of 29 September).

It seems that Tessa (aka Tipsi Pipsi) had over the previous weeks been receiving messages of some considerable urgency from the Astrovian capital (Astrovilla), from no less than Emperor Arnold himself. But why should she be receiving such urgent correspondence? She had had little to do with the Astrovian court for some years. What could possibly have changed?

Certainly the content of the letters had been very confidential indeed, and Tessa's refusal to let even Ferdinand Adolphus know the precise nature of the news contained therein had been the spark that led to their fall out.

His protestations has fallen upon deaf ears, and so Tessa had stormed out and made her way towards Astrovia earlier than she had intended, though it is certain that it was her intention to go to Astrovia anyway.

What was most surprising was that, as she flounced out of Altdorf Palace, the midnight mutiny was completed by her escort... the entire contingent of Pils-Holstein's light horse - The Transvladak Uhlans, and The Holstein Hussars (pictured below)....

The Holstein Hussars. If you are a long time visitor to this blog, you will have seen these before, I'm sure. Painted by me some time ago, these are John Ray sculpted riders on a variety of horses.

The now notorious midnight mutiny had these fine horsemen clattering through the narrow cobbled streets of Pilsner, below the Palace, and out into the night, disappearing at a steady canter towards the south east. Within a few hours, Tessa barely looked back as her steed carried her towards the snow capped mountains lining the borderlands. Now, for her, if what was written in the letters was true, she would need all her wits about her to carry out her true purpose.

Meanwhile, back in Altgard Palace, perched above the town of Pilsner, seat of the Kings of Pils-Holstein since the 9th century, poor Ferdinand Adolphus was trying to piece things together.
Here's what he could deduce...

Tessa was daughter of the wealthy Italian financier, Allesandro Pepisa, and his wife, Isabella. However, it now transpires that his wealth was largely derived from one source -The Astrovian Emperor himself!
Now why would the Astrovian Emperor give so much financial support to this man?
And why, right now, would the elderly Emperor Arnold, in his dotage, so soon after the death of his poor wife Olivia, suddenly want to see Tessa?
And what was in those letters that had made Tessa decide to give up her position next to him, Ferdinand Adolphus, in their kingdom together, and head for Astrovia instead?

Through the anger in his heart, "sweet FA" was starting to piece together a bigger picture.
And his sad thoughts at the loss of his loved one now turned to deep concern at the way he had treated her of late over this whole affair. For he knew that his former flame-haired beauty would be a challenging adversary, and he could ill-afford to incur the wrath of Astrovia.

Next time... all will be revealed, as Tipsi Pipsi arrives in Astrovia and takes counsel with the Emperor.

In the meantime, those of you with a nose for such intrigue might like to offer(in the comments box below) suggestions as to exactly what is behind Tipsi Pipsi's defection! Or you might want to keep your counsel, lest it be a potential "spoiler" for others (or more likely, a better idea than my plotline, in which case I'll have my finger hovering over the "delete comment" button anyway!!)

All of the above is a way of me saying, The Astrovian army is starting to build.

Cheers for now...

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Dangerous Territory..?

... I think not...
However, a weaker soul, with less focus and resolve, might crack!

For tonight, I head the short distance to Stratford to see the RSC production of Henry V.
And, if, like me, you were bowled over by the spectacle in this month's WI magazine of the Perry/ Dave Marshall (of TM Terrain) Agincourt diorama, then resolve might indeed be tested.

But, here's the thing...
I'm not into Medievals. Period. (Or the medieval period, period.)
Yet, what I can still marvel at, and enjoy immensely, about the Agincourt diorama is what I learn from it for my own projects.

Inspiring. Yes.
And also well-planned, wonderfully creative, and beautifully executed.
I was particularly struck by how they produced the densely-packed blocks of French infantry that actually make it look like a proper battle rather than any other diorama (or for that matter, wargame) that I've ever seen.
So hats off to Dave Marshall and the Perries for project managing this. And to their cadre of helpers and painters.

And the next time I see people on the internet bemoaning display games at shows being too static ("like a diorama"), as if that in some way is out of bounds for a wargame show, I'll just smile and move on. Because for me, the modern wargaming scene has moved too far away from such magnificent set-pieces, the likes of which used to be seen far more often at shows, and adorning the pages of the hobby press. In fact, starting with the glossy pictures of Peter Gilder's layouts in the very first MinWarg magazines under Duncan McFarlane's editorship, and then onto the very early WI's, that's what inspired so many people like you and I, I'm sure, to "seriously" continue in the hobby.

But now?
Well now I see lots of boxy wargames.
Lots of sameness of presentation, with everything "off-the-shelf ", from the terrain, MDF buildings, bases, grassy tufts, figures, flags, to the rule-sets and "systems" in use. In of themselves, there is nothing wrong with each of these elements, and hats off to the people who make a commercial go of it in this hobby.  But the contrast with the presentation of the Agincourt diorama cannot, should not, must not, be ignored.

And I know we're not all The Perries, and nor do we have a gang of painters willing to help with our projects. But the joy of producing something inspiring and significant, over a 2-year, 3-year, 5-year timescale, has got to be better than the endless purgatory of relentless period hopping, from one "system" to the next. Chain store, fast-food wargaming is highly addictive and bloats the lead / plastic pile. I would much rather the fine dining of an Agincourt diorama.

But then, each to their own...

And, relax...

Just thought I would get on my soap box for a moment there.
We'll be back to the goings on in Pils-Holstein shortly. I promise...

Meantime, I'm off to the theatre tonight (and no doubt a funny thing will happen on the way!).

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

A Very Public Falling Out

King Ferdinand Adolphus (you'll remember he has become known as "Sweet FA" to the subjects of Pils-Holstein) has made no secret of his affections for Teresa (Tessa) Pepisa, most notably having given her an honorary command of the Pils-Holstein light horse as well as considerable estates in Lower Holstein.

Her attendance at the court of Pils-Holstein had originally come about after her father (a wealthy Italian financier) presented her to the Astrovian Imperial court some years earlier, and the visiting King of Pils-Holstein, struck up a "strong friendship" with the beautiful debutante. Following the Queen's sad passing, Tipsi Pipsi became a regular visitor to the widowed King Ferdinand Adolphus, and soon their friendship blossomed into something more - Well, that's the official version anyway. Some say the timeline for this sequence of events is somewhat mirky, and there were even suggestions that the Queen's passing was hastened by her broken heart ... but, I couldn't possibly comment.

Regardless of the exact details of the whole episode, Tessa Pepisa, who is nothing if not absolutely charming and delightful, subsequently became a favourite with the people of Pils-Holstein too. Their nickname, "Tipsi Pipsi", showed their growing affection for this flame-haired femme who was popularly regarded as "a good thing" for the King.

Now, it turns out, Tipsi Pipsi is in fact not all she seems...

And, as a result of certain rumours (rumours I might add that are as yet unsubstantiated), things have gone awry between Tipsi Pipsi and Ferdinand Adolphus.
A series of public "sulks", raised voices when in private, and on at least one occasion door slammings, have not gone unnoticed.

Now, at last, with the King's angry words "Once a Hapsburg, always a damned Hapsburg!" ringing in her ears, Tipsi Pipsi has headed South-East once more, bound for Astrovia. 

(above: Tipsi Pipsi, with her ADC, Major Ligue).

However, what is more surprising is the level of loyalty and affection that her light cavalry troopers have now invested in their honorary commander. For, cantering over the rolling hills, in Tipsi's wake, a column of cavalry can be seen. Many of the Holstein Hussars, and all of the Transvladak Uhlanen have followed her into the moonlight (though the defection of the latter is presumably linked not only to their native heritage within The Astrovian Empire, being from the mountainous regions of Transvladakia, but also down to the promise of some form of booty and wealth from forthcoming campaigns). 

(above: Transvladak Uhlanen)

But, what can have precipitated such a defection?
And just who, really, is Teresa Pepisa?
And what does this all mean for the state of Pils Holstein, and poor "Sweet FA"?

Time will tell...


Saturday, 12 September 2015

Prussian Brigade

With the basing of the combined Grenadier Battalion, Weddell (Gren 1/23), the rank and file for the first Prussian Bde is complete...

 Figure painting by Dave Jarvis, basing by me.


This Brigade, therefore, includes:
IR 1 Winterfeldt
IR 7 Bevern
IR 23 Forcade
Gren 1/23 Weddell
+ a Light Gun

All that is required now is the Brigade Commander (probably von Winterfeldt), and the brigade supply wagon; plus I may add a couple of additional vignettes.

Again, as I have mentioned before, note the absence of drummers within the units themselves. This was a conscious decision and whilst some have criticised this approach, it serves my purpose, and the "look" of the thing seems right to me. Having too many command figures within units breaks them up to my eye, and I specifically want the predominant impression to be an "unbroken" line of bayonets on the marching rank and file. Drummers therefore appear only as super-numeries as part of vignettes dotted around between the lines.

So, this will be the formula for all my Prussian Brigades. Essentially three line battalions, plus one combined Grenadier battalion, plus a light gun, supply wagon, and commander.
This might appear to be a "fudge" in terms of representing units historically, as I have only single Battalion regiments, but it allows me to field a greater variety of units, and the proportion of Grenadiers throughout the army appears about right. Most importantly, I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Partizan and Farewell to Kelham

On a complete whim, I headed up to Newark last Sunday for the final Partizan to be held at Kelham Hall.
It's only an hour away in the car for me now (gone are the days of the long trek south from Fife for these shows), the fact that it was to be the final Kelham Hall event, and these considerations, coupled with there being couple of games I particularly wanted to see, meant that when I awoke to a bright sunny Sunday morning, I thought "Well, why not!" And I'm glad I did.

The day was punctuated by regular "bump into's", and a host of opportunities to chat with so many people, such as Howard Simmons, Tricks himself (who told me of the plans for future Partizans), as well as David Imrie (good to get a chance to have a proper chat about painting and such like, after a few years out of touch), Dave Andrews, and Darrell Hindley who (along with Simon Chick) had a wonderful Swiss- Burgundian game on (apologies for the quality of some of the pics... just iPhone snaps, with no editing, I'm afraid).


The Derby club were out in force with a Grand Alliance affair, and chewing the fat with Stuart Parkin took me back to the good old days of early Partizans.

There's no show without a windmill, of course!

Also great to meet Andy (a fellow SK re-enactor) who had transferred his ECW passion onto the tabletop with a lovely little skirmish game.

Other games that impressed were a 20mm Culloden table,

plus the huge Dark Ages / Arthurian game.

The Nostalgic Bit...

I first went to Kelham in 1996, in the early days of The League of Augsburg, when we regularly put demo games on at shows throughout the country.

Here are just a few pics from Wargames Illustrated's, that feature games we put on back then... my tribute to Kelham.
Farewell to Kelham Hall...

And so, I'm inspired...

Yes, I came away feeling like I really want to do something fresh. Particularly as next year at the new venue, Tricks needs some more games to fill the large space available... so I said I "might" be able to drag something out for one or other of the Partizan 2016s.

But what to do?
My Pils-Holstein collection is growing as the main focus, but I don't want to bring that out until it has reached the right level - probably a few years yet.
My TYW collection?... that's a possibility.
Something new?... well, I have made up a shortlist of mini / set-piece projects involving just a few units per side. After all, I'm planning to have some painting time myself this winter, so who knows...