Tuesday, 30 April 2013

3D Printing

I have seen a 3D printer for the first time in the flesh as it were. And I was very impressed. Naturally on seeing something new my thoughts turn to its possible wargaming applications; and after the triumph of the non transitive dice who is to say that I am wrong. I don't think that the technology that I saw could produce figures to match the best plastic available from say Zvezda, but I would say that they could be easily as good as the lower end of the 20mm plastics market and most metal figures that I have seen. And I was only watching a demonstration of a portable set-up from a small local company that has extended into 3D printing from its core business or repairing photocopiers, inkject and laser printers etc. Presumably there are more sophisticated machines elsewhere.

Who wants one?

 The big adavantage over moulding would appear to be the fact that one doesn't need to have a, mould. Obvious, but true. All of the sculptor's constraints regarding undercuts etc just disappear.  How the economics might stack up, I don't know. The business to whom I spoke mainly use it to reproduce parts for obsolete printers and copiers that are no longer available and so the cost of the produced part is not that relevant. My accountant's intuition (not as oxymoronic a concept as it sounds) tells me the issue will be running cost rather than the capital cost of the printers. Perhaps the use of recycled material in the feedstock will drive those down in due course.

On a different subject, Miniature Wargames have now sorted out my subscription problems. As I said all along Henry Hyde is clearly a saint like figure who has presided over the smooth succesful integration of two seemingly unreconcilable systems.
Henry Hyde

Monday, 29 April 2013

Leeds Meeples

И снова здравствуйте

There was another session of the Leeds Meeples yesterday, this time in the Victoria Hotel, a fine venue; not least because it served London Pride, thereby allowing me to drown my sorrows over Saturday's drama and disappointment in the most appropriate manner possible.
Cue Albert King
Anyway, games played were: Apples to Apples, Love Letter, Tsuro, The Resistance and Dominion Intrigue. All were new to me except The Resistance, which is definitely le jeu de jour. I thought they were all excellent in their various ways, although the original Tsuro is clearly superior to the Tsuro of the Seas version. 
She's young, she's wealthy. she's far from healthy
 I must say a word about Love Letter though. For a game consisting of only sixteen cards it is surprisingly deep and tricky. I did get double-Baronned on a couple of occasions (difficult to do much about), but then I also had the perfect sequence of Handmaiden, Handmaiden, Princess. Beat that!

до свидания

Sunday, 28 April 2013


OK, I know; it's citations.

Underneath her red sweater
She's a big deal; go get her

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Well you know there's such a lot of good ways to be bad

Regular readers (irony intended) will recall that I was not entirely convinced by Henry Hyde's assertion that the subscriptions to the newly merged Miniature Wargames and Battlegames would be handled properly. I was especially concerned because I had subscriptions to both. And, quelle surprise, I have been proved right. This morning I received two copies of the first issue of the relaunched magazine.

Henry Hyde
Anyway, after a couple of fallow weekends for re-enactors at the Armouries I had high hopes when I opened the blinds this morning to find all sorts of stuff going on. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that this lot appear to be real soldiers. In fact they are from the Royal Corps of Signals and are showing off their latest equipment.

All of which inevitably reminds me of Humble Pie.

There'll be some vibrations on your public relations tonight

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ben as I didn't know him

I have been to a lecture on the interpretation of 'Six Metamorphoses after Ovid' (Opus 49) by Benjamin Britten with particular emphasis on the second movement, Phaeton. Obviously I have a full technical grasp of all the arcane issues surrounding the craft of oboe playing, but - reluctantly - I will have to assume that you don't. I will therefore restrain myself to observing that it would seem that different people like to play it in different ways. Who would have thought it? However, all oboeists, even today, appear to be restricted in what they do because they remain in awe of Ben (as they all refer to him, as if they had known him well) and his strict views on how his works should be played. This is despite the fact that he's been dead for almost forty years. All of which rather puts me in mind of Salvador Dali's reputed aversion to the performing arts because of their transitory and impermanent nature.

Presumably there are a number of you wondering why a major twentieth century composer wrote a piece of music about a Volkswagen, but hopefully there are a larger number of you familiar with the story of the son of the sun god who was allowed to ride his father's chariot, lost control of the winged horses and plunged to earth when Zeus fired a thunderbolt in order to prevent him from burning up the whole world. The latter among you, of course, will be pointing out that Phaeton did not undergo a metamorphosis as such, but instead, well, died. I did mention this at the time to Ben, as he liked me to call him, but he simply blamed Ovid and that was the end of it.

Anyway, the one thing that we can all agree on is that it's a good job that in this enlightened modern era no callow youth would be allowed to abruptly take over his father's role and imperil the planet by not knowing what he is doing.

'Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.' - Ovid

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Castille's Last Stand

So the game drew to its inevitable conclusion only worse. A pretty abject performance from the Imperialists and their commander concluded with the left flank annihilated, the French across the river in the centre and the right flank standing proud and undaunted; the last being essentially due to the fact that they had seen no real action.
Well that was crap
It was, it goes without saying, a thoroughly enjoyable game. I stood very little chance from the beginning due to being a D8 army up against a D12, but other than that luck was reasonably even. My big mistake was to spurn the chance to charge my cavalry into the back of a Swiss pike block. I figured that my Landsknechts would win from the front and so swung the cavalry on to the flank of a unit of Gerndarmes. Not only did the Landsknechts not win the melee (as in they lost) but the Italian cavalry were rebuffed by the Gendarmes and then attacked in the rear and destroyed by a miraculously rallied unit of Swiss halberdiers. For one brief tantalising moment - specifically when I won on Peter's only Lull card and turned a March card - it seemed that all might yet come good; but it wasn't to be. And the rest of the game was pretty much summed up by my two Spanish colunnelas (my best troops as James reminded me on several occasions) marching heroically forward into the teeth of the French guns and then, somewhat less heroically, running away again.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"Forget it, Jake..."

I haven't been to the cinema for a yonk and it was the chance to see a classic on the big screen that drew me back. I went to the Hyde Park Picture House to see Chinatown. What an excellent film; every bit as good as I remembered.
This is a knife
I have always had a soft spot for film noir and this ticks all my boxes; especially the completely impenetrable plot. Four of us discussed it in the pub afterwards and there were at least five different theories put forward as to who had done what to whom and why. But, as the man said "Forget it, Jake, it's Chinatown.".

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Freedom. freedom

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child
A long, long, long way, way from my home

Monday, 22 April 2013

The end is nigh

I have just been invited to join the Rotary Club. Me! How did it come to this? Now I'm not dissing the rotarians. I know they raise a lot of money for charidee, but me!
Ceci n'est pas une pipe
On the other hand that is one cool outfit.

Politics and wargaming, a slight return to both: I have today heard the first good things about George 'Gidiot' Osborne that have ever come my way; and there were two of them. Firstly, he sponsored Ed Balls in the London marathon. Secondly, when he visits Washington he always makes a visit to an ACW battlefield. So, a closet wargamer? Good job the British economy doesn't have to take morale checks.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Fence Collective

Disappointing. Too much Crosby and Nash and not enough Stills or Young.

A chap with a beard
Anyway, here's an old friend come to visit:

The devil's name is dullness.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Worthy but dull

And so to the theatre. Or not, in this particular case. West Yorkshire Playhouse's third Transform festival sees them, among other things, putting on a show at Kirkgate market. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, and so while waiting outside to be let in neither I nor anyone else was at all surprised to be waved at by someone in a giant panda suit from the top of the nearby multi-storey car park.

However, it soon became apparent that this wasn't anything to do with what we were there for, but was just one of those random surreal moments that occur from time to time. Well they do in my life anyway. In fact, it all rather brought to mind the episode that I witnessed once involving the Reverend Ian Paisley and a giraffe. Of course, now that I have got to grips with this blogging lark, I realise that one has to ration one's material and so that story will have to wait for another day.

The Reverend Ian Paisley as a child
Where was I? Ah yes, 'The Market' was a combination of sketches and tableau vivant put on by a combination of professional and community actors telling the history of the market - fires, bombs, characters, Marks & Spencers, decline - over the last one hundred and fifty years. For those not familiar with central Leeds, the market is one of the largest covered markets in Europe and some of it, especially the 1904 hall, is architecturally splendid.

So, what about the show? well, one of this blog's followers (Oh, alright, its only follower) is fond of spicing up his wargaming blog with a quick reference to Bertolt Brecht, and I could do worse than follow his example. The show was Brechtian. In fact so much did they breach the fourth wall that one of the group I was with (one was led around the market in groups from performance site to performance site) kept interrupting the actors. At first the rest of us assumed that she was part of the show, but she was simply a Kirkgate Market enthusiast. Possibly, like most British people she only goes to the theatre once a year and therefore honestly believes that all plays are interspersed with cries from the audience of "He's behind you." and "Oh no he isn't.". The art form has only been going for about two and a half thousand years so it's not surprising that some people haven't quite caught up with it yet.

The message that we were meant to take away - this was Brechtian remember - was that 'they' are going to change the market and that 'we' can like it or lump it. Which is, I suspect, what drove my fellow playgoer to repeatedly shout "There's nothing wrong with it the way it is.", even though she's clearly wrong. A French friend of mine who lives in Leeds has often complained that in France the market would be the place where everyone went as a first choice to buy food. "Listen very carefully," she says "for I will say this only once; the market is merde.". And she's right.

до свидания

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Toys on the Table

Привет всем моим русским читателям.
Парень с бородой
 There are, I know, those among my loyal readers who would wish me to write more postings on the subject of witch burning. For my part however, I think that the time has come to put that behind us. And so the blog returns to its proper purpose: to report on my failings as a table top general.

Last night saw the first part of a big bash, all the toys on the table Italian Wars fictional battle in James' opulent wargames room in Ilkley, a small spa town on the edge of the Dales which some have compared with Moscow. Anyway, as usual the Olicanalad blog contains lots of pictures and all the detail that you need to know; including the extremely sad fact that James seems to have counted each figure on the table. I have always wanted to be able to paint like James; now it seems that he wants to be an accountant like me. "Каждому свое." as they say in Moscow.
However, back to my abject performance of last night. The first die that I rolled was a D12 to establish the quality of my commander-in-chief: it was a one. After that things went steadily downhill. Actually, the collapse on my left could have been a lot worse as Peter was only able to take  advantage of one of the six Lull cards in my deck on the first pass through. My real problem was that whatever idiot shuffled the cards - that would be me then - had sorted all the Command cards to the back which meant that when any of my units started to retreat they basically carried right on going. Even when I turned my 'Gott Mit Uns' wild card instead of being able to use it for some sweeping (though non specific) strategic advantage, I had to instead attempt to rally the remnants of the Imperial cavalry. 

I did have some success with my skirmish cavalry, where a succession of even rolls and some cheesy use of a two segment move nearly, but not quite, repeated the previous week's success against a unit of heavy cavalry. And one of my foot skirmish units halted a Swiss pike block - albeit briefly and at the cost of them all dieing to a man. So the scene is set for the game to be fought to a conclusion next week; a conclusion that is already, I fear, predetermined.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Today I pay tribute to Britain's greatest Prime Minister

Clement Attlee
I’m achievement oriented; it’s one of the main reasons that I am an interim manager. Let me list Attlee’s achievements in his six years as Prime Minister:
  • Created the NHS
  • Implemented Beveridge’s plans for a system of social security
  • Introduced family allowances and greatly increased the property rights of married women
  • Built a million new homes
  • Passed the Town and Country Planning Act and established the National Parks and New Towns
  • Nationalised coal mining, railways and electricity generation
  • Fully implemented the 1944 Education Act for which he had been responsible as wartime Deputy Prime Minister
The list could go on. All these benefited the UK and its people for decades. For me personally the most significant was the last, because it enabled a poor kid from the slums of Bethnal Green to go to university. I owe everything I am and have to this man and his colleagues.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

In Veritas Ludi

Not content with having spent Sunday evening in the pub playing board games, I headed on Monday evening to the pub to, well, play board games. It was a different pub though, so that's acceptable. There was a slight delay to proceedings when it was found that the Victoria had double booked the Leeds Meeples with Belle de Jour no less.
Dr Magnanti
There was a brief period of confusion followed by a regrouping in Veritas and then down to it. I played a couple of games of Fluxx, Ticket to Ride, Guillotine and finished off with Bohnanza. I'd never played any of them before except for Guillotine and adopted my usual approach of trying out doomed strategies, primarily of course in order to steepen the learning curve. This was especially true of Ticket To Ride where I completely failed to appreciate that the rewards for completing sections of track were non-linear. I did complete more routes than everyone else though; so a small moral victory I think.
These people are instantly recognisable and need no introduction

It was my first time at the Meeples and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone was very nice and very welcoming despite me being the oldest one there by a good twenty years.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Rhododendron is a nice flower

Evergreen it lasts for ever
But it can't beat Strand power

But enough of that. Yesterday was board games day in the White Swan. First up was Plus and Minus which was a pre-war game (literally as the set we played with was itself from the 1930s) and proved to be rather good for a quick warm up. It was a sort of cross between Ludo and Cribbage and like all the best games it had simple rules, but a need for strategy.

After that we played The Three Musketeers and were in agreement that the mechanics worked, but it seemed lopsided in favour of Cardinal Richelieu. This puzzled me because although I haven't played it for well over a year I always remembered it being rather difficult to win with the Cardinal. Anyway, subsequent diligent study of the rules proved that I had misremembered them with regard to Milady. It needs another go now that is clear.

If a beard is worth seeing then it's worth seeing from all angles

Thirdly was Citadels, which was very good except that I never seemed to have any gold and when I did get some it got stolen straightaway. I came last, but at least learned what strategy not to follow. I often find that I learn what strategy not to follow next time.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Money: The Game Show

And so to the theatre. Sadly there are no re-enactors at the Royal Armouries to entertain me this weekend. So it was nose to the grindstone yesterday (one advantage and/or disadvantage of being self-employed is that one can work all weekend if one so chooses) until a wander round the corner to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in the evening.
I didn't know much about it in advance except that there would be £10,000 in cash on stage and the audience would be divided in two by a empty file of chairs. In the event the show - a two hander if one discounts the security guards there to protect the props - was very entertaining; albeit about half an hour too long. The game show element was handled well although the tricks performed by the audience were as lame as anything I have ever seen. One chap impersonated a baby and another didn't drop a ruler; still if showbiz is in one's blood then one must respond to the smell of the greasepaint and the roar of the crowd etc.

I'm not sure that the economics and financial theory were that accurate, but given that they illustrated the great crisis of capitalism by blowing bubbles and bursting balloons then perhaps that's not too surprising. Anyway, in short, the game bits were better than the didactic elements and the last stretch was somewhat self-indulgent (read - boring).

Friday, 12 April 2013

Catherine Howard - an apology

I was hanging with my homies the other day and the subject turned inevitably to the subject of why Kathryn Parr was executed. So that's the first apology: me and my crew can't tell the difference between Henry VIII's fifth and sixth wives. Anyway, confusing the Kates aside, there was a debate

Catherine someone or other
as to the exact nature of the crime of which she was convicted. Some said treason, others said something else, don't know what, but not treason. The debate raged to no conclusion in particular. However it transpires that she wasn't actually convicted of anything as she wasn't afforded the courtesy of a trial; instead simply being condemned via an Act of Attainder. They did things differently in those days. Or perhaps not.

Another world problem that we solved was to conclude that no-one be worried by the threat of North Korea. The reason? It's the shoes that their soldiers wear.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Novara, the refight

Or, the blog makes a return to its real purpose, There was no discussion of politics last night, except perhaps one or two murmurings that I had been too kind to the evil old bat.

Baroness Thatcher after drinking the blood of small children

Anyway, what of the game. Firstly, and disappointingly, from the French side of the table the quirky, wacky, zany diagonal nature of the layout wasn't anything like as obvious. In fact one might as well have been playing across the table. Very dreary. I have no doubt that the Olicanalad blog will contain a write up with pictures etc so just a brief run through from my point of view. I've said it before, but in my view the sign of a good set of rules is that one can set up exactly the same game twice and have it play out completely differently. The whole Piquet family of rules meet that requirement for me. About the only thing that was the same last night was the group of Swiss skirmishers on the extreme right wheeling onto the flank of the Landsknecht pike block. Oh, and the fact that the French lost. It was a closer run than the previous week, partly because Peter Jackson once again threw some of the worst dice possible. Had we been playing standard Piquet there is the real possibility that he wouldn't have turned any cards at all. On the other hand I as the French opened with a sequence of cards and dice rolls that enabled my light cavalry to flank and then see off a unit of Gendarmes and a small pike block. This, it seems to me anyway, is unlikely to have happened in real life but was possible and, under the 'Hell Broke Loose' rules is unlikely to happen but is possible. Job done. So, big kudos to James and Peter for the rules, which I very much enjoy playing and probably still would even if I understood them.

Peter and James - respect is due

I have been studying the non-transitive dice and sadly can find no wargaming use for them. The problem is the very skewed number distribution on each colour; such as one of them having 5 fives and a blank for example. I have now passed them on to James to ponder over and am quietly confident that he will find some suitable, non-cheesy, role for them on the table-top.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

A Feast Of Fiddles

My long day of celebratory perambulation, of extramural terpsichorean carousal, ended in the City Varieties; an arena to which ingress is impossible without succumbing to sesquipedalian loquaciousness.

A despicable human being and Jimmy Savile

Anyway, enough politics, and back to the City Varieties. The entertainment was Feast Of Fiddles who were both bizarre and wonderful. Basically consisting of a front line of six traditional folk violinists (including amongst others, if I have my facts straight, those from Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and the Battlefield Band) and a melodeon player they somewhat unexpectedly opened with a version of 'Pick Up The Pieces' the old Average White Band number. Their musical tour d'horizon then took in Mexico's bandit country, Parisian jazz and the world of supermarionation. The rock style rhythm section featured the mighty Dave Mattacks on drums and they also featured a sax player who had backed Graham Parker amongst others. The latter looked exactly as I have always imagined Magersfontein Lugg to look: essentially one should try to picture the love child of Jaws from the James Bond films and Lurch from the original Adams family TV series. Suffice it to say that the concert was excellent and, being suffused with a spirit of goodwill to all men, I even bought a CD.

The excellent Peter Knight

My non transitive dice have arrived. Now I just need to find a use for them.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead

No need to say any more really.

I haven't laughed so much since my Auntie Mable caught her left tit in the mangle. Anyway, can't stop because I'm off to the pub to celebrate.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Robin is in da 'hood

This weekend's re-enactors are Regia Anglorum. They seem to cover a longish period ranging from the late Dark Ages to the early Medieval although one suspects their hearts are really with the Saxons. At the Royal Armouries this weekend they are doing 1213 in an event entitled 'John and the Pope'; neither of whom features at all. They were advertised by the museum as an 'interpretation' and as well as the fighting, of which more later, they did an awful lot of sitting around sewing. They brought a small fishing boat with them, but sadly didn't take to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal with it.
None of these people were in attendance; nice beards though
On Saturday afternoon they put their needles and thread down and adjourned to the tiltyard. First up was an exhibition of skill-at-arms featuring four mounted men at a variety of javelin and couched lance tasks (most of which made me think that I'd quite fancy my chances as a foot soldier against them) and one task featuring what were obviously very sharp swords (which I would prefer not to have to deal with). There was then a 'battle' the back story of which seemed to have something to do with liberty, freedom, and the Magna Carta. It seems that King John had imposed all sorts of taxes including one on widows who did not remarry. One can only hope that neither George Osborne nor Ian Duncan Smith were in the audience otherwise they'll be bringing that one in quicker than one can shout "They take from the poor to give to the rich". Which is a nice link into the main protagonists of this event who were, naturally enough, the Sheriff of Nottingham (boo hiss) and Robin 'of the Wood' Hood (huzzah).
A chap with a beard
I won't insult your intelligence by telling you who won. There was lots of shouting (neither this lot nor the cowboys from a few weeks ago are any loss to the world of amateur dramatics) and plenty of bashing and clashing. The one interesting point from a wargamer's point of view is just how quickly they tired. Still, in summary it was good fun, it was free and it was warm sitting in the sun for the first time this year.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Rutherford and Son

And so to the theatre. This time it's the latest Northern Broadside production 'Rutherford and Son'. Superficially the play returns this blog to the theme of social class, but the substance of the drama is the relationships of a pater familias (the eponymous Rutherford) and his three children (it gets confusing at this point; possibly the father is in fact the Son and Rutherford is his father). Anyway, whatever, moving on.
Bazza with a beard
One of the interesting things about reviving plays is how much of the audience's reaction will have changed simply because of changes that have occurred in society over the intervening period. This was first performed in 1912 when the idea of a female playwright was so unheard of that Sowerby was billed only by her initials; an idea which we could laugh at were it not for the fact that pretty much the same thing happened to J.K. Rowling rather more recently. For myself, I was naturally appalled by the father's treatment of his daughter even though I have only the most general idea of the social conventions that allowed him to do it and prevented her from escape. On the other hand I rather sympathised with him regarding the elder son. John seemed to want all of the benefits of his father's wealth without actually doing anything for it; his sense of entitlement on the basis that he had been to Harrow certainly struck a contemporary chord. I've no idea whether the author intended to promote the concept of meritocracy, but she certainly did; although the talented working man character was a bit of a wet fish. It may be just me, but when watching any play from that period I find it difficult not to think of what we now know awaits the characters in their very near future.

It was, as one would expect from Northern Broadsides, an excellent production. Rutter was on fire - as can be seen in the photo above - and successfully managed to restrain the over-acting for once. I was, however, a bit disappointed at the lack of clog-dancing; presumably Jonathan Miller is not a fan.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Warning - no wargaming content whatsoever

Let's talk about social class. I am proud, though slightly surprised, that the BBC's online class calculator has identified me as 'traditional working class'. I have always agreed with John Prescott's definition i.e. that one retains the class of one's parents. And as someone who grew up in Bethnal Green in a house with an outside toilet and no bathroom I am not sure what else I could be.

A chap with a beard
The interactive version of Charles Booth's poverty maps of London (in the Museum of London - well worth visiting) identify the house in which I grew up as Dark Blue or "Casual earnings, very poor. The labourers do not get as much as three days work a week, but it is doubtful if many could or would work full time for long together if they had the opportunity. Class B is not one in which men are born and live and die so much as a deposit of those who from mental, moral and physical reasons are incapable of better work." Now we had clearly come up somewhat in the world by the time I arrived (at least my mother's family; my father's family never did) and might even have been as high as Pink at that point. But one is what one is. The university degrees, accountancy qualification, opera going, waterside apartment living are mere veneer.

You can put lipstick on a Pink, but it's still a Pink

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Anything can happen Thursday

Well! So soon after last night's lop-sided lunacy we have another first: two blog postings on the same day. "Blimey O'Reilly" as Oscar Wilde would have said under the same circumstances. 

I have been to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds to see the new Robert Filliou exhibition. It's centrepiece (not literally as it is actually off in a side room) is 'Eins.Un.One...', a work dating from 1984
This consists - and I quote - 'of 16,000 wooden dice bearing the number one on all sides, negating the laws of probability'.
Now, any wargamer will tell you that rolling 16,000 consecutive ones is in fact not just plausible, but has actually happened to them during a game in which their brilliant strategy was otherwise going to guarantee victory.

So I, on behalf of you all, want to say to Filliou (again not literally as he has been dead for 25 years): "We recognise and share your pain."

Mama Weer All Crazee Now

Wargamers are generally regarded as fat, unwashed blokes with beards and no interpersonal skills. And that's just by other wargamers. God only knows what the general public would think of us if they became aware of our existence. But, I am proud to be able to report that one man is single-handedly leading the way in showing that wargamers aren't at all dull and boring.
James Roach
Yesterday evening in James 'Olicanalad' Roach's legendary wargames room we played a game diagonally across the table. That's right, you heard me; corner to corner - and we didn't care! Rock and roll or what?

The game itself (Novara 1513 - full details available as usual on James' Olicanalad's blog - was very enjoyable; not least because I won. I did it the hard way with my large pike block taking for ever to get into the action, As so often happens one of my units - in this case some innocuous looking skirmish shot - swept all before them and then fought a unit of French Gendarmes to a standstill. I don't think there is any doubt however that my triumph was mainly due to Peter Jackson throwing some of the worst dice it has ever been my privilege and pleasure to watch from the other side of the table. My own dice throwing was nothing to write home about, but if your opponent rolls a one then a two will do.

So, is wargaming 'on the bias' the way forwards? Just possibly. If we can move on from cubic dice to embrace the other Platonic solids  then why not? I have the highest hopes for a table based on the principle of the moebius strip; it would definitely increase the likelihood of flank marches succeeding.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

"The cat's done a whoopsie in my beret"

And so to the theatre. I've had a bit of a middle-brow Easter, culturally speaking. 'Waterloo' is a fine film - especially for someone with an interest in military history - but I'm don't think even Sergei Bondarchuk would regard it as Art with a capital A. I also watched 'Up Pompeii' which definitely counts as a guilty pleasure. I am not ashamed to admit that I have always found Frankie Howard very funny (Oh, suit yourselves) and, of course, I honour him as one dissolute old git to another. As a reviewer on IMdB points out, the film is the sort of rubbish that only the British could produce and yet it features Sir Michael Horden, a man who had played Lear and who had been knighted for his services to the theatre.

Someone else on IMdB has been to the trouble of posting a comment pointing out the holes in the plot. I've no idea whether irony was intended.

Anyway, last  night was 'The Ladykillers', based on the old Ealing comedy which featured Sir Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers et al and was just the sort of classic that only the British could make. The stage version is scripted by Graham Linehan of 'Father Ted' fame, which promised laughs; and they were duly delivered. I very much enjoyed it. The character of Major Courtney, with his predilection for dressing in women's clothes rather reminded me of a Royal Navy submarine captain whom I once knew. He's switched roles to be a captain of industry these days so I won't name names. Perhaps it's something they teach you in officer training.

The role of Mrs Wilberforce was played by Michele Dotrice who may look different, but sounds exactly the same as when she regularly exclaimed "Oh, Frank.". She was, of course, married to the late Edward Woodward, thus neatly bringing us on to the subject of wargaming. Hopefully I can thereby escape censure from Comrade Conrad.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Hang a trout!

I wouldn't normally write a blog entry about the blog itself; a bit self-referentially postmodern for my tastes (those imaginary readers who have stuck with me so far may remember that I am more inclined to post-postmodernism myself). Anyway, I may have to stop referring to imaginary readers because we have - unnoticed, but not unwelcome - attracted a follower. The next thing you know someone apart from me will be reading this.
It all rather puts me in mind of the advice given by the great Steve Martin: "Don't have sex." he warned "It will lead to kissing and pretty soon you'll have to talk to them."

Anyway, can I say just two things to Conrad Kinch "Hello." and "I am not worthy."