Saturday, 28 June 2014

Cranking up the pretentiousness

There has been too much wargaming here recently so it's time for some pseudery. I was reading this week's Polemarch and felt moved to add a comment referencing Herbert Read. Now at that point one could either reach for the Foster's paddle of rebuke or one could press on regardless.

Having no shame I opt for some poetry by Read, an anarchist who accepted a knighthood and was therefore just the type of inconsistent chap to inspire your bloggist. An art critic - he championed Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth - he served in the First War and is of course best known as a war poet. However, you're not interested in that; you want some politics.

A Song for the Spanish Anarchists

The golden lemon is not made
but grows on a green tree:
A strong man and his crystal eyes
is a man born free.

The oxen pass under the yoke
and the blind are led at will:
But a man born free has a path of his own
and a house on the hill

And man are men who till the land
and women are women who weave:
Fifty men own the lemon grove
and no man is a slave.

- Sir Herbert Read

Friday, 27 June 2014

"We will find a way..."

As Hannibal didn't say "We will either find a way or, much more likely, we won't". James has described the latest events in the Punic War campaign in some detail, so I will restrict myself to a few observations.

Firstly, James has been rather kind in not pointing out the somewhat rash nature of my strategy; or to be more precise the fact that I didn't abandon it when it started to go wrong. As we've been playing for some months I no longer have the excuse that I lack experience. Ah well.

Nope, never read it

More importantly, I still have a number of  reservations around the fighting of the battles using Command and Colours. James mentions the issue of how the Romans are represented. I frankly know nothing about the period, but I was rather assuming that James and Peter did. I was therefore rather surprised when first playing C&C as written to find that it differed in troop classification and also didn't have any specific rules for the triplex acies. No doubt James is on the case already.

The new formula for allocating morale chips

However, I am less sanguine that we are on the right track regarding victory conditions. There is merit in James' current suggestion of a fixed element plus a variable bit, but absolutely no science behind the choice of six and one per five. To my way of thinking the problem is fighting every battle as if it is simply about destruction of the opposing army with one victorypoint per unit destroyed rather than allowing for other objectives. If the Carthaginians had been allowed to have troops off table, but keep the morale for them then we would have had the previous week's paradox in reverse. this time the smaller army would have been unable to win no matter what they did. I can't speak for the C&C ancients scenarios, but the Napoleonic ones include examples of allocation of VPs for holding terrain, exiting off either baseline, and only on destruction of multiple units.

Now those scenarios are obviously playtested and that's a luxury that we don't have. My own current half baked thinking is that at least in cases of mismatched forces (and remember that the last two battles have been 2:1 and 3:1) that there should be a sort of matrix game element where each side separately pitches to the umpire what they would like to achieve in the context of the strategic situation and he defines victory conditions accordingly. He would of course also have to change the post battle outcome. So, for example, in the current battle - which I tried to evade - I might argue that my objective was to withdraw and the umpire might determine that the subsequent retreat losses roll might be adjusted depending on how many units were indeed withdrawn. Peter might argue that he didn't want to deploy all his troops and should be allowed to not retreat if he lost (I'm assuming that the arguments are made separately so he wouldn't know I was retreating) and immediately offer battle again, or perhaps (if he guessed my intentions) that he should be allowed to immediately pursue with the uncommitted forces. Just my twopennyworth.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

This be the verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.   
    They may not mean to, but they do.   
They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,   
Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.
- Philip Larkin

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The baton is in the post

The playtest was an easy victory for Saint-Cyr and the French due mainly to the neutral solo wargamer being far more inept in his handling of the Russian attack than of the French defence. Early thoughts on Napoleonic Command & Colours are that I basically still have no idea about either rules or tactics. The view has been expressed that anyone with any sense would have had a first run through of the rules using the blocks and hexed board rather than essaying a bastardised gridless version with figures. It's hard to disagree, but where's the fun in  that? Anyway, I forgot to take any photos so here's a picture of the man of the hour.

In other news, my team won the pub quiz in the Flying Duck last night. I also qualified for the chance to answer the £200 bonus question. However, as the question was on the subject of Dangermouse there is therefore no unexpected wodge of cash to spend on gaming goodies. Who on earth knows where a bloody cartoon character on CBBC lives?

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

"You have to learn the rules of the game"

"The true method of knowledge is experiment." - William Blake

Your bloggist prepares for the playtest

And so back to the battle of Polotsk. I believe that it is traditional at this point to provide plenty of background detail that no-one could possibly be interested in and I am nothing if not a conventional wargames blogger, so here goes. I painted my Napoleonics collection many years ago and for reasons long forgotten - although probably related to idleness - I chose three stand infantry units and two stands for cavalry. These small sizes make me think that a stylised, grid based rule set will work better than a more naturalistic one. In particular my figures as based aren't very good at representing particular formations and so are better suited to the type of game where it is assumed that lower level commanders are automatically dealing with all that stuff and that any sub-optimalities are reflected through the dice rolls.

Command & Colours got the nod, the forty odd quid was shelled out and that brings us to Polotsk on a non-squex table. Russian infantry units have either three or four stands and so I had to bulk some up with cannibalised stands from other units. French units are always four stands and so for game purposes I've left them physically at three. In order to distinguish infantry units, light infantry are in line and all others, including line, are in column. Cavalry units are doubled up to four stands. I hope all that is clear.
Russian guards take the village with militia in the background

Based on my experience with James' interpretation of the C&C ancient rules, I have made the following decisions:

  • Range/movements are converted at 15cm per hex
  • All measurements are made from the centre of the unit front.
  • Friendly units can be no closer to each other than 15cm; there is no restriction on how close enemy units can be to each other.
  • To offer support units must be within 20cm
  • If two units are close enough to offer support to each other (including units that have rule restrictions from offering support or are enemy units) then no unit can move between them. 
  • Movement and fire can be in any direction; facing is unimportant.
  • Retreating units must retreat within a 45 degree arc of a line drawn straight back to the baseline, but can snake.
  • Units can melee, and cannot fire at, an enemy within 15cm

Monday, 23 June 2014

Strange Brew

I have been to see Eric Clapton, and as seems to be increasingly the way of these things it was for the first time since the late seventies. Expectations were mixed because he had apparently stormed off stage mid-set in Glasgow the previous evening. Those reports must have been somewhat exaggerated though because as far as I could tell the set at Leeds Arena was identical. It was difficult to be sure though because 'God' was curiously disengaged throughout. He only spoke two words to the audience all night. "Paul Carrack" he said, after the latter had beautifully sung 'How Long'.

'Slowhand' is, of course, knocking on a bit now and so one must allow him a few eccentricities. In fact he didn't look terribly well and, from where I sat at least, appeared to be wearing a highly unconvincing syrup. But, and it's an important but, boy can he play guitar. I would have paid the money for the version of 'Crossroads' alone.

I went down to the crossroads,
Fell down on my knees.
I went down to the crossroads,
Fell down on my knees.
Asked the Lord above for mercy,
"Save me if you please."

Sunday, 22 June 2014


Or, to be more specific, the first day of the second battle of Polotsk. Having put away all my wargames stuff (although I am still puzzled as to the whereabouts of some items that seem to have disappeared) I decided that perhaps what was required was a wargame. I have therefore set up the Polotsk scenario from the GMT website; it's to be found in the section for the Russian expansion.

I know that Napoleon's troops included various German units, but mine are all French apart from the artillery which has had to be supplemented with Bavarians and Saxons. The Russians are pretty much as they should be except that Mounted Jaegers are doing service as Heavy Cavalry.

I intend to have a solo run through using Command & Colours Napoleonic. I haven't got any grid - neither hexes nor squexes - and am therefore going for a freestyle version in the same vein as James' interpretation of the Ancients rules. One hex of distance will be deemed to be 15cm. I shall however ignore flanks and facings and I shall allow melee at up to 15cm with ranged fire starting thereafter. I shan't take any special measures for it being solo, but simply play each hand of cards in turn.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Defeat is an orphan

James had marked his table into an offset square pattern mimicing a hex grid and so we played the latest Punic War battle with the Command & Colours rules as written. It took some getting used to as they were somewhat different to James' free-form version. I don't think any of us had truly got our heads round the appropriate tactics by the end and my narrow loss (of which more below) was to some extent caused by making more mistakes than Peter. In particular I hadn't appreciated that warbands could move two spaces and thereby lost a cavalry unit.

The real reason for my loss was victory conditions that, in hindsight, didn't make any sense. Rome outnumbered Carthage two to one at the beginning and by four to one at the end and yet I was declared the loser . In fact I had more units at the end than Carthage did at the beginning. I think the problem was in trying to give both sides a chance of success on the table whereas as part of a campaign, with the forces as they were, the Carthaginians actually shouldn't have had very much chance of success at all and we shouldn't have worried about evening it up when setting the battle up.

Anyway, I have once again ended a campaign turn in front and I can't be the only one to be surprised by that.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

The more I like everything

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint', then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Your bloggist at work

A bit of a landmark today as I put brush to figure for the first time since August 2012. Some Bavarian infantry for the War of Spanish Succession (my period not of choice) got the honour of having their leatherwork and neckerchiefs added whilst some others received a coat of matt varnish. The world wide web can't seem to agree on uniform colours for the Kurprinz regiment and I therefore chose the one with the splash of red.

On the other hand I didn't like that blue so I went with a lighter one. As Nietzsche said "there are no facts, only interpretations".

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


As Woody Allen said "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans". I have now transferred all of my wargaming junk/goodies from the garage of the former marital home to the wargaming annexe. Having decided not to even think about Constantinople I naturally find that I have painted far more Ottomans than I remember including a number specifically equipped for escalade.

Well, I thought, perhaps not Constantinople per se, but perhaps a smaller example, such as that featured in Ismail Kadare's 'The Siege'. However, nowhere among my boxes of scenery can I find any walls. I definitely used to have some, but they aren't there now. Bugger!

Still, as a great philosopher - OK it was Epictetus - once reflected: "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things that he has not, but rejoices for those that he has".

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Battle of the Pelennor Fields

OK, time for another complete digression coupled with a futile attempt to make it look as if this blog has some sort of planning involved. The last two postings have concerned the Fall of Constantinople and Wagner's Ring Cycle. The former prompted MS Foy to refer in a comment to the sinister and superhuman dread that the Ottomans inspired then and now. As for the second, Wagner was clearly one of the sources for Tolkien's later ring based epic although the elf-fancier rather strangely denied it when asked.
Gandalf the Orangey-Brown

There has always been speculation - also strongly refuted by the author - that Lord of the Rings was allegorical. As a callow youth I indulged myself in a large number of pointless and no doubt erroneous conversations regarding the ring as atomic bomb or orcs as the Japanese in the second world war. Now it seems obvious that a more likely parallel would be between Gondor and Byzantium and between Minas Tirith and Constantinople, with Tolkien - a devout Christian - rewriting the events of 1453 as a counter-factual more to his taste; this time the west does come to the aid of the besieged city, the heathens are seen off and civilisation (as JRR would understand it) is saved.

This isn't an especially original thought, but if completely new stuff was all the blog contained then postings would be pretty damned infrequent.

Sunday, 15 June 2014


And so to the Town Hall, Leeds Town Hall to be precise, for Götterdämmerung, the culmination of Opera North's four season run through Wagner's 'Das Ring des Nibelungen'. It was performed there rather than at the Grand Theatre because like the whole series it was a staged concert, meaning that the singers perform in evening dress (except for the chap playing Siegfried who appeared to share a stylist with Meatloaf) with orchestra on stage and with the surtitles expanded into full audio/visual splendour, full of rippling Rhine and blood coloured flames.

Anyway it was good stuff with the band being in spectacular form as they have been throughout the whole affair. It's a good venue too and was referenced to in "Untold Stories", the Alan Bennett play I saw a couple of weeks ago. The author recounted his introduction to classical music had come from the cheap seats on stage behind the double basses: "like watching the circus from behind the elephants". For this performance these seats were for part of the time occupied by the chorus. I myself have been gradually working my was backwards over the years since 'Das Rheingold' and was on this occasion at the end of the back row thus enabling a quick getaway to the pub for the second interval. (The whole performance lasted six and a half hours and featured two intervals; the first was spent in Wagamama with my daughters in an early Father's Day celebration.) I arrived in the Victoria Hotel ahead of my fellow audience members, but still found myself in a queue for service behind the said chorus whose exit had been even speedier and who were now lubricating their vocal chords prior to the final hour and a half. Don't worry though, I did manage to get a pint of London Pride in.

The story makes no sense whatsoever of course and, as an aside, I can't for the life of me see why the Nazis were so keen on it; apart from anything else the hero is out-witted and then killed before fulfilling his destiny to become ruler of the world. Virtually all the characters are unsympathetic and behave appallingly (perhaps that's a clue as to why Hitler approved). Following Siegfried's death towards the end, Brünnhilde performs suttee on his pyre to demonstrate the intensity of her love for him. Now call me pedantic ["You're pedantic!"], but if I've got the chronology right she'd only known him two days. And while I would normally have no truck with bourgeois morality I find it hard to see beyond the fact that she's his aunt; that's just wrong.

Friday, 13 June 2014

'Nothing worse than this has ever happened or ever will happen'

My determination not to wargame the events of 1453 has not been helped by reading the special edition of Medieval Warfare on the subject. Of the dozen articles one deals with the siege and the others with the context, personalities and after effects. It's well illustrated with a large number of photographs and paintings although there could perhaps have been more maps.

I'm not going to review it in detail; OK, I admit that I'm not in any way qualified to review it in detail. However, for me it stands as a useful companion to the Osprey hardback collection entitled 'The Fall of Constantinople' (as inevitably are all books on the subject) which has the benefit of more maps. Runciman is essential of course and I would also recommend Crowley.

A chap with a beard

What I wouldn't recommend is reading it just when one has decided that the period is not for you.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

"It is the part of a fool to say, I should not have thought"

 So said Scipio Africanus, current hero of the hour in the Punic Wars campaign and he was right. Far from being the odds on Carthaginian victory that I predicted, the battle turned out to be a rather easy triumph for the Romans. I didn't have any cards to enable my legions in the centre to do anything so I took advice from, who else, one of the great Stoic philosophers. 'The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious' was  what Marcus Aurelius said when I asked him and therefore I turned to my units of Velites, all five of whom were at the back of my army, the Triple Acies having been cycled appropriately. A sequence of 'Move/Fire/Move', 'Darken the Sky', 'Move/Fire/Move' and then 'Order Light Troops' saw two of them move to the right in a giant sweep that saw off elephants, cavalry and balearic slingers and reduced Carthaginian morale to zero. Naturally the post battle rolling for casualties left me losing just as many CUs as the enemy; I really do think that having defeated Hannibal in two battles running I'm entitled to be in a stronger position than I am. Still, the campaign has swung back a bit.

Not much news on the wargaming annexe due to 'A' level exams, but the table ha been painted blue to enable naval games to take place. I don't actually have any ships you understand, but Peter sagely pointed out that if I didn't paint it now then I never would.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Daisy chains and laughs

I have been to see The Paperboys, a Canadian folk/roots band with Mexican and Irish influences, whom I am embarrassed to say that I had never previously heard of. I rather enjoyed it as did the rest of the audience. My companion found there to be a surfeit of trombone, but I think she was just being picky. Better that than banjo is what I say.

On the subject of my companion, it was the estimable Coral Laroc, sometime poster of comments on this blog. I wish to place on record that the time spent was not wasted; indeed quite the opposite. Also, I may have inadvertently referred to 'other women' at some point. I wish it to be known that this reference sprang from my imagination and was only included for comedic effect. That is all.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

So, once again I have been wasting time on women, beer and revolutionary socialism that could have been more profitably spent blogging. Actually, revolutionary socialism has taken a bit of a back seat for the last forty years or so; and, now I think about it, I don't drink any more. Still, something somewhere has got in the way.

Anyway, what about the Punic Wars? In the strategic turn just ended I had a hand like a foot and was therefore rather relieved to record a victory on the battlefield. I had no naval move cards at all so my adventure in North Africa was short lived. This time round - only one card played so far - I have a stonking good hand and the Carthaginians better watch out because their boys are in for one hell of  beating. Oh yes! Anyway, the only card played so far caused Hannibal to advance on Scipio Africanus who has just turned up and is his match in every regard. Or at least was, because he is wounded and hors de combat along with one of his commanders, a fact which I think puts the current odds at about 4-1 against a Roman victory in a battle that is nearing its end.

In addition I have been to the theatre to see some Alan Bennett, who - may I just remind you all - is very much still with us and has not yet ceased to be. In fact he was very much sort of there because the play, 'Untold Stories', features him as a character. It was naturally very funny, somewhat poignant (dealing as it did with the death of his parents) and altogether excellent stuff. It even featured a cameo appearance from the ghost of J.B. Priestley.

A number of boardgames have been played including Revolver, Carcassonne, Love Letter and one new one, Sail to India. The last is another minimalist Japanese design, packs a lot into a small, relatively inexpensive box and is recommended.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

2 Kings Chapter 5

1  Now Na'aman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable, because by him the LORD had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valor, but he was a leper.
2  And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Na'aman's wife.
3  And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.
4  And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.
5  And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel.
¶ And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.
6  And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Na'aman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.
7  And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? Wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.
8  ¶ And it was so, when Eli'sha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
9  So Na'aman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Eli'sha.
10  And Eli'sha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.
11  But Na'aman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the LORD his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.
12  Are not Aba'na and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
13  And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
14  Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.
15  ¶ And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.
16  But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
17  And Na'aman said, Shall there not then, I pray thee, be given to thy servant two mules' burden of earth? for thy servant will henceforth offer neither burnt offering nor sacrifice unto other gods, but unto the LORD.
18  In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.
19  And he said unto him, Go in peace.
¶ So he departed from him a little way.
20  But Geha'zi, the servant of Eli'sha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Na'aman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the LORD liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him.
21  So Geha'zi followed after Na'aman. And when Na'aman saw him running after him, he lighted down from the chariot to meet him, and said, Is all well?
22  And he said, All is well. My master hath sent me, saying, Behold, even now there be come to me from mount E'phra-im two young men of the sons of the prophets: give them, I pray thee, a talent of silver, and two changes of garments.
23  And Na'aman said, Be content, take two talents. And he urged him, and bound two talents of silver in two bags, with two changes of garments, and laid them upon two of his servants; and they bare them before him.
24  And when he came to the tower, he took them from their hand, and bestowed them in the house: and he let the men go, and they departed.
25  But he went in, and stood before his master. And Eli'sha said unto him, Whence comest thou, Geha'zi? And he said, Thy servant went no whither.
26  And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants?
27  The leprosy therefore of Na'aman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

"The old order changeth, yielding place to new"

Tennyson wasn't necessarily suggesting to his readers that change was good although King Arthur's own opinion on the matter is somewhat ambiguous; you will recall him reflecting that "all my mind is clouded with a doubt". I however am up for it. So, having dealt with the base of my own personal Maslow's hierarchy (source of income, somewhere to live, sufficiency of doxies) it is time to turn my thoughts to achieving self-actualisation through wargaming.

The transporting of my collection into the new wargaming annexe has forced me to have a think about what on earth I'm going to do with all this stuff, with a subsidiary helping of 'what was I thinking?'. So the time has come to impersonate a proper wargaming blog and write a posting about my plans for the future.

New stuff: the only new painting is going to be War of the Spanish Succession, the period that having been tricked into I am nevertheless going to bloody well finish regardless. Rules will be Piquet, Maurice, Beneath the Lily Banners and/or Die Fighting. I own them all so they'll all get an outing at some point.

Steady as she goes: My Wars of the Roses morphing into Hussite Wars collection will basically stay as is, but the half-hearted attempt to also morph into the Fall of Constantinople will not be pursued. Rules will be Piquet Band of Brothers suitably amended to incorporate the latest thinking from Ilkley, wargaming epicentre of lower Wharfedale.

Different tack: I actually have a fairly large 1813 Napoleonic collection albeit without any Austrians. In fact until I re-looked at it I'd forgotten how much I'd painted; or how badly, but that's a different issue. However, the units are pretty small and don't lend themselves to a lot of rulesets. So, partly based on recent experiences with the ongoing Punic Wars campaign and partly on game reports on Conrad Kinch's excellent blog, I'm thinking of giving Napoleonic Command and Colours a go. In fact I'm seriously thinking of investing in some hex terrain to do it as written.

Resuscitated project: I have lots of Celts and not many Romans, all individually based and destined for a game based on either Patrols in the Sudan or Pony Wars or both. I'd like to give this a proper go; needs some close combat rules to graft on though.

Complete fantasy: Mexican revolution - one day.

Monday, 2 June 2014

I've got an achin' in my heart

It's good to know that something new can still happen. I went to see Thea Gilmore at Harrogate Theatre and the fire alarm went off necessitating the evacuation of the audience. It was all rather low key; the lowering of the safety curtain in particular being pretty unimpressive. Which can't be said for Ms Gilmore who was very good; what a voice. Highlights included excellent versions of songs as diverse as 'Sweet Child of Mine' from Guns n Roses and 'Summertime' from Porgy and Bess, but there wasn't a duff moment. During the period spent outside we were even entertained to some impromptu tango music by her string section before returning inside - once the fire brigade had rushed around aimlessly for a while - for an extended encore.

I'm also pleased to be able to report that wargaming - at least that part of it that takes place in the legendary wargames room of James 'Olicanalad' Roach - has followed cricket in allowing players to challenge the umpire's decision. I have taken advantage of this and we await the third umpire to scrutinise the slow motion tv footage and consult Hawkeye, Snicko and Hot Spot.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


So little to write about and so much time to do it in; it's no surprise that nothing gets posted.

An apology to Peter, who it turns out won his game of Dead Man's Hand at Triples despite what I wrote previously. I'm sure that you'll all join with me in condemning him for his outrageous lack of sportsmanship by not letting the poor young child win. I believe that we can safely assume that is another potential wargamer lost to the hobby forever; and we know who is to blame.

Peter savours his victory

 So the Punic Wars campaign resumed last week with one strategic phase card played followed by a battle. Astonishingly Hannibal was defeated albeit only just. And I think the closeness of the margin tells us something. Rome had more troops, the benefits of the triple acies, got all the cards they needed (especially at the beginning), only made one tactical error (not throwing their general into a melee because they were bound to destroy the Carthaginian unit and then not doing so) and Hannibal only had a small amount of lucky dice throws (a couple of melees and nugatory results from a Roman 'Darken the Sky' card; certainly nothing unusual). Despite all that the Romans still only won by the smallest possible margin. The number of cards Hannibal gets plus his double play make him almost invincible. Still, must be a bit embarrassing to lose with all those advantages.

Peter finds defeat hard to take

Other than that, it's been the usual. I spent two days in Hartlepool on a waste recycling facility in the rain reminding myself that accountancy really is glamorous. I went to see les Enfants Terrible perform 'Ernest and the Pale Moon' at the Carriageworks. Described as 'gloriously gothic' it was thoroughly entertaining and a nice length. One of the characters, Gwendoline, was a combination of Madeleine Basset and Basil Fotherington-Thomas and frankly deserved everything she got.

Boardgames played included Tsuro, Citadels and Family Business. One of the young ladies who turned up to the pub to play came dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Being British no one asked why, she never mentioned it herself and so, sadly, it must remain a mystery.