Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year / PF 2013, review of the year and New Year’s resolutions

So Happy New year (in a few hours in Prague) to all, and wishing my fellow gamers success in improving the ratio of their painted to unpainted figures; may your mountains of lead rapidly diminish…

2012 was a really hectic year, with the birth of a new daughter and a new role at work; free hours were in short supply. Still I completed two projects - a British company in 28mm for Sharp Practice, and a 1000 point British army in 15/18mm for General de Brigade. I started two other projects – a Saxon army in 28mm for Dux Bellorum (half painted), and British and German Companies in 28mm for “Through the Mud and the Blood” (figures based and primed, but still at the starting blocks for painting).

In terms of wargaming generally, I think 2012 has been a great year. The rise of hard plastics in 28mm and the launch of Osprey’s series of wargames rules has been a shot in the arm for the hobby, and both are appearing on the shelves of high street shops which can only be a good thing. In tandem other older innovative rules sets such as Sharp Practice and the other new “Dux” from the Two lardies, as well as the General de Brigade Stable 3rd editons (“Deluxe”), go from strength to strength. Blackpowder is also having an impact, but I am yet to see if they can develop more period flavour (another discussion). Saga is also another great edition, if not exactly a wargame in the traditional sense.

Blogging has also been a great help, and really reenergised the gaming community. Certain blogs stand out such as Roundwood’s World, Tarleton’s Quarter and Der Alte Fritz to name a few, but there are many more that I hope I could approach in terms of quality one day.

There have been some low points as well such as the crash of Maelstrom Games with a backlog of unfulfilled orders to customers. We’ll have to see how that plays out. I am sure there may be other companies feeling the economic pressure as well, so let’s hope they can stay afloat, or exit gracefully. It will be interesting to see who emerges as the trusted product aggregator in UK/Europe after the Maelstrom Games mess.

The various price rises as well are never welcome, but inevitable (thankfully I do not rely on Games Workshop). On the upside we see more small niches figure ranges emerging, using the third party services of figure sculptors and casting companies (the Drum and Fife range springs to mind). This can only be a good thing, as long as they complete their ranges (Trent Miniatures…).

So my 10 Resolutions for the New Year (hopefully most will be met in 2013):
  1. Complete "The big project" – to run an Austerlitz (Slavkov) wargame in 28mm by end of August down at the site of the battle in Moravia (Czech Republic). You will see the progress of painted armies and plans over at this blog ( in the coming months. We have about six committed participants, so there will be a team of us slaving away to get figures painted in time. We’ll be using an adapted General de Brigade scenario
  2. Adding to and adapting the French force from the Austerlitz game for the French Revolutionary wars, and Napoleon’s Italian campaigns (especially the Marengo scenarios, and Montebello). I just got my first order of some Trent Miniatures figures and they are full of character. Eureka Miniatures look excellent as well, but sooo pricey…
  3. More posts on battlefields – especially more on the Battle of Jankov, and later a more detailed article on the battle. Also a follow up to the battle of White Mountain (considering I’m only a 15 minute tram ride from the site). I also want to finish up reports on the other battlefields I visited a year ago (Vimeiro, Rolica, Ciudad Rodrigo, Fuentes de Onoro, Almeida, Sabugal, Bussaco).
  4. Complete/bring to conclusion an exciting project I started early in 2012. This may involve some new 28mm figures... More details and lovely pictures coming soon….
  5. Get the Dark Age Early Saxons finished during January (along with some lovely buildings from Gripping Beast), and get the ball rolling with dark age gaming in the club with a first try of Dan Mersey’s new rules. Dux brittania may also get a look-in
  6. Complete another 1000 point force for General de Brigade (most likely 15mm Russians) as part of redoing one of the scenarios for 1813 by year's end (probably Dolitz & Probstheyda – Leipzig)
  7. Seriously try to eat into the lead mountain: two AWI armies, one Carlist army, French for Sharp practice, British and Russian Napoleonics in 15mm, the lovely WW1 figures by Great War miniatures, a whole 28mm army for thirty years War and so on…
  8. Build more quality terrain for the club – especially Mediterranean/South American, and trenches for WW1
  9. More regular blog posts, with a target for 2013 of at least 50
  10. And the final and most important project is to finally sell property one and find  a larger house, with man cave potential for a permanent gaming room :-)
 We’ll see if I have to eat my hat on 31st December 2013.  

So best New Year wishes from Goose Towers to all who have strayed across my blog, and success in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Games Workshop....

Hitler calls Games Workshop to complain about the prices - I just saw this and couldn't resist... :-)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Christmas 2012

Happy Christmas to all from a cold Prague. I'm looking forward to reading more of the excellent blogs out there in 2013, and of course prepare for the big Austerlitz game in 28mm that we're planning towards the end of the year (more on that in another post).

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Force on Force - somewhere in Afghanistan

Just a few shots of a recent game we had at the Prague Wargames Club, using the Force on Force rules.

This was my first game with the rules, and I have to say they are really quite good. They were reasonably easy to pick up, and not much page turning was required once we were a few turns into the game. That said though, the excellent umpiring by our long standing club member Petr went along way towards smoothing the way on this one (he also provided all the figures and buildings for the game).

The scenario it self revolved around a team of intrepid TV reporters, a large band of local militia who were out to grab them as hostages etc., and a smaller, but better equipped group of "private contractors" and trained US forces attempting to prevent this (in which they succeeded), as well as to nab the local militia warlord (in which they failed).
Afghan surge, and last stand by US contractors (TV crew are standing in front of the domed building).

The outcome? Well a really enjoyable game, with nice scenery, and loads of lovely lead. The local militia came close to success in a mass attack, and took down a few of the US troops, but then training and hardware started to kick in, with the Afghans taking very heavy casualties and their attack brought to a halt.

A ranger extraction team were called in late in the game to get the TV crew out (which reduced the US player's victory points). When added up the US side managed a narrow victory. Anyway, a great game, which seemed to me to be fast moving and intuitive.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day

I've never been one for flags or symbols that get hijacked or turned into a political orthodoxy (such as politicians wearing poppies etc.)

From my perspective, it is better to remember at a personal level those whose young lives were cut tragically short. So this is for those members of my own family who didn't come home in 1918, and their medals the only link to the living.

"Have you forgotten yet?...
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.

But the past is just the same-and War’s a bloody game...
Have you forgotten yet?...
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget."
 (Siegfried Sassoon "Aftermath" 1919)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Krakow-Niepolomice Historical Show 2012

So the annual trek of the Prague club up to visit our chums in Poland went off smoothly again. We brought a Sharp Practice display game with us, including loads of lovely 28mm figures and terrain, plus about 8 club members, all packed into two cars. (Above you can see our Polish friend and fellow wargamer Kris, in the courtyard of the castle where the event was held)

The rules of course are fun to play, very popular and with the added advantage that they are great for display games.

 In this scenario written by our club member Jakub, it's 1813, somewhere in Germany, and we have the French trying to cross the table to exit at the other side as their main objective. The objective of the mixed force of Austrians and Bavarians is to stop them, with a Small Austrian blocking force of Landwehr and regulars being steadily joined by Bavarian reinforcements. A sort of miniature battle of Hanau, only in this instance the French ended up getting a bit of a trashing through a mixture of bad dice and worse tactics (I of course was one of the French commanders...).

 It seems to have been a big hit with the locals, many writing down the name of the rules to go off and purchase them (note for the Lardies, we can accept a commission fee ;-)  )

We also managed to stop off at the Army Museum in Krakow which has a great display of both original Renaissance, as well as Napoleonic, armour, uniforms and equipment. Really quite excellent.

British for Sharp Practice

Colonel Sharp as a young lad...

I realise that I have not put up too many pictures of nicely painted toys on this blog. To make up for this, here is a batch of 28mm British Napoleonic infantry from the Peninsular War that I recently finished (a light company of the 87th Prince of Wales Own Irish to be precise).

These toys are for a Sharp Practice game the club will be holding on Sunday. I used the smartphone on indoor settings for these shots and seem to have ended up with the warm evening light of Spain. An unintended effect, but it looks nice anyway.

 Here's the whole group together on normal light settings. The figures are from Victrix, which are very nice, but a pain to assemble, and even more frustrating when the bayonets break off (which they often do).

Here are a few more figures which are in the final stages  of completion.

If I go for more figures for these rules, then they will be in metal, as time spent on painting is the true cost and far outweighs any savings on Victrix plastics. If only they would use sturdier plastic...

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Anniversary - the Battle of White Mountain

I just realised that today is the 392nd anniversary of the Battle of White Mountain (Bila Hora in Czech). Now this is obviously not something celebrated by the Czechs considering they got trashed by the Imperial and Catholic League army in short measure (I think the time span of the battle amounted to liitle more than your average game of football). Only the Moravian regiments on the right wing in front of the walls of the Star Palace summer residence put up much of a fight, and a last stand at that as it turned out for them.

Bila Hora today is now a suburb of Prague, at the end of the number 22 tram line. Most of the area is built up, though the centre of the battlefield at the crest of the hill remains untouched, as does the Star Palace (Hvezda) and the park around it.

Every year in early September there is a big reenactment of the battle by the Hvezda which is good fun, even if the noise of traffic, the sight of overhead power cables, and overflying airplanes on their way to land at the airport are a distraction... Above you can see a photo of myself and a few friends (Butler's Dragoon Regiment) participating in the reenactment of the battle, just by the wall of the Star palace . All good fun...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A continuation of my battlefield travels in Spain over the last year, I next visited the fortified frontier town of Badajoz while en-route to Ciudad Rodrigo. To a large extent the walls and fortress are intact on the East and south side of the town, where the main attacks took place, though in parts the tops of the battlements are a bit run down, and this part of town inside the walls is deserted and a bit derelict.

   Above you can see how the area looks today, below a period map of the attack.

At the point of the main attack between the Trinidad and Santa Maria Bastions and the site of the main breach in the Trinidad Bastion, there is a park which runs from here right around to the river, giving access to the full length of the walls. 

Above you can see the ground across which the British attacked, and failed to take the main breach. Even today it is largely open ground.

 Above the Trinidad Bastion today, the site of the main assault.

Even today, the height of the walls is quite impressive (even though the ditches in front of them have long been filled-in). At the point of the main breach there is inlaid the date 1812 high up on the walls. The outer defences and isolated ravelins have been built over, though there was a collection of aerial photographs in the town museum from the 1940’s which showed them almost in their original state.

This was probably one of the bloodiest storming of a city in the entire Peninsular War. Though ultimately successful due to Picton’s troops scaling the walls to the Citadel (pictured above) almost unopposed, the main attack of the Light Division was repulsed by the French with huge loss of life (about 5000 dead and missing in one night on the British side alone). 

 Legend has it that this is one of the few times that Wellington was moved to tears on seeing the human wreckage at the site of the main breach the morning after the attack.
The sacking and killings in the town afterwards by the enraged and soon drunk troops of Wellington’s army are well known. 

 As a footnote to the bloody history of the town, a second massacre took place after the fall of Badajoz in 1936 to General Franco’s insurgents, when Lieutenant Colonel Juan Yagüe and a Mixture of Spanish Foreign Legion and Moroccan troops took the city by storm. 

All prisoners, many town officials, and other selected civilians suspected of supporting the Republic (that is the lawful government of the time) were herded into the main Bull ring and the next day mass executions began. Estimates of those killed in the “Massacre of Badajoz” number between 1000 and 4000, though it is hard to verify as many of the bodies were later burned. This was part of Franco’s “White terror,” which remains such a contentious issue in Spain even today.