Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Wow...

No afraid to admit it sent a shiver down my spine...  

Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth this morning..  just...  wow..

Wanted to get down there to see it in person but at half past seven arrival it was a little too early..  the following courtesy of the HMS Warrior web cam [clicky] There is something very apt about watching the arrival of the latest example of naval technology, from a web cam on a previous era's example of the same...

I don't doubt there will be much better pictures in the press and elsewhere... and I know all the news about lack of planes, and lack of sailors, and lack of engineers, and lack of everything else, and I don't care..  she is the leading edge of British Naval history and that should make us proud...  and she is mucking huge..  








...and home...  bet the skipper sighed a huge sigh of relief..   


Monday, July 31, 2017

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 13 - "Escape" - Game

Captain Lucien Verbeek, Belgian observer for
his majesty King Leopold II of Belgium
(and his horse Teufel ) [clicky].
..and what a cracker it turned out to be...

So just a quick re-cap - six British/Empire units enter the table on one side, and a minimum of three of them need to exit the other side within 15 moves. They are opposed by twelve Dervish units whose arrival time, location, and type, will be diced for apart from a small blocking force comprising one unit of spear armed foot, and an ancient muzzle loading cannon that sits astride the road between the British and their exit point...

Turn two or three (probably the latter), picture following - DG as British/Empire player has his Egyptian Battalion on point - the Bengal Lancers on the road have already been badly handled by the venerable old muzzle loader (the Dervish must have given the Egyptian gunners a particularly good beating just before firing!)...  on the far left of his flank the Gatling is about to open fire on said muzzle loader..


..and this was my view of them..  


You'll note in the picture following that there still appears to be very few Dervish about... their  arrival was diced for on a percentile dice, 80%+ on move one, 70%+ on move two, etc etc. Suffice to say that DG had an open road until at least move 5 or 6 as my dice rolling was atrocious, and even when I got a successful rolled for an arrival the subsequent roll for number of units turning up was also low....



A magnificent fighting retreat - the Dervish rolled a statistically unusually high number of cavalry and camelry units for this game - from memory I think I ended up with at least 6 -  in the following (about move 11 or 12) the British regulars are deploying to face the camels while the Egyptians and the Sikhs are taking on the blocking force..  the Bengal Lancers have bravely sacrificed themselves to allow the Sudanese infantry in the distance to break away...


Penultimate move and the British regulars have become something of a 'Dervish magnet' as the Dervish commander scents victory... they may have arrived late but six Dervish rubs of troops are converging on them as DG now only has two units (the remains of the Sudanese, and the Sikhs) at the exit point...  alas it was not to be as two of the Dervish units were rifle armed, and in the very last moves of the game did for the regulars and deprived DG of the victory...



Post match analysis:

  • My oh my it was close.. 
  • The new shooting mechanism worked well and speeded up play while not (to me, anyway) detracting from the simulation..  for the next game I need to figure out a way of also speeding up the casualty calculation (it's a two stage mechanism, dice to hit and then from the hits dice for kills)
  • The mechanism for handling the Gatling was also good (I decided to lose the second stage and all hits were assumed to be casualties) and I also adopted the mechanism that the target unit immediately has to take a pluck tests for the morale effect..  a very clever idea from Paul O'G one of the poor benighted fools who seems to find value from this blog!
  • Drinks on the evening were Adnams "Ghost Ship" ("At 4.5% abv, this Pale Ale has a good assertive pithy bitterness and a malty backbone. It is brewed with a selection of malts – Pale Ale, Rye and Cara – we use Citra, and a blend of other American hop varieties to create some great citrus flavours") and very refreshing it was on a somewhat warm and sticky evening in the loft...  speaking of warm and sticky, essential body salts were replaced with the assistance of a bag of salt and vinegar Kettle Crisps...!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"One Hour Wargames" - Scenario 13 - "Escape" - Setup

DG got in touch last week with the not unwelcome news that he was down for a visit with the Grand-spuds, and did I fancy a game? Silly question...  

Summer is usually pretty slow for me on the wargaming front - too hot and stuffy in the loft for painting, and too many competing interests for my time (usually the mistress [clicky] ), but the opportunity of a game is not to be sniffed at and for this one I chose the two periods we've played least recently and offered DG final decision...

So it is that we are heading to the Sudan again for this game using the "A Good Dusting" [clicky] rules.. for the scenario I turned to my must have book and chose the next in the series - #13 "Escape".

The scenario posits the situation that a force is attempting to return to base/camp/safety, but is attacked while doing that by an enemy force from various and random locations...

For this game, like the last Sudan game we played, rather than use the random force generator in the book I went with a vanilla solution based on the rules. I've stuck with 6 units for the Imperial forces - one of Lancers, two of British regulars, two of Egyptian regulars (one Sudanese/one Egyptian), and a Gatling gun detachment.

The rules recommend two to one, or three to two, for the Dervish but I am going for two to one for a close/balanced game...

The road down the middle will be blocked by one unit of Dervish, and an ancient 12 pounder crewed by captured Egyptians at about 9" in from the right in the following ...Imperial entry is the road, and on the left, exit is via the road on the right:


From the bottom (ie. Imperial exit point) of the table:


Broken ground to the left - only the hill top right counts as a hill, the other smaller protuberances are purely to block line of sight.

DG will have the honour again of commanding the Imperial forces, I will take the Dervish... Imperial entry is on the road at the top of the previous picture.

I will roll for the Dervish arrival as per the rules; starting at a high percentage on move 1, and deducting 10% per move, roll higher than or equal to the percentage to trigger Dervish arrival that move. If I got a positive result I then rolled for the number of units (1 to 3), the unit types, and I then roll again for arrival point ... I'll keep doing this, until I've reached my 10 (as two units are already deployed)

After the last game I had some idea's that I will be trying out in this one to speed up play in the area of casualties...  so:
    1. There is a lot of dice throwing which can be fun to start wiith but is a bit of a faff after a while - a fully 'spammed' up force of four bases is throwing roughly 16 dice for casualty calculation, units then "hit" on a 3, 4 or 5 (depending on type), and have to throw those dice again for a "kill" - lots of dice throwing..  For this game we will throw 1D6/base for hits, and then test those for kills
    2. The "Pluck" (or Morale) rules are a little static...  we'll drop the pluck rating by one for each base lost...
    3. The Gatling was pretty ineffective in the last game - for this game we'll also throw 1D6 for hits, but these will be automatic kills. Gun jams on a 6. Anything targetted and hit will test against pluck automatically. 
Now then...   better go and buy some beer!

Monday, July 03, 2017

"Dunstan" - a review...

Latest from one of my favourite authors... currently on holiday so this was devoured in a little over a day while lying on a sunbed...

After what I thought was an unconvincing War of the Roses trilogy... don't get me wrong I read the whole that trilogy, but it paled in comparison to the Ghenghis books...  this one is in a different league and in my view a huge return to form..

So this a single book (no series) charting the (largely) imagined life of Dunstan, the builder of Glastonbury and Canterbury cathedrals, mathematician, metal worker, advisor to Kings (seven in all), Royal Treasurer and senior churchman in the period from Athelstan (Alfred's grandson) to Ethelred (the Unready)...

Anyone who's read their history (or Bernard Cornwell) will know this was a tumultuous period in British history (British, since at the time nominally Scotland and Wales were part of the Kingdom even if Ireland was not)... regular viking incursions had to be beaten off, pitched battles, alliances and betrayals, and the passing of seven kings, all of which Dunstan witnesses and describes in his own particular style (irrascible just about hits the nail on the head I think )...

He describes life in the early middle ages, he describes the kings and their queens (most of the Queens he dislikes as he has a slightly misogynistic streak), and he describes his work as Royal Treasurer, and builder/achitect...

Absolutely wondeful book...  wholeheartedly recommended...  Steve the Wargamer rates it 10 out 10

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Southampton Beer Festival 2017

All change this year - after many years going to the Guildhall in Southampton (which to my mind is a lovely venue) the local CAMRA branch, faced by a stiff hike in prices from the Guildhall, shifted location to the football stadium (St Mary's) ....hmmm......

Picture from the local rag to give you an idea of the venue - not me by the way - just some other happy punters...
Cue new venue - a large draughty corridor - concrete floor - 'industrial chic'....  the venue is in the access from outside of the stadium to the seating for the fans (note the steps in the roof in the piccie above) - not convivial.... then add in that no food was allowed to be brought in (at a beer festival!) - no pork pies, no pickled onions...  then for reasons known only to themselves they'd got rid of the local ale bar which was one my favourite parts...

Good things? Plenty of tables and chairs... 

My jury's out...  but it ain't looking good.. 

Not a brilliant choice of ales either this year, I thought ..

Brewery Beer (click for
more info)
ABV Notes (from brewery website) What I can remember...
Hop Back Fuggle Stone 4% None - launched on the day.. Hop Back are celebrating 40 years of brewing this year and to celebrate had released a new brew at the festival. Disappointingly, we thought it was a bit flat, but otherwise an un-astounding amber, hoppy bitter.
Bristol Beer Factory Independence 4.6% "Our distinctive American Pale Ale is full of big hop character but without the strong bitterness. Carefully selected American hops are added continuously during the boil, and also during conditioning (dry hopping) to give a really fresh aromatic boost. This beer is mainly about hops but we have given it a malt backbone to balance the beautiful tropical fruit aromas". Now I've been drinking their "Belville Hop" in bottles, so I was keen to see how this one shaped up..  stonking... mahoosive hoppy citrus bitter hit..  lovely!
Southsea Brewing Company Casemate IPA 5.4% None - no website Small company that make beer from their brewery in Southsea Castle (Henry VIII era) - had this at the Petersfield Beer festivsal not long ago where it wa my favourite, but it was in poor condition this afternoon - flat/cloudy
Thornbridge Jaipur 5.9% "A citrus dominated India Pale Ale, its immediate impression is soft and smooth yet builds to a crescendo of massive hoppiness accentuated by honey. An enduring, bitter finish." A premier league beer this one and after the hit and miss of the earlier beers I had two of these...  smashing!
Red Cat Raiona IPA 6.2% "Packed with citra hops on a pale malt base" Taste tested this against the Bristol Beer Factory offering - subtly different - both excellent!