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Border Flurry

Being Welsh it must be accepted that the longbow was our creation. Being a generous folk, we gave our wonder weapon to our dear friends, the English. Being fed up with incessant Scottish invasions, our English chums set out to invade the land of tartan, shortbread and Chinese tourists. Our chosen ruleset for this epic reconstruction was Kings of War historical, a knock about set of rules for such a not too serious clash.

The brave English army comprised five regiments of longbowmen (ten attack dice but only three on defence!). I went for the cheaper option of billmen, rather than dismounted Knights, four regiments. The army was led by a single general and his accompanying hero. The hero would have to be called Llewellyn to represent the gallant Welsh missile troops. Two regiments of hobilars would attempt to guard our flanks and protect our wagons from ginger interlopers. We also brought cannon from the Berwick arsenal.

Despite the Scottish reputation for financial caution, Jon Mc Gallacher chose two units of Knights! No wonder he was looking nervous, all that money invested in finery. The King would also have two regiments of dismounted Knights, on the end of his line rather than spread throughout his five units of spearmen. The Aulde Alliance also provided King John with two units of Geonese crossbowmen. These are hampered by being unable to move and fire in KoW.

The combination of bow and men at arms was my chosen tactic. Missile fire is deadly in this system and sure enough the Scottish spear units were already in trouble in turn one. John was without a care however as he continued to advance and spend time bringing his nobles to the opposite flank.

A combination of longbows and a lucky cannonball strike did for the Geonese mercenaries. Against Knights they would have been of value but they were outclassed by the Welsh supermen!

As the Scot line advanced still closer, the cannon fire was even more effective.

The Scottish spearmen had taken a battering by the time they reached the English line but they were determined to extract revenge! My frugal chancellor had relied on the man at arms and the Scots were more than a match for our hirelings.

On the English right, the mounted hobilars were effective in holding the dismounted Knights but behind them came their mounted cousins.

As the English hobilars sensed victory, their illusions were shattered. The wily Scot had brought his mounted Knights up and the result was devastating. The lesser armoured border troops were hit from all directions.

It had been a great evening. Honours were about equal with regard to the foot losses but the English right wing was in danger of being rolled up.

King of War is a great fun game. Our next plan is to adapt the rules to other periods, not mentioned in the main rulebook. Total War is the inspiration so don’t expect too much in the way of historical accuracy but the battles are fast and brutal!

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Fog in Cardiff

I sat riveted to the President’s D- day speech, no one could not have been impressed by Mr. Trump’s words. If only ill health had not prevented him from upholding those values in Vietnam. I watched our own former education minister make his bid to be Prime Minister. If only he hadn’t been exposed as a hypercritical user of cocaine. The Tercio also is in a fix. The   Remoaners are intent on sticking with L’art de la Guerre as our continental chums moves are move to cover the Renaissance. James Churchell hasn’t been seen since he got us all to base our collections on circles, and now resides in a Levellers’ commune outside Aust service station. Big Don , aka Boris, has entered the fray, promising swift battles and mininimal arguments by going back to Field of Glory Three. Supported by a surprising large group of diehard supporters at Godendag last January, could he be the promised messiah of Seventeenth century wargaming?

The Firestorm debates…..royalist or parliamentarian? Cheese or onion?

Don spoke briefly for about an hour, outlining the major changes that take FoG into an unofficial version three. For our game the main change was to armour ( no longer a combat advantage) and detached musketeers. My Cavalier command was too fast for infantry support anyway so I uncharactersitically perhaps decided to hold back and let my gunnes do the talking!

Mike Lane held the Royalist centre with a mix of veteran and experienced foot regiments. We could be sure that the old campaigner could withstand all that the upstart Parliamentarians could throw at us, even when men started to fall in turn one!

Ian played the part of our gallant Rupert. He commandeered our elite horsemen and was intent on making the Roundheads pay for their temerity.

Rupert on the left converses with the old campaigner. Roundheads in the foreground.

Joshua Puddlegate or Martin held the village. He had obviously captured the affections of a Milkmaid on his journey. He wasn’t to make much of an impression in the game, apart from amorous suggestions to said vixen. He did strip his infantry of their musketeers to line the hedgerows, so I wasn’t going very far forward either.

The battle proper opened by our magnificent cavalry charge on our left. If the splendour of the figures could win the battle for us, it would be a walkover.

However, the great commander himself , Don was ready to trade men for space. The cavaliers were attacking on a narrow frontage and the seventeenth century’s Diane Abbot, namely Chris Jackson was ready to stain every nerve and rule to flank our gallant thrust.

Rupert’s charge was at least grabbing their attention. Mr. Lane moved the Royalist infantry forward to stem the tide of reinforcements getting to Parliament’s threatened flank. Chris “Abbot” Jackson had eight regiments to Mike’s seven. He calculated that would give him a healthy three to one advantage and lunged forward!

It was touch and go in the centre as regiments on both sides started to falter and break. The Parliamentarian detached shotte left their hedgerows and rolled up the flank. My own cavaliers decided that a withdrawal might be in order!

Rupert and Charles would have none of it! Don’s troopers were leaving the field and the Royalist centre were on the cusp of a breakthrough.

It was now late afternoon and the affair was still in the balance. Honours were roughly equal or though a corps martial may be in order for Mr. James and his recreation of Love Island in the middle of Cardiff! My own efforts had been lamentable but at least my gunnes were still firing at the end of the day! The rules had worked really well and I very much look forward to playing them again. I’ll definately be watching the competition at Devizes this year. Thanks to Don and Ian for making the journey and providing such excellent figures.

Long live the King!

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Anniversary Ambush

Which city finally fell on the 29th May? It may have been 1453 but it still upsets the Greek members of the Tercio! What better way of marking the anniversary by creating your own mini dioramas of the fall of Eastern Christendom?Of course they would  be equally at home in a recreation of Feminist revenge at King’s Landing.

Clue One above and very angry Queen upsetting the patriarchy below ( Go girl!)

Two sources of inspiration then for this week’s project; a devastated city scape and the need to hide elements of my wargames army. We are planning a Fall of Rome campaign day here in Cardiff ,and to be in keeping with the theme ,I looked for suitable battlefield scatter. Greenstuffworld on eBay provide a range of fallen heads and columns.

Whilst pretending to be fixing the car, I gave the models a quick spray of grey primer. I then dry brushed them with the suitably named ash grey from Armypainter. do the bases with severed statue heads. Great service from this company, a Polish outfit that got me the models within three days of ordering.

Vallejho Sky grey and white were then drybrushed over the models. Pure white reserved for the final highlights.

The Greenstuffworld heads really don’t need more than that. The broken columns and Fenryll arch will be going on bases for my new Late Romans but the heads I used as L’art de la Guerre ambush markers. I wanted a barbarians at the gates sort of feeling….

The alien lab bases will be on the new figures but I hope you like the finished ambush markers. Hopefully my opponent will concentrate on the lost artworks of antiquity and not realise that my auxilia elite swords impact are waiting to revenge the Fall!

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Run, hide, tell ?

Strange times indeed. The spineless PM walks off crying, the front runner to replace the PM is Boris and he has gone against all his past history and is now “resolutely” pro- Brexit. Meanwhile other front runners completely fail to defend Roger Scruton against a left wing ambush and all are agreed that paratroopers in a war situation should once again be tried for their actions. But do not lose hope quite yet, the murder inquest into the London Bridge murders, harks back to an older tradition. The Londoners and visitors didn’t fall for the ludicrous Government advice to “run, hide and tell”, rather they went to the assistance of their friends and strangers will little regard to their own personal safety. No sitting in the locked policecar for these people, no avoiding contact because they didn’t have  a vest on. One hero took three knife wielding fanatics on with just his skateboard!

This year’s tour of the Flanders battlefield’s was more moving than ever. Earlier heroes grow in my estimation each year, if that’s possible. Here, the proud Ulstermen march through the Menin gate.

The sound of the pipes and drums is always stirring. So many veterans of later wars were visibly touched by the Ulstermen.

The number of hand shakes and salutes that the marchers received was amazing. Here, at least, true valour is remembered.

The day after we visited the Devonshires cemetery on the Somme battlefield. This small copse is a wholly different in character. To paraphrase, ” They held this trench and they hold it still…….”

I believe that the sculpture near Mametz Wood is the most evocative piece of work I have ever seen. The site of the attack of the 38th Welch Division is much visited now but the owner of the wood no longer permits visitors to move around the objective. No bad thing when one of our number brought back an unexploded shell on a previous visit!

The Newfoundlander’s Park is always immaculately kept. The student curators do a fantastic job of looking after the site. On a bright May afternoon it is still possible to imagine the sacrifice and honour.

 We managed to visit the Lochnegar Crater this year. We had an interesting talk with the  volunteers on the site. They have added information screens at various locations and, although not to everyone’s taste, they certainly provided a valuable insight to the younger members of the tour.

Leaving Arras, one passes the French memorial at Notre Dame Lorette and the newly installed Circle of Rememberance. If any stop on the tour fails to impress with the scale of the sacrifice then here at least the loss is palpable. When the pansy left tells us to “run and hide”, please tell them that there is an alternative. When bravery is called for, it is to be hoped that we have not lost the tradition of earlier generations, even if our leaders have and don’t want you to remember either.

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L’art de la Guerre Angle Grinder

It was just like any other Friday night until Mr. Jackson produced a stained plastic box from within his floor length leather jacket. Not content to fight fairly, Chris had sought the dark corners of the black web and tried to buy himself onto the top rung of competition gaming. Under a soiled cardboard covering was an army painted by none other than Mr. T Porter, Mr. Madaxeman himself. Selling out his children’s future for the promise of toy soldier glory, Chris looked smug.

Two whole corps of impact horse were ready to lead my Spaniards a merry dance. The black flags of the Abbassids would attempt to lure my own impetuous horse to their doom. What followed was two hours when the ruleset was tested to breaking point by Mr. Jackson’s ambitious interpretations/ variants/ unpublished FAQs that had “just been published!”

Notice the A ( sic “hay” in the field ( A for ambush of course!) After a few issues with trying to cram all Andalusia’s arable land into one sector, Chris was less than happy. Apparently you can’t put fields in seawater and ambushes aren’t allowed in the Spanish deployment area.

I deployed my archers and javelinmen in the fields opposite the Arab foot. I was expecting an attack on my camp. Unfortunately Chris had miscalculated his number of command points and in one move, crossed two fields and a plantation to the other side of the table. Lester Picket eat your heart out! He was off to the other side of the field.

Thankfully though the unit that didn’t have a general figure, or indeed any flag, was in fact the general so the skirmishers could still be commanded from four foot away. Chris explained how the general was the figure with the raised fore leg😳. El Jackson had seen that my caballeros might stand a chance against one corps of lancers , but not two. I needed to wipe out his right wing horse before reinforcements arrived.

My slow moving spearmen would have to pin the super fast Arab horsemen. Unfortunately Chris had misread the stats for heavy cavalry. He also then forgot that light horse did not have to evade. We just had time to argue over whether impetuous Spanish cavalry got an impact bonus. After half an hour, we found that the answers were all written in the rules. Unfortunately we delved back into the rules to see if cavalry could charge at an angle. Apparently horses and their miniature replicas can actually wheel.

The rash charge of my heavy horse was held, even after discomforting the Abbasid general. I’d lost half the cavalry corps and my spearmen looked like their line would be flanked in the following turns. The Abbasid infantry were not leaving their fields and there was just enough time to grouse about a dice that threw too many sixes before Chris’ mum rang to say that if he didn’t come home soon, she’d be locking the door.

Not the most fast flowing game but memorable for the fact that we both agreed never ever, ever to play with impetuous troops ever again! English Civil Wargame on the 26th at Firestorm maybe anything but civil! Thanks for reading!

Ps on the painting front I picked up these rather nice basing materials from a Polish trader last week- Alien laboratories. Great service and a quality product. These will go nicely on my Fall of Rome bases.

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Games workshop to the rescue!

Verb: Doing a Meghan……..definition: ignoring or dropping past friendships after becoming famous

Verb: Doing a Richard……..definition: forgetting tabletop gaming and going all online 

Well one of the above should now be a thing of the past! Over a year ago I was extolling the virtues of the new range of Games Workshop paints. Add a light undercoat, paint in ” base” colours that really do cover well. Use GW washes to add depth, followed by “highlights”  – again pre-mixed and all ready for detailing. Well now GW it would appear has gone still further in the battle against shiny unpainted miniatures  upsetting those with a concern for presentation.

The base coat is either bone or light grey. There is a large range of ” contrast” paints that are added to the miniature and , wait for it, no other layer is needed! The “paint” is rather a mix of pigment and wash that covers the base coat but, is also oily enogh to define depth and raised areas. Clever heh?

The most widely circulated advert is above. The older triad of paints is on the top row. Although three stages are on the lower row, the technical paint would appear to be the basing terrain. I’ve got to admit I’m excited. Huns and steppe nomads would appear to be an obvious choice but the new paints will also include metallics so I may finally get around to that Wars of the Roses army.

I have some Arab camel riders to finish this week using washes but my next army will definately be to test this exciting development. The miniature below ( historical gamers look away now) would certainly not embarrass any collection. Great days may lie ahead, despair not, the lead pile may disappear as fast as a Conservative votes in an election.

More news as soon as I can get my hands on some paints. Now miniatures were hurt in this article. Thoughts and comments always welcome…

Michelangelo de Wash

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L’art de la Guerre- The cost of a Tower

Baldwyn Mawr of Crickhowell resented the new edifice in the south of his kingdom. In Chepstow, the Norman invaders had constructed the biggest stone structure that the South Welsh had ever seen. William fitz Osbern would not be satisfied with just taunting the Welsh with the Great Tower, he would be eyeing up the rich lands of Glamorgan. The cancer had to be stopped and Baldwyn was ready to move on the source of the disease.

William’s trusty warhorse, Michael de Lane advised against standing a siege. The construction workers had stirred up resentment in the locality and so the forces of the Normans sought out a defensive position to the North of the Wye.

The Welsh comprised two large battles of longbowmen and smaller numbers of lightly armoured spearmen. The third command under Llewellyn Dim comprised only spearmen and sought sanctuary in the fields to the East. Only Llewellyn Dim’s skirmishers dared to venture out.

The Welsh war council had thought that the Normans would lead with their heavy Knights but De Lane advanced his Saxon bowmen to a low rise in the centre of the field.

Baldwyn Mawr saw an opportunity and brought his whole line forward. The longbow would cut through armour but the extra piercing qualities of the Welsh bows was lost on the Saxon lackeys.

For the moment the Norman horse were only trotting forward, it was in the centre that the archers clashed, where both generals stoked the combat.

The Welsh had the powerful bows and they had numbers, they didn’t have time to win the exchange of arrows before the mounted Normans would flank them. It was time for the Welsh archers to resort to hand strokes and the clash was bloody. Baldwyn’s hothead lead to the commital of his second son, Llewellyn Bola, soon to be commemorated as Llewellyn the Last.

Above- the last resting place of a Welsh prince!

A Pyrric victory in the centre meant two wings that had been neglected. De Lane had carefully marshalled his mounted wing and these had only the very nervous mountain men of the Mynnydd Ddu ( Black Mountain).

On the Welsh left Baldwyn had his mounted hearth troops but they couldn’t stop the wall of Norman spearmen. A devious flank charge wasn’t enough to turn the tide but the wily Welsh wizard had another plan, and another son…….

A rear attack on a Norman knight conroi, what could go wrong? The loss of one son to see the tower fall may have been just about acceptable, but Llewellyn Dim’s pony riding heroes would be no match for the knightly bully boys!

The fighting continued in the outlying fields but the Welsh had lost heart. The lightly armed Welsh could give a good account of themselves in the muddy fields but in the open , it was no contest.

It had been an excellent, closely fought game. One more Norman unit would have equal led the score but that was against the flow of the battle. It’s always a pleasure to fight Mr. Lane and even if I lost my army of freedom fighters, and both my sons, and my reputation, there’s always next time. More photos of the superlative Chepstow castle in the “pages” section- well worth a visit.