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Blücher wargaming ; all over by Christmas!

It’s happened again! The Principality is in lock-down and our gallant police force is guarding the borders from hordes of migrants intent on spreading a deadly virus via their buckets and spades! Nevermind the shattering economic cost, or the human costs of isolation and lack of routine healthcare, our gifted leader is protecting us. Thankfully the First Minister’s son is safe in prison for a violent rape, so Mark can forget about his family for a moment, and help with the crisis.

But enforced leisure times means hobby time. I did manage to put up two blinds yesterday so I’m in the Kaiserin’s good books. On a related theme, I am now officially classified as “moderately able at D.I.Y.”by said blind manufacturer! Although, this could still come back to haunt me with the demands for more of my handiwork! But, it’s time for planning and organisation. Uncle Ken has taken the bit between his teeth with S.A.G.A and also came up with the idea of a “link person” for the Tercio i.e. Someone who is willing and able to introduce new players to a chosen system. Steve Timjin would be an obvious choice for Kings of War plus Napoleonics, with James for Commands and Colors. The ominous package that arrived a week a go signalled my intention to rival Mr. Sam Mustafa with my knowledge of the Honor system.

Steve Timjin has made a Terriffic start to Napoleonics too over Lockdown!

Mike Lane has also been busy with his Seven Years War masterpieces, including an amazing coach and more hussars!

We can always rely on Panzer Pete and Chris T for all things Flames of War. But stay tuned for recent developments on this system. I meanwhile will aim to get two Christmas games sorted out, both using Blücher. The first batch of minis were from Lancashire Games and are delightful, chunky sculpts. I’m sure there are other words to describe them but when you see them, you will see what I mean. Being  eighteen millimetre minis they are surprisingly large and a positive side-effect of this is that you only need five or six per cavalry base.

I picked up Across a Deadly Field: the War in the East for armylists and this inevitably led to my discovery of Cigar box battlemats. Whether the project will grow into the whole of Gettysburg, we shall see…..

I’d be happy to get two armies to use the proto Commands and Colors “Battle Cry” system. For this I would need ten units of infantry, three guns and three horse units, plus a few generals. This would allow us to utilise the excellent scenarios fro the GMT site.

The Blücher system uses playing card sized units and these I intend to be my standard. Don McHugh uses his 40mm wide base collection to play but I think now that I’ve committed myself, I’ll do all mine on the instantly recognisable rectangles, the unit stats may have to be a print out on paper below the base.

Don’s newly rebased Grenzers

Above are more of Don’s collection in action. Don uses large sheets of paper for the battlefield, allowing terrain to be drawn on where needed. Cigar Box have also come to my ai’d with this beauty below, and I think I know what Santa is bringing me for Christmas!

So there you have, lots of plans are in the air. I do hope you will follow us as the plans come to fruition.

Best wishes


Jeffe of the Despertaferres Tercio ( wargames association and dining club)

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Pony Wars; it looks like B company is coming back!

Disclaimer: This article was shamelessly lifted from by a well known wargames expert with no actual figures of his own. The said urchin has no intention of buying this set of rules or indeed spending any of his own valuable time preparing and painting any miniatures. Rather he has brought this ruleset to the intention of poor defenceless wargamers who are unable to resist a classic ruleset, years before its time where all “Indjuns” are pesky and the sound of a bugle means help will arrive in the nick of time………“Back in the early 1980s four young men shared an interest in playing with toy soldiers, spaghetti westerns, Monty Python’s Flying Circus and old Western films. The leader of this little gang was the inspirational Ian Beck who devised a means of playing a game that combined elements of all four of those passions. To this end, he came up with an ingenious idea whereby all the players were on the same side and had to work cooperatively to defeat the Indians and defend the various civilians populating the table.
Our main aim at the time was to use them to stage a spectacular participation game to take around wargames shows, and while it was nice to see the work in print, the actual publication of the rules themselves was not the main object of the exercise. The original set was printed (and reprinted) by the long-defunct Tabletop Games and proved hugely successful. Ian’s novel mechanics, exuberant writing style and flair for presentation made the whole concept an instant hit.
Very sadly, Ian died in a car accident in the mid-1980s. This was a huge loss to his family, his many friends and the wargames hobby as a whole. His ability to come up with novel ideas and concepts and express them clearly and with style has never been matched.
The Pony Wars rules themselves have been out of print for many years. Remaining copies are now collector’s items and extremely rare. Owners tend to hang on their precious copies!

Requests for a reprint of the rules have become more frequent over the years, and as a result, the three remaining members of that little group are arranging a one-off edition, which will be made available via subscription.
The new edition will be a faithful reproduction of the original rules with nothing changed or added. However, we will bring it up to modern production standards with a professional layout, full-colour printing and hardback covers. Some acknowledgement to the development of the hobby will be made with appendices offering some options for streamlining certain aspects of play and using the rules for other sized figures than the original 15mm. To accompany the rulebook there will be a double-sized deck of full colour, laminated incident cards.”

Details of the subscription scheme are available from the website. Forward…….Yo!

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S.A.G.A. Age of Hannibal; a review

Ancient wargames rules are a lot like buses, only smaller! When Little Wars T.v. released a mass  battle wargames ruleset entitled “Age of Hannibal” , at the exactly the same time as Tomahawk Studios skirmish set, I knew that it meant trouble. We sent our roving ancient Mariner, Ken to investigate the latest skirmish version based on the old elephant shepherd Hannibal Barca……

When I wrote my fourth review of SAGA and the books that accompanied the game I thought that it would be my last, little did I know that a new SAGA Universe was almost ready for publication. Released on 5th September this books takes me back to my first and probably favourite period in Wargaming,
The Age of Hannibal
It is 218BC. After having declared war on her rival, Carthage, Rome watches the Carthaginian army cross the Alps under the command of Hannibal Barca. This invasion, which brought war to the heart of the Roman Republic was one of the three Punic Wars, a series of conflicts between Rome and Carthage for control of the Mediterranean basin. He inflicted a series of humiliating defeats on his enemies – some of which live on in the annals of military history – but sixteen years later Hannibal Barca was finally defeated on the plains of Zama, in his homeland, by a young Roman prodigy called Scipio Africanus.
But this war between Rome and Carthage involved many nations and cultures. Celts, Iberians, Numidians and Italiotes all had to choose a side in the struggle between the two colossi. And the winner of this titanic conflict would become master of Europe – maybe even the world.
The introduction to warfare in this period, this new SAGA universe covers covers the three Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage that took place between 264 and 146 BC. Introducing as it does six new factions Republican Rome, Carthaginian, Greek, Numidians, Iberians and Gauls some with multiple variants, each with its battle board, history, and special rules. In addition to these factions there are also an array of mercenaries who can be included in your warband.
So begins the introduction of this new book, also being released to accompany the launch are 4 new sets of SAGA dice, Republican Roman, Carthaginian, Greek and Barbarian. More of those later lets start by exploring the book and the Battleboards.

Starting with the Battleboards, they are not as sturdy as the previous releases being of thinner card than usual but, as I always copy them into my computer and then laminate the resulting printout does not represent a problem. I will delve deeper into their contents when I cover the appropriate faction.
Those who are familiar with other SAGA Universes will see that this book starts in the same way with an introduction to the period covered, information in how to use the book and a list of chapters. (Our guide through this book now being Didorus of Sicily)

New Rules and Equipment is next and brings in both expected and unexpected elements;
The first of these is the Elephant, these cost 1 point each and activates like a unit of warriors, they can also confer advantages and a disadvantage with their use from adding 2 to 4 automatic hits in melee through to trampling friend and foe if removed through shooting.
The Sarissa, associated with phalanxes from Alexander onwards this becomes a formidable weapon especially against Elephants or Cavalry.
Chariots are not new to SAGA but this brings in a new set of rules with their use.
Finally War Pigs, flaming pigs were not new to armies of this period, classed as a unit of Mercenary Levies they consist of a unit of 8 pigs and a pig keeper they loose 2 pigs whenever they are used but according to the target can once per turn inflict between 1 and 3 automatic hits..
New ideas continue in the next chapter Ruses. An optional element to the game, you may choose Ruses up to the points value of your warband. There are 4 main types of Ruse, each used in a particular circumstance or situation. The type is indicated by the cards background colour and the cost by the number of cost symbols on the card. These cards like those used with the Book of Battles are downloadable for The four types being Recruitment, Preparation, Veterans and Stratagem, some of the Preparation cards are used when setting up a game during placement and deployment. Diodorus, suggests several ways these may be used to spice up a game, the advice being to wait until you have mastered your Battleboard before introducing this element to future play. The unique ruses available to each faction will be listed under each chapter, why not download them from the Studio Tomahawk site to see what each does..
Now on to the main thrust of the book by looking at the main protagonists. Here I will give a short summary of each faction and pick out a couple of the additional abilities available to each faction.

Carthaginians; these can contain a mix of forces from Carthage and allied cities and also some powerful contingents of mercenaries. A warband can contain a unit of Heavy Chariots but cannot field Elephants at the same time. Citizens of Carthage are your Hearthguard and as well as your Warlord you must also have at least 1 unit of Citizens,. All other units are classed a contingents (Warriors and Levy) and this modifies some of the elements of you Battleboard when activated. Sacred Band is used in melee and here your opponent must re-roll 1 successful defence dice or three if the unit is made up of citizens, where Tenacity allows the re-roll of two defence dice that did not cancel hits, or 4 if a Contingent unit. This chapter concludes with the ruses applicable to a Carthaginian Warband, Army of Xanthippus, Alliance with Philip, Punic Perfidy, Regular Pay, Blood of Barkids and March of Elephants.
Republic of Rome; you start by determining if your Warlord is a Tribune or a Consul as this can modify the options you have when selecting your Warband and also has some special rules to be used when your band is led by a tribune. The Maniples rule also is interesting as it only affects Hearthguards or Warriors on foot who do not have the Mercenary rule. This faction has some powerful options on the Battleboard, Ad Triaros Redisse, allows Hearthguard defenders to inflict 2 automatic hits on an opponent, 3 if outnumbered and Pilum, allows a shooting attack with a range of M also allowing a subsequent charge that does not cause a fatigue. Alternately it allows a unit to have a shooting attack against and opponent before their charge is resolved. Ruses allowed to Romans are Flaming Pigs, Penal Legions, Tactical Positioning, Roman Discipline, Flaming Pigs and Roa Tradoriu non Praemiat (Rome does not pay traitors).

Our Southern Gauls were formidable opponents and at this time as well as expert horsemen still used chariots. In this game the Hearthguard and Warriors also have an ability called Fervour, this represents different groups competing against each other to perform feats of courage. When you trigger an advanced ability from your Battleboard you can choose whether to trigger its Fervour effect or resolve the ability without triggering this effect. Fervour when used is recorded by a marker placed on the unit and no unit can have more than three markers nor can you have more markers than your unit has figures. The ability Ritual Challenge, allows you to roll 1, two dice if your unit are Hearthguards. For each result of 4 or more the enemy unit takes a casualty but for every 1 rolled your unit takes a casualty. The Fervour option allows you to add 1 to the result of your dice. Before the Wave allows a unit without ranged weapons to be activated and count as being equipped with Javelins during the move, the Fervour option adding and automatic hit during this attack. The Ruses available to Gauls are Soldurii Druidic Counsellor, Thirst for Blood, Fanatics, End Them! and Enthusiastic.

Graeculii: The Greeks at this time were present around most of the Mediterranean and for SAGA your warband must choose one of three possible variants, Epirus, Siracuse and Italiots and Magna Graecia. For the advanced abilities, Agema grants 3 bonus defence dice if the unit is a Phalanx otherwise 3 bonus attack dice in the ensuing melee when it has been activated for a charge and Hetairoi gains you 2 attack dice or 4 if your unit is mounted. Ruses for this faction are Army of Tarentium, Roman Alliance, Tight Formation, Wall of Shields, Pressure and Hypaspists.
Iberians: These superb warriors fought both for and against both Carthage and Rome and can recruit Baearic slingers who count as warriors, one of the few factions that cannot field Elephants. Three of the advanced abilities use Guerilla markers although many add them, you cannot have more than 10 at any time and at the start of each turn turn unused ones are removed. Ambush grants you two attack dice an 1 Guerilla marker in a Melee whereas, Like Shadows allows you to spend 1 Guerilla Marker to discard two of your opponents attack dice. Unique Ruses for these are Oretanii, Celtiberians, Harassment, Without Pity, Trap and Coordinated Attack.

Numidians: Last but not least by any means this faction has no Hearthguard as Merecnaries were always recruited to take on the role of shock troops.
As the main supplier of Elephants during this period they will always along with excellent cavalry have plenty to call on. Their advanced abilities include Born Horsemen which allows a mounted unit to move with 3M rulers instead of 2 until the end of the turn and Incapacitating Shot which allows to to re-roll any attack dice which roll 1s or 2 and if you inflict at least three casualties the target unit also receives a fatigue after the shooting is resolved. Ruses in this case are Jugurthas Revolt, Syphax’s Army, Surprise Attack, African Horsemen, Withdrawal and Execution.
Mercenaries: This chapter outlines the mercenaries available to each of the factions in table form and includes any special rules associated with each type. In turn they are, Cretan Archers, Tarentine Cavalry, Balearic Slingers, Mercenary Hoplites, Ligurians, Psiloi, Samnites and Thureopori.

Epic SAGA: forms the final chapter of this book, this variant of the rules can be used with any of the SAGA Universes to allow for games of 12 and 18 points with one or more players on a side. All the original rules apply but this provides options and a new structure to stand beside the standard rules. Each force consists of three warbands of between 3 and 8 points totalling up to the maximum for the game. Changes are made for the allocation of scenery and the table size now becomes 3ft by 6 ft, army composition, sequence of play, sharing of Battleboards, demoralisation and routing are also covered. There are also 9 inspiration abilities which can be available to your Warlord , allocation of these and the cost of them are also covered and these abilities along with being in the book are also downloadable.
Like the other Universe books you will need a copy of the Saga rulebook to use this supplement.
I now realise that Aetius and Arthur was not to be my final foray into the world of SAGA and anticipate that there will be new Universes to explore in the future. Before then my next submission will be in the form of a suggestion for a campaign system that can be used for a competitive or friendly group of players, written primarily for SAGA but easily adaptable to other rules and periods.
Uncle Ken

A SAGA Campaign

As promised here is my idea for setting up a SAGA campaign, not just for SAGA though as the table arranging the games can be used for a campaign in any period and the setting up and victory conditions could also be modified. The rest of the method table would remain the same.

It takes the form of a suggestion for a campaign that can be played over several months that will also allow participants to take part in other games at the same time would be a round-robin, with up to 8 players, all get to play each other over a period of say 7 months (the duration will be decided by the number of participants). It is a system that is adaptable to the number of players and if required I will rearrange the matches to suit so please let me know via the comments, if you are interested. However, it will be difficult to feed someone into the campaign once it has commenced unless another member drops out or unless we leave a couple of places vacant from the start.
Each of the participants will be allocated a number and then play an opponent according to the following
Month 1 (1V2), (3V4), (5V6), (7V8) Scenario from Book of Battles p10 Battle of Heroes
Month 2 (1V3), (2V4), (5V7), (6V5) “
Month 3 (1V4), (2V3), (5V8), (6V5) “
Month 4 (1V5), (2V6), (3V7), (4V8) “
Month 5 (1V6), (2V5), (3V8), (4V7) “
Month 6 (1V7), (2V8), (3V5), (4V6) “
Month 7 (1V8), (2,7)), (3V6), (4V5) “
You will have a calendar month to arrange a battle with your opponents according to the draw and submit the result to me so that I can publish the results to the group
The players 6 Point Warband can be different for each game and all participants will select a warband fro the same SAGA universe book, The Age of Vikings Book would make a good first choice although any would be valid.. Scoring will be as follows a Win, 3 Points or a Draw 2 Points 1 point for taking part. No points for a missed battle. If a player does drop out without being replaced I will award a Bye and 1 point for each future match they were anticipated to take part in.

Setting up of the scenario, will be as per the Book of Battles with all conditions selected according to the methods table on page 11. See below; the descriptions of each entry are as per pages 12 to 14 inclusive.
Game Length
Special Rule
Victory Conditions
Frontier Region
Refused Flank
Until Dusk
Forced March
Marshy Country
Meeting Encounter
Under Pressure
Night Fight
Show of Force
Bleak Moor
March Column
A Good Day To Die
Rough Ground
Unknown Length
A Dash of Nostalgia
Unknown Lands
Pincer Attack
Pitched Battle
Hostile Land
Once you know who your opponent will be on any given month you can set up the above variables in advance, this may determine your choice of force for that occasion. If at the end there are players with an equally high score we can then arrange a play-off between them. If you happen to have a particular piece of scenery that you like and is not available at Firestorm please bring it with you.

Let me know if you are interested so that if I have at least 4 players I can set this up to start as soon as the current pandemic allows. This should give payers sufficient time to build a force if necessary and also allow new players the chance to arrange some practice games.

For those interested there is an excellent forum on-line at

A forum dedicated to Studio Tomahawk games

A forum dedicated to Studio Tomahawk games

Uncle Ken

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M.E.G. Age of Attila ; A Birthday Book Review

Too many years of passed since the heyday of De Bellis Multitudinis. It was a great time for a cracking set of rules that everyone could play for casual pick up games and competition match-ups. I was left a little underwhelmed by Field of Glory, it all looked a little too ordered and mathematical. And then the great divide! L’art de la Guerre took hold of the West and South East, whilst  a number of other sets gained followings elsewhere. The quest for “one ruleset to bind them all” is perhaps unobtainable in this disperate Internet age but Simon Hall has made a gallant stab at it with his highly detailed and highly playable Mortem et Gloriam.

M.e.g. is supported by an excellent miniature range, now in hard plastic, a very well organised website and a large, truly international, Facebook following. Simon Hall, the god-like genius of this empire, has now moved on to campaign books. The first of which is centred on my favourite period of the Fall of Rome. Although primarily designed for use with M.E.G., it contains more than enough period information to make a purchase worthwhile.

The book is soft- bound and is just under ninety pages long. The author Richard Jeffrey- Cook has an obvious intimate knowledge of the period and the maps especially of great interest. A strength of the book are the ideas for a number of campaigns ranging from a chronological series of historical battles to a race to storm Constantinople before the walls are rebuilt after an earthquake. The campaigns are there in outline, rather than a huge amount of detail, but enough information is there for a campaign set up.

The book contains some terrific photography of the miniatures in action. In addition, G. Rava has included some of his best work. Most of the miniatures are from the Lurkio range but they do paint up well. Even the  old Flames of War sensei, Robin Spence gets his work on show! Nash painting services is obviously a name to watch out for. The book is well presented and well structured. With postage, the book comes in at just under thirty pounds so it is on the expensive for a soft bound tome but does not seem unreasonable. I personally like the games run thoughs in the book but they do run to quite a number of the ninety pages. The background information and campaign ideas more than make up for that though and the illustrations are as previously mentioned a real strength.

Battles of the Great Commanders #1 Age of Attila is available from Simon Hall’s site or the Plastic Soldier Company.

Happy birthday me!

Thanks for reading 


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The Despertaferres guide to making your own model Proud Boy

A true friend has your back. If you get attacked, then they step in. If they watch helplessly then they aren’t true friends. As my old granny used to say, ” better a few moments of pain than a lifetime of shame. Started in 2016 to stop incessant Leftist attacks on the public appearances of comedian and commentator, Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys are now big news. The President may not recall who they are but the media have lazily jumped to whole list of mistaken assumptions. News site after news site follow the same worn path. As you follow the instructions , we will hopefully be able to dispel so many malicious slurs.

Step One


Assemble a large block of Das air dried clay. Slightly moisten the clay in order to make it pliable. More skilled modellers can make a model in one piece but we will make it in a number of smaller pieces.

Step two

 The gold and black polo shirt is the mark of the Proud Boy. Reminiscent of the Mods and skinheads, we shall put Gavin in the original striking shirt. Is it a uniform? Yes in the sense that the old drinking societies had a dress code .

Above: Far Right activists from the 1930s.

Step Three

Leave to dry for 48 hours. During this time you may read up on all the evidence that contradicts their claim that the modern world was created by the West? You may have time to ‘venerate the housewife’, perhaps critics of stable families might examine what happened to countless thousands of children who have been effectively abandoned as their parents “find themselves”.

Step Four

I used Games Workshop contrast paints to give the model a generous wash. This is a new addition to the hobby brought to us by someone who recognised a gap in the market and worked hard to innovate. Please note that no shops or homes were burnt before they went off and worked to improve something.

Step Five

 If you listen to the media then the Proud Boys must be the first ever Racist Hate group led by a black person! Those Proud Boy get together as the leading figures pour drinks and wait on the membership. We chose Flesh shade for Gavin, a man who has sucked hard on the exhaust pipe of life and is now in his fifties.

Step Six

Why not play “Proud of your Boy!” From the Disney stage show of Alladin. Believe it or not this is where the name Proud Boys come from. As Gavin teased an effeminate technician , he hit upon the idea of a club to teach men to grow up as men and not hollowed out excuses for males. To join you must recite the names of breakfast cereals as your fellows punch you. Refrain from self loving and get a tattoo are also for the initiation! Frightening hey?

Step Seven

I added the PB new boast, below the bust, to remind us of the only highlight in that train wreck of a presidential debate. Are the Proud Boys really waiting to be called forward by the now ailing Trump? The comedy just gets better and better….

Watch out for next weeks episode when we show you how to model your very own “peaceful protester!” Honestly this stuff writes itself……..

Stay safe

Miguel Ferres

Fairwater PBs

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Bone Tomahawk; the Despertaferres pick of the week

The Western movie is very much like a distant relative. People often have fond memories of them but do we have to keep seeing them?  Must we keep revisiting the same small time period and narrow geographical area ( even if it is actually huge in extent!). How can heroes be admired if we are not sure that they are on the side of “progress” and the natives are not freedom loving, Earth stewards( or stewardesses or…….)? I actually used to cheer the “Indjuns” when I was a child. I felt sorry for the natives and disliked the blue clad arrogant invaders. One way to avoid difficult conversation is to make the bad-guys cave-dwelling cannibals!

If you can’t have a square jawed, white hat wearing hero then you can have Kurt Russell, everyone’s favourite grizzled veteran. Team him up with an old deputy, Richard “Gabby” Jenkins and you have an unorthodox duo who somehow manage to keep order in the town. Patrick Wilson plays the bed ridden husband who loses his wife played by Lili Simmons. Lili has developed a slightly unorthodox way of helping her husband pass the time but let’s just leave that there…….

Written and directed by S Craig Zahler, “Bone Tomahawk” was released in 2015 and deserved more exposure. The posse forms to search for the athletic nurse and the narrative is set. The action is fast paced and be warned, it does get gory in the caves! The film portrays the quest beautifully. There is suspense a plenty and some unexpected twists and turns. It is reminiscent of the Searchers in its portrayal of the disfunctional posse. Matthew Fox plays the stoic gunslinger admirably as a rival to Wilson’s character.

Western Horror is a niche of a genre but this is a classic. Not for the faint hearted but worth getting hold of. Kurt Russell is indomnable but the supporting cast also rise to the occasion.

Ferres rating : nine out of ten

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He is weary, and now at rest.

Well there’s a dark and a troubled side of life.

There’s a bright and a sunny side too.

But if you meet with the darkness and strife,

The sunny side we also may view.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,

Keep on the sunny side of life.

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,

If we keep on the sunny side of life.
Oh, the storm and its fury broke today,

Crushing hopes that we cherish so dear.

Clouds and storms will in time pass away.

The sun again will shine bright and clear.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,

Keep on the sunny side of life.

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.
Let us greet with a song of hope each day.

Though the moments be cloudy or fair.

Let us trust in our Saviour always,

To keep us, every one, in His care.

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side,

Keep on the sunny side of life.

It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way,

If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life.

                                                                                 ( The Carter Sisters)

The Tercio lost a great friend yesterday. Never too busy to share advice and never too eager to win that he could not spare time to laugh. He destroyed all the tabletop competition for literally decades. The duo of Hacker and Mc Hugh struck fear into trophy hunters all over the West and beyond. Steve was one of the hobby’s great gentlemen and a wonderful example that we should all strive to emulate.

Our thoughts are with his loving family at this time of loss.

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Danger Close: the Despertaferres pick of the week

“Simply the best film I have seen in decades…….”

Why don’t we know enough of our own history? Why do we bemoan our fate when we don’t make films and books that get the adrenaline pumping. For the generation brought up on El Cid and the Alamo, Harry Potter and the Crock of Frogspawn are just insulting. In just two hours of action packed filming, Bob Grandin and the director Kriv Shedlers take us back to the  field of Long Tan with the Australian and New Zealand forces. These are the men who didn’t find urgent business in Canada, nor sail with the US coastguard off Florida. Major Harry Smith is the hard bitten Major who turns round a probable defeat to a near miraculous bloody nose for the communist drones.

I have not been so moved by a group of actors for literally years. Travis Fimmmel is wholly believeable as the frustrated leader of the Free World forces, battling hopeless odds with a grim determination to hold on and not let his mates down. Credit must also go to Luke Bracey and Richard Roxbury for such amazing portrayals of courage. Truly the casting and acting are of the highest quality.

The CGI is not intrusive, but rather adds magnificently to the realism of the film. Echoes of that other classic Zulu are to be seen in the closing assault and the tragic roll-call in the denouement.The film works so well and I really cannot find fault with it. I vividly remember my Uncle Ely’s tales of how the Korean communists treated him in prison. It is a great pity that he was not able to see this portrayal of a later, equally vital struggle with Evil. My uncle’s captors never did break him. The Korean officer asked my uncle for the model ship he had whittled during captivity. He had tried and failed to break the young officer’s spirit. Uncle Gwyn dropped the model, fruit of three years work, and stamped on it…..

Courage is rare in this world. But, this film makes for uplifting viewing. Recommended! Available to watch on Netflix.

Thanks for reading


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Wargames Philosophy

Three weeks back in work and the time has flown. Quarter past eleven yesterday evening and I’m preparing a work presentation. My good lady wife asks who I am and what I have done with her husband……….

I tried explaining to her that I had a new guiding principle, or rather a whole collection of principles, the thoughts and actions of Marcus Aurelius. I had discovered my ‘ikigai’, the task I was created for. The aim was to get fit and be creative, to avoid distractions “like a Roman” but what about my ultimate “waste of time”, wargaming……

The close one!

The self discipline was working with my work life. The “unbearable” first ten days passed quickly. I was over the hurdle of cycling eighteen miles a day. I fixed the gears on my bike on day three, then they fell apart again , and I fixed them again. Wow, the old Emperor would have been proud of me. In the next ten days of establishing the habit, the fattest cyclist in Wales smashed into the side of my bike. My reaction was much more muted than said assailant could have expected or indeed deserved. The Emperor would have been amazed to see me actually help the great lump of Lycra up and even help him back onto his mount. Only a few months a go a “faulty” dice would have resulted in unwanted emotion for the stoic.

Umpire called to top table after “issue” develops 2019

Now it’s the last ten days of an established habit and I have found time for my hobby once again. I did fear that a hobby would not fit into the new regime but hobby time adds so much more to life than just a trivial pursuit. The point is to clarify just what one wants from your leisure. There is a hilarious conversation abroad at the moment , inspired by Little Wars TV; is our hobby dieing? Cities are burning, tales of  riots and looting horrify the Western world and in all seriousness we contemplate whether wargaming is in decline. You don’t have to watch Angry Viking to know we live in  violent times but whilst standing up to the challenges, our pastime does actually help. Like a fine wine, good friends or a long walk, you do need some rest and recuperation. I started on the low hanging fruit……

The miniatures are by Venexia and they are great sculpts. Now sold by Lancashire Games here in the UK, they were out of production for many years but they are amongst my favourite. I only had to base them and finish off one colour but I only spent ten minutes on one stand for To the Strongest….

In another ten minutes, I’d finished another ‘manga’ of sword and buckler men. I remembered my original plan, to refight the Italian Wars with Big Base DBA, I had prepared more under the desk……..

Ah, I found them. China -flu had given me time in the Summer to dream of a massive Spanish Renaissance army. Steve Balagan had posted all the uniform colours on his excellent blog. Eight bases of ten had been planned…..

In true Aurelius style, maintenance of aim prevailed. I had eight bases of sword and buckler men for eight Tercios, and then I remembered, I had sent for some samples before hand and had another thirty swordsmen. Steve Miller is currently debating whether to incorporate the swordsmen in with the pikemen. I was saved. The extra figures could go in with the pike block and then dart out to attack the enemy flank. And then I remembered I had prepared the Arquebusiers…….

The last three weeks have truly been so productive , both in work, at home and in hobby. “Momento Mori” indeed! Prepare for the worst but take time to enjoy yourself. You are a person worth caring for……spoil yorself!

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Wargaming the Sport of Kings

I always love reading about all those new projects that wargamers keep amassing. The next project is always “the” one to surpass all others. The next one has everything until of course, the next new project. That alas maybe the fate of the majority but what if you collected myriad periods and got every one to the same excellent standard. One such happy gamer is our legal eagle Mike Lane. Transport yourself to Central Europe during the Seven Year’s War and feast your eyes on what could be……..”the evening was mainly peaceful!”

Above- the Austrians on the left took up a strong central position whist the doughty Prussians left the suburbs.

Above- the Prussian left anchored on a churchyard and those stalwart grenadiers.

Warfare in the Age of Reason , indeed! The mischievous Austrian genius advances rank upon rank of white coated minions.

I’d placed great store on my artillery’s potential to cause devastation from a far. The Austrian infantry were unpeturbed and continued to advance.

On both flanks the Prussian and Austrian cavalrymen vied for supremacy.

At the end of the evening, after seven hours of combat, we were still locked in combat. The Prussian grenadiers were about to assault the Austrian right , even without a secure cavalry flank. The Austrian horse were battered but still holding on. To the Prussian right, the Austrians were preparing their own envelopment.

Many thanks to my genial host. Back as soon as possible with the denouement!


Mike and Michael