Sunday 31 December 2017

2017 in Review

As has become customary on the last day of the year, here's a review of how I did against "the plan". Astute readers will have seen that I forgot to do a mid year review, so tgis could all be a nice - or nasty - surprise!

Renaissance Galleys

I said - I will continue to revise my squadron level rules, then work on the fleet action set to bring them to the same standard, and finally a campaign system catering for both fleet and squadron level games. No specific terrain or other bits and pieces needed except maybe an ornate fortification or two, and no need for any new models (any odds and sods I find to be finished off though). As a “stretch” target I may sort out some of my Valiant Armada era models as suitable Mediterranean roundships or visiting English and Dutch raiders.

I did - pretty well. The squadron level rules were completed and published and seem to be quite popular. I managed to repaint just about my entire collection of 1/1200 galleys and for the first time I  decades came up with paint jobs tht I was happy with. I sorted out several shore batteries, fortifications and other scenic bits, and got quite  a few games in during the Summer. The fleet level rules didn't get progressed, and he campaign system was put on hold when Simon Stokes released his "Stato da Mar" system. My own system is something I may come back to in 2018.

Summary - pretty good.

Fast Play 19th Century

I said - Continue to develop the rules for pre-dreads and WW1. Possibly develop a set of ship stats and a campaign system for the pacific War between Chile and Peru (probably sits best with” Broadside and Ram”. Look to push the B&R system back to cover the 1850s, possibly earlier.

I did - the main developments here were in my Russo Japanese and Spanish American War collections, both of which were overhauled and, in the case of the latter, significantly expanded. On the rules front I developed the quick play set from "Broadside and Ram" into a more pre-dread focussed set and then published campaign packs for RJW and Span Am. Both doing well at the moment. The Pacific War project was put on hold and is likely to be one of the first to kick off in 2018/

Summary - good

WW2 Eastern Front Skirmish

I said - Now “Winter Skirmish” as I have a US Army to finish, so the objective here is to sort out the Americans, knock up the requisite play aids for Operation Warboard and then get some games in. Also, sort out a few more terrain bits and pieces (slushy tracks, icy rivers and a European farmhouse based on the old Airfix La Haye Sainte, one of which I have kicking about somewhere.

I did - lots of modelling on this, both I terms of forces (plenty or new Russian, US and German vehicles, artillery and figures painted) and terrain 9a new terrain cloth, winter roads, woods, buildings etc.) The one thing I never got around to was actually playing a game, so the "Op Warboard" play aids are still outstanding.

Summary - pretty good

Form Line of Battle

I said - Yes, I WILL get some 1/450 xebecs and galleys sorted out

I did - not! Whilst I had plenty of ideas on what to do here I never actually got started. Hopefully yht interest at the BV club in doing some more FLoB games will prompt some action in 2018.

Summary - poor

Iron and Fire

I said - I have uncovered some more 1/1200 models (plus there’s some new ones from Pithead to do) so aiming to get these all finished. Then to embark on a programme to pre-generate ship cards in I&F format for all my models

I did - I managed to get all of the ships painted up, plus some renovations on my 1/1200 collection. I also managed to paint up several fortification sets that I'd had lying around, and at the time of writing I'm part way through modelling Fort St Philip and Fort St Philip. No work on the I&F cards however

Summary - fair

Coastal Forces

I said - As last year, I intend to spruce up my existing 1/600 collection and get a few games in. A stretch target will be to revise my fast play 1/1200 rules.

I did - some sprucing up, but precious little else

Summary - Poor

Other Bits and Pieces

As usual, other stiff cropped up and took away time from the planned projects. These included:

The 75th anniversary Battle of Midway game at the Tudor Arms

"Mad Wet Max” - went from a silly idea to an award-winning participation game in the space of a few months. It had its first outing at the naval Wargames Weekend, and then went on to win the "Best Participation Game" award at the Thornbury IPMS show (the 5th year in a row that I've won!)

Burma Skirmish - a big push on this with just about all my Australian/British and Japanese forces painted up, some scenery done and most of my USMC vehicles painted as well. Only the USMC troops to do now,

Liz and I started making a 15mm old English inn about 25 years ago. The roof remained unfinished for 23 of those 25 years.  I decided enough was enough and this was completed in January. I was very pleased with the results.

Ancient Naval - having sorted out my Renaissance galleys I applied the same techniques to my ancient collection. The result was a revised set of fast play rules and a collection of ships that I was very pleased with.

So, all in all a busy and productive year. As always some aspect s of he plan just didn't happen but generally because time was diverted into other things that went well. Overall, a pretty good wargaming year.

And I’d quite like to get some DBA, Fire and Fury and Napoleonic Fire and Fury games in too (oh, and my Sudan game too – been in the box for far too long!). 

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Op Corporate for Air War C21

I've had a number of requests for the Falklands Conflict supplement that I wrote for Air War C21 many years ago. Its long out of print so I have spruced up the booklet and put it up on Wargame Vault. It is for the FIRST EDITION of C21, although it will, I hope, be of some use and interest to users of the current edition. The plan is to thoroughly update it next year to reflect the current edition of the rules, so for now its "pay what you want".

You can find a PDF copy of the booklet here:

Friday 8 December 2017

Splendid Little War

My latest Wargame Vault production has finally hit the streets after a busy few weeks getting the finishing touches in place. "Splendid Little War" covers the Spanish American War of 1898, and features a short history of the war, a campaign system covering both the Caribbean and the Philippines, and my "Broadside and Salvo" pre-dreadnought rules. The set comprises a 60 page book, A3 copies of the campaign area maps, ship counters for US, Spanish and other nations vessels, and a set of patrol/blockade counters for use on the campaign maps. The approach is based on my earlier "White Bear Red Sun" campaign pack for the Russo Japanese War, but builds on that system in a  number of areas.

Astute readers will be aware that the war at sea ended up being something of a one sided affair due to the poor material state of much of the Spanish fleet, so the campaign allows players to work with the Spaniards as they should have been with well maintained ships and operational weapons, as well as the historical state of poorly maintained ships with inoperable weapons (and in some cases, main armament not even fitted). For added fun there are options to allow British, German and other European national interventions, so plenty of scope for some unusual actions in a historical setting.

I'm rather pleased at how this one has turned out. And it gave me the ideal excuse to spruce up my US pre-dreads and splurge on some of the lovely WTJ 3D printed models!

Splendid Little War can be found here:

Sunday 3 December 2017


Astute readers may be aware of Hysterical Games' "Panzerfauste" fantasy WW2 setting ans skirmish figures in 28mm. Hysterical are now extending into the air with "Spitfyre", a game of air combat and air beasts. Spitfyre was the subject of an extremely successful Kickstarter project in hOctober/November this year with the target met in just a few days and a number of stretch goals achieved. The rules themselves use my "Air War C21" system as their basis and we are going trough last minute tweaking to give them an "air beast" feel to them as opposed to a more traditional air combat game between aircraft.

The game features Orc Spitfyres (small dragons) versus Dwarf war eagles, KampfGeier 87 vulture dive bombers, Condor transports, war bats, pigeon bombers and more. Clearly a lot of (warped) imagination has gone into this game.

I'd seen the 3D renders on th Kickstater page ans was impressed, but then I saw the prototype models at Warfare and then again at Reveille - by now painted in splendid schemes. They are truly lovely!

Initial deliveries of the starter set are due for early 2018, with stretches and the "eagles over Branz-um" expansion arriving in the middle of the year. Should be a good fun game to take to club night, and an opportunity to use those old FFG dragons from their D&D dragon air combat game that never really got off the ground :)

Wednesday 15 November 2017


Today I unearthed one of my projects from about 5 or 6 years back; Napoleonic frigate actions in 1/450(ish) using the old Airfix "HMS Shannon" model as a basis. I have made up three of these plus a model of the USS Constitution (was this a Lindberg kit?), but they've been languishing in a box since before our first house move. A chat on Facebook about the Airfix "Victory" model prompted my memory on these and there was a request for some photos , so here they are. Very much a work in progress, bit I may just have to crack on and sort these out now (in between finishing off my new 1/3000 Span-Am models - more on those at the weekend!)

PS any ideas on what I could use for ratlines on these models? 

Monday 13 November 2017


My lack of posting might suggest that I've not been up to much recently, but that would be wrong. At present there are 1/3000 Spainsh American warships, 20mm Japanese ans Australian WW2 forces, a load of generic satellites for my SF spaceship gaming and several 1/1200 ACW forts on my wrk bench.

But recently completed were two 15mm IS-3 tanks from Zvezda to go with my WW2 Winter Skirmish collection. Its a lovely model, builds up very quickly and easily into the rather modern looking Russian classic. Some stowage and a grubby whitewashed paint scheme completes the models, with which I'm very pleased as they bring back happy memories of my 1/76 Airfix model (for which I rebuilt the turret since the rear shape was completely wrong).

Saturday 7 October 2017

Blast Tastic 2017

This morning I popped down to Michael Stockin's "Blast Tastic" Sci Fi wargames show in Filton, Bristol. This was the 4th year of the show and alas the last, as Mike has decided to draw stumps on the show for now. That is a pity as the show always has the promise to be the successor to the SFSFW's "Ragnarok" show but it was not to be.

Anyway, the show was a small but happy and fun affair, with a number of games on display. I ended up paying in Gary Mitchell's "Tripods" participation game, set in the UK in the 1980s and based on the background of the old BBC "Tripods" TV series. An alien vessel has crashed into a farm in deepest Somerset and a strange tripod machine stands motionless above the barn. As the local British Army commander I had to  (a) establish contact with the aliens (playing Beethoven from speakers mounted on a Challenger tank was one option), find and rescue two children of prominent government ministers who were known to be hiking in the area, obtain video and scientific data by helicopter and a few other things. Oh, and another government minister and the BBC were on hand too.

In the end my troops found the children, obtained the data and video, evacuated the children in the helicopter, attempted to make contact, then, when the aliens decided to let rip with a heat ray, put up a stout defence that ended quickly when my Challys put a couple of APDS rounds through the alien shields, completely destroying the tripod in a single salvo. Having given Johnny Alien a damned good thrashing I retired from the field  of battle with a nice cup of tea

The British Army's finest advance on the silent tripod

"How do these rules work again?"

Milan team in place, scorpions on overwatch, the Royal Greenjackets escort the rescued children away from the farm

"Get to da choppah!"

Milan team ready to fire

I grabbed a few snaps of the other games on show and then had to high tail it back to Gloucestershire, so only a flying visit. It was a fun morning, and sad to think there won't be another next year.

Friday 6 October 2017

White Bear Red Sun

My latest publication, White Bear, Red Sun, landed at Wargame Vault this afternoonWBRS is a mini campaign covering the Russo Japanese War from the initial surprise attack on Port Arthur through to Tsushima and beyond. I'm quite pleased at how this one has turned out, after all its been about 20 years in the making!

Its based on an old series of articles and other material that I published in Battlefleet many years ago, but has been thoroughly updated and considerably added to over the years The main book comprises a brief history of the naval campaign, a set of  fast play pre-dreadnought rules (which may become available separately if there is interest in that), a self contained campaign system and a complete set of ship data for the rules allowing the campaign to be fought out over a weekend or a few club nights. As well as the main 48 page book in PDF format there are additional files with A4 and A3 versions of the campaign map, sea area control counters and ship record counters for both sides for use with the campaign system.

Depending on how these go I'll be starting work on a Spanish-American war version in the not too distant future (actually, who am I kidding, I've started already!)

 Wargame Vault Link

Thursday 21 September 2017

Doncaster 2017

The Wings of Glory Aerodrome annual gathering took place at the Doncaster Air Museum this last weekend. I wasn't able to make the whole thing but I did get to be there for the "Ace of Aces" megadogfight on the Sunday.

Some of you may remember that when we ran the first of these events a few years back I was struck down with the lurgy - which I then inadvertently spread to many of the attendees, and that the following year I was also poorly (it seems i'm quite susceptible to colds and chest infections in the mid-September period!). Anyway, this year was similar in that I was recovering from a bout that stopped me making it to the Colours show at Newbury (well done Simon and Stuart for switching games), but family duties meant I had to be in Manchester that night and it was only an hour or so's drive across the (misty and foggy) Peak District.

My arrival was a (hopefully pleasant) surprise to many, and Tim (aka "Flying Helmut" on the Aerodrome) must have been especially pleased as it allowed him to prep his chums and give me the following welcome as we prepared for the game :D

To say I was chuffed is an understatement!

Anyway, the game was a couple of hours of "Wings" mayhem and for once I shot down more aircraft than I lost myself (4-3, although it should have been 5-3 but I was a victim of someone's dodgy maths) which learnt me a 9th place out of 30-odd players and a prize of a Barraca Nieuport 17 which was a welcome addition to my collection.

An excellent weekend, lovely as always to catch up with many old friends, an opportunity to make some new ones (and have a good old natter about mt FLoB and Action Stations rules), and made very special by having the opportunity to meet and chat with Andrea Angiolino, who as anyone who has ever met him knows is a thoroughly nice chap!

Looking forward to next year, and hoping I can make the whole weekend.

Tuesday 5 September 2017

Connections 2017

Today I'm off to somewhere a bit special from a wargaming perspective. Its the Connections 2017 wargaming conference at Kings College London. I'm presenting with Dr Nick Bradbeer from UCL on the use of wargaming in the education of maritime engineering students in warship design on Thursday. Should be a fun few days :)

Friday 25 August 2017

Battle of Sandwich, August 24th 1217

Yesterday saw the 800th anniversary of the battle of Sandwich, fought off the coast of Kent in August 1217. A French fleet led by notorious pirate Eustace the Monk was escorting a  convoy to London which was occupied by French forces under Prince Louis, who supported rebel factions during the Barons; War. An English squadron under Hughbert de Burgh intercepted the French off Sandwich. In the ensuing battle Eustace's ship was captured and the monk himself beheaded on the deck of his flagship (some say his head rested upon a trebuchet - that was carried as cargo - when the axeman chopped off his head!). The defeat of Eustace's force led to the withdrawal of the French army in London and brought an end to the war, so a decisive action indeed.

To celebrate this anniversary I put together a scenario based on the battle and fought it out using my "Lord of the Sea" medieval rules. What follows are a few snaps of the battle.

For anyone interested in trying out this battle I've uploaded the scenario to Wargame Vault

Battle of Sandwich 1217

The French cargo ships. De Burgh avoided these juicy targets and headed for Eustace's flagship instead

Hubert's ship (actually the Royal flagship from my Sluys collection)

French warships making a run for it

French merchants in the lead, the French warships sit between them and the English fleet

Hughbert's flagship encounters the flagship of Eustace the Monk. In the ensuing melee Eustace again found himself despatched. Hstory repeats itself!