Thursday 24 November 2011

A Little Light Reading (Rediscovered)...

The campaign to rescue the wargames room has been halted as SWMBO insisted on a mini-campaign to tidy up the study with one of the areas of spousal concern being some boxes of magazines buried under the desk! By and large this was my collection of Military Modelling magazine from 1978 to sometime at the end of the eighties but scattered amongst the Military Modelling's, Classic Rock magazines and copies of SFX were a number of wargames magazines, many short lived and now defunct.

These range from recent efforts such as Caliver's Battlefields from the mid-nineties, through Practical Wargamer and Wargames World to 1970's old school journals such as Battle for Wargamers, Wargamer's Newsletter and Miniature Warfare and Model Soldiers, as well as some largely unheralded efforts like the mid-eighties Esprit De Corps.

There have been comments from SWMBO about "culling" which are sending shivers down my spine (I think she means the magazines not me!). I think I have made the "right noises" about reviewing and scanning articles but I am hoping the recent investment in a few plastic storage boxes plus the sacrifice of some old SFX and role-playing magazines that I have no interest in should see the threat recede for the time being...

On a related magazine note some good news on the Battlegames front in that it has been rescued any will continue to be published by the same company that produces Miniature Wargames.

Monday 21 November 2011

33 Days To Christmas...

If you are looking for present ideas for the SWMBO in your life, Debenhams offers this...

Thursday 17 November 2011

Perry Miniatures Gruppo Bande?

As my surfing for pictures of colonial units in WW2 expanded I had the brainwave of using other countries Google platforms so instead of or, I decided to try to find pictures of Italian Askari in WW2. This turned out to be quite a successful exercise and I came across some interesting material that was not being picked up by the English language sites (including this website of one Italian gamer with photos of his forces for the Battle of Gallabat).

I also came across this wonderful full colour cover of an edition of La Domencia del Corriere featuring an attack by Italian colonial forces on a British armoured column. What interested me was that alongside the Askari are some native troops in Dervish style costume. It turns out that alongside their European forces and trained native Askari, the Italians also employed irregular forces called Bande (literally bands). It even appears that whilst not accurate the picture is inspired by a real life attack of the Gruppo Bande Amhara on a British armoured coloumn near Cherù in Ethiopia under the command of Lieutenant Amedeo Guillet (who was also prominent in the Italian Guerilla War fought in Ethiopia from 1941 to 43).

Whilst the Bande appear to differ in look from unit to unit, some wearing Italian army tunics others traditional Nile Arab dress, it occurred to me that with minimal change a small unit could be raised cheaply from a box of Perry plastic Madhists with other figures possibly being used for a range of projects from Greek Peltasts to LOTR Abrakhan Guard. I must confess I am somewhat tempted and finding researching the East Africa campaign fascinating...

Monday 14 November 2011

Forgotten Heroes?

Jonana Mungai, King's African Rifles, Burma
With matters domestic curtailing any wargames oriented activity I've been browsing the internet for 28mm Early War WW2 figures which is throwing up surprising gaps bearing in mind you are supposed to be able to buy any figure you want in any scale for any war (I can't find 28mm WW2 Dutch, Hungarians and Norwegians for starters).

For some reason as google-fuing often does I ended up reading some really interesting online articles on the East African campaign in 1941 (did you know the Congolese Force Publique fought against the Italians? No, neither did I...). What I found increasingly frustrating though was how little could be found on colonial units of both sides that fought in the campaign, especially when it came to photographs of these troops. Both the British and Italians employed African troops in this campaign but it is really hard to find much in the way of photographic evidence, especially of the Italian Askaris.

However the growing theme I found was how little respect there is for the colonial troops of WW2 and their contribution in the various theatres of the war. Since 'Empire' has become a dirty word it seems that the historic colonisers rarely celebrate the veterans of ex-colonies and in the independent countries the fact they fought in  the "white man's war" (a direct quote off one Kenyan website about Burma) means their sacrifice gets ignored there (especially in those countries who did not become independent until post-WW2).

King's African Rifles, East Africa, 1941
Whatever the rights and wrongs of colonialism it cannot be right that these brave soldiers are airbrushed out of history just because we are supposed to be ashamed of our Imperial heritage and ex-colonies feel that their pre-independence history is one were resistance to the Imperial power is good and taking the salt was akin to collaboration ("white man slave soldiers" is a common, and in my view derogatory, phase used about soldiers like the King's African Rifles).

So what has this to do with wargaming? Not a great deal I suspect, however I am now determined that I will make some effort over the next twelve months to raise some small units of WW2 colonial troops such as the KAR and Burmese Naga as a small reminder of those that lost their lives in WW2 fighting for the allied cause were not all of European heritage. If their homelands feel they cannot recognise their contribution in the war against the Axis, there is no reason why we should not, even if only on the tabletop.

Friday 11 November 2011

Lest We Forget...

As I am sure you all know today is the 93rd Armistice Day when we remember the sacrifice of our armed forces. This year holds a bit more significance for me following my visit to the battlefields of the Somme and my son-in-law's (thankfully safe) return from active service off the coast of Libya where his ship came under fire. The BBC has been running a programme this week after Breakfast remembering servicemen and women who have served from 1914 onwards. It was quite sobering to hear that at least one British serviceman has been killed on active service every year save one since the end of World War Two. If you have missed it you can catch up with it on iPlayer.

The picture above is one I took of Bristol's Own Cross, a wooden cross located at the crossroads of the Rue de Bazentin and the Ruelle Cambray on the west edget of Longueval village. It is dedicated to the officers and soldiers of the 12th Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment, known as “Bristols Own”, who died in the battles of July to September 1916 at Longueval, Guillemont and Morval.

Monday 7 November 2011

Zombies Throughout History: The American War of Independence

Following on from my Pike & Shot & Zombies post Jean-Louis commented on the possibility of extending the rules into the C18th. A few years ago I did have a stab at this and wrote up an article for Ragnarok entitled The Battle of Sleepy Hollow (the Revenge of Ichabod Crane - Necromancer), a mini-campaign using WHFB postulating the return of Crane to Sleepy Hollow with an army of AWI zombies.

As concepts go I think it is one with a lot of potential and given the planned forthcoming release of American War of Independence plastics from Perry Miniatures sometime in 2012, one I will probably return to...

Sunday 6 November 2011

Zombies Throughout History: The Thirty Years War

A couple of unconnected incidents over the last few days appear to be leading me down the path of unintended consequences into playing a new game.

First off, in a continuing attempt to rescue the games room (the rather frightening plastic mountain is now boxed for transfer to the attic) I discovered a box of GW Zombies. I have no idea why I bought them as my only flirtation with WHFB Undead is a small unpainted Tomb Kings army, but I have 20 plastic zombies with no army to attach them to.

I didn't give this much thought until Hallowe'en when Wargame Vault had pumpkin logo trick or treat feature on their website whereby you tried to find ten pumkins on their webpages and by clicking would receive a trick (usually a link to something amusing on YouTube) or a treat (a free PDF product). I discovered three treats, one of which was Plague City, a supplement for Pike & Shot & Zombies, a C17th post-apocalyptic zombie game.

Browsing through Plague City I was quite taken with the concept and the small numbers of miniatures needed, about half a dozen survivors and two to three times as many zombies and so availed myself of both the main ruleset and Rotting Renaissance Regiments, a supplement introducing zombies derived from military units (a really good excuse to chop up some Warlord ECW figures and add Mantic zombie bits!).

It make be a little while before I sit down to stick my zombies together and whilst I have a few old Foundry ECW somewhere they are probably out of scale with the zombies and I would need to get a handful of Warlord or TAG, this is likely to prove a fun diversion from some of the larger projects I seem to have planned...

Saturday 5 November 2011

Rally 'Round Battlegames!

Many of you will by now have heard the announcement that wargames magazine Battlegames will no longer be able to be produced in its current printed format. Battlegames was a great magazine with echoes of Practical Wargamer and Battle, I especially liked the inclusion of F/SF as "just another period" (the way it should be).

It may be that editor and publisher Henry Hyde is able to keep the magazine going as a PDF project, I certainly hope so, but what concerned me was his comments in the statement as follows, "the blunt fact is that I should have recognised the writing on the wall sooner and am now in considerable financial difficulty as a result. I have been operating as a one-man-band in a precarious financial position from the outset, with no fall-back position, and I have paid the price. It is now imperative that I resume my former career in graphic and web design for the time being, as well as my new one in writing, in order to prevent complete financial meltdown."

You may have seen Henry recently raised over £10,000 for the Combat Stress charity walking from Battle to Lewes Castle (on an unseasonably hot day when temperatures hit 28c!) and it doesn't seem right to me that someone who does something like this should not have the support of the wargaming community in his hour of need...

If you have not bought any copies of Battlegames you can buy some back issues here. Alternatively (and I think this is a fantastic bargain) for just £40.50 you can download issues 1 to 24 in PDF format here (and get a free PDF of Tabletop Teasers Volume One as well).

I'm sure any purchase, no matter how small,  will be of great personal help to Henry and I encourage you all to visit the Battlegames website and buy something, you won't regret it, the only regret will be if this is the end of Battlegames...