Saturday, 31 August 2013

Off to The Other Partizan tomorrow...

I'll be (possibly one of two) the guy in a mid-blue Peterborough Wargames Club t-shirt, and you'll almost certainly find me drooling over the Warlord stand or on the hunt for cheap 15mm WW2. Hoping to meet up with Neil Shuck while I'm there.

I'd have more spending money if I hadn't lost a tenner to my son James today - we figured while waiting for the news from his trial with Lincs, more net practice wouldn't hurt. So I placed a piece of paper on a good length and offered him £1 for each time he hit it in an over. Result, four out of six within about 6", no hits. So as a challenge I placed a tenner on top, weighed it down with my keys and gave him one ball to hit it.

No prizes for guessing what happened. :D At least we know that given sufficient motivation, he can land a ball exactly where he wants. I do need to teach him that it's only polite if HE buys the drinks afterwards, though :D

Friday, 30 August 2013

Meeples and Miniatures episode 111

Kind of a bittersweet morning.

Neil has finally edited down the new episode of my favourite wargames podcast, Meeples and Miniatures! This is particularly exciting for me since, in case you hadn't figured it out yet, what I was doing last Friday was helping record it, in my capacity as newly volunteered co-presenter.

I was very flattered to be asked, and had a great time nattering wargames with Messrs Shuck, Hobbs and Jones: hopefully it's come out ok, and will be the first of many. Quite what this will do to 'The Miller's Tale', my podcast, I'm not sure yet - I have episode 2 mostly in the can and there is plenty of stuff I can discuss that doesn't fit M&M, so it'll probably continue on an occasional basis!

Sadly, however, I have to record that my co-presenter Rich Jones' wife Juni passed away this past Wednesday. The episode, understandably, is dedicated to her, and our deepest sympathies and prayers go to Rich.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Warlord announce Pegasus Bridge set...


Now this I might just have to buy, if nothing else for the scenery.

Reading the fine print:
"a battle-set with laser-cut wooden bridge and buildings, resin scenery and plastic and metal miniatures."
Assuming they do it reasonably to scale, this should be awesome for CoC. Either way, more details tomorrow (Friday), which is also when pre-orders open (help!).

I've already asked on Facebook, and they have no plans as yet to make the terrain pieces available separately.

As a complete aside - please wish my son James luck, as he has a trial for Lincolnshire U14 cricket today, and I shall be being Dad's Taxi as a result.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Early War Polish list for Chain of Command - mini-review

From the TFL Yahoo! Group (seriously, if you follow me and play CoC, you need to sign up!);
"the Polish list for 1939 is now available at Lard Island News.  You can find it here:"
This is based on some sterling work by Alexander Kawczynski, who translated the standard Polish infantry manual for the period. It's a three page PDF, much like the army lists in the back of the rulebook: basic platoon structure, support lists, an arsenal table with stats for weapons and vehicles, and a couple of 'national characteristic' rules.

People who know better than I have described this as, quote,
"the most complete and historical Polish army list in a WW2 game that I have come across..." 
I'm eagerly looking forward to many more lists. Time to buy some kind of binder and more ink for the printer, I think :D

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Fighting 15s at Colours Sept 14-15

As a blogger who gets a fair amount of traffic, I feel obliged to share this from Henry at Miniature Wargames:

As a result of an administrative error, the incorrect version of the Fighting 15s ad was published in the Colours Show Guide which was published this week as part of MW365. 
Huge apologies to Ian Marsh of Fighting 15s, who had been beavering away painting up samples of the Eureka range for which he is now the UK distributor. Naturally, he was extremely disappointed that his hard work would not be seen by the MWBG audience. 
Therefore, I'm placing his ad here and I'd be grateful if you could help spread the word – by all means post the pic of his ad on your own blog. 
Being an 18th century fan, as you know, I will certainly want to see those beautiful 18mm Seven Years War figures 'in the flesh' at Colours.
It's probably a good job I'm not going to Colours, as Fighting 15s stock AB's 'large 15mm' Napoleonics, which are a pretty decent match for the Napoleon At War 18mms in my unpainted pile... :D

I should get round to reading this month's MW, too - been madly too busy this past few days!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Attack of the Zeppelins

For any of my UK followers into WW1: Channel 4 had an interesting documentary tonight on the German Zeppelin in WW1. Sadly, I missed it as it's club night, but it looks like it's available online on 4oD.

As an aside, it's presented by Dr Hugh Hunt, who also presented a rather fun C4 documentary on re-engineering the Dambusters bouncing bomb. Looks worth checking out!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Cricketers in Wartime - Bill Edrich

Now that was a close game of cricket. I remain very unimpressed by the change to the playing conditions that means the umpires don't get any discretion: the ICC seem to have forgotten that ultimately, the sport is about entertainment as well, and leaving the umpires with no choice but that of disappointing a full house at the Oval when England, clearly, were keen to carry on, was plain dumb.

That aside, nice to see England up to 2nd in the world test rankings, and always nice to see Australia lose a series :D

So. As promised this time - a cricketer who survived the war, and was a heck of a character: Bill Edrich.

You don't have to be that old to remember Bill's cousin John opening for England (my age is enough and to spare), and being the England batting coach in the '90s, but it's safe to say that despite his talents he wasn't the best cricketer in what was a very large family - large enough to raise an entire team of Edriches for local games in Norfolk.

That accolade definitely falls to Squadron Leader William "Bill" Edrich, DFC. Before the war his main claim to fame playing for England in Tests was a score of 219 in the legendary 'Timeless Test' in Durban (a game with no scheduled finish, finally called so England didn't miss the boat home after ten days, only 40-odd runs short of their target - see, it happened even back then!). On top of that he also played amateur football for Norwich and Spurs.

At the start of the war he joined RAF Bomber Command, piloting Blenheims, and was involved in a number of distinctly hairy raids, at one point pretty much only surviving because a German fighter's guns jammed at point blank range. By all accounts, his wartime experiences seem to have left him with the sense that
 'life was for living, not existing. Now was the vital time and he was never unduly concerned about the morrow.' (Trevor Bailey)
This is borne out by numerous off-the-field alcohol-fuelled incidents that would make the present England team's collective hair curl, not to mention five marriages! It also appeared to make him largely fearless as a batsman, willing to stand up to the fastest bowlers of the post-war era.

After the war, he played much more Test cricket, part of the legendary 'Compton and Edrich' partnership that now has two stands named after them at the Oval: in '47 both he and Dennis Compton scored over 3000 first-class runs in the season, which is a figure you won't see anyone manage nowadays!

After retiring from first-class cricket, he captained Norfolk well into his fifties. He died from a fall at the age of 70 in 1986. For more details, including (as far as I'm aware) some more details of his wartime service, check out Bill Edrich: A Biography.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Mini-review: "Chain of Command"

New post! By which I mean, something dropped through my letterbox this morning.

Having been involved in the playtesting and proofreading, you've probably heard quite enough from me on the subject for now. But I will say that there is no substitute for actually holding a copy in your hands. It looks brilliant, and reads well. It even has an INDEX!

A couple of notes:

  • There are a couple of errata (cue self hanging head in shame as one of the proofreaders!) which should be up on the TFL site as soon as Rich gets back off a much needed break.
  • There are about a dozen army lists covering late war US, German, Russian and British in the book. Expect many MANY more on the TFL site in the coming weeks (starting with early war German and Polish), and expect them to be free, The force lists really make the game - they're well researched and come with tactical notes as well on how to use the force as it would have been.
[Disclaimer: I spent a fair amount of my summer vacation proofreading this, and my copy was by way of a thank you (under protest - I was going to buy it!). I then went and bought another as a prize-draw prize anyway.]

Friday, 23 August 2013

Plans for the weekend

It's a Bank Holiday, I'm on call tonight and 'er indoors is on call tomorrow, which could be a better combination I suppose. However, I'm running a game of IABSM on Monday evening down the club, so tomorrow and Sunday at least I can spend finishing off my 15mm company of Brits, along with knocking together two troops of Battlefront plastic Shermans, which are going to be decal-less for Monday, but hey, they'll do till I can get an order off to PSC.

This is, of course, assuming I don't get distracted by a shiny new copy of Chain of Command...

However, that's for tomorrow and Sunday. Tonight... well, you'll find out later in the weekend. But I'm rather looking forward to it.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Another prize draw...

Not mine, this time!

My good friend, amazing painter and partner in Dux Britanniarum crime, Andy Hawes, has just hit 100,000 pageviews on his excellent and inspiring blog, and as a result is celebrating in the by-now-traditional manner with a prize draw.

The prize:

One 28mm Gripping Beast Arthur miniature, hand-painted by Andy. Is that awesome or what?

If you want to be in with a chance of winning this fantastic figure, get over to his blog and enter - instructions are on the page.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Plastic Soldier Company 15mm Churchill

Ok, this is definitely worth shouting about :D

Plastic Soldier Company have just put up sprue shots of their 15mm Churchill on Facebook - like all PSC 15mm tank kits, it comes in a box with 5 sprues, which will make:

  • Mk III
  • Mk IV
  • Mk IV 75mm (Mk VI)
  • Mk V 95mm Close Support 
  • Mk III AVRE (woohoo!)
Definitely going on the shopping list!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

GW's 'new webstore', and passion vs commerciality

There are some rumours going around on Faeit 212 among other places, that, quote (translated, I suspect, from German):
Games Workshop will launch a new Internet-Site in April 2014. The new Site will bring back Hobby content and other stuff. The Online shop will include Black Library Products and at the end of the year 2014 Forgeworld. The success of Horus Heresy moved GW to this.

It doesn't take much digging to delve past the froth in the comments to the source of this rumour, which is GW's recent public preliminary financial report, (in which, as an aside, the word 'wargame' once again doesn't appear :D) where it transpires that what they actually said was:
Our online shop is doing well. Sales are up to £14.4 million from £13.1 million. During the year we built a new one and will be testing it over the coming year. It is planned to be fully operational in April 2014. 
There is, however, a much more interesting quote a bit further up:

It seems so obvious that it shouldn’t need saying, but we deal in a product that sometimes allows passions to over-rule commerciality. 
Yes. Yes we do. At the very least, we're in a hobby where passions drive commerciality.

That's why I spent Saturday playing a ruleset that's not available any more, and is pretty much community supported.
That's why Rich Clarke is prepared to pretty much bet the farm on Chain of Command, and why I'm prepared to buy someone a copy.
That's why the likes of TAG go ahead and produce their Tudor range despite the Kickstarter not making it.

I love this hobby precisely because it's full of people who are passionate about their particular niche in it.

Monday, 19 August 2013

And the winner IS....

...drawn from an awesome 174 qualifying entries!


Consider this an inspiration to catch up on your blogging! Please drop me an email at with an email address I can credit your voucher to!

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Tournament signups now open

Check out our club site for signup for the two tournaments I've mentioned previously at our club, namely:

 (Sunday September 9 2013)


(Sunday November 24 2013)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Battle Report - 17 Aug 2013 - Axes WAB tournament

The Rushden clubhouse - it's the local scout hut.
Back from the Rushden Phoenix club's annual Axes WAB tournament. Took my Parthians, hastily rebadged as Palmyrans (which has always been a plan, and one of the reasons I went for that army) - basic force being two units of catphracts, two units of horse archers, a unit of foot archers and a unit of allied elite Roman legionaries.

Got there (thanks to a ride with Carl from our club) in good time, so grabbed tea and got set up for my first battle against Paul Tysoe's Late Imperial Romans. The running joke was that several of the LIR armies had fewer actual Romans in than mine (as they were basically packed with Foederati, which to be fair isn't that unhistorical). I felt this scenario was a bit contrived, as it had a river running the length of the table, and deployment zones that were basically 4'x4' triangles. I basically deployed my heavies on one side, and sent the missile troops up the other flank to deal with Paul's bolt thrower. Paul, very sensibly, having units packed with missile weapons, just waited for me to get to him, and shot me up while I approached. It almost worked - the cataphracts are sufficiently slow that juggling things to make sure I could charge him and he couldn't charge me is quite a fine piece of manipulation, and I got it fractionally (by 1/8" or so) wrong. Result, my general's cataphracts got smacked around a lot, and ran away, causing one of those unpleasant cascades of failed morale tests that resulted in most of my army running away.

One to Paul.

Next up, I drew my chauffeur(!) Carl, who had brought an Ostrogoth army: lots of cavalry, a couple of units of foot and some skirmishers.

I basically got outmanoeuvred in this one, resulting in a capaphract sandwich: the cataphracts really do move like an ocean-going tanker, once you've set them on a path, they even wheel at a penalty. General's unit broke, cue tests all round. Cue some absolutely dreadful dice! No unit in my army has leadership less than 7. Of the five units that had to test, all but one rolled 11s or 12s on 2d6. Arrggh. Cue mass panic, army break point.

Ah well.

Last battle: Martyn Hill from the Rushden club's Gallic army - lots of warbands and skirmishers.

This went surprisingly like the previous one, including getting outmanoeuvred and rolling appallingly bad dice!

Conclusion? Mostly - this particular army is somewhat brittle - most of its firepower is concentrated in three big expensive units, two which are difficult to manoeuvre and really do not respond well to being charged. That and I suck at both dice rolling and tactics! :D

All that aside? I had a great time: the WAB crowd (as I think I've mentioned before) are in general a very friendly bunch, and most of us play the game in a very sporting and friendly manner.

Apparently, so do I, as (while coming dead last) I came away with the Best Sportsman award.

Huge thanks to Simon and the guys at Rushden Phoenix for organising and running the tournament, and congrats to Andy Beer of our club for coming a well deserved overall second!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Chain of Command - 50th Birthday Prize Draw deadline

Just a reminder (I have house guests, and a WAB tournament tomorrow) that the closing date for this is drawing closer. You have until this coming Sunday at 23:59 to enter, and the rules are here.

The prize, to reiterate, is a £25 voucher for the Too Fat Lardies webstore, which is enough to buy the basic Chain of Command rules bundle, which will be released on or around next Wednesday 21st August. 

Best of luck!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cricketers in Wartime - Ken Farnes

Apologies to any Aussies reading, but...

Oh, come on. What am I saying. After that painful two decades when the Aussies won everything? I'm not feeling at all sorry for them :D 3-0!

Ken Farnes was a fast bowler for Essex during the thirties, who also bowled for England, in the same side as our last wartime cricketer, Hedley Verity, in fact.

By all accounts, and somewhat unlike his contemporaries, he was built much more like the fast bowlers of today, tall and muscular. Unusually for the era, he was an amateur, at a time when quick bowling was largely the preserve of the professionals. He's probably, oddly, most famous for being reduced to tears during an Essex game against Yorkshire in which the Yorkshire pair of Sutcliffe and Leyland took him apart for 75 runs in four overs. You can hardly blame him.

With a Test average of under 30, and a first-class average of 21, he was a pretty decent bowler, and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1939. He had an autobiography, Tours And Tests, published in 1940, shortly after which he signed up with the RAFVR and like many at the time, did his basic training in Canada. He was killed in a training accident shortly after returning to England.

Interestingly, as far as I can tell, Farnes and Verity were the only two England players killed in the armed forces in WW2. While Farnes' tragic death wasn't on active service, this does make him worth a mention.

Next up, though, we move on to English Test players who survived the war.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Today's delivery

Some light reading for later review and reference: Henry Hyde's "The Wargaming Compendium", Francis Pryor's book on the search for Arthur, and the Osprey on the War of the Roses.

I also took delivery of a wargaming-related invitation, which rather amused my colleagues as I had to explain (at least a bit) why I was bouncing in my chair. Can't tell you what it is, though: you'll just have to wait and find out.

In other news, jet lag still sucks.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Battle Report - 12 Aug 2013 - WAB

My horse archers avoiding the Ostrogoth's heavy cavalry.
Wise move.
I think I've clearly been playing too much Lard :D

Last night was my first night down the club after getting back off holiday, and Carl and I had a warm-up game for the Rushden club's Axes 2013 tournament on Saturday.

I lost.

It's not, I don't think, that I don't like Ancients, or even WAB. It's that I really miss at least one, and preferably both, of rules that have Command and Control features, and scenarios that actually have some context in the larger scheme of things. You'll still catch me at the campaign-themed tournaments that the likes of Scrivs and Tom, or Andy, Grahame and I run, as they're just... awesome fun with a great bunch of people, and enough thought goes into them to provide some context without contrived scenarios.

I may, though, be giving next year's WAB GT a miss.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Skytrex in administration

In case you missed the news, wargames legends Skytrex are in administration. This seems to in part be something to do with the partners finally retiring and the fact that for various reasons they're not making money. Anyway as a result, everything on the website shows as out of stock, but you can sign up for a mailing list, which in theory is going to tell you when they start the closing down sale.

As I have various holes in my 15 mm collection for IABSM that I'm not prepared to pay Battlefront prices for, I shall be watching this with a keen interest.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Kickstarter watch - Textured Base Stamps

Ooof. Jet lag sucks. Coherent creative thought's still a toughie :D

Via our club secretary Rob, an interesting Kickstarter for producing textured bases without paying someone the earth for resin casts. Kind of tempting, actually: a little bit annoying that they're designed for 25mm round bases, but they can be coaxed onto other sizes. Styles include graveyard, earth, urban, battlefield (looks kinda Dark Ages), sci-fi, street and dungeon.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Book Reviews - the Vietnam War

A couple of book recommendations, this time for folks into the Vietnam conflict, be it with FoW Vietnam or Charlie Don't Surf. These are:

In The Field: Vietnam and My Letters Home, by Damon Darley. Basically this is a set of transcripts of the author's letters home to his (very new) wife during his tour of duty in Vietnam.

Vietnam: No Regrets: One Soldier's Tour of Duty, by J. Watkins. Again a memoir of a tour of duty, but not (this time) as letters.

Both these books were available as free Kindle downloads a while back, but they're both still under a fiver each, and well worth a read, especially if you want to understand the poor infantryman's view of the conflict.

I have a copy of Charlie Don't Surf. This may be bad news for my lead mountain :D

Friday, 9 August 2013

Flying home today of course I'm up at 5.30am US time fixing our church website.

If anyone out there is running their own WordPress site, find a better events plugin than "All In One Event Calendar" by - it may be very pretty, but they have now managed to take our site down twice in a row with badly-managed plugin upgrade scripts, and the support they give to users of the Standard (non-paying) version of the plugin is appalling.

Such is the life of a volunteer IT admin. Ah well.

To my considerable surprise, I seem to have managed to blog every day while away: normal service will be... continued... when I get home, though I've pre-scheduled tomorrow's post since I confidently expect to be way too jet-lagged to tie two sentences together.

Just a reminder - my 50th birthday Prize Draw for a £25 gift voucher for Chain of Command is still running until a week on Sunday! Don't miss it!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Some links for WW2 gamers

First up, Black Tree Design are having a sale. Lots of WW2 28mm stuff at ridiculous prices.

Second, if you're interested in applying proper tactics to your platoon-level WW2 games, check out this post from Rich Clarke on the TFL blog. Obviously it's designed to accompany Chain of Command, but it's just as useful for any other WW2 system. Worth reading in conjunction with some of the links I posted a while back.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Almost missed today's post

[An aside: I'm very curious to know how people are getting to this page, as it seems to be a very popular page for no good reason. Please leave me a comment!]

... But I have a good excuse. 
The Shuttle Atlantis at Kennedy
The business end of 5 SMEs. Not a wise place to stand when
they're live :D

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Mike's 50th Birthday Prize Draw

For those of you who missed the memo, I turned 50 yesterday (today as I'm typing this, but this post is scheduled to go up tomorrow).

I got several goodies (including a slightly-ahead-of-time iPad mini). but I'm feeling charitable, so I'm going to run a special one-off Mike's 50th Birthday Prize Draw. The rules are as follows:
  • You get one entry if you comment on this post;
  • You get one bonus entry if you pimp this post on your blog, and link to that on this post;
  • Special honour bonuses - please declare if either of these apply to you when you comment (I trust you to be honourable, though I may check your blog if you have one if you win :D :D):
    • You get a bonus entry if you play Bolt Action;
    • You get a bonus entry if you don't currently own or play any Too Fat Lardies rules.
  • You may get a bonus entry, at my discretion, for publicising this someplace particularly audacious or clever, as long as you manage not to annoy people doing it :D
  • Closing date for entries is 23:59 UK time Sunday 18th August (two weeks time). Draw will be made early Monday 19th (using to allow you to get your order in at pre-order rates for the bundles;
  • I would appreciate if the winner made their victory public.
The prize is a £25 gift voucher with Too Fat Lardies, which will get you the basic Chain of Command rules-only bundle plus (most of) postage, or the tablet/PDF edition and some bits bundle, or you can add to it to get one of the other bundles.

Why am I doing this?

Because I think Chain of Command is going to be one of the best WW2 platoon-level rulesets ever, because I want to spread the word as much as possible, and because I'm prepared to put my money where my mouth is.

Have at it, and the best of luck.

Monday, 5 August 2013

On the nature of friction....

Take one carefully planned operation...

While this wasn't Operation: It's A Small World After All, it was planned with an alarming degree of precision.

And yet the timescale went to pot inside 2 minutes of reaching objective 1 (Magic Kingdom main entrance), because several members of Section #2 decided they needed the loo. The operation also suffered from mission creep ("Ooo, look, that ride we were saving for our second visit only has a 15 minute wait, let's do it now!") at least twice ("We could do Buzz Lightyear before we go") with the wrong personnel ("You do know your mother won't want to do that, right?), as well as random events ("Ah. Looks like the heavens just opened while we were in PhilharMagic", "Why is the queue for "it's a small world" four times longer than we expected?"), etc.

End result, we left the park 2 hours later than planned, hot and tired, and then spent 20 minutes longer than planned getting off Disney lands due to signage and map-reading issues.

This, folks, is what von Clausewitz calls friction:
“Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is inconceivable unless one has experienced war. 
”Countless minor incidents – the kind you can never really foresee – combine to lower the general level of performance, so that one always falls short of the intended goal. 
“Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and most natural form of movements, walking, cannot easily be performed in water, so in war it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even the most moderate results. 
“Friction, as we choose to call it, is the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult.” 
If something as simple as a trip to Magic Kingdom can't happen without friction getting in the way, when the most dangerous things we encountered are my mother-in-law, large American tourists with heavy backpacks and a Florida afternoon thunderstorm, why should we be so naive as to believe that a military action involving real bullets will go exactly as its commander wishes?

Why does this matter?

It boils down to the question: are you a gamer, or a wargamer? Do you claim to be interested in gaming for its own sake, or because you want to command a historically accurate force in encounters that bear a resemblance to what might have happened in real life, using authentic tactics of the period?

If the latter, I'm not entirely sure how you can without at least paying some attention to the concept of friction in your rules.

Now, does anyone fancy running Operation: It's A Small World After All using (say) Charlie Don't Surf?

Sunday, 4 August 2013

"The rules"

Some questions for you to think about:

  • Are the rules as printed gospel?
  • If you find a bit of a set of rules you don't like or disagree with, will you change it?
  • Will you change things like scales etc to fit your figures/table?
  • If you find the rules don't cover a situation, what do you do?
  • Does it depend on whose rules they are?
  • Does it depend on whether they're 'tournament' rules and whether you ever play them as such?
  • Do you actually record your local changes anywhere? Does your club?

Just been pondering this a bit after some discussions on various groups. It does seem for me to depend on the rules, and to a degree the intent of the writer as to how prescriptive and precise they are.

The other question that amuses and intrigues me is the number of times the question "will X rules work with Y scale figures?" gets asked, which kind of goes hand in hand with the above. It's a bit odd, since as far as I can tell the answer is always going to be either 'yes', or 'yes but you might need to tweak one or more of ground scales, figure basing and unit size', and which answer applies is going to be as much down to the asker's personal preferences as anything. And, I guess, whether they're afraid to change the rules!

Personally (for example) I wouldn't play Chain of Command at 6mm, since the ground scale is roughly equal to 15mm and without changing that it'd look silly. BUT, you could, by changing inches to cm everywhere in the rules, and playing on a 3'x2" or even 2' square table.

[Drafted to the background of wife and sister-in-law planning tomorrow's assault on the Magic Kingdom as if it were a military operation. I'm so going to need a vacation when this is over.]

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Media in favourable wargaming article shock!

The BBC have published a remarkably well-written piece on the centenary of H.G.Wells "Little Wars", surprisingly free of the usual 'ho ho, grown men playing toy soldiers' remarks.

And it only has ONE mention of Games Workshop, and I quote:
"The game is a forerunner of modern formats like the Warhammer system sold by Games Workshop."
Setting aside for the moment the number of non-GW rulesets they've disregarded here? This does rather amusingly prove my point that no matter HOW hard GW try to remove any mention of 'wargames' and 'Games Workshop' in the same sentence, and eradicate the concept from public perception, they are fundamentally doomed to failure.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Heraldry 101 part 12 - Marks of Cadency

Having covered what happens when two people marry in heraldry last time, let's move on to the next stage of human relations - kids. To be specific, what arms does (for example) a son bear while his parents are alive?

Once again? It depends :D

In the early history of heraldry, the answer is 'whatever worked'. Remembering that in heraldry, the original aim is to be able to tell two people apart on the field of battle, the son would bear something that looked like his father's colours, but with some form of difference, also known as a mark of cadency. On the death of his father, if he was the eldest son and heir, he'd inherit his father's arms (or is parents, if their arms were marshalled).

As time went by, theses differences were formally codified, particularly in England and Scotland. In England, these marks of cadency (also known as brisures, from the French verb briser, "to break")  are as follows:
  • first son, a label of three points
  • second son, a crescent (the points upward);
  • third son, a mullet;
  • fourth son, a martlet;
  • fifth son, an annulet (a ring);
  • sixth son, a fleur-de-lys;
  • seventh son, a rose;
  • eighth son, a cross moline;
  • ninth son, a double quatrefoil.
In England, these are voluntary, as the principle of 'one man, one coat of arms' is honoured considerably more in the breach than the observance: they are only really used when there is some important reason to distinguish two branches of a family. 

In Scotland, however? Oh boy. The label is used for the first son, but after that a complex system of variously coloured and styled borders is used. For more detail than you could possibly ever want, check the Wikipedia article on the subject and its references, as well a set of images of the current cadency marks for the British Royal Family (who, of course, just have to be different!)

Heraldry being, historically, a tool to distinguish fighting men on the battlefield, has for the most part not adopted cadency marks for daughters (cue 21st century outrage at this point). It's worth noting that Canadian heraldy (for one) however has.

It has to be said, in the earlier periods we game in (11th century on), we're dealing with the 'whatever works' period of heraldry, and applying formal rules that probably weren't invented then is a last-ditch replacement for doing the research, if you can. By the 15th century (War of the Roses etc), to be fair, things get a little more formalised.

Anyway. Next? Borders and backgrounds. Till then, have fun!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Live Chain of Command game on TFL

Looks like Rich and Nick are up to their tricks again - a play by play of a defensive scenario for Chain of Command. If you enjoyed the previous couple, or just want to check out what I've been raving about for the past God knows how long, check it out.

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