Making progress towards 2020

Today on the wargame front I have:Listened to Henry Hyde talking to Jay Arnold, while I…

– Prepared tomorrow’s blog post for the Second World War day by day game.

– Added to my detailed rule set for my “Bomber” game, based on Len Deighton’s book.

– Decided to abandon my long term project of creating the entire forces for Blenheim 1704 in 6mm at a figure:man ratio of 1:25. The order of battle and painting plan is saved for future use. I abandoned this in favour of a much smaller scale game, “bathtubbed” onto a 3ft x 2ft board, based upon Bob Cordery’s Colonial rules When Empires Clash. This will still require some painting of figures.

– Dug out the models for the above project and set them out for painting.

– Abandoned a long-outstanding ACW campaign and returned the part-painted 20mm plastic soldiers to the “as and when” painting box.

Excellent progress so far in de-cluttering my plans.

Happy New Year everyone.

Eighty years on. 31st December 1939

New Year’s Eve observances in Britain, France and Germany were very subdued due to blackout and noise restrictions. Most celebrations were held in private homes with the windows shuttered.  However, the police arrested several people for shining torches in Piccadilly Circus, London.

German Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels made a radio address reviewing the official Nazi version of the events of 1939. No predictions were made for 1940 other than saying that the next year “will be a hard year, and we must be ready for it.”  Adolf Hitler in his New Year message looked forward to a new Europe under German leadership, liberated from British tyranny.

Spanish leader Generalissimo Francisco Franco made a radio broadcast asking “all Spaniards in this period of depression which follows any war to close the mouths of grumblers and not permit the enemies of the state to take advantage of the situation.”

Japan and the Soviet Union signed an accord on fishing rights in adjacent territorial waters.

In Finland the Russians were pushed back with the loss of two divisions.  Some 27,000 Russians died in the battles around Suomissalmi, compared to around 900 Finns.

Game day 112. Germany

The two battleships operating in the South Atlantic sailed south-east towards the Cape of Good Hope.

The battleships off Labrador headed to the south-east towards the Atlantic convoy route while the Submarines returned toward the north of Scotland.

And thus ended the fourth month of the war.

Happy New Year!

A review of 2019

I have been reviewing 2019 from the perspective of my blog posts. It shows a ramshackle existence punctuated with unfulfilled plans.

In January I posted a couple of old re-enactment memories, celebrated the finding of some model trees in the attic (which have still not seen a wargame table) and started a short-lived painting log.

In February I began planning for a trip to Arnhem in September, which was later cancelled for health reasons. I made a little progress with the PBEM Market Garden campaign using the Memoir ‘44 game boards rather than 6mm models.

I struggled with the latest Microsoft release affecting some of my favourite software and printed some 3d models of sinking warships. I also underwent some health checks which said I was fit and healthy. Most importantly there was no sign of the prostate cancer since my operation.

March saw the annual Donald Featherstone tribute weekend, when we fought our way up the Sudan. I found a cheap source of 6mm middle eastern buildings and considered a solo Operation Sealion campaign (still on the cards in a different format).

In April I experimented with printing “outline” towns to fit on Heroscape hexagons and 40mm squares for another game system which I have not played yet. I enjoyed some gardening and anticipated my 65th birthday. I was very pleased with some “Sepia postcard” photographs of my 6mm game board from eye level.

In May I was seriously ill on my birthday. This was diagnosed as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). I was diagnosed two types of pills and an inhaler. The pills seemed to do the trick. I played a couple of solo naval wargames (WW2) and got annoyed about Brexit politics.

June saw another short-lived project as I frantically tried to keep up with the D-Day campaign using ASL game boards and my own tokens and rules. I failed.

Our syndicate had a horse running at Royal Ascot and I sent my report of my experience. Sadly the syndicate has since folded. I lamented the disappearance of the classic Microsoft Paint programme.

I attempted a wargame using GHQ’s old “Tank Charts” rules and spent an hour evaluating one sniper shot lasting 20 seconds in game time!

In July I resolved to take my dig for a long randomised country walk each day. About two weeks later the vet advised restricting his walks to around half an hour at a time, so that plan went out of the window. I sweltered in the Garden painting 1/300 and 1/3000 buildings. i posted a dog’s eye view of our latest re-enactment weekend.

August saw a break from my usual solo games when I played PSC’s “Battle of Britain” with my wife’s adult godson, then a naval game with a young neighbour, followed by a desert tank battle with the same lad. I made up some more railway tiles using Kallistra tiles and Leven track. I found a way to litter my model streets with rubble made of Milliput. I had another health scare with a couple of black-outs.

In September I started to replay World War Two day by day using an adaptation of Milton Bradley’s “Axis and Allies” game. This project has continued reasonably on track. We attended the Blenheim Palace Horse Trials courtesy of a good friend who towed our caravan there and back while our car was off the road.

In October we began rewiring and redecorating our home office, and we are still not fully back to normal. I concluded the Market Garden PBEM campaign, but still have to write up the campaign history for the players. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at Castle Combe, where we sent on honeymoon.

In November I attended “Dum-tee-Dum Live”, a meet-up for fans of “The Archers”, which is the world’s longest running serial drama. I struggled with magnetising and basing about 70 1/600 scale aircraft. At the end if the month I came to terms with my secret alcoholism and sought treatment.

December was a horrid month. After tests for my COPD my medication was changed and I have been struggling ever since. I cannot walk fast, nor slowly for more than 20 minutes at a time and I cough most of the morning and evening. I now take the dog for three short walks a day. My medication has been changed twice and I now have four sets of pills and three inhalers. I am afraid to drive alone in case I have a coughing fit and/or black out. I cannot get an appointment with my doctor until 7th January.

We had a water leak in the loft two days before christmas and again three days after. Plumbers came out on Christmas Eve and on Sunday to fix the issues. The ceilings will need repainting at least. But we had a fun Christmas day playing board games with friends.

And so I wish you and me all the best for 2020. Maybe tomorrow I will post some of my plans for next year.


Eighty years on. 30th December 1939


A passenger train and a troop train collided in Naples, killing about 40 people.

An article written by Hermann Göring appeared in the Völkischer Beobachter warning that as soon as Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to attack Britain “it will make an assault such as world history never has experienced.”

Game day 131. Neutral states

The Italian supply column for Finland returned to Italy.

The Norwegians, after the fall of Finland to the Russians, moved the infantry corps from Oslo to the north and raised a second infantry corps.

A little experiment

Way back in 2001 I started a six nation solo wargame campaign set in Europe 1701. It progressed slowly until September 1702 and since has been languishing for over a year waiting for me to paint enough figures for the next engagement.

For Christmas I received the card wargame Milito by PSC Games. I have played one game solo to see how the rules work and it is a clever piece of work. I learned the need to keep a reserve.

Last night an idea struck me. What if I could use the same mechanism to play encounters in my C18th campaign?

This morning I set to, analysing the comparative attributes of the ancient soldiery cards and transforming them for the later period. I have made up some appropriate cards and when the battle next surfaces in my in-tray I will give it a go.

The basic game has only four types of terrain: predominantly plains with one card each of woods, hill and rough. Five cards are dealt and arranged so that the plains are always in the centre. For the 18th Century I have added enclosed, village and stream/marsh.

My potential troop types are Guards, Combined Grenadiers, Line Infantry, French “Old” Regiments, Pike & Musket (Swedes and Russians), irregular Light Infantry, Cuirassiers, Horse, Dragoons (mounted and dismounted), and artillery (light, medium, heavy and siege).

First battle report to follow soon.

Eighty years on. 29th December 1939


The estimated death toll from yesterday’s earthquake in Turkey rose to 20,000.

In Germany a warrant was issued for the arrest of business tycoon Fritz Thyssen who had formerly funded the Nazi party but had become an opponent.  It was believed that he had fled from Switzerland to Portugal.

As the year ended, the Finns had continued success in fighting the Russian invaders, along the way capturing many men and vehicles.

Game day 120. USSR

The armoured corps that had participated in the taking of Helsinki moved into the city of Leningrad to protect against the German force that had moved up to the frontier.

The infantry corps in Karelia moved to the south west.

Eighty years on. 28th December 1939


The British Minister of Food, W.S. Morrison, announced that starting from 8th January 1940 rationing would be expanded to include butter, bacon, ham and sugar.

The British battleship HMS Barham (see header photo) was torpedoed and damaged by a German U-boat.

Game day 119. China

Three Chinese Infantry Corps raced eastwards to try to occupy Peking and Shanghai before the Japanese.

Patience is a virtue.

It seems to be fashionable nowadays to start everything too early.

Hallowe’en paraphernalia appears in the shops in September. Christmas decorations go up before the end of November and come down before New Year. One company advertised the start of its Boxing Day sale on 23rd December this year. I expect to see Valentine’s cards in the shops by the end of next week.

Now the TV is full of programmes looking back over “the decade” when there is still a year to go. Sure, look back over the years from 2010 to 2019 if you will, which is a decade, but is not the decade as used in the western (Christian) calendar.One might as well look back over the decade from 2004 to 2013.

We had the same issue with the so-called “new millennium” at the start of 2000.

The first year was 1 AD. The tenth year was 10 AD. That was the first decade. The second decade was from 11 to 20. The two hundred and second decade is from 2011 to 2020.

Simples! Now can we please be patient? My life is speeding past too fast without any more pressure.

Eighty years on. 27th December 1939


The first Indian troops arrived in France.

An earthquake in Turkey killed an estimated 8,000 people.

Two German officers were killed during a bar-room fight in Poland.  The German authorities collected up and shot 107 men and boys as a reprisal.

In Cambridge, England a verdict of “accidental death” was passed on a couple who cycled into a river in the blackout and drowned.

The Allies requested Sweden to permit transit of aid for Finland through Sweden.

Game day 118. Japan

Japan continued its move on Peking with an infantry corps.

Another infantry corps sailed from Kyoto towards Shanghai.  6 Battleships also sailed for Shanghai and stood off in case needed in support of the infantry landing in Kwangtung.  Six squadrons of fighters relocated to an airfield in the south west corner of Japan.

Six new fighter squadrons and an infantry corps were deployed in Japan.

Christmas games

Yesterday afternoon and evening we played a selection of family games with friends.

We started with a new game that I had received for Christmas, The Awkward Storyteller.

This is a game for up to 11 players and is probably more suited to a large group. We got a couple of rules wrong, but it was a laugh nonetheless.

We followed this with another new game: Who knows where? (our gift to our guests).

In this game players must identify the location of cities, places or photographs on a world map. We played the so-called “easy” version using the 10 degree grid, the labelled political map and the easy questions. It seemed that every third question was somewhere in Italy. Difficulty can be increased by using the unlabelled satellite map, 5 degree squares and the difficult questions, or any combination of these levels of difficulty.

Recommended, but please manufacturers can you include six sets of playing pieces for family games? We improvised for five players.

Next we tried our guests’ gift to us: Villainous , produced by Disney/Ravensburger.

This game initially looks incredibly complex, and one of us gave up during the reading of the rules. It is an odd combination of an interactive game with each player having their own game board and packs of cards. After a few rounds the play became easier, but I think would soon pall because the six (Well done the makers) players always have the same individual objective which is public knowledge, so it’s mainly a case of drawing the correct cards to help yourself and frustrate the others.

My verdict? It may be deeper it appears on the first play. Familiarity with the rules will no doubt speed up play, as there are a lot of options for each player turn.

We finished the evening with a couple of rounds of an old Ravensburger classic: Labyrinth.

This is a simple “find the object on the card” game for up to four players. The board has 16 fixed tiles and 34 loose tiles that sit between them on a 7×7 layout. (See the photo). Some of the tiles have the sought-for items printed on them.

Each turn a player uses the spare tile to push one of the three moveable rows or columns across by one space, thereby changing the layout of the labyrinth. They may then move their playing piece as fas they wish along available routes. First to collect all their items wins. Players may only draw their cards one at a time, rather than seeing the whole hand and choosing.

A quick game that rewards forward thinking, watching where other players appear to be aiming and making devious moves yourself.

All in all these games occupied about five hours.

I also received for Christmas PSC’s ancient battles card game Milito. Unplayed as yet, this is a two player game that looks easy to play and hard to win.