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'A gaping silken dragon,/Puffed by the wind, suffices us for God./We, not the City, are the Empire's soul:/A rotten tree lives only in its rind.'

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The stage...

... is set.

Finally, finally, my 'Old School', 20mm plastics and Roco Minitanks 'Bay of Pigs' has come to the table. The original idea foundered on the apparent need for quite large numbers of figures, and a larger table than I have. However, I have, in my dotage, decided that I really don't have the time to build massive armies, or plan to build huge tables. Instead, I have moved to the approach encapsulated by the gridded wargame, and the 'One Hour' wargame.  So:

Above: this is the set up for the defence of the road to Playa Larga (Red Beach)by the anti-Castro Brigade 2506. The small town is Palpite, and in the far distance is the old sugar mill of 'Central Australia'.

Here are the Brigade 2506 paras in defensive positions blocking the road, with, below, one of the mortar teams that were so important for the Brigade.

And, below, the Fidelistas get ready for their drive against the beaches and the 'Yangui-backed' beach-head.  Below are the Fidelista PNR Police Battalion:

Supported by units of the Militia:

While. back at 'Central Australia', the Cuban regulars form up:

And that was enough for the moment:


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Nothing says 'Old School'...

... quite like a pipe, and Roco Minitanks.

These days, I smoke a good pipe only rarely, but today had a number of good stimuli for a smoke.

It was a Saturday, and Spring is really getting into its stride now, and, yesterday, on returning from work, a package was waiting on the doorstep, containing:

A marvellous ebay buy. A job lot of Roco Minitanks, costing not much over £30, or a tad more than £1 per vehicle!  Oh, joy! Oh, delight!

I've recently been revisiting various uncompleted war games projects, and there are two I'm keen to finish and bring to the table and the roll of dice. The first is the War of 1812 in 20mm, and the second is the Bay of Pigs. It must be two, or three, years since I started that, and my idea was to have a sort of retro wargames approach, using plastics and Roco Minitanks.  I'd found a couple of tanks and trucks, but  decided I could do with a few more vehicles, jeeps, trucks etc.  However, Minitanks are still as hard to find in my neck of the woods as they were in the 1970s, when almost all books and articles on modern wargaming featured Minitanks, often heavily converted. Mind you, it  was difficult to tell sometimes, given the tiny, grainy, black and white photographs of the day. A scroll through ebay revealed quite a lot of vehicles from a supplier in Germany, but with ridiculous postage of around £14 per item!! But, it also revealed this lot:

Including some still in their yellowing packaging. The kubelwagen box is marked, 3/3. I wonder if this is 3/3d, i.e., 'old' UK money, dating back to at least 1971?  

The other thing I've been doing this past week is helping my 8 year old grandson to get ready for his school's 'Rome' day.  He is going dressed as a Legionary (he decided against an Auxiliary), so I made him a wooden (hardboard) scutum:

and schooled him in the ways of Jove and the eagle.

Meanwhile, out in my garden, spring is forging ahead:

And today  I planted two roses - 'Princess Anne' and 'Lady Emma Hamilton'. The latter was not, as it should have been, bedded, but potted.

Sunday, 5 March 2017


... or SNAFU?

The clash of mighty portabling forces, of brave, deluded, patriotic, desperate, 28mm figurines reached something of a resolution this evening.

Reviewing the table, it was clear (from my Olympian position - near the stove) that the key to events lay on the Reds' right:

As the photo above shows, the White armour very effectively pinned the Red cavalry, their command, their artillery, and their machine-guns. The long drawn out slogging match between the Whippet and the Red artillery meant that the other Red units there were stuck.  None of them had the capacity to destroy the White Whippet, so they had to wait for the artillery to clear the way...

That left the infantry action at Bowanski Junction:

Above, another view of the French fighting through the streets. While, below, the Red unit of clerks, ticket collectors, and suchlike, turned out to be a pretty useful group of chaps (well, they couldn't really be 'chaps' if they were Bolshies, but you get the idea). They did more damage than any of the other Reds.

Back on the armour vs artillery front, the Whippet finally put paid to the gunners, who certainly wouldn't be going back to old Shanghai. It was, 'Cheerio, Chin, Chin' for them.

To make matters worse for the Bolshies, it seems that treachery was afoot, and, surprisingly, it was to be found among the Red sailors. Had the Krondstadt virus appeared earlier than thought?  Whatever the cause (and rumours that the dice-thrower had forgotten that he had placed a unit in a building, that his mind was on seed catalogues, can, of course, be discounted), the outcome was that the sailors had taken no part in the earlier fighting.

They, finally, managed one offensive action, but by then, the entire Red force had reached its:

'Exhaustion Point' (TM, Bob C.)  That brought all Red offensive operations to a halt.  The Whites, meanwhile, threw more troops across the rail line to support their armour, now free of any real threat:

And, among the buildings around Bowanski Junction, the Whites surged forward:

Driving the Reds back:

That was a delight. And I can recommend Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame to one and all. The ease of play that comes from a gridded table, and Bob's very nice card-driven mechanism for solo wargames, plus the 'Exhaustion Point', are all just the ticket.

Outside the Hobbit Bunker, and away from my lovely Jotul stove and wargame table, things are moving in the world of soil and growth. I was able to spend a couple of hours on my allotment plot, tackling demented brambles that have only been very roughly looked after for the last two years. That means a really good cut-back now.  And although the rest of the plot is just a sodden wilderness of mud and tufts of grass, it is still time to put the seed potatoes in their 'chitting' phase:

'Charlotte', 'Pentland', and 'King Edward'.

Saturday, 4 March 2017


... match at Bowanski Junction.

The portabling resumed today, in between my peering at hellebores, narcissi, primroses, and other growing things.  Along with haircut, family stuff, DIY shop, and suchlike Saturday stuff.

The Reds had the initiative, turning up a run of red cards.  The Red artillery were first into action, hammering away at the White armour:

This photo (above) seems to show that the Reds on this front have picked up some Warlord support, probably temporary, while the gold lasts. Mind you, they got the range:

Now the White whippet has two hits; one more, and it's 'cheerio, chin, chin'.

On the Reds' left, three Bolshie units pushed into the railway station and town.  Street fighting, and house-to-house. But the Whites made good use of having got there first, and it was the nasty Bolshies taking the casualties at Bowanski Junction:

After a run of red cards, a black was turned up (courtesy of Rubens), and the initiative passed to the Whites.

The French 'advisers' stormed in to lend their allies some support, and helped drive the Reds back.  The Bolsheviks seem to be taking casualties too quickly, and their commander is probably checking his 'Strength Points' and 'Exhaustion Point' (c. Bob C):

Containing the Reds at the rail head, the Whites pushed some units across the rail line itself, hoping to support their isolated armour, and head off any outflanking effort by the Red cavalry.

To be continued...