Saturday, 26 October 2013

What every wargamer wants

Based on the amount of coverage in the review pages of wargames magazines and the advertising on TMP it is clear that what all wargamers want are large wargames figures. 28mm for preference.

More specifically they want large, semi clad, female wargames figures.

As a historical wargamer writing a blog this presents me with a slight issue. Apart from amazons (who are mythical) very little of this nature tends to turn up in my periods of interest.

Until now.

Those of us who own a copy of Duncan Head's seminal "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars" will be familiar with illustration 94, "Indian Palace Guardswoman". Although Duncan clearly states that is is doubtful that such units ever saw action on the battlefield that doesn't stop people making models of them.

Furthermore, if you happen to buy four boxes of Hat figures, where you get one female guardsman on a sprue, and there are four sprues in a box you end up with 16 figures.

Which is enough, exactly, for an infantry unit. So here they are:

I think I should also note at this point that they probably served as cavalry when outside the palace. Still, that's a heavy infantry unit and if I bury it at the back of the army who's to notice.

And in other news, just finished a command chariot.

You can tell he's in command, 'cos he's got an umbrella.

Friday, 25 October 2013

NQMing on the Eastern Front

The background to this game can be found over at Chris Kemp's NQM site. This is an account, given from the Russian perspective and as such is completely free from any taint of bias that you may get from either a German or an umpire's account of the game.

We were down to two players and an umpire for this, due to two Monday Nighter's dropping out. Even so, we played a lot of scenario in a short time and got Chris the campaign answers he wanted.

Due to the wonders of the internet I was able to get the map for the game before hand and set the terrain up. We're playing on the light green cloth in the middle of the table, giving the two ends for figure and kit storage. The game area is about 10' x 5'. The terrain is slightly distorted, but this represents about 350 - 400km, I think.

The black strips are bitumen roofing felt, and represent railway tracks. Chris is currently setting out Germans on the main road. Stalingrad is in the far left corner. Chris kindly "forgets" to bring a box along each time we play NQM so I have to fill the gaps with my toys. This gives me a bit more ownership, which is nice. In this game you'll spot some of my RCW infantry and also some SCW Condor Legion and Soviet supplied equipment from time to time.

This is the view from the other end of the table.

Stalingrad hasn't been attacked yet, so the buildings are in one piece. I think these are GW WH40k Epic city blocks.

One thing as a Russian at this stage of the war is that Chris gives you your kit and you put it out, feeling quite good about the numbers and so on. Then he starts to layout the Germans, and the boxes of armour just keep on coming. All you've got is an armoured car recce unit.

This column isn't even finished from Chris' box and then he tells you Phil is bringing even more. Including Hungarian SS units. And a pontoon bridge unit. We had so many units on the table that Chris has resorted to giving them little paper name tags so we can keep up with what is going on.

The opening attack of the game was the German attempt to seize the railway junction at Borisoglebsk. This was defended by a Soviet Rifle Division of the 9th Army, supported by the army's heavy artillery. Being Russian this of course didn't fire in the first turn as the Panzers stormed up to the junction.

However, thanks to the "Joy of Six" my lightly armed troops gave the medium armoured Panzers a spanking in the first round of combat. This strong point was intended to stop the German armoured thrust in its tracks whilst I tore into it from the flanks and 3rd Cossacks and 24 Armd Div punched the head of the column in, and it seemed to be delivering.

As you can see from this panorama shot.

Be nice to have just a tincy-wincy bit more armour (BTW my BT-5 and T-26s are proxies for T34/76s) but we make do with what we are allowed.

Having been bounced by the troops in the junction, the Panzers pile on without drawing breath, leaving the assault to some slightly less well armoured forces.

These likewise got the worst of the combat, and were stalled on the outskirts until reinforced. I was then able to close with the column head with my tanks.

It was all looking rather good, with the Germans strung out and at my mercy:

The action round the rail junction got quite heated, and the Germans finally succeeded in winning the fire fight by one hit, enabling them to close assault my troops, secure in the built up area.

I was feeling quite good about this. Phil's Germans had very few infantry stands (I outnumbered him in that arm), and on the previous run throughs troops in built up areas can be real b*gg*rs to winkle out as you fight your way in, one stand at a time. I'd be able to hold him up for a good couple of phases whilst I thumped the road column and inflicted casualties on his limited resources in the town.

Then, apparently, Phil got to roll a dice, and on getting a 6 I was told that my troops, despite beating off three assaults, seeing a Panzer formation flee from them and threatened by very little infantry panicked and surrendered because the Germans were going to drive a few Panzers into a built up area. A built up area I had been occupying and been able to fortify, supported by army level heavy artillery. You can see my lads tamely walking off as prisoners with little white pins on their bases. From Heroes of the Soviet Union putting in for Guard status for the next game, to cage fodder and a bullet in the back of the head at the end of the war in one die roll.

There was nothing for it but to charge into the Fascists on the main road and kick the sh*t out of them, and hopefully drive them to their deaths in the Volga River.

It actually went very well. I recce'd most of the column pretty well, and even when I didn't I blundered into them and rolled pretty good dice in the combats.

At the head of the column my armour and cossacks drove the Panzers back. Alas they got caught in the flank as the Panzers that had overrun the railway junction ran through the area, rounded up the prisoners and sent them to the rear and then launched an attack without, apparently, drawing breath or needing to reorganise.

The rest of the German column, however, had effectively been broken and was streaming away from the railway line. As they were motorised and I wasn't some of the units outpaced me. Others ran into my pursuit columns or just, as predicted, got trapped up against the river.

Okay, so I got bounced just north of the railway junction, which lead to my artillery being overrun, but even so the Germans haven't got to Stalingrad and they're pretty roughed up.

I even captured their pontoon bridge.

An action packed evening. A real, big, thanks, to Chris for putting it on. He now needs to work on a few more campaign moves before we revisit the table top. By then I might have some proper armour.

BTW You'll see out the back of some units little tags reading "Conscript" of "workers" etc. These don't relate to this game, but to the "Return to the River Don" RCW game.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Indian Eye Candy

As a filler post whilst I work on something more meaty ("How To Choose Projects" and another Eastern Front Operational Wargame) here's some shots of the progress on the Hydaspes Indians:

One box of elephants completed!

Cavalry at full strength for AMW

Some skirmish javelins

Skirmish tribal infantry

Massed archers

Massed spears

The nascent army on parade
 More chariots on the desk, half painted.

Shaping up nicely.

Thursday, 17 October 2013


As the first of our now regular Monday Night games on a Wednesday we had a special request to try the Sumerians with Armati. Will thought, after last week's game, that Armati would fit the bill perfectly. Phil thought that Armati for the Biblical Period was broken. Ian thought he didn't really understand how these things work. I thought where am I going to get Army Lists from? I don't know what Chris thought, but he turned up anyway.

I based the troop types initially on the Akkad list posted on Warfloot. My figures are based up slightly differently, anyway (too much SI, not enough LI) so it was always going to be different. Furthermore I needed to address one of the more gross distortions that arise in Biblical Armati (ie that non-key light troops make short shrift of key chariot units).

All of this sounds much more technical and a lot less fun than I'd normally like. Still, armed with the official explanation of how Armati troops values are calculated, I set to working out a couple of lists, one with earlier shielded infantry, and one with cloaks for protection. I mainly focussed on balancing the core units. The bonus units would have to rely on what I'd actually got.

In the early period units are pretty lightweight. No serious heavy cavalry and so on, so the most a unit comes out at is 8 points. This means that in an army where you are picking 95 points in the core and a bonus list of up to 70 points you need a lot of units to make up the numbers.

The only change I made to the normal army listings was to make Light Infantry Key Units.

So I ended up with two lists, a "Sumerian" and an "Akkadian". Shielded Infantry have an Fv of 5, and +2 prot, Cloaked Infantry are FV 6, 1 prot. I made battle carts Medium Chariots, FV3, but with impetus.

We had a good turnout, with Ian and Chris taking on Will and Phil. I'd initially partnered Ian and did the deployment, but got out of it when it looked like it was going to fall apart just as Chris arrived. With cake..

Will went for a big long line. I went for my Heavy Infantry being screened by lots of skirmishers.

There wasn't a lot of tactical finesse. We started off with a slightly staggered approach.

The units being held back have got bows mixed in with them, and we were hoping to make dents with these as Will closed the distance. No point in us advancing and reducing the number of turns archery we would get in.

You'll note, if you count them up, that Will's army has an extra chariot unit. We had more LI bows to compensate. Ian had charge of the right flank and decided to take on the whole of Will's left flank (commanded by Phil) with just his light infantry javelins.

This might seem a bit daft, but Ian knew what he was doing, and continued to roll 5s & 6s consistently. Will and Phil were really under the cosh on this flank. Alas at the far end of the table Chris was unable to make his preponderance of archery prevail.

Ian got his chariots into action and managed to absorb a lot of combat with his lights. Eventually he won through, breaking all Phil's chariots and killing his general, for the loss of his light infantry.

However in order to exploit this victory he needed to get out of the way of Phil's other troops and turn his battle carts round, before being taken in the flank and rear.

And then Ian & Chris lost two Light Infantry units on the far flank and the army broke.

All very unsatisfactory.

All the issues with Biblical Armati (and, indeed, the rather tortuous geometry of it) came back to bite us. Phil summed up the problems with my making LI key succinctly, and made another sensible solution (allowing chariots to have impetus against ALL units in the first round of contact that they outscore).

However the general mood of the meeting was that we'd had a better game with AMW variant the previous week. Phil wants to have a go without the squares, which I'll need to do a bit of work on to keep the other changes I've made. That'll be a week or so. NQM next week, and then the following week is the funeral, so no game then. Perhaps early November.

Can't beat a shieldwall tho':

Saturday, 12 October 2013

How to finish a wargames project

As Prufrock has asked the question I will endeavour to explain how I approach completing a wargames project. For the purposes of this post I will confine myself to the production of the painted figures to the point at which they can be deployed upon the table and used. For me that means everything painted and based to the same standard and requiring no further work. I'm afraid I feel that fielding units with partially painted figures is a bit of a cop-out unless you are developing and playtesting rules at the same time.

In practice there is nothing more difficult in completing a wargame project than there is in giving up smoking or losing weight. You just have to want to do it. There are simple rules you can put in place to help you, but ultimately it comes down to a matter of willpower*. These simple rules are the equivalent of not having sweets or crisps in the house if you want to lose weight, or not going to smoky places if you want to stop smoking. They're not the answer but they are simple steps on the way.

The simple answer is decide what you want to do, buy the figures and paint them. Don't buy anything else until you've finished what you've bought. At the extreme end of this spectrum don't even buy anything else for this army unless it is absolutely essential and you forgot it first time round (eg I forgot to order all the HMGs for my SCW armies). If going to a show tempts you too much that you just have to buy something Don't go to shows. If you get the same problems with reviews and adverts in magazines Don't buy them. If you have to, get your partner to cut out the review pages, or hide them away until your current project is finished. Then indulge in an orgy of magazine back issue catch up when the army is done. If this makes you feel uncomfortable or you think it is stupid you are showing all the symptoms of addiction and you need to beat it and there is no wargaming equivalent of methadone or nicotine patches. I'm not kidding. Buying figures you'll never paint is like buying cigarettes when you know they are bad for you. They give you a buzz, then you have to do it again, all the while it's making you feel worse. Warbored WarehouseTM, nice blokes tho' they are, are not your best mates because they seem to like you and talk to you when you bump into them at a show. They want to sell you stuff, and what's more they don't care if you don't paint the toys. That's why they're prepared to stand there and let you talk drivel at them. They know you'll be back to buy more of their latest game and figures because that's what addicts do. They are the equivalent of your local pusher. Put it another way, - do you think that all those celebrity chefs lose any sleep at night because their name branded pasta or ice cream maker is shoved to the back of a kitchen cupboard, never to see the light of day? Next year they'll sell you a boxed set of Boers, mounted & dismounted. I mean yoghurt maker. Or whatever. Well, you know what I'm getting at.

If you find this view tough,  focus on the prize at the end of completing this army, which is two fold:

  1. You have an army to play with
  2. You can now buy more toys
Okay, enough of upsetting everyone. What are my other handy tips?

Firstly, now, I buy all the figures I think I'm going to need up front. I'll have worked it out from the rule book or from what I think my rules will look like when I write them. That means, when I finish them, that I'll actually be able to use them. I do buy odds and ends to add to other armies when I see something that fits, but these are only odds and ends (eg I'm looking to add some Peter Pig Quad AA guns to the back of a Zvezda truck to go with my SCW stuff. I'll buy that and paint it when I see the bits despite me working on Indians. It is a minor diversion. I WON'T buy two or three regiments of Falange at the same time as that represents too much of a distraction). These are what, in project land, are called "quick wins". This is not the same as an impulse buy.

Secondly, when I worked out what I wanted I did it on a spreadsheet, so I know exactly what units I'm aiming to paint and can track them if I need to. For my current project Plastic Soldier Review was really helpful as it showed the contents of each box, including the poses, so I knew what I needed and what I was getting. When I finish the last three Sumerian units there will not be a single figure from the boxes I bought unused.

Thirdly, particularly with figures sold in packets, I open the packets and sort them into units and put each unit into a ziplock bag. These then go into a box, lined up so I can see what I've got to do. It'll often have the unit name on a slip of paper tucked inside, with any organisational bits that aren't obvious (eg "Add trumpeter to rifle base not command stand"). I usually also put them in the order they need to be done. Consequently I'm not just painting random stuff, I'm painting to a plan. I do, on occasion, make up small cards with what paint colurs I'm using for what so I can swap around between types of unit and still get a consistent outcome.

Fourthly I have a streamlined painting system using tinted varnish to finish the figures off. I wrote about the method in November 2009: Painting Toy Soldiers (1) is the first posting, I thing there's about 5 in total. One of the key points is to devise a methodology that has breaks at appropriate times to allow drying overnight when needed. I long ago gave up trying to paint all that detail on 28mm figures, or even to paint like people who paint them. The currently accepted modern technique produces something that doesn't look real, same as a child always painting water blue. We all agree it, but it doesn't make it true. Having said that you could still finish such armies if you apply enough will power and organisation to the project.

Fifthly make sure you have a regular painting slot and your partner agrees that it is your painting slot and not just a block of free time to be filled up with other stuff. The advent of record and catch up TV means that you can still spend time with your loved one watching your favourite soap or crime drama. It just doesn't have to be done when it's going out live. I used to paint for an hour every evening Monday - Thursday from about 7:30pm to 8:30pm. By that point we'd have had dinner, done the washing up and tidied away. When I'd done that Mrs T and I could sit down, play a board game or watch a couple of Star Trek episodes on DVD (I know how to live). Fridays evenings are reserved for family time. At other times of my life it's been two hours on Sunday morning. One of our group who is retired gets up an hour earlier than his wife and just "potters about". He then complains he doesn't have time to paint. Why not do it then, before breakfast? The important thing is that everyone who has calls on your time understands that this is your time to do this one thing. The Quid Pro Quo is to have time for them when it isn't that time. Otherwise you have a painted army and a note telling you you're being divorced.

Finally, look for the affordable short cuts. use pre-cut bases so nothing stops you on your quest. No need to go off and cut the board. Just stick and go. It'll save you half an hour you can spend on painting. Use hot melt glue when you can. It's nearly as strong as PVA, and fixes immediately so you can paint it. Use acrylic paints. Use quick drying varnish. Every 15 minutes you shave off here of there is more brush on figure time.

Oh. And don't write a blog. Takes up way too much time.

* Or cash. If you can pay someone to paint your figures for you, you can finish pretty much anything.

Friday, 11 October 2013

A bit of eye candy

Everyone must do this when they have a bit of time on their hands. Here's a couple of pictures of all of my Hat phalangites put together in a single block in the ranks the designers intended. I think.

Nothing particularly clever, just something we've all done.

Alexander's finest foot. More or less.

View from the back ranks
I've also added a few more troop types to the Indian army. The chariot assembles really well, but you have to be precise with positioning the crew.

Nearly enough for a DBA Army. If I had more elephants

There's that chariot. Lots more of them to do
Cavalry close up

Two more elephants gluing on the painting table (or perhaps even gluing to the painting table, - I must check them) and a unit of shielded javelin men to follow. Once I finally done with the last three units of Sumerians.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Sumerians on Squares

This Tuesday's game for the Monday Night team was a return to the Sumerians and AMW. Since we last played I thought that the game would be improved by moving onto a square based system. This simplifies movement and so enables more complexity elsewhere. I wanted to do something with the Battle Cart turning circles and also incorporate post-melee push backs unless units are supported.

We had a good turnout, with Phil & Will taking on Ian. Ian, after all, is the "biblical" period expert so should be able to cope on his own.

For this game the armies have been considerably "up-gunned" and now consist of 16 units aside. There are another 4 infantry units on the sidelines in various states of preparedness, then that'll be it. I've added heavy infantry and more skirmishers (including the bow conversions shown before)  and also settled on three figures on a 60mm x 30mm base for my massed archer units. That's a compromise between the needs of different rule sets and also an attempt to maximise the number of units I can get out of the boxes(with four to a base I get 2 unis. With 3 to a base and added officer figures I get three units.

The table was flat with one side closed off by a mostly decorative irrigation canal.

The army to the left has a higher proportion of archers, whilst the army to the left has more shielded infantry. Will & Phil have the army to the right.

The game started with a general advance by both sides, although Phil was concerned by his right flank where Ian had an advantage in the number of chariots/battle carts.

This advantage on his left meant that Ian was vulnerable on his right, where Will had a chariot unit that made quick ground and looked like it would turn the flank.

Will got this chariot into a position where it could javelin one of Ian's heavy archer units. The other two are at the other end of the battle line, and by this point have pushed forwards too far, so Phil's infantry have been able to close the gap and get into close combat. He also cleverly drew off some of the shooting with his light troops. The light troop/chariot maelstrom at the top of the picture probably defies description. Suffice it to say that Ian is making a complete hash of destroying a unit of slingers. Having failed to follow up and wipe them out when the opportunity occurred he end up getting himself isolated and surrounded. One of the lessons learned here was that light infantry working together are a good way of messing up chariots.

In the middle the infantry lines clashed. I think they look mighty fine.

The units in the squares in the second row are providing support and preventing pushbacks. Pushbacks are calculated after morale checks when the side with total losses (including morale losses) is pushed back a square. If their opponents follow up they get +1 die per base the following round. I should also point out here that heavy units fight across a square's boundary edge. To fight a light unit you have to move into its square. That gives light units a chance to throw javelins and evade heavy infantry should they wish to.

Ian's weak link turned out to be his heavy archers, at the top of the picture. Their shooting was ineffective, partly because they split between different targets and so the spearmen were at full strength when they charged home. Rolling twice as many dice was too much for the archers, who caved in. They didn't have any rear support either to stop pushbacks. Ian's line got broken and turned, at both ends.

Ian had a last chance with his chariots on his left. If he could prevail here and turn his chariots into the end of Phil & Will's line he might be able to roll them up and save the day. Alas Phil was too wily for him and drew him further away from the action. In the middle it all just fell apart.

Phil & Will ran out winners in what for most of the evening was a tense, close game.

The post game debrief focussed on whether the squares were a good idea or not. I think they help with battle field management and by simplifying movement speed the game along. Not everyone concurred. Other points raised were whether in a squares based game some type of light troop interpenetration should be allowed or not. We also had a protracted discussion on what missiles should be allowed a pre-charge shot. Basic AMW only allows javelins to do so, but there is a good case for allowing it for slings as they can be charged from outside their range as well.

I also allowed shooting to take place at any point in the game turn but I can't see this experiment being persisted with.

What battle carts/chariots actually did in battle continues to tax us. Phil had brought along Stillman's "Chariot Wars" supplement for Warhammer ancients. Under these they are even more harshly treated than by Neil Thomas in AMW: they only get to move on a 4,5,6. I simply don't get this. Building chariots and linking them up to animals is an expensive business. It's a prestige weapon and if it is only effective half the time then you just don't build them. It's a waste of resources. Is it the case that it's just a platform that brings heros & kings to the battle then retires? If so, why equip it with javelin holsters? It has to be a combat platform.

Ian is going off to do more research. He keeps e-mailing me with academic treatises on the Sumerians, so perhaps we'll find more clues. I'm in the odd position here of having all of the toys but two of my regulars knowing more about the period than I do.

PS The more eagle eyed of you will have noticed that the table looks bigger. It is. I've added an extension board to make it another 18" longer. That's partly why I used a cloth as well. It needs painting, having previously been the door to my son's wardrobe.

Monday, 7 October 2013

And the next big thing is.....

After some rather grownup and non-wargaming postings it is about time to get back to the normal subject of the blog.

I acquired a large number of Hat plastics last month as a birthday present from me to me. A lot of them are Alexander period Indians, which I thought I would start on now just in case the Society of Ancients chooses Hydaspes as the subject for its battleday in 2015.

I've finished the first few "test" units. These often have a slightly different painting style to those that follow as I work out what looks best and, just as importantly, what is the simplest/quickest to do. Quite pleased with the results so far, although the plastic is a bit soft. All of the various bits that required assembly went together well and the detail is good and clear to pick out. Not a lot of pose choices for the infantry, but I quite like that.

A Heavy Archer unit
An Indian elephant. Well, obviously.
Some cavalry, complete with standard.
All lined up and ready to go
The figures are painted in acrylics, as usual, with a coat of Ronseal Quick Drying Antique Pine Wood Varnish. This has worked really nicely on the fabric folds, I'm sure you'll agree.

There's a chariot and two units of light infantry on the painting desk awaiting further attention, but over the last day or so I've been working on some more Sumerians. Once these are done I have to decide whether to press on and just plough through the Indians or alternate units with the Assyrians I bought at the same time. Whatever I decide its important to have a plan that delivers completed armies rather than leaves me with piles of unpainted figures.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Thank You and some thoughts.

(Since I originally wrote this post it has easily become one of my most popular pieces of writing, topping the number of daily hits ever since.  It's now about fourth or fifth on the list of most read blogs since I started four years. However, I can't work out where the hits are coming from. If you are not a follower of the blog who just found it by chance, I'd appreciate it if you'd just leave a comment.



Thank you to those of you who passed on your condolences either through the blog or directly to me. Losing both parents inside 3 months has been a bit disconcerting. Suddenly I'm an orphan when I've spent the last few months sorting affairs out to fund a care home stay for up to 10 years for my mother. Most of the last five years my weekends at the very least have been spent visiting and helping out my parents as they became increasingly frail so there is a genuine hole in my life right now.

Having been through bereavement twice recently I thought I'd share some thoughts with you all on the process if you have this all to come. These thoughts apply to people living in England & Wales who die in hospital. I think they are pretty generally applicable as I've gone through the process with two different hospitals in two different Local Authorities. Scotland is slightly different, I think, and I've no idea about the US or Canada. Or Australia. I'm also assuming that you are the Executor for the Will. If your parents do not have a will, get them to make one and also make sure you know where it is.
  1. You will receive a call from a nurse on the Ward who suggests you might like to come in as the patient's condition is deteriorating. This means, - get here quick, they're going to die. If you get to the Ward and they ask you to step into an office first, you are too late.
  2. If you are not too late you will probably end up having a conversation with a Doctor about wishes in respect of Resuscitation. Both my parents had made it clear to me (and my brother) that they did not want to be resuscitated. It was really helpful knowing this.
  3. When you have finally said good bye to your loved one you will ask yourself, or even ask a nurse, "What Happens Now". They will have a booklet for you called something like "What Happens Now" or "What Happens Next". This will contain a lot of useful tips on what you have to do, where to get counselling and so on.
  4. From now on where ever you go for this take a form of ID with you. Ideally both your passport and your Driving Licence. You are going to be getting people to change official records and ths paranoid age you will have to prove you are who you are.
  5. In practice what you need to do next is get the death certificate from the hospital. You'll pick this up from the Bereavement Office. You'll have to call them the following day to arrange to pick it up (the number will be in the booklet). This may take longer if it is a sudden death (ie within 24 hours of admission) and the Coroner has to be consulted.
  6. I've had two Bereavement Office experiences, one good, one less so. They are supposed to have the deceased's personal effects  for you to collect as well. You may have to go up to the ward to get them however if they Office is useless doesn't have them.
  7. The Office will give you a folder of information. Make sure the envelope with the certificate is in it. It is possible for the office to overlook this simple fact. The envelope is sealed and must remain so until it is given to the Registrar. Ask the Bereavement Office to give you the cause of death and also the name of the Doctor who signed the form. This is important as the two biggest problems at the Registrars Office are that the family don't agree the cause of death or the Registrar can't read the Doctor's signature.
  8. You then make an appointment with the Registrar. Actually you can do this when you know you can pick up the certificate as the Registrar may actually have an office in the hospital or be within walking distance. Make sure you take any birth and marriage certificates with you and the deceased's National Insurance number and any other official documentation like NHS card.
  9. The Registrar will record the death and give you a copy of the Register entry (what everyone calls the "Death Certificate"). They'll offer to give you further copies for £4 each. It's cheaper to get them at that point. I took three each time, which was more than adequate unless your family's financial affairs are really complicated.
  10. In the UK you are now offered access to the "Tell Us Once" service. Either the Registrar will do this, or you'll be given a registration number by the Registrar to put in a website. You then answer a few questions and all local and national government agencies (including HMRC) are advised in one go. When you finish a handy checklist of other people to advise pops up.
  11. You can now start to tell people about the death. Gas, Electric, Water and so on. Check their websites first to see if they have a direct Bereavement contact telephone number. That way you'll avoid any issues with staff asking to talk to the deceased as you're not the account owner.
  12. You'll have to see banks and building societies in person as they'll want to take a copy of the death certificate. If you are not a customer of the same institution you will need your ID as mentioned above.
  13. I did Probate myself for my father, and I'm doing it for my mother. The on-line resources are pretty good from the Justice Department and so on and the forms aren't as awful as you might expect. You start with form PA1 and you'll also need IHT205 or IHT400 from HMRC.
  14. You can contact a funeral director at any point in the process after the actual death. We took a day or so as we wanted to speak to one of the Monday Night Group who is also a Church of England minister to get a recommendation. 
  15. It really helps to have a robust hardback notebook with you when you go to do anything and also when you phone people. I made notes of as much as I could as I found my memory didn't work as well as I'd have liked. You need to keep lists of who you need to tell, when you told them and what the outcome was. It makes life easier in the long run.

Arranging the funeral itself is so personal I make no further comment.