Thursday, 31 May 2012

It's Deja Vu all over again

Caption on a photo in the Independent today:

"Civil Guards clash with demonstrating miners in northern Spain yesterday"

Well, at least they don't wear those tricorn hats anymore, - riot helnets are so much more in fashion these days.

And there was no evidence of dinamiieros in action that I can see.

What do they say - "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it"?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Spanish Grand Opening

As a grown-up I have access to a large garage. This houses the car during the winter, but in late Spring it is given over to its prime purpose, - acting as a wargames room.

The exact timing of the grand opening of the garage for wargaming each year varies. I have been guilty in the past of being too eager and nearly given friends pneumonia in early May. Having said that last year it served well in April as we had the unseasonably warm weather around the time of the Royal Wedding.

This year I left it until the last Monday in May (ie yesterday), hoping to benefit from the lovely weather we've been having. In celebration of the opening I finally got down to writing up my corps/army level SCW rules so we could make the most of this opportunity. This meant some juggling round of my weekend activities so that I could fit in everything and still set the table up. The challenge for me at the moment is getting back from work in time to set up the game for an 8pm-ish start, but if I can do it on the Sunday that makes it all possible. That's important as with the current job commitments and commuting four hours a day my remaining time to wargame is precious to me.

So Monday turned out to be a disappointment as one by one the Monday Night Group dropped out during the day, leaving me with a large game set up and no players. There was nothing for it then, having watched the Test highlights on catch up TV, to run it solo. Luckily the design at the moment is open with no hidden movement.

The system at the moment is a mash up between SNTK and a set I wrote a number of years ago called "Red Army, White Guards",(RAWG) which is a RCW set that plays on a six inch square offset grid (ie it works like a hex grid without actually being one).
The table from behind the
 Nationalist lines
I set up a Nationalist attack by some Legion, Falange and Regular Army on an entrenched position guarding a road held mostly by a motley collection of militias and some International Brigades.
The Republicans' front line

The Nationalists are nearest the camera, and there's a fair sprinkling of olive groves and other bits of cover to help them out. In this system cover prevents you from being easily observed and so shot at. Once you are acquired as a target it is only solid buildings and trenches that save you from serious damage.

In order to get the staccato movement from either side that I have in SNTK I've adopted a different approach. You have to roll to activate each battalion/unit. the base roll is quite easy, but when transitioning from one type of unit to another(eg Legion to Falange, or Anarchist to Communist militia) it becomes harder. If one side fails an activation then play passes to the opponent who does the same until he fails. play passes back and forth until everything has moved twice.

Falange command stand with a die
 showing current EDNA score
Fails can be overridden by command bases, but these have to pass an EDNA* test to be able to do so (you can see the Nationalist command groups clustered around the Divisional commander in the village. They're made up of chaps with flags and a Pz1 command tank).

The militia finally get it together -
 although there's need for some commend
intervention in the middle.
Serendipity sometimes gives you a real narrative. The Nationalist left wing  of Legion moved into the olive groves, spearheaded by some Condor Legion armour. After a successful brigade move the order to fire the artillery got mislaid, passing the turn to the Republic. They in turn start to get ready, by issuing Reserve Fire orders all along their trench line. Alas a dispute between the anarchists communists meant that the order didn't get passed. Repeatedly.

The Legion surge through the Olive Grove
This enabled the Nationalists to move up the rest of their line and ineffectually open fire with their artillery (a whole series of 1s & 3s made artillery a complete waste of time so far).

A white puff of smoke and a black ring.
Some Condors aren't going home
The Condor Legion decided to overawe the militias by pushing forward one of the armoured companies. This immediately provoked the Republican artillery to switch targets and bring down fire upon them. I was using the armour rules from SNTK as those in RAWG never really worked and in any event relied on playing cards, and this is not a playing card game. The moment the artillery acquired and hit the target (note to self to look at hit factors) I realised I was knocking out a whole company in one shot. So armoured vehicles now take three hits to destroy, but have a degraded fire effect with each hit.

Which is about where I left the game, with the Nationalists poised in the olive groves and the Republicans lining their trenches with safety catches off.

*Ever Decreasing Number Allowance. An idea of Graham Hockley's. You allocate a score for something to happen. You roll less than that number for it to succeed. If you equal or exceed the number you fail and reduce the EDNA by one (or the amount of the failure difference) for the next roll.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


A Call It Qids FAQ blog

Now that the Society of Ancients' membership has received this year's incentive game here's a summary of questions we've been asked plus a load I made up to pad out the blog entry. Some have only been asked once, so "Frequently" is pushing the point a bit, - however, here they all are collected in one place.

Q: I'm not a SoA member. Where can I get a copy?

A: You should be able to buy it from the on-line store in due course from here: SoA Games Store.
In the meantime you can get it from the Society's stand at shows.

Q: Where can I play it before I buy? 

A: Depending on who is there, the show version may be available on the Society's stand at various wargames shows this year. I'll be there with it at Derby in October, for example.

Q: Is there something wrong with my copy, and does it matter?

 A: Well, yes there most probably is. A problem at the printers means that the centre four page spread has been put in the booklet the wrong way round. It's easy enough to open the staples and flip it if you have a modelling knife, but in practice it only means that the examples of play are out of sequence so you could leave it as it is..

Q: Wouldn't this have been avoided if you'd put page numbers in it?

A: Who can say? The printers were given the booklet in a pdf format, with the pages in sequence. I was going to put page numbers on the booklet but they looked ugly on the page border. On reflection I could have put them in a nice looking cartouche, but it is too late now (unless it sells really well and the SoA want to do a reprint.

Q: How long should it take to play?

A: A normal game takes about 30 minutes or so. As it's a historical refight the best thing to do is play it twice with each of you taking opposite sides, then comparing the results.

Q: Why do the Hittites always go first?

A: Well, it is an ambush....however we've played it with the Egyptians going first and it gives a more historical outcome  - i.e. the Egyptians, particularly Pre - take a real hammering in the early phases, then Ramesses has to claw it back through personal bravery and the timely intervention of the Nearin.

If you want to stretch Pre out even more, then don't let the Hittites move until the turn after they take off the activation tiles.

Q: Can camp attackers pile up in different squares on different turns, and wait for a later turn to launch the 'first assault'?

A: Yes they can, although it isn't recommended.

Q: What happens if one of the Pre chariots breaks through and warns the camp?

A: This has only happened once, and never in play testing so it isn't covered in the rules. However, I suggest you modify the "running away" die roll so that Amun & the Sherden only flee on a 1-2 instead of a 1-4.

Q: If Ramses attacks a square with, say, four Hittite chariots in it and kills one, does he have to follow up and enter the square with the remaining Hittites? If this is the case, would the Hittites in their next turn still roll a die to see how many of them could attack Ramses in their own square?

A:Yes, Ramses has to move into the square.  In the next move you have a number of options. If you want you can attack Ramses with the chariots in the square, but they can't move once you've done that. Alternatively you can roll to move into that square and attack with those you move AND the guys left in the square.

Q:Egyptian units can enter the camp if it is unoccupied by Hittites in the same turn they enter one of the surrounding squares (and can then attack a surrounding square also in the same turn). If later in the game, the camp is unoccupied or occupied by Hittites, can the Hittites do the same or do they need to enter the surrounding square and then roll again in the next turn to go into the camp?

A:The camp is different for the Egyptians and the Hittites. The Hittites derive no benefit from it, so they can't get a "pass through" attack like the Egyptians. They also don't get any benefit for defending it or fighting from it .

Q: When the Nearin are activated, are they put on the board in the same turn that they are triggered ie in the Egyptian go straight after the Hittites hit a camp target or make all the camp folk flee or is it in the next turn? 

A: It's the same turn, so the Egyptians do not get any Nearin that would have been placed in the rurn track that turn.

Q: Baggage units - does the requirement to stick with baggage override the requirement to move into a square up to the maximum possible? 

A: Where the accompanying infantry unit goes, the baggage goes also.  Baggage does not count towards units moved (e.g. if you roll a '3' for moving into a square, you could move in, say, a chariot, two infantry and two baggage counters accompanying the infantry)

Q: Attacking the camp worked example (1).  The last sentence could be a bit misleading as the Nearin are only activated when the camp is attacked and a hit scored or if all the camp units except Ramses flee?

A: Yes, reading it again it could be misleading. What it refers to is the number of Nearin units that arrive, - ie if you delay another turn then there's more Nearin on the move track to deploy when the attack happens.

Q: The booklet says it's written by Ian Russell Lowell, so who are you to put together this faq list?

A: Well I did the page layout and put the final booklet together and so on. Whilst the game is Ian's the regular Northampton Monday Night team all had some input into the design with mechanisms coming from a number of different people, - and as I built the show presentation version I've probably played it more than anyone else.

Q: Is this the last question on the FAQ list?

A: Why, yes it is.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Run wild, run free

A posting on the SoA forum advised me that Call it Qids has been posted out. Well, at least two people have got it and one of them seems to have read the booklet (or maybe just the rules perhaps) as well. I haven't had my posted out copy, so I don't know if the problem associated with the copy Phil gave me from the shows box has translated into a membership wide issue.

The responses on the forum are positive, I think, although little criticisms do hurt, especially when you think they are invalid. Apparently the rules for the Nearin Division are vague. Well I went back and re-read them and I think it's quite clear how they work. You just hope that this judgement doesn't become replicated across the internet as before you know it the whole set of rules will be regared as vague and no one will play it.

So, Society members out there, bate your breath and wait for the package through the letter box.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

And in other news....

There's an update on Call it Qids below, but first an update on Monday's game and a few other things.

Due to train issues and general rushing about I forgot to take my camera on Monday evening so no pictures, but we had another rollicking game in the US-Mexican War as we followed the course of "manifest destiny" through Latin America.

This series of games has been put on by the newest member of our group (who I will refer to as "Richard" because that's his name), using Arty Conliffe's "Shako". I confess I'm still not a massive fan of these rules as they sometimes don't do things or give results in the way I think Napoleonic style games should. However, they hang together well enough, and give us a result in an evening, providing a number of interesting tactical decisions to make along the way. My fear is that they drive the player to rules based tactics to get a winning outcome, rather than playing intuitively, but that's true of a lot of rules.

Any how, I joined the Reverand Ian on the side of the Yankees, and faced off against the veteran Will (bolstered, as he was, by reading several articles on the war in the glossy mags) and Richard (or shouild I say "Ricardo"). The first short phase of the game was an argument between the two Yankee generals over the division of the attacking forces, which I won through several tactics. The principal of these was getting Ian to agree the split before he'd read the brief properly and was still making drinks. Cunning or what?

We had to drive across the table and exit the road opposite which would cause the Mexicans to rout, broadly speaking.

I adopted the tactic of spearheading the advance with the Texas Rangers, supported by four columns of infantry. The aim was to put the head down and run at them before their superior numbers enabled them to outflank us. Plus experience showed that our superior quality troops got good results by engaging in melee asap and our cavalry had a good chance of breaking any squares.

As it turned out this was a stroke of genius, allied as it was by Ian's feint to the left that drew the Mexican cavalry out wide. The Rangers broke two infantry units and pursued them off the board. This caused the Mexican army morale to drop further, so that when the infantry charge went in they rather melted away. Ian, on the other hand, was making rather a dog's breakfast of his attack, mainly by allowing himself to be hit by Mexican shooting. No matter, my brliiant bayonet charge caused a general Mexican army morale failure and they were soon streaming off the table edge.

It is fun to be playing Horse & Muskert without all the Napoleonic paraphenalia and Richard's linking together of the scenarios adds to the narrative. As I said, still not sure about Shsko, but if they give us an evening's entertainment then I'm not objecting.

On the SCW front SNTK are going through a bit of a revision before I put them out for general consumption. That's close to being finished, but alas the commuting is eating seriously into my game design time. I can type on the train if I know what I want to write, but for rule writing I need to be surrounded by bits of paper and reference books, and there isn't even that amount of space in a First Class carriage. On top of that ideas for a corp/army level SCW game keep crowding into my head. Tentatively called "SNTKs' Big Brother" it's probably too late to get them ready for CoW, but the arrival at last of some warm weather means that the big table is up in the garage so some play testing might start shortly.

And finally...Call it Qids is in print at last. There have been some issues with the printing which the Committee are looking at, but I've seen a copy and it looks jolly nice. Flicking through the pages I can see a couple of slight layout glitches and a couple of typos, - there's clear evidence of me rushing to meet a imposed deadline so as not to disappoint members and, I think, the work stress I was under at the time - but they don't really detract from the overall product.

I understand that a few copies were sold at Triples, which is great news. However whilst I'm pleased with the finished product - the map looks lovely, it really does - I think the Society should have let us have a colour cover. I think this will sell really well at shows as Kadesh is often mentioned and discussed, and the historical article is probably the best distillation of Ian's ideas on the battle he's written. It is of manageable length, covers all the main points and is well and cogently argued. I'm proud to have been associated with it.

Let me know what you think when it finally drops through your letter box.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Last Words

It is also widely believed that the men who fought on the Western Front to liberate Belgium and France were fools who blindly accepted the orders issued by butchers and bunglers which sent them to their deaths. The fact that both the soldiers and their generals actually won the war, and were mostly proud of their achievement, appears to have been lost somewhere along the way.

Paddy Griffith
The Great War on the Western Front

That's the last couple of lines in the last book Paddy had published (except, possibly for the Osprey on the Western Desert). It captures his style and incisive analytical style rather well. It's not a bad summary on the Great War either.

So you may surmise that I've just finished reading it. It's a short book (as promised) but it is also beautifully written with the mix of historical insight and sardonic wit anyone who know Paddy would expect from him.

Anyone who thinks they understand the Great War from reading Pat Barker and Sebastian Faulks should be given a copy of this and made to read it.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Another book or two on the pile

I just realised I didn't put up a summary of my Campaign purchases. How remiss of me, - after all, that's why we go to shows, isn't it? To buy stuff

On this occasion I contented myself with four books, all purchased from Mr L.

First up is a Pen and Sword English Civil War battle book. These sort of fill in the gaps for the battles that Peter Young never got round to doing, although not always in such detail. This one is Worcester, written by Malcolm Atkin. I've got a book or two on Worcester as we had a day's holiday there a year or so ago. This one looked to be in more detail and was written by a battlefield guide, so I'm hoping for good things from it.

Then I got another from the same series, “The Battles of Newbury” by Christopher Scott. Again, a battlefield guide and like Atkin's book above written after Wanklyn's “Decisive Battles...” which I think is important. In my view Wanklyn's book is one of the most important ECW books written in the last decade, - especially if you're a wargamer.

I made up a triumverate of ECW books with "Battle for London" by Stephen Porter and Simon Marsh. This covers the period round the rather non-battle of Turnham Green and the actions round Brentford. I always reckoned there was a proper game to be had from this, so hopefully the book will help me with that.

Lastly I got what was possibly Paddy Griffith's last published work, "The Great War on the Western Front - A Short History", written in 2007. I didn't  even know it existed, so I was a bit surprised (and also a trifle miffed Paddy didn't tell me, - I'd have bought a copy off him). I'm really looking forward to this one as I admired Paddy's work a lot and to find a book you haven't read is a real treasure.

Final thoughts on Campaign 2012

So. overall how did “Call it Qids” do? Up 'til now it has been played by our group and a wargaming friend from work, so a run out with the general wargaming public is a good test.

Compared to last year's effort, - “The Elephant in the Room” it has more of a “Hmmmm” factor that a “Wowww!” factor. People are intrigued by it without necessarily being immediately drawn in. However those people who played it really enjoyed it, and we had quite a different range of approaches to it as well. For me it is a less physically demanding game to run, - TEITR requires the person running the game to be constantly active, encouraging players, keeping the pace of the game up. I spend most of the day on my feet, bending forward over the table. CiQ is more sedate for me, - I get to sit down most of the time.

Over the weekend we had significantly more Hittite victories than Egyptian. I don't think this reflects the game balance, as most people will play the Egyptians given the choice, so I'm left with the Hittites, and I have played the game before once or twice. Opponents are reluctant to take my advice, no matter how it is offered. Sometimes you just can't throw a game away.

In the only game played by two novices Ramesses won easily, partly due to poor die rolling but also partly down to just bad playing by the Hittite player.

What did we learn about the game? In the game pack as it will soon be published (it is all ready to roll to SoA members, - I believe it is waiting for the mailing list) the Hittites always go first. I'm now leaning towards the view that actually for a more historical outcome the Egyptians need to get the ball rolling. I'm also of the view that the Hittites shouldn't be able to launch an attack on the camp until they have captured at least one piece of baggage, or turn 5, which ever is earliest.

And in the final game we had a unique instance in all of the dozens of play tests. An Egyptian chariot from Pre division managed to slip past the rampaging Hittite forces and give the Ramesses' camp a warning of the impending Hittite attack. In a hastily improvised rule change we changed the Egyptian camp rout test to a 4-6 rather than a 5,6 to stand. On reflection I'd say 3-6 in future, should it ever happen again (regardless of this heroic feat, I still managed to win the game as the Hittites).

So the game has survived first contact with the public. We played it about 12 times over the two days, and as stated above everyone enjoyed it, and no one had the bored “let me out of here” look on their face, - not even the two primary school aged children who took part.

What of the rest of the show? As I said over the weekend it looked to me as if there were fewer visitors, but Dave L said he'd a good weekend, with significant sales. I didn't speak in such terms to any other traders. We certainly didn't have as many people stand and chat, and we work at it.

The participation games all had high production standards. Lots of effort went into getting the figures and terrain right. There were also some nice ideas, - the Red Army search for Nazi scientists in the ruins of Berlin caught my eye, based as it is on real events (although I suspect it wasn't actually done like that....). However I continue to be frustrated by the people who put so much effort into producing the game and then don't engage with the audience. Shows shouldn't just be about showing off, they should be about getting people into the hobby. Filling a table with wall to wall 28mm lead and plastic then turning your back on the public isn't the way to do it.

The one honourable exception was Crooked Dice's “7TV” cult TV skirmish game, based loosely on Captain Scarlet, Austin Powers and Dr Who. It looked great and the guys running the game were actively getting kids involved. Well done to them.

Alas for me that's probably my only show until Derby in October. My original plan was to take CiQ round to a minimum of four shows, but my change in circumstances means that I'll almost certainly fall short of my target.

Any how, off to work now. I must post this whilst I've still got a signal on my netbook.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Campaign 2012 Update (4)

At last, - two punters turn up and play each other, rather than one of us. They're a father and (grown up) son pairing.

We also see the heaviest Egyptian Victory ever, being a 7-0 win and the entire Hittite frirst wave of chariots destroyed. And the scoring system only goes up to 6, and there's not outcome in the victory table allowing for either side to score Zero.

The Temple tribute walls tell a sorry tale. The Hittite cupboard in the background is empty, whilst the Egyptain's overflows
Ramesses captures Qids/Kadesh. A rare sight indeed
This game made it 2 - 2 on the day, although one Hittite win should be disregarded as it was obtained by one of the show team playing an old "friend" and proceeding to skewer him with every trick in the book.

I've also had a chance to look at some other games. Here's some pictures of "Crooked Dice"'s "Cult TV" wargame. The figures are completely imaginary and have nothing to do with any TV series you might have seen.

A Gyrocopter lands at the secret base.

The secret lair's control room

A typical henchman in blue boilersuit

A leader in White (possible a Colonel) leads his men

And a historical WW1 game.....

Campaign 2012 Update (3)

Before it got really busy I wandered round and got some pictures of some other display games

Gangs of New York

Black Powder (I think the hexes don't count)

Black Powder lead overloading a bridge

WW1 Air combat

Dystopian Wars Naval with air support

Some GW thing in the snow
Note: This morning played Qids twice, - so far 1 - 1 Egyptians v Hittites. Lost to an eight year old girl and her father!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Campaign 2012 Update (2)

3pm, and I've just finished playing a Games Workshop gamer who wants to try something new. He is a blank canvas to the likes of us, - he hasn't even heard of DBA.

He takes the Egyptians, and has a really good time.

The fight at the ford. Pre division hunkered down behind the River and I just couldn't get at them!

Hmmmm....what shall I attack now?
Action round the camp, - the Nearin attack
Last turn and Ramesses stands his ground

A win for the Egyptians, makes it 3 - 1 to the Hittites.

PS Following game (no pictures, I'm afraid) makes it 4 - 1 to the Hittites.

Ramasses isn't having a good weekend.

Campaign 2012 Update

Lunchtime: The display games and the trade stands are of a good standard, but seem to be down on a couple of years ago. Having said that Dave Lancaster has relieved me of my allowance on his bookstand, - three on the ECW and Paddy Griffith's last book on WW1, so a good day out for me.

The footfall has been much lower than recently. This is probably partly due to the recession but mainly due to the introduction of more widespread parking charges. This means people have less time to dawdle by the games and stands. Even though we are not using 54mm elephants we're still not getting much passing trade.

The other game we have to day is the 40mm DBA, so here's two pictures of that:

An overview of the board as Will takes on Phil

The armies engage.
In lieu of further punters Will & I reversede roles and had another go.

The Set Up

I cross the stream

The Nearin arrive, but it's too late
A big win for the Hittites, again.

Time for a break
Finally someone turns up to play. Here's a picture of the last turn.

Ramasses down, - 5 ransom points

3 - 0 to the Hittites.

Qids`at Campaign 2012

Saturday dawns bright and sunny. Can we really be in England in May? Where is the rain?

As this looks like being the nicest day of the year so far why not spend it in a shopping centre trying to convince the Great British Public that wargaming is a hobby for all ages, including Grown Ups.

Campaign takes place in the Milton Keynes shopping centre in the plaza outside John Lewis'. It is open to the public at no charge, and both wargamers and ordinary members of the public can just wander past.

Since they have changed the parking at MK we have to off load at one of the entrances and run back and forth before parking the car. However, we're soon set up and ready to go. We're running Call it Qids today, and also 40mm DBA 3.0, using flats (which look very good and have that strong nostalgic freel t5o them.

As I said MK is in an open area, so it is open to all at no cost. The competition games are groupede in the middle with trade stands and participation games round the edge.

In order to try to draw the punters in Will and I have a first game of Qids. He takes the Egyptians, I the Hittites. To mix it up a bit we let the Egyptians go first..

The Hittites, loaded with baggage, retire

In a game of breath taking skill and tactics, mixed in with some terrible runs of luck (how many 1s can you roll in succession) the Hittites triumph in a recreation of the historical outcome.

Updates will be issued later......

Friday, 11 May 2012


I will be at Campaign in Milton Keynes this weekend with the diaplay version of Call it Qids.

Come and say hello on the Society of Ancients stand.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bank Holiday Bolsheviks

With the rain lashing the windows and the temperature dropping close to zero why not add to the British Bank Holiday traditions by having a wargame on Bank holiday Monday. I have, in previous Mays, put on large games in my garage but having had people close to being treated for exposure on a number of occasions I have now abandoned that idea.

After a month or so playing with Spain's domestic troubles it was time to return to the Russian equivalent with a reworking of "Return to the River Don". The Phoenix group in Glasgow took up these rules on Phil's recommendation as they were looking to refight the Bolshevik invasion of Poland. They made a number of changes to speed up the game which looked interesting and in retrospect obvious so I adopted some of those as well as changing the melee rules (which I have always hated as they were lifted almost word for word from a commercial set) by introducing a variant of those in "Send Not To Know".

I had four players, one of whom hadn't played RTTRD before, but had played SNTK a couple of times. In the initial briefing he wondered why I needed two different sets of rules for two wars that were "essentially the same". This is one of my pet hates. Osprey are publishing a set of inter-war rules in their new rules series that claim to cover both, and whilst it is true that the weaponry is similar the conduct of the wars is different. For example in RTTRD recalcitrant units can be coerced into obeying orders, but at some cost. In SNTK the challenge is to make differing units on the same side co-operate with each other.

Anyway, on with the game. I had three players so I joined in to make up the numbers for the Reds. The Reds were holding a railway line with a battalion of sailors holding the station.

A stanitsa to their left was held by a regiment of conscripts, that to their right by a regiment of more regular troops.

They were supported by a couple of Austin-Putilov armoured cars and a Garford Putilov (yes, the silly looking one with a tank gun).

The Whites had to capture the line. They had an Officer regiment, a  regular battalion and a brigade of cossacks plus a couple of Austin Peerless armoured cars.

The Whites started with push through the woods on the Red right with their Officer Regiments and then a general advance along the line, as I struggled to remember the nuances of the rules system. The Red artillery put some well directed fire into the centre White infantry regiment which caused their conscript battalion to have second thoughts about advancing off their hill.

In the meantime the Reds lined their entrenchments and loaded their rifles (aka gave all their units "Reserve fire" orders, except for theo ne that mutinied as you can see near the camera). Both sides' armoured cars in the meantime moved forwards in support.

First blood of any significance came with a victorious bayonet charge by an Officer battalion into my stanitsa. Having overlooked giving the defenders any Reserve Fire orders (I should have done it at the end of the previous turn) I was a trifle exposed. The Whites subsequently won the initiative roll and put in a co-ordinated attack with artillery support storming the defences pretty much untouched and routed the defenders. The new melee rules delivered a decisive result, which was my aim, - just not necessarily against one of my own units.

Fortunately for me I had a couple of battalions in reserve, and supported by an armoured car was able to launch an immediate counter charge and recapture it.

On our left the cossacks had deployed in the open and started to skirmish towards the entrenchments, but they were rather badly roughed up and didn't make a lot of progress, despite support from two armoured cars. The white card under the vehicle indicates it has been subject to a random event, - in this case a double move next turn.

One of these cars also received some rough handling and ended up in a bit of a state, as you can see from the picture. It has been immobilised and lost half of its firepower (BTW this model is from QRF, with added cardboard gun barrel protectors).

On the right the stanitsa changed hands again, although the Officer battalion was in a fairly bad way after the last fight, and ripe for another devastating counter attack.

Alas the game drew to a close about then, just I was bolstering the centre with my mighty Garford-Putilov. This marvel of Soviet Engineering had just pulled up to inspire the loyal workers in their struggle against the oppressors.

Much fun was had by all, I think. I certainly enjoyed myself, and it was nice to get out some different toys after a long run of SCW.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

The words of Harold Cardozo

Harold Cardozo was the Daily Mail correspondent in Spain during the Civil War. In 1937 he published a book on the subject, called "March of a Nation". Here are some quotations from his book that may give you an idea of how the war was seen by Franco sympathisers at the time:

"Leaders of the Army, moderate men like Quiepo de Llano, Mola and Franco, had come to the conclusion that...insurrection had become the most sacred duty of the Spanish people"

" favourites were always the volunteer battalions - the young men of the Requetes or the Falangists....The first so gay and dashing...The second, in their blue uniforms, looked so workman like,..."

"..the Spanish Civil Guard, who are a loyal and well disciplined body of men."

"(after Badajoz Republican soldiers were subject to a)...drumhead court martial and shot.....this was probably the last instance of a drumhead court martial for General Franco...insisted that no man should be shot without a proper trial..."

"Throughout the time I have been with the Spanish Nationalists I have never heard of a single case of torture being applied, of prisoners being grossly ill-used, or of their being put to death except by shooting in accordance with the military code...on the other hand the...accounts of...every form of atrocity committed by the Reds would fill a large volume."

" terrible are the consequences of any civil war, but especially of one waged by the pagan Reds encouraged by Moscow..."

"The Basque Autonomists...are only a minority in the four Spanish Basque provinces and have not the slightest right to represent the Basque people."

"I have seen the Spanish Moorish troops at close quarters for many months and I have never seen or heard the slightest evidence which supports wild charges of cruelty made against them."

"The Army movement...had the support...of the great mass of the people - workers, middle class and aristocrats alike."

"While in Red Spain there were murders, bomb throwing, arson and other crimes almost without number... criminal...offences in Nationalist Spain fell to practically zero."

"The normal Spaniard is honest and all the abnormal Spaniards were on the side of the Reds."

"A deal of nonsense has been..written about the Italian failure at Guadalajara and also later Bermeo...I can write with impartiality about both.(of the)..deliberate intention to create friction between Great Britain and Italy.."

"Many were taken prisoners by the familiar device used by the Reds who stationed Garibaldi battalions near where the Italians were so that stray parties would walk right into the Red lines imagining they touch with their own men. ... This was the extent of the "disaster", really only a minor set back..reflecting no disgrace..on the Italian volunteers..."

"...these two lies are only fresh examples of the extremes of mendacity to which the professional pacifist, be he British or French, will go if he believes that he can in any way injure or belittle a diplomatic or political opponent."

"...let us suppose that the allegations as regards Guernica were untrue or only true in part."

"The majority of the burned houses (in Guernica) not the slightest signs of damage by bombing."

"I could not Guernica a single sign of an incendiary bomb having burst outside the burnt-out houses."

"Both towns (ie Guernica and Amorebieta) were Communists or Anarchists....All else is untrue..."

An(other) Englishman for Franco

I wrote a while back about Peter Kemp's autobiography “Thorns of Memory” which describes his time serving in Franco's forces, starting with his time with the Carlists.

I have also written of contemporary “histories” that I've obtained and read. So far they have been of the Republican persuasion. It has to be said that they are stolid and immensely worthy books, full of scientific historical analysis. They are heavy on the politics and the historical background. My goodness they're heavy going.

I have finally got round to reading “March of a Nation” written by Harold Cardozo, the Daily Mail special correspondent in Spain who covered the war. Written in 1937 after the fall of Bilboa it is unashamedly pro-Franco and anti-Republican. In fact he can hardly bear to use the word “Republican” and refers to all Republican forces as Reds, even Basque Nationalists. Given the perspective we now have the book is laugh out loud funny in places, - I will quote some choice pieces in a lter blog for your entertainment.

Having said that if you understand the subject and can filter out the prejudices it's quite a useful book. It is written in a refreshingly direct and journalistic style, and Cardozo was as close as you could be then to being embedded with Franco's forces. He was an honorary Carlist and wore his Red beret with pride. Having said that his descriptions of what he saw and how actions were fought have the feeling of verisimilitude. There's lots of colour in his stories and I may need to review my views in some areas as his comments support some things I've read elsewhere and wasn't sure about.

The book isn't for the unwary, of course. Pretty much all of the Republican forces are non-Spanish, and most of them are Russians. They are both heavily armed and woefully under-equipped, of poor morale and motivation whilst putting up a stiff fight. Franco's forces are Spain's finest, and the few Italians involved are members of the Spanish Foreign Legion. The Germans rate about one sentence, and the bombing of Guernica was a unimportant and the damage was mostly caused by the “Reds” setting fire to the buildings themselves.

As I said it's a real laugh out loud roller coaster ride. I can't find out anything else about Mr C, although he went on to be a war correspondent in WW2. I have no idea if he regretted anything he wrote and ended his love affair with Fascism (although he did correctly predict that post SCW Franco would avoid backing Hitler and Mussolini. He didn't realise, however, that Franco had gifted most of Spain's iron and coal resources to the Nazis).

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Back in the Saddle (Real Life part 18)

So Monday sees me back as an employed tax paying member of society, no longer one of those scroungers beloved of the Daily Mail (although I admit I never signed on). In all honesty seeing the price of season tickets and car parking (not to mention what my out of the house hours now are) it's quite tempting never to work again.

Anyhow up at 6 o'clock to catch the 7am train. I was t5hinking of calling my contracting company 0700 Ltd, but that name had been taken. The key thing on this first day was to see if I could get into work and get home again in enough time to join the Monday night boys for my weekly dose of wargaming fun. Well, it's going to be touch and go. I got out as soon after 5pm as was decent, bearing in mind it was my first day and everyone was too busy to tell me what they wanted me to do. That meant I could get the ten to six-ish train. If things go smoothly I should then be home for c7pm, - enough time for dinner and to pack a box of toys up before heading to the vicarage for an 8am sort of start.

Well, they didn't go completely smoothly. I did get a seat on the train, but it was delayed leaving the station (something indeterminate was deemed to be in need of repair, which took a short while). And then at the other end I left my coat on the train and had to ask the guard/driver to let me back on, which he could only do after a safety check. And the drive home was bedevilled by some awkward traffic.

That meant I got into the house 20 -30 minutes later than planned, but still in enough time to turn round and get to Ian's first. So, the day is do-able, assuming I can get that early train. Alas I think that is a big assumption. My charming gallic boss seems to have a penchant for 4:30pm meetings. My experience of such meetings is that they always start late and always overrun.

On the other hand it is early days yet, and as an independent contractor there's always the possibility of “working from home” every so often. The downside this Monday was that having got to the venue I was a bit tired and felt the need to leave earlier than normal. At least next week is a Bank Holiday.

This evening's entertainment was several games of the latest version of DBA 3.0. I took along my trusty old Normans and Saxons, and Phil had his 40mm flats of Egyptians and Numidians which he is using on the Society of Ancients show stand this year.

My print out of DBA 3.0 is a few weeks old, as I soon discovered when Phil (S not B) arrived with printouts of the latest drafts. Not a lot of changes from the version I had, just a tweak here and there, so it is a wonder why PB still fiddles with them and doesn't just get on and publish them.

Any how I took Normans against Saxons (“Anglo-Danes”) commanded by Will, and got stuck in. I made my usual mistake of mis-estimating distances and forgetting how mobile elements are when moved individually. Which is a shorthand way of saying Will gave me a pasting in short order.

After that I had a go with the flats, taking the Numidians which Ian had already lost with. If you haven't seen these you should go and look at Phil's “Ancients on the Move” blog. They do look really nice and have a nostalgic feel as well. I repeated Ian's achievement by being beaten as well, although I think it was a closer game, - I got to 4 elements first, but finishing the round of combat got Phil to 5 of mine, so game over.

Quite an enjoyable evening, although regretfully I did leave earlier than I'd have liked in order to be ready for Tuesday's early start.

What fun.