In When Inspiration is Failing Along Comes Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 97 I mentioned that I was developing an interest in the Anarchy – Stephen and Mathilda’s brawl with each other over the English crown in the period 1135 to 1153. I spoke of Normans. I also mentioned that it was leading me to consider another wargames project so last night I did some more reading and research.
The Anarchy was some 70 years after William’s invasion of England so in fact, we are not talking about Normans as such but rather the Anglo-Norman successors of William’s invasion. The English barons supported Stephen so we are dealing with the Anglo-Normans.
Mathilda’s supporters included Robert of Gloucester and the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 pitted Robert against Stephen so Anglo-Norman vs Anglo-Norman army. Later Henry, Mathilda’s son, invaded with some knights so I can find an excuse to add a Feudal French force. The Normans also invaded Sicily so add a Sicilian opponent. Other enemies over the period involved include the pre-Feudal Scots and Scots Common, the Welsh, and lastly the Anglo-Norse. A fine collection of forces for a matched set.
Like all good wargamers I have about 30 half-started; half-completed; or part-planned projects either in the painting queue (that will be those boxes over there), or scratched as notes on a piece of paper as the planning sessions start (and the figures for those will be in those other boxes over there or manufacturers catalogues filed away in the file system here).
The main theme of this issue is “Weird War”. Basically, alternate outcomes or what-if scenarios based around World War 2, and there are seven articles on that subject, articles such as a “What if?” assassination mission – Kill Stalin; Weird War II airborne operations – Operation Redrow; or Weird War II pulp adventures – Lieutenant Liberty and the Doom Platoon.
However, there were some other more mainstream articles included such as the perils of Ptolemaic Pachyderms – Elephant Archos; the Swedes vs. the Dutch in North America – The Battle at Fort Mosquito, 1655; and the one that caught my imagination, the Empress Matilda’s flight – Bitesize battle: escape from Oxford.
The article about Stephen and Mathilda caught my eye principally because several days before I had watched an historical piece on Netflix on the Empress Maud and Matilda. Coupled with that is a desire to have a reason to get some Normans (not that I ever really needed an excuse to buy more figures). The article discusses the escape of Mathilda from Oxford Castle in the winter when the castle was invested by Stephen’s forces. I am sure this provided the idea for Sansa’s escape from Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.
Anyway, I digress, and who doesn’t like a good digression? Mathilda and Stephen tilted for the English crown in the mid 12th century. Both were Normans and this period of Norman history makes a change from William’s Wars or the Normans in Sicily. Anyway, as the tale goes, Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, and was his sole legitimate child after the death of his son Prince William in the ‘White Ship’ disaster.
She was married to Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire (hence the title Empress), and then when he died in 1125, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.
She was supposed to be the heir to the English throne, however in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that Henry I had changed his mind on his deathbed and recognised Stephen as successor to the throne. The English barons backed this claim.
That is when the trouble started and a period known as The Anarchy commenced.
Stephen was more popular than Mathilda, as she was viewed as a foreigner and a woman who was married to one of the hated Angevin enemy. She was also proud and overbearing, arranging everything as she thought fit, according to her own whim.
Trouble started in 1141 when the Battle of Lincoln took place between Stephen and Matilda’s half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. After fighting bravely, Stephen was overcome and captured and taken before Matilda who immediately had him imprisoned in Bristol Castle. He was later released.
Both Stephen and Mathilda were captured at various stages and escaped (the escape from Oxford being one such).
Henry, Mathilda’s son by the Count of Anjou also got involved, bringing some knights to England but they were defeated by Stephen’s men.
In 1153 Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Westminster with Henry of Anjou. This stated that Stephen should remain king for life (in the event this was less than one more year) and then Henry should succeed him.
Upon Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry was crowned King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet line of kings.
So, what’s not to like about this period? A few armies of similar structure bouncing around England and a reason to expand the lead-pile … curse you Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy!
As for figures, well it will be 6mm scale for the space challenged and Normans of an appropriate ilk are available from:
Heroics and Ros – a range I remember from many years ago – Normans, Saxons, Vikings and a Medieval range
Baccus 6mm – a lovely range of 6mm Normans, Vikings and Saxons
Irregular Miniatures – a large range of figures but where the casts as not as clean or detailed as H&R or Baccus
For those interested, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy have a number of well known folks from the wargaming world writing regular columns in the magazine as well such as Rick Priestley and Henry Hyde.
I sent a small order off to Heroics and Ros just after Christmas for more artillerymen and some more armour for the Poles (and therefore also for the Danes). T-72s and Leopards arrived in the mail recently – this is what was in the packet and will be used for Cold War Commander.
Video is here:
I also ordered and received some Ancient Britons. These will form part of a new project that is setting up in my brain currently – but more on that later.
I read Freeing the Baltic 1918-1920 about six months ago and as a result I was looking forward to The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945. Wow! I wasn’t disappointed. This book arrived a couple of months ago and I finally had a week where I read rather than painted figures or headed to the pub and this was on the top of the reading pile.
The Naval War in the Baltic 1939-1945 was originally published on 17 May 2017 however it appears to have been sold out and is now due to re-release on 28 February 2018. The author is Poul Grooss. The book is 400 pages long with ISBN 9781526700001.
Poul Grooss is a retired Danish Naval Captain whose career was 40 years long. He served as an intelligence officer and Soviet analyst. He also speaks Russian. He currently is a teacher at the Royal Danish Naval Academy.
I reckoned I knew a bit about World War II and I also knew there was a lot I didn’t know. Reading Grooss’s book has reminded me of how little I do actually know. Grooss starts setting the scene in the book by describing the geography and the history of the Baltic region, then goes on to discuss the political manoeuvring and naval developments between the wars. His coverage of the 1939 to 1945 period starts with the attack on Poland then looks at the Baltic region through to 1941. Later chapters cover the attack on the Soviet Union to Spring 1942; the war between Spring 1942 and 1944; Spring 1944 to New Year 1944/1945; then from that New Year, month by month to the end of the war. He then looks at the aftermath of the war and a retrospective.
The book is easy to read and Grooss has taken advantage of his Russian language skills to collect data from sources not usually referred to western histories. Grooss was writing for the general reader but has managed to write a book that will appeal to both general readers and the more professional historian.
He covers and uncovers the degree of Swedish cooperation with the Germans. He covers the interactions between the Soviets and the Swedes and while this is a naval history of the Baltic, the land battles are included for context, especially Kronstadt and Leningrad. Hitler’s desire to hang on to Narva is also covered.
The Baltic was a training ground for German U-boat crews but what really amazed me was the quantity of mines that were laid there and the amount of shipping that suffered. I should also mention that the Swedes were not as pro-German as we perhaps think, permitting the British to build a listening station on Swedish soil, for example. Both the Germans and the British seemed to have a laissez faire attitude to Swedish neutrality.
This book is not all about Sweden though. Grooss also covers the minor states (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) as well as Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland and of course the main protagonists. The book is supported by many fine photographs, most of which have not been seen in print before as well as well drawn maps. There are a number of appendices and indexes with an index of people and another of ships. There is an appendix containing a chronology of the conflict, a glossary of abbreviations, ranks, terminology and explanations. Another appendix is a cross-reference of place names in various languages as well as an extensive list of sources and bibliography. This book is one I will return to many times in the future I think. For the naval historian, the wargamer and the general reader, it is well worth waiting for this re-release and grabbing a copy.
It is now the middle of January 2018 and already over 4% of the year has passed by. Normally at the start of the year I sit down and consider wargaming projects and other items I want to get through in the coming year at the same time reflecting on the previous years efforts. So, what did I achieve in 2017. Pretty much nothing. I did read a few books, I did clean up and prepare some figures for painting at some time in the future, I had a couple of wargames (DBA in 6mm) with a mate and I finally got off my expansive behind and went to the Makati Marauders and played some boardgames. I also added a little to the lead-pile – mostly in the area of aeronefs and 1/1200 scale coastal ships although there was one 6mm Cold War Commander army added as well. I bought a lot of rare earth magnets too.
Not very much really.
What do I have planned for tonight? Same as every night Pinky, World Domination! Oops, sorry, channeling Pinky and the Brain
Plans for 2018? Paint. Game. Read!
I have a substantial lead pile here and this includes 2017 purchases as well as stock I brought up from mum’s on my last trip back to Oz. The painting queue starts with completing the painting and basing for the 6mm CWC Danish followed by the 6mm BKCII Italians.
Next under brush is likely to be the 1/1200 scale coastal forces – British and Germans first, then the Italians.
Completing the painting of the BKCII Japanese is the last of the already prepared items to be painted in immediate painting queue.
Preparation and Painting
Now we start to get into the lead-pile in earnest. So many choices here:
There are a number of kits at home as well – both modern tanks in 1/72 scale and 1/700 scale World War 2 battleships. I would like to get back into modelling again and refresh/rediscover my previous modelling skills.
I have a fallen behind on my reading rate lately. I want to get back to averaging a book every two weeks. Fiction for relaxation, non-fiction for learning and challenging my thinking.
As I have been particularly inert in getting to the local gaming clubs, I need to get off my rapidly becoming more extensive bottom and get to the local club at least once every two weeks.
So, that is the plan for 2018. Somewhat less structured than previous years but a guide to the next few months never-the-less.
Christmas has gone and so has New Year’s Eve. I avoid making New Year’s Resolutions, partly because reflecting on what you are doing and what you will do is something that should be an ongoing process. Having said that, in nautical terms, i am getting very broad across the beam although I have a good deal of ballast to counter that. It is time to slim up so that is one task on my 2017 and beyond.
Work also will be interesting this year as one contract finishes and I chase another. I will be looking for something to start around July or so.
I did reflect on those things that went well and those that failed in the year just past, however, a product of the odd beer and a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve back in Manila. It is, however, time to think about the plans for the coming year, doubly so as a week has already gone.
Simply … I did next to no wargaming, or painting. I also managed to add another few kilograms overall to my already portly body shape. I kept getting great ideas, especially for wargaming projects, but managed to not spend anytime actually starting any of them. Worst of all, I missed getting back to Oz and visiting mother for about 8 months, which was very frustrating.
There were some high spots however. Settled well into the second year of working in the Philippines and had the project progressing well. I also managed to read a lot, thank goodness for Kindle and a decent smartphone – I get to read almost anywhere.
So, as I had a little spare case this year, I spoiled myself with some Christmas gifts, and they will form the basis of the 2017 wargaming efforts.
First off was the two Warships I had missed from 2014 and 2015. I had not had a chance to purchase these before but they went into my Christmas stocking this year (it was a big stocking). Warship 2014 is the 36th edition and contains a variety of articles including a detailed technical description of the Queen Elizabeth (the UK’s only aircraft carrier – I guess because the French had one); details of Germany’s Braunschweig and Deutschland classes; the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour; IJN armoured cruisers; the escape of the Jean Bart from Saint-Nazaire; the submarine Mariotte; the IJN light carrier Ryûjô; Russia’s turret frigates, the Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Spiridov; and some other articles.
Warship 2015 is the first I have seen available in a Kindle format. It was tempting to acquire the Kindle Version, especially as it was half the price of the printed version, but I just could not give up the feel of the paper versions of this publication yet. This issue contains among other items, the Battleships of the Patrie Class; Postwar Weapons in the Royal Navy; the Tragedy of the Submarine Mariotte; Developments in Modern Carrier Aviation; and an early surface engagement between British and Japanese surface forces in WW2. I am looking forward to finishing Warship 2014 to get into Warship 2015.
Warship 2016 is the first of the recent series to come without a dust jacket (why did they call them dust jackets?). It long the previous 37 editions is a mix of different articles concerning naval matters from various periods of essentially 20th and 21st Century history.
This edition has articles on the Bougainville colonial sloops; an Italian colonial sloop Eritrea; the Japanese Asashio class destroyers; Fugas class minesweepers; divisional tactics at the Battle of Jutland and the conclusion to the Naval War in the Adriatic theater in WWI. There is also a piece on the use of ‘highball” on a ship – from the target ship’s perspective, in this case the French battleship Courbet.
I finally got around to acquiring a copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis, my favourite ancient wargaming rules. Plans for 2017 include not just learning these but getting some games in. I have a number of armies in Manila in 6mm and as the playing area is 2-foot square (60cm x 60cm) I also have the space to game.
This will likely make a nice project for 2017. More on that later in a separate post. I can. however, see my 6mm Numidians and 6mm Romans coming out for some early games and also provide an incentive for me to complete my DBA 6mm terrain pieces.
I had not been part of the kickstarter but these rules look to be a good alternative to Aeronef. I also acquired the dice and turn rulers.
I purchased some opposition for my 1/300th scale modern Danes. These are in the form of some Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale Poles. We will have sometime this year some T-55s out against some Centurions. This will be part of a separate little project, part of which will be to complete the Danes and relocate them from mother’s garage to the Philippines. These will be used with Cold War Commander. I must admit, whilst the GHQ castings are superb detail wise, I still like the Heroics and Ros for wargames figures.
Naturally, having purchased Imperial skies one needed some Aeronefs to go along with the new rules. Brigade Models Christmas discount helped me to acquire Argentinian, Brazilian and BENELUX fleets for this game and for use with Aeronef as well. I also acquired some Italian ‘nefs in the purchase along with some Russians to round out my Peshawar project, if I ever get back to that.
I really am looking forward to getting some paint on these models.
Last of the stocking fillers was the Baccus 6mm English Civil War boxed set. This consists of butt-loads of figures, bases, buildings and Polemos rules. I will admit up front that I purchased these to play with the Impetus Rules however the beauty of the Polemos basing is that I can also use these as based for bopth Polemos and Impetus.
I am a bit late getting to this this year however it is time for the Great Wargaming Survey 2016. The survey only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to complete and can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JXXW7TD. As Guy Bowers & Jasper Oorthuys of Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine note:
Apart from rolling dice, there seem to be few things wargamers like to do better than discuss the state of their hobby. The purpose of this survey is to answer some of the questions that regularly come up in such debates. Unlike previous editions, results will be published online only for everyone to read.
As before, and thanks to our gracious sponsors, we have quite a few prizes to be won. Leave your email address at the end of the survey to be entered into the raffle. Entering the contest does not automatically mean we’ll subscribe you to any communication. That is a separate question which does not influence the raffle in any way.
As a thank-you for taking part, everyone who completes the survey will get a €5 gift code for the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy / Karwansaray Publishers webshop. Though it does not apply to shipping costs, this code can be used for any (combination of) item(s) in the shop.
Finally, filling out the entire survey shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes, and we’re taking responses until August 19th, 2016.
In cleaning up around the place I decided that I could part with issues 1 to 6 of the Courier. Having read these about 50 times each I thought it was time to pass them on to someone else. These date back over 35 years so are older than many wargamers these days. Read some early words from some of the grandfathers of wargaming.
I have been a little remiss in the area of time management lately and have managed for a couple of months to do no preparation or painting, not just of the Peshawar project but pretty much of anything. Some of it I can put down to a combination of beer and rugby, but mostly it has been too much work combined with inertia.
I decided tonight to finish the painting and basing of two test pieces. They are the ones illustrated.
I am trying to decide whether to use a sand/dry brush/a little flock for the base or just flock only on a dark brown base. I am leaning towards the base on the right.
The images are a little out of focus – I guess macro on my phone is not as good as it could be. The squares you see a 10mm by 10mm giving you and idea of the size of the figures.
I am sure I will look at these figures again 30 or 40 times before I settle on one form or another.
Friend Douglas is off on a long term jaunt to Scotland. He’s accepted a job there and will be travelling shortly to the land of Auchentoshan, gentlemen in skirts, and haggis and neeps.
His dilemma – sell off part of his lead pile (both painted and unpainted) or store it. Storing it takes it out of action for so long that when he gets back the items will no longer be bright and shiny. Selling them means that when he gets back he will need to look for other new bright and shiny things.
Hmm, actually it is not so much a dilemma now as more a quandary – with the quandary being how fast can he sell the lead off.
Take a stroll to his blog where he has listed what he is looking at to get rid of (I can almost see the tears in his eyes).