Sunday, June 24, 2018

Day Four, the Gathering of the Wild Geese


The second annual Wild Geese gathering in Kenilworth convened on Saturday with 23 gamers from all corners of the U.K. Plus one American in the ranks. There were four games set up by Colin Ashton, Paul Robinson, Gary Phillips, and Willz Harley and with three game sessions over the weekend there was oppornity to experience several different historical eras.

Colin's game was set during one of the late 17th Century Wars between the Dutch and the French and it included some role playing elements such that the player on your team might not have your best interests in mind. I really like the sound of this and alas, it was the one game that I did not have the opportunity to play.

The next game on my list, and first one played, was a GNW period game hosted by the Grimsby Wargamer himself, Paul Robinson. I didn't play in Paul's game last year so I made a point of playing his game this year. The scenario had the Swedes escorting a long wagon train to a Swedish base and the wagon train was intercepted by the Russians. It was a very colorful game that included Polish Hussars, Cossacks, Green coated Russians and blue Swedish coats.

I played one of the Swedish infantry commands serving as the rear guard and faced off against Aly Morrison's Russians. The rules favor Swedish charges and good Russian musketry. I had some initial success routing two Russian battalions off the table, but then that particular Swedish regiment ran out of steam and momentum with it, too, routing away. The rest of my command I could not expand my frontage by more than two regiments whereas Aly overlapped me with a four battalion frontage. So basically I could not use my best asset, the charge, because each of my regiments would have run into two Russian regiments and get overwhelmed by the numbers. Trading musket fire was a bad idea for me due to the numbers ( but just as likely due to the dice gods, who withdrew there favor towards me and shifted it all to Aly). My end of the table was starting to look like a rerun of Poltava somthe Russian victory was more or less inevitable.

I had a blast playing GNW and it reminds me that I have a lot of Swedes and Russians at home that are begging to be painted.

On Saturday afternoon I played in Gary Phillips' Zulu War skirmish game. Gary operated the Zulus and four of us commanded a company or small brigade of British redcoats, some NNC warriors or some Naval Brigade figures. Our mission was to burn down one of the Zulu kraals.

There were no Zulus on the table at the beginning, but there was a chance that a war band might appear any time a British unit moved. So of course we elected to spray the kraal huts with machine gun fire, which technically was not moving. Well after we had our fun and a good snicker , we started to move our commands and so Zulus started popping up in all directions.

Before the game starts, each player rolls dice to create characteristics for each of three units in our command as well as another die roll for The personalities that we had. I can't recall what my characters were, but my commanding officer was a Shirker and was not allowed to advance towards any Zulus. Initially my dice rolling carried over from the GNW and I couldn't shoot down a Zulu if my life depended on it. Ironic.

At one point during the game, my company of engineers was attempting to torch some of the Zulu huts (destroying them was our victory condition) and to my horror a pack of Zulus came storming out of the hut and slaughtered two thirds of The engineers. One of my infantry companies final figured out how to operate a Martini Henry rifle and I felt rather proud when that company put 7 hits on some  charging Zulus. Wait a minute Jim, the Zulus just  killed off 11 of your redcoats. Yikes! The company officer was the lone surviving, choosing not to die gloriously with his mesn

Friday, June 22, 2018

Day Three - from London to Kenilworth

Today was a travel day as I had to take the train from Euston Station to Coventry, where Graham was to meet me and give me a ride to the Wild Geese gathering in Kenilworth.

I really enjoy traveling by train and I've always had a good experience with British Rail. My train left at 12:43 on the dot and I was in Coventry within an hour. Graham Cummings picked me up and we paid a visit to nearby Griffin Moulds to say hello to our friends Jane and Lisa and the rest of the staff at Griffin. There wasn't a lot of new ground to cover because the service and quality of the casting products are second to none. 

The company added resin casting to their list of capabilities and are working on 3D design programming and 3D printing which opens up a lot of new avenues for product development. I'm particularly intrigued by 3D printing.

After our visit we drove to Kenilworth and the Chesford Grange Hotel where we will be having our Wild Geese Wargaming weekend. The games start at 9AM on Saturday morning so I have to sign off and get some sleep.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Day Two in London

A compelling sales pitch.

We continue to have great weather in London: sunny and clear with temperatures around 68F. Yesterday was much warmer in the upper 70s, but seemed warmer to me because I was walking everywhere in the afternoon sun. It seems like one does a LOT of walking in London, but that's ok.

Today I spent several hours at the National Army Museum and I must say that with all of the changes in exhibits and the interior remodeling I hardly recognized the place. That said, I think that the museum has improved considerably as it covers the British army's history from the ECW to the present and provides the visitors with a better sense of what it is/was like to be a soldier. 

I think that we all intuitively know it, but War is not glorious, it is dangerous, and can take a dreadful toll on those who survived the experience (PTSD). The exhibits do a good job of driving these points home, rather than focusing on the campaigns and won battles of the army.

Getting back to the glorious wargamey thingy, I took a lot of pictures of the 18th Century and Napoleonic uniforms and equipment. The Siborne Waterloo model is still there but the area is so dark that I could barely make out was going. There is the captured eagle of the French 108th regiment that was taken at Waterloo (I think?) as well as its flag, which has faded almost to white, and a nice cuirassier set of cuirasses and helmet on display. They even have the skeleton of Marengo, Napoleon's horse which was captured at Waterloo.

I took a nice picture of an 18th Century Guards uniform, circa the AWI and snapped some good shots of various cloth mitres and bearskins.

Next on the list was a boat trip up the Thames to Greenwich. It's a good way to see much of London and is quite pleasant on a sunny day. My intention was to visit the Naval Observatory and the Naval Museum, but I got sidetracked by a visit to the Cutty Sark. I'd seen the former before, but never got around to the Cutty Sark. I spent the whole hour there and decided to take the return boat back to Westminster- boats run on the hour. I could have easily remained for another hour, but it was getting late in the day and I thought it prudent to head back to the hotel. 

Well, that's London for me on this trip. Tomorrow I take the train to Coventry where Graham will meet me and take us to see Griffin Moulds on our way to Kenilworth and the Wild Geese weekend.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Day One in London

Horse Guards parade ground 

I landed at London Heathrow at around noon today and checked into my hotel without having to wait for it to be ready. In my room, I kind of got hooked on the Portugal vs. Moracco World Cup match. Then it occurred to me that here I was in beautiful London and I was in my room watching television.

Piglet watching World Cup

So it was time to hit the road Jack and get about and around town. My first stop was the Guards Museum, but the last admission is at 3:30pm and the building closes at 4:00pm. My taxi driver thought that I said the "Science Museum" so we were stuck in traffic in Kensington (which is far from Museum). The minutes were rapidly ticking away on my watch, but we finally made it with about ten minutes to spare. In my previous visit to London I got to the museum just as it was closing and I was experiencing some serious deja  vous here.

I can't seem to upload pictures using the Blogger mobile ap, so I will post pictures from the museum when I get home.

From there I strolled over to Horse Guards parade ground and walked (marched) around the perimeter so that I could say that I had marched at HG.

Next stop was a visit to Hatchards bookstore on Picadilly and found a book about Frederick the Great that I hadn't seen before. This is a really neat book store with about five floors of books. If you are ever in London then take some time to visit Hatchards.

My last stop was at Fortnum & Mason where I bought some scones for tomorrow's breakfast . I always enjoy visiting the Wine and Spirits department to look at some of the insanely priced scotch whiskeys in stock. There was a bottle of 40 year old Balvenie for  £3,500 for sale and I'm sure that it will be there when you visit on your own.

That's all for now. I'm off to bed to catch some zees.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Road Trip to the UK

We will catch those rascally rabbits yet!

Later this evening I will board a plane in Chicago and wing my way to London so that I can attend a weekend gathering of gamers in Warwickshire, as we did last year at this time. I will spend a couple of days in London before taking a train to Coventry on friday and meeting up with Graham Cummings, the major domo of Crann Tara Miniatures. Along the way we shall stop in at Griffin Moulds to catch up with our friends there and then make our way to Kenilworth where our group, The Wild Geese, is gathering.

There is nice variety of games offered: GNW, Zulu War, SYW Imaginations, and the Franco-Dutch wars of the 1690s. The four games run for the full day on Saturday and then we get another chance to play in another of the games on Sunday. In between there will undoubtedly be a meeting in the local pub where we will solve all of the world's problems.

The trip has already had some excitement, and I haven't even left my house yet. Yesterday, I was informed by British Airways that my flight from Chicago had been cancelled (no reason given for the cancellation). I was to click on a link that would lead me to a new itinerary. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I read the schedule change. They proposed having me catch a flight from Chicago to Boston (arriving at 1AM) and then having a six hour layover in Boston and catching a BA flight from Boston to London arriving around 7PM local time, on Thursday instead of the planned Wednesday arrival.

So I got on the horn and had to do quite a bit of sparring with the airline in order to get a better replacement flight. The first idea was to have me fly from Chicago to Manchester, then have one hour to catch a flight to London. I would imagine that just getting my luggage and processed through customs would take an hour, so that wasn't the optimal flight schedule.

Then finally, BA found that there was a flight from Chicago to London that left about an hour later in the evening than my originally scheduled flight (the one that was cancelled). This would get me into London around noon local time rather than 9AM, but that was OK because my hotel generally doesn't have the rooms available until after the noon hour. So it looked like an acceptable flight plan was available...

... but wait, the BA agent decided that I had only paid for the flight to London, but had not done so for the return leg. Of course this was not the case, so at one point I had two telephones operating with the BA agent on one phone and my travel agent on the other phone.

In any event, we finally got things sorted out and it looks like I will make it to London without too much disruption in the schedule. But still, my stress level was fairly high after all these shennanigans and not having immediate access to some good single malt scotch, I visited the local ice cream shop and ordered a chocolate milkshake for comfort food.

Everything should be all tickety-boo now.

I will try to post some pictures on my blog during my travels. However, the Blogger mobile ap is a piece of junk that makes it nearly impossible to post anything at all whilst on the road. Blogger is owned by Google, which is only one of the largest tech companies in the world, and they can't fix their mobil ap for Blogger (which used to work just fine, thank you very much). Come on Google, get your stuff together and fix this!

We shall see.

While in London, I want to make a point of visiting the Guards Museum this time. Last year, I arrived there around 3PM and found that the museum had just closed. Doh! I'd also like to pay a visit to the National Army Museum, which was closed for renovations last year. A visit to Hatchards' bookstore is always a must on any visit to London, so hopefully I can add some new ballast to my suitcase with the inclusion of a few heavy books.

Hopefully all of the stress and out of left field changes are behind me and I can relax and enjoy the actual travels this week. I'm looking forward to seeing the Wild Geese at Kenilworth this coming weekend.


Der Alte Fritz

Saturday, June 16, 2018

IR2 von Kanitz Grenadiers

von Kanitz grenadier company - Minden Miniatures figures.
I am working on the painting of the Manstein Grenadier Battalion (2/G-II) in Marshal Lehwaldt's army at Gross Jagersdorf in 1757. The first half of the battalion consists of the grenadier companies from IR2 von Kanitz regiment. The second half of the battalion will be comprised of the grenadier companies of the second garrison regiment G-II. You put them all together and you end up with a single battalion of Prussian grenadiers.

Click on the link to the Kronoskaf history of the Manstein Grenadiers:

von Kanitz command figures

Another view of the von Kanitz grenadiers
 Next in the painting queue, naturally, will be the grenadiers from G-II. Here is a picture of the Garrison II regiment's grenadier uniforms from Kronoskaf.

Note that the G-II grenadier uniform has Swedish cuffs. I had primed a set of 16 grenadiers and was ready to paint them when I realized that I had the Prussian grenadier figures with Prussian cuffs. So I had to defer painting the unit yesterday and prime the correct set of grenadier figures with Swedish cuff.

So today, I was ready to paint. I quickly applied the blue coat color, the grey shade for the white breeches and waistcoat, and a shade of red brown as an undercoating for the flesh color. Now I was ready to start on the white cuffs and do you know what happened?

Yes, I had started painting the Prussian grenadier figures with Prussian cuffs instead of the Swedish cuffs. I had picked up the wrong set of figures. Doh! That was two hours of painting time that I had wasted today.

At least I can use the start of the grenadiers in Prussian coats with white small clothes as the grenadiers from IR4 which I can pair with IR16 to create the Polentz grenadier battalion that also fought in Lehwaldt's army.


Friday, June 15, 2018