A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 22 January 2018

ECW Wargames Rules - Updated

With sincere and copious thanks to The Jolly Broom Man, for his time and commendable patience in sanity checking, commenting and proof-reading, I am pleased to announce that I now have an updated version of the Rules Booklet, the QRS, the Command Cards and the "Chaunce" Cards for my Commands & Colors based ECW game, which is now up to CC_ECW Ver 2.69, and may be downloaded via the link in the top right hand corner of this screen.

The main changes concern a simplification of the system by which "Rash" units of horse may run out of control. There are some additional cards, so if you already use my cards you may wish to update both sets.

Any problems with the rules, or if you can't get the downloads to work, please let me know. If you do not care for my rules then bless you - thank you for your interest. 

Friday, 12 January 2018

Hooptedoodle #290 - A Trifle Confused

Very disappointed this morning. One of the disadvantages of waking up at 6am to BBC Radio 4 news is that sometimes I am still drowsy, and my perception of what has been said can be a trifle confused.

However, it seems that Mr Trump is not going to come to Britain to open the new US Embassy in London after all. I'm not entirely clear why he refuses to come, but it seems to be something to do with the fact that he doesn't like the building, and it's all Mr Obama's fault, apparently. That all sounds quite reasonable, I guess, but I was secretly planning to go down to the Metrollopus and join the welcoming throng, so, yes, I am deeply disappointed, and what am I going to do with this little flag?

This is also potentially unfortunate from a diplomacy point of view, since we in the UK might be reliant on some handouts from the US if the Brexit negotiations proceed on their current tack, so I hope there is no element of falling-out in his decision. It's all a bit worrying, really. I'll just keep the flag safe in my drawer - yes, next to the scarves and my woolly hat - since I'm sure he'll be back to see us soon.

I'm sure it will be all right.

I'm also a bit confused about something I may have heard (or maybe I read it) about possible enforced changes in Mr T's use of Twitter. I'm already a little mystified by all that. It is marvellous that he uses Tweets to such effect, and so many of them (and he's no spring chicken, you know), though I don't quite understand how this works. Does he leave the room, so that he can Tweet the same people he was just talking to? Does he go to the bathroom or something? Does he have a special (big?) cellphone for important messages? Whatever, it's all very clever, but it seems there are new guidelines coming, whereby Twitter and Facebook and all that lot are going to be required to take a firm stance on what represents inappropriate use of their services, and are going to have to take responsibility for moderating or blocking customer usage - at least, more than they have done previously.

Obviously I haven't thought through all the implications of this, but it has already been suggested that using Tweets to make nuclear threats to the President of North Korea is an example of the sort of thing which advertisers might find alarming, so we may find that the messages which control our future existence may have to find a new medium in future to make themselves known.

There must be some problem with just talking to people, I guess, or using the traditional communications set-up of the White House - I think we have to respect this, as a special case - but it does seem possible that the Presidential Tweets are going to have to stop. Someone suggested that it might be possible for the President to employ a glove puppet as his spokesman - again, I haven't thought of all the implications, but it would tick a few of the right boxes, it would be very cheap, and it would go down very well with the under-5s.

Fascinating stuff. If you would care to suggest a name for the new spokesperson, please feel free to contribute.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

1809 Spaniards - Light Cavalry Review

Good New Year to everyone - hope you are all happily back at work, after that seasonal interruption...

Martin was kind enough to email me a prod, to remind me that I said I would set up an updated group photo of my 1809 light cavalry, so I am pleased to present some suitable photos. The captions should explain what's what - strictly, Julian Sanchez' Lanceros de Castilla were slightly later - formed in 1810, but the remainder of the units here are all line regiments which were in existence in 1808, and the uniforms cover a slightly blurry amalgam of styles through 1808-10.

Brigade of cazadores a caballo (literally chasseurs à cheval) - from front to rear,
here are the
Voluntarios de España, Cazadores de Olivenza and Granaderos a Caballo
de Fernando VII (who, whatever else, were certainly not grenadiers by any
definition at all). [Apart from the brigadier, figures are all converted Hinton Hunts.]
Hussar brigade - the Husares de Maria Luisa lead the recently-replaced Husares Españoles. [Again, apart from the general, these are converted HH.]

The hussars from ground level - they look more arrogant from this angle, I think
Newly arrived Lanceros de Carmona (a volunteer unit from Sevilla, who fought at
Baylen). In the background are some gatecrashers - a unit of irregulars - mounted partidas
- not the thing for a proper parade at all. [Lancers are converted HHs, the
guerrilleros are converted Falcatas.]
Slight potential anachronism alert - Julian Sanchez' two units of Lanceros de
Castilla, who had an impressive war record from 1810 - these guys appeared at
Salamanca, though they did not get to do very much. [Lancers are Falcata figures,
and have been waiting patiently for a few years for some metal-foil red pennants
for their lances - they probably removed them for action, do you think?]
In true wedding-photo style, the photographer asked them all to bunch up a bit, to give
a decent helicopter view of the whole lot, coming...
...and going, which is not an unfamiliar view!
That's probably job finished for the light cavalry - there is one further unit of hussars which might get a repaint, but that is not going to happen very soon, so let's assume this is it for the lights. I still have 4 units of heavier cavalry - 1 of dragoons and 3 of line cavalry - in the painting queue - their uniform styles are for 1808, but I could get away with fielding them up to about 1810-11 at a pinch. I already have a regiment of Coraceros, but they only came into being in 1810.

Cavalry was always a problem for the Spanish army - they could never obtain enough decent-quality horses. Though there is an impressive list of official cavalry units in many OOBs from the Guerra de Independencia, many of these appeared at a strength of only a few dozen men, so the converged brigades which were formed from these fragments were neither as homogeneous nor as organised as my miniature contingent.

[Can I just remind my good friend Dr Raul that he has agreed not to borrow my blog posts without asking permission - not that I have any legal rights here, of course, but he might have had some further thoughts on the small matter of common courtesy.]

Monday, 25 December 2017

Hooptedoodle #289 - It's Amazing

La Duchesse Nails the Punchline

La Duchesse Veuve Culdechat (1934-   )
It being the Season of Goodwill, today we were delighted to welcome my mother-in-law to the humble comforts of the Chateau Foy. It is some time since she made a state visit at this time of year - you can read about the last occurrence here if you wish.

You will gather that we are always on our very best behaviour on such occasions. However, today her visit went very smoothly, and, as a bonus, she undoubtedly produced what so far has been the best line of the holiday period around here.

During the chatter before lunch, she suddenly asked me, "Do you still do - erm - whatever it is you do with toy soldiers...?"

You will recognise that this would be the moment for cheery self-confidence on my part, so I put on a big smile and my best, reassuringly breezy baritone.

"Oh yes - very much so," I said. "In fact, that's been going very well recently - there are a couple of chaps who live not too far from here, and I've been getting together with them for some pretty big games. Splendid fun!"

My smile may have been sagging a little at the end of this, but she was very positive about it all.

"That's good - it's amazing, though, isn't it?"

"Erm - what is?"

"It's amazing," she said, "that there are two people in Scotland that have the same interest as you."

And - of course, as ever - she is completely correct.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Thinking Aloud? - Marston Moor (maybe)

Royalist celebs preparing for Marston Moor - the fellow in the carriage may be
the Marquis of Newcastle, enjoying a crafty pipe of tobacco
One of this week's Things to Think About in the Background is the possibility of my staging an ECW battle - possibly in February. This is to be a proper, social game, not one of my weird solo efforts, so I am keen to make a decent job of it. Any kind of a historically-based scenario is always viewed with some suspicion here at Chateau Foy, but since the tie-in with history usually vanishes after about two turns it's not really a major concern.

My short list of promising scenarios has been steady at a choice of two for the past month. I did an ECW game based on Kilsyth (that's Montrose vs the Covenanters) a few years ago, which went well, and is a smallish action on interesting terrain, with plenty of potential movement, and highlanders and Irishmen and all sorts - that might be an attractive thing to have another go at.

On the other hand, it is tempting to go for the Grand Bash, just for the mind-numbing spectacle of the thing. I am drawn towards Marston Moor - hardly a leap of the imagination, you might think, but I've never attempted it, and it does have a certain [moronic?] appeal - flat, open field, groaning with toy soldiers, minimal scenery - all the alarm bells should be ringing.


I've been doing a bit of reading, as you would expect - everything from Peter Young to Osprey, with John Barratt and Newman and a few others on the way - I've even looked at scenarios for MM in De Bellis Civile and Charlie Wesencraft's Pike & Shot book.


The major criteria, of course, are the lowbrow ones: how many soldiers have I got, and how many would I need? What size table? That was easier - I believe that, without any extra figure painting (always a potential disappointment, since, in my experience, the fresh units always get eliminated within the first few moves of their debut appearance), I can set up a ⅔-scale version of the battle on my larger (10'6" x 5') table. The ⅔ refers to numbers of troops, rather than of units - we'll just assume that the smaller entities were assembled into fewer, larger groupings...

OK - looks pretty good. I need to improvise some scenario-specific rules for the treatment of the small bodies of musketeers which both armies interspersed among their units of horse in this battle, but that's all part of the fun. Righto - at the moment, it looks like Marston Moor is feasible. The background thinking may continue.

You may hear more of this, in time. I'd even get to field Rupert and his magnetic dog - the dog doesn't know what he's in for, does he?

Sunday, 17 December 2017

A Christmas Greeting

I've decided to snap out of my unnecessary paranoia about the winter weather - it's all part of the cycle of the seasons, after all - if we didn't have winters then we couldn't have summers, and the crops wouldn't grow, and all that. Nature is what it is - let's just celebrate it.

Stob Dearg - Glencoe

Loch Restil
Here are some suitably frosty photos of the Highlands of our beloved Scotland (borrowed from a couple of hikers'/photographers' websites I'm fond of), and the scene in the Great Hall here at Chateau Foy as we get ready for the festive season.

Whether you just chanced by here, or you are a regular reader, or if you are a good friend, or even if you never got here and never read this, I wish everyone all the very best for Christmas, the New Year and the future. May your hearth be cosy, may the mince pies remind you of childhood.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Hooptedoodle #288 - Donkey Award - another solution for a problem you didn't know you had

Courtesy of a couple of whizzo articles from newatlas.com, an exciting glimpse of the future - pick your own nightmare.

Naturally, we are all fascinated by the possibilities of the scientific world of plant nanobionics, which has recently produced such marvels as a variety of spinach which can give off a warning glow in the presence of explosives (if you don't believe me, click here). The idea is based around the development of  microparticles containing enzymes and other organic substances, which are small enough to be absorbed into the leaves, so that extra reactions can be introduced into the plant's normal repertoire.

MIT have recently developed a strain of watercress which glows in the dark. This was achieved by studying the chemical processes used by fireflies, and introducing microparticles into the humble watercress which will simulate this same light-producing trick. Thus far, it isn't very bright, to be quite honest, but the hope is that it should be possible to engineer plants as seedlings so that the trick will last throughout the life of the plant - the aim being to make it hereditary. There is hope that indoor plants will be developed which require no additional energy to produce a light bright enough to read by, thus saving some of the estimated 20% of the world's electricity bill which goes towards providing lighting. Beyond this there are visions of specially "hacked" species of trees whose leaves will glow bright enough to replace electric street lighting - just think of that.

If we ignore the potential psychological damage to confused fireflies, not to mention what chaos will hit the streets in the autumn when these wondrous shining leaves fall off, you may still wish to share with me some concern at the possibility that someday it may never be dark again. Fear not, o timid soul - the engineers at MIT are already considering that the hacked trees may be further tweaked so that they can turn themselves off on a given command, so what can possibly go wrong?

What if the plants propagate and spread naturally, beyond the places we want them? Is this the future botanic section of Jurassic Park?

I really don't know how people can be so negative when there is so much potential out there. Read all about it here.