And here is one I missed earlier …

After writing the blog entry about the amount of HOe-gauge locomotive and rolling stock that I own, I suddenly remembered that I also own a single OO-gauge locomotive.

It is an 0-4-0 Saddle Tank locomotive. The original locomotive was one of a series built between 1891 and 1910 by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. They were designed by Sir J A F Aspinall, and because of their small size, they were nicknamed ‘Pugs’.

This model was made by Dapol Model Railways Limited, and the bodywork was based on the Airfix model of the ‘Pug’ (which had been made originally by Kitmaster), the moulds for which Dapol bought some years ago. Because of its small size, it is ideally suited for use in a wargames setting.

Do I really own that many locomotives?

After my recent blog entry about railways and wargames, I decide to sort through my storage boxes to find out just how much railway stuff I had.

The result was rather shocking.

It turned out that I own five HOe-gauge locomotives, …

… three eight-wheeled passenger carriages, …

… five four-wheeled passenger carriages, …

… a closed goods wagon, and four mineral trucks.

In addition, I also own several N-gauge items (including a locomotive) that can be used ‘as is’ or converted for use with my HOe-gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

This was a bit of a revelation for me … as I only thought that I owned a few bits and pieces!

A bit of a non-event …

Just before Christmas I noticed that a small lump under my right eye had got slightly bigger. Over the Christmas holiday it continued to grow, and as I had no idea what it was, I went to see my doctor. He thought that it was a form of wart that was under the outer skin layer, and although it was probably not serious, he decided that it should be removed.

The appointment to remove the wart was set for this evening, and I turned up at the local health centre in plenty of time for the minor surgical procedure that was required. The doctor was running late, and it was not until 5.30pm that I was finally called in. The area under my eye was anaesthetised, and the procedure began … and almost immediately stopped.

It appears that the wart has a far deeper root than the doctor had first thought, and that its removal will need to be performed by an eye surgeon rather than someone qualified just to do general surgery. I have, therefore, been referred to a local hospital that has a department with the necessary specialist surgical expertise. Unfortunately, I will probably have to wait for at least two months before the operation will take place, and it the meantime all I can do is hope that the wart does not get much bigger.

PS. The local anaesthetic has had one rather disconcerting side-effect; my right eye keeps weeping. The doctor warned me that this would happen, and that the effect should wear off in five to six hours. In the meantime, I am sitting here almost constantly dabbing my right eye with a handkerchief in order to stop tears running down my face. I must look rather strange … and I certainly feel rather odd.

Railways and Wargames: Some images from my old Colonial Wargaming website

My Colonial Wargaming website has been running – in various incarnations – for over nine years, and was last given a major overhaul in 2005. At that time I renovated quite a few of the existing pages and deleted others, including those dedicated to wargaming and railways. I did not, however, delete the photographs that I had used … and here are some of them.

The first is from my very first battle report – The Battle of Arora Junction – and although the photograph is not of a particularly good quality, the Liliput™ HOe-gauge locomotive and passenger carriage can be seen in the centre.

The next four photographs show a variety of different HOe-gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

The first is a Liliput™ 0-6-2 tank locomotive and 4-wheel passenger carriage, …

… the second a Liliput™ 0-6-2 tank locomotive and 4-wheel goods van, …

… the third is a ROCO™ 0-6-0 tank locomotive and 4-wheel passenger carriage, …

… and the fourth is a ROCO™ 0-6-0 tank locomotive and mixed goods wagons.

The 15mm-scale figures give some indication of the size of the locomotives and rolling stock.

The advantage of HOe-gauge model railway equipment is that it runs on N-gauge model railway track. As the photographs show, although the locomotives and rolling stock are 1:87-scale, they fit in well with 20mm and 15mm-scale wargames figures. The N gauge track is 9 mm wide, and is equivalent to 90 cm (3 foot) gauge track in 1:100-scale.

The portable wargame: A second tryout

Having re-written the rules slightly in the hope of improving them (the constant obsession of all wargames rule writers!), I decided to give them a further tryout this afternoon.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of each turn, I will summarise the main events of the battle and I hope that the photographs I have taken (using my iPhone rather than my normal digital camera) will enable my blog readers to follow the action.

Initial positions
The British force consisted of:

  • A Command Unit
  • Two Units of British Infantry
  • Two Units of Sudanese Infantry
  • An Artillery Unit

Opposing them was a Mahdist force of:

  • A Command Unit
  • Four Units of Nile Arab Infantry
  • Four Units of Hadendowa Infantry

As can be seen from the following photograph, the British formed up with their Artillery Unit in the centre of their formation whilst the Mahdist concentrated their troops into two ‘blocks’ in two of the corners of the battlefield.

Both sides were allocated three ‘Risk Express’ dice at the beginning of the battle.

Turn 1
Because no Mahdist Units were in range of the British Artillery Unit, it was unable to fire. Both sides threw a D6 die to see who would move and fight first, and the Mahdists won. As can be seen from the following photograph, the Mahdists were able to move their Command Unit and three Infantry Units, and chose to advance of their left flank. The British response was rather restricted by some poor dice throws, and all they did was to move their Command Unit towards their right flank, thus responding to the Mahdist advance.

Turn 2
The British Artillery unit opened fire on the closest Hadendowa Infantry Unit, but they missed their intended target and hit the Hadendowa next to it and destroyed it.

Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn, and this time the British won. They moved the rightmost British Infantry Unit forward and it opened fire on the Hadendowa Infantry Unit directly in front of it, and destroyed it. The Command Unit moved up behind the advancing British Infantry Unit to give its support.

The Mahdist response was move the two remaining Hadendowa Infantry Units forward, accompanied and supported by their Command Unit.

Turn 3
The British Artillery Unit fired at the nearest Mahdist Unit – the Command Unit – which it hit … and destroyed! This immediately reduced the number of ‘Risk Express’ dice the Mahdists could throw this turn to two.

Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn, and on this occasion the Mahdists won, and were able to move one of their Infantry Units. The foremost Hadendowa Infantry Unit moved into an orthogonally adjacent grid square to the rightmost British Infantry Unit, which it engaged in Close Combat. Both sides threw a D6 die each. Amazingly neither side won the Close Combat, and the attacking Hadendowa Infantry Unit was forced to withdraw.

It was then the British turn to move and fight. They were able to move most of their troops forward, and the two British Infantry Units opened fire on the foremost Hadendowa Infantry Unit … which was destroyed.

The Mahdist force was now only five Infantry units strong, and this reduced the number of ‘Risk Express’ dice it could throw next turn to one.

Turn 4
The British Artillery Unit was unable to fire at the nearest Mahdist Unit, which was masked by one of the British Infantry Units, and all other possible targets were out of range. Both sides threw a D6 die to determine who moved first this turn and the British won. Unfortunately, they were unable to move many of their Units forward, and only one of the British Infantry Units was in range of a Hadendowa Infantry Unit. They fired at the Mahdists … and missed!

The Mahdists were slightly luckier with their ‘Risk Express’ dice throws, and were able to withdraw the remaining Hadendowa Infantry Unit, thus ending the battle.

The revised rules worked quite well, and I was particularly happy with the way in which the numbers of ‘Risk Express’ dice that could be thrown by either side was affected by events. I was also pleased with the way the attacker who failed to win a Close Combat had to withdraw.

The photographs taken with the iPhone were not quite as good in terms of quality as those I usually take with my digital camera, but they are certainly of a reasonable and usable standard … and it will teach me to make sure that I have charged the battery on my digital camera before my next play-test!

A little light retail therapy

This morning was taken up with doing the weekly shopping. Now some men do not like any form of shopping, but my wife and I reached an agreement many years ago that if we went out shopping together, we would both allow the other some time to do some ‘retail therapy’ of their own. Today was no exception to that rule.

I managed to visit the local branch of Waterstones, where I finally got around to buying a copy of Christian Wolmer’s ENGINES OF WAR (Published by Atlantic Books Ltd [2010] ISBN 978 1 84887 172 4)

This book tells the history of how the railways transformed warfare, and is a must for anyone like me whose interests include military history from 1830 onwards … and railways (particularly steam railways).

I also bought the February issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED, which caught my eye as I was passing through the retail centre’s branch of WHSmith.

Over recent months I have not bought either of the two main UK wargames magazines. The reason why has little to do with cost, but more to do with what interests me. I have just not seen any articles in either that I wanted to read … but this issue of WARGAMES ILLUSTRATED bucked that trend, so I bought it.

The articles that were of particular interest to me were all about the war in the Sudan:

  • “Give them volleys!”: Wargaming the Mahdist Revolt
  • Circling the Square: The campaign to save Gordon and the Battle of Abu Klea
  • A good dusting: David Bickley’s designer eye-view of writing rules for re-fighting the battles of the Sudan War
  • Unfinished business: Avenging Gordon and the Battle of Tofrek

This issue also included an article about building armies for A VERY BRITISH CIVIL WAR, which looks very interesting.

These were not the only wargames/military history-related purchases I made today. I had to pay a visit to the local branch of John Lewis Partnership, and whilst I was making my way through the Toy Department, I happened to see an very nice folding wooden chessboard on sale. After thinking about it … for at least ten seconds … I bought it. It is larger than the chessboard I am currently using for my portable wargame, and this means that the individual squares are bigger. This will allow me to field some of the 15mm-scale troops that I have already have and that are on bases that are currently too large for my existing chessboard. This will also mean that my battles will no longer be confined to Colonial ones, as they currently are.

Not a bad day’s ‘retail therapy’, eh?

The portable wargame: Preparing for the next tryout

My wife and I spent quite a lot of time today with my father-in-law in Herne Bay, Kent. We were trying to help him sort out the aftermath of his recent car accident, including sending the relevant forms to the DVLA in Swansea in order to get a refund of what remained of his unexpired Vehicle Excise Duty and to transfer ownership of the remains of his car to his insurance company.

This has left me little time today to tryout the latest version of the rules I have developed to use with my portable wargame. However, I did have time to place the Units on the board, and to set down some ideas as to how decide how many ‘Risk Express‘ dice each side should have. (I use the ‘Risk Express‘ dice in my solo battles to decide how many of each type of unit each side may move each turn.)

I took my inspiration from a comment I read about the latest in Richard Borg’s COMMANDS & COLORS series of games, COMMANDS & COLOURS: NAPOLEONICS. I understand that in the rules for this new game, the British throw more dice than the French when they are firing and the French throw more dice than the British when in close combat. I decided that in my solo games the number of ‘Risk Express‘ dice each side is allocated would be decided by the following formulae:

  • European troops: one ‘Risk Express‘ dice for every three non-Command Units (with any remainders being rounded up) plus one ‘Risk Express‘ dice for the Command Unit
  • Native troops: one ‘Risk Express‘ dice for every three non-Command Units (with any remainders being rounded down) plus one ‘Risk Express‘ dice for the Command Unit

For example, if a European force of eight Units (including a Command Unit) were facing a Native force of eight Units (including a Command Unit), the Europeans would be allocated four ‘Risk Express‘ dice (7/3 = 2.66 [which when rounded up = 3] plus 1 = 4) and the Natives would be allocated three ‘Risk Express‘ dice (7/3 = 2.66 [which when rounded down = 2] plus 1 = 3). This would supposedly reflect the superior discipline of the European troops as well as preventing the Native force from having far more ‘Risk Express‘ dice than the European force.

In addition, the number of ‘Risk Express‘ dice allocated to each side should diminish as Units are destroyed, and the loss of a Command Unit would therefore have serious consequences.

I intend to try this system out during the next play-test of my rules/tryout of my portable wargame, and to see if it improves the game to the extent that I hope it will.