I’ve been away again … but now I am back!

We have just returned from our latest cruise … and I am very pleased to be back home.

My wife had spotted that this cruise to Norway had been heavily discounted, and so we booked it at very short notice. As a result we have just spent seven days aboard MV Azura, one of P&O’s largest ships … during the half-term holidays! The ship was almost full (it has a maximum capacity of 3,100 passengers) and there were more than enough children about to make us realise why the cruise had been reduced in price.

That said, the places we visited were very interesting, and I will be writing a special blog entry about it in due course.

So why am I so pleased to be home? Because last night I began to exhibit the symptoms of a stomach bug that had been doing the rounds aboard ship (luckily NOT the Norovirus), and by this morning I had a massive headache, aching joints, alternatively felt very cold or hot, and had a very, very dodgy stomach. I just about managed to drive the 126 miles home from Southampton, but when I got home and had unloaded the car, I drank lots of water and went to bed to sleep for five hours. I am feeling a bit better now, and hope that I will have recovered by tomorrow morning.

ROCO Minitanks: old catalogue

After my recent blog entries about ROCO Minitanks, Andy Callan – who was also one of the founding members of Wargame Developments – sent me a copy of an old catalogue. It must date from before 1971 because the prices are all in pounds, shillings, and pence (or £.s.d. as they currency used to be referred to!) … and boy, do I wish they were still so cheap! (To give some idea of the modern equivalent of the prices quoted, 2/6d is now 12.5p or just under $0.20.)

Another second-hand game purchased on eBay

I was so impressed with the potential uses of the playing pieces that came with my recently purchased WAR! AGE OF IMPERIALISM, that I bought a copy of Eagle Games’ THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR boxed wargame via eBay.

The box contains a large three-part playing board that is a map that covers the main theatres of the American Civil War, …

… rules (with three levels of complexity from Basic to Advanced), dice, and a large number of plastic 20mm-scale figures, moulded in four colours. (There are two grey, two dark blue, one light blue, and one red sprues in the box, each sprue having 20 infantry, 10 cavalry, 5 cannon [each made from three parts], 5 leaders, and 2 standard bearers.) There are also three sprues of horses (2 brown and 1 black), with each sprue having 24 horses.

One thing that the box does not contain is the Tactical Battle Board, …

… but the rules make it clear that this is not required, and that one can be made from a large piece of card. (It can be bought from Eagle Games as a ‘spare part’ or ‘component’. I would like to buy one, but the cost of $3.00 is outweighed by the cost of postage and packing [$43.00!] … which I think is quite out of all proportion to the price of the item.)

I can already see potential uses for both the playing board, the battle board, and the figures … and I have a feeling that I will begin to explore them over the forthcoming months.

More information about eighteenth century naval artillery

Nigel Drury very kindly sent me photocopies of several pages from a book about eighteenth century naval artillery, and I think that the information contained therein will be of interest to some of my regular blog readers.

The several denominations by which English guns in either service are identified with their respective calibers, are not applicable to foreign guns; every nation possessing, besides a scale of calibers, or natures, a standard of weights and measures, peculiar to itself. Until, therefore, the calibers, or pounders, of several sea-service guns in use by different powers at war, can be reduced into English weight, it will be in vain to attempt any comparison between them. For instance, the gun with which the French arm the first decks of their line-of-battle ships, above a 64, is by them denominated a 36-pounder, for the plain reason, that the shot suitable to its cylinder, and which shot measures in diameter 6.239 French inches and decimal parts, weighs 36 French pounds. But the same shot measures 6.648 English inches and decimal parts, and weighs very little less than 39 English pounds [See endnote]. The following table, which has been drawn up with great care, is submitted as the only statement of the kind in print.

Nothing can demonstrate the utility of such a table, more clearly, than the material difference observable between some of the calibers: The Danish 36-pound shot, for instance, weighs nearly two pounds more than the Russian 42; yet, nominally, the latter is the heavier by one seventh. As it is for the gross, or broadside, and not the individual calibers, that our calculations are chiefly wanted, that the integral proportion which comes nearest to the difference expressed in the table, will answer the purpose. Thus:

[Endnote: In one or two instances, the French first-class first-rates have mounted 48-pounders; but according to an ordonnance of the French king, dated 1786, the following were established as the guns and complements of the different classes of ships; to which is now added, to serve for reference hereafter, the broadside force or weight of metal.]

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 362

Today I received my first subscription issue of the re-launched MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine.

The articles included in this issue are:

  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Fields of value: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • The Great Armada: Part 2: a landing in the north by Jim Webster
  • Whose history? answered: First we should ask “Whose accuracy?” by William Haggart
  • Swamp pursuit: a race to safety against enemies and nature by Arthur Harman
  • Send three and four pence by Conrad Kinch
  • 1644: An email and tabletop campaign by Paul Johnston
  • Camerone 1863: The last stand of the Legion by Jim Webster
  • Command challenge: Save Lady Jane from McSiggins! by Henry Hyde
  • Painting perfect pikemen by Tamsin Piper
  • Salute 2013: One wargamer’s grand day out by Dillon Browne
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde

This looks like being another great issue … and I can hardly wait to set aside enough time to read it at my leisure!

Help for Heroes

In the wake of yesterday’s murderous attack in Woolwich on the as-yet-unnamed young soldier, ones feels that one wants to do something … but what?

Nigel Drury (a long-time friend and fellow member of Wargame Developments) has made an excellent suggestion … and that is to give our support to HELP FOR HEROES. The murdered soldier was wearing one of the charity’s sweatshirts when he was killed, and it seems an appropriate response.

If you want to find out more about HELP FOR HEROES, click here.

Incident in Woolwich

I just saw a news broadcast about what appears to have been a Islamist terrorist attack in Woolwich. I live less than a mile from the location of the alleged attack, and the news report indicates that a soldier has been killed by two men, who were then shot by armed police.

This is not the first time the Woolwich has been subject to a terrorist attack. A public house only a few metres from where this alleged attack took place was bombed by the IRA in 1974.

My condolences and sympathy go out to the family of the dead man.