Ritual

The online version of the Oxford Dictionary defines ‘ritual’ as being:

Noun

  • Religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order
  • Prescribed order for performing a ritual ceremony, especially one characteristic of a particular religion or Church
  • Series of actions or type of behaviour regularly and invariably followed by someone

Adjective

  • Relating to or done as a religious or solemn rite
  • (Of an action) arising from convention or habit

Now I have never made a secret of the fact that I am a Freemason, and as such I regularly take part in Masonic rituals. On Monday I am attending a meeting of the London Lodge of which I am a member, and have a minor part to play in the ritual of Installing a new Worshipful Master as head of that Lodge. I have ‘volunteered’ to deliver what is know as ‘The Address to the Brethren’, which is the very last piece of the ritual of Installation. The problem is that despite all my efforts, I cannot seem to be able to learn it!

I must explain that I am originally – and still remain – a Hertfordshire Mason. In Hertfordshire the ‘Address’ is always delivered by a senior Grand Officer (e.g. the Provincial Grand Master, his Assistant, or one of his Deputies) and as I do not occupy one of those important offices, I would not be expected to know it. In London things are done differently, and the ‘Address’ is usually delivered by someone who is a Past Master and relatively senior within a Lodge.

At present I know the opening part of the ritual … and I know the end. It is the bit in the middle that I seem to be having trouble with … and however much I try, I just cannot get the words to ‘stick’. The ritual was written in the early part of the nineteenth century, and contains some long sentences with several clauses. This makes it difficult to learn, but I know that if I could get the rhythm of the words right, the rest will follow.

I intend to spend as much of today (and probably tomorrow as well) trying to learn this piece of ritual. In theory I could just read it out … but I am now determined to learn it. It has become a mountain that I need to climb, if only for my own satisfaction!


Nugget 278

I collected the latest edition of THE NUGGET (N278) from the printer yesterday afternoon, and I hope to post it out to members of Wargame Developments tomorrow.

I have already uploaded the PDF versions of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT to the Wargame Developments website, and they are available for members of Wargame Developments to read online or to download and print.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed can do so by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent to members by post and email as soon as they re-subscribe.


VERY IMPORTANT: All the residential places at the 2015 Conference of Wargamers (COW2015) have now been booked. There are still non-residential places available, and these can be booked via the Wargame Developments website.

Blücher

I recently visited arthur1815 and whilst I was there I had a chance to look at his copy of Sam Mustafa‘s latest rules, BLÜCHER. I must admit that I was very impressed by what I saw. The rules were very well laid out, the diagrams were clear, and there were plenty of illustrative examples. Furthermore there were very few photographs of figures in the book, and those that were included were there for a reason and not just eye-candy or to pad the book out. The book was also a hardback with a proper binding, and printed on very good quality paper. All-in-all it struck me as being a good quality and attractive product. Arthur1815 and I tried out the free, downloadable campaign maps (the SCHARNHORST MAP SYSTEM) and both felt that it both simple and worked very well indeed.

Some days later I had an exchange of emails with David Crook (who writes the A WARGAMING ODYSSEY blog) in which he extolled the virtues of BLÜCHER. He made the very valid point that as I was finally doing something with my collection of Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures, what I needed was a decent set of appropriate wargames rules. He advised my to buy BLÜCHER … and he supported his advice by mentioning that they were the first Napoleonic wargames rules that he had read that treated the Ottoman Army with equal importance as the other armies of the period.

In the face of such overwhelming logic (well it was about as persuasive as it needed to be bearing in mind that I already like the look of the rules!!), I bought a copy … and it arrived in today’s post.

I haven’t had much time to look though the rules as yet, but they certainly look as good as I remembered. I particularly like the idea that you don’t actually need to base the figures you use on a particular size of base as long as the bases you do use are of a consistent width. The latter fact is important because all measurements are made in base-widths. (It struck me immediately that this should make the rules work well on a grid … but I think that I need to read them thoroughly before going down that particular route!)

The situation with regard to my first real foray into Napoleonic wargaming is looking good. I have a book of rules that I think will meet all my needs, I have a collection of appropriate figures that I am gradually getting ready, and I have a simple campaign system that I can use. All that’s left is for me to put some suitable martial music on the CD player … and off I go!


The Prussians are coming!

Not so much coming … as arrived!

I finally finished basing the Prussian Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures that I own … although I have a few more that I bought recently on eBay that are yet to arrive.

Prussian Infantry

Prussian Cavalry

Prussian Artillery

Note: They are currently using ‘borrowed’ British ordnance. I hope to replace this with appropriate Prussian artillery pieces in due course.

Prussian Generals and Officers

I have gloss varnished the figures to protect them from minor damage and painted the bases with Humbrol Matt Grass Green enamel paint because I like the Toy Soldier/Old School ‘look’ that is a result.

I am rather pleased with the way these Prussian figures have turned out, and I am looking forward to doing the next batch of figures from my collection.


Nugget 278

The editor of THE NUGGET sent me the draft of the latest issue last night. I have printed the original copy this morning and I plan to take it to the printer later today. This means that I should be able to collect it from them on Thursday, and I hope to be able to post it out to members of Wargame Developments on Friday or Saturday.

IMPORTANT: Please note that this is the fifth issue of THE NUGGET to be published for the 2014-2015 subscription year, and that members who have not already re-subscribed should do so as soon as possible. This can be done by visiting the relevant page on the Wargame Developments website.

The password to open the online PDF version of THE NUGGET and THE NUGGET COLOUR SUPPLEMENT will be sent by post and email to members when they re-subscribe.


Back to bases …

Strictly speaking I haven’t been basing figures today … I have been preparing some to be based.

To date I have based almost all of my Del Prado pre-painted 25/28mm-scale Napoleonic Prussian infantry figures (I have three spare figures) and prepared my Prussian artillery figures for basing … and today I have been touching up any damage on my Prussian cavalry figures prior to varnishing them later this evening. With luck I will be able glue them to their bases at some point during tomorrow morning, and once the glue has cured I will then finish them off by painting the bases with Humbrol Matt Grass Green enamel paint.

I have been working on the slow-burn, non-priority project for some weeks (since 5th February, to be precise), doing little bits as and when I could. As a result I have not suffered from that lack of interest or lethargy that sometimes strikes when one is working on a large project, and I have made better progress than I hoped that I would.

Once the Prussians are finished I hope to move on to the ‘odds and sods’ that form part of my collection. These include Brunswickers (all infantry) and Dutch-Belgians (Belgian infantry and Dutch cavalry), both of whom fought on the Allied side at Waterloo.


Barbarossa Mini-campaign: Battle No.3: Triple line

Having beaten off the determined Russian counter-attack, the somewhat weakened Germans continued their advance into Soviet territory. By this stage Russian resistance was weak, and the Germans knew that if they were to reach Moscow before the snows of Winter arrived, they had to push on and destroy all remaining Russian forces.

This was the third battle of my Barbarossa Mini-campaign.


Triple LineThis battle used Scenario 26 from Neil Thomas’s ONE-HOUR WARGAMES. The Germans had six units and the Russians had four units.

The Germans had:

  • Three Infantry Units (= 12 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)
  • One Tank Unit (= 3 Strength Points)

Note: The German will become exhausted when they have lost 11 Strength Points.

The Russians had:

  • Two Infantry Units (= 8 Strength Points)
  • One Machine Gun Unit (= 4 Strength Points)
  • One Artillery Unit (= 2 Strength Points)

Note: The Russians will become exhausted when they have lost 7 Strength Points but as they are defending and will obey Stalin’s ‘Not one step back!‘ order, this will not seriously effect them.

The terrain looked like this:

Note: In the original scenario the defenders do not have any fieldworks, trenches etc. For this battle I decided that the second line of defenders would have had time to dig in, and I have therefore allowed them a line of trenches.

The battle began when the leading German units entered the battlefield.

The Russians were already in their defences … waiting.

They did not have to wait long. The German Tank Unit moved forward and engaged the Russian Infantry Unit that was guarding the bridge, forcing it to retire.

The Germans then moved their Artillery Unit onto the battlefield.

Having clearer away the bridge’s defenders, the German Tank Unit advanced across it and fired for a second time at the same Russian Infantry Unit, inflicting 25% casualties upon it and forcing it to fall back yet again.

The right-hand German Infantry Unit moved towards the bridge to support the advancing Tank Unit …

… as did the German Machine Gun Unit.

The Russian Artillery Unit opened fire on the German Tank Unit … and hit it.

Whilst this was happening the foremost Russian Infantry Unit advanced into the woods near the river as this enable them to threaten any German units moving forward over the bridge.

The German Tank Unit moved across the front of the Russian trenches and engaged the right-hand Russian Infantry Unit. Despite being in trenches, the Russian Infantry Unit lost 25% of its initial strength.

The leading German Infantry Unit advanced across the bridge, but was unable to fire at any of the Russian defenders.

The Russian Machine Gun Unit fired at the leading German Infantry Unit and hit it.

The German Infantry Unit was then fired upon by the Russian Infantry Unit that was in the woods, and although no casualties were inflicted, the German Infantry Unit was forced to retreat onto the bridge.

The Russian Artillery Unit fired for a second time at the German Tank Unit … and destroyed it!

Despite the loss of the Tank Unit, the Germans pushed forward in the hope of achieving a quick and decisive victory.

First the German Infantry Unit on the bridge moved forward and into the woods on its right.

Secondly the German Machine Gun Unit moved forward on to the bridge, …

… and the remaining German Infantry Unit entered the battlefield.

The Russians failed to respond to this movement, and the German continued to press forward.

Fighting broke out in the woods near the bridge, and resulted in further losses for the Russian Infantry Unit therein.

The German Machine Gun Unit advanced and opened fire on its opposite number in the Russian trenches … and inflicted casualties on them.

One of the other German Infantry Units reached the bridge and began to cross it …

… followed by the German Artillery Unit.

The fighting in the woods continued, although this resulted in losses for the Germans rather than the Russians.

These losses were offset when the Russian Machine Gun Unit lost further casualties at the hands of its German counterpart.

The combat in the woods was finally resolved when the Russian Infantry Unit was forced to retire, but the cost was heavy and the German Infantry Unit was destroyed.

The retreating Russian Infantry Unit was engaged by the German Machine Gun Unit, and forced to fall back even further.

Unfortunately for the Germans, the fact that the German Machine Gun Unit had not moved resulted in a traffic jam by the bridge, with units lining up to cross.

In order to clear the way for other units to cross the bridge, the German Machine Gun Unit moved to its left and fired at the Russian Infantry Unit that was in the trenches. This resulted in further losses for the Russian Infantry Unit.

The leading German Infantry Unit moved across the bridge and engaged the Russian Machine Gun Unit … but with no effect.

The situation then suddenly swung in favour of the Russians. The Russian Artillery Unit fired at the leading German Infantry Unit and inflicted 50% losses upon it.

The German Infantry Unit was then fired at by the Russian Machine Gun Unit … and wiped out!

At this point the Germans had almost become exhausted, and it was obvious that they would be unable to prise the Russians out of their defences without further reinforcements. The German Machine Gun Unit therefore withdrew to the other side of the bridge, where the Germans began to form a defence line.


This was the final battle of my mini-campaign. The Germans had won the first two battles, but the final one was drawn, leaving the Russians bruised but unbeaten and the Germans seriously in need of further troops. As happened in the real Operation Barbarossa, the Germans had pushed just a little too far and the Russians were able to dig in and hold out.

I rather enjoyed the whole process of the mini-campaign. It gave the flavour of a much large campaign without becoming too tedious. The outcome of the battles was reasonably realistic and all the battles were fun to fight. Although I fought them as solo wargames, my playing card-driven unit activation system ensured that I could not favour either side and the combat system (which is almost entirely drawn from Richard Borg‘s MEMOIR ’44) produced reasonably balanced results that were also unpredictable.

I will certainly use this mini-campaign structure again, and I thoroughly recommend it to other wargamers who fight solo wargames or who do not have easy access to a wargames club where they can take part in a campaign.