My wife and I recently watched a TV programme about the Landmark Trust, a UK charity that refurbishes historic buildings and then rents them out to holidaymakers. We hadn't previously known that the Trust has some properties overseas. It turns out one of them is the Gardener's House at Chateau Hougoumont on the field of Waterloo.. Before the programme finished, my amazing wife had booked us in for four nights next Spring. Not cheap and it's booked up for a long time ahead, but I can't resist the chance to sleep in a building that survived 18 June 1815.
If I'm the last to find out about this, I'm sorry for wasting your time. But if it's news to you too, check out the website. I last visited the battlefield in 1975. Lots to look forward to next Spring...
I have uploaded a scenario for Heth's attack on McPherson's Ridge on 1 July 1863, using Sam Mustapha's Longstreet rules. See the scenario here. This is one of several scenarios we have played over the past year, for which I had no respectable maps. I'm still not totally happy with the map attached to this scenario, but I hope it is enough to transfer to the tabletop. I have been struggling to master the Sketchbook App and hope to produce more attractive maps with experience.
1 July 1863 provides some really interesting encounters that we broke into manageable scenarios to fit Longstreet's brigade level focus. Heth's assault provides a balanced game and of course provides a chance to deploy your Iron Brigade figures. The challenge is for the Union to form a defensive line on the ridge before Heth can get his troops up there. In our replay, the Union managed to hold the line and exhaust Confederate fighting power, but only just. We fought with Kallistra 10/12mm figures and Timecast buildings.
The next map I'm working on is to accompany the fight for Blocher's Knoll, which took place later the same day to the North of Gettysburg.
There is a piece in the new Miniature Wargames by Conrad Kinch about scenario design. The message seems to be that there are a lot of good scenarios out there and no need to write one if an existing scenario will do, but that if you know what you want to achieve, a well-designed scenario is fun to write and rewarding to play. I can't say I've found a mass of scenarios waiting to be downloaded, at least not for the scales and rules we play with. The scenario buckets on the Honour website are curiously thin, except for some excellent Spanish Succession ones on Maurice and a raft of good scenarios for Might and Reason. Why so few? When I think about my own output I begin to see a possible reason. I write a lot of scenarios but they are rarely in a fit state to share. I write them on scraps of paper in a scrawl only I can decipher. I use maps from books or websites, which I couldn't reproduce without breaching copyright. These days I do type up player briefings and orders of battle, but these alone aren't enough to play a game. Plus, I don't show my workings: I know what figure ratios and general logic I am going for when I write the scenario, but if I come back to my scribbles only a few weeks later I can completely forget how I had reached my calculations. In short, my scenarios are good for nobody.
I've decided to try and fix this, by putting more substance into my scenario writing and, crucially, explaining my intentions. As I work through them I will put more up onto the website. So far there is a simple scenario for The opening encounter of First Bull Run, which I am pleased with because it does give a tense game. But it is a slow business making even a simple scenario intelligible for anybody else but me.
I have finished my fourth and last Garrison 25mm Carthaginian elephant. I am very pleased with the look of them all together. I expect to use them as two units in Sword and Spear games,. If we ever feel the need for more elephant units I'm thinking of placing one elephant per unit, flanked by 4 light infantry. This might make the elephant line look a bit thin but I doubt I'll get my hands on any more of this model and anyway, I can find more productive uses for my wargaming pennies.
Fate is really pushing me towards a new 25mm Carthaginian army. No sooner did I pick up these elephants than Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and their sister publication, Ancient Warfare, both did special features on the First Punic War. This is an ideal way in as it lets me use lots of my existing Hoplite and light infantry units, so we can start gaming after only a little more painting. Has the time come, I wonder, to sell off my 15mm Carthaginians? Only to fund the bigger scale of course. But I'm not sure I can stand the wrench as we've been together a long time, as far back as 1982 in some cases. I probably haven't played a game with the 15s since the Millennium, though...
For light relief in the middle of the elephant project, I painted a 6mm regiment of French Napoleonic cuirassiers to add to a small collection we use for playing Lasalle. In two lines the unit base measures 60x30mm, which seems to be the new standard for playing Blucher in 6mm. I'm pleased with the look of these figures and glad that Heroics are properly back in business. They are still my favourite sculpts for this scale.