Thursday, 31 August 2023

Fort Liezele

The village where I live is also the site of the best-kept armoured fort that once formed part of the National Redoubt  around Antwerp. "Fort Liezele" as it is known, recently got a complete overhaul. It is of course a military heritage site, but also has a lot of other functions.

Part of the renovation was upgrading the current museum inside the fort. The museum focuses on the building of the fort during the pre-WW1 period, but also on the outbreak of the war and the role of the forts before WW1 got bogged down in trench warfare. Fort Liezele was not realy invovled in the fighting - the German breakthrough towards Antwerp happened in another sector of the defensive perimeter around Antwerp. It's also the reason why Fort Liezele barely received any damage (and also, only 1 soldier died during August 1014 in the Fort before the Fort surrendered).

I'm also completing my training as a guide to the museum and the Fort. When there was a call last year for new guides, I of course volunteered.

But anyway, here are some pictures of the renewed museum. I restrict them to only the uniforms, for the other things, you might have to come and visit yourself ;-)

Monday, 21 August 2023

The end of an era ...

I didn't renew my subscription for Miniature Wargames this month.

I have been subscribed to Miniature Wargames ever since Henry Hyde took over as editor (and when Battlegames was folded in Miniature Wargames), back in 2013. I also have an almost complete collection of all issues since issue 1 (see also the Wargames Magazine Index).

But during the last year, my print magazines failed to arrive every month. Granted, the helpful people at the publisher's subscription services send me a replacement copy every time I asked for one, but this situation couldn't go on. It makes no sense to pay for a magazine that doesn't end up in your mailbox.

"What about a digital subscription?" Sure, but I like having a paper magazine in my mailbox and in hand, to sit down and read it. I know from personal experience I rarely read pdf magazines - they just pile up in unread digital archives. I spend most of my working day in front of computer screens, so I don't want to spend my evenings staring at screens as well.

I don't know why the magazine doesn't arrive in my mailbox. It could be anything, perhaps my local postman is snatching them up (maybe a wargamer?). Perhaps cross-channel mail has become unreliable since Brexit (that's one of the explanations the publisher gave me)? Who knows? But the end result is I'm not getting my magazines...

If due to Brexit, it's really ravaging my hobby. My magazines don't arrive anymore, all sorts of trouble with orders from the UK (basically stopped ordering from the UK, unless there's no other option), and two major conventions I used to attend and run games for stopped operating (not only due to Brexit, but it was a contributing factor).

So I guess I'll start collecting back issues from all sorts of 2nd hand sales from now on. Luckily, there's always WSS, for which I still have a subscription :-)

Tuesday, 18 July 2023

A new project?

A few days ago, a package arrived in the post.

It was no surprise, of course, since I ordered it myself. A 28mm MDF model of the Château d'Hougoumont, from Sarissa. The idea is this will be the nucleus of a new project, focusing on the fighting around the famous Château on the French left flank / Allied right flank at Waterloo.

I am not sure whether this project will ever be completed, but we have to start somewhere. The trigger probably was I gave away all my old 1/72 plastic Napoleonic figures. They sat unused in my storage for over 15 years. But a wargamer isn't a real wargamer without some Napoleonic figures in his collection, hence the new project.

Monday, 17 July 2023

Beneath the Lily Banners

2 weeks ago, July 1 to be precise, some of us played a game set in the 17 century. Sadly, I wasn't there due to exam grading still going on, but a battle report can be found here.

Here are some more pictures (courtesy of Wim VdB):

Monday, 24 April 2023

To The Strongest: Byzantines vs Sassanids

This weekend we played an Ancients battle. Jean-Pierre hosted the game, using his excellent Byzantine and Sassanid armies. The ruleset we used was To The Strongest, which we never used before.

First things first, the pictures (some more can be seen here):

Bart, Jean-Pierre (umpire and host), David, Eddy. We rolled for sides. Bart and myself would command the Byzantines, Eddy and David the Sassanids. The setup of the battle was a straightforward encounter, both lines already set up when we arrived.

Eye-catching miniatures were the Elephants in the Sassanid army. Also known as Pachydermi ;-)

A view as seen from the Byzantine side. David and Eddy pondering their tactics (and taking photographs).

Another view as seen from the Byzantine army.

The battle starts. The Byzantine left flank (commanded by me) sends its cavalry forwards. The idea was to use an oblique line - we would try to hammer the enemy on the left, and draw out his infantry in the centre and our right, with perhaps a slight hope that the elephants would stampede.

The Byzantine cavalry is encountered by the Sassanid Cavalry on the same flank. This would spell the start of defeat for the Byzantines.

The game in full swing. The Byzantine right flank is almost decimated, and things look good for the Sassanids.

A top view - Byzantines at the bottom. Note the approaching Sassanid cavalry on the bottom left towards the Byzantine camp.

Another view of the same situation.

A close-up view as seen from the Byzantine camp.

Sassanid cavalry attacking the Byzantine camp. This would seal victory for the Sassanids.

Alas, the Pachydermi never entered battle. So we did enjoy a good stampede!

Anyway, some thoughts:

  • It had been a long time since I had played an Ancients game, not being a fan at all of the DBx style of games - although we have used Hail Ceasar for a number of games. This game was a pleasant surprise: an Ancients game without too much fiddling ...
  • ... however, to my taste, there were still a bit too much "bells and whistles" in the To The Strongest rules. But that has more to do with my obsession to strive for streamlined rules rather than the rules themselves. Ancients rules sometimes can devolve a bit too much into: "+1 for light cavalry when attacked by cataphracts except when in difficult ground during the Spring". Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, but it felt like that a bit. YMMV.
  • The activation system works very well. I hadn't fully grasped the technicalities of the rules, but basically, you want to keep going with units as long as you can. On our left Byzantine flank, we were a bit hesitant during the first turn, and in hindsight, that probably did cost us the victory. The distinction between "easy" and "difficult" activations felt a bit weird though.
  • The gridded system works ok, but the idea of having 2 units in a single cell seemed a bit strange. Why not having one unit per cell and double cell density? But I need to study the rules again to make a final judgement.
Oh yeah, one final thing. Bart and me were defeated 12-0 in victory points. We tried to claim at least a minor moral victory (out of habit), but no, ... the game was a solid victory for David and Eddy commanding the Sassanids.

Sunday, 16 April 2023

Napoleon Socks

Another souvenir from our Vienna trip.

Every wargamer needs a pair ...

Friday, 14 April 2023

Caernarfon Castle

During the last "clean out" drive of old wargaming junk (how long can you hold on to styrofoam hills or old cardboard houses that haven't been used for years ...?), I also wondered whether I should toss out my paper model of Caernarfon Castle.

I still remember very well when I got this model.  I was 12 years old, and we were on a family holiday in Wales. It was exciting, because this was the very first time I would cross the channel and set foot in Britain. I was also doing a lot of plastic modelkits at the time - mostly Airfix, Revell, Heller, Tamiya, ... I ditched almost all of my models during subsequent moves (those colour schemes that looked exciting as a 12-year old do look a bit garish several years later, and invariably there's a lot of accumulated damage), but this paper model castle always survived the cut.

Enough nostalgia! So yes, let's keep it for at least a few more years! :-)

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

I have been to Vienna

During Eastern, we spent a few days in Vienna. Always a good opportunity for some military history-related pictures.

The car! (Heeresgeschichte Museum)

Left: me. Right: Napoleon. (Belvédère)

During any campaign, it's always a good idea to keep the troops happy.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

Going through a backlog of magazines

I finally found the time to go through a backlog of wargaming magazines and add them to the magazine index.

There are now approx 7800 articles indexed.

I make regular use of it myself, looking up old articles, and sometimes receive positive comments from people who do the same. So I'll keep up the work, although I can't claim completeness. But I consider this a lifelong project ;-)

Saturday, 1 April 2023

Medieval Tournament (6)

Yesterday we played our "Grand Melee".

16 knights started the melee. After 4 were knocked out, the game was reset and we continued with 12 (the second toornament day). Then with 8. Etc. In the end, there was one winner emerging from the final round of 4 on the 4th tournament day.

Players got a gold piece when they knocked a knight out (1 GP), and when one of the backed knights (assigned randomly and hidden at the start of the tournament) ended in the last 5 (resp. 1/2/3/4/5 gold). The secretly assigned knights also made players guessing who was backing what knight, which was an additional element of fun.

When it was your turn, you could activate any knight you wanted, and had to choose from 3 possible actions (drawn randomly from ordinary playing cards). "Virtues of the court ladies" threw in some additional special benefits for chosen knights.

Bart took the win with a total of 10 GP, Phil came in second with 9 GP, and Eddy acquired 5 GP.

Overall, a fun game, although as usual, some rules tweaks are in order if we ever decide to run this again.

The start of the Grand Melee.16 Knights want to win the tournament. Yes, that's an original Citadel Warhammer Siege castle from the late 80s/early 90s.

A medieval game is always a good reason to bring out some old Warhammer Scenery.

The first casualty  of the tournament. Philips van Liezele is knocked out

Me taking a photograph of Bart taking a photograph.

Eddy and Bart pndering tactics. Who wil win? Barthold van Vetterling or Edward van Sterkenburg?

A bloody melee. Sigisbiduwald von Trappstein-Hohenschlieffen is knocked out, while Egon van Blauwen and Alexander de Croowaen are looking on.

The Status Board, used for identifying knights, although after some time we knew all miniature by name. Most of the names are tongue in cheek and refer to our past games or our own names.

Another overview of the tournament field.

A look at the castle.

A view of the melee field, in one of the later rounds.

One of the final combats. Egon van Blauwen vs Barthold van Vetterling vs Hubertus van d'Ardennen.

The final combat!!! Hubertus van d'Ardennen (who turned out to be one of Bart's knights) will knock out Alexander de Croowaen (who was backed by Phil).