Monday, 11 May 2015

What's in a name?

Just a brief explanation of where this blog get's it's title. I have my wife, The Lovely Kay, to thank for the inspiration. Having pondered hard on a catchy and self explanatory title, whilst trying to be original was proving to be not as easy as you'd think.
 The 'little men' part should be reasonably obvious, the models we game with. It is also what my wife calls them when I go to the club, "are you going to play with your little men tonight" - well I hope she's referring to the models and not my club mates?!

The 'shiny cannons' is more of an in joke within our household. Like many of us I am a little obsessive about getting the representation of uniforms and equipment correct. I wanted to know if Napoleonic cannons were shiny or were left to develop a dull patina on campaign? A perfectly rational question I here you say. These things are important for painting units correctly. So I Googled "How shiny were Napoleonic cannons", as anyone would!? Of course the next time my wife and son used the search engine, the recent search history is displayed. They seemed to find it highly amusing and have since teased me mercilessly since. I can see the funny side and have decided to take ownership of the ridicule :-)

Oh, I know you're dying to know, I didn't get a definitive answer to the shiny cannon question. I think as personal admin i.e. cleaning of one's self and kit is the cornerstone of discipline, I think they were still buffed up on campaign. They regularly had reviews by Generals and let's face it, 6+ hulking artillery pieces with 200 personnel and associated equipment and waggons, in direct line of sight, belching huge clouds of white smoke....A dull cannon tube is not going to make you less of a target!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Hello and Welcome

First of all I'm going to dedicate this blog to the ones who have gone before. For providing the inspiration and indeed the encouragement to parade my abilities to the general public. There is a surprisingly healthy community of historical wargaming bloggers out there and I feel excited and proud to be joining them. But slightly apprehensive about doing them justice. A few of the blogs that have inspired me are listed, but this list is by no means exhaustive.
I'm going to continue with my first ever blog post with a brief introduction to myself, and my wargaming experiences to date. Then tell you about my dreams and aspirations and how I plan to achieve them. Maybe add a few irreverent comments and musings both wargaming and non wargaming related along the way.
I wargame in several historical periods, but my main interest lies with Napoleonics. This is where the main focus of this blog is going to be. The other periods I'll cover by other means, mainly YouTube. Who knows, there may even be another blog.
Like most Napoleonic wargamers we tend to have a favourite campaign and even a particular phase or battle within that campaign. For me it's the Franco - Austrian 1809 War of the 5th Coalition. With particular emphasis on the opening weeks in the Bavarian countryside. Others campaigns may follow, but that's way in the future.
So when and where did I get introduced to wargaming?  Well I've been exposed to wargaming the whole of my life via my Dad. Some of my earliest memories are of my Dad's wargames room, in the extension above the garage at our generic 1930's semi, in the suburbs of Manchester (well Cheshire really, part of the conurbation)
Part of his set up was the de riguer 6'×4' chipboard table, spray painted green. Furnished with hills made from cut up green carpet tiles, and few flimsy plastic and cardboard buildings. Dad is a Napleonics buff, what he doesn't know about the period isn't worth knowing. He got into it as a fan of history in general,  but drawn to it by the colourful uniforms. Models were 25mm by Hinchcliffe and Minifigs. Later 6mm by Heroics & Ros.
Most young boys are into something, for me it was Dinosaurs. Then onto Weoponry and War machinery of the 20th century. I mean ALL of it, from WW1 biplanes to ICBM'S, sub machine guns to nuclear submarines. I bordered on the spectrum at the amount of data I knew.
It was at this time my Dad started taking me along to Northern Militaire in the early 1980's. I have fond memories of wandering the hall looking at the model competition entries, the stalls and demo games, the post show supper of chips with curry sauce. (Chips and curry sauce still hold those evocative memories for me even now 35 years later). With my fascination of 20th century weaponry, the constant threat of the Cold War in central Europe, then the advent of the Falklands War in '82. I started collecting 6mm 'Modern' micro armour, using the Challenger rules. Painting these with Humbrol enamel paints like my Dad used, I'm not even sure if acrylic paints were even an option?  I did this for a year of two before a family move from Cheshire to Gloucestershire, where the models were packed away and never really got unpacked.
The second chapter of my wargaming career happened about '86-'87. This time into the realm of Games Workshop. (Let's be honest, 90% of us have probably sold our soles to GW at some point?!) Love 'em or loathe 'em, GW revolutionised wargaming, the way it is packaged, presented and promoted. The historical rule books we now have, glossy hardbacked, with colour photos and proper printed diagrams are what GW were doing over 25 years ago. Previously rules were typewritten, photocopied and stapled together. Posh ones had a spiral binder! Any diagrams were hand drawn, and illustrations were pen and ink by a mate who had an O level in art! 
Now in one of his trips to Northern Militaire,  Dad picked up a box set of 25mm Fellowship of the Ring, from a forgotten manafacturer. Now for us, Tolkien was a god in our family, LoTR and The Hobbit were our bedtime stories as youngsters. One day I decided to paint them up and thought about expanding it with some orcs. This was days before Internet search engines, knowledge was gleaned  from books and magazines. This is how I ended up with a copy of White Dwarf. Now, I didn't end up going down the Tolkeinesque sword and sorcery route. Something new was on the horizon. It just happened to be in that months issue, a page with a picture of some pre production Sci Fi models. That was it, no other explanation. Fantasy in space! Now I'm not a mainstream kind of guy. If there's a viable alternative to what the masses do, then I'll do that instead. The next month's issue it all kicked off....Warhammer 40,000 was born and I was there at day one. I did it all. Marines - my own chapter- Space Jets! Complete with fluff. Orks, Eldar, Chaos, Imperial Guard. Titans, Space Hulk, WH40K Epic, Battleship Gothic. I had fair collection of all them. This continued from '87 to '92. 1992 is when I went to University and playing with spacemen and monsters was not going to get me the girls. So I left them behind in my parents loft,  and that's where they stayed. I went to look for then last year, but they had all gone. Parents deny throwing them out, but I can't be too cross as I had left them there for well over 20 years. It is gutting as there was probably a couple of grands worth of kit and plenty of collectors out there.
Chapter 3 was a short and sweet revisit. In 1993 I started reading the Sharpe series of books, and in 1994 it was dramatised on TV. As already mentioned my Dad was a Naps man, so all the resources were at hand. So my first immersion into Napoleonics occurred upto 1997, when grown up life meant time, space and funds were limited. That's where it ended....until 2014.
So 17 years later. Life is more secure. Time and money can be reclaimed or diverted. My other love in life (hobby wise)is fly fishing, a not particularly social pastime and salmon rivers are a little few and far between in the South Cotswolds. I needed to do more social things outside of work and home. My fascination with military history was still as keen as ever. The desire to wargame had not diminished, it just needed rekindling. This time I felt I could do it properly. In the Internet age reintroducing oneself to this hobby is a doddle. It's all there. Blogs, forums, YouTube,  shops etc. I found a reasonably close Wargames club that gamed historical periods; Cheltenham Wargames Association. I popped along and was given a warm welcome. I had arrived back.

Now if you still have the willpower, I invite you to join me on my journey from the restart, to wherever it may take me.