Sunday 31 December 2023

2023 in review

The best laid plans, as they say...

Do feel free to go read my 2022 end of year post and laugh - probably somewhat hollowly. 

For those who missed the story - we were called up to parents by neighbours at the beginning of January, as Mum had had some kind of fall. Found her not brilliant (with hindsight, she may have had the first of a few minor seizures) and Dad seriously unwell with what fortunately turned out not to be a stroke. Dad to hospital, wife and I up to care for Mum for the next month while we tried to convince her she needed carers in. (How on earth Dad managed to look after her alone (beyond sheer bloody-mindedness) is beyond either of us. She'd been largely chair-bound for most of the past decade.)

When you're 87 and admitted to hospital in as bad a state as Dad was, it's not at all uncommon not to make it out alive. Dad, fortunately, is made of markedly more stubborn Yorkshire grit, and despite being flat on his back for most of 5 weeks, was back walking with the aid of a frame and then sticks before the end of April. And still in possession of the majority of his marbles.

Finally won the carers argument with Mum as it was the only way the hospital would allow Dad home. Sadly she was growing weaker, and passed away at the beginning of March. Next couple of months were taken up with funeral arrangements and starting the process of sorting out her estate. Then Dad (wisely, to be honest) decided that he'd found a really nice residential care home, and didn't want to live on his own in a house that would easily hold 6 while paying for care. (He was wise enough to recognise that his need for some form of regular daily care wasn't going to go away, and quite frankly, after the amount of effort he'd put into looking after Mum, I was quite happy for him to do whatever ever the hell he felt happiest with, because he'd Damn Well Earned It.)

And around about that time Anne's dad passed away. So, once the dust had settled on that, July was spent moving Dad, and then August to pretty much the end of November spent getting the house sold and emptying it of two peoples' lives for the past 50 years. I am I think blessed in that while Dad is a hoarder, he is remarkably good (whether the hospital stay was a wakeup call, who knows?), in fact ruthlessly so, at the idea of 'I no longer need this, lets get rid of it'). So we did - a local auctioneers run a house-clearance service, and they basically auctioned what was saleable (some nice antique furniture) and disposed of the rest. Finally found a buyer and agreed a price, not long after Mum's probate got granted, and Dad and I have spent December helping him set up various savings accounts, ISAs etc to store his half of the proceeds. (Us, we just paid off our mortgage - thanks Mum).

And for a final kick in the teeth, our close friend and musical partner in crime Steve passed away very suddenly in October. 

So. here I am. It's the end of 2023, and ... whew. In some ways I'd like it back for a do-over, and I know I'd like my Mum and Steve back. But... all things must pass, and we move on.

Takeways from that experience:

  • Lasting Power Of Attorney - set it up NOW while the people involved still have their mental faculties. You don't have to use it, but it's there.
  • Treat elderly relatives protesting that they are fine with a healthy degree of scepticism until you have evidence with your own eyes.
  • The process for dealing with what happens when someone passes away is remarkably well documented, Don't panic.
  • The NHS are overstretched, underpaid, under-appreciated and being manipulated by the present Government for their own gains and that of their cronies.
  • You probably won't have to pay inheritance tax. The upcoming abolition probably isn't going to affect you at all, the Government would just like you to think they are.
  • Tell the people you care about that you love them. You might not get another chance.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Posh Lard this weekend - spare spaces!

We have spaces at #PoshLard this Sat due to folks having to drop out. We can offer What A Cowboy, What A Pirate, S&H and/or SP 2 (sadly, IABSM at Chef-du-Pont is fully booked). Yours for £5.

Booking available here!

Friday 16 June 2023

Posh Lard November 25th 2023


Ducks in a row. Cats herded. Venue booked. Website updated.

Announcing Posh Lard 2023 - Nov 25th at the George Allcock Centre, Peterborough. for more details!

Friday 26 May 2023

A tale of seven suppliers

So, I've been doing a bit of shopping of late, because... reasons, to follow in another post (or actually, probably podcast!). Various items, from seven different suppliers depending on availability, price and a few other criteria, from (literally) A to Z, though I'm not going to name names, although you should be able to work a few out. So. In alphabetical order...


A box-shifter, it would appear. Cheapest for a couple of items, but I foolishly failed to notice one item was on backorder. They will not split orders, even when it's glaringly obvious that one of the items is out of stock and in fact out of print everywhere. Support desk, and I quote verbatim, "Inline with our shipping policy page and backorder policy page sir we do not split orders". Just flat out unhelpful. Order now cancelled: had they been more helpful about it I would have re-ordered as two orders, but I'm a little concerned that they actually don't give a toss, and my backorder would have hung around for ever. Either way, it cost them over £100 in sales. Reordered with #7, watching for the credit card refund like a hawk.


Probably the world's biggest. Own delivery chain. Two deliveries, both turned up next day as promised, rang doorbell, parcel in my hot and sweaty hands. No problems.


Small 3D print seller on eBay - still waiting but they say 5-10 days so not stressed.


EBay seller doing custom decals (I'd do my own but I can't print white). Shipped the next day (in fact, today), should be here Tuesday via Royal Mail.


Well-known box shifter up in the NW. Both orders next day by Royal Mail. No complaints, have used them several times before and always been helpful.


A doorbell. It even
says RING on it.
Another fairly well-known box shifter with an eBay presence, based in Notts. Everything ships as promised. However? They use Evri (Hermes as was), which means that if your local Evri driver happens to be a clueless muppet who can't spot a doorbell when it's under their nose, your parcel gets left outside the back door on the ground because I'm in the outside office, not where I can hear them knock.


Odd site as their URL doesn't match their trading name. Second cheapest for most stuff (often cheapest if you cash in reward points or take advantage of their discounts), actually deliver when promised via Royal Mail. No complaints except that I spend more by looking for that 'one more item' to pass the discount price break :D

Thursday 18 May 2023

Battlechat with Henry Hyde

It's only taken most of lockdown (if you don't count the Virtual Hereward video post) but I'm on a podcast.

Not mine, I hasten to add, but the fabulous Henry Hyde's Battlechat episode 101, where you can find Henry and I discussing everything from my personal gaming (and non-gaming) history, through Southend, Fleetwood Mac, IABSM, Dux, the club to putting on mad crazy games at shows.

I had a fabulous time, even if I had arrange it round getting Dad to the opticians and thus bring up a holdall of podcasting kit to his living room. Thanks to Henry for a fabulous hour and a bit, and for generally reminding me how much I love this hobby and inspiring me to get off my arse and do stuff!

Available to Patreons of Henry now (and if you aren't, why not!) or for the general public in a couple of weeks.

Sunday 7 May 2023

Hereward - we're BACK, baby!

After far too long without a face-to-face show I am delighted to announce that things are proceeding at a rate of knots for Hereward 2023. We're on our usual first Sunday in September (the 3rd) at our usual venue (The Cresset in Bretton, Peterborough) and hopefully we will have lots of our friends and regulars turning up with stuff for you to buy and games for you to play.

You can book in advance (see our booking page), and there are still plenty of tables available for games, for tabletop sales, but only a few trade stand slots left. And the painting competition is back for another year!

Huge thanks to Reuben who's been doing a lot of the work this year - we couldn't have done it without him, and it's shaping up to be a great show.

Saturday 6 May 2023

Salute 2023 - Renovating the Dambusters Challenge - 2

One of the more obvious things we noted from running the Dambusters' Challenge at shows is by 'eck, it's popular!

While this is most gratifying and a Good Thing™, it does present a wee bit of a headache when it comes to keeping track of whose turn it is next. Time to implement a queueing system (as a software developer, this normally means something quite different to where we ended up!).

The plan was set in motion sometime around the last time we put the game out (2018, IIRC) when I bought 4 1/600 scale Lancs from Tumbling Dice. The aim was to mount them on flight stands and use a model of the area of the Möhnesee as a place to queue them up. And five years less a few months later we finally got round to it.

Stage 1: paint and base the Lancs. Job kindly done by AndyM.

Stage 2: build the terrain.

Take a handy spare 2' square of MDF (cut by my builders for me when the workshop/studio/office was rebuilt 5 years ago). Grid up a reconnaissance photo (from NCAP) and transfer it using the time-honoured square by square technique onto the MDF with a marker pen. 

Next, after a brief discussion with Ethan from the club, the latter generously brought along a bag of Sculptamold, and with some help from advice from him and some scrap blue foam cut to shape on the Proxxon, I built the basic terrain. 

If you've never used Sculptamold before, I can thoroughly recommend it as a tool for building up terrain. It's basically an unholy mix of papier maché and plaster, mixes 3:1 with water and dries to the point where you can work it, paint it and layer it in about 15 mins. Brilliant, if messy stuff. 

Additionally, if you want, I gather you can colour it, which with hindsight we might have done but in the end didn't do. 

Next step was going to be to paint it in dark terrain colours, add some clump foliage to mark where wooded areas where, and so on. I got as far as painting the water blue, then I was chatting with Ethan and Myk, and one of them said, after eyeballing the recce picture I was using for reference, "Why don't you do it in black and white?"

What a chuffing brilliant idea that was. Out with the matt Mod Podge and some almost-black emulsion, and I painted the whole thing and let it dry. The aim of this is that the Mod Podge stops subsequent applications of aerosol paints from melting the XPS foam - a trick I picked up from Black Magic Craft on YouTube. Having done that, I hit it with some generic dark grey primer and a misting of black primer down the deeper parts of the reservoir.

Then it was out with various shades of greys, and picking out all the fields and roads and water edges as per the recce photo I had for reference. 

The one last step was putting in the two long bridges and the dam - I don't claim these are accurate representations of what was there, but at this point it's just a sketch. While trying to figure out what to make them from, I happened to go fishing in the big workshop trash box where everyone dumps their left-over sprues from plastic and MDF kits, and found two bits from a TT Combat kit that either Rob or Dan had been working on that could both be turned into long arched spans (edge on 3mm MDF). Brilliant. Bedded them in at both ends with a bit of quick setting filler, did a quick retouch once that had dried and bingo... out with the yacht varnish to make the water glossy, and done.

By now, Andy had delivered the planes, so it only remained to place a small dot of coloured paint on each base, and print off cards of each colour. 

"Now serving RED! Next player please!"

Just before we added the coloured dots...

Friday 5 May 2023

Salute 2023 - Renovating the Dambusters Challenge - 1


Well, I'd love to regale you with tales of how much I bought at Salute, but due to us needing 4 folks to run the game, and having only 4 folks at the show, the sum total of my shopping was two Warlord Epic ACW command packs (usefully as they were 20y from our game), and picking up What a Cowboy from Too Fat Lardies' stand (right at the other end of the hall). I actually spent more on tea and coffee for the team. 

The game, however, went down a storm, as far as I can tell. At least, I kept hearing various expressions of amazement and delight from just over my shoulder as I was running the sound effects and moving the Lanc. 

We took some time last month to tart up the dam, as it was originally untextured hardboard painted grey, and, well, it looked a bit boring. So we broke out my stash of US foam board (the stuff that the paper facing actually peels off of - imported in my suitcase from the US in late 2021), bought a 3D printable brick/stone texture roller from Etsy (or was it Thingiverse? I forget) and set to work.

Rob and Myk's (I think) calculations and
measurements for the lake side of the dam.

  • Stage one - (Rob) texture the foam board with the roller.
  • Stage two - cut various pieces to fit the shape of the dam, and (Andy, Myk and I) affix with No More Nails.
  • Stage three - paint. 
    • dry brush with some incredibly rubbishy grey roller emulsion that had been around since we painted the first set of club boards in about 2015 (so old it was more the consistency of putty). This left the mortar (the white of the foam boards) showing through in places.
    • Pick out some bricks in darker colours.
    • Add mossy and wet streaks
    • Wash (twice) with different grey/brown washes to knock the colours back a bit
  • Stage four. At this point, we could have taken it to the show and it would have looked... well, OK. But we still had a week. And a scrap blue XPS foam bin with just enough biggish bits of 12.5mm foam to do the arches along the top edge of the dam. Time for the Proxxon hot wire cutter and Shifting Lands fence to earn their keep (and Rob!).
    • Cut the scrap foam board to size. We realised that we only had enough to do just over half the dam. And then we realised that it was enough, because it tapered to nothing at the bottom where it feathered into the main surface.
    • Rob set up the Proxxon very carefully with the wire at just the right angle to cut each bit of the foam from corner to corner end on to give us two wedge shaped pieces.
    • With a combination of sharp knife (for the straight cuts) and Proxxon (for the tops) cut arches into the long pieces of foam.
    • Add stone texture with the roller.
    • Myk and I affix (the following evening) the arches to the dam with No More Nails (and superglue/PVA in a few places). Remember, the whole thing curves both horizontally and vertically.
    • Friday a.m. - drybrush, add streaks and other weathering, apply wash. Decide not to care when the wash dribbles down the face of the dam, because in fact it looks awesome.
  • Meanwhile, I'm respraying the tower rooftops, and Reuben is re-doing the grass below the dam. 
Et, as they say, voila. Huge thanks to Dan (artistic director, painter and 3D roller printer), Rob (foam cutter extraordinaire), Reuben (landscaping), Myk (paint and 'what happens if we...?') and Andy M (original dam builder and general engineering consultant).

Ready to load up for Salute.

We have noticed that there is, before the raid, a power station just off the edge of the dam board, and if we happen to feel like modelling the spillway, we could add that in as well...

Next post - the queuing board.

Thursday 4 May 2023

And... breathe...

 Ok. The dust has settled enough on Real Life that I have managed:

  • to help run a game at Salute
  • to make it back to club regularly
  • to help get the show set up for Sep 3rd
  • to have a very nice and, actually, very motivating chat with someone I really ought to know better than I do... which you may get to hear in a bit :D
  • to actually think about picking up on various wargaming projects (Compendium? schmompendium :D).
More of all the above on subsequent posts.

In short summary of the non-wargaming bits of life: Dad has been out of hospital since mid-February, and Mum sadly passed away (peacefully and painlessly) around the start of March. The dust has, as I said, pretty much settled on all of that. Mum's estate and (pretty uncomplicated) will is in the hands of her very good solicitors and we're waiting on the granting of probate to wrap that up. Dad is doing fine, and pretty much back to walking again after 6 weeks spent flat on his back, and we're visiting most weeks to make sure he hasn't driven his carers mad. :D And I'm about caught up on the backlog of things I should have been doing in Jan and Feb outside of wargaming! (Guess who switched to a nice well-paying contract job on Jan 1, and thus wasn't getting paid for days he didn't work!)

Anyway. All is much improved. Watch this space for more wargaming updates.

Friday 13 January 2023

Personal update

The best laid plans, as they say...

Currently 100 miles from home looking after mum because her full-time carer (dad) is in hospital. Wandering the labyrinth of NHS, carers, occupational therapy etc. If you don't support the NHS' right to work to rule (it's not actually a strike) for better pay and conditions, come live my life for the last week and then see what you say.

Starting the year with the best intentions re blogging, Dux etc, but... evidently the world is conspiring against me.

Pro tip for those of you with elderly relatives - when they say "there's no need to visit, we're fine, and anyway, COVID"? Don't necessarily believe them. We could have prevented this if we'd done so six months ago.

Sunday 8 January 2023

15mm Mediterranean village

I fell over this just after Christmas, which is the reason for the question as to whether anyone would be willing to ship it from the US for me, as for Brexit reasons (spit) they won’t ship to the Uk. 

From Things From The Basement, LLC -

Saturday 7 January 2023

Books! ACW books to be precise.

Had a wee binge in the surprisingly cheap end of eBay for some light reading; these three plus an Osprey that’s still in the post came in at under £30 total. 

And our son and heir was awake enough to catch the postman while we were up at my parents in Hull, so they were waiting on my armchair when we got back, along with some freshly lasered MDF from Empires of War and Sarissa. Of which more when I’m not so damn tired. 

Friday 6 January 2023

ACW related listening

As I have a stack of Warlord Games Epic ACW for later in 2023, I've been listening to assorted podcasts on the historical aspects of the conflict, its causes and aftermath. Current listening is a series of Yale lectures on the subject...

Thursday 5 January 2023

Back from Biggleswade...

...where I have met up with Martin from Cheshunt Wargames Club, and exchanged drinking vouchers for many pieces of metal and plastic, as well as 12 TSS tiles.

The most important bits of this are four Jeff Wayne style Martian tripods in reasonably large scale.

The club (well, it's stored in my workshop) have a 18' roll of 2m wide blue lino.

Guess what we're planning for a show game :D

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Today's update and a favour...

First Wednesday of 2023, so it's a paint and natter session at the Mill House. Major bit of progress for today was acquiring four lengths of 8'x1' shelving, and having AndyM (who is much better with power tools than I) fit two of them over the workshop bench and hot wire cutter. 

(The other two are awaiting being cut to add six more shelves to two of the bookcases in the studio.)

The favour - is anyone I know coming over from the US soonish and would be willing to take delivery of and bring a smallish parcel (a bunch of MDF buildings) over with them? (I have a supplier who won't deliver to the UK, and the likes of Shipito are a bit pricey.)

Tuesday 3 January 2023

First club night of 2023

An interesting mix of games down the club last night. I wound up playing “Terraforming Mars“, AndyM being one of the two club members who acquired it over Christmas (in addition, DanR has merely borrowed my copy for a week to see if his family like it). It’s all Adie’s fault, who has had it and several expansions for a while and encouraged people to play it  

We also had Bolt Action, Star Wars Legion, some 20mm ww2, Pikeman’s Lament, Warlords of Erewhon and Battlegames In Middle-Earth. Not a bad mix for a relatively under attended (by 2022 standards anyway) evening. 

In other news, my hobby spending for the year currently runs to 4 assorted books off eBay (more of those when they arrive), and an agreement to meet up and buy a not insignificant collection of painted stuff on Thursday lunchtime. Some of the latter will wind up in a club show game probably not until 2024, but it was an opportunity not to be passed by (honest, dear). 

Monday 2 January 2023

There's less here to do than I thought...

It's probably a sad indictment of how long this has taken that my regular process when picking up the Dux Compendium after a break is to read right the way through the current draft and take notes/make a todo list. Kind of fresh eyes probably don't hurt, to be fair.

It both amuses me greatly and pains me that this is the first time I've added the words "Britanniarum", "playtest" and "Lardies" to my spellchecker on this Mac (which, admittedly, I've only had for 2 years). I suspect there'll be more to come. [Ed: "warband", "foederati", "wargame" (!!!), "Cartimandua", "shieldwall"]

<wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey dissolve effect>

OK. Some minor "how did that ever get past" fixes done, as well as once again curing the inevitable yet inexplicable way the document formatting mysteriously changes when left alone. 

I have a to-do list. It's not actually that long, and only one of the bits is scary :D

Sunday 1 January 2023

ACW Rules. Which do you prefer?

I'm resisting the temptation to actually count the pile of shame (or as Jeffrey Knudsen puts it, the Cabinet of Temporal Insufficiency), but I have just done the maths on the two ACW starter sets - that's 12 Union and 12 Confederate sprues in each box, each of which has one commander, 4 gun crew and a gun and ten stands of 10 infantry (which double ranks 2 to a base) That's not counting the box of metal cavalry, ditto of zouaves and dismounted cavalry. That's over 5000 figures, by my reckoning. 


I console myself with the thought that a smallish action probably needs about 150-200 on a side, and they are easy to block paint - after all they come in blocks! It's less scary if you call it 500 stands of infantry, I suppose :D

Anyway. A question for my readers: what are your preferred ACW rules? Particularly looking for things around Black Powder scale, so 3 bases per unit (they're 60x20mm bases), and with some measure of friction. I know Epic ACW is intended for 5 bases/regiment, but that gets kind of big on a 6' x 4'.

Currently I have:

  • Black Powder
  • Altar of Freedom (on its way)
  • Pickett's Charge (just arrived)
  • On to Richmond
I know there's Fire and Fury, and Longstreet, out there. Any other thoughts?

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