Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day Ottawa - 2013

Just a few pictures to show some of my overseas friends how we do things here.

The was just after 10 looking into the down town core. On a better day, you can see the Peace tower on the parliament buildings just up and left of where the bus is. There was a cold wet snow falling.

War Museum
The War Museum. An imposing bunker like building. More of this later.

Not all business were closed - like this hipster juice bar.

But some get the idea. Incidentally this is a German deli.

Looking up Elgin Street toward the cenotaph. Usually packed with cars, you can see the crowd gathering before the service.

But first a side trip. This is Cartier Square Drill Hall, home to my old regiment the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

The Cut Knife Hill memorial. William Osgoode and John Rogers of the regiment were casualties. Actually a defeat for government forces, the battle is commemorated every year by the sergeant's mess. This memorial has gradually been pushed further out of the public eye as political fashions change.

The South African War memorial. Now in roughly the position the Cut knife Hill one once was, it too is being pushed out of view as Canada forgets its Imperial past.

A relatively recent addition, commemorating animals in war. 

A close up of a rather fine first aid dog.

Next up the First Nations memorial.

Built by public subscription, it honours veterans of all First Nations peoples. First Nations men were specifically exempt from any sort of military service but many volunteered  anyway. Some for three square meals a day, others for a bit of land of their own and others simply to get the right to vote.

For my UK friends, if you are lost or in trouble in Ottawa this is the place to go - The British High Commission. 

In the crowd.  The site slopes up gently towards the cenotaph, making a good view tough to find.  But the view is not what it is about.

Screens are placed around the venue (just to the right of the purple hood).

Actually after the service proper during which the camera was quite rightly put away. With all the speeches done and all the dignitaries departed, the crowd moves toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Old connections not quite forgotten.

The press before the tomb. In typical Canadian fashion the crowd circulated through with much polite language and no official queue needed.

At the foot of the cenotaph. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Placing poppies on the Tomb is a relatively recent occurrence. A spontaneous demonstration of remembrance,  it lacks some of the hypocrisy found in parts of the official activities. This is early on, the tomb will be covered by the end of the day.

The crowd around the tomb after I left.

The Canadian Parliament Buildings - Centre Block. A bit like Westminster but smaller and colder.

The War Museum coming the other way - from the east.  November 11 is one of the few free days. Veterans and serving members are brought in for special programming. Many school groups take advantage of the opportunity.

Inside the Memorial Hall. Tucked away to one side of the museum entrance, it contains the headstone of an unknown soldier from the Great War. At 11 am on November 11, light from a window shines directly on the headstone.

Diorama work:

First Nations intertribal conflict

Plains of Abraham - Quebec even smaller than a certain bear's 6mm

The Great War,

Full sized depiction of a WWI battle field.

One of the artists models for the Vimy Memorial. The gallery is slightly off level and a subtle haunting sound track gives it a surreal mood.

One of our underappreciated treasures - a Bieber minisub retrieved from the Netherlands after the war. 

M29 Weasel - a product of British eccentricity and Canadian - American cooperation. Note the 79th Armoured insignia.

Canadian madness - the Land Mattress. The rockets didn't always leave the rails before detonating.

War Winners - T-34-85 and Sherman Firefly. A Panther cowers in the background.

Something for the detail obsessed - a Sherman power train teaching model with its underthings on display.

More US-Canada cooperation. A reconstruction of a Six-Ton tank. Based on the FT-17, The US sold several of them to Canada at the beginning of the Second World War as scrap metal. That they were completely refurbished and in good running condition was not mentioned on the bill of sale. They were used to train Canada's infant armoured forces.

Tucked away in the dark in the exit corridor from the vehicle gallery are some very fine and very large canvasses. Above is William Nicholson's Canadian Headquarters Staff

This one I do not immediately have a name for.  Both were well over 8 feet in length and height.

From a later war and in a more down home style:

Leaving the War Museum the provincial flags were still at half mast:

Like so many maple leaves......

We will never forget the fallen.



Blighters  - Siegfried Sassoon

THE House is crammed: tier beyond tier they grin
And cackle at the Show, while prancing ranks
Of harlots shrill the chorus, drunk with din;
‘We’re sure the Kaiser loves our dear old Tanks!’
I’d like to see a Tank come down the stalls,         5
Lurching to rag-time tunes, or ‘Home, sweet Home’,
And there’d be no more jokes in Music-halls
To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Matter of Tactics - Soldier's Companion

Oh'ktava'an reached into the bowel of roasted pier worms and plucked out a particularly plump one. He slid a thumbnail under the carapace and flipped off the shell revealing the smokey golden contents. He chewed contemplatively, savoured the chewy morsel and tossed the empty shell onto an ever growing pile on one corner of the planning table.  Pier worms were an affectation, no a habit, picked up from his days as a young band commander posted to a remote village beyond the end of the canal as the expression went.
Out there, they were the only reliable food source that wasn't marsh root. In the city, they were the food of the poor and the canal rats, too plain, too simple and too basic for city tastes.

That was the problem laid out on the planning table. Since the Red Devils had arrived the forces of Mars had forgotten the basics. What worked for beating down a rebellious hill tribe wasn't going to water the crops here. These off-worlders knew what they're doing and with arms better than any seen on Mars since before Seldon. Far too often, brash warband leaders had charged the Red Men head on, trusting force of will to overcome force of arms. Far too often they had failed - cut down by measured rifle fire. That many of these officers were militant members of the Ground Cleansers was something of a bonus - there is no room for fanaticism on the battle field.

He picked up a sheaf of papyrus covered with rows of figures. They covered every battle and skirmish since the arrival of the Red Men that his agents could find data for. The solution to the off worlder menace was somewhere in those numbers. He had sent a house servant down to the human quarter to purchase an assortment of toy warriors - in metal no less. To live in a world where good metal was wasted on children's toys...

No matter. Beginning with what was known, he laid out the first problem: A head on charge into the Red Men's line.

Unlike the massed unit tactics used in the old wars between the city states, the Red Men usually formed their men into a line two deep facing the enemy

This was vulnerable to being broken through in melee, but allowed all of the rifles to fire.

The Red Men's guns had so far proven to be most effective starting at about 320 paces* This was just beyond the distance a regular cutter column could be expected to charge  in one battle phase. So a measured move of  just under 160 paces would be required to stay out of the most effective range. (regular foot move is 18", close range for rifles is 16")  He shuffled through the sheets of reed paper.  There it was: with the normal unit of 20 Red Devils firing against a column, there was a 1 in 6 chance of each red man hitting something but also a chance each hit would be harmless. (base hit 6, long range +2, target in column -1  for a final to hit of 7 which is 6  with saves on a 1 or less = 20 x .167 (1 in 6) = 3.34 less save of 3.34x.167 (1 in 6) = .5 therefore 3 hits ) So that would be... about 3 warriors taken out of the battle.  Having taken casualties, trained troops can be expected to falter in the attack.... (morale 8 - 3 hits = morale 5 2d6 for 5 or less =27.8% ~30% )  a little more than 2/3s of the time and stand idle and possibly receive round after round of fire until they break and run. (Check on a 6, or 7 - 29% combined, Shaken on an 8+, 41%)

 Not good. But running away might be their best option anyway. If the Red Men gain the upper hand, that is another round of fire for another 2 warriors down and another chance to for them to break and run. Even if the warriors keep the initiative and charge in...  that's 20 rifles with those infernal magazines at point blank range... (base hit 6, target in column -1 and charging -1 for a final hit of 4 or .667. 2 dice per rifle at short range so 40 x .667= 27 hits ) and the warriors are completely wiped out. An inglorious and pointless death whatever the Worm Priests might say.

Now where are those reports - ah here. For open order after the first move we have can expect: (base hit 6, +2 for long range +1 for open order is a to hit of 6 with saves on 3 in 6. This give around two unsaved hits. Morale 8 -2 hits for final morale 6 ~41.6% . As above check on a 7 or 8 ~30% and shaken on 9+ ~28%  ) two warriors injured and a failed attack 3 of five times.  And these numbers are for Canal regulars, the mercenaries would be less steady in the fight. As expected, frontal assault was not the way forward.

The temple bells sounded across the city marking the midday meal and prayer. The pungent smell of smoked river eel drifted up from the kitchen below. Oh'ktava'an neatly stacked the reed sheets.  There has to be a better way, but first lunch.

*Yes, I am throwing a 0 on the end of the range in inches and calling it paces and changing turn to battle phase just to make the story work. ;)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

RAFM $1 Figure Sale II - How I Think It Works

How the deal works seems a little unclear.  Below is what I posted over on TMP - I think I have it right. ;)

My understanding and the way I did my order: A "pack" is a SKU – basically the RAFxxx number. For non-1889 lines that usually means 3 Cav with riders or 6 foot figures.
Space 1889 figure SKUs are per figure. A "pack" then is 6 foot figures of the same SKU or 3 Gashant (remember riders are separate).
I do NOT think it reasonable to expect RAFM to honour the 20 figure SKUs – canal martians, high martians and soldiers of the queen as a "pack".
Ok now we know what a pack is we can move forward. You go to the special sale page and select the package of 4,8,12, or 16 packs that you want. Pay for it through the usual methods. Then you open up your email and create an email stating the name and shipping address you just used in your order. Then you list how many packs of each SKU you want. e.g. RAF1817 x 1 will get you 6 Canal Martian Infantry figures and RAF1817 x 2 will get you 12 Imitation Legionary figures. Send that email to onlineorders at and you are done
I hope that helps. :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

$1 Figure Sale at RAFM!

RAFM is having a $1 per figure sale on all their historical lines. This includes the Space 1889 figures - always high on my list but also their Ancients, ACW, French Indian, Colonial and other lines.  Well worth looking at.

Follow this link for details

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

As Found in Great-Uncle's Trunk

The lads and ladies over at WD3 have been mucking around with black and white painting and playing with Photoshop. So I thought I would fire up Gimp and see what I can come up with.

While cleaning out an old trunk that family legend says belonged to one of those familial "Uncles" who so spoken of quietly but with admiration, I came across a faded photograph hidden behind a torn piece of paper lining. While Uncle Ned was known to have served on the North West Frontier and in the less savoury parts of Africa, where this strange picture was taken is a mystery. From whom or perhaps from what the blood spatter in the corner came is an even greater mystery.

All good fun.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Home Guard for Chain of Command

On last year's wonderful trip to the UK, I picked up some of Wargames Foundry's rather nice Home Guard figures. I tried them out with I Ain't Been Shot Mum but the company+ level of the game didn't really fit with the HG's intended role.  Then Chain of Command came out. Platoon level, limited troops on a reasonable table - Perfect! Along with a platoon of Fallschirmjaeger, I was ready to go - but... All the lists in the book were for Late War Normandy and Eastern Front - Not my cup of tea.

The Lardie's Rich Clarke said he was open to player produced lists so rather than mope around and wait for someone else to make one I got stuck in. Ross Bowrage from the Yahoo group was kind enough to send some information my way and gave some really good feedback.  The early drafts in true open source fashion came fast and furious and were posted up on the Yahoo group. Now I am ready with the first final draft* Sadly, the space on Yahoo has run out so I have had to put it up on Google drive - so why not share it as widely as possible? So here it is:

CoC Home Guard List Final Draft 1

Enjoy, comment, criticise :)

*Yes final draft 1. I have worked with enough documents over the years to know that "final" never means exactly that.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomatist - Prize Draw

I would like to point those of you kind enough to follow this blog to the  Depressive Diplomatist's current prize draw to celebrate the blogs anniversary and other momentous things.   Delayed Prize Draw (Yes, There are Prizes!)

The prizes are cover almost all my areas of interest including ancients, airships, Victorians and Edwardians, naval battles and the North West Frontier (the one in India that is). And it is an excellent blog to boot.  If you have ever wondered what all the different gongs and ribbons are on various Royals attire, you can find out here.

Go, browse and enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

RAFM Summer Sale!

On now at 35% off  when you use the code  SUMMER2013 - go, go now!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

For the love of it.

When the women are away, the boys will play. With both our fair ladies off on a camping trip, Marc came over on Friday night for a little DBMM to break in the new table.  We each managed to scrounge together a little over 200 points of Britons for me and generic barbarian types for Marc. We did the whole rigmarole of dicing for terrain, skipped over weather and time of day then got stuck in. It has been a while for both of us so it took a couple of turns to clear the cobwebs out. We missed rules, messed up move rates, forgot about uphill advantage and a host of other little omissions and misinterpretations.

But boy did we have fun! And isn't that the whole point?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer Doldrums

Well not exactly. Summers get busy around here for all sorts of reasons. Not too much going on on the modelling front. Some birthday  gifts have been cleaned up and epoxied to  the requisite washers, some have even been undercoated.

Gaming paradoxically has been good. We were off camping in August which oddly saw me play a number of games of Resistance, Skull and Roses and several incomplete games of Saga. Hardcore gamer all the way.

The printing front has been quiet with a large print of a 28mm Martian Skiff failing just before we went away. That has been sorted out and will be reprinted after I add more detail.  On the camping trip, I came into possession of the Aeronef rules. I had given up on these as a set I had ordered and paid for a couple of years back never arrived. They look to be good fast play rules and I love the ships. So what does this have to do with the printer?

Here is my first pass at some 1200 Aeronefs. There were some issues with the fins being too thin and the support for the carrier flight deck.

These faults have been rectified in the upgraded designs. I am not sure if the fins are too big here.

The original DD beefed up a bit in the fins and the funnel left solid. Otherwise I am very happy with this model.

A slightly larger DD variant, I added the sponsons as this will be a common feature of this fleet. I am also a bit of a torpedo junky so this one gets a quad tube mount. It could also be a leader for a flotilla of the smaller ships.

So quite a bit accomplished for a lazy/busy summer.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

RAFM Scores a great new line of figures!

RAFM Airship Pirates  Yes folks, Abney Park and RAFM have banded together to produce a line of 32mm heroic scale Airship Pirates.  At the moment the pics are only on Facebook but I am sure they will be showing upon the main RAFM page as they become available.  This should be a very very  cool line of figures.  And now to go crank up some Abney Park

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cangames Day I - Day III

Well this certainly took a lot longer than expected to put up. In brief, I forgot my camera, squirrels attacked the house cutting short my Cangames and then work got very, very busy. Fortunately, Rob of Captain's Blog kindly sent me the photos below a few days after the event.

My game on Day I went very well. Five of six slots were filled and the players seemed to have a good time. As with every event, something important got left behind and that was the camera and of course my fancy new movement bases.

The Objective - An Ancient Martian Temple
I learned a great deal about running convention games. The play aids went down pretty well. However I did learn that a good percentage of players won't even look at a QRS, I found myself explaining things that I thought were pretty clearly laid out on the sheet.  I also found out that players will do the unexpected especially when they are not familiar with the time period.

Hill Martian light cavalry survivors flank the Earthers after charging formed infantry. 
On the Earth side, the three players had a good understanding of colonial era tactics and deployed and moved accordingly.  On the Martian side, this was not the case. I really didn't expect to see hill Martian light cavalry charging in the open against a formed British company (it wasn't pleasant). Later, another player told me he had never heard of an enfiladed line. Again no criticism of the players and a clear sign that keeping things simple is absolutely critical in a convention game.  The young lady whose Hill Martians charged the British with disastrous effect later routed a rifle company with her High Martians so player skill was not in question.

Watch the Monkeys..... 

Of course, the game brought out a number of sticking points with the rules - or rather my understanding of them.  A close re-reading after the fact cleared up some problems we had with opportunity fire - it is there, just not obviously so.  My only real complaint was with the initiative system. The Martians won initiative something like 5 times in a row leaving the Terran players twiddling their thumbs until the defensive fire phase. This wouldn't be a big problem in  a club game but it really isn't good to have players standing around in a convention game.  Card activation by unit is probably a better route.  

Please, Sir - Can we move?

A good game for a first time outing and many lessons learned on my part.  A big thank-you to all the players.

Martians Sir! Dozens of them!

Day two - Saturday was a slow one with some non-game related frustrations.  It began well enough when I found that the naval game I thought had been cancelled had been moved to later time period.  I had missed the game last year due to a scheduling conflict and was really looking forward to it this year.  I did my shift on the information desk and then the missus came by and we walked home together taking in a street festival along the way. Very pleasant indeed. 

I was cooking up some chicken burgers for an early dinner before heading back to the con for the naval game when I saw our attic squirrels were all grown up and ready to be booted out. To keep it short, a mother squirrel had chewed through a roof vent and nested inside. We had been advised to leave her be if possible because if we sealed her out away from her babies she would do a lot of damage getting back in and to put it bluntly, dead squirrel babies in your roof create quite a stink. Having been considerate to momma squirrel we now found she had torn away some of the shingling and of course it was going to rain the following day. 

I went back that evening to play in the home brew WWII naval game put on by Chris Evans from Ottawa Miniature Gamers.  Buckets of dice fast play but with a good level of detail. One of my Italian destroyers put a full load of torpedoes into a British light cruiser sending it to the bottom. I also learned a lot from Chris on how to run a convention game.

On Sunday, I went in for my volunteer shift as promised. I flipped part of my admission refund into Air Force, Tactics II and Lufwaffe from the gamer's market and headed home to repair the roof. I missed a WW I Naval game and sadly the DBA tournament.The only good side to this was that the damage was much less severe than we thought.

So a great learning experience and some great gaming with good people sadly cut short. I will go back next year - and may be run another game.

Rogues Gallery

A very big Thank You to Rob for allowing me permission to use his pictures.

Hill Martians advance past Shield Gunners

The regulars advance supported on their right by stragglers and staff from the Officer's Mess

What? Another flipping hedge? Canal Martian infantry tell the ref some area features
would go down well in the next battle.  

Using Earther tech against the invaders! A Whitworth gets ready to fire.

Temple Fanatics Charge the thin Red Lin!