Saturday 31 December 2016

JJ's Look Back on 2016 and Plans for 2017

I hope you like the theme of my header picture for this post as JJ's Wargames goes through the annual event of looking back on the year gone and contemplating the fun that lies ahead in the year before us.

This concept and how things come together here at JJ's HQ could be summed up in the picture of Napoleon and his entourage of General Officers who use their telescopes to look at the events of 2016, swapping banter about the highlights that stick in the mind, of the fun and games that caused the most comment and of the expeditions and travel that will be forever the landmarks of 2016.

All this whilst a distracted Emperor, contemplates the year ahead about what are the priorities, with projects started, projects yet to begin, projects to complete, exciting games, shows and travel ideas to fit into the schedule for the new year, not to mention all the units with their painting and modelling plans. Ah the weight of all these decisions, I can often be found sat on the camp chair lost in thought amid the plans of Empire.

Anyway back to the real world and our review of 2016 and a look forward into 2017 and the ideas about what you can expect to see covered here on JJ's.

Scanning back over the one-hundred plus posts, I started to struggle to pull out highlights, to carry on with the analogy above, my telescope was moving from one point to another continuously scanning the horizon.

However I am determined to keep this post as a review and a look forward so have grouped a few things under one topic for conciseness.

In addition, JJ's Wargames is all about working to plans and themes and if you cast a look back to this post in 2015, there was definitely a plan. So I will cast a glance to see if I did what I said I was going to do and more.

Review of 2016

Look back on 2015 and 2016 plans

The year started very much on the theme that it has finished with, namely, Napoleonics and the project that has evolved into Talavera 208.

The completion of the 45e Regiment de Ligne moved the building of Victor's I Corps to about two thirds done at that stage  and the completion of the corps as a whole in August 'broke the back' of the Talavera project and left me looking at light at the end of the tunnel.

Marshal Victors I Corps d'Armee - Talavera

I had never done a project of this scale or intensity, Napoleonics with all the intricacies of uniform peculiarities are always intense, and under the gaze of an audience which demands discipline and I have grown personally in knowing what I am capable of doing.

The plan to complete the Talavera collection in 2016 has proven to be elusive, principally down to other demands on my time that weren't a factor in the previous year. That said, the whole point of a plan is to adjust it as required but still progress towards the desired goal, and that has happened.

Spanish 2nd Cavalry Division at Talavera

In addition to Victor's Corps, Albuquerque's Spanish  2nd Cavalry Division are done together with the French command and as I write this the last of the British commands are done, together with a battery of French horse artillery.

The French will also require three more foot artillery limbers which are on the paint desk now and I will complete a couple of British foot limbers to finish that collection and then we are back to the Spanish.

I should also mention that friends and family supported the progress by getting me some lovely presents this year in the form of the wagons and rear area models such as surgeons and cantinieres from Blue Moon, plus extra casualty sets from Captain Games and AB which will only help bring the game alive with the added drama and eye candy they create.

Talavera 208 King Joseph & Marshals

So although we still have Bassecourt's Spanish Infantry Division to complete plus a few supernumeraries, the collection should be about done in the first quarter of 2017; and of course the final 'big game' recreating the Afternoon Attack by the French forces has now morphed into Talavera 208 and support for Combat Stress which has really added to the project as a whole.

Talavera 208 (1809-2017) In support of Combat Stress

So Talavera has to be a huge high point in 2016 and will feature large going into the New Year 2017.

As discussed in last year's review, I was and am very keen to make 'JJ's Wargames' a magazine style blog and have looked to develop that theme in 2016.

I took a look at the numbers viewing the blog and even given all the issues of distracting fluctuations brought on by 'crawler software' and spikes in traffic from Russia, the traffic to the blog continues to grow as does the followers and comments from you guys.

So what has changed from last year to develop the blog? Well we have contributions from friends of the blog, Mr Steve and Steve M who have added their own insights into places visited and books reviewed which really adds breadth to the content that I create.

The Book Review section of the blog has really developed this year with thirteen reviews posted from Mr Steve and myself that seems to have been well received. We have both looked to write reviews from the eye of the historical wargamer.

Books Reviewed

In addition to books, rule sets have featured with three rule sets getting the JJ's Wargames thumbs up
on the "Game/Simulation, Fun/Pins in the Eye" score-ometer.

I am really looking forward to running another play-test of Over the Hills in January at the Devon Wargames Group first meeting in 2017 and have resurrected my Vimeiro scenarios originally done for Carnage & Glory and Napoleon at War and converted the troop stats to OTH.

Over the Hills - Army/Brigade Fatigue Record Card
Following the first test I have also come up with some adaptations that I want to try out including my own Fatigue Record Cards for the various brigades, using dice to monitor fatigue losses, rather like the arm morale system used in Sam Mustafa's Maurice.

Once I have tested my adaptations I will post them for others to use if they wish.

As well as OTH I am really looking forward to more games of Sharp Practice and A to A in the new year and I am hoping to produce some initiative tokens instead of cards for the latter game as I found the use of the tokens in Sharp Practice much more convenient that card shuffling and is definitely the way I want to go.

Augustus to Aurelian
Over the Hills Napoleonic Rules
Sharp Practice II

A real find occurred whilst on holiday this year. As regular followers will know, I have looked at various campaign vehicles for my Napoleonics which is where I want to go as the collection develops and so this board game drew my attention.

Of course you can only gauge the potential after having played the campaign fully and so Will and later Tom and I played through the game from start to finish with all the possible historical event cards taking a hand.

I was really taken with this neat system of a game and in anticipation of using it in the future have my trusty Cyberboard version all set and ready to go.

The addition of the "Over the Hills" rules to my trusty "Carnage & Glory" also makes campaigning even more doable going forward.

Wellington's War Pacific Rim Games
Wellington's War Campaign PlayTest

One of the best parts of our hobby is the ability to combine it with just about anything we are doing in doors or out. Books and games pretty well have the indoors covered and holiday expeditions and trips to historically themed sites have the outdoors covered.

The highlights of this year for me have been the museums, shows, historical sites and holidays abroad.

The Penarth show, Crusade was a new addition to the wargaming calendar and a very welcome one to start the year, with a very nice show, good selection of traders plus the added attraction of two excellent authors presenting. Great day out.

I am really looking forward to going again in 2017 and to hear Gareth and Adrian present on Command and Control in the Ancient world and Napoleonic warfare in the Mediterranean.

Crusade-2016 Penarth & District Wargames

Another trip up to Cardiff followed the Penarth show to visit the Roman ruins at Caerleon and the National Roman Legion Museum, both fantastic sites to visit.

Caerleon & National Roman Legion Museum (1)
Caerleon & National Roman Legion Museum (2)

Wargames shows always form a big part of my hobby and I try and bring the best games  to JJ's as well as other highlights, which this year included me getting an original copy of 'Dracula' at this year's Attack at Devizes where Mr Steve, Vince and I spent a very pleasant summers afternoon.

In addition, the Talavera collection got a day out at Legionary in Exeter as Steve M and Will went at it in a Carnage & Glory demo game of the Pajar Vergara Scenario that ended up being featured in Wargames Illustrated.

Wargaming Shows

Of course no review of 2016 would be complete without reference to our big holiday this year, principally to meet up with Tom who was touring Australia and the Far East and our trip to Vietnam.

I did several posts about this extraordinary country and the lovely people we met together with aspects of the history of this amazing place, plus Will was doing his bit to promote Anglo-Vietnamese relations in his role as British Ambassador without portfolio.

Vietnam 2016 War Museums

Later in August we took a short week's break to France close to Paris. As well as celebrating my birthday I had the chance to visit two sites I hadn't visited before, Vernon and Rommel's HQ at La Roche Guyon.

It is always fun retracing the steps of the warriors from history and Vernon had an added poignancy for me as it was where my Dad crossed the Seine back in 1944 with Guards Armoured Division on his way up to Brussels.

France 2016 Vernon & Rommel's HQ

Exploring battlefields and sites abroad and away from home is always interesting but it is easy to forget that my home county of Devon has battle sites of its own going back over centuries and I, and it seems you, have enjoyed the series posts looking at the Battlefields in Devon, some new to me.

Battlefields in Devon

This series of posts will continue into 2017 and I am really looking forward to bringing you the many and varied battles from history that can be seen here in beautiful Devon.

I have noticed that Meeples Podcast have started a "Grumpy Wargamers" section airing their rants and 'beefs' against petty annoyances that crop up in the hobby.

As you will know JJ's Wargames is not afraid of exploring the odd subject of contention in the hobby news, and I am pleased to say that the posts and the accompanying comments have been discussed in a constructive way, a quality not always in evidence on other forums.

Subjects covered have included, 'Painting Mojo', 'Great looking Games vs Not' and recently the future look of Miniature Wargames since the departure of Henry Hyde and the take over by new management.

Miniature Wargames Magazine - Whats Going On?
Aesthetics in Wargames - Another Aunt Sally?

I tend to engage in these debates if the subject grabs me and I always enjoy hearing your opinions so I aim to keep that as a feature of the blog going into 2017.

And Finally

In between the work on the Talavera collection there has been the inclusion of projects for friends, with an end of year focus on the Dark Ages big game at the Devon Wargames Group, that finally prompted me to get a copy of Dux Britanniarum and start my own Saxon/Viking collection which I will be adding to, going into 2017.

The Dacian War collection also got some input as I finished off a project that Tom left me, namely to base up the unit of auxiliary infantry he had painted and finish off the Roman commander plus dog.

So there we are, some of the main highlights for me that featured in 2016 and there is still other stuff that didn't make the cut.

It really has been a great wargaming year and one that will live long in the memory, but life is all about what you are going to do now and always having a plan; and so it is time to put down the telescope and to ponder the weight of Empire and who to invade next, no, no, I mean what we will do next...... now you can see why I'm not Napoleon's greatest fan!

2017 Plans

Well as alluded to in the review of 2016, Talavera 208 forms the centrepiece of the year and I am really excited, as it seems many of you are if the comments I have had are anything to go by, about the prospect of seeing the Talavera battle up and running. 

As wargamers, a lot of us have those 'bucket list' of games we want to do and the manner we want to do them in. In this age of skirmish level rule sets and pressure on time to play games of anything over two hours, I feel a bit anachronistic in wanting to play games like I used to, 'In the Grand Manner'.

So for a Peninsular War nut like me, Talavera is one of those games that wouldn't let go, and the excitement of playing it in the grand manner now that the collection is so near to completion is building.

However I was always brought up to believe that life is more about giving than taking and that there is more satisfaction to be had in doing things for others than for ourselves.

Two occasions in my life brought this home to me and one example was fully understanding why my Dad, for many years, continuously raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind a UK based charity that for many years was based here in Devon. 

His support and money raising efforts spanned decades and only after his death and only after my research into a family story about the commander of his tank being killed in Belgium, did I realise the significance of his efforts. 

Captain Wifred Geoffrey Good was just 31 when he died in one of the bitter battles that were a feature of the German retreat from France into the Low Countries.

Dad always described his officer in loving terms as being like a father to the crew and that his eyes were badly injured at the time of his death. His loss left a deep impression on Dad that obviously demanded a response from him and I came to understand that his efforts for the Guide Dog charity symbolised that.

In 2005 I had the privilege of accompanying my uncle back to the Burma railway, the scene of his traumatic time in captivity as a Japanese prisoner of war and in company with other former POW's as part of an organised trip with the Royal British Legion. I got to get a personal understanding of what those men went though under such a brutal imprisonment.

My uncle was one of the more fortunate survivors in that he received psychiatric support as part of his rehabilitation back into civilian life and his account of surviving his experiences and making a good life following them was truly inspiring.

The realities of war bear no relation whatsoever to our hobby, but our hobby exits because of the interest many have in warfare over the ages and the challenges it creates. I am sure many of us with that interest in the hobby end up having a great appreciation of what our servicemen and women can and may well experience during their service.

So in addition to the fun we will have, playing and sharing these games in 2017, will also have a sincere pursuit of using them as a vehicle to generate as much support as we can for Combat Stress.

The plan is to have the collection as a whole finished and ready to play by the close of May 2017 with an objective to get the first of four games played in June with three players on each side running the two forces.

For more information just check out the Talalvera 208 plan linked at the top of the page or here.
Talavera-208 (1809-2017) - In-Support of Combat Stress

As mentioned, I am planning to run a smaller game using the "Over the Hills" rule set in January at the Devon Wargames Group for the die hard bone rollers out there, so an AAR on that will also follow.

As the painting of the Talavera collection reaches a conclusion the plan will be then to gradually start stepping up the production of the other main theme here on JJ's namely my Dacian Wars project in 28mm as the Napoleonics move off the top spot for painting.

I have covered off the plans for this collection in a series of posts and I can't wait to get stuck into the task of putting the units together and getting the first game up and running.

Like many I am eagerly anticipating the release of the Victrix EIR Legionaries and Auxiliaries and given that Tom and I have already created a core of Roman units I will start putting together some Dacian Warbands and cavalry so we can get a game going sooner rather than later thus playing while the painting is happening.

I will not be joining the latest craze, it seems, of looking for a new Ancient rule set. Spearpoint from the chaps at Gripping Beast looks like being the latest set doing the rounds.

Over the couple of test games played, I really like Phil Hendry's Augustus to Aurelian rules with their more "Lardy style" randomised activation system and they have the added attraction of being focused on the era I am looking to play.

I have already designed my own stat cards for the various troop types and have, as mentioned made some enquires about getting some purpose made counters to use for activation instead of cards.

The new collection will also demand its own terrain and in the build up for this project I have already acquired some pieces for the games planned.

And I am really excited about the launch of this new range of Roman buildings from Warbases in 2017 as shown at Warfare this year

One piece of terrain I am on the look out for is a suitable selection of Greco/Roman fortress walls, gates and towers to recreate the Dacian fortresses.

The other smaller collection that will demand attention as we move into 2017 is my newly acquired Saxon and Viking forces that I intend to work on so I can get into some more shield-wall warfare

So there we are, alongside all the usual content that you would expect to see here on JJ's, the plan will see the painting shift from Napoleonics to Ancients in the second half of the year whilst the gaming will lean heavily towards the former, and the building of a good collection for Combat Stress, until the Romano-Dacian collection takes the table hopefully towards the end of 2017 interspersed with some Dark Ages action.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to making JJ's Wargames a really interesting and fun blog to do in 2016. I really appreciate the comments and feedback from fellow enthusiasts, the kind of interaction many of us can't get from friends outside of our peculiar hobby, who don't really get it. It is the exchange of ideas and thoughts that really make the hobby the sociable interaction that it is and I hope you find that this blog, if anything, is a celebration of that.

Here's wishing everyone an exciting and happy 2017 and even more fun with this hobby.


Friday 30 December 2016

Viva Los Locos - Just Another Day in San Pedro - "Black Ops" (plus a quiz and some wildlife)

Presidential Guard Units enter the FARC drug plant in San Pedro, during operations this week
In between Xmas and New Year it has become a bit of a tradition to present to you the games we like to play up at Chez Chaz on our annual trip up to Deepest Darkest North Devon and to be honest none of us are ever sure what we might be playing, which is all part of the fun.

This year Chaz decided to whisk us all off to a little town, we'll call San Pedro, deep within the Venuzcolumolivia forested mountains, fought over by the political factions, drug cartels, government official and unofficial military/para-military forces overseen by US spooks and CIA proxy forces.

When that little cocktail of stake holders are brought together with a heady mix of a major drug deal going down between the Cartel's, Mr Big and the leader of the local Communist Venuscol FARC group who has only gone and kidnapped the US Ambassador to the country and is holding him for ransom somewhere in the dense streets of the local favela, then anything could happen!

To help our little adventure along we were using a set of rules written by a former member of the Devon Wargames Group and now seen messing about editing a certain wargames publication, Mr Guy Bowers and his rule set "Black Ops"

In addition to getting into our various character roles we also enjoyed a lunch time quiz to test the collective military history knowledge of our little group and I have attached the questions and answers for your enjoyment. Modesty forbids me from declaring our top scores.

Xmas Quiz
1. Our Commander is, who’s yours

Battle - Our Commander - Your Commander?

  • Edgehill 1642, Charles I 
  • Borodino 1812, Napoleon 
  • Teutoburg Forest, Publius Quintilius Varus 
  • Bosworth 1485, Richard III 
  • Iwo Jima 1945, General Holland Smith 
  • Battle of Issus, Alexander the Great 
  • Battle of Smolensk 1812, Napoleon 
  • Battle of Cropredy Bridge, Charles I 
  • Battle of Agincourt, Henry V 
  • Battle of Lutzen 1632 Gustavus Adolphus 

2. Name five of the nine US Pacific Amphibious Island Landings in 1944

3. “Bloody Fighting” Identify that battle

  • Bloody Angle 
  • Bloody Ridge 
  • Bloody Ditch 
  • Bloody Gulch 
  • Bloody Hill 

4. Which War?

  • Battle of Poitiers 
  • Siege of Masada 
  • Siege of Kut 
  • Battle of Fontenoy 
  • Battle of Poltava 
  • Siege of Jadotville 
  • Battle of Fuentes d’Onoro 
  • Battle of Fort Necessity 

6. Name the three British and one German Battle Cruisers sunk at Jutland

7. Name the five battles of the Prayer Book Rebellion

Answers at the bottom of the post.

As with most fictional accounts there is often a significant element of fact underpinning the plot and this little affair has its roots in some Xmas reading that Chas was doing that inspired our game.

So on with our game and the set up.
Below can be seen a CIA aerial picture of San Pedro with key points of interest identified as part of the preparation for the safe extraction of the US Ambassador known to be held in the town by the local FARC leader and his supporters in the North and South Boy Gangs.

The FARC HQ is the building identified as target 2 in the picture together with the drug packaging and production plant, target 3.

The town is heavily policed by the two paramilitary gangs, the North and South Boys under nominal control of the FARC leadership and they have the main exits into town under checkpoint control identified in the red circle areas.

In recent days another group was identified setting up residence in the town at target one, later identified as the "Mr Big" in narco-exports to the US, known to Venuzcol and Federal Drug agencies as Don Pablo Gonzalez or simply "The Don" or in other circles "Speedy" in recognition of his ability to never be around when the proverbial hits the fan.

Sleepy San Pedro after a night celebrating a new business partnership between the FARC and their new friend "The Don"
The situation in Venuzcolumolivia can only be described as delicate and complicated. US relations with President El Nino have cooled as the Ambassador has sought to bring pressure on the regime to reform and improve its human rights and legal standards whilst also bearing down on the drug traffic that underpins much of the countries black economy. Needless to say the kidnapping of the Ambassador cannot be seen as a total disaster in some quarters of the Venuzcolumolivia government and his demise would present new opportunities and threats to be managed accordingly. Of course covert access to narco-profits would more than make up for US threats and pressure and the President would not be averse to opening up communications with the senior management within the Cartel.

This relationship has only increased mistrust between the two governments and the CIA are active in the country pursuing US interests with their own deniable special forces teams operating within the interior and occasionally co-operating with Venuzcol forces when it suits them, whilst always trying to stay one step ahead of them.

Venuzcolumolivia is, like many narco economies, riven by competing stake holder and the forces available to the regime consist of forces reliably loyal to the President in the form of his elite guard units, who operate alongside a more shady and ruthless paramilitary police with the infamous "Black Berets" among their ranks known for their reputation for making problems and people disappear.

The leader of this ruthless force, General Juan Carlos Fernando, rumour has it that he was the Fernando sung about by Abba in the late 70's, narrowly survived a bomb attack at his HQ arranged by the Cartel and specifically "The Don" and he has vowed to make that particular problem disappear.

Our cast of characters were (Chas) our host and gamemeister for the day, (Mr Steve M) General officer commanding the Presidential Guard, a perfect choice being ex Royal Marines. Just see the way his troops patrol into town; you never forget the training. (Nathan) as General Juan Carlos Fernando, our ruthless killing machine and Abba fan, (Tom) the youngest member of the cast led the enthusiastic if somewhat unskilled North and South Boy street gangs who made up for their inability to shoot straight with pure numbers, (Clive) Comrade Che, the special one, the leader of the Communist FARC faction in the country, a skillful, artful politician breaking into the world of kidnapping and narco-economics designed to drive his political ambitions, but as we shall see a terrible driver, all though he blames his girlfriend, I mean secretary; and last but by no means least Vince who played the role of Felix Leiter our man in Venuzcolumolivia, but I can neither confirm or deny that last statement.

I don't know why, but I (JJ) played the role of The Don, in town having sealed a deal for a new supply of the purest snow this side of the Panama Canal manufactured by my new friends in the FARC and awaking to a new day to the reassuring sound of gunfire that seems to have replaced the dawn chorus in this part of the world. No worries, I have my elite team of bodyguards and minders to keep the riff-raff at bay and I should be on a fast plane out of this flea hole of a town by lunch time.

You know that gunfire does sound extremely close!

Presidential Guard units come under fire from the North Boys Gang as they force one of the four check points
Unbeknown to FARC and the Don the town of San Pedro was under assault at first light as Presidential Guard units and Black Beret squads were tasked with securing the FARC drugs plant, monies and if possible the Don, preferably alive and away from any American interference.

Of course the alive bit didn't include the Black Berets and they did what they do best "Keel all of them!"

FARC guards and North Boys gang members are alerted by the increasing gunfire on the outskirts of town
Aware of the operation US deniable forces were also in on the fun coming in on the last road out of town.

With bullets hitting the rear and side of his villa, The Don  prepares to leave town with "Tiddles" his pure bread Persian
The North and South Boys were no match for the assault teams that assailed their checkpoints and many were simply gunned down as they sleepily emerged from their huts close by.

However not everyone was off guard and a Black Beret reeled back dead before he hit the ground as the Don's close protection team opened up on them from the back of the Villa.

Suddenly the armoured four by four is hit in the bonnet by an RPG killing the driver and The Don narrowly escapes.
Carlos unloads a clip at the Black Berets along the street. The Don himself gifted him that lime green tie!
Quickly assessing the situation Carlos, the Don's main man, shepherded his boss to the car outside organising all round defence as the party prepared to leave.

Suddenly, Black Beret troops opened small arms fire and RPG rounds at the car from another road point having already driven off the FARC and North Boy garrison. The Don's driver was killed in the explosion but the other passengers escaped leaving Carlos on the wrong side of the vehicle.

Shouting to the other members of the team to get the Don away from the house, he announced he would hold the Black Berets off from the Villa and cover them. What a guy!

Presidential Guard units make steady progress into town eradicating points of resistance along the route
With all routes blocked and the crescendo of battle all around the FARC and the Don were looking for secure routes out of town and quick.

The Don and his men boarded the town bus and were getting ready to make themselves look like the other passengers when the Don's mobile rang.

The caller announced himself as the Colonel in charge of Presidential Guard units entering the town and approaching the bus with a "Presidential Offer" of safe conduct to the Don in return for information.

It was then that the Don thought he heard a second click on the line as the Guard Colonel ended the call and Vince was seen to hastily scribble something down on his quiz notes. These CIA types get everywhere, the Don thought!

US Special Forces disguised as goats surprise a South Boys check point
Noticing a BBC journalist on the bus and quickly recognising that the situation was not looking good the Don made a deal and led his men towards the awaiting guardsmen under the eyes of the world media.

Meanwhile the US special forces and Black Berets were mopping up the remaining South and North Boy gang members as the FARC teams desperately tried to secure their monies, drugs and captive for immediate evacuation.

With a helicopter summoned to come in and take the Ambassador away from the town, Comrade Che grabbed a car in the rear compound and together with his secretary slammed the vehicle into gear and charged the fence blocking access to the only road not guarded by the Americans.

The car got stuck on the wire and abandoning it, the FARC leader quickly hot wired the other one close by, this time leaving it to his secretary to negotiate a route to the road and a fast get away.

With the Don's car burning, the North Boys commandeer a bus to blockade the crossroads in town
With "Black Berets" and Military Police entering bottom and left, Presidential Guard, top and US deniable forces, right, all roads out of town are blocked, or are they?
As the government forces closed in on the centre of town, a small helicopter could be heard approaching.

The Don looked up to see where the aircraft was when he was shot by a Guardsmen close by who was quickly dispatched by his comrades, who discovered later that the man was a Black Beret infiltrator tasked with his mission to ensure the Don never made it to custody.

Black Beret men seek to liquidate members of the Don's close protection team in his Villa (bottom left) as the Don is forced to surrender to Presidential Guard forces by the bus under the watchful eye of the BBC
As part of his arrangement for safe passage, the Don had revealed the location of the US Ambassador to the Guardsmen who whilst securing the FARC drugs narrowly missed securing the diplomat as FARC members escorted him to the helicopter.

With options rapidly closing, the FARC leader and his secretary make a dash for the road via the fence in his suitably red set of wheels
Surrounded by Presidential Guardsmen and about to be led away, The Don is fatally wounded by a member of the Black Berets secreted among the ranks of the Guard 
The Black Beret murder squads were busy going house to house crushing all resistance and the Don's Villa was a particularly appealing target; but they little expected the resistance they encountered as Carlos El Loco lived up to his name and the ability to wear extraordinary suits and ties with a display of weapons skills that left the South Boys gaping in awe as he filled the front and back door of the house with Black Beret corpses, only to fall in hail of automatic gunfire as he used up his last clip.

Meanwhile back at the Villa, the Black Berets  pay a heavy price as the Don's main man, Carlos El Loco, the man in the brown suit shows off his shooting skills to members of the South Boys
Black Berets dead in each doorway and a South Boys fighter stunned but unhurt pointing his assault rifle in the wrong direction
What did I say about Clive and his driving. - "Whatever you do, don't throw a one and get stuck on the wire."
With the smoke hanging over the battle ground of San Pedro littered with burning cars and strewn with dead and wounded, we called it a day.

The Don was dead, the President and his loyal guard had the drugs, the FARC had their money and their hostage, the Black Berets had their revenge, the North and South Boys had had a lesson in shooting and the CIA well they weren't involved were they?

On information received from the dying Don, the guards narrowly miss finding the US Ambassador in the Group 4 truck
I really enjoy playing the occasional game where I have absolutely no idea what I am doing but can spend a few hours losing myself in the story that is the game, enjoying the banter and laughs with friends.

Such was our game yesterday and thank you to Chas for putting the day together and hosting the fun, and to Steve M, Tom, Nathan Vince and Clive for equally losing themselves in their respective characters.

FARC escort the US Ambassador to their escape plan B
Answers to the Xmas Quiz
1. Your Commander

  • Robert Devreaux, Earl Of Essex
  • Kutuzov
  • Arminius
  • Henry Tudor
  • Tadamichi Kuribayashi
  • Darius
  • Barclay de Tolly
  • Sir William Waller
  • Charles d’Albret
  • Albrecht von Wallenstien

2. Name five of the nine US Pacific Amphibious Island Landings in 1944

  • Pelieu
  • Guam
  • Saipan
  • Tinian
  • Kwajalein
  • Eniwetok
  • Anguar
  • Leyte
  • Truk

3. “Bloody Fighting”

  • Battle Spotsylvania/Antietam, ACW
  • Battle of Edson’s Ridge, Guadalcanal, WWII
  • Battle of Roundway Down, ECW
  • Battle of Carentan, Normandy, WWII
  • Battle of Wilson’s Creek, Oak Hills ACW

4. Which War?

  • Hundred Years War
  • Jewish Revolt v Rome
  • World War One
  • War of Austrian Succession
  • Great Northern War
  • Congo Crisis 1961
  • Peninsular War
  • French & Indian War

6. Name the three British and one German battle cruisers sunk at Jutland

  • Lutzow
  • Indefatigable
  • Queen Mary
  • Invincible

7. Name the five battles of the Prayer Book Rebellion

  • Battle of Fenny Bridges, 2nd July 1549
  • Battle of Woodbury Common, 2nd August 1549
  • Battle of Clyst St Mary, 5th August 1549
  • Battle of Clyst Heath, 6th August 1549
  • Battle of Sampford Courtney, 16th August 1549
The really great aspect of living in Devon is that you are never very far way from beautiful countryside and its nature and whilst enjoying a break from the game we were treated to an amazing display of bird-life in Chas' garden including this stunning pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

I didn't have the tripod to hand so had to rely on long distance steady hand hold to take these shots which is never easy, but I think you can see what amazing birds these are

Next up;
End of Year/New Year Review and more Napoleonics for Talavera 208