Sunday, 26 June 2022

Travelling South…Yet Again

The original plan was to get away last weekend for our wedding anniversary on Sunday and my birthday on Tuesday, but since a key member of my team was on leave for those days, we displaced the break until this weekend, which by chance is a long weekend (disadvantageous for us because the car rental price jumps up horribly on holiday weekends). We headed South again to Queenstown, taking three nights at the fabulous Gibbston Valley Lodge and Spa, about 25 kms east of the town.

A map of our “Zone of Adventure” with the lodge location marked by the blue dot)

Thursday was a gorgeous day for flying with clear skies all the way and great views of the snow capped Southern Alps, but it made for a chilly -4C arrival in Queenstown and the daytime temperature never got above +3 for the rest of the day.

The final approach into Queenstown

After a pleasant lunch we headed to the lodge. What a great place! There are 24 villas each 20m x 5m with a spacious lounge with fireplace and comfortable chair and setee, going back into a generous bedroom and further back to an ample bathroom. The only thing they lack is a kitchen…but who needs that when there is  a restaurant 50 metres away!




From the front porch the view is across a small frozen stream, the vines and the breadth of the Gibbston Valley to the Crown Range beyond.

Prior to dinner we had a wine tasting in the lodge cellar where they hold bottles from every vintage back to their first in 1987.

I could become accustomed to this.

A frosty view across the vines and up the valley greeted us on Friday morning, but the day promised to be fine and sunny.

Soon afterwards we took a drive out to Glenorchy with a seemingly never ending array of stunning views along the way, especially at the serenely beautiful Wilson’s Bay (below).

I actually got the stone to skip!

Sadly Glenorchy itself was shrouded in fog, so we returned to Queenstown for a bite of lunch before returning to the lodge where we spent much of the afternoon on the porch in the sun reading, then going back into Queenstown for dinner.

No frost over Friday night made for a warmer start to a Saturday that was a lazy day for us. We toured the wine cave, took in a wine tasting, bought a few bottles, lunched in Arrowtown, had an afternoon in the lodge hot pool and a sauna before dinner in the restaurant.

The Lodge lounge/bar/restaurant

As I type this I am waiting in the lounge for the flight home to Auckland and the hard reality of a busy working week and the thought that although I am only 361 days from retirement age, the way recent sharemarket drop has affected my retirement funds will probably push actual retirement out another year…dammit!


Tuesday, 21 June 2022

A New Project

I had been thinking for some time that I needed to do some Americans for the American War of Independence. Now I know that my AWI British and Hessians were built because we had a shortage of British in our collective forces and that the French were all built to supplement and provide variety to the vast numbers of American troops already in the group, but I felt the need to own some Americans. So when a local supplier ran a special on the Perry plastic fugures at 30% off (making them a marginally cheaper than buying them direct from the UK, but able to be delivered next day) the inner magpie yelled “BUY ‘EM”! And buy ‘em I did…five boxes of ‘em…190 figures…enough for 12 battalions if I buy a few extra command sprues, which I have.

And what lovely little figures they are. Slightly smaller and more delicate than the Franco-Prussians I have been working on of late and the sprues have a nice mix of arms that means it is possible to create units marching formally, informally or a mixture of the two. The ability to add a few figures in hunting shirts, or even whole units in hunting shirts by buying few additional riflemen sprues is also attractive.

Since most of the Continental units owned by others in the group are all kitted out in the traditional blue and white uniform (with the occasional buff trousers) I decided that I wanted to do a mixture of uniforms from the 1777-79 period where other coloured coats were more common. I also wanted to good representations of the different states. I have elected to do four units from Virginia, four from Connecticut, two from South Carolina and two from New Hampshire that will give me an interesting mix of coat colours and head gear.

The first unit I have done is the Second Virginia State Regiment.

Formed in 1776 this regiment was intended for home defence, but when recruitment slumped after the heavy losses in the Virginia regiments at Germantown it was transferred into Continental service in January 1778. It joined the army at Valley Forge in time to participate in the Philadelphia Campaign. The following year it fought at Monmouth. It remained with the Continental Army until late 1779 when it was recalled to Virginia and many of the companies were disbanded the following year. Those companies that weren’t disbanded were merged with other State companies and served at Yorktown to be formally disbanded in 1782.


I chose this regiment because the green trousers, red waistcoat and blue coat presented an interesting uniform variant.


Next in this project, that could be a few weeks away yet, will be the Second Virginia Line Regiment, with grey coat faced green and with s round hat.

A future purchase will add some artillery and a squadron of Continental dragoons.

Speaking of purchases what better way to come home from a hard day in the salt mines to find on the doorstep a big batch of toys…and on my birthday too…


The special day was later celebrated by the consumption of this delicious Grand Cru…


 

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Swedish Artillery

This week has seen another couple of guns added to the Swedish Napoleonic Army.





I still have three more gun sets to complete for this army that will represent the army reserve. These will be done by month’s end.

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Way back in the 1980’s we used to manufacture the Tin Soldier Miniatures ranges under license in New Zealand. One of their ranges was a wonderfully characterful (albeit a little caricaturist) set of Aztecs. I remember I took on the joyful task painting up the 15mm display samples, with wonderful shield patterns and bright feathers. As I painted them I couldn’t help thinking of how I could develop a game for them. 

I had this idea of a several competing groups of conquistadors making their way up a terrain laden table, gathering treasures as they went, encountering groups of Aztecs along the way who were defending villages and temples. However, other projects took priority and the idea was never fully developed. Nonetheless the attraction of the Aztecs has remained. Then about a month ago I received an email from Caliver Books advertising the new plastic Wargames Atlantic Aztecs and Conquistadors…amazingly the inner magpie managed to resist for a week before I ordered a sample box of Aztecs.

Here is the result of my trial, a unit of five Jaguar Knights and a drummer on a diorama base.





Four other units will follow, another of knights, two of hand to hand warriors and one of missile troops.



Whether the project will progress beyond these initial units is yet to be seen.


Sunday, 12 June 2022

A Game…at Last!

Today we played our first game since January…well the Sunday group that is.

The lengthy interruption had two causes: the arrival of the Omicron variant with its subsequent restrictions and then some health issues with the owner of our gaming venue.

The game was a Great Paraguayan War scenario, sn opportunity to see my newly completed armies on the table.

Due to travel travel commitments (for work, pleasure and family) we were reduced to five players, two on the Paraguayan and three on the Alliance sides. 

The scenario was that the Alliance forces have landed behind a small Paraguayan fort on the Paraguay River, but the Allied advance has been poorly conducted and the three forces, Uruguayan, Argentinian and Brazilian became separated.

The rough sketch map below shows the deployment zones. The blue dots on the right show the limits of the  Brazilians, the Argentine troops are within the red dots, the Uruguayans in the green area and the Paraguayans within the limits of the black dotted line. The Paraguayans counted ten infantry battalions, five cavalry regiments, three field batteries five fortress guns. The Alliance counted 19 battalions, four cavalry regiments and six field batteries.




The Paraguayans decided to try to pick off the Alliance forces in detail, before they could unite and deployed forward, with their cavalry to the fore.



The Argentinians prepared to receive the onslaught.



The Brazilians advanced with unexpected speed.





Fearing the Brazilians would trap them in the open, the Paraguayans decided to fall back on the fortress, but threw their cavalry against the Argentine and Uruguayan troops to gain time.


But the attacks were repulsed and the Argentine cavalry came forward to exploit the situation. They routed the Paraguayan cavalry and pursued them. But the pursuers went too  far forward and were badly shot up by the Paraguayan infantry.


With the cavalry out of the way the Argentine infantry pressed forward on the right while the Brazilians formed up in the centre.





The Argentine infantry were soon engaged with two Paraguayan battalions in the woods along the river and were initially roughly handled. Then in a few mad moments two Argentine battalions delivered a devastating fire and destroyed one of the Paraguayan units. In desperation the other Paraguayan unit charged to try to break two disrupted Argentine units. They drove the Argentinians back, but failed to break them and in the next turn three Argentinian battalions blew them apart.



Meanwhile the Brazilians made it into the frontline.



Despite some initial success on the right, a round of devastating fire followed by a successful Paraguayan charge routed and destroyed three of of the five Brazilian battalions on the left.



Here the game was ended. The Paraguayans had not been driven from the fort and although the Alliance  artillery was in tact and the Uruguayans were still on the field (despite the appalling dice luck of their commander) victory was given to to the Paraguayans.

To finish off the post here are some random shots of the game.