Thursday, 31 May 2012

Top Malo House: 30th Anniversary Game

30 years ago on 31st May, 1982 Captain Rod Boswell led 18 men of the elite Royal Marine Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre in what was to become an iconic action of the Falklands War. This wargame is a small tribute to the combatants on both sides.

It began when an M&AWC OP on the lower slopes of Mount Simon reported two Bell UH-1 helicopters dropping off an Argentine patrol at Top Malo House. These were Captain Jose Arnobio Vercesi, commander of the 1st Assault Section, 602 Commando Company, 8 men of the1st Section and two Blowpipe shoulder launched AA Missile gunners. At this stage of the campaign, the Argentines were using their Special Forces to set up anti-aircraft/helicopter ambushes along probable air corridors and this was their most likely intent.

Captain Boswell planned to neutralise the threat posed by the Argentines, inserting by helicopter in dead ground 1,000 yards away and attacking their position in the house. Boswell's force was divided historically into an Assault Section and a Support Group. Each with two fireteams.  The figures were deployed accordingly and the stage set for the tabletop action.

 Top Malo House


Maff's planned mirrored Boswells. Hammer the Argies with sustained violence from LAWs and GPMGs of the Support Group whilst the Assault Section got up close and personal with size 10's.

The violence began on queue. As a green flare arched into the sky, the Support Group unleashed a volley of LAWs at Top Malo House. Only one LAW hit, nevertheless shaking the men inside and starting a raging fire.

The assault begins:
LtoR One Bravo, Boswell, One Alpha
Support Group off camera to the right

Under cover of the GPMGs the Assault Section pepper-potted forward in bounds. A group of Argies burst from the house doubling for the stream bed, covered by the sniper in the upstairs room. He aimed and fired, crumpling an unlucky Marine from team One Bravo on the left.

 Cadre Pepper Potting forward

Another volley of LAWs then the massed GPMGs and Cadre sniper retaliated in kind. Massing their guns and ending the Argentine sniper threat in a formidable firepower demonstration.

Argie Commandos dash for the protection of the gulley

By this time the Argies had reached the stream bed and from cover returned a withering fire on the remaining Marines in One Bravo, taking out a second Marine and enabling another group of Argies to leg it from the collapsing building. One them tumbles from Cadre fire.

Cadre Close in

Whilst his companion went to the aid of their stricken mukkas, the light machine gunner in One Bravo laid down a solo barrage on the Argies who manned the stream bed, killing their sergeant.

 Captain Boswell, Signaller and Sergeant

Meanwhile Boswell had reached the burning building. Two remaining Argies here fell into the hands of One Alpha, unceremoniously being passed onto some of the Support Group lads who had come forward. Boswell's sergeant fired his M79 at the Argie Commandos in the donga, scoring a hit that killed one Commando and wounded Captain Vercesi with splinters.

One Alpha made the most of the cover afforded by the few out houses and the smoke from the burning building to work round the Argies left. 

 One Alpha use the available cover to outflank the Argies

The Support Group had re-established itself in a new firing position that now covered the whole Argie position in the stream. Both sides traded rounds. Some good die rolls by the Marines had degraded the Argie Commandos fire, but failed to score any more hits.

One Alpha broke cover, keeping the Argies pinned with classic fire and movement, they made it to the safety of the stream bed and then began moving upstream with malicious intent. This action sealed the fate of the Argie Commandos. With two men down, a wounded boss, outgunned and outflanked, they surrendered.

 One Alpha fire & manoeuvre to the gully


A surprisingly tactically challenging game. The Cadre have a lot of firepower but a lot of open ground to cover. As the Argentine commander do you remain in the house and surrounds to slug it out against superior fire or try to withdraw to the gully, to fight it out from their or escape?

In all, 40 action packed minutes to play. It was great to be able to use two packs of my ex-Hotspur M&AWC figures for the role they were originally sculpted. That added to my enjoyment. You'll notice a few ex-Hotspur SAS, Marines and others in cold weather caps included in the force to ring the changes.

Really enjoyed the game, even as the Argie player and definitely a game to play again, especially as a '79 Welsh scenario.

A couple of ideas came out during play and a few realisations - like I really need to finish those outbuildings and fences, make proper fire and smoke markers and ditch this camera. Plus, make up a two more Top Malo House kits showing various stages of destruction! As the building is also a one-off a bit of time spent creating a decoupage effect would be worthwhile. Tony's kit is very nice as it is though for a one-off game thrown down at home or down the club.

M&AWC: 2 casualties
602 Commando: 5 casualties including Vercesi, 2 captured, 4 gave themselves up.

Figures: ex-Hotspur
Terrain: Tony's Top Malo House card kit - 15 minutes to cut-out and put together. Rest home made.
Rules:  USE ME: Modern Warfare with several home brewed modifications.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Underneath the mango tree....

Turtle Cay and not a commie in sight. Yet.

"Big Dog, this is Hungry Shark Alpha. We are Oscar Mike at the head of the cay. Foxtrot is missing post HALO jump. Moving up over."

The SEALs move up through the mangroves towards the dry ground

“Two Tangos ahead”

“Delta, Echo. Engage

Tango down”

“Tango neutralised”

Delta and Echo move up the fence line while Charlie provides cover and Alpha and Bravo move right to cover the road.

“Tangos at 6 o’clock.”

“Tangos down”

The area seems lousy with Tangos – another three stroll up the road towards the shacks and Alpha, Bravo, Charlie.

“Bravo. I’m compromised.”

“Go loud”

“Target down



“Target down. Cruz, clear that SAW. Target Down. Brad, report.”

“Can do Aaron. Oorah.”

Delta and Echo clear the fence to the back of the Hall and report a door to the rear.

“Clear building. Secure cargoes”

“Go! Go!”

The door splinters……

“Down! DOWN! US NAVY!!”

“No shoot! No Se Nara! Madrediosnocommunista! No Shoot!!”

“Delta, what the HELL?”

“Only a janitor. Empty. Where are the girls? AMERICAN GIRLS?”

“They go. Cars with men”


“Si, to airport. Three days ago. Go home.”

“Aaron, the cargo has gone, it’s a scrub.”

“Negative. Inbound vehicle, militia and a guy in a white suit”

“And that guy’s got a gold AK.”

“All call signs, lets have some radio discipline?


The SEALs prepare an ambush. Cruz spots some “mighty fancy lingerie on that washing line, no cheap stuff. Mr AK aint here on no political business.”


The bodyguards are taken out. Mr AK is taken down.

"This is Big Dog. Await helo extraction of your local cargo. Then route to the Radio Shack; the Rangers are having some........local issues. Big Dog Out"


Terrain, Shacks by Tony, Hall by Hornby, Trees GW & Products for Wargamers, fence ditto. Truck Airfix plastic. Figs Hotspur & Eliehem, Rules CW:83 with added mango.


Operation Prompt Anger.... Briefing

Dateline......Somewhere in the Caribbean.....

 USS Lynda Carter

As you are aware from the DNI briefing packs, communist agitation in British 
Equatorial Costaguano has led to anarchy and the overthrow of the Prime Minister 
Albert Gosling, who is, was, is a ah, Member of the British Empire.

Briefing Pack Picture 1:
British Equatorial Costaguano

The newly established Communist regime in BEC under the leadership of Leroy 
Wilkins joins Nicaragua, Cuba and the adjacent Republic Libre de Costaguano as a 
clear and present danger to Democracy and our interests in the Caribbean and 
Central America.

The President has therefore authorised Operation PROMPT ANGER. This will be a 
rolling series of covert and overt missions to restore democracy to Costaguano.

SEAL Team Ten. Your mission is to secure US civilians at risk in the current 
anarchy. Specifically the Central College Iowa Girls Volleyball Team who are 
held at the Turtle Cay Community Hall.

 Briefing Pack Picture No.2
 Central College Iowa Girls Volleyball Team

You will be inserted by HALO at sea and swim upriver of Turtle Cay. You will 
then covertly approach the Hall, overwhelm the guards and summon a helicopter to 
evacuate the noncombatants.

Is that clear?


4 hours later: Puerto Prince River
British Equatorial Costaguano 

Operation Prompt Anger is the second of tonight's games
and will follow Top Malo House. Batreps to follow. 

Club Costaguano

Took a well earned sanity break from prepping, basing and painting to take Lootenant Dominico Piezza USMC on a trip to Costaguano.

Pappa Bear, Pappa Bear, this is Broke Dick Dog.
We're in a world of hurt.....Over

A single seater spy plane piloted by a CIA agent has gone down. The 79th MEU currently based at Camp Leroy, Gibbs, Pennsylvania has been tasked with the mission. It's 4th July, everyone is at a BBQ or Atlanta, leaving Lt Piezza, Master Gunnery Sgt Bill Murray and their scratch squad of cooks, clerks and cleaners effect the rescue operation....

More to follow, it's an ungodly hour and I'm beat....

US 3 KIA, Costaguanans 9 KIA. CIA agent retrieved.

Rules: USE ME: Modern Warfare
Figures: ex-Hotspur Urgent Fury USMC and Liberation Miniatures assorted African and Banana War types.


ps I'll get back to this but I have one last Argie 602 Company Commando left to finish - a converion to FN rifle and he's been a tough little bugger. Have to rebuild his left hand from Green Stuff , then paint etc - hope he'll be ready for tonights Top Malo game!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

I Predict A Riot

Begun the Riot Squad today, whilst I make up my mind about the urban DPM on the Elhiem BAOR. These guys were a gift from MajorMike and they've been staring at me accusingly for some time. Now I have the time and above all mental energy to do them justice, I'm ready to tackle them - perspex helmet & riot shields et al - with a Humber Pig to back them up.

A package arrived this morning from Mark at Pumpkin Models. I've been dealing with Mark for the past year and he has been a great bloke. He's now running an eBay shop selling RH Models (Liberation Miniatures).  I ordered some figs on Sunday, after telling Maff that I didn't need any more, ahem. Well. I'm a sucker for combat radiomen figures. They were posted yesterday, here at 10am today.  That's service. At last Rolf's miniatures are visible, accessible and available from someone I trust.


FALKRADFN, Ah those were the days.... trying to take down a message on a wet notepad, decoding/encoding with Slidex & Mapco whilst grappling with your rifle, with probably a tin of cold Chicken Supreme at the end of the day as reward... "And you try and tell the young people of today that ..... they won't believe you".

These FALKRADFN minis are luuverly. The helmets are brilliant - which can't unfortunately be said for the new 5 figure Falklands command set, FALKCOM H. Personally, for a five figure command pack, I'd have done a mix of berets, helmets, Sterlings and SLRs, especially given the eclectic release schedule. Three of the figures - all without backpacks - are very usable. May just get another pack to give them headswops to join the rebel forces.

I bought some extra stuff, but I'll reveal these later! Meanwhile, I've inserted a permanent link to Pumkin Models in the sidebar under 20mm Model & Figure Resources.

Anyway, these riot troops are almost ready now for the next stage....


Monday, 28 May 2012

W'79 Workbench

Despite being a really chilled time in the sun and not one but two BBQs, the Winter of '79 headshed had really productive weekends.

Maff concentrated on his American 'Imperialist Running Dogs' (the 'green' ones below), a mix of ex-Hotspur Urgent Fury US Airborne, Marines and SEALs. Whilst I managed a heap of Warlord Militia from Mutineer Miniatures, the Platoon 20 US (Marine Recon) in boonie hats and enough Argie 602 Commandos to give Sarah Beeney a meaty restoration job at Top Malo House on Wednesday night.

Later yesterday evening, well more early hours of this morning, I even finished a brick of W'79 SO19 Anti-Terrorist police that had been hanging around for a while. Finally, before hitting my bivvy, I based a bunch of Liberation Miniatures 'Contras' - because they were there and I have the bug to just get stuff done.

On the way home on Friday, I picked up some compartmentalised 'Toolbox Organisers' from Poundland - for a £1, surprisingly - and have used these to organise my remaining Winter of 79 conversion and painting piles. Result, this morning I picked out a section with of Elhiem BAOR figures, cleaned, based and primed them alongside some OOP Citadel Dark Future Punks.

The Elhiem figures are a real joy to handle and look really warry once primed and based. The Charlie G No.1 has been left to one side because I'm tempted to turn him in a 'sparks' with manpack radio. He would also make an easy if little fussy conversion into a leader by giving him a raised right arm.

Now they've been sprayed with a grey primer (to aid my eyesight), I really do have this an urge to paint them up in Urban DPM to make them truly distinct as Govt forces.

 Children of Men (2006)

Tempting, tempting, however, I've slowly amassed a number of Gulf War era British from SHQ & Wee Friends  via eBay that would be perfect as select Govt troops with latest weapons and kit - MKVI helmet, XL85E1 and XL86E1, if I was to do Urban DPM (Children of Men). Something tells me that is a bit too ITV mini-series, but it remains a fun option.

Don't worry, SLRs and Sterlings all round for now but if I sell the rights to ITV for Winter of '79, then that's another thing altogether. LOL!


Saturday, 26 May 2012


We're delighted the Bakonga template worked on Wednesday evening. It was one of those spur of the moment things - sun and lots of it - inspired two back to back games set in equally equatorial climes.

In an hour we managed two fun games with very clear results, whilst my Bakonga '79 scenario gave up a surprising story arc at the end.

The guy in the grey suit was the first figure I placed on the table (upper right in photo). Both he and the now wounded Bakongan warlord Desmond Lynami have inadvertently provided several more Wednesday night missions stemming from this one 'throw away' game. It's Call of Duty: Black Ops on the tabletop. Can't get better than that.

We've decided to hit the pause button on events in 1979 Britain for the next fortnight. The games have been terrific but have highlighted gaps in our respective collections. A short pause will give both of us, but me in particular, the breathing space to bring together my Winter of '79 scenery and tie up the loose ends of my figure and vehicle collection. For instance, Punks are high on the agenda. Several conversions are underway and should be finished early next week. Tartan bondage trousers et al.

I've sent Shaun at S&S Models a warning order for two more Fox CVR(W) which will get the Berlin Brigade urban camo treatment to join my similar Berlin Brigade Chieftains and Land Rovers. That will create a nice little Ten Field Force battlegroup.  Soooo tempted to do the same with Rolf's Saxon APCs.

More about Shaun later as a package has just this second arrived with 'hasty' barricades plus a couple of 'burning' cars I ordered on Wednesday. I'm trying to persuade Shaun to do a London Hackney Cab Taxi barricade, together with a burning Taxi as well. Would be great for Winter of '79, Zombies, post apocalypse, riots, alien invasion, you name it. Drop him a line if you think this is something you'd buy.

So what's happening gamewise? I'm hosting the Falklands next Wednesday, notably Top Malo House. The Argies being a mix of Platoon 20 and ex-Hotspur. Hopefully if Mark's new MJ Figures' Falklands 1982 Argies are here in time to paint, then I aim to game Mount Longdon on the 11th June. Speaking with Mark earlier in the week he expects his first Argies by the end of this coming week and more Falklands Paras coming from the sculptor over the next fortnight.

On the back of the Bakonga games, I've ordered some Platoon 20 'Modern' Americans in bush hats - aiming for a pastiche of Clint Eastwood's movie Heartbreak Ridge. Maff and I had a chat yesterday and decided a week of mayhem in British Equatorial Costaguano wouldn't go amiss. I have a bunch of ex-Hotspur Urgent Fury USMC in hand, Maff has Rangers and 82nd Airborne. Tony's card Falkland houses and shacks being perfect for the job. May even temporarily mount a couple of them on stilts.  USE ME: Modern Warfare again, this time with our own stats drawn up for the 1980's. Job done.

The second package to arrive this morning is an order made with Tony at East Riding Miniatures at 8.30 yesterday morning no less! Perhaps it's a mid-life thing but a lot of Platoon 20's Post WW2 and Modern figures really appeal to me right now. The figures to the right are Platoon 20 Dogs of War from Maff's collection. Caporal-Chef Pierre L'Escargot and his Commandos de Recherche et d'Action en Profondeur. Maybe it's doing Winter of '79. Maybe it's because I bought Platoon 20 figures first time round and want to recapture the games of my youth with them 30 plus years later. I know that part of it is that I can't argue with how easy Platoon 20 are to buy. Tony at East Riding Miniatures is a great bloke, always eager to help where possible.

I walked up to the Post Office first thing to pick up an eBay win that had come earlier in the week whilst I was at work. 23 genuine ex-Hotspur Falklands figures for £7. Most were an assorted bunch of Paras/Marines and Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre who will be thrown into the Winter of '79 mix, plus a few Argie Marines in berets who are now destined for the Top Malo game next week. The Mountain & Artic Warfare Cadre as always are luvverly miniatures. I had intended to cut the weapons off these guys and give them SLRs instead plus a few spare CP Models bergans to become Winter of '79 rebels/Free Taff. But the figures are so well moulded and crisp in detail (definitely original Hotspur figures), that I'm loathe to do that now. The same figures from Stonewall just aren't worth the effort.

Time to enjoy the sunshine and prepare some newly arrived Platoon 20 Marine Recon and P20/ex-Hotspur Argie 602 Commando Company for painting over the weekend.


Thursday, 24 May 2012

Bakonga, Bakonga, They Do It In The Donga

Bakonga: Takedown at Desmond Lynami's mum's kraal.
She's only just done up the kitchen

There's a reason why Gaz never speaks about BAKONGA. Tonight the story started to unfold as Blue Team are tasked with eliminating Bakongan warlord Desmond Lynami. A 14 Company operation in Liverpool had uncovered a shipment of ex-Libyan, Bakongan AK47s and the trail led back to one man. 

......It was going too smooth, even for Gaz. The infiltration was right on the button. They were lying waiting and the target nonchalantly appears surrounded by bodyguards. But who was the illusive man in the grey suit? Ginge thought they should get confirmation. For Gaz the mission was Lynami. They'd take out Lynami and then pick up the 'suit' when they cleared through the kraal.

Lynami's guards never knew what hit them. Lynami went down in the second volley of shots and started to crawl towards his Land Rover. The 'suit' stood for a turn in panic then ran. Gaz shouted 'Let's go!' and he Ginge and Stiffy skirmished forward..... "Too easy, too easy" was repeating in his head.

Two Lannies appeared in a cloud of dust and roared towards the kraal. Dave with the Bren (L4) gave the lead Lannie a full mag. A cumpled body fell out as it slew to a halt only yards away, disgorging men.

Doing it in the Donga!

"Sod this for a game of soldiers" flashed through Gaz's mind. Uncharacteristic caution urged him to get outta dodge' NOW! Reluctantly he gave up the chance to catch the 'suit' and began the job of falling back, by two's. Fire, manoeuvre. Fire manoeuvre. Too late! Stiffy was hit and killed outright by a burst from a Bakongan RPK. Nevertheless Gaz dragged Stiffy's body by his harness back across the donga under fire, covered by Ginge and Dave.

Dave proved to be the man of the match. Ignoring rounds skipping off the veldt, he Covered the withdrawal with his 'Bren', L4 LMG, killing every Bakongan who exposed himself from the long grass to cross the donga. Losing three more men, the remainder of the Bakongans decided it wasn't worth the effort and slunk back to the village to find and give aid to the wounded Lynami, hiding in the back of his Land Rover.
SAS: Dave, foreground; Ginge in Elephant grass
Gaz only just visible, as always

The price? Ten Bakongans hors d'combat for the life of one SAS trooper. Lynami unknown to Gaz, only injured and the illusive man in the grey suit was still at large. In the chopper Gaz could only curse himself and wonder "who exactly, is the man in the grey suit anyway?"


Rules: USEME: Modern Warfare
Figures: Liberation Miniatures
Terrain: Battlefield Architect (grass and hills), Amera Plastic Mouldings (donga),
PMC Games (15mm Celtic huts, yes really), homemade trees

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Father Ted's Mission of Mercy

With the Welsh front having reached a natural pause and at least one of the heroes given his recognition, it seemed like a good moment to head off for a bit of sun. So, this evening found both of us on Skype and due to an uncharacteristic miscommunication both with a game set up for the other and both games set in.......BAKONGA.

Dateline Bakongaville, 1979. Civil war looms as the army loyal to the Liberal Party government folds in the face of a Peoples Popular Party onslaught. Father Ted O'Crilly, five nuns of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and fifty Bakongalese orphans are trapped at the airport. Only four mercenaries - Para Pete, Ruid, Pierre and Billy stand in the way of the Simba mob! Whistling "Spanish Harlem" the heroic four prepare to save the lives of the poor wee orphans and Father Ted. And the nuns, they're people too.

Bakonga Intl Airport and defenders. That crate is labelled "BLANEY MACHINE TOOLS". Honest. The Simbas closed in from all sides as Crilly floored the ageing bus up the runway towards the waiting Dakota......sorry, that picture didn't come out.

A better picture - snapped by Sister Cecilia from the back of the bus

Simbas can be seen closing in

Frankly, all hell broke loose with Ruid using the MAG MG on the roof to stop three waves of Rebels, Pete and Billy held of the mob infiltrating via the shanties, while Pierre had a personal duel with another bunch sniping at him from the bush. Rounds were flying all over as the Mercs bought time for Father Ted to reach the plane.  As he did so, disaster struck, the simbas in the shanties activated a leader who got most of them firing at once; in the hail of bullets Pete was injured and Billy was killed. But....the last orphan was aboard and the mercs were free to leave in a hurry. Well, by free, they got to the Land Rover OK but had to drive the gauntlet of heavy simba fire as they tore off after the Dakota. 

Figures: Pltn 20 & Rolf Hedges
Terrain: all sorts
Rules: Voyages Extraordinaires with 7.62 twists


A Big Man with a Bigger Moustache

Gareth "Butch" Squires was the complete opposite to head of the Free Wales Army, Garri Wyn; described as a "big man with a bigger moustache", he was a professional soldier and a natural fighting leader. Born in Bargoed, Butch joined the Welsh Guards, reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant; a keen rugby player (no 8) Butch was on secondment to SENTA as a skill at arms instructor when the Paras moved in on Warminster. A scratch force of pro Free Taff soldiers, with Butch at their head, seized SENTA and declared support for the Free Taffs. Officers from the other Welsh regular regiments and the Royal Marines arrived at SENTA to find local volunteers going through a gruelling training course run by a handful of Guardsmen - "we let them get on with it" said a Major in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, "no one wanted to argue with Squires".

Butch led the defence of Abergavenny once Wyn was pulled out and became a legend amongst the volunteers and TA men who formed the garrison. Living off crisps and cold tea, carrying a sterling and wearing his trademark black woolly hat, Butch led from the front, using a land rover to dash from point to point. A close knit "band of boyos" grew up about him who would later form the core of the Welsh Special Forces - those who survived, Stench, Dai Lewis and the more shadowy JJ and Snooze all learnt their trade in the streets of Abergavenny.

 "Big Man with a Bigger Moustche" 
Commandant Gareth Squires
commissioned by the
Welsh Republican Assembly, 1989

Post Abergavenny, Butch Squires remained a frontline commander who impressed his Sandhurst trained colleagues "the best man you could have on your flank " says Colonel ST of the Royal Marines. Butch's field career and his heroic reputation made him natural choice as Military Representative of the Free Welsh Delegation to the US Congress. Assisted by his flourishing romance with Ms Madison Gardens of CNN, Butch worked Washington like a scrum at the breakdown and was a key counterweight to the English military attaches; "Butch Squires not only talked the talk, he walked the walk but with parade ground precision" said now General Petraeus.

His marriage to star news reporter Madison Gardens made for a fairytale romance which was lapped up by the American media. "A story made for Hollywood" said lead star Daniel-Day Lewis in OK Magazine. Butch finally succumbed to cancer in 2005 and was accorded a state funeral by a grateful nation. He is survived by his seven children.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

CBS Tonight Special: The Day Abergavenny Died

Voice Over: On CBS Tonight, Madison Squire-Gardens talks to Her Majesty's S.A.S. retired hero Gaz "Two-Mags Mac", about the fateful events of 30 years ago that would shape the future of the Great Britain we know today.

 Madison: Gaz, before we talk about Abergavenny, just how much of a suprise was the Welsh insurgency?

Gaz: Total. The Provisional Government and the green army didn't have a clue. At the Regt we had been tasked to find and shut down a ratline that MI5 thought ran from Ireland through Wales and then to the trot cells in Borset. So we had some guys driving around in civ cars and dug into hides in various bits of mid Wales. That's what led to our succesful ops like Pennypinch Farm; but we picked up vibes, odd ones. The locals were not unfriendly but there was an electric buzz in some of the villages, we just didn't know why.

Madison: And then?

Gaz: One of our patrols was ambushed. That was a wake up call and we worked up a few plans. Nasty ones; decapitation strikes; counter gangs, all sorts.

Madison: But they never happened?

Gaz: Not in the way we planned. The army council went for a big, kinetic ground assault. They reckoned, kick the taffs hard and they'd choke. You'd have thought they learnt the lesson at Llanover.

Madison: This is something that I didn't understand then ..... Why were these militia fighting so hard and so well?

Gaz: One word. WARMINSTER. These were Welsh Guardsmen. Survivors, detached blokes, even former woodentops all over the place and they were angry. A couple of those and a Taff platoon picked up skill at arms, fieldcraft and attitude. And there were the renegade Marine Commandos as well. Oh we learnt to remember Warminster all right.

Voice Over: After the break, Madison Squire-Gardens recalls her own part in the story that led to a whirlwind relationship and the Oscar nominated movie, "Love in a Wet Climate".

Monday, 21 May 2012

Good Morning Minister

"Indeed. One hotbed of welsh dissent put down eh Nigel"


"and a few towns sounding shaky to judge by the GCHQ feed"

"Mmmmm. Answer me this minister. who have we fought?"

"Johnny Taff volunteers, TA. some guard survivors. Rabble."

"Exactly Minister. Now ask yourself, where are the Fusileers, the Welsh regiments,
the bloody Marines??'"

"Molesting sheep in Cardigan probably"

"I do hope you're right minister"

Teletype springs into life.....TapaTapaTapa.......TapaTapaTapa.......

"Sir. Urgent flash from D Int. Big flap in Wales."

"Read it Nigel. Read it man!"

"Mmmmm...... Oh Bloody bloody hell. Minister, it seems that Battlegroup South, heading for Pontypool have been hit by a battalion level ambush. Heavy losses. Fighting has erupted on the routes of Battlegroup Centre and North. Opposition is described as regular with good artillery support. Even those wretched missing Abbots have come out to play. Fight and run, fight and run, then they drop kick us in the balls"

"I do believe the bloody Welsh have had a plan all the bloody time, Nigel. This is going to be a long war"

"Yes, Minister".

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Radio Llaregub - The Driver's Story

Presenter: Bore da, ac yn y stwdio heddiw, mae ni'n....ddrwg geni....hello, and now over to Vincent Kane who is interviewing live, LIVE, mark you, a man who played a key part in the defence of Abergavenny.....Vincent over to you.

Vincent: Thank you Max. I am with a hero....a soldier who saw the battle of Abergavenny first hand. Dai Lewis. Dai, please tell me your role in this epic struggle. 

Dai: I was Butch Squire's 'Sparks' err radio man, and driver. Well, we didn't have a radio on this occasion, so I carried his flares and when we did have wheels, well I drove like.

Vincent: All very basic then Dai? No state of the art communications then?

Dai: Well, the phones were still working so, I had a bag of 2ps in case,  you know.

Vincent: I think that says it all really. But, Dai, after what everyone is calling the "Thunder Run" from the English paras, what happened?

Dai: Well, we made it to the Hen & Chickens, and Butch is staring at the Town Hall, muttering about "THEM" and "who dare bloody wins"  - he was in a right strop. Then Phil asks whose got the keys to the landrover. And Butch drops his crisps - roast chicken , his favourite, so I knew it was serious and he says "Stench, JJ, Chris, Steve - grab the gats - sterlings and brens, as many mags as you can - Dai you're driving" and he jogs off to the landrover. He tells me to make for Lion St via St Mary's and we're off, bricking it like cos' we know what a mad bloody idea he has. Back down Castle Lane and across past the burnt out tank some Paras are mucking about but Butch waves at them casual and we're across - he has a quiet word with Steve and then we're approaching the Church, Rangers milling about everywhere - some are getting knife rests out across the road,but nothing you can't drive around and we go right through them, firing like mad. I'm driving with my left and shooting my browning with my right and its a bloody madhouse. Madhouse like!. Bullets and Rangers all over the place and we're through. I put my foot down until we're round the corner and we see more Saes flagging us down.

Steve, he shouts "BRITISH ARMY! FRIENDLIES!" and the Ranger asks who the hell we are and what the efffing hell is going on. Steve, he's from Cardiff and doesnt have a Welsh accent, he says we're SAS and the taffs are attacking the Church - we're going to hit there flank and we're off again

Vincent: So they took you for SAS??

Dai: Long hair, moustaches, camo jackets and woolly hats?

Vincent: I see.

Dai: So we got back into our lines but it wasnt over, oh no. Butch tells Snooze to get his lads back to the upper town while we and one of the platoons attacked the Rangers by the Church. Mainly grenades but they didnt like it, especially when Butch called out "fix bayonets".

Vincent: You launched a bayonet charge against the english?

Dai: What? Are you DULL? We all shouted "CYMRU", lobbed all our grenades and legged it while they THOUGHT we were going to charge. Caused bloody havoc we did, while they were getting over it we were back in our bit of town, with shorter lines and a bit of a breather.

Vincent: And then?

Dai: well, we held on for another day or two but we were too low on ammo, the Saes were getting close to the housing estates and that could have got nasty. My mum lives there in a Council House. Just done up the kitchen. So we waited till dusk, broke off and made for Crickhowell. Blew the bridge - which annoyed some paras hovering in their helicopters who arrived just as we blew it, and that was it. Long bloody week."

Vincent: Thank you Dai. You'll be the toast of the Vallies tonight. Back to the studio.


Saturday, 19 May 2012

Abergavenny Falls!

Abergavenny goes down fighting
Last stand by volunteers
Tanks knocked out 

It was all over in Abergavenny by early yesterday evening; the little historic Market town a sea of rubble and destruction after a bitter assault led by 5 Para and the Wessex Rangers ground into the town over several days fighting.

An armoured push up the high street was stalled by a rebel anti tank gun and molotov cocktails with burnt out Land Rovers and a Scimitar tank blocking the road. The wreckage of a Westland Scout was still stuck on the roof of the town hall where, apparently members of the Special Air Service Regiment assaulted by helicopter to clear rebel positions room by room.

Security is tight and few of the government soldiers were talking as they consolidated their positions. One Ranger eyewitness said "Bodies litter the street in front of the Town Hall. The main staircase is a bloodbath". Another said "we'll keep a welcome? They can bloody keep it"; others just stared at the smoke wreathed hills "two battalions, one town" said an exhausted Paratrooper, "you work it out".

Welsh sources have been quiet though there are rumours that councillors in Pontypool and Merthyr are considering declaring themselves open cities to avoid the damage inflicted on Abergavenny and there are reports that rebel cadres are moving on town halls to secure them.

By this evening three column of lorries, new Saxon Internal Security personnel carriers, tanks and landrovers were are pushing towards Brecon, Pontypool and Merthyr Tydfil.

"we have advantage and we are going to play this to a grand bloody slam" said an officer as his army Land Rover headed west along the Heads of the Valley Road.


Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Quick game tonight with Wessex Rangers pushing up Lion Street, Abergavenny, against scratch but increasing resistance by a variety of Free Welsh troops and civilian militia.

A great opportunity to try HELL & UNCIVIL DISORDER by Jim Webster. OK, let's be honest. H&UD simply failed tonight. I'm sure it could work and be a great laugh with a group of gamers, beer, pies and a big table, but limited to my 2x3 urban setup, being gamed over Skype, not this time, not for us.

Don't let me put you off, HELL & UNCIVIL DISORDER is a fantastic alternative to AK47. Which is closer to where it lies in spirit. I find H&UD much more in tune with the character of 3rd world warlord conflict than AK47, but be warned that it's definitely not for the inner treadhead. 

We had a bit of fun during the day playing with H&UDs  'Aggression' descriptors. Making them a bit more in character with Abergavenny in the Winter of '79. Here's what we came up with:

             Aggression:          Valley Speak:             Welsh(?):               
                Sullen    =            Fed up like                 Diserch  
              Truculant  =        Bit of a strop on              Cwcsog                     
             Psychotic  =           Tuned up                     Llidiog

BTW, there was a saying going around Wales at this time in the late seventies, early eighties, "as rough as ten bears", used to express how HARD something/or someone was. Eg "Wouldn't pick a fight with him, he's as rough as ten bears"

This saying seems very apt given the emerging prowess of "Butch", our Free Taff leader in 1979 Abergavenny. It's a neat period colloquialism to import into the game for characters/heroes to replace the 'Bottle', 'Guts', 'Elan' etc.labels given to combat/experience factors from our favourite rules, eg "Rough as 7 Bears", "8 Bears", "9 Bears". 

Time to hit the party pack of Carling Black Label I think.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Abergavenny - Thunder Run

Stung by the Wessex Rangers' attack up Lion Street, The Free Taff have launched a blistering riposte. I've spent the last day trying to make sense of the shambles it's left in it's wake. But more of that later in the week.

Have had to concentrate on a job application, so no time to pull together the AAR. Application fired off, so below is one of the best photos just to keep you ticking over.

What we have, is first part of 5 Para Recce Platoon entering the action. You can see Free Taff in the foreground and on the roofs. The guy casting a big shadow is Gaz "two mags" on the roof of the Town Hall.

Some late night thoughts and ramblings..... the 2'x3' grey felt cloth I bought at Hobbycraft proved to be a quick and flexible urban gaming mat. Heather had some Tailor's Chalk handy that allowed me to run up the road markings. Tailor's Chalk is easily erasable leaving no trace the next time you want to game with a different street layout. Her chalk pencils didn't work on the felt, but the old fashioned Tailor's Chalk wedges were brilliant. After finishing the road markings with white chalk, I went back over with the yellow chalk wedge to do parking lines, but it looked too fussy. Quick rub with my thumb - gone!

FYI, the streets are approximately 8cm wide in this game - and it works. For me, anything wider really would start to need pavements and street furniture to look ok. Through trial and error, I've found that a static layout needs roads 10-12cm wide to allow for parking on either side, bus stops etc, plus 2cm wide pavements minimum. 3cm wide pavements look better for inner city shopping areas.

I originally thought the main focus of urban gaming on my smaller card table would be lengthways, with a couple of long fields of fire intersected by other roads at various angles. But what has come out of this game and a couple of smaller inner city bun fights, is that small works best. Instead of playing the length, play the width of the table (2 foot) and use the length to expand the dynamic environment for gaming with plenty of side streets alleyways and service roads.

If you have one or two long boulevards, street furniture is important for your guys to hide behind - the pillar box, dustbins, rubbish skips, parked cars etc. However, if the side streets, corners and alleyways themselves become the cover, you only need a few token items for urban colour.

I particulary like the flat roofed town houses. Not only do they provide an extra vertical dimension to the battlefield, you can easily place troops on the roofs - and believe me those chimney stacks are great for hiding figures behind. More than once I forgot the troops were there! And of course they can also be used to represent troops inside and moving through buildings. Then mix and match with more conventionally angled roofed buildings and you get a more interesting look to your urban tabletop.

A funny thing worth mentioning.  You might think it matters what buildings go where, but with the exception of the objective building, in this case the Town Hall, it actually didn't. I think that's testimony to the balance of the game was right. The terrain being there to support the game, not be the focus of it.

I know that I shouldn't be amazed, but I always am with this type of game, how a couple of dozen figures a side and half a dozen vehicles in total, can seem like hundreds. Great for a gamer on a budget or who like me, who has a limited budget and whose interests are also split between different wargaming projects at any one time. Consequently I'm downsizing my civilian and para-military factions as platoon sized formations really aren't needed, which in turn means less conversions required (phew) and I can get them onto the table quicker. I can always throw in some of the more rabbley military or GEEZERS criminals and detective figs to bulk them out where necessary.


Monday, 14 May 2012

The lost world of the seventies.

A great documentary on BBC2 last night examining the stories behind Four of the larger than life public figures of the time. The first segment is particularly interesting as it discusses General Sir Walter Walker and his attempts to create a secret army in waiting.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Apocalypse Now: The TEWT

The assault on Abergavenny within our Winter of '79 alternative timeline represents a watershed in our wargaming. Throughout the week we have been gaming daily, using aerial photos, Google Earth street maps and our plain old imagination to conduct a game run along the lines of a military Tactical Exercise Without Troops (TEWT). And it's been a blast!

This was no IGOUGO game with strictly defined TOEs, shopping lists of resources available and turn limits. Instead, we established a framework that amounted to "this is the general situation, I have roughly these formations, you decide what you have", and then ran with it. In fact during the course of the game, we just pulled stuff out of the hat as it seemed appropriate or just fun to do so.

Enabled by modern technology the gaming was constant. By day and by night, we batted texts and emails back and forth - action, reaction, response. A natural ebb and flow of battle developed. If you weren't quick enough in planning a response, a spoiling attack or other situation might throw off your plans. Maff revelled in his command role, deploying a small but mobile defence to cause maximum havoc.

Each night we roughed up a situation map which was a springboard for the next day's actions. This is Tuesday night's situation map. The Wessex Rangers have relieved 5 Para. A Company have taken over St Mary's Priory. C Company is holding firm in the cemetery whilst their 8 Platoon conducts a fighting patrol which leaves them out on a limb. B Company is clearing a start line for a push up Lion Street (though Maff hasn't cottoned on to this just yet).

The introduction of Madison Gardens created a whole new dynamic to the game and established a story arc based around the centre of the town. From that point on it just seemed natural to blog up the story from the characters own view points rather than a dry blow by blow account.

Throughout the TEWT we kept our eyes open for gameable actions on the tabletop, without attempting to force a game simply for the sake of it. The opportunity finally came with Gaz and his lads being landed on the top of the Town Hall as a diversion for 5 Para Recce Platoon's assault up Cross Street. Well, you have to don't you.

I'd planned the Paras attack as a demonstration aimed at drawing in the Free Taff reserves. The Wessex Rangers supported by a rifle company of 5 Para would then spring a pincer movement up Lion Street. You can see in the photo below, the junction of  Lion and Cross streets at the Raglan Chambers makes a perfect salient within which to trap the core of the Welsh defenders.

All in all, it was a far more challenging and much more fun than a normal 'accountancy' based wargame. The Apocalypse Now game was just - "quick! Get stuff on the table". It didn't have to look pretty, simply do-able. When you are really immersed in the story and action, exact model representation of this or that is redundant.

Next post will be the Abergavenny: Apocalypse Now: After Action Report (with photos). We may game the Wessex Rangers attack up Lion Street on Wednesday, see how we feel. And as things on the ground will be pretty fluid if not shaky at this point, it's a good excuse to bring in Hell and Uncivil Disorder by Jim Wallman. If Maff can hold the Wessex boys, he has a good chance of re-establishing his defence line, otherwise I think it's time for a fighting withdrawal to save innocent civilian casualties amongst the housing estates. 


Saturday, 12 May 2012

Abergavenny - Francis Ford Coppola Style

With all the madness of a Francis Ford Coppola epic, Abergavenny: Apocalypse Now is the best wargame we've ever played.

Abergavenny: Apocalypse Now
All gone a bit Dick Van Dyke!

Paras doing a thunder run up the narrow high street. Snipers on the rooftops. SAS landing on the Town Hall. Scorpions, Molotovs, Wombats, feisty blonde American heroines and big men with bigger moustaches. Someone ought to turn this into a movie!

Batrep to follow......


Abergavenny - Apocalypse Now

Pilot: Losing steerage.... check aft....
Co pilot: Small arms strikes......tail rotor peppered and rattling like buggery
Pilot: Gaz. Get clear now. We're going in hard. Brace! Brace!
Gaz: FOOK bracing .... JUMP lads!


Friday, 11 May 2012

A wombat IS a man's best friend

"Hello again, I'm Madison Gardens for CNN in the battlefield that is Abergavenn,y. Two hours ago I was with some English soldiers when they were attacked by Welsh rebel fighters. Since then we have managed to get over to the Welsh side of the fighting where I am now talking to Mr Staff Sergeant "Butch" Wilkins of the Independant Welsh Free Rebel Welsh Army - a big man with a bigger moustache.....Mr Wilkins....Sergeant, Staff...."


"Butch. What's it like to be a rebel?"

"I don't know Madison, I'm what I always have been - a Welsh Soldier."

"Oh. Yes, of course. Um. You're in a shattered town and you're outnumbered - you're losing - you must be worried?"

"Losing - you ask the Para's and the Rangers. We've given them a right beasting. Worried? No - hold on - RHYS! FACE YOUR ARC YOU DULL C...sorry - where were we?"

English voice on megaphone - "This is 5 Para, Taffy. It's all over, give up now and we'll let a few sheep in your cells for old times sake. baaaaaah. baaaaah".

"Oh My - the English have told the Welsh to surrender. Is it all over? Why are they bleating like sheep? Is it a battle cry? Butch is going to shout back I think...."

"F%&K OFF YOU ENGLISH BAS%$RD!" sounds of shooting.

"And now firing has started again, the English are dashing from door to door firing quick, the Welsh are firing single shots at them, I think they are low on bullets...."



"Eeeeek. Ok. From over the sandbags I can see vehicles - land rovers with men with machine guns on the back coming around the corner....oooh....there's a molotov want me to pass the magazine along to Butch...?.....Butch has fired a flare - I think it's how they call down their mortars - they dont have radios.....and OH MY GOD. There's a TANK at the bottom of the hill...OH. MY GOD....."

"Enemy armour in sight. Dai, Gags - keep the gympys on the lannies. Stench, nail that scimitar - BRING UP THE WOMBAT!"

Free Taff Wombat & crew somewhere in Wales 1979. Effective and mobile.

Australian Volunteer, Barry Zoo, 1979. Has a nasty bite.

"There's fighting all around me. I can hear the sound of helicopters......THERE they getting this Troy? Hovering now above the roof of the Town Hall. I see figures jumping? THERE ARE MEN ON THE ROOF..........!"


Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Boys Are Getting Back into Town

"Hello, Madison Gardens for CNN. I'm in the war torn city of Abergavenn,y, where every street corner has become a battlefield.  We're at the bus station where some very fierce looking English paratroopers are enjoying a well earned....."

" 'Ello darlin'!"


" Oi, Donny! Don't fancy yours mate!"

"Get your ti......"

"SHUT IT! sorry Miss, the lads are a bit on edge..."
"That's, that's fine Master Sergeant. The viewers would like to know why are you back here and not in the Town?"
"Yeah. You tell 'er Sarge!"
"Taff mortar rounds hit us as soon as they had sodded off from the churchyard. Then as we tried to get across the road, a bloody Gimpy opened up on our left. A bloody load of shit caught us from the right (point). Buggered if I know where that came from but it did the Now do us a favour. Take your pretty arse and F&&k OFF."
Firing. More firing....short fast bursts.....
"What the F&@K?"


"Get DOWN Miss!!"

Grenade explodes, more firing......

Later, at TacHQ....

“Hugh, what the bloody hell is going on?”

“Sir, rebels in platoon strength infiltrated down a lane and opened up on 5 Para with LMGs and grenades. We took some losses but the Paras beat them off”.

“Hmmmph, I presume the timing is all to pot?”

“Sir, the Adjutant is on it now, but the push has to be put back a few hours. I want to get the Rangers in position to kick off simultaneously. God knows what's at the top of the hill.”

“Fine Hugh. Well, it isn’t but that’s how it is. Get things back on track but no slacking at the Church – keep the Leeks on the boil.”

“Yes Sir”