A rare find: ‘Armada’ board game

By Rob Morgan

I’ve just acquired a naval board game produced by Jeux Descartes of Paris. Invented by Phillipe des Pailleures and Patrice Pillet, their names are on the box. I bought it intact, for £2 in the local Oxfam shop.

An interesting game, with similarities to Waddington’s Buccaneer’ in some ways, but with more land-based action, against “native tribes” to support the ship-to-ship and conquest action. However, my reason for writing this note is what’s to be found in the game box!

First, a large jigsaw base, half a dozen pieces, easy to put together and sturdy. A map of an archipelago, as you can see from the photograph, a little larger than a Monopoly’ board in full colour and most attractive. It could be used as the base for wargames with small-scale models, say 1/3000th or 1/4800th perhaps. It reminds me of the Ursula le Guin Earthseamap, or that of ‘Game of Thrones.’ There are clear divisions for sea areas too, valuable for campaigns and sea control.

Then 12 metal model ships, each two-masted. Sturdy vessels, each is 50mm long from stern to spar, as you can see in my photograph, 12mm wide and to the top of the masts is some 30mm. Immediately, I was reminded of Jack Scruby’s early models and of Don Featherstone’s basic models in his ‘Naval Wargames.’ Nostalgia! The models, I think, have some sound potential as wargames ships, and can be easily be converted into 1/1200th or 1/600th maybe, by the addition of rigged masts, or even simple lateen sails. They could fit in with Peter Pig’s 1/450th Pirate ship range too.

The rest of the game consists of about 200 flat plastic tokens, which could be used as bases for 15mm or 10mm models on land. Some are round, others are 10mm square, and they come in a range of colours. Another bargain. As I’ve said before, don’t ignore charity shops!

Posted in Board games, Wargaming | Leave a comment

Review of ‘The Gempei War 1180-85’ (Osprey)

Jonathan Aird reviews a 2016 Campaign series Osprey on the Gempei War in Samurai-era Japan.

It’s on the Ospreys at a Glance page.

Posted in Periods - Medieval | Leave a comment

Robert Hardy, the great longbow expert

By Rob Morgan

I met Robert Hardy, who died August 3, twice in the 1980s, at a Mary Rose conference, and later at the old Royal Armouries. I remember, he claimed when speaking to the audience on the second occasion, that he fell in love with the longbow when he played Henry V in a BBC TV series! He used that rare quote from Shakespeare’s Richard III, ‘Fight, bold Yeomen! Draw archers, draw your arrows to the head!’ I jotted it down (it’s from Act 5 scene 3 if you want to look).

I’d already bought a copy of his very sound, authoritative book Longbow,’ in the second-hand bookshop for a quarter of the cover price and wished I’d brought it to ask him to sign. He might not have done that, because he seemed a bluff character, and snappy if he didn’t fancy the question being posed to him.

Acting as a Lancastrian king aside, he’ll be long remembered for his all embracing social and military history of the magnificent weapon, what they call  a real sweep of bow history, and it is rather a magnificent volume. Yet I prefer the second, more medieval- focused of his archery books. ‘The Great Warbow’ by Hardy and Matthew Strickland was published in 2005, and really is a great publication, especially if read alongside Jim Bradbury’s ‘The Medieval Archer.’ Hardy was involved in a good deal of ‘hands-on’ longbow research over the decades, cropping up a number of books and in serious academic articles, and was skilled enough to become a consultant and then a trustee on the Mary Rose trust. No mean feat for an actor.

Posted in Periods - Medieval | Leave a comment

A sample article for August

This month’s sample article from previous issues of Lone Warrior is by George Arnold and explains a card-based system for randomizing orders of battle for gaming.

It’s on the Sample Articles page.

Posted in Solo wargaming | 2 Comments

Suffolk – some intriguing WWII traces

By Jonathan Aird

I do like to be beside the sea side – but in all honesty I’m not all that bothered about strolling on the prom-prom-prom, even the additional attraction of a big brass band doesn’t really swing it for me. Now, the coastal footpaths, that’s a different matter. On a recent visit to Suffolk, I came across a number of things that I thought could potentially form one of the infrequent “holiday objects of wargaming interest” that crop up from time to time on the Lone Warrior blog. Framingham Castle, for example, is a fine and interesting building of great historic interest – well worth a visit for the rampart walk alone. However, once more, it is the more ephemeral WWII fortifications that really caught my interest. Just north of Thorpe Ness, along the footpath hugging the dune tops, several tank trap blocks came into view – some of these had seemingly tumbled down from a higher position.


Glancing around at this point I noticed that there was a high wall along the path edge which had several rifle loops in it.

Then, a little further along, there was a most peculiar pillbox. This is brick built with a concrete roof and again features only loopholes for rifles. Most peculiar. Nestling in the bushes on the other side of the path, facing the beach, there were a number of concrete posts – possibly these once carried barbed wire.

About half a mile south of this spot, another pillbox came into view – although closer inspection suggested that this was actually a gun emplacement. This is all on the East coast of England – and in WWII far too close to occupied France – but the actual arrangement of defences seemed rather unusual.


I don’t know if this is the actual case but a possible explanation is as follows. The gun emplacement was most likely manned by the regular army whilst the brick pillbox was a home guard strong point or command point from which patrols were sent out North and South behind the barbed wire and tank trap protected dune tops. This would explain the lack of provision for heavy weapons at the oddly flimsy pill box. It’s in a fairly isolated spot – but there is the large Thorpe Ness Hall just a little way inland – and one can imagine that the skeleton staff running this, as well as, perhaps, elder family members — would have provided sufficient manpower for a Home Guard platoon. This is all complete conjecture, of course, and may be completely wrong – if anyone knows better I’d love to know the truth of it.

As it is, this arrangement of defences could offer an intriguing and unusual table top game for a “what-if” German pre-invasion probing raid – hitting the shingle and sand beach with the dunes a formidable stop line ahead of them.

Posted in Periods - World War II | 6 Comments

Review of ‘The Invasion of Virginia, 1781’

Rich Barbuto, the editor of Lone Warrior, provides a review of a new book about the climactic campaign of the American War of Independence.

It’s on the Reviews page.

Posted in Periods - Eighteenth century | Leave a comment

Popov ironclads

By Rob Morgan

Here’s an old model. I bought it at a wargames show donkey’s years ago, made of balsa wood and wire, with odd bits superglued on. One of the two Popov circular ironclads built by the Russians in the late 1800s, well armed and shaped to serve in the big rivers. Not successful in their intended role, they were nevertheless innovative and, arguably, anchored, could have been effective “river forts” or heavy floating batteries.

Someone spent hours scratch-building this little 1/1200th scale model. I know that Old Glory manufactures one these days, but it wouldn’t be the same. I’m reminded where river forts are concerned that Germany in the 1870s built two monitors that were intended to serve on the Rhine and which could actually be sunk to the river bed for that purpose.

Posted in Naval gaming, Periods - Nineteenth century | Leave a comment

Review of ‘The Gladius: The Roman Short Sword’ (Osprey)

Jonathan Aird reviews a number from the Osprey Weapon series, “The Gladius: The Roman Short Sword.”

It’s on the Ospreys at a Glance page.

Posted in Periods - Ancient | Leave a comment

A tram car roadblock

By Rob Morgan

I try never to pass the local OXFAM shop. It always seems to throw up a bargain. Not long ago, I picked up an Osprey at a mere £1.99. This, however, was from the postcard box, and I paid a sumptuous five pence for it! The card is of a tram car, early 20th century, and around 15mm scale, which is useful. It was produced some decades ago by a family business in Oxfordshire, now long vanished, but similar models are still made, and much more expensively by a company in the USA called Fiddler’s Green. Original cost of this, 10 pence.

I see it as a roadblock, the windows darkened. It’s exactly the sort of obstruction you’d find across a late-war Berlin street, or in Russia or Paris — anywhere in the European theatres of World War II. Earlier than that, Madrid or Barcelona in the Spanish Civil War, during the Spartacist era, or the Bolshevik. As I said, it’s remarkable what you can pick up in the OXFAM shop.

Posted in Periods - Twentieth century, Periods - World War II | Leave a comment

Review of ‘German vs. British Infantrymen’ (Osprey)

Jonathan Aird reviews an Osprey Combat series book, “France 1940: German Infantryman versus British Infantryman.”

It’s on the Ospreys at a Glance page.

Posted in Periods - World War II | Leave a comment