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Does historical wargaming trivialise or teach?

Wargaming as a way of learning? Especially for a series of wars that continue to have repercussions in my country to this very day? Doesn’t playing the New Zealand Wars as a game trivialise the on-going impact of colonialism on generations of descendants? My own story says otherwise. But firstly, why am I even mentioning this? Well, there’s increasing pressure on the New Zealand government to make the study of our colonial wars compulsory in the national education curriculum. I totally support this idea. Just like a person, a country should know its own history, especially where parts of that story still adversely affect the lives of many of its citizens. So how does wargaming fit into all this? As a youngster, for me ‘real’ history didn’t take place in New Zealand. Rather, it was the stirring battles and sieges that took place hundreds of years ago and far, far away in the fields, towns and castles of Europe, or in the forests and grasslands of America. For many years my hobby

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Kickstarter for early war German Fallschirmjäger

May ’40 Miniatures’ Kickstarter for 1939/1940 German Fallschirmjäger is now open. These 28mm early war Fallschirmjäger (paratroops) will be made as historically accurate as possible in this scale. They are designed for the 1940 German invasion of the Netherlands (but could also be used for games set in Norway, Belgium and even Crete). As a side-note, my father was in the Dutch army at the time of the invasion of Holland (you can read his story here). Amongst a box of his photos is this one, presumably taken shortly after the invasion. 

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The Night Watch as you’ve never seen it before

What a cool Father’s Day present from my teenage daughter today! She has drawn me her impression of one of my favourite paintings, Rembrandt’s ‘Night Watch’. I’m blown away! The original painting, completed in 1642, depicts a group portrait of a division of Amsterdam’s civic guard — the Kloveniers militia. The men are getting into formation, and their captain, Frans Banninck Cocq (dressed in black with a red sash), is telling his lieutenant, Willem van Ruytenburch (dressed in yellow with a white sash) to start out on the march. The kloveniers took on their name in 1522 — when they exchanged foot bows for primitive guns that were called ‘kloveren’ (from the French ‘couleuvrine’). This was a type of musket. Hence you can think of the Kloveniers as musketeers. The painting was controversial because of the way Rembrandt depicted the group’s members. Rather than giving each of them equal prominence, he created the painter’s equivalent of a snapshot: a group o

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WW2 Dutch village finished

My Dutch village is now complete. I’ll pack it away soon, to wait till I’ve painted up an enemy force from May ’40 Miniature’s forthcoming Fallschirmjäger (German paratroops) Kickstarter for my 1940 Dutch to fight. The final addition was to make the canal. I simply sprayed some textured sandpaper dark green, then edged the banks with sand and flock. Simple and effective, especially with the addition of some random bits of fencing and a couple of boats. The back gardens on the left are a Sarissa Precision product, which just happened to match the dimensions of two of my cardboard row houses. The only thing I had to adapt was to draw a little more crazy-paving to align the garden paths with the the back-doors of each house. By the way, some people have asked why I use 1/72 scale buildings with 28mm figures. The answer is that I prefer my houses to have a small footprint, as they then don’t dominate the table as much. In any case, wargamers usually play with underscaled trees, ri

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Missin’ in Action 2019

After last year’s success, we had another gaming event with friends. This time, the weather was friendly and we could set up in the garden. The main attraction was a game I had been working on for quite a while (not continously, though): namely a tavern brawl based on the old Brewhouse Bash rules from White Dwarf #223. I collected figures in brawling poses, which were harder to find than I thought, and built some terrain. The main headache proved to be the playing surface. After several aborted experiments I had to make a last-minute compromise and take a sheet of unpainted PVC floor coating. It looks ok, I guess. Here are some impressions from the game:   The game was simple fun. We had eight player, but it still moved along at a good pace. Austrians of a certain age grew up with Bud Spencer & Terrence Hill movies and the game conveyed the feeling of those comic scuffles pretty well. Afterwards, we played two parallel games of Sellswords & Spellslingers, which is aways a fun game, e

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A bridge too near – Fallschirmjäger for May 1940

I’m getting my Dutch village ready for May ’40 Miniatures’ forthcoming Kickstarter for a new range of early WW2 fallschirmjäger (German paratroops). May ’40 Miniatures Fallschirmjäger Kickstarter My 1940 Dutch army is badly in need of an opponent, so I am eagerly awaiting the Kickstarter that May ’40 Miniatures are about to launch for  a range of German early war fallschirmjäger. These figures will be accurately modelled to represent the paratroops who took part in the 1940 invasion of the Netherlands. Once they’re here, these fallschirmjäger will of course have to jump (ha ha!) to the top of my existing lead pile! Sarissa Precision’s canal bridge In readiness for wargaming the 1940 invasion of the Netherlands, I have added a typical opening bridge to my Dutch village. Although Sarissa’s MDF canal bridge kitset is based on the bridge at Bruegel from the later Operation Market Garden in 1944, it will work perfectly for wargames set during the German invas

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Jagdpanther with Hilary Doyle

Fantastic Video of the Weald Foundation operational Jagdpanther, presented by Hilary Doyle (renown German Armour Expert) with some absolutely fascinating and obscure facts included. A must watch if you are a WW2 Tank fan. Here is where you will find…Read more ›

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Tirailleurs Sénégalais for my WW2 colonial French army

The Foreign Legion is well known as a force for foreigners fighting for France. But in addition to the legionnaires, the French also made use of ‘tirailleurs’—units made up of troops recruited from their colonies in Africa and Asia. Tirailleur translates as ‘skirmisher’, ‘rifleman’, or ‘sharpshooter’, and was a designation given to indigenous infantry recruited in the various colonies and overseas possessions of the French Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries. The first unit of Tirailleurs Sénégalais was raised in 1857. Despite their name, the Senegalese Tirailleurs drew in troops not just from Senegal, but from across West Africa. The Senegalese Tirailleurs served France in many wars, including World War 2, when 179,000 men were recruited for service both in Africa and Europe.  I decided that my WW2 colonial French army needed some of these stalwart soldiers. So when it came to equipping my army with support weapons, I chose tirailleur machine gun and m

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A model Dutch windmill and my great-granddad

If you’re going to recreate a Dutch village in miniature, what do you just have to have to make it feel really Dutch? A windmill, of course! This weekend I added a windmill to the village I showed in my last posting. This time, instead of the cardboard buildings that I’ve use so far, I built a MDF kit by 4Ground. What a joy this kit was to put together. The design is very cleverly designed to form the rather complex shape of the windmill. But, as with other 4Ground kits I’ve built, it all fitted perfectly.  I personalised the model slightly, adding brick paper to the ground floor, and painting some parts of the sails and the turning beams. I also painted a small heraldic device where the vanes meet in the centre, as I’ve seen on real windmills in the Netherlands. I was worried the model might end up too big for my buildings, but I was happy with the end effect. After all, windmills are big in real life! Interestingly, having a windmill in my model village is a poignant reminder of m

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A New Blog

I’ve been very lazy with blogging lately, but I had quite a number of games. You can find AARs for two of them on a new blog: Tabletop Stories was created by my mates Virago and Sigur. Sigur is posting some old articles of his which hitherto had been hosted on the now defunct Skirmish Wargaming site. He also posted two AARs of games with me, namely A Sharp Practice cavalry action. This was another scenario from the Gettysburg campaign. The Battle of Wittenweiler. This was a battle from the Thirty Years War, fought with Sigur’s spectacular collection of 10mm figures. The blog also contains other AARs and reviews of rules. Sigur spares no efforts, as all of his articles are available in English and in German – just click the tiny flags in the upper left corner. Be sure to check Tabletop Stories out and to add it to your blog reader!

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We are back,The Grinning Skull is back online!!

Well folks, after a lot of messing around, creating a archive/new site, much hair pulling out and other guff. We are back. I could sit here and type to you, what the hell has gone on, but suffice to say I’m not going to bore you with an entire catalogue of problems, I’m just happy […]

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