Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Primitive archery

One of these days, when I have a reliable place to shoot, I'm going to pick primitive archery up as a hobby. I've thumbed through Primitive Archer Magazine, and it feeds my interest.

Back in my youth, I was an archery freak of sorts, and had a couple bows. Over the years, these became lost or broken and my interest faded. I was never a fan of the compound bow, which I never could respect. I was a recurve man, and only wanted one string on my bow. That interest never died, but went into hibernation instead.

When I picked up Primitive Archer, I said "ooooooooohhhhhh!" and the interest started coming back. This goes nicely with reenacting, because many bows you can buy are the ones used as military weapons, and would be great centerpieces for a display, not mention for hands-on use.

Movie Review: Mongol

Period: Early Medieval period - 1172 to 1207 - Life of Genghis Khan

Synopsis: Mongol is the first movie in a projected trilogy about the life of Genghis Khan. The movie first picks up when the then Temüjin was enslaved and imprisoned by a Chinese garrison captain. He receives a then cryptic message from a young monk that sets the stage for the rest of the story. The movie then goes back 20 years when Temüjin was 10 years old, and tells of his escapades and romance with Börte. It also touches on his personality and eventual conflicts with his blood brother Jamuka and eventual rise as uniter of the various Mongol tribes, where the movie ends.

Overall opinion: I found that I had to get into the rhythm of this movie before I started to piece things together to enjoy it. But when it picked up its legs, it was a compelling movie to watch. The movie does err a bit on the side of the romantic and escapade side of things, and doesn't really attempt to explain what made Temüjin such a great leader of men. As a viewer, I was a little bit unsatisfied, but I'm willing to hang on for the other movies to see if Temüjin's leadership traits more fully explained. Overall, it is a beautiful movie with some good battle sequences.

Good reenactor film?: I would call this a good reenactor chick-flick. Enough romance for the loves of our lives, but enough of the exciting bits for the manly men. Past that, it doesn't dwell too much on the military, but the clothing seems to be acceptable, although I don't know enough to definitely say it's authentic to the period. You will get an insight on Mongol tribal life and language, which again, may be a precursor to a deeper understanding of the other movies projected to come out. The battle scenes weren't fully explained, and I question the accuracy. Some of the fight scenes were a bit over the top, so nothing there for a reenactor to use.

How does it stack up?: This movie has the potential to be a classic, but the other movies have to come out to seal the deal for me. It's a good historical flick, but to me, it jumps around in time too much, and leaves a lot of questions unanswered. These questions may be answered in the course of the other movies projected to come out, so I'm reserving judgement till then. But now, I think it's a movie worth spending some time with.

If you want to see about more movies, check out my old blog, "War Moovies".

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Return of the "Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting"

I've decided to revive my old series for Civil War reenacting spectators, The Irreverent Guide to Civil War Reenacting. I've written Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3, now it's time to finish what I started!

Reenacting Links of the Week

I've decided to redo the Reenacting Links of the Week. Instead of searching and listing all links I can find, I'm going to list and comment on the more interesting ones. I'll still break them out by period. So without further adieu...

American Civil War: Looks like Lincoln and Douglas are duking it out again in Illinois: Lincoln, Douglas square off in reenactment of famous debates.

Although I can't place the time period other than in the 19th century, this article is about Suzy Beggin Craft, a shepherd: Illinois woman recreates history with a flock of specialty sheep breeds , an interesting article if you like applied living history.

Here's something on a hockey coach and ACW reenactor: Ice Bears' Siganuk likes to live in the past.

Mainstream reenacting in Texas: Bringing the Civil War to life.

The 146th anniversary of the Battle of Prairie Grove comes to life: Battlefield Comes Alive 146 Years Later.

Looks like the battle reenactment at Selma is no more: Guns of war no longer blast in Selma . I've written on Selma in the past, with this post, revisit, and opposing opinion.

Here's something that we need more of: Re-enactor to present Civil War program - the title of the program is "Introduction to Civil War Reenacting". It heartens me to see reenactors going out proactively into the public to share the hobby.

American Revolutionary War: Good intentions gone for naught, another crossing of the Delaware River proves unsuccessful: Washington Crossing reenactment thwarted by high winds.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Here's a blog for the younger CW set

I'm well impressed with this effort. It does my heart good to see an interest by the younger generation to carry on the history and the hobby we so enjoy currently. The Young Campaigner appears to be a noble effort in progress.

The posting seems to have subsided in October, so I suggest laying on the comments to show support for this site. Give these young campaigners some encouragement and support!

Interesting War of 1812 blog post

I was doing a search on reenacting documentary films and came across a very interesting blog post on War of 1812 reenacting. This is from a 2006 post in One Old GreenBus. Some of the issues he points out are exactly the same as Civil War reenacting in the States. Whew! And I thought this was uniquely a U.S. thing.

Great narrative and photos, worthy of a look.

Weekly Wargames Focus

Ever wish you could play one of the old SPI games like Sniper! or Terrible Swift Sword? Or bought one of those old Avalon Hill games when the local hobby store was dumping them at cut rate prices? Or are tired of bidding on EBay offerings that seem to get snatched from you because someone has more money thean they seem to know what to do with?

Enter Noble Knight Games, an online shop devoted to finding and selling old wargames, miniatures and RPGs.

This is a neat place to shop to say the least. They may not have every title, but they have an impressive selection to indulge most gaming nostalga. I also heard that they have great customer service, so this may be a site to check out from time to time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Got a new game!

Decided to give set of fun games a turn. Not quite historical military games, The Battle for Middle Earth Anthology plays to my love of the Lord of the Rings books and movies. If you like the Warcraft (not the MMORPG)or Starcraft style strategy games, then you'll like Battle for ME. As a matter of fact, this game plays much like Starcraft, which I find more enjoyable than Warcraft.

Why blog something obviously not real-world military? I did it for a couple reasons. In a strange, round about way, the LotR books led me to miniature wargaming, RPGs and then on to reenacting, so this game has a strong element of nostalga. The second reason is that the LotR books has a military bent to them, and is attractive to me.

This game represents a possibilty to get my smack-talking, orc-friend brother in a game that can be used to wargame some LotR battles out. Probably not the most accurate way, but most definitely a fun way. It harkens back to the time of the Fantasiques miniatures.

Who knows? I might also turn to LotR reenacting!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Picking Fights: HPS Squad Battles Vietnam

Ever had the out of the blue realization that you messed up before the reality of it hit you like a locomotive? With my Vietnam game, it came to me this morning. Shopping with my daughter. The ANV troops are about the flood over my small garrison of US troops.

The realization is that I could have shot those guys up when they were crossing some rice paddies. Hindsight doesn't count in these games, though. My units are getting chewed up pretty badly.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cool Vids:Polish Sherman

Safety? Who needs stinkin' safety when you can ride on a tank?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A beautiful reenacting blog

One thing that has struck me is the dearth of reenacting blogs. Of any hobby you can be involved in, reenacting has the most bloggable material you can think of. But yet, there aren't many devoted to mostly reenacting subjects.

Recently, I did find a very nice blog authored by a reenactor who also happens to be a gifted photographer. The Past Reflected in the Present is a very link-worthy effort, and to be honest, you can spend hours looking at all the great shots. I've this site linked for a couple months, and it's a great source of inspiration for any reenactor. The site's author, Driftingfocus, follows her Russian WW2 unit in events, snapping some great shots along the way.

Picking fights yet again!

I've just jumped into a couple of games, and boy does it feel good! I'm doing a couple games of Combat Mission 3: Afrika Corps (CMAK) and a scenario from Squad Battles: Vietnam.

I haven't gamed CMAK against a live opponent before, and these two games aren't big ones, just enough to get my feet wet so I can play on a more competative scale. I like CMAK for what I've played of it.

I have played Vietnam against live opponents. The game I'm playing is for points and also to get me out of the Blitz's bootcamp level. The scenario looks good, but I do have issues about it reacts to PbEM play. You have to jiggle it here and there to get to not crash on the Vista OS.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I wish I had the patience...

One of my pleasures when I go to a military-oriented museum are the models. That's right, the models. Especially the aircraft carriers. They're always a sight to behold.

It just blows my mind pondering the skill and amount of time it takes to build some of these beautiful behemoths. An impressive model was at the Virginia Air and Space museum. It was a close to 1/48th scale model of the USS Lexington (CV-2) during the 30's. The actual model was as big as a board room table, with lots of detail for the eye to take in.

The model at the museum has some beautifully detailed Grumman SF-1s of Scout Squadron VS-3B on the flight deck. Impressive to say the least.

Then there was the USS Ronald Reagan (CV-76). Another fine model!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Weekly Wargames Focus

If you wargame via computer, The Blitzkrieg Wargaming Club (or the Blitz) is the bomb. Here you can find a load of opponents, resources and forums. If you play the John Tiller games from HPS or Combat Mission, you can find a load of opponents.

Most of my best wargames have been with Blitz opponents. The reason for this is that the club is very well moderated, and the site tends not to collect alot of deadwood. The Blitz moderators some reasonable rules in place to ensure that active players are the ones that populate site.

I found it to be a good starting point and many players are experienced and willing to walk a newbie through a game to get them off on the right foot.

2008: My Walkabout Year

This year was one of change for me, and because of these changes, I haven't had the time or the emotional investment to write much on StE(r). I rallied a short time in October, but by the end of the month I decided that needed to finish out my year, get it out of my system before really getting into blogging again.

My walkabout affected my reenacting, wargaming and my interests as a whole. I haven't done too much, so I haven't had much to write. Too distracted by changes in my own life, and picking up new interests that have been adding to the quality of my time.

Have I gotten religion or have a dread disease? Naw, I've maybe become little bit more spiritual, and definitely have become more healthy than I have been for many years. I've just been dealing with some painful personal stuff that drags along with it regret, anger and fear. So, I took time off from life to deal with it.

I've discovered the simple joys of hiking, and that has led me to a healthy lifestyle. I can now hump a decent 10 mile hike and not feel too sore afterwards. I'm lugging (as of this writing) 41 less pounds on my body.

As a reenactor, that may sound like the thing -- now I can actually look baggy in my clothes, and maybe look like a half-starved Confederate. Or come as close as I can. But, along with the changes has come some personal reflection. I'm still a military history buff - a path that lead me into reenacting in the first place. But my reenacting career has come to a crossroads.

My decision is to go down one of three paths. The first is to jump back into the hobby and just go on as I've always done. The second path is to pick up on a under-represented area of US history and present it at "Military Through the Ages" type events. The third path is to stop active reenacting and do some reenacting tourism. Be a insider on the outside looking into the hobby. Critique events, spotlight great impressions and do some travel around and see as much as I can. As you can probably tell, I'm leaning toward the last path.

This decision has been brewing for some time. You see, I've been doing some sort of reenacting, on and off since 1982. I love the hobby, but there have been times lately that I've just wanted to see more than the yearly Civil War event and show people that reeacting is diverse and for almost everyone who loves history.

Seeing the Elephant(recreated) is a product of that desire. When I first started writing, it was to record my own experiences in the hobby. Then I expanded out slowly. Then one day, realized that I missed a magazine that I subscribed to in the mid '80s - Living History Magazine. I loved it. It looked at all aspects of living history in the US. It told me about General Miles Marching and Chowder Society, the wonders of WW1 reenacting, and spotlighted the fact that people actually recreated the French and Indian Wars. I wanted StE(r) to be like it. A record for everyone who like to study military history from more angles than books alone can provide.

So to quote one of my favorite scfi characters, Malcolm Reynolds from the TV show Firefly:

"So here is us, on the raggedy edge."

Whatever my decision, Seeing the Elephant will go on, better for it all.

Have a Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring the best for everyone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New look from an old friend

It's been awhile since I looked at the WWII Guns site, but they have many improvements and expanded their selection of items. This is a site that is worthy of consideration and a bookmark.

It's also an option to consider for the future too. As some vintage weapons become more and more expensive, cap-firing models may become the wave of the future.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cool Vids: Chinese Reenactors

Here's an interesting reenacting video from China -- Chinese Nationalists squaring off against the Japanese. You don't see much from this part of WW2 in documentaries, books and the such, but I have to admit that the Chinese uniforms are pretty interesting.

I'm now convinced it is universal that reenactors aren't Oscar-grade thespians. ;-)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

My favorite Sutler of the week

OK, these guys are not a reenacting vendor of any sort, but they have a unique collection of publications for the reenactor, wargamer or militaria freak in general. Lulu was mentioned in a seminar at my work, and it turned out to be quite a resource for history geeks like me.

What makes it cool is the fact that Lulu caters to people who self-publish. So what you see is the stuff that normally doesn't find its way to a bookstore. But then again, that is one of its inherit dangers, too. Searches on reenactment, wargame and similar turn up some interesting titles.

Another wish of mine would be to see some enterprising soul publish some home-grown stuff and make it available via Lulu. Republished drill manuals would be perfect, as would be period tracts, booklets and other things that reenactors would need to round out an impression.

Well worth your time to browse the site.

Monday, October 20, 2008

For the appreciation of naval architecture

I've been on a few floating battlewagons in my time, from the USS Alabama, the USS North Carolina, USS Wisconsin and most recently, the USS Texas. I have to admit, for sheer explorability and uniqueness, the Texas was the big winner with me.

Not that the North Carolina and the Wisconsin were not interesting, but it seemed to me that more of the Texas was open for viewing by the public. The design of the ship was the eye catcher for me - the Texas is the last generation of dreadnought-style battleships. Much stuff to see that you don't with the newer ships.

I would love to see a reeacting group on board, like with the North Carolina. The Texas would have some great possibilities, like showing the different uniforms between WW1 and WW2.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Weekly Wargames Focus

I was panning around the 'net, refining my search 'skillz, I happened on an interesting wargaming company, Lock N Load Publishing.

I was raised in the time of Avalon Hill and SPI, so it seems that traditional board wargaming is making a come back of sorts. Several companies are publishing games on a cottage industry level - some very heartening to see. Lock N Load captured my interest because the selection seemed very interesting, and the prices reasonable.

Although I wane nostalgic at times, I'm still big on the computer-based systems.

Cool Vids: Battle of Berlin in Modlin, Poland

Here's an interesting European video recreating the battle for Berlin, 1945. This reenactment was held at Modlin, Poland. I have to admit the soundtrack is rather... interesting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My favorite Sutler of the week

I've noticed that good WW2 vendors seem to be hiding everywhere. At The Front has passed my searches... until now. According to the Web site:

"ATF has been in existence in one form or another since 1992. We provide exact reproduction WWII uniforms and gear for re-enactors, collectors, museums and films."

So these guys have been knocking about for quite awhile. The site itself is very interesting, and the About page is very informative about the company itself. The goods they produce are presented very nicely, and seem to be fine quality.

At The Front seems to stick with WW2 recreation, but they do have Japanese uniform and gear, and just the usual German/ American/ British mix common with other vendors.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Impressive Fotos

Some great things reenacting come out of Europe, and this photo gallery is one of them. These are fantastic pictures of a WW1 event in what I guess is Russia or the Ukraine. The uniforms are not often seen in US circles, being eastern front impressions, but they are sharp.

This site's gallery is a great study for someone wanting to do a out-of-the-ordinary impression and needs some outstanding photo reference. Also fantastic for miniatures painting, and the like.

Back in the Saddle again

Sometimes life takes unexpected turns, some painful, some no so painful, and most always interesting if not scary. It's been awhile since February, but I'm back on StE(r) and hopefully will hang in there for a while. I'll see what I find and get reacquainted with my old friend - this blog.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Impressions - US Army, Vietnam - 1969

Another shot from the King's Mountain event from almost a year ago. This event featured groups who specialized in US army impressions throughout the centuries, starting with the Overmountain Men who fought at King's Mountain.

The final impression period was Vietnam. The private on the left is wearing what would be the uniform of US forces in the mid- to later stages of the conflict. He looks to be wearing the 2nd Pattern Tropical Combat Jacket, Variant A, along with the 2nd Pattern Tropical Combat Trousers. He's also wearing issue Jungle Boots, second or third pattern.

This far as I can go on the description, but from what seen at King's Mountain, it was pretty impressive and the way to go for many who are looking to branch out from WW2 reenacting to a area that is now developing an interest in recreated events.

This fellow is part of the recreated 199th LIB "Redcatchers".

Weekly Wargame Miniatures Focus

Paper is an interesting concept for miniatures wargaming. Rather than spend lots of time modeling buildings, the more gaming-oriented miniatures wargamers can put up some great looking buildings in a fraction of the time and money than it would take with conventional models.

The offerings from this site are many, and come in the major wargaming scales - 6mm, 12/15mm, 20mm and 25/28mm.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Group Spotlight

I don't cover too much in the way of French and Indian War groups, but once I seen the Snowshoemen site, I decided to give it a group spotlight.

One thing I notice about some groups is their character, and the Snowshoemen definitely have a site that expresses character. The groups is primarily the French and Indian War, but it also has a couple of splinter groups, Church's Company, that covers King Phillip's, King William's and Queen Anne's wars of the late seventeenth century, and Eames' Rangers for Revolutionary War. Easy site to navigate, and a nice opening for looking at F&I groups.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Saturday Vids: Roman reenacting - Ad Pugnam

This Saturday Vid is early - going out of town for the weekend, but I wanted to share a very creative video done by Roman reenactors. It has a strange old timey feel to it, but the effect seems to go.

Update on a great site

It looks like Let's Play History is well on it's way to becoming an essential site for anyone looking to step into reenacting for the first time. LPH is more gearing to the civilian side of things, but has potential for the military too. Check it out, and support the effort going into it - we'll all benefit.

My favorite Sutler of the week

Oooops! Got busy yesterday, so I didn't have the time to write the Sutler of the Week. Valentine's Day does that you know. :-) Anyway, here's the SotW in all its glory...

AEF Supply is a cool site, hands down. It was one of the first sites that I encountered when I started doing surfing outside the American Civil War realm to look for single-era vendors to cover in the blog. Then I opened up the sutler categories to anyone interesting.

I like this site because it specializes in supplying US army reenactors from the Spanish Armerican War through Vietnam. The prices are very decent, too. Plenty of pictures illustrate the inventory. This is a great place to go if you're into Spanish American War reenacting, this vendor has the best overall selection of uniforms. The WW1 selections are simply excellent - this was AEF's primary era before it expanded. The site is easy to navigate, and is recommended by many reenacting groups.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Picking Fights: Vietnam

The HPS game Vietnam is beginning to grow on me.

I've already got someone to play me in a dry run so I can learn the rules. This game is set up much like a traditional wargame, and each unit represents a squad, or squad weapon. In this skirmish, the "P" stands for Pinned, and as the NVA, I've been able to Pin one of my American opponent's squads. But, he's got two of mine.

The larger battle has two separate American platoons, and right now my overall strategy is to keep them separated and defeat each with superiority of numbers, and wait for the the rest of the US force to come rolling in. Let's see if I'm successful.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekly Wargame Miniatures Focus

OK, now for a shameless plug for the hometown miniatures company.

This plug has a whole-hearted recommedation to it, I'm happy to say. Sash & Sabre Castings covers a small handful of eras in 25mm, including the Seven Years, Napoleonic, and American Civil wars. Where Sash & Sabre really shines is with their 40mm line, which covers many major periods from Rome to the Zulu Wars.

From personal experience, I can say that the quality is excellent, and when painted, the miniatures look great. If you're looking at building an army for wargaming, Sash & Sabre should be one of your first stops.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Group Spotlight

Not exactly a military history group, the Civil War Texas Civilian Living History could be considered an auxillary of the Civil War aspect of militray reenacting. This group has honed down theire image not only to do a civilian, but of civilians of Texas who have their own look and personality.

A worthy visit for anyone interested in being a civilian and needing some insights into the subtleties of an authentic impression.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Travelogue: Wilmington and Fort Fisher

Starting up another semi-regular serial. I travel enough, so I'll blog about the interesting places along the way. Many times, these are places that I've enjoyed as a reenactor and want to share some of my experiences, and maybe what you can find to help you enjoy some preserved history. To kick things off, I'm starting with one of my favorite towns, Wilmington, NC, and one of my favorite sites, Fort Fisher.

I've been to Wilmington numerous times, and I never tire of it. It's as Southern as any southern city gets, and reminders of its Civil War heritage are almost countless, from the points of interest to the many DAR statues that you can find about town. Not so visible, with the exception of the USS North Carolina, are the WW2-era landmarks which can be found around town too. Not only does the Civil War history live strong in Wilmington, so does the spirit of the WW2 homefront.

Fort Fisher
I have a thousand storys to tell about Fort Fisher, and this landmark is much like coming home each time I visit.

Saturday Vid: Hoghton's English Civil War Sealed Knot

Obviously a PR piece for Hoghton's Companye of Foote, this is still a great look into English Civil War reenacting. It's interesting - one part musket, one part pikes and one part rugby. :-)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Picking fights, update

The one great thing about computer based wargames is the volume of games you can initiate and play at once. I've picked fights with three players so far, with another one lining up to send in moves. All you need to have is a sense of organization.

I already have a roaring battle going on in one game with the Poles vs the Wehrmacht. I've got the Poles, and while my opponent was able to knock out one of my Shermans, I was able to rain some fury back, and scored on a StugIII and a couple SdKfz 251 halftracks. I get the feeling he's going to hurt me back.

If you have empty time, I suggest, very heartily, to buy Combat Mission:Beyond Overlord, learn to play it, and pick some fights.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

What I'm Reading Now

Well, what I'm kinda looking through it for the moment. If you reenact a North Carolina regiment, State Troops and Volunteers is almost a requirement to have as a reference. If you research North Carolina regiments, this is one of the most indespensible books to have in your library.

State Troops contains a wealth of photos and bits of information about the men in the uniforms. You can almost trace the progression of State-issued uniforms, and get a handle on who wore what early on.

My favorite Sutler of the week

CR Henderson & Sons has a nice selection of Civil War ammo and hardtack boxes, all properly built and stenciled. Although he doesn't have a large selection of everything, what he does have is correct in dimensions, color, and stencil lettering. He also seems to have the spirit of improving the accuracy of his products. I like that.

Apparently, for more complex boxes and desks, he'll work with the customer. That's a nice service in itself.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Them's fightin' words!

Looks like a "public history" blogger wants to stop reenactors... or farbs. I'm not sure how wide his paintbrush is with this post, but judging from his other writings, it's pretty broad. One part of me kinda sees his point, the other part of me says "what a snob - history is for everybody." Then I really thought about it. Although he doesn't come across well to me as a reenactor, it's interesting to read what a critic who maybe has a qualified opinion has to say about the hobby.

I do recommend any reenactor to read Public Historian's Haven and come back and post here with opinions and comments.

UPDATE: Found another blog, Living on the Field with a very relevant observation about reenacting battles and the history behind it, and whether or not reenacting is preserving the history or changing it. A much better critique of reenacting than the Public Historian's Haven.

Gave Vietnam a run last night

I'm a serious gaming geek these days. The instant I get a game, I run to the computer and install it, ASAP. Vietnam was no exception. From mailbox to -BAM! - computer in nothing flat.

I only had time to run through the tutorial game, but I was pleased with what saw. If you've played other non-Squad Battles HPS titles, no fear. The interface and command buttons are very similar to other John Tiller games and easy to learn.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Weekly Wargame Miniatures Focus

This is the first post in a weekly posting about interesting sites of another militaria-based hobby, miniatures wargaming. The first site to kick this series off is is the outlet for Fantassin Miniatures, a Spanish company that has an interesting line of products, including the Spanish-American and Carlist wars. The site has a ton of pictures, and the company offers not only miniatures, but services for painting and modelling too.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Group Spotlight

Surfed on to a cool WW2 Italian site today, the Italia Living History Group. Most of it is in Italian, but there's enough to click through that any WW2 buff would be interesting in perusing the contents, especially the pictures. The picts show that our reenacting bros in Italy have some pretty cool stuff.

'Zine on the table this week

Strategy & Tactics is a favorite magazine of mine, so it receives regular play on StE(r) on a fairly consistant basis.

This month covers the Second Marne and Alexander's campaigns in Bactria, and promise to be exciting articles. But my guilty pleasure with S&T is looking at the ads for the tabletop wargames. One day, I might buy one.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Just Arrived Today

Song Yet Sung

ISBN: 1594489726

Although this isn't military fiction, it still would be useful to living historians doing antebellum presentations. The book seems to be well researched, and the author has an easy to read writing style that should make this book a quick read. I'm putting this one on the list of books that I read when I need a break from the thick military histories.

Saturday Vids: Napoleonic Reenacting 7e linie

This shows what a little knowledge in video production and a bit of creativity can do for a great recruiting tool for any reenacting group. Made me want to get my uniform and kit together to fight 'ole Boney.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Picking fights

If you play computer-based wargames but cannot find a partner, I suggest joining the Blitzkrieg Wargaming Club, or more affectionately known as "The Blitz".

I used to get some great gaming partners from this site. The strength of this club stems from the players willing to do PBEM and the sheer variety games played. Very worthwhile to join up (which incidently is FREE!). I'm currently trying to find partners willing to play Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

My favorite Sutler of the week

Not exactly a sutler in this blog's usual definition, but close enough to win some spotlight as a vendor. is more a service provider, hosting events for historically oriented airsoft groups, particularly in the WW2 and Vietnam eras.

The site gives a nice succinct description of LLC is a company that services gaming communities and gaming players with a primary focus on "war" or "battle" simulations. These simulations range from airsoft events to PC gaming.

It's an interesting concept that combines reenacting vendor (they also sell stuff) and host roles into a service company. The site is worth looking at, if to get a feel for what does. The forums are an especially interesting stop.

Trying out the Squad Battles series

Since Combat Mission: Shock Force is being a bit of a bear, I've decided to try out Vietnam from the Squad Battles series from HPS Simulations. They're the ones who publish the Civil War series I've played in the past. Both the Civil War and Squad Battles series are John Tiller creations, so I'm expecting a fine traditional wargaming experience. As a matter of fact, the Squad Battles graphic interface is very reminiscent to that of an old Avalon Hill game I used to own, Firepower.

Christmas present gaming

I got Combat Mission: Shock Force for Christmas, but I've only had the time and inclination to install (again) and play it last night. My impressions are a mixed bag of interest and disappointment.

As with all Christmas gifts, I gleefully opened this game and hoped to have it installed and played in a few minutes. After an hour of trying to get it to play, I gave up. Then last night I tried again, and having done a little troubleshooting research, installed it successfully. I was impressed with the interface and sound effects. But when it came to playing the game, things changed a bit. Unlike the other Combat Mission games, this one wasn't as gamer friendly - the map navigation is more cumbersome and there's a ton of unit information to track. Adding to the problems, my computer didn't have the "oomph!" to run the program optimally, so it seemed to putter through the games.

I'll mess with it more and see if I can get used to the interface and game play and hopefully, I'll become impressed.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where in the world?

Admittedly, I've been a bad blogger these past few months, but with good reasons. Work, holidays and life have all conspired to keep me away from blogging. I still have the last post to finish!

I can't make any guarantees when I'll start regularly blogging, but I hope it's soon when my time opens back up and my mind can get focused on the fun things again. Until then, I'll at least get something up every week.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Gore or not to Gore?

Happy New Year 2008!

OK, got that out of the way, now to some interesting posting!

I recently caught a reply to a post I left this spring on an article covering the Civil War reenacting scene in California. The article mentioned the use of staged blood and gore, which seems to have virtually vanished from the East Coast events. I whipped out a comment that inspired me to write a little more about my feelings on the subject.

We all reenact for different reasons, and with differing viewpoints of how an event would be best pulled off. Some of us are into the look of the forces moving about, others like the use of period tactics, and still others are into the look and feel of the event itself. This where the use of props makes an entrance.

One kind of prop in particular seems to have a controversial reputation in the hobby - stage blood and gore. Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about its use in a surgeon's demo, but rather, on the reenacting battlefield. Although I've been the field off and on many years, I haven't seen too much of it to formulate a passionate opinion one way or the other.

I have heard of some interesting stories about using props that were pretty humorus though. When I was doing WW1 reenacting, a couple fellows that I rode with told me a story that either had to be a reenacting urban legend or it was squarely a rippin' true reenactor tale. It concerns the SPAM dummy.

The SPAM dummy was a prop that a devious mind with artistic ability, money and a sadistic bent came up with. The dummy was a life size representation of a fallen German soldier that was in the later stages of decay. To "accentuate" the experience, the dummy had small washable areas that SPAM could be dabbed into. Then the dummy was thrown into a shell hole and left to ripen in the sun. On Saturday and Sunday, the SPAM dummy was doing it's job of adding a little extra realism when a hapless Allied or German soldier slid into the hole for cover and had to take a whiff of putredness. Afterwards, some clean up and a tolerant nose would get it back home. But the real story was when the SPAM dummy's handler was going home...

Apparently, the SPAM dummy was pretty realistic too. Being that it was life-size and had to fit into a small car with reenacting gear, so the SPAM dummy was buckled into the front seat on one trip. Needless to the say, the trip was interesting. After many stares, and a look of horror on a little girls face as her car passed the SPAM dummy, someone took it on themselves to alert the local authories of a man transporting a dead body on the interstate. Minutes later, SPAM dummy handler was pulled over explaining to the police about his "friend".

As for props, my advice is: don't let them get the best of you. :-)