Well, I didn't enjoy last year's Salute very much. I wasn't feeling well and my eyes couldn't cope with the murky light and my crumbling joints couldn't cope with the concrete floor. I did enjoy the Bloggers meet up (12.30 this year, rather than 13.00), though, and met some new people in real life who I had only previously encountered in the Blogosphere. Whenever I appear in the Blogger's meet photo my hair always looks like John Harvey-Jones' so I was determined to get it cut this week but sadly, Tracy, my hairdresser had no free appointments when I was in London, so I will look my usual dishevelled self. Not such an issue amongst a group of wargamers, at least.
Usually, I have a list of things I want to buy but not this year, apart from some more Afghan cavalry so I can complete my TMWWBK force for the North West Frontier. This week the Old Bat wanted some money for paint (we don't have a joint bank account so if she wants something she has to beg) and was shocked when I gave her fifty pounds (which is what the sort of paint she likes costs per tin) from my wallet.
"Why do you have so much cash in your wallet?" she asks, suspiciously. It gradually dawns on her, about ten minutes later. "You don't need any more soldiers!" So, of course, obedient as ever, I won't get any. Honest.
That said, I went over to Eric the Shed's for a game this week. It is the first time I have got there since January 2017 and since then he has extended his shed even morem so he can now host two games on separate tables in separate rooms. To call it a 'shed' is like calling HMS Victory a sailing boat. This time it was the second game he has had featuring Sharpe and Harper, using the Fistful of Lead Horse and Musket rules. He assured me that these would be simple enough for even me to understand.
As ever, he had done a lot of work on creating a scenario wherein Sharpe had to capture a renegade Irish priest in the French port of Brest and take him away by sea, supported by a Royal Navy ship, HMS Indecisive. This name reminded me of a more recent adjectival Royal Navy vessel, HMS Active, which some years ago was the guard ship for the Royal Yacht Britannia at Cowes Week. My sister joined us for the Royal Yacht Squadron Ball and danced the legs of the officers and a good number of ratings who had been invited to participate. They didn't look so active afterwards, as she is a very fit woman. Anyway, each of five players (Eric was referee) had a character and four ordinary soldiers each; two groups of five British Riflemen and three groups of French Infantry.
I had a group of French light Infantry ensconced in a fortress on the seashore. Every turn I had to blast away at HMS Indecisive; largely ineffectuall, given my usual dice throwing. I wasn't sure what effect this might have on the game (Eric kept much of the scenario plot points from us) so whether my slightly better throws in the second half of the game helped mean that Hornblower and his scurvy crew (who spent the whole game equally ineffectually floating about the harbour in a small boat) didn't land, I don't know.
My fellow French commanders engaged the Riflemen as they infiltrated the town. I was worried about the random bombardment from the Royal Navy ship, so kept safely inside the fort for much of the game. I was in nice, safe, hard cover so decided to wait until any of the British appeared at the dockside before employing those famous sniping skills French infantry are so well known for. Ne pas.
Callum (Alastair's son - pitched against his father for much of the game) managed to kill Sharpe (although, apparently, Sharpe has a Dracula like ability to rise from the dead - probably something to do with the blood of virgins). Encouraged by such a setback for the British and with the bombardment from HMS Indecisive diminishing somewhat, following a couple of large hits from the fort, I set my troops out skirmishing, as Callum had got the Irish priest into the fort from which the rosbifs would be unable to liberate him.
My officer, stung by the accusations of his fellow commanders that he had been cowering in the fort too long, ordered his four privates out onto the dock where three of them, who we shall call Lebrun, Leblanc and Lefebvre, bravely cowered behind some boxes and barrels. He sent his fourth and fastest soldier, Le Mans, to charge into the nearest house where he was confronted by a large Irishman with a seven barrelled Nock gun. What should he do? 'Tirez!" shouted my officer from behind his pile of boxes. Le Mans did and Harper dropped dead (well at least for the game). He will no doubt be back. Le Mans didn't last very long after that but he was my only loss.
Only two Riflemen escaped to a boat, HMS Indecisive was in flames, the priest was safely in the fort, Hornblower's boat drifted off like a bread crate from the beach and the French were victorious. Hourra! Another wonderful game at The Shed and I really liked the Fistful of Lead rules which are obviously the Peninsula skirmish rules I have been looking for.
What this does, of course, is put me in a vulnerable position vis-a-vis Napoleonics at Salute. I sold nearly all my unpainted ones last year but maybe a few for a skirmish? The ones I really like are the Paul Hicks sculpts for Brigade Games but I don't think you can buy them in the UK. Probably just as well!