Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Small-town Thinking


It's not all doom and gloom.

Preparations for the new project continue at a slow pace.  A handful more models are nearly finished, and the rules and campaign map are started.  But the biggest effort was put into enough buildings to create a small town on a battlefield. 

Given some of the early games may lean towards skirmishes rather than full blown battles, I wanted enough houses available to allow for street fighting or city square based scenarios.  Thus I started to knock a few buildings up:

 
 It's my usual foamcore construction technique here.  The roofs are an ingenious short cut as I didn't fancy making hundreds of little tiles and gluing them on individually.  Instead I trawled a DIY store for a suitably textured wallpaper, and took a foot wide strip off the sample roll (in fact, three or four different ones, so I at least looked like I wanted to do some comparison at home!).  This was simply cut to shape and glued to the roofs; a doddle!

So I had four cottages, a barn and a church, in a generically central European style.  Good stuff.

Then I got carried away...

 

 

 

 
I've ended up with 13 houses, a handy little collection, including a couple of town houses, a 'Gasthaus' (German style regional manor) and a stable block.  A good little town.  Moreover, whilst all the buildings are suitable for the 18th & 19th century - so working for my Imagi-nations and my Napoleonic Austrians - all but three will work well enough with my English Civil War forces too.

And being 15mm and unbased, they fit quite neatly in one small box that stores inside my terrain box.

Anything that takes up no additional space is a win for me at the minute.

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Which mean sales


I've decided to move on my most sensitive collections, mainly as I simply don't use them anymore, and have no desire to put them to table again, or add to them.

In the light of my previous post this may come as no surprise; but I am not getting out of the hobby; just rationalising what I have and getting some space back.

It's my 'Ultra-Moderns' collection that is going now.

I have a large collection of Yugoslav Civil War miniatures, that I'll admit feeling increasingly uncomfortable about playing with.  Additionally a few leftovers of my old, old Iran-Iraq War troops turned out amongst them, It runs up to a good 15 or more lots so they are going up at very reasonable prices on eBay now.

Dean_AKI_UK's eBay Sales

The initial sales include:

Croat Tiger Battalion

Kurdish Peshmerga 

Serbian tanks

Serbian Regulars

Iraqi militias

Croat ZNC armour
It is always the sure sign I am ok for the sale of something when I feel no urge to make use of the models again whilst sorting them for sale; it is simply a case of arranging them into sensible selections that should appeal.

There are plenty more bits to go up when I get the time, but if you want to start a new period or expand one you are cool with where I'm not so fussed anymore, grab yourself a bargain.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

On the doubts one has

Some days I question my involvement in this hobby; whether it is worth the time I put in.

Assembling six Warlord Games Orcs (nee Wargames Factory models) last night brought on the latest existential crisis.
A previous set of the little bastards
Let me go on record now as saying I've concluded these are horrible models, the seven or so pieces needed for each figure require so much effort to assemble, and come with no indication of which parts assemble different basic poses.  Ninety minutes of effort to assemble six models is not my idea of fun or a useful investment of time.

But the real question was, 'why am I even doing this?'

Certainly, it's not as if I need the extra models.  I have thousands, painted and unpainted.  Moreover, Jesus Christ, I'm a grown man with thousands of toy soldiers.  Some days I have doubts about what I'm choosing to do with my time.  Why is that?

I've talked about the dilemma of hobbies before, Wargaming is not the most expensive thing I do, but it is the one that causes me most doubt, despite being the one that with its' associated activities - board games, assembling and painting models - takes up the most of my time.  I'm old enough to be from a time when this sort of activity simply wasn't cool in any form, and I think I'm scarred by that.  However overall I think I just go through phases of, well...

Disliking my hobby.

Which is weird, as it has definitely helped keep me sane.  And I really mean, sane.

There's been long periods of pretty shitty times in my past where the only escape was burying myself in a 12 hour painting session of impossible Napoleonic uniforms, day-long games with friends, solo-games at home, reading up on background/history; it was always something that could block the awful side of the brain from getting a word in edge-ways.

But other days; when you are surrounded by your tribe at its' most ugly, least charitable, and see the rest of the world going about its' business; the days when you don't feel you are personally fighting off the grasping spirits of beyond.  Those occasions at the end of a dreadful three hour game of torture with a pedantic, win-at-any-costs, netlist, rules-as-written, neckbeard whose unpainted army of scarcely assembled broken-rules filth has permitted him the entire time to gloat in an orgy of destruction of your own thematically/historically crafted force; before proceeding to tell you in the most patronising way possible how you could've done better.  Those days when you've given yourself a bad back and a dozen cuts from assembling shitty plastic figures, dizzy on the fumes of a chemical lab's-worth of noxious glues, only to realise you now have the paint the little sods as well.

On those days, I want out.

But I don't, I sell a few things, go quiet for a while, find other things to do.  It isn't quite an addiction, but eventually like an old friend it is there for you when you need it.  And you pick up where you left off somehow.

Despite how much I can hate my hobby.  It has a place in my life.

I still need it.

It is just difficult to see why sometimes.



Normal service will resume next time people....


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Another year, Another Project...


Things are getting ambitious.

One of my wargaming friends, James T has avowed a desire to play an Imagi-Nations campaign; and I've allowed myself to be convinced.  I'm going to write a set of campaign rules to allow low intensity but varied play with our nations; using Tony Bath's seminal book for inspiration:

 
We look to have 4-6 players interested in getting involved too, though it may be the two of us to begin with.

Like most Imagi-Nations games, the period is going to be a pseudo 18th century, allowing for grand battles, skirmishes, and individual duels even.  This also means relatively easy uniforms to deal with.

We mused the options before deciding on 15mm as the primary scale.  This for the main reasons of space and price; and after some research, myself and James both picked up a Warrior Miniatures generic 18th century army starter set; providing some 110-120 miniatures for under £20.  Enough for a small army each and a few individual figures.

There's much writing to be done, but we don't intend to begin in earnest until 2018, thus I've time to get the troops painted.  Here therefore I present the first troops of the Confederation of Gebrovia:

The Baron of  Skiuvania

The Skiuvania (front) and Gruib Plasteni regiments 
As yet no flags, but I am deciding on a national design before I commit to these.  The Warrior Miniatures set permits 6 regiments of foot to this presentation, along with 2 units of horse (in sixes), Artillery and some skirmishers and characters.

I hope to write a system where intrigues and raids are as important as set piece battles, and where players need not intensively engage every month of the game.  Past experience with campaigns suggests groups can burn out if the commitment is too much.  In the mean time, I need to get more painting and writing done.

Best get on.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fresh troops to eBay...

First ones in a while, but I've finished another force for sale on eBay; part of project 'Clear all the boxes off my top shelf'.

Here we go with a Russian Infantry platoon, circa Kursk 1943:

   




Assuming they've not already sold, you can find them HERE, if you want some AKI toy soldiers to swell your ranks.

Glad to get this lot out of the way, they'd been stinking up the overflow painting space in an ugly fashion for months...

[Edit: now sold]

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Battle of Bocacara 1812

Huzzah!  More Black Powder action, and my first Napoleonics game in, well, years!

My opponent was to be Gav, taking his traditional role as the British.  It's always good to see Gav, and alongside the game we caught up and chatted amiably.

The game itself, I lifted from the Charles Grant Battlegames book 'Tabletop Teasers volume 1', the battle for the pass.  This I translated to a steep sided river valley somewhere in Spain, where a broad river offers one vital crossing at a decent road suitable for moving artillery.  Each side would be tasked with gaining control of the ford in the village.

We were trying a new venue, the Aireborough Community Gamers; a venue that doesn't generally do miniatures games, but has an advantage of space and generous opening hours.  We were able to set up a 9 x 5 foot table with my modest scenery collection and a stash of magazines and the like making the hillsides a bit more significant.  With all the time we could need to play we drew up map deployments and then set up our troops

 
 I of course had to take on the French, appearing on the table for the first time without need of German allies or Spanish regime troops.  Two Infantry Brigades supported by a Cavalry Brigade:

 
Gav's British, however, had to rely on the aid of Spanish allies.  All three of his Brigades were ostensibly infantry with small cavalry contingents.  Gav decided to deploy his Spanish on the opposite side of the river
 
 With our orders clear, we rolled for initiative and I was to open battle.  The French quickly seized the initiative, making rapid infantry brigade orders (a successions of five's rolled for orders) to advance to the west of the village, before the British had made any decisions!

 
 The British countered aggressively, but were unable to make as good going across the valley.  Their Light Dragoons became part of a confusing advance up the road to Bocacara.

 
 After a fast start though, the French became tied up in deciding how to take control of the village; I tried to spread my cavalry strength to occupy the village, but nobody appeared to wish to advance further.
 
 Meanwhile the British cavalry could not resist charging, giving the French Cuirassiers a bad mauling and falling upon some of my skirmishers in succession.  Fortunately I had no shortage of reserves, but this was an upset and a general would have to be dispatched to save the situation.

 
 On the opposite flank the Spanish made generally slow progress towards the ford, with the exception of their artillery.  The Spanish gunners were easily the most valiant troops they had, and their guns were unlimbered on the east bank of the river where they could sweep the opposite side with fire.

I response I was able to throw my Chasseurs over the ford in an effort to threaten their flank or rear.

 
 Gav was able to command forward his token Portuguese unit - the Loyal Lusitanian Legion, who took up a square formation on the right of the Spanish guns, blocking my cavalry.  Meanwhile in the village I was able to occupy the Church, and march several regiments to the river.

 
However, I was making no progress to the west, where the firepower of British infantry was stalling my progress.  Even as the Spanish cavalry received confusing orders and blundered to the rear.

 
 The British began to concentrate fire on the Church and the field to the west of it.

 
 The Spanish attempted to advance their infantry, whilst their guns consistently stopped my infantry from crossing the river, their fire was simply too withering.  I withdrew my cavalry to allow my own artillery to fire, though to little effect, on the Portuguese square.  By now I'd restored control in the rest of my cavalry, but the central infantry brigade was now appearing under threat.

 
 A brisk cavalry action between the French and British Dragoons finally saw Gavs cavalry off, and allowed my foot dragoons the chance to attack his artillery.  But at the same time my cavalry were also expended, and the West became largely static.

 
 The centre, and the village battle was becoming more important now, and the British made a move with a concerted attack on the church and the walled fields beside it.  Under a pressure of fire and with a lack of confidence, the French infantry at the church broke; whilst only the personal intervention of one of my generals was holding the troops at the river bank in the firing line.  But their sacrifice had at least permitted other troops the time (two full turns) to wade the deeper river and make landfall on the eastern bank.

 
Skirmishers tried to take the Spanish guns, but a round of canister at point blank range put paid to the attempt.  The Portuguese reformed to line and tried to hold off the French in column of attack.   In the west, my cavalry recovered, but only to place themselves dangerously in the firing line.  In the village my first brigade was now irretrievably broken and began to withdraw.

 
 By this stage, each side had a broken brigade, and both had a second within a hairs breadth of breaking.  The final blows would be in the desperate battle for the ford itself.  The Portuguese were broken, and the Spanish cavalry, badly outmatched by the French Chasseurs, soon followed.  Part of the British line had collapsed due to sheer weight of losses, and this allowed the last of the useful French troops to line the river and pepper the hapless Spanish infantry with fire.

Their artillery stood firm to the last but Spanish infantry could not bear the pressure and soon fled.  With two broken brigades, Gav had to concede the field, even though I too was hanging on only by the personal courage of my generals in rallying wavering troops all over the field of battle.

 
Glory went therefore to the French; but it was undoubtedly a bloody victory.  Both sides were exhausted, it was simply that the allies blinked first.  Certainly not everything went my way, most of my artillery sat out of range for the entire battle, and my reserve Grenadiers were never even committed, their Brigade breaking before they had even made it to the front.  

Another excellent scenario, and another good outing for Black Powder.  I used the special rules - almost without modification - from the Albion Triumphant supplement for this game, though I still feel their version of the Pas de la Charge rule is too weak, so I tweaked that up a bit.  It's good to know that I have enough models on my own to put together a decent game, and it is also gratifying to find a usable venue for longer games; I think we spent five hours on this little affair.

The next one hopefully won't be too long away now either.

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Orc War Wyvern


Here's one I had sat around for a couple of years.  I picked up a Schleich dragon with a view to creating a Wyvern.  The original model cost a mighty £15, having been bought new, in an actual toy shop!

It was an appealing model, but the original paint job was not to my tastes, at least for the classic Orcish beast of war.  The model sat unused on a shelf for a long, long time however; it seeme like too much to do.

Eventually the muse and excuse to get on with it came.  I cobbled together a rider from a spare model and built a saddle from plasticard and green stuff.

 Basing was possibly the hardest choice
Then it was onto the painting; nothing special, but I wanted a decent job.  The Wyvern itself had to be green, and I was pretty happy with the colour.  Less satisfied with the bluish tinge to the wings, which just doesn't compliment the way I hoped, but it looks ok.

The Orc had a animal cloak added from the bits box, and was a swift paint job himself; not fixing him to the beast certainly helped.





I decided to try adding some blood effects to the monster; it certainly looked like it had just ripped through some poor victims, and I wanted to reflect that.

 I like the look, even if it makes the model look messy.  It is a fighting creature after all.

Another long idle project finished, and another couple of hundred points into my Kings of War Orc and Goblin army.

Hopefully it won't take another two years to get to the table.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Battle of Brampton 1643


I've managed to get a couple of Black Powder games in of late; nice to put some historical miniatures on the table again for the first time in a while.  Myself and James agreed to an English Civil War game based on my usual light modifications of the BP rules; for a scenario I took the very first from the venerable Charles Grant Scenario book.  Seriously, if you don't have a copy of it, track one down!

The scenario called for one force to defend a number of redoubts around the some critical villages at the head of a river crossing, and ideal situation for my West Country forces to face one another in.

I took command of the Parliamentarians tasked with attacking the redoubts, whilst James led the Royalists in defending them.  The scenario demanded he deploy three of his four guns to the redoubts, from which they could not move or redirect their fire.  Nevertheless , the position of these was such that the key approaches were well covered, on top of this he could deploy his final gun and selection of troops as he saw fit along a limited position.

For my part I had more infantry and cavalry, but less artillery, and would need to bring the latter to positions of deployable fire; not an easy task for 17th century guns.  I deployed my cavalry to the open right, expecting to face his Horse in return, whilst my infantry brigades deployed to storm the village defences.

 
My initial intent was to try to rush the artillery on the Parliament right, their flank covered by dense woodland, and then to turn on the rear of the village.  But alas my cavalry proved unwilling to the task and slow to rouse.  This allowed James to counter their advances and initially hold the advantage.  I was obliged therefore to advance on the village.

 

The initial attempt proved to be against the common ground on my left;  James had maintained a range of reserve regiments and began to redeploy one of these in anticipation of the attack.  However the position of his regiment in the hedged field proved unassailable; stymieing my assault.

 
Things progressed better elsewhere though, as my cavalry managed to force the open ground from the hands of the enemy; but effectively cross-fired by artillery as it was, were unwilling to push across it to the rear of the Royalists.  Additionally James had moved to occupy the village inn and its' grounds, obliging me to a heavy attack on the village; two regiments of foot attacking the inn whilst my forlorn hope attacked one of the enemy redoubts.

 

The pressure was mounting.

 
Having manged to cross the ground without loss to the largely ineffectual gunnery of the village artillery placements, the forlorn hope attempted to carry the day in a desperate fight.

 
On the other side of the village a cavalry charge against one gun was fought off with rammers and linstocks.  it took an infantry assault to take the gun, but this piece was not deployed to a redoubt.  The inn was wrested from the control of the royalists, but not without loss.  Likewise the forlorn hope overran the gun in the centre of the village; but by this time my left flank had collapsed and retired.

 
My chances of victory now depended on the original plan of overrunning the forest edge redoubt and threatening the royalist lines from behind.  But luck was against me.  Again James' canny use of reserves and the difficulty of attacking the dug in defences made such attempts lead only to failure. 

 

Eventually my cavalry broke, and with that all hope of taking control of the field drained away.  The Royalists held Brampton and its' critical ford, whilst the Parliamentarians had to withdraw and lick their wounds.

As ever, another scenario by Mr. Grant proves its' worth, avoiding the cliches of a simple line-'em-up-and-knock-'em-down game.

Personally, it's another defeat though.  I haven't won a battle in a while now!

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