Wednesday, December 30, 2009

27th Ligne

As a diversion from all those red jackets, a bit of blue.

The 27th Ligne, painted and based for Napoleon.

Perry French of the 1812-15 period, under a Victrix flag which would suggest they are of no later than 1813. By comparison to painting Brits, the French are very easy to do, and the flags supplied with the Victrix and Perry French add a really nice finishing touch.

Although obviously ideal for my own rules too, I have plans, of a loose nature for a small army for the Austrian and Russian campaigns of 1809-12 once the British are done. These chaps will help add to that. along with the Hat Bavarians, whenever they get released...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tullicinus 170bc

Cal seems to like this Warhammer Ancients thing, no sooner has he got one army, than he's bought another. Not really familiar 20mm, he went by the scale guides on Plastic Soldier Review and bought a complete Hat Macedonian army, thinking it'd look OK next to 28 mm.

Anyone who's tried (an I have) knows it doesn't.

Still no loss, as I've more than enough 20mm armies to face them. However it did mean doing that most onerous of tasks, the one every wargamer hates. Rebasing figures.

Turning my smaller than standard DBM based army into a usable Warhammer/Impetus/Armati/proper sized DBM force was one of those jobs I'd known would come up one day. EIGHT hours later 200+ figures were rebased and my back was broken from being hunched over the modelling table. Never commit to these things with two days notice!

But in the end, the effect was impressive:

2,500 points of Romans faced another mass of brand new plastic.

As battle opened I knew it was going to be a case of turning his flanks to have any real hope of winning, my big concern was his cavalry, as I knew it would hit hard. As I advanced I formed up the Maniples to give maximum support to one another.

Cal's cavalry duly charged, but misjudging the ground appeared to charge up a cliff face and did almost no damage, they broke and I pursued, exposing the flank of the Phalanx to a drilled Roman charge.

The Macedonians broke and fled, but I couldn't catch them, already Cal was boxed in but still a tough nut to crack. His rolling today was terrible, but in Warhammer that meant there was one thing he could always do, Rally. His units proved adept at running away, reforming and then reorganising in a stronger position than before. Aside from this, he was winning the skirmisher battle thanks to his cavalry superiority and more numerous light infantry.

Still there was little he could do about my solid blocks of infantry at this stage. His Companions made another attempt to break Maniple, only to get surrounded and picked off. When his general fell, it affected him little, but the lines and his options were diminished.

At this stage he was fighting with his back to the wall, hoping his light troops could take the heat off.

Eventually one of his Phalanxes was wiped out, and a huge gap appeared in his line, but at the same point his cavalry remnants were able to apply pressure to my left. With the support of skirmishers.

The cavalry charge finally broke a Maniple, and left me with a gap in my lines. at the same time the Triarii, who had been slogging it away with a Phalanx for three turns were finally beaten.

And so it turned just like that. The Macedonians were devoid of good dice until the last turn, but by sheer grim determination just hung in long enough to survive, and indeed come out on top. Their cavalry advantage wasn't what it could have been, but was enough, with skirmisher support to eventually break through.

Next time, grrr.

Elsewhere, the models from Spartan Games new space combat game 'Firestorm Armada' caught my eye. The rules seem strongly based on the 'Uncharted Seas' system, but the space ship models are very nice indeed.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Night in the City

Last time as part of a grand assault, Blunt, and the British allies had made it into the fortress, thanks to shifting allegiances and personal bravery. For the follow up, it was time to exploit the advantage. After a day of skirmishing and rest, in which the French contained the British at the breach (which as can be seen collapsed during the day, as a result of the over enthusiastic blowing of the gate. What would Michael Caine have said?), General Cameron planned to take the defense by stealth.

Having tired the enemy and kept them busy during the day, he held back some of his own troops and sent them in by night again.

The aim of the scenario was simple, any of mine or my allied commanders troops had to make it to the inner curtain wall, at the ends of the table - where gates to the inner keep were assumed to be. For the French, he had to use his limited resources to hold us back, and try to rouse more men. With a little luck and time on his side he would soon overpower us, so the allies had to move fast.

However, the British suffered from their usual problem when presented with civilian buildings, looting. We used an expanded version of my looting rule from a couple of games ago, and as a result my Light companies seemed only interested in looking for booze, gold and women.

Such behaviour would cost them dear.

The French Curassiers charged down my looters, who made themselves an obvious target by setting fire to the first house the found. within minutes of starting the attack they had advertised our presence and been routed from the field. The Curassiers tried to follow up this success with a swift charge of my own Dragoons, Provosts, wisely sent by Cameron to forestall the looting.

The attack on the Dragoons failed spectacularly, and saw three Curassiers killed. This was enough to put some spirit back in the British, and the attack resumes. Blunt attacked traitorous Irish Legion soldiers single-handedly, pleasingly back on form, whilst the other Rifles moved up the flanks.
Meanwhile the French commander went from house to house looking for slumbering or hiding troops. It seemed his luck was out as after four houses, with a one in three chance of finding more men, he'd found precisely, none.

Long range firing in the dark was proving fruitless to both sides and so it was coming down to the close assaults in narrow streets. The French tried their best, but only the Irish had any real fighting spirit. After more looting, the eventual intervention of a handful of British light troops saved Blunt from being hacked to bits in the central plaza.

Finally, the French commander found some troops, and sent them out to attack the British, only to see a half hearted attack falter in the dark. His men withdrew, left and right, in the face of a twin pronged move on the inner gates. By midnight the British had achieved their objectives, and a badly wounded Blunt was able to take the inner wall as his own.

Another fun game; made by being able to scrape together enough buildings for some real street fighting, and some nice special rules to make the units distinct.

My thanks to Neil and Lee for making this an enjoyable three hander.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Painting: 15mm, High Contrast

I've produced a variety of guides on to how to paint, different speeds, different techniques. And, well, here is another. There's no shortage of tasks out there that painting demands of you.

Today I'll be looking at how to paint a 15mm unit quickly, but with a high visual impact. Painted to impress without being complicated.

If possible, pick your subject and plan it to make the process as simple as you can. Here I'm doing a commission job, so I had less choice, but you can still plan the job to suit.

Stage one get your source information ready; as ever I deferred to Blandford's Armies of the Peninsular Wars, a good general resource, though perhaps a little dated.

Next clean up and base the models for painting, I like to put three models on a temporary pieces of card for 15mm. They are easy to handle this way.

Base coat. As you may remember from my other guides, I recommend choosing your base colour to complement what is to go over it. These models will be wearing white coats, trousers and belts, so a light grey is a good option.

When that has thoroughly dried, overbrush (that is a moist but not free flowing brush of paint). The first layer is a much lighter grey, essentially off-white

After that dry brush the models, twice with white. The first drybrush will be almost as generous as the overbrushing of off-white. The second is focused just on the high points, belts and surfaces that point skywards. most Light effects come from above, aim to leave shadier spots on the underside of the figures

Remember we are working in 15mm and on a unit that will be mass ranked. Mistakes are forgivable and the whole process so fare should have taken less than an hour (excepting drying time). 80% of each model is now done.

Next paint all the black. This is only items that will be black, not everything. On these models I decided that the hats (NOT heads), Boots, Bayonet sheaths and cartridge cases needed to be black.

At this stage I went on to do the packs brown, as another project meant the colour was ready to use. As the packs have an easy shape and plenty of texture, a fine brush was used to add a drybrush of light brown to them. This takes literally minutes.

The Black is drybrushed with a fairly dark grey, in fact only the hats are worth this attention. The boots are going to be lost in basing detail, and the other bits are too small to warrant the effort. Minutes again. Also the Orange facing and lining of the selected regiment is done at this stage.

Use a good smallish brush. Don't overload it, keep a good point, most of this work was done with a size 1 sable. The lapel lines and the turn-backs on the coat are done with care as the colours they are against are finished. The cuffs and collar are painted more swiftly, as the flesh is not yet done; just remember to always lead the brush away from the finished side of the job, towards the unfinished side. As most of this is raised detail it's actually pretty easy to get a good job of it done.

Paint the musket, Standard pole, flesh and hair a mid reddish brown. A colour suitable for a musket stock will also be a good base to flesh and is ideal for hair.

You may notice in this shot the drummer has had some personal work done. A little light blue and a layer of lighter blue was over painted on his white coat with the same size 1 brush.

Time to start on the details. The plumes and cockades are painted a dark red, followed by a drybush of brighter red to the top half of the plumes. Dabs of this colour are used on the grenadiers bearskins too. The muskets, bayonets and swords are painted with a natural steel shade, and then the tips of the bayonet given a silvery highlight. This shade is also used to add some detail to the grenadiers bearskins, and to touch to the wire over the cockade of the hats.

The flesh is next. Paint up to the edges of the brown on the flesh, as is it was black lining, to get a little shade. good models and a light touch will allow you to use a thin brush to overbrush these areas to pick out fingers or leave the eyes as brown spots. Maybe too much effort but still pretty easy. Still, all pretty quick little jobs.

The Blanket roll/greatcoat is one of the last things on these models, though it could be done earlier. Retouch it in a suitable grey. Add a little white and drybrush with a small neat brush. At this stage I just added a suggestion of the white straps over the blanket, and lightly touched the clasps on the backpacks with white. A couple of minutes of effort that helps add a real visual cue to the models. It's the little details that make people go 'ooh'!

Finally there will be some gold/brass to do. The butt-plates of the muskets, sword hilts, grenadier cartridge badges, etc. Again, quick work.

In all to get to this stage took under four, maybe three hours, and was done alongside painting units of 28mm and other little projects. Whilst in no way as precise as my larger scale stuff the effect of the models is far better than simply base colouring, and yet takes very little extra time.

By the way, I deliberately do not mention any specific colours or shades, I work (almost) exclusively with the Vallejo Model Colour range of acrylics, but I would not specify particular colours for a job like this. You know which paints you prefer, the principles are the same however. It is the technique that is important, not using bleached bone rather than blanched bone.

Learning colour theory will stand you in better stead than an encyclopedic knowledge of one paint companies paint range. I after all only use about forty core colours; relying on custom mixing instead.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Houses and Hovels

Knowing our plans for our next Napoleonics game, and as stated before, wanting some more generic, and more intact, club buildings; I finished off three more houses from my sheet of Foam board.

One larger house, in the style of Southern French villages; and before anyone queries that, it is a lot like the older houses in the villages and towns I used to work in out there. Two hovels or huts suitable for any period from ancients onwards, and Fantasy too.

A less over exposed General Bartlett gives a good impression of scale. Even the huts have a substantial footprint for a 28mm model. Ideal for regular gaming. The painting is a simple base coat of emulsion, dry-brushed with progressive layers of browns, through sandy shades to pure white. Roofs done similarly from a reddish brown or chocolate base. The bases were a frankly too bright green emulsion base, toned down with a Rifle-Green wash and the dry-brushed yellowish greens and light browns.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bartlett's Brigade complete

I have a problem with character models. Those who follow my blog will know I can churn out reasonable quality rank and file models at a rate of around 80-100 a month. Characters, Leaders, personalities and so forth are another deal entirely. Something about painting a single figure demotivates me.

I think it has to do with how each job is a tiny exercise, and you waste as much paint on the palette as you use, and you can't hide the mistakes in a mass of men, and so on, and so on.

General Joseph J Bartlett here (actually a converted Confederate general) took an age to finish, but was still a quick effort for me and a commander, a mere five weeks.

I've had personality models loiter on the painting table for years before!

Still with him out the way, my little Union army is complete. 100 models all told.

No temptations to add to them at the moment; but maybe one day a second brigade will develop. As they stand though, they are more than enough for our club games of Fire and Fury.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Games Britannia

I wouldn't be surprised if no one else has watched this as it's on BBC4 but last night was an interesting episode on Victorian-modern boardgames.

A lot on Monopoly and Cluedo of course, but also passing mention of wargaming and a couple of minutes on Dungeons and Dragons - which was generally quite misinformed, GW was credited with creating D&D for example.

Ended with the War on Terror game though which was unexpected and now makes me fancy playing it (though not sharing the 'evil' balaclava!)

The first episode on ancient games was pretty good too, but inevitably the last episode will be devoted to computer games; rather outside my preferred interests, but probably worth a look.

Bound to be repeated oft times in the coming months; and is on the BBC I-Player if you have access to the technology. If you missed it, give it a look.

Now when will Wargaming make one of it's ill fated appearances on TV again?

Monday, December 14, 2009


A dip into the CS Grant Scenarios book provided the details for our next Napoleonics game. One of the ideas in the book revolved around the raising of a siege by stealth, and we played it pretty close to the original, having found the main requirement, a fortress, in the club.

Neil had a large force of troops disposed to the fortress with his Spanish allies on guard duty and some patrols out. What he didn’t know was that the British attackers had negotiated a treachery amongst the defenders.

For a change, and for some practice, we Used the ‘Napoleon’ rules for this scenario, appropriate as it featured several large formations. In total around 160 figures were used, though we did play with smaller units to make it practical from our own collections. Units of 16 foot, 6 horse or 6 skirmishers.

The initial deployment was all in favour of the French, though the British had, as per the scenario two forward parties of light troops and dragoons. Beyond, three battalions of regulars marched through the night to approach the fortress from the wooded hills. The French slept cosily, until an explosion sundered the still night. The doors of the fortress blew open and the Verde regiment defending them broke in to scuffles as the loyalists were weeded out of the regiment by the traitorous mob.

The Dragoons charged through the entrance, only to find the French mounting their own horses and giving a spirited defence, the Blanco Regiment of the Spanish remained loyal to the French and covered their French allies as they roused. But the Spanish manned fortress gun seemed intentionally to miss everything it fired upon.

Lt Blunt of the 60th Saw the Dragoons flee and determined to fill the gap, leading his company of men into the breach. Meanwhile the French patrols arrived and rushed to tie up the advancing infantry.

The Verde Regiment removed all opposition from their ranks and began to lay down fire on the French, whilst the Dragoons rallied and charged into the courtyard. Blunt took his men into the buildings and narrowly fended off one column whilst the cavalry forced another to withdraw.

The Blanco Regiment started to advance around the battlements in an effort to block the traitors, and far away the French patrols drew away some of the support for the attack.

But not enough. As dawn rose and the game ended the British had secured entry to the fortress; a victory! But next would be the determined street fighting to secure the town. Next week will see the sequel, when Blunt leads his men onwards.

Another corker of a game; which the scenario really made. The rules worked well enough with the scaled down forces, though I guess we may well have paid fast and loose with some of the mechanisms, simply due to time.

As ever the spectacle of 28mm drew a few admiring looks, though on this night, not as many as the game next door, but more on them in the post below…

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Recon 2009

In quick succession, another local show; and compared to Fiasco, far the better.

Recon is a small scale event with mainly local traders and not that many figure manufacturers, but with a lot of display games, many of which welcomed players, a tournament (for HOTT, a long standing if oddly obscure feature of the show), a real bar and a bring and buy.

As it was for me I bought very little, only picking up a book on Albuera and some copies of Battlegames, as I've never done so before (I know, many will wonder how I can call myself a wargamer and not be reading it; others will have never heard of it. Full reviews to follow in due course).

But unlike Fiasco the healthy selection of games was enough to be worth a visit. In no particular order:

Bacchus Games 6mm Napoleonics, lovely scenery, and nicely presented 6mm models. Though for me the point of 6mm is to be able to represent formations closer to scale. I'd have liked to have seen a game with a battalion formed of 100-200 models rather than just 24 on a single base.

One of two Teddy Bear games. All the rage this year, the cowboy game featured every 'Bear based' pun I can imagine.

The Lance and Longbow society went for a naval game using 25mm figures on a mixture of Plastic Kits (Zvezda) and scratch-built medieval cogs. Looked nice, though a better water surface would've been nice.

20mm plastics featured in this Zulu War game, based on a colonial variant of DBA. Always pleased to see 20mm out in force.

One of the more visually attractive games was Run by the Kirklees Gamers; a Boxer rebellion period skirmish. Though it looked like a free for all on the table, the scenery was of a high standard.

The other Teddy Bear game was my own clubs contribution (along with an intro to 'Flames of War' table too). Mark's full set up featured British Bears, Zulu Pandas, The UN Blue hats and...

A giant Gingerbread man. Your guess is as good as mine.

Clearly inspired by 'Kingdom of Heaven' This 10mm game, may well have been put on by Kallistra, one of the big players in the scale. It really only constituted a display, as it never changed, but contrary to my criticisms of the Bacchus game, this one did feature units of hundreds, rather than dozens of figures.

But the undoubted centrepiece of the day was the 'A Very British Civil War' game. Apparently these chaps started as an alternate history gaming forum and have now rather expanded into their own sub genre. The game was set in 1938 and featured an attack on Hull; not the first time Hull has been a blood-stained morass covered with belligerents and fleeing refugees on a Saturday afternoon, I can tell you!

I don't know how much gaming they actually did, as they spent most of their time talking to the many interested spectators. I didn't see much move though. The game looked like an opportunity for an online community to get all its toys together at once instead. Still you can't help be impressed by the sheer variety of 28mm models, especially the interwar years tanks and aircraft. The ships belong to a member of the other main Leeds club, a guy with a lot of time on his hands and too much space.

What, exactly, motivates you to build a 12 foot long model aircraft carrier. And where the hell do you keep it?
People with that sort of dedication to their hobby scare me a little ;-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Trampled Underfoot

Taking on a tourney army to help the owner tune it for competition is asking for a short game if you play Warhammer like I do, badly! Dan is a well know modeller and enthusiastic competition gamer, who’s armies often win painting awards, but are always, like many tourney armies I suppose, leaning towards cheesiness of the highest order. This game was to be of no exception.

In 1500 point, he had managed to squeeze, quite comfortably, three stegadons; giant dinosaur-esque tanks, laden with high volume firepower and magic attacks. I at least knew what to expect and so tweaked my army to try to stop them with, theoretically high accuracy artillery and total magic denial.
In the event only the latter of those worked.

My artillery had one of those days, the Grudge Thrower accounted for two skinks all game, despite being designed not to miss, it missed often. On the other hand my cannon lost the opportunity to really do damage when the crew fled, costing it three turns of firing, though it did eventually get back into action.

Ordinarily I would have conceded a game like this early on, as it was going so badly, but for once, as it was also going so quickly I stuck with it. At the last gasp we had knocked out two of his characters and managed to kill one Steggie.

Dan generously pondered whether I’d done enough to pull a draw; I could have told him the answer to that, and was proved right when he totted it up as a 1000 point victory for him.

Even in the raw the models look great though, and Dan is a pleasure to play against. As this sample show, when the whole army is painted it’ll be quite something.

Not just the finest matured cheese ;-P