Sunday, January 31, 2010

Painting old and new

A mixed bag of snaps, including this months output for the Napoleonics project, but I'll kick off today with a shot of one of my 1/48th scale Sherman's. Despite having nothing in the way of a photo set up aside from a reasonably well lit room, I managed to get a good natural shot of one of the pair I have.

This model was done five or six years ago, at a time when I wasn't at the top of my figure painting game, but had learnt a lot about model vehicles. I wanted a model that looked very much like it was in service with an experienced crew, and the sandbags were a nice touch; along with a second light machine gun on the turret. American tank crews learned the value of weapons in this position, and in the photo's of the last year of the war it is a common sight to see them welded in front of the loader's hatch.

Next up was a couple of Riflemen to finish my 5/60th battalion. the original ten models were not quite enough to build two detachments in Napoleon, so a quick trip to eBay and a side project sorted that problem out.

As ever I had trouble duplicating some of my custom paint jobs, but the fact is anyone who tells you to use definitive colours when painting uniforms, is an idiot! Permanent chemical dyes didn't even exist in the early 1800's so standardised colour are virtually an impossibility, especially once worn in the field for some time.

Kudos to anyone who can correctly identify the two new models!

Lastly, my main force addition for the month was the 97th Queens Own Regiment:

Standard stuff we've seen before here really, Victrix with a sprinkling of Perry heads and generic standards I'll change if I ever get hold of the right ones. The Victrix marching arms are a little unnatural looking, but the effect of the unit overall is fine.

In terms of this years pledge, as a starter I've exceeded my goals, despite spending quite a bit less time painting. With some more units to be photographed the monthly total stands at 68 models.

For this year I'm counting foot figures as 1 model/point; mounted as 2; guns as 5 and vehicles or aircraft as 10. Anything smaller than 15mm will a: be highly unlikely, and b: count at only 1 point per base of models. so a total of 16 cavalry have made a large impact on this month's totals.

On the 'down' side I've bought 12 cavalry models this year, but as I've decided I can afford not to count that too closely, I'm really not going to worry.

I'm going to do my small part to pull the wargames industry out of recession instead!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Saving Private McRae

Last Sunday saw a mini campaign to get a new player into the Napoleonics gaming with his recently acquired (and thus unpainted) highlanders.

We played through three mini scenarios, I'd designed with the aim as using as tutorials for the rules. The first being a simple fire and manoeuvre task, the second - below - introducing assaults and split commands. The Highlanders, at the top of shot, needed to cross the bridge, past the Irish Legion guards, to meet up with their Spanish guides.

In the final scenario the remaining troops had to push past French formed troops to reach the friendly embrace of a company of their own men. In increasingly involving engagements Gav was able to get six of his ten highlanders and three of his Spanish guides back to friendly lines.

Elsewhere Mark, Bob and Steve were trying Lasalle again, in 6mm. French and Prussians clashed in tiny scale:

The antithesis of my 28mm's; but none the worse for that!

All in all Napoleonics gaming is becoming a regular feature at the club, which is good, and with our next big game of Napoleon coming up, I can only hope to attract more interest to the period.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Ah, I love a good pun. Battlefield Evolution again and back to World War Two. Bob fielded 1500 points of nicely painted British Paratroops against my German Grenadiers.

Bob selected to attack, whilst I'd opted to defend; the scenario generator indicated that he'd be on an all out rush to take the village, whilst I'd be trying to hold out with less than half my force for the first three turns.

However, from the out set things went badly for the Para's. A well concealed Pak 40 was the first concern for him, as a well placed shot destroyed his only heavy weapon. Elsewhere a sniper blocked his flank advance, and my armoured car was able to select targets at will...

In three turns Bob made little progress, and had no luck with the dice. Intact buildings became graves for his men as my prepared positions could simply out shoot him. His face sank further when the reserves arrived, amongst them a Panther.

(Put batteries in that baby, and it runs on it's own tracks!)
Two more sections of men and a headquarters, with a mortar team, meant Bob was now caught in a deadly crossfire. His central advance was found wanting in open ground and was hammered by artillery, machine gun and tank fire. There was some stiff resistance, but the losses were appalling and the Para's had to withdraw.

After the battle the casualties amounted to 13 German and no equipment, against 39 British and a Six Pounder. Bob cursed his lack of mobility, and ranged firepower, whilst recognising that attacking was a bad choice. Next time the rematch will see if he can learn the lessons of this engagement; but for now:
"For you Tommy, der var ist over."

Saturday, January 23, 2010


"Unconventional and uncouth, Thomas Picton was one of the best of the senior officers working with the Duke of Wellington in the Peninsula.

A life-long soldier, Picton fought in the American War of Independence, served in the West Indies and eventually became Governor of Trinidad in 1801. His style of leadership was unpopular and he resigned only to find himself facing charges of allowing a woman to be tortured. Cleared of wrong doing, Picton became a major-general and went to Walcheren, but suffered health problems while Governor of Flushing and returned to Wales.

His next military assignment was to join Wellington in the Peninsula where he proved himself time and again as commander of the 3rd "Fighting" Division. At Fuentes de Onoro, Badajoz and Vitoria he won admiration for his courage, if not his manners. Wellington described him as "a rough-mouthed devil", but one in which he had supreme confidence.

In 1813 he was knighted and promoted to lieutenant-general. Joining Wellington again in 1815, he led the 5th Division at Quatre Bras and was wounded during the battle. Fearing it would mean his being replaced, Picton hid the fact he had been injured and so lined up at Waterloo two days later. It was a fatal decision, as he was shot through the head and died while leading his men forward. Famed for his roughness and unusual dress style - a shabby greatcoat and round hat being favourites - he even wore a nightcap during the battle at Bussaco."

A lovely little Perry model designed and painted as Wellington's best general. Picton will also serve as a wealthy civilian or spy in skirmish games. A nice break from formal uniforms, and a good chance to experiment with some different blues.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Captain Tocino

There is a notable gap in my Dogs of War army, for non-magical personalities. I'm pretty much limited to wizards and the Paymaster, with the exception of the General on a Winged Lion I sometimes use.

I had a rummage in the bits box and found a spare Empire knight, and oddly enough the Empire General's horse, I acquired last year in a DOW related spending spree. These with a bit of amendment would serve nicely as a freelance commander for smaller games. I hacked off all the skull and comet iconography, made a new shield and replaced a skeleton with a charging spike:

This is a good example of the use of a simple and strong theme to make for both a quick paint job and a striking model. I undercoated the whole model black, then over brushed and drybrushed the horse in a rich set of reddish browns.

Overbrush the armour gun metal, then follow up with drybrushes of steel and silver. Paint all the greens and use layered highlights to keep it neat and bright. Paint the yellows and the bronze work in the same way (bronze is shaded with red or brown and the final highlight is gold). Do the flesh, saddle and scrolls; and its all over.

A Sunday evening job with a film on, not bad at all.

BTW; Tocino is Spanish Bacon; keeping up the theme of naming all my DOW units after continental foodstuffs. I do like a good pun.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Napoleonic oddments

I've been picking through some of the odds and ends of late to get some part finished units, odds and ends and commanders completed. We've already seen the Spanish Guerrilla's; next up is a French Colonel/General:

The model himself is a Perry miniature, and I suspect may be meant to represent Louis Alexandre Berthier. A surprisingly quick job, with a nice white horse and a nice bit of blue.

Secondly I got round to expanding my Patria regiment to a standard 'Napoleon' unit size, by adding 4 skirmishers:

These chaps were made from spare officer, drummer and standard bearer torsos, but I don't think it is terribly obvious is it? Got to squeeze every last bit of value out the Victrix 60 figure box...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lasalle in Review

Lasalle is a pretty new set of rules BY Sam Mustafa, who apparently has written several well regarded sets of rules in the past for the Horse and Musket eras. Lasalle is aimed at a tactical level game with players each commanding a division or similar small force during the Napoleonic Wars. In some quarters these rules have been cruelly called the 'Flames of War of Napoleonics'; implying they are intended to get new people into the period, but also that they are simplistic.

Now I can't provide a detailed summary of the rules as I was only a guest player, and have not invested in a copy; but I can comment on the impression that they are simple rules. Compared to many, they are, but in part it is because we have more elegant rules conventions than perhaps twenty years ago. These are a modern set of rules, sure enough.

The game we played was essentially divisional in scale, with my self and Bob commanding a couple of brigades of Austrians, defending against a French assault. Each unit on the table represented a battalion/regiment.

The set up is dependant on each side choosing it's tactics for the day - to attack or defend, and their available troops and reserves will vary dependant upon that. Being Austrians defence was a no-brainer. The French had to place an objective, a point they needed to occupy by game end, and went with a area of open ground, which we knew they'd attack with cavalry. In reply we placed my brigade of Grenzers and Hussars to cover the objective, whilst Bobs line infantry occupied the fields and ridge line to the right. After this the attacking french could deploy their initial troops, and decided to come on in columns of attack at the hill, with the side facing me suspiciously empty save for some guns near a ruined monastery.

The turn sequence is slightly unconventional, but basically boils down to an Igo-Ugo system of Fire, Reform, Fight melees, Move, Rally. Most of the time units can do what they want, but if outside of command radius to an officer they will need a discipline test to reform or rally.

Shooting and fighting is based on rolling a number of d6, typically one per stand, with modifiers to the number of dice rolled. No complex tables, as is the norm nowadays! All very simple. 4's hit in shooting and the cumulative total of hits on a unit in a turn cause a number of disruption/casualty markers. When these equal or exceed the number of stands in a unit it has had its chips and is off.

After a number of turns it became practical for Mark and Darren to call upon their reserves, you have to roll below the turn number on 2 D6 to bring them on. They did their best to chase off my cavalry and try to roll up the flank.

In melee units roll a selection of dice much like in shooting, which may then be doubled, and/or halved to reflect circumstance. Five's hit this time. If the charger doubles the result of the enemy, he destroys him straight away. If the reverse occurs the charger is thrown back. Oh how we laughed when a unit of French Dragoons caught the Austrian Hussars in the rear and got this result:

Anomalies like this aside the melee system is simple and fine, with no more than about 16 dice needed for a melee; close to but not quite buckets of dice, and that is at the top end of the scale. For good measure my Hussars about faced, charged and destroyed the Dragoons; well done boys, well done!

When a third of your starting infantry formations have been destroyed you have to take an army morale test, but other than this we saw little of the morale rules, if there are any. In a little over two hours, with four players and three novices with the rules, we were finished. The random game length ended abruptly on turn 17, with the Austrians on the ropes but far from down for the count. They held the objective and the French cavalry thrust had been defused by the Grenzer squares and Hussars.

Overall, a fairly simple set of rules, yes, but the consequence is a fast game, easy to pick up and play in a couple of hours. It is the sort of set that could make Napoleonic tourney play practical; if you are in to that sort of thing.

Napoleon, and other current rules reflect a deeper game, but these are a fine quick play set.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

First game of the year

The gaming club reopened its doors after the festive season, and I forced my way through the snow for a game. No full report this time, as I neglected to take enough photo's, but myself and a first time visitor player a 2000 point scenario from an old White Dwarf. I used my Dogs of War again, knowing he too had a Dwarf army, and tuned most of the Magic out and added my own Dwarves and some flying cavalry.

A game where I think I kept him contained, and negated most of his advantages (the scenario helped too). It ended as a perfectly reasonable draw.

With an upcoming tournament there were a lot of Warhammer players around; these models have often caught my eye, but today I got a photo of them. Barney the Dinosaur is evil; proof:

Some of the Harrogate gamers turned up too, and did their best to fill a table with every 15mm German and Russian tank in their collections.

I didn't get to see the game in action. But it looked impressive. How it would play with models packed in like a Tesco car park in the days before Xmas is anyone's guess.

The Leeds Night Owls weathered the storms and silence of deep winter well, and was a busy and vibrant evening. If you are local and looking for a game, get down there!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Guerrillas & Germans

The first new models for 2010 are of course bits that were either finished or nearly there last year. Mostly a commission job of yet more WW2 Germans, but a handful of figures for Napoleonic skirmishes snuck through as well:

El Mirador's Spanish guerrillas; originally a pack of Foundry Press Gang models, plus a rogue Essex Rifleman; a little rearming and an appropriate paint job see them ready to scourge friend and foe alike in a search for revenge and booty.

And simply because I have the photo's, here come the Germans!

I think I painted something like 350 20mm Germans alone last year; they are a tidy little earner. But I wish other WW2 units were as popular, I get really bored of the same thing time after time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dogs eat Rats!

The final club day before Xmas saw me booked to play a Warhammer Fantasy game. 2000points against a Skaven opponent I'd faced only recently.

I wasn't expecting to win with the army I'd brought along, in fact it was simply a case of 'Do I have a list handy already? yes, OK, that'll do...' My Dogs of War Army got a run out simply because he knew I had Dwarves, and probably would aim his force to beat them.

No one plays DoW with any great expectation of winning; their official list is so old that it goes back 2 or 3 editions of the rules! Anyway, my main tactics with the army now is to play it magic heavy, one of it's few strengths, with a Level 4 Archmage in command and two level 2 mages to back him up. Two units of pikes, two units of crossbows, two cannon and some shock troops on the flanks made up the army.

Normally of course an army with all mages in command would struggle in combat, but the DoW can solve that by judicious use of Regiments of Renown. I fielded 7 characters, quite legally in my 2000 point army. Still it is rather putting all your eggs in one big, fragile basket.

On came the Skaven and whilst they advanced my spell users and missile troops as ever did their best to avoid harming them! It looked like it was going to go strictly to plan, as my knights were wiped out, except for their hero by gunfire, my ogres were distracted, and the cannons malfunctioned. But Darren doesn't generally play a subtle game, and his inability to stop all his Skaven pursuing a handful of duellists left him wide open to a counter attack by the pike blocks.

These went in and finally found their ideal opponent, first one, then another Skaven unit was skewered on or pikes. Meanwhile the Ogres returned to the fray, and the Knight Hero made it his business to charge down various missile troops. The poor Skaven morale was gutting Darren's army.

In the end, despite poor shooting on my side and an average performance from my mages, I was able to comprehensively out fight the rats. After six turns we held the field and were ready to mop up any resistance that may have rallied for a second day.

As satisfying as it is to win when you expect to, it is all the better to pull one out the bag, when by rights you should have no chance.

To be fair Darren doesn't use many of the super cheesy choices in his list (no Doomwheels, Plague Bell and so on; his assassin was in a unit wiped out by pikes before it could strike, IIRC), whilst to scrape 2000 points together, my army has to cheese it up to the max.

Still it is always a handicap to play the Dogs of War, so a win over the newest army book, is still a win; and one to stick on the roll of honour!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2009 Pledge results

Well, goodbye to all that. For reasons that have no place spoiling a blog about wargaming, I'm ecstatic to see the back of 2009, and only hope 2010 is a marked improvement. Of course the annual torture of enforced bonhomie that is Christmas and the new year, did this year at least provide a fair bit of time for painting (due to the being nothing else to do!)

Hence December was probably my best month of the year, pledge wise. The first thing to show for it today being the 79th Highlanders:

Mostly Essex metals earned in exchange for painting duties to Trevor. With the addition of a Giant of a man on foot and a childlike mounted officer (neither of whose manufacturers, I recognise). They've come out better than I expected, and add a useful elite element to my Anglo Portuguese army.

Next up was the skirmishing Voltigeurs from the Perry set. The plan had been to do them as straight Voltigeurs to accompany the 27th Ligne into battle, but when presented with the opportunity I succumbed to another pretty-pretty uniform, and after the Knotel illustration, did them as campaigning members of the Corsican Triallieurs.

The only change to the original models being the addition of a bugler arm from the Victrix French spares. I was particularly pleased with the heroic look of their commander; a french equivalent to Sharpe if ever I saw one!

In the lull after Xmas itself I was able to get the very last of my plastic Numidians turned into Spartan Helots. A couple hours to build, and thanks to a super simple paint scheme, they were painted and based in a day, with time to watch some TV to boot.

Putting these away provided an excuse to get the whole lot out for a quick pose in battle array. 207 figures in total:

So anyway; final scores on the doors? Well add to the above another commission job of a WW2 battalion finished on the 30th (for which I made my only figure purchase of the month, to get some artillery), and the results are:

Bought: 828
Painted: 992
Sold: 513

Pulled it back at the end of the year to a respectable result.

For 2010 I'm changing my rules a little, to reflect that I don't have access to much unpainted clutter now; and that I want to paint less models, but mainly for myself instead of for sale. With that in mind, I'm going to commit to paint an average of 50 figures a month; with at least half being for my own collections.

To be honest I imagine I might initially find that pretty easy to beat, until real life intrudes once again, but for now it seems a fair aim.

So here's to the future. I'm heartened that the blog has gone from strength to strength this year, and I appreciate all the followers and readers I seem to have accumulated. I hope I can keep you mildly entertained for another twelve months!