Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stonewalling 1862

As a bit of a warm-up for the Barrosa game I organised an American Civil War battle to teach a few players the basics of the Black Powder rules. This gave me and several other club members a chance to get out ACW 28mm models on the table again.

A Divisional sized game was set up with two large Union Brigades, supported by Cavalry and Artillery attacking a farm held by a Confederate Brigade, with extensive reserves arriving.

Yes, basically the same scenario as I used in 15mm a few weeks back! If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Besides the aim was to introduce players to the rules .

As is traditional the Union forces moved very slowly towards the enemy, their intention was to swing an entire brigade across the shallow river to hit the flank of the Confederates.

For their own part the Rebels had a case of the jitters and started a suite of overly complex manoeuvres in the face of the advancing Yankees. As time passed they did reorganise their lines, and their reserve brigade met the other Union brigade trying to cross on a broad front around the bridge.

The flanking Brigade made gradual progress, but found it was too strung out to really coordinate it's advance. However with the help of dismounted cavalry it was able to pour enough fire onto the Rebel positions to ensure they were contained.

Around the farm, elite regiments of Confederate troops made their mark on the advancing union troops, but the Brigade in the fields was by now broken and forced into a retreat. Shortly after the other Rebel brigade would find itself in the same position.

As the Rebels withdrew, only the remaining Rebel cavalry were able to restore any pride, outflanking the troops around the Bridge and scattering a regiment to slow up their pursuit.

As a game it was a slow burning build up to a Union victory. As a primer for the rules it was perfectly acceptable, and a success. For practical purposes, we played small, using half measurements and half sized units, this allowed us to work easily on an 8 by 4 foot table with about 300 figures.

All good, but my next game of BP will prove to be rather more ambitious, and not simply due to scale...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Les Milites de Morteau

Time for another Dogs of War regiment. Time indeed to add some more cavalry to their number; with 8th edition apparently favouring infantry, what better time to spend 16 hours painting horsemen! I'd picked up these chaps for less than a tenner on eBay and it did show in places. Bendy lances, no standard (thankfully I had a spare) and wonky heads. However they were unpainted and so the damage was minimal and I soon covered them with a nice white undercoat.

The stripes are to match the other unit of cavalry in the army, but I also had to do something appropriate with those interminable shields, a total of 42 of them. I wanted something heraldic, and settled on coins - highly suited to mercenaries. Overall the mind-numbing repititon of this unit was worse than any napoleonic regiment, and combined with highlighting and then painting neatly over white (two of my pet hates) was enought to almost drive me mad!

Nevertheless, with Focaccia favouring cavalry tactics in her many battles, I'm sure I can make good use of this expensive little regiment.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Barrosa - Torre Bermeja

I received some free samples from resin terrain manufacturer - Fat Spider, which were to prove highly timely for the Barrosa game. The three models from the left are from their range and were painted up with the game in mind:

The one on the right is a Hovels model that regular readers of the blog may recognise as the 'Most fought over house in Spain'.

So that is all the building for the game completed. If I get time I may run up a ruined tower for Barrosa hill; there's no shortage of ruins in the club terrain, but most will not be at all suitable for my game!

Still it's good to start ticking off tasks for the big day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Something, a bit Different...

What a busy blog we are this month, I'm having to publish almost daily to keep up with activity!

Anyway, whilst I've played a lot of Warhammer of late - it is one of my favourite games I must admit - it has been a bit one-note. Four recent games of Dogs of War versus Vampire Counts stand testament to that.

Having brought them out of storage, now seemed a fair time to blood my Orcs and Goblins under the new edition, and seek a new opponent too.

And so it was a Goblin horde with support of a few brutal Orcs met the nobility of Bretonnia (supported by stinking peasantry of course).

A mighty centre of Black Orcs was surrounded by Goblin spearmen (in hordes) and bows; some Savage Orcs filled out the battle line, and a Troll and a Doomdiver Catapult added a little variety.

For his part Alan fielded two large blocks of Knights (one protecting an Enchantress) some Pegasus Knights, some Peasant spearmen and longbowmen and a Trebuchet.

Battle opened with me looking to anchor my flanks whilst the frenzied Savage Orcs rushed forward to occupy the Knights. My Troll proved to be something of a genius, passing a stupidity test to flank the Knights.

Goblin bows thinned the Spearmen's ranks whilst waiting for their real opportunity to strike to arise.

But the Savage Orcs were soon to come unstuck as both a large unit of Knights and the Pegasus Knights bore down on them; they were soon destroyed...

But this led them in to a dreadful trap; they triggered a Goblin fanatic who smashed through their ranks and then the Warboss led his massive regiment of Black Orcs into the flank of the Knights. They were smashed, but escaped, still the pursuit allowed the Orcs to contact the Pegasus' and deliver more pain...

Although there were losses on both sides the game proved inconclusive - a draw.
In terms of the new rules and learning points, Orcs n' Goblins are another of the once weaker armies who seem to have been bolstered by the new rule tweaks. The new magic items proved their use again, and one old Orc item (a banner that gives 1 Magic Resistance dice for each full rank after the first) was really useful in shutting down the enemy's magic in this 2000 point game.

Good luck to any player dealing with Black Orcs on the charge too! but then it was some 600 points of unit with the Warlord and Army Battle Standard added for good measure. Still I need to break this run of draws in WFB, they just happen too often.

A nice change from the usual, and an army I look forward to using again soon...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Plastic Prussian's!

The Perry's are at it again, and of course this is a great accompaniment to the Warlord Games Prussians announced earlier this month:

I could copy what they'd said on their website, but it's probably better if you go see for yourself:

Perry Plastic Productions

Old school WW2...

Well, that's a little bit of a massaging of the truth really. Having been forced (read: emotionally blackmailed) in to retrieving most of my models from storage, I've begun the slow process of sorting through them all and will intermittently post photo's of stuff as I find it.

My 'old' WW2 Germans are in fact my second incarnation of a 20mm army for them and actually are only about 5 years old:

Originally done with crossfire in mind, where precise vehicles are academic (the rules cover precious few types) the force is a real mish-mash. But in Battlefront Evolution terms they easily represent a large, well equipped and supported platoon (or a very weak company!) circa 1944.

Some of the painting is not of my present standard, indeed the infantry are not as nice as the ones I sell on eBay now, but items like this Marder are favourites of mine. And I also enjoy the look of the recon platoon, featuring unusual vehicles such as the Panhard armoured car, retrofitted with a short 50mm gun from the Panzer III.

Three other boxes contained my Americans some of whom date back well over twenty years, and look it! However amongst them are a number of newer models, including this (scale) tank company:
Mostly Hat Armourfast models, but with a sprinkling of Italieri and Revell models too.

Only another 15 or so boxes to sort!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The search for Napoleonic Skirmish Rules

Those regular readers will recall I spent quite some time working on a set of Skirmishing rules for Napoleonic games, now I quite liked what I came up with, but they lacked a workable points system (which somehow seemed essential) and as we moved onto bigger games, myself and Neil left them behind.

Still Neil has quietly been working on his French skirmishers, and has been looking for some alternative rules. We recently tried 'Black Powder Battles' (no relation to 'Black Powder') from Two Hour Wargames. The rules are essentially Igo-Ugo, but with great provision for reactions to what the enemy does. This is fine, and if we understood them correctly, the rules had some excellent concepts.

However, they are one of, if not the, WORST WRITTEN game rules I have ever encountered. I'm given to understand the main writer is English, but you'd be forgiven for thinking English was his second or even third language, given the lumpen, impenetrable language used.

For example, A table to decide how one reacts can result in a fail or a pass of the test, how would you refer to the two possible options; yes so would I. The author here however not only decided to refer to them instead as 1D6 pass, and 0D6 pass; but also then to put them in a table, written in such a way as we had great trouble deciding which result was the good one!

The game is in fact fast to play, though we did only use a half dozen models each; and it would be much quicker if we understood what the writer intended, as it is, it felt like we were improvising our own game in an attempt to emulate what he was thinking in the first instance! I'm honestly not sure I would recommend these after the first try, but I will give them another chance when Neil has spent more time studying them.

Still this left plenty of time for a mooch around. I discussed the Barrosa game with a few members and organised a Primer game to introduce the (proper) Black Powder rules to new players. I also took a few snaps of other models/games:

Malifaux; a Wild Western themed fantasy skirmish game, using a card based combat system. Lovely models are very tempting, perhaps when I get round to selling my 40k....

The regular DBMM players were in too. A minority interest though its players are very loyal, and clearly know the rules well enough to stick by them. I think this was a Crusades period game, featuring very nice 15mm models.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kings of War Beta Rules

Mantic Games have been working on their own fantasy wargames rules to back up their ranges of plastic miniatures; and a beta test set of rules and army lists is now online:

And the army lists:

Not really had much of a look at them yet, but no doubt some concepts will be heavily derived from GW concepts, given that Alessio Cavatore wrote both these and the previous edition of Warhammer (well, tweaked, but somantics eh!). Still at 12 pages long at least they are succinct.

I bet they don't stay that way...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Oooh! So Close....

Jason convinced me to stretch a Warhammer game to 3,500 points, something which I would have struggled to achieve until a week or two ago. As it was a large portion of the points was in the guise of my new Cursed Company (some 400 points of undead) and a Dogs of War special character - Lucrezzia Belladonna, a 380 point wizard with lots of bonus features!

We'd both decided to mix things up a bit with our forces, I of course had to scrape the barrel to make 3.5k but took a different deployment to my usual tactics, wanting to avoid a losing clash of my knights against his.

Jason has no end of models to choose from, including an obscene number of Blood Knights. for this game he used 6, a mere £60 worth of models!! £60 bought more than half my army! The rest of his force included two large units each of Skeletons and Ghouls and a large body of Grave Guard.

Terrain would play a significant factor in the game, with the maximum number of terrain features on table, well over a third of the board was covered in large fields, the rest was largely open rolling country with some small hills and woods. I've noticed that nowadays no one dare go into woods in Warhammer for fear they turn out to be evil woods of some sort!

Battle opened well for me I let the dead advance under heavy fire over the plains, whilst deliberately drawing the Grave Guard and Ghouls off into the fields. As ever I moved to outflank the centre and harass it with fire and rear charges

As the undead advance continued, Jason tried to use his vampires to break up my own lines, He carelessly over extended himself as a result, leaving one of his vampires surrounded.

Not that I could exploit it! All my light horse failed to make it count.

Still the centre was definitely going my way, with the Cursed Company supported by Lumpin Croop of all people wearing down the enemy. The survivors of my cavalry, having dispatched other enemy skeletons and a black coach ran around the rear...

Up front as is apparent, the blood knights ran through one regiment of pike, but were stalled by the other and ultimately fell to some misfortune and were destroyed by the hero's within the unit.

Late in the battle the Grave Guard managed to make contact with the cursed company; but the Ghouls were drawn far a way from the battle, and as is apparent, I had managed to create a very creditable fighting line to face any subsequent attack.

Due to losses it was a draw, though the dogs of War had definitely held up well. A victory was only the loss of Lucrezzia, sucked into the void of chaos after a miscast spell, away.

Frustration! But one day the Dogs will win and drawing three times in a row against Vampire Counts shows that the new incarnation of the Warhammer rules have gone a long way to helping the little guys, the weak and unloved armies of past editions...

Barrosa - Initial Preparations

So I've drawn up a list of the tasks I think I have to do for the Barrosa game next month. Top of that list should probably be learning to spell it properly all the time! Anyhow, it's a lot of little (and big) jobs:

  • Prepare full list of Brigade commands for both sides and the regiments involved
  • Source figures from the contributing players (Laurie, Neil, Steve, Martin, etc)
  • Produce the maps for the day with initial deployments
  • Determine the time available to play the game, both in real terms and gaming turns, based on one turn being half an hour
  • Purchase and prepare enough terrain cloth to cover a 10 x 6 foot table (possibly match old cloth of 5 x 7 to save time)
  • Paint Spanish buildings - Chapel, Town House and Barn
  • Paint river terrain
  • Paint regiment of Spanish Militia
  • Paint British Cavalry General
  • Paint British casualty markers
  • Devise any special rules for scenario and general gameplay (specifically thinking of limiting communication between commanders)
  • Prepare command rosters and quick play sheet for each commander, to include personality traits of each commander
  • Run at least two introductory games of Black Powder for prospective players

Phew, so I've not too much to do then have I? In fairness, I have already made a good start on several items and some progress will be shown soon enough on the blog, but it is nevertheless a daunting list of tasks!

Still the effort will hopefully be worth it...

Monday, September 13, 2010

15mm Stugs

A commission job for Jason at the club, with a tip for me of the model at the back in the group shot. Jason wanted German camouflage pattern Stug III's to join his Finnish army for Flames of War:

I approached these exactly as I would a 20mm or 28mm model, which was an intentional challenge; the method was exactly as described for the Panther tank (about twice the size) described last month; just with smaller brushes.

The Battlefront miniatures models are a mix of Resin and metal but work quite well; they have a variety not found in many ranges, though it is clear you pay a premium for it. They do reward careful painting. The generic tarp on the back of the eBay model made for a particularly infamous flag...

I had a little fun with the commander, and doing tiny company numbers and identification marks.

A nice little model, but not thankfully enough temptation to make me buy into the game. Just as well really, I just had to take repossession of 20 (yes, 20) file cases of figures, including my 20mm Germans and Americans...

Anyhow, if you like the look of this model (the rest are on the way to their new owner) you can get it on eBay now, if you're quick:

Stug for Sale

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Penberthy moor 1643

Generals Waller and Hopton in the guise of Martin and Neil , met across the west country moors in a battle for supremacy between two widely divergent forces.

The Royalists at the bottom of this photo came to the field with a large force of Cavalry, four regiments of horse being placed on their left flank, with more to the right of their guns.

By Contrast the parliamentarians fielded twice as many regiments of foot, but had to rely on a much smaller force of heavy horse, including cuirassiers. Two large hills flanked a small farm complex in the centre of the field, but due to the initial deployments of the horse, most of the action would take place on the Royalists left flank.

The initial advance saw the Royalist's move aggressively, using their far wing of cavalry (nearest the camera above) to tie down the Parliament infantry left of the farm. By Contrast the Parliament army suffered from rule by committee, and largely stood its ground.

As the strongest of Prince Maurice's cavalry rode over Penberthy Moor, the Parliament right began to form pike blocks, and urged it's own cavalry forward to protect it.

This resulted in the first of several major, but initially indecisive cavalry attacks. Truth be told the Parliament horse always had the better of the fight, but being so heavily outnumbered, one victory was not going to be enough. It was to take three successful charges for the roundhead horse to defeat the cavalier brigade of horse. Though defeat it, it did.

In the centre the Royalist artillery made slow progress manhandling it's guns towards the enemy. The Roundheads saw an opportunity to gain the guns, but alas for them, the royalists managed to turn their guns on the enemy. A blast or two of loose shot and nails saw a Parliament regiment of foot scattered.

The guns would soon serve even greater purpose.

At this stage though, the Royalist cavalry was still in the field; but it was brittle and in the face of repeated charges and flanking gunnery and musketry, regiment after regiment fell away...

With the Royalist horse fleeing the field, it fell to their infantry to hold the ground. They were charged by both infantry and horse and their fate seemed sealed.

But in truth the Parliament horse were spent, and their infantry proved unwilling to put in a real showing; the Royalist troops held their ground and furthermore their artillery enfiladed a cavalry regiment at some distance to devastating effect. Their infantry support advanced around the farm to threaten the rear of the now foundering roundheads.

And so a battle that looked lost for the Royalists was clawed back as a narrow, if Pyrrhic, victory for them. Parliament was undeniably unfortunate, especially having beaten a much larger force of horse.

Black Powder again provided an excellent little game, enjoyed by all. Being in the position to umpire, I was able to play out the rules more thoroughly, and include the rules for commanders, particularly when lost.

I don't know if we missed it, but I could not find a specific statement of what happens if a brigade commander is killed; so I'm taking it as counting as an extra lost unit for the brigade (which means it will break earlier) and that all following command tests in the brigade are at -1; until at least I'm told different...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Mercer's Farm 1863

A rematch of sorts between myself and Martin and another trot out of his American Civil War troops and the Black Powder rules.

The scenario was a classically simple one. A single brigade of West Virginians defended Mercer's Farm in the face of three Brigades of Union infantry totalling nine Regiments and two batteries of artillery. The Union commander, Martin was informed that reserve forces were on their way to support the Confederates and so he was under pressure to beat the small force in detail. He certainly had the numbers to do so.

The Union forces came on initially swiftly, two Napoleonic style Brigade Columns moved on the farm, whilst a supported line covered the ground to their right. The exposed Confederates on their own right withdrew in the face of withering fire, but on the Confederate left an opportunity to turn the flank of the extended Union line arose, and so the rebels swung one of their regiments out of safety in an effort to out manoeuvre the enemy.

The Union artillery was slow to deploy and at this stage there was no sign of rescue for the Confederates.

The centre Union Brigade began it's attack on the farm, but as in past engagements they showed little will to close, the defences of the stone walls gave the rebels every advantage.

Once again the Union generalship prove lacklustre, as aggressive as they may wish to be the infantry simply refused to respond to the commands, or failing that their communication was so poor that the orders simply never got through.

Latterly the Union artillery deployed to a hill on the Confederates right with a good view of the farm. They prepared to unleash a barrage that would surely allow the Yankee to seize the farm.
Alas for them, this was the point that the Southern gentleman's cavalry arrived on the field. A single regiment of them furiously took to the battle, charged the hill and caught both batteries of guns unready. Both batteries were shattered.

Shortly after the Louisiana Brigade arrived marching hurriedly to relieve the Virginians.

The Union forces found themselves in a deadly pincer. The Confederate cavalry carried on into the flanks of The New Yorkers, whereas the centre faltered at the walls of the farm. So confident now were the West Virginians, that they sallied forth with a second regiment against the New Jersey Brigade.

Time had run out for the Union troops and they had to withdraw in some disorder. The Confederates were happy to allow the Union to lick their wounds and withdraw. In the even only one rebel regiment broke, whilst four Union regiments fled the field, along with the artillery.

Martin had to concede to a bit of a battering. Nice to win one for a change!

Monday, September 06, 2010

August pledge totals

Well August turned out to be a relatively quiet month painting wise. I managed 71 points being:

Undead Army Battle Standard Bearer: 1
Panther Tank: 10
Pak 40 & Crew: 9
SS German Platoon: 31
The Cursed Company: 20

This takes me to 738 points against a target of 400 so far on the year.

However I have noticed a distressing trend of a build up of models under my painting table. Boxes have gathered like vultures, and I can't seem to clear them as fast as I add to the pile. This is a concern, but as I have now run out of money, it should give me something to do for a few weeks.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Cursed Company

A superbly easy paint job has made fast work of the Mantic skeletons I bought a couple of weeks ago.

Adding these to the dogs of war gives my army a much needed boost of points and another race to add to the melange that is Foccacia. I'd realised blue was one of the few main colours not used in my army so far, and it looked quite nice on the sample models on the Mantic packaging; so I went with it.

Everything started from a brown undercoat, which allowed for a lot of the deep shading to done, both for the bones and armour.

Overall the Mantic models are really nice, simple to assemble, easy to paint and really dynamic. Scale wise they are smaller looking than the latest GW skeletons but in terms of visual impact it is not a problem.

Highly recommended.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

A Grande Commitment

Well I've been enjoying my games of Black Powder greatly over the last few months; but I want them to get bigger and better. To that end over our last couple of games, myself and a few of my regular opponents have begun to loosely discuss a bigger battle.

Well the only way it was going to happen was if I committed myself to a date for it, to give me something to aim for. And so I've selected a battle and a date and now must go for it!

October the 17th will see the Leeds Nightowls commit to a refight of the Battle of Barrosa , 5 March 1811; not quite the bicentennial, but close enough. The aim is to play a game with 800+ figures and several players on each side; for myself I think I'll be umpiring and photographing.

Now I've announced it on the club forum, I cannot welch on it, and already I have a list of things I need to prepare before the game. More work than a usual battle sure, but it should produce some fancy results...

Friday, September 03, 2010

Landwehr in Plastic

Warlord Games have come up trumps with it's next release:

Further details can be found on their website, but it looks like this is pretty new.

My only ultimate concern, being Warlord will be price, their bulk sets can be excellent value, but the basic sets come at a premium. I do like the fact these are one piece casts; I would expect that as a result they'll be fast to paint and cheaper too perhaps...

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

De(ath)ja Vu

A third try for the Dogs of war against the Vampire counts of Jason, and as it happened a repeat of many engagements from the previous battle.

2,999 points per side, across a moderate amount of terrain. Both sides advanced aggressively and got stuck in. Each army was magic heavy, myself running a Level four and three level two wizards.

Once again the right flank saw my Knight and general on a winged lion taking on the Black Knights. Once again the ultimate result swung to the greater numbers of the Black knights, which told once the initial impact of my charge had been absorbed.

Elsewhere my Norsemen clashed again with a mass of undead, and after giving them a little scare were trapped by the Vargulf and destroyed. The same old story replayed.

The only variety really was the replacement of the Dire Wolves with a Black Coach, which rolled up my Left Flank.

Another good game, but one where the result was never in any doubt. The dogs failed to make the most of their advantages. The sharp eyed may have spotted my giant on the table at the start of the game, but he made no impact whatsoever; being destroyed by a spell almost straight away. Oh well, my big plan for smashing the undead lines fell apart immediately.

Ah well, what to do? Eh!