Monday, May 31, 2010

Al Garveza - May 1810

Myself, Neil and James attempted to finish a small game of Napoleon in an evening; something we traditionally struggle with! We limited ourselves to 200 points each; which still allowed me to deploy 7 foot Battalions, 2 Rifle Detachments and a regiment of Light Cavalry.

In opposition Neil fielded 6 Battalions of Line infantry and two Regiments of Cuirassiers. The massed columns of French infantry were a fearsome sight:

The Battle opened with the British Light Dragoons making a dash into the centre to unnerve the French infantry. This allowed me the luxury of being able to move my infantry freely on the next turn whilst all of his had to try to issue commands. Being French though, his command structure was more than able to handle this; though his centre still failed to produce square, and was duly charged.

Disastrously though, the Light Dragoons made a meal of the attack and panicked completely routing from the field after a brief tussle with the French centre.

This gave the French plenty of time to move up their own Cavalry to threaten the Portuguese brigade on the left and the Elite elements of the British right.

At the same time the French centre pushed forward en-masse, whilst the British Riflemen retired in the face of their advance. My flanks hurriedly attempted to form squares, but poor command left some of the regiments, including the new 2/10th Portuguese, unprepared.

And the consequences were not a surprise...

Cuirassiers broke the Portuguese and forced the rest of the brigade on to the defensive. The French centre suffered one reverse when one Line Regimen broke, and the other Cuirassier regiment was beaten back by the Guard Battalion it attacked.

Nevertheless, despite time beating us, once again, we were satisfied to consider this another French victory. Clearly Wellington was not in charge of this southern battle.

However this game really brought home an issue we have, either with the rules, or as a group of players, and I think it is more the former than the latter. Again we ran out of time before really reaching a conclusion; particularly the infantry had not got stuck in. Part of the problem is the amount of time you spend looking for counters to give units order; this slows the game no end, mainly due to my having really the wrong ratio's of counters (too many artillery counters too few shooting counters).

Part of the problem though is how easily we get distracted by chat, and admirers of the games. I can blame myself (and a string of texts) for some of this. In short I don't think Napoleon is a set of rules for a three and a half hour club night. Better tried on Sundays I think.

But it looks soo pretty...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Guess what, Germans again...

Now I don't want to dwell on these, but it's a big weekend for blog posts and I thought I'd pop in the most recent Germans to come out of the pocket money creation programme!

A complete Battlefield Evolution army 1,500 points of filthy SS Germans:

This lot include armoured support in the form of a Hat Armourfast Panther (generally a very good little kit) and a HQ transport option in the form of an Academy Kubelwagen (an excellent model which came as a bonus in an aircraft kit I wanted). I had good fun with the camouflage pattern on the Panther, and some effective weathering.

This was my first go at the classic autumn pattern SS camo in years, I think I really nailed it here; whadd'ya think?
Sold on eBay for about £50 to a regular customer. very satisfied, but now burnt out on Germans. Next up for me is some Japanese reinforcements for my own collection.

In other news, I've just noticed the blog has passed a notable landmark; 50,000 hits. Thanks to my increasing and apparently loyal readership; at least I can be sure with numbers like that it's not just me constantly checking the site that's distorting the figures!

Friday, May 28, 2010

2/10th Portuguese

As I think I've mentioned, I splurged on some fancy pants metal Napoleonics again; from my favoured manufacturer - Front Rank. It was time to begin to populate the Portuguese aspects of my Anglo-Portuguese army:

Serving as part of Wellingtons army from the very beginning in 1809 and forming part of Major General John Hamilton's Portuguese Division in 1811, these represent the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Portuguese regiment.

As ever with Front Rank the individual models are beautiful and and a joy to paint. My onlgripe being that there is not the slightest variety in the poses.

To add a bit of class to the unit I decided to give them a mounted colonel, who has painted up a treat; I'm particularly happy with the horse. And in general the blue of the jackets is perfect.

This gives me eight Battalions of foot for my Anglo Portuguese, not bad! How will they perform in combat though?...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Myers Drift 1879

Brevet Colonel Wood found himself with his forces in disarray, Major Hackett's small detachment of the 13th Light Infantry and two attached field guns had become trapped at a ruined mission station on Myers Drift, a Dry riverbed running in to Zulu territory.

His orders were clear, to relieve his men and escort them back to the main body of the Northern Column. Hackett's men for now could only hold their ground; aware of the approaching thunder of rhythmic Zulu marching...
And so with a scenario established we began our first game of Black Powder set in the Zulu War. The terrain was fairly simple and created with the aid of my felt desert blanket laid over various club hills. The templates represented difficult going rather than cover, and only the Mission ruins gave a defensible value.

Although Woods column advanced, it did so with a lack of vigour, whereas the Zulus swept en-masse towards the mission. One cannon was caught exposed and swiftly dispatched by 250 chanting natives.

In the face of such chaos to the south, to the north a blundered order redeployed the head of woods column, as it chased the ghosts of natives through the nearby scrub. Instead the Natal irregular horse enthusiastically engaged the enemy in a valuable holding action.

This action stalled the Zulu left horn and allowed the 90th to deploy from column, in doing so they discovered the Zulu ambush of 500 warriors hidden in the drift itself! Curse their unsporting cunning!
The British recognised this left them on a sticky wicket and began to redeploy. In the ruins of the mission station, the 13th were destroyed, but in doing so enough harm was done to three of the Zulu impi, that the chose to retire after looting the bodies. This disaster at least gave the main column a chance.
The 90th redeployed on the ridge to cover their flanks and at first it worked. But as the first Zulu wave attacked and taunted the British, a second crashed in and wiped out first one company...
And then another. However in doing so the losses in the Zulu impi were such that they were also forced to withdraw.
Whilst further afield the Natal Horse chased off other impi, the survivors of the 90th rallied against the final aggressive Zulu mass. Although the Zulu's acted with cunning and bravery, disciplined rifle fire from the 90th was enough to see them off.

At the end of the battle British losses were significant; with three companies of foot mauled or wiped out the British sustained 267 killed, wounded and missing. However for the the Zulu's 600 dead and wounded were found on the battlefield. In all the battle proved a costly draw, with the British holding the field but at terrible loss.

So a corking little game, that only took two hours to play through, it was of course a pretty small scenario. The Black Powder rules seemed to work absolutely fine for this game. We made the simple revision of using centimetres for measurements rather than inches, and this turned a 6x4 foot table into something more like a 9x6 for the little 15mm chaps! Ranges and movement seemed fine given that there was now effectively lots of space to play over. The scenario meant that both sides had tasks to achieve for victory, rather than simple elimination of each other in a stand up fight.

For the troops I made all the Zulu units large, regular, warbands. Bloodthirsty and disciplined; which seemed to reflect how I thought an Impi of 250 or so might fight. As for the British, each unit represented a company of 80 or so men, and were Steady and Stubborn; they were regular sized units. The artillery was a tiny unit, and the horse were marauders.

All in all a great second try of the rules, and it was fantastic to get back to the Zulu war for the first time since my teenage years!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Woods Northern Column Prepares

My first foray in to painted figures was some *ahem* years ago as a teenager. One of my favourite films as a kid was Zulu. A stirring tale of British grit, and a generally fair portrayal of the noble Zulu’s too. When ESCI released sets of Zulu war figures in 20mm I went and got as many as I could afford, and gathered the paints to brutalise them with my first clumsy attempts at art.

Thankfully no photo’s survive, but to be fair they weren’t too bad, the British seemed to take an eternity, and gave me an early aversion to uniforms which took a long time to get over. The Zulu’s were a complete cheat, as they were moulded in a dark brown plastic which allowed me to paint only the details!

Eventually they got sold on, but I always loved the period and it’s history, and it was one I wanted to return to. Around ten years ago I bought both sides in 15mm instead, focusing on Brevet Colonel Wood’s Northern column, rather than the doomed main column or rather passive Southern column. The models were Essex for the British and a mixture of Essex and Gallia for the Zulu’s.

Painting 200+ Zulu’s proved the easy part, though another hundred or so await attention. Black spray paint and an assortment of drybrushed brown skin tones left only loincloths weapons and shields to do. The issue was again the British; ten years ago uniforms still weren’t my strong point. I got through about 40 figures and stopped.

Another problem was rules, nothing really inspired me. The arrival of Black Powder has changed that, and particularly their sample battle set in the Zulu War.

Reading the rules I harked back to my collection of models languishing on a shelf and wondered how much I’d need to add to get a scenario going, it turned out to be not that much! I selected to add another unit of foot, two artillery pieces and two commanders

All painted from a black base, the new models were augmented by a combination of black lining, highlighting and layering techniques; which written down seems a bit much for 15mm figures; I guess I’ve painted too many 28mm models now, but the coats didn’t look right without three layered highlights in places!

The infantry unit itself is a company of the 13th Somerset Light Infantry. My modelling of the Northern Column transposes companies into units, so that a full field battalion (and the column was only of one and a half battalions in regular foot troops) is represented by 48 men. Below are a couple of the commanders for the 90th foot, the main infantry regiment in the column.

Some fine work in 15mm I think.
Here is the British force in full as it stands so far, about half of the final column strength, not including native troops. 3 companies of the 90th Foot, the 13th Light, two Royal Horse Artillery 7 pounders, Natal Light Horse and commanders.
Adequate to trial the Black Powder rules; especially when facing this lot:

Just over 200 Zulu’s, in four clans. The formations allow flexibility to represent standard units as 16 models, or my preference, 24. Large warbands of well disciplined warriors to charge down the thin red lines of those British ‘red shirts’.

Their first foray on the battlefield is scheduled for a few days from now. A return to a period I have long wanted to pursue.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

8th Ligne

Another unit of Napoleonics, though this time for my French, and the first in some two months or more. Amazingly, its been four months since I did my other unit of French infantry.

I’d picked up another box of the Perry French infantry, which allowed me enough models too get two more full units out of what was to hand. To do this though I had to second in some of my last Victrix French for commanders.

The 8th Ligne served in the Peninsular, losing an Eagle at Barossa, presumably to their eternal shame.

I was able to put together a full regiment of men in Great coats for this lot. This does not actually make them all that quicker to paint, yes a little, but not all that much! I felt a bit rusty doing this lot anyway; but the finished effect is not too bad, and it means I can now field a French/allied Brigade, complete with a Brigadier and skirmishing troops.

Next for the Napoleonics? The Portuguese.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Late update - April Pledge

It completely slipped my mind to update progress on this; not least as photo's of all the April output have already gone up on site.

April saw me get back to a little more regular work, helped by some leave time (May is proving similar so the next update will also help me get through the thin months of more socialising than painting). In total the Germans, Village, and Aircraft I finished in April gave me a total of 93 points.

For the record, I rate points thus:

Standard scaled models 15-28mm:

Infantry: 1
Cavalry: 2
Guns, Small vehicles, Simple or small terrain features: 5
Large vehicles, large or complex terrain, aircraft: 10

Anything smaller than 15mm would score half or less.

Anyhoo, that's all a bit anal now I see it typed down! In simple terms though, i set myself the aim of painting 50 points of models a month this year and April is again well up on that, though only the Zero Fighter was for my own collection. The running total for the year is 277, against a target of 200.

However I also proposed that half of the output would be for my own collections, in fact (more nerdiness) I find 106 points of what I've painted are still in my hands; not half but just over the target.

All that makes me sound a bit like an accountant. I'm not, I swear!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Plastic Surprises

I ended up visiting my local model shop t'other day; more or less by accident, and inside I found three new sets of Plastic 28mm models to greet me.

There were two I knew were out or due very soon; the Perry Hussars and the Victrix Artillery. Now I already have the latter on order so I will bide my time for a full review; and I resisted the former.

But the real surprise was to see these:

Immortal Miniatures long promised but not expected Hoplites. Only £16 for 34 models - four sprues of 8 rank and file and two command figures on a separate sprue. These really look like nice models, the crummy cameraphone photo doesn't do them justice.

I managed to resist these as well, for now, mainly as I'd need more storage space if I added them to my Spartans, though to be fair, they are also more suited to the Athenians or city state troops. Still I would recommend these to anyone looking to start or expand an Ancient Greek army.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Skirmish at Hlaingdet May 1944

Myself and Steve from the club moved our games of Battlefield Evolution thousands of miles to the East, and down a scale to 20mm. I had small collection of Japanese infantry and tanks from many years ago, and Steve turned out to be able to quickly assemble a suitable British force to face us.

The scenario was one of the special missions from the back of the main rulebook, but the army lists were from the Pacific War supplement. I found that even with the fighter plane I added last week to my troops, I could only scrape together a 1500 point force by taking the best troops available, the Imperial Special Naval Landing Force.

Two sections of Infantry, were led by a command squad and supported by a heavy machine gun, Infantry gun, Sniper, Anti-tank gun, two tanks and of course the Zero.

By comparison there were three sections of British, along with a command section, Engineers section, Machine gun, Mortar, Anti-tank gun, a solitary tank and a Hurricane fighter.

The Japanese won the right to move first and so, as seemed natural, we advanced on the objective. Both sides aim was to seize the Mosque in the centre of the village. The side with the most effective units within 12” of it at the end of the game would win.

Most of the terrain was quite open as might befit an agricultural valley floor somewhere in Burma, but outside of the village were some patches of jungle, and the sandy areas were considered no go for tanks. Tha Japanese armour was able to rush forward and tried to get an early kill on the Matilda tank, but it was not successful. However against the poor Tommies the Japanese fared much better, indeed, in terms of infantry casualties it was a savage mauling that the British suffered.

The Japanese continued to enter the village, covered from their left by their artillery, a deadly sniper, and a Ha-go light tank; closer support came from a Shinhoto model Chi-Ha. The British kept a more cautious advance.

The Zero arrived and dived against the British anti-tank gun crew, the attack was almost successful, but in doing so the Hurricane flew in low and shot the Zero out of the sky! A Classic case of new model syndrome – don’t they always fare badly on their first time out?!

It seemed to set the theme for the rest of the game, although the British infantry were suffering heavy losses, and their Bren carrier was destroyed, the Matilda proved too much for the weaker Japanese guns to handle, and the Jap tanks were destroyed in quick succession. The Japanese command was wiped out by artillery and machine gun fire, and with those hammer blows the Japanese attack crumbled. Instead of assaulting further, the Japanese simple dug in the provide bitter defence against any subsequent British action.

A great little game, though frustrating to not get the luck to win through. My aggressive tactics seemed right, but a few poor dice throws left the Japanese out gunned. It was great to get the 20mm on the table, and get a positive response to it as well, and within the rules, the ranges looked better, naturally!

Hopefully we can get a few more players to look at this scale and theatre, especially as Flames of War, so popular in the club otherwise, does not do the Pacific.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Desert Village

A random selection of resin 20 & 25mm buildings were passed to me by the club, some recognisable as Hovels Miniatures, others unidentifiable. Anyway I did a quick paint job...

Basically a terracotta base, with Magnolia drybrushed over and highlights of white to finish. Then other details as required. All very easy, and quick.

But what has been attacking the village?

Perhaps it's the 'Sledgehammer to crack a nut' Americans? In their bomb laden P47?

Or maybe the imperialistic Japanese in their A6m Zero?

Two recent additions to my BE World @ War collection. The P47 is an ancient Heller model picked up second hand for a few quid. It has the advantage of being a simple and therefore sturdy kit. The Zero is from Hobby Boss, a Chinese company I think, and although a little simplified, is made from very few parts. The etching of the parts is far superior to the thirty plus year old P47 model. In both cases I had to cobble together versions of the plane with the landing gear up.
Both fun little diversions from the regular models, and a great break from Germans!