Thursday, July 30, 2009

Blunt's Spy.

Neil managed to get the base coat on some of his French this week; and came up with a scenario to boot. We tinkered with it a little as we went along, but it began based on one of Sharpe's many skirmishes.

The French were holed up in a Spanish farm, hunting a spy, unbeknowst to them, Riflemen, under Lt. Blunt, had found the French; but unaware of the spy were going to ruin everyone's day by torching the farm and killing the Frogs! The spy himself managed to make a run for it, and the game began at that point, with the spy and the firing party running away from the burning building, whilst the French sought to get the papers they needed and withdraw.

Too add to the complexity (perhaps too much for a short game) it was getting dark, and our activities were likely to alert both local Spanish patrols and the French main body.

In the end Lt. Blunt tried to save the Spy, once he realised he was about; but the French just managed to snatch the papers. Their local losses were severe, And at one point it looked like they would be cut off by the arrival of Spanish Junta troops. But the appearance of a Company of French (or at least their vanguard) and the onset of night, meant they were able to slip away. A good fun game; though already we are getting too ambitious. Our second game, and yet we used over forty figures, in a skirmish!

Elsewhere my eye was taken by an ancients came in the far east somewhere. The club is going through a phase of playing Impetus; a set of rules I don't know, but seem well received so far. I hope to try them soon...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ambush - Elfbush!

I'd arranged a game with one of the club regulars for Warhammer on the pretence of playing something other than a typical stand up fight. With that in mind I consulted a book every wargamer should own for inspiration:
Duly I used the Ambush scenario. Now it was to have been a match between my Dwarves and James' Chaos warriors; but on the day a first-timer turned up with a Wood Elf army, looking for a game. As we were the only Warhammer in town, I took on the role of Umpire and let them get on with it.

The deployment and rules were essentially as written by Mr Grant.

Though it became apparent straight away that despite his orders, the Wood Elf player was going to look to fight the enemy wherever possible. Though the wagons they needed to escort of the field were looked after a little, they moved too slowly to reach safety, and the best fighting force of the Elves was moving into the trees to find the Chaos warriors.

Find them they did, but they could easily have outrun them instead. As it was, losses and the repelling of Dryad attacks caused one wagon crew to panic and rout back into chaos' hands.

By nightfall (game end) the other had not made it off the table. Though locally the Chaos warriors were beaten soundly, they had done enough to stop the Elves from escaping with their prize.
I think James was surprised, and his opponent disappointed to find the game was declared a draw.

Monday, July 27, 2009

War of 1812 - Artillery crew

As you may recall I showed a photo of what looked like unarmed infantry the other week, with the US 17th. Well, they are now finished, and so without further ado, the US Light Artillery detachment:

The figures are some simple but creative conversions on the Perry British. Mostly it was trimming the spare belts and straps away (tedious, but worth it), Clipping off cartridge packs and water canteens to kit them, and adding swords from the unused 'Waterloo period' parts. The shako's were the Waterloo period officer models, but due to the limited numbers available to me I used a Bicorn for the officer, and a bare head.

Cutting a musket or two away to produce empty left hands was necessary too. And this led to a rather appealing look for the officer, clearly consulting his watch to time the opening of the barrage!

Lastly, two of the figures were done as artillery train guards, not a complex job at all.

The uniform incidentally is based on photo's of American re-enactors in Artillery uniform of the period. I have to assume their research is rigorous and accurate, as all I could find on the net was them!
As for an artillery piece for these chaps, the Cannon from my Dogs of War army (which itself was originally from an English Civil War rummage box) will serve for now; though in time a more appropriate gun will appear, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Future plans?

It's not the end of the month yet, so not time for a painting update really. But I considered what I had left to do and what I wanted to get on with a bit of late.

I signed up to the Leeds Nightowls painting challenge, with the grandiose declaration of producing a Anglo-Portuguese army in the next twelve months, starting from August. Personally, unless I go back to France again, I think that is a shoe-in. But what else did I have kicking around to do. Well a quick assessment says the following:

  • Two 24 man British infantry battalions
  • Two 24man French infantry battalions
  • 18 man Ottonian Frank infantry unit
  • 8 man Ottonian Frank cavalry unit

That totals to 114 infantry and 8 cavalry; before any additional purchases are required.

Purchasing desires? I wouldn't be a wargamer without any of those, but I have to keep in mind a) the Pledge - dont buy more than you paint/sell, and b) my present state of abject poverty. Still in the long term I boiled it down to four themes:

Napoleonic British; mostly Victrix at first.

ACW; Union artillery and command. A small element, mostly to round out what I've got as a little army rather than anything grander.

War of 1812; a dozen militia and 6 or so Dragoons. To give scenarios plenty of variety. Spare British models will be seconded to America for personalities and extra units.

20mm WW2; German or otherwise - these are my earning stream on ebay at present! Alas I've run out of supplies to paint.

Ancient Sparta. I'd no special interest in revisiting these until I saw previews of the new Wargames Factory Numidian infantry set (AKA Generic Light Infantry 500bc-100ad). I quite fancy a pack of these (28 figures for $20) to knock up a unit or two of peltast types. They may even produce an allied Hoplite unit at a pinch.

So until I next go for a rummage in my stores (80 miles away) that's what I'll be working on.

Friday, July 24, 2009

More 20mm for eBay

These things are so easy to do!

Once you get in to a routine with painting, it is easy to crank out the goods; especially when there is an incentive of generating a bit of money. Last weeks Italians sold instantly, maybe I'll do the same with these chaps:

26th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, made from the Valiant Miniatures sets. Took about 12 hours over four days.
Bases are a little bright perhaps, but they look nice and crisp.

A platoon or so of the 77th Division, US Army in the Pacific 1945. Made up of oddments really, so not much attempt at replicating a full Rapid Fire battalion.

Airfix US Marines. These were always one of my favourite sets of plastic 20mm models, the animation of the figures is just lovely, so natural. Thanks to a near total absence of kit, these guys probably took less than three hours to paint!

Right, I'm off to the pub, for the first time in ages, hooray!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sawyers Bridge: 1814

So hurrah, I managed to get my first Napoleonics game on in double quick time. Now it's not 'In the Grand Manner', but it is a start; me and my opponent Neil, did our best to raise the standard high in terms of presentation, even if the actual figure numbers were low.

I've been writing some rules, for skirmish gaming the period (which once finessed will appear on the blog for one and all to use). The requirements for the game as a consequence were a small table and a handful of models. As can be seen above we used a huge 4 foot square layout of farmland around a critical bridge.

Lt. Blunt of the 60th Rifles (played by Neil) had orders to seize the Bridge to allow a larger attack by the British to develop. The bridge was thought too far from the main lines to be of any importance and so the defences were light, only a platoon of Line infantry, divided into several bodies, not all in the area of the bridge immediately.
However, time was of the essence so only a scratch force could be spared from the 60th too. Blunt's men advanced in pairs toward the bridge, forsaking fire for closing the range and making an early attack on the bridge itself.

The Americans for their part suffered losses in their piquet on the bridge, whilst their relief patrol deployed to the fields south of it.

The American sergeant did a reat deal to stiffent the line, making good use of his Spontoon to run through two riflemen on the bridge. However when Blunt's cavalry sabre met the pike staff, the sergeant came off the worse.

A final fusilade and charge from the field almost carried the surviving rifles; but Blunt was able to hold his men and in the end the remaining Americans scattered. An opportune moment meant at least that they could retreat without being fired upon by the British.
Ah well, so I lost; but I've had several victories lately so that's no problem. As for the rules, well, it's early days yet but their system of command checks to perform different actions and alternate unit nominations seemed to work well enough; only a few tweaks and some clarifications are really needed.
As for the look of the game, I'm glad to say it drew many admiring glances and favourable comments. Hopefully we can keep this up!
Next time it'll be Neil's own French facing the deadly fire of the 60th.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Battle of Imchogi Farm

After several years of peace, hostilities flared up on the disputed border between Lbotu and Ntumtuland. In the border region of Cwhanginki, farms owned by the Ntumtuese minority were being razed to the ground to provide grazing land for the local Lbotu population. Ntumtuland military forces moved to protect the interests of its’ people and in response to the aggressive use of the Lbotunese regular military to enforce land reallocation, sent in troops.

And so, it was my first game of AK47 Republic in some two years. I took the role of The Ntumtulanders, in their characteristic dark green equipment, whilst Colin took on the role of the Lbotunese and their somewhat hotchpotch forces.

It was Colins’ first actual game, though he had read the rules several times apparently, he found himself in defence and deployed his available forces sensibly enough; and selected my table edge as per the rules. As I however knew the values of the three objectives I felt I could win the game simply by staying close to my deployment zone and awaiting reinforcements.

Ntumtu mechanised infantry advanced on the hills north of the Cwhanginki farmstead; whilst a militia artillery battery deployed in the forests to it’s east. The enemy responded with a concentration of fire on the mortars and was able to force them to withdraw. However by this point, the Lbotunese armoured car squadron had been destroyed, and Ntumtu reserves were outflanking the Lbotunese Township from the far north.

Both sides called upon armoured support and militia infantry to support the attack; but in the end nightfall put a close to the action, and this saw the Ntumtuese able to claim victory, having secured the contested territory in the north and west, leaving the Lbotunese unable to protect the population of the Township. In the following days it would be those people who would find their homes burning…
So it was a win for me, but more importantly, Colin enjoyed the game, and found the rules playable and entertaining. In AK47 nothing is ever certain, and this game was typical of that. Had it lasted another turn, Colin may well have won.

I understand a third edition of these rules is due out soon, I wonder though what really could need changing in them. I’ve never had any complaints with the first edition.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


A quick one this; I painted up a unit of Italian infantry over the weekend; made up from various oddments in my collection of plastics.

Simple enough chaps with a neat but basic black wash technique. 35 models in total.

Sold within hours of going on ebay to a regular client for £35. Pretty satisfied with that.
Especially as there is another unit, this time US infantry in the Pacific, in the pipeline.
If this does show anything though (other than, look I sell stuff!), it's that you can take up this hobby fairly cheaply. One box of the Waterloo 1815 Italian light artillery, married with a pack or two of their Italian infantry (I'd suggest one each of the Folgore and El Alamein sets) for example will provide enough pieces for a couple of battalions of Rapid Fire troops, plus support. Enough to get an army started for about £12.
Of course there are plenty of options when you go down such routes; and your chosen rules may have an influence. But in these days of excellent plastic figures, and wargame specific models for a few quid each. There is no reason why you can't assemble a small army of 20mm WW2 models - perhaps a hundred infantry and two to four tanks - for the price of one box of Games Workshop* plastics. It's not as if the free rules aren't out there, and there is no need to paint anything at first; or ever in the case of some gamers ;-)
In short, this little project got me thinking. Maybe it should you too?
*Other overpriced fantasy gaming companies exist, and they could all be tarred with this same brush.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

1812 – The Bluecoats are Coming.

Next off the press is a unit of American infantry for the War of 1812. This s only a small unit, intended for skirmish gaming and so they aren’t based in multiples and don’t contain the more obvious command luxuries.

The unit is the 17th US regular infantry, who saw service in Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie. The information on the uniforms came from the excellent Blandford Press The United States Infantry – An Illustrated History 1775-1918, which features loads of information and of course illustrations.
The figures are of course the Perry plastics, but to take on the role of American troops they needed a number of modifications. Firstly their packs all needed amending. I cut off the blanket rolls and re-cut the straps across the tops of the packs; then the rest was a simple repaint to represent the blue cover over the blanket. The Shakos were basically the same as the Peninsular War pattern, but are always featured lace, which the Perry’s do not. This was a simple fix however, using thread and superglue to construct. The biggest job however was the work to create and officer from the spare sergeant; lots of trimming to avoid belt straps leading nowhere.
Slightly out of focus there, but you get the idea.
The painting took a fair while too, the variety of details were interesting but meant that every time you thought you were finished there was a bit more to add. Of note are the very dark coats of the regiment, achieved by over-brushing deep blue over pure black.

So now there are opponents for the riflemen; and next up, aside from an actual game with them, is this little group of figures; with a very particular role to fulfil.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

60th Royal American

"When Wellesley landed in Portugal in 1808 5/60th was the first unit ashore at Montego Bay and at the start it was brigaded with the 95th to form a brigade of Riflemen. Wellesley`s standing orders laid down that these two units should always form the vanguard when the army moved. The rifle battalions fought in this formation at the opening battles of Obidos and Rolicabut shortly afterwards the Light Brigade was re-formed and Wellesley ordered the 60th in the 3rd Division to provide a company to cover each of the other brigades of his force. It was in this role that they fought the remaining battles of the Peninsula campaign, sixteen of whose names appear on the 60th list of battle honours."

So, this is my first unit of Napoleonic troops*. The 60th Royal American Rifles. The uniform is based on contemporary illustrations reproduced in various books, and was painted as they would have appeared after a period of time on campaign; i.e. somewhat worn.

The Dark green is German Camouflage Green in the Vallejo range; the unit was issued deep blue overalls, but often resorted to the local brown cloth when wear and tear made items unusable. Note all the little details, which I'm quite pleased with, the regimental no on the knapsacks, the silver buttons, water canteens and so on. Fiddly, but worth it.

The models are the excellent Perry plastics, though with only two poses and ten figures I felt it necessary to produce a command element. The left over bits from my American Civil war troops came in very handy here, providing the parts for a bugler and a cavalry sabre for the Lieutenant; now who would that be reminiscent of? Lt. Blunt here would certainly not know!

One fiddly aspect of adding the weapons was the switching of the rifles to the other hand, a job that required some careful trimming and a neat glue job. Definitely one for syringe based glue applicators. In doing this though, I've noticed the hand on the bugle is absolutely gargantuan. Some sort of mutation, not up to perry standards, tut tut ;-)
So what is up next? Well I hope to be able to do some little skirmish games to build up the inertia towards bigger battles in the future. To that end I've divided the rest of two boxes of Perry British into three units; two will be regular British line infantry units of 24 models. The rest of the figures? Here's a preview of what some of them will look like:

*Actually, back in about 1986 I painted a Battalion of Portuguese infantry, as the start of a Peninsula war army; and also at that time the finish. My painting skills as a spoddy teenager, who should have been going out drinking cider and chasing girls instead, were not upto the task; and they ended up being rather charitably bought by someone on a bring and buy stall.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The lake war of 1812

Somewhere on Lake Erie the two forces made headway towards one another...

Actually it was at the Leeds Nightowls; My original game fell through, but as I'd brought a backup plan, we gave the Trafalgar rules an airing.

I quickly knocked up a couple of small fleets, though this is not a speedy task of course when you have to copy out the profile sheets by hand. A small American fleet of 250 points would face a similarly sized British fleet. Broadly speaking the forces were:

America: a 5th Rate Frigate, a Ship-Sloop and an overgunned Brig

Britain: two 6th Rate Frigates and a Cutter

Ross, my opponent, took command of the British; whilst, the day after Independance day I led the American fleet. I sent out my light ships ahead, knowing they had pound for pound more firepower than any one of his frigates. I hoped to lure at least on ship into a trap. As with any game based on warfare of this type though, the wind had the biggest influence on our manouevres.

My brig was able to move behind and savagely rake the enemy cutter with fire, ending it's involvement in the battle. My Sloop however was unable to slow the Frigate on its' own and instead found itself boarded. The short boarding action saw the Royal Navy capture the ship; but choose to leave it uncrewed so they could focus both their vessels on my larger frigate. My Brig came under fire from the trailing frigate and was soon also out of action. I had to commit my flagship therefore, and in a brutal exchange it left one Frigate burning.

Commander Ross decided to concentrate on fighting me rather than the fire and paid the price, when his frigate's powder room (rolled a one on the blaze table and) exploded. The ruins of the ship were no longer a fighting force; had he fought the fire the ship would have been saved.

His other vessel now found that wind and inertia took it away from the fight, and so the battle ended. On the grounds that I could at least retrieve my sloop, I was considered the victor, though it was a bloody victory for sure.

As to the rules, well, they are simplistic, but they are also fast and pretty clearly written, sailing is realistic enough, though shooting seems too generous and brutal at times. This game was followed up by a second one featuring the Americans against Barbary pirates (though not featuring any photos); so we managed two games, with beginner players in four hours. What's more the rules seemed to turn several members of the club onto the period. No bad thing.

Incidentally, as nice as real models would be, I think the 'Pirates' card models look absolutely fine for this sort of game. As their a cheap way of playing too - especially as the club had a box of twenty or so ships in the bottom of a store cupboard!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Final Dwarves

Yep, these are the very last unit I will ever paint for my Warhammer Dwarf army. And that I am rather happy about. It's a unit of Iron Breakers, made entirely of classic metal miniatures sourced from eBay. Some of those chaps are twenty years old!
Lots of great character, though I'm a little disappointed with how the shields came out, not my best work; but as I'm glad to be finished with them, they'll do!

Also I had a Bloodbowl figure from some joblot or other, whom with the addition of a (rather crude) axe, became a Demonslayer, should I ever fell the need to field one of them.

Lastly, for today, a sneak preview of my next project. Can you tell what it is yet? Suffice to say the painting versus buying totals took a big hit recently...

Monday, July 06, 2009

Pickett's Charge Reversed

So I finally got to put my ACW troops to some service a week or so ago; getting myself into the regular monthly Civil War game at Leeds Nightowls.

The rules used were Fire and Fury, which under the guidance of Mark (the clubs de-facto historical gaming numero-uno) seemed pretty straight forward, giving a balance between simple mechanics and command and control nuances.

As the title suggests, the scenario was based on Picketts Charge at Gettysburg; but due to figure ratio's and such like, we had the Union as the ones on the attack instead. Here we can see some of the Confederacy on a slight rise behind lines of abatis.

The layout was actually tiny. Rather too small to my mind, but then I'm used to big tables, and in a busy club environment you get what you can. Still 4'x4' meant that the entire field of battle was packed with troops, my boys taking up the left flank of the attack.

So myself and a young guy called Tom, on my right, set out to achieve what the Confederates historically could not. A tall order I think. We had only 5 turns in which to get across and remove the South from the hill; and so we set off at a breakneck pace, buoyed up by our ignorance of the rules and the belief that so many of our troops being identified as elite must help.
Here Neil, our opposing commander, consults with Mark on the situation as the Union weathers his variable artillery fire to advance:

Somehow, My flank avoided the slaughterous fire of the Napoleons and reached the abatis intact; from there we prepared the enemy with fire for the assault.
In the distance, despite horrific losses, Toms men were still closing with the enemy, and feeling outclassed at range in big guns, Tom was even attempting an 'Artillery Charge' with his token battery; he was determined to get it to canister range!

In the photo above it's literally 'Blue on Blue' fire, there were too few confederate models so we improvised!
Within three turns we were both managing to assault the flanks of the enemy position, and we both managed to hold parts of the hill momentarily. But nowhere could we make the critical penetration; the enemy were too well supported to be moved. For my men, some of them had begun to waver, a regiment can be seen quitting the field below:

And so the attack began to run out of steam; the Confederates began to get cocky and started advancing off the hill, impatient for some action of their own. Tom's artillery charge resulted in one rushed firing of canister before the battery was overrun by greycoats. On my flank the Texans began to enfilade my lines, making my position untenable, and beginning a fighting withdrawal. Neil had every right to a small grin at our expense; his losses were negligible, whilst we had suffered casualties in excess of a third of our men.

All in all a great little game; whilst the American Civil War may only remain a 'side project' for me, the rules made this historical refight excellent fun, and the sight of 300 or so painted figures crammed onto a little table was most pleasant.
Here's to the next one!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

June painting totals

Well, I’ve pretty much reached a stage of having painted everything I had to hand modelwise. I don’t know whether I’m happy about that either, as I will end up kicking my heels without painting to do, or worse, spend money I haven’t got – except in paypal.

The latest items to be completed though are two more units of Union infantry; the 5th Maine, and the 16th New York in their characteristic straw boaters.

I’m glad I re-did the hats in the end, as they look both a lot more like the one photograph I found of them wearing the hat, and they ultimately look much nicer on the models. In general compared to the first two units I painted, these figures are more accurate in terms of how their kit is prepared, with grey or blue covered canteens, brass plates and for the 5th at least, darker uniforms.

So the brigade as it looks now, a tidy little army!

After these I knocked up another unit for my Dogs of War. I managed to get some old Empire plastic spearmen off eBay last summer, though they were not in a great state, they were only about a fiver.

I had to remove their shields and find a way to extend the spears into pikes. The varied thicknesses of the extensions looked horrible so I added the ribbons to the pikes to mask the join. I also had to fill numerous bits of damage to the shield arms, and in one case pretty much rebuild a figure in order to make up the numbers. Only the standard bearer was stock, he looks suspiciously like the army’s paymaster too.

Maybe he’s his twin brother. Anyway, the results are pleasing given the condition of the models.

So the running totals for the year so far are thus:

Bought: 14

Sold: 0

Painted: 134

The problem is I have only around 40 figures left to paint, and many of those I neither need to add to armies, or care to paint.

What next then?