Saturday, 31 August 2013

Building of the Week Large Town House Leven Miniatures

And it's back to Leven Miniatures once again, this time it's HOU01 Large Town House a snip at £2.00 and typical Leven in that it is not the basic box style and as such is an interesting building by itself. I think it's suitable for many periods and theatres. 

The Town House has a passage that runs through the house to the rear so you have some where to put your carriage. Unfortunately the area is not carved out, I assume this is either impossible or the results would not look good so you have to try and paint it so as to look right. This again is a building already painted some time ago but only just added to a base. This last week has been too busy to get the next building finished or the terrain bits I have been playing with.

I have to admit to really liking this building and will be getting another some time in the near future. As you will probably noticed it has been based so as to be part of my town. I expect that sometime in September I will add a shot of the whole town to date which should look something like a town as by then I will have a sizeable group of buildings all done.

Here we have the rear exit from the building which I may add another 60x60mm tile that will make the exit path work better. The painting standard on this one is not as good as I tend to do now but suits a wargames table so no problem really.

I used red and orange to make the brick colour then GW wash Nuln Oil over the bricks purposely applied in different depths to get the changing pattern to the walls.  The tiles had a light dry brush of a lighter grey to bring out the pattern. The whole model would not have taken that long to paint up which is great when you are trying to get a lot of buildings on the table.

Now all I need is a battle that requires loads of buildings, I am sure we can manage that. As well as fighting two of the Hundred Days Campaign we do intend to play a series of linked games based on the Napoleonic wars that we can play out with either side. This was born from Lee's mad idea of having all the nations in 6mm. I am considering the Spanish (early or late) and obviously will build the Prussians beyond Waterloo and still will get the French Guard even if Lee does already have them. Lee is a long way down the road of the Russians so it can only be a matter of time before they take the table and he also turns his attention to another nation, hopefully it will be the Dutch-Belgian's ;-)

Friday, 30 August 2013

Project Waterloo August Review

Before I get into the Project Waterloo stuff just though I should mention that Model Zone at Nottingham closed it's doors for the very last time yesterday. I nipped in whilst there to buy the kids both new shoes (that's £75 I will not see again!)

Anyway I bought my last item, that being one of the 20+ bottles of Vallejo Blue-Green they had for sale. The only other colour being Brown Glaze. To be honest I was underwhelmed by the visit. Prices were between 30-50% off and clearly all the good stuff had already been sold but the administrators were holding to the same discount. It should have been 50% off all items if they hoped to clear some of the goods as 30% was in all honesty more than some of the items were worth which is why they were still left. Of the two staff in, one had a job to go to whilst the other did not so a little more important than my failure to pick up a bargain.

So on to the question of how I am doing Project Waterloo wise? Well it was for the most part an infantry month. I have already posted about the three French battalions I painted up at the beginning of the month but I have also got the all important three Prussian battalions done. These as I type are waiting for their varnish to dry so I can add the flags and call them done. This will either be last thing tonight or first thing tomorrow. Next up will be three Landwehr battalions which will finish off the Ist Brigade of I Corp. 

With that in mind I have been working on the command figures for the army as well. I am most of the way through two army command stands, I Corp commander Ziethen, 1st Brigade commander Steimetz for a total of 13 figures. These will probably be finished either over the weekend or early next week. I will get some of the French command that have been on my desk for so long finished as well as I am in dire need of more command for these.

What else for September? Well I hope to get a couple of Prussian cavalry regiments painted up which should keep me ahead and if the new Baccus are out early in the month will get some of these started.

September will be a bit of a 6mm heavy month as I start off on the Zulu's but I also expect to finish the RAF pilot and I fancy something a little different tonight so will have be playing around a little which will spill over into next month I am sure.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Strange Purchases - Well it is Wargaming

I have been on the look out for a couple of things for wargaming that I have managed to get over the last week but at first glance they may seem a little...........odd.

Wilton Cake Stands?????????
So have I tipped over into Cake Decorating battles? Actually that sounds kind of fun.......

File for the Cake?
Now I have wanted a file for awhile, I was given the tip that using a large file to flatten the underside of bases really speeds up prep time. Got this one from B&Q for about £5, it has yet to see action though that will change over the weekend.

Mythical Columns
I was looking for Columns to be added to my Arena Rex set up as it recommends obstacles and pits to be included in the arena so that you can push other gladiators into these causing damage. Arena Rex have some great looking pillars but they are quite expensive and I thought of cake columns as being a good idea. I then came across these and felt they really fitted in with the fantasy side of the game, what could be better that crystal pillars?

And for scale we have Aquila a 32mm figure.
Each pillar is 7" tall and a pack of four on Amazon was just over £4 so a really good price in my book. I do think they are a little too tall so may cut some in half, I will try them as they are first though. Well first I will base them so that they will be a bit more steady.

Paper playtest figures.
I also have the card player tokens to try the rules with. Once I have tried the rules I should be able to have a good idea which figures I want to pick from the kickstarter and then all I have to wait for is the delivery of the figures. I hope to get a few games in sometime over the weekend with the kids, the rules are simple enough and I think they will like the idea. Not sure I will let them play with the real figures when they have arrived and been painted up though ;-)

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Siege of Newstead Abbey, a Sealed Knot Battle

I finally got to Newstead for the Sealed Knot Muster on the Bank Holiday Monday. The weather was rather hot and the lack of shade did make me wilt a little so it was not hard to spare a thought for all those guys and girls dressed in all that wool and armour not to mention running around all over the place.

My Regiments Standards
As my old Regiment arrived on the field I shouted out very loudly Huzzah for the Guard to bemused looks from the audience and the odd look of pleasure from the Guard. I will admit I was rather proud of the ranks of burgundy that passed before me.

How long?
This is a good indication of the length of a pike, one boy asked his Dad if they were heavy, I had to grin when the pillock replied "No Son, it's just bits of wood" Well sir just to let you know, they start heavy and after thrusting with them for a couple of hours they progress to BLOODY heavy and these remember don't have iron pike heads at the ends like the real ones do. It's amazing how they managed to fight for so long in the real battles.

A packed field
I would say the battle had about 8-900+ on the field and whilst it was not fully packed in the photo above was typical of the view of good chunks of the field. I had taken part in a lot of battles over the years I was a member but had only ever watched a small battle and was surprised at the splendour of the occasion.

Look an open space, let fill it.
These battles are not just thrown together, not only are Regiments and Tercio's given set areas and opponents to fight but throughout the battle the commanders are given orders such as attack or fall back etc. so that for those watching you get to see a battle unfold rather than just a swaying mob going back and forwards.

Forget what I just wrote, this is a push!
However all that comes to nowt when Pike get to close for a push. It's kind of reversed tug of war and from the outside it may look like it's just two bodies meeting at one point and trying to push the other back but it's a little more complex. Not only is the object to try and push them back but also it can be useful to take advantage of the terrain so if your pushing up hill you push hard on say the right whilst the men on the left only push enough to keep the block tight. This gets the push to swing round possibly giving you the hill at which point you try to push on both sides gaining the hills effect and pushing the enemy down. Of course they are also going to either resist this or keep the turn going to gain a 360 change of position. 

Almost always a push ends with one block being pushed to the ground as men trip up and then take down friends with them. I have seen (and been at the bottom) of piles of men chest deep and yes it hurts a plenty.

Guard at play
The Kings Lifeguard is so big that it was split into two formations for the battle, this also being a Guard muster (organised by the Guard) it would have had a really good turn out. Membership of the Sealed Knot is down on it's heyday (when I was in) and even the Guard has not suffered for this but it still has a massive membership and not a few of the members who were in it when I was are still going strong. 

Great news is that you can try it out to see if you like it paying a temporary membership of £10 for a weekend (refunded on joining) and unlike when I was a member this not only allows you access to the camping area and social scene but now allows you to fight in the battle. Honestly it would be the best £10 you ever spend!

Another Push
Throughout the battle you have drums beating, muskets being fired on their own or in volleys and some impressive cannon fire, but it's the smell that really adds the finishing touches. Fortunately it's the whiff of the gunpowder rather than that of the pike block on day II that we were treated too.

Fog? Smog? or Volley?
It's not hard to imagine just how confused a battle could get with all the noise and lack of communication beyond a runner especially on a day with little or no wind. Also consider the fact that today's blackpowder is very much cleaner than that of the 17th Century making the smoke thinner and less prone to hold on to the ground.

Adding to the pollution
We had the Royalist guns retreat to one side of us which gave us a great view of the guns and it was fun to watch them going through their actions, and more fun watching the grass wadding being thrown a good distance away.

Half the Kings Horse
A little disappointing was the number of cavalry on the battlefield. Prince Rupert's had seven mounted whilst Waller's had six. I had hoped we would see double that but the cost of cavalry with gun trained horses is high so it's a limited number of people who can afford such mounts. Still they were very active, if not a devil to snap.

Close Quarters
Not all the fighting was at the other end of the field, as Parliament started to get the better of the day they pushed the poor Royalists back down the hill and the fighting was close to our part of the field. It's just a shame no pushes were being fought at that point.

The best bit was meeting up with my old Sargent (now an officer of his own company) and lots of other old faces. I have been invited to the off season socials and a number of them want to start up roleplaying again so all in all a great day out that was made that bit better by having my family with me and their enjoyment of the day.

Monday, 26 August 2013

New Cutting Map and Making Room

At work we have been making room for extending our office as our team is set to double in a weeks time to four staff, that a quadruple increase in five months! Casualties of this was a partition wall hiding all the shape samples and honestly a lot more crap than you would think possible to hide away. Previously it's been used as a working area for Spray Mount, and design use a LOT of it. Now they have a spray booth and were throwing out a cutting mat that had become rather sticky, not only was I allowed to have it but I was given a bottle of sticky stuff to clean it down.

Yes that is a 28mm figure!
So in less than an hour I had it nice and unsticky. It's had a fair bit of wear but it's still got a hell of a lot of life left in it. Just so you know, this bad boy is 90cm long and 60cm wide. As such it will not come as a surprise that it's a little bigger than the clear area that I paint on. At the point of receiving the board it was a LOT bigger as I had encroached on the panting space with assorted crap mostly associated with the hobby. So a clean up was the order of the day. I literally took everything away and used the opportunity to rearrange a few items.

Yes that is a A4 piece of paper!
The mat actually goes under the draws by about 10cm and I have moved the light forward (it's angled out the way in the picture) having done some painting last night I can confirm the light is much better positioned than before.The positive side effect is that I can now get in the drawers without knocking things flying!

It kind of feels strange now having so much space back but the bonus effect is great, I have more room to line up the figures being painted and that alone seems to speed things up. So a nice upgrade for sure.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Check Your Six AAR - Rommels Lifeline

Rommel was having a tough time of it. Whilst he took turns in taking ground and retreating with Monty with line of supply and quantity of supplies and reinforcements being key it became clear to both sides that every ship that failed to deliver it's precious cargo was another step backwards. Today would see another attempt by the RAF to drive that message home as it targeted a merchant ship chock full of supplies docked and awaiting it's cargo to be unloaded, that most vulnerable of times.

Beaufort Bomber 
I was facing a pair of torpedo laden Beaufort's and it's near twin the Beaufighter also working as a pair. Matt went through the details of the pair quickly making it obvious NOT to get the pointy end anywhere near my planes.  

Take a close look for a clue

I had a pair of ME109's and the rather punchy ME110 going solo. The plan for both of us was simple, the RAF would win if they sank my ship. I win if they don't but plane loss on both sides would temper the victory, simples as they seem to say these days. 

I got off to a good start spotting the incoming planes at the greatest distance possible, then I started to make mistakes as I spit all my planes up and went wide, also Matt showing his greater experience started as high as possible and slowly dived gaining one extra hex per turn for the change in altitude. This is one of those games that greater playing experience can give you the edge, though I am told with some players this just is not the case.

Remember all that talk about NOT getting in front of these things? Not at all the right thing to do by me but I blame it on only having played three games of this up to this point. Of course this is not the whole of the picture, I mean I did have my ME109's

Which brings me to the bigger picture, well at least my pilot in the 109 got to see a close up reason why you do not do this as the 110 turned into lots and lots of little bits after being raked with not a few guns!

At least I knew where the bombers were going allowing me to get behind the bombers but my circular route had allowed them to get close to me ship but I was sending up a lot of flack. My 109's do manage to tag the rear plane taking out the starboard engine.

Not that I got it all my own way as I took airframe damage on one of my 109's. Above you can see one of the Beaufighters coming round to get in on the action, after all he also knows where MY planes are heading.

Matt in an attempt to try and keep me off his planes found himself slightly off course meaning he could not launch his torpedoes for another turn. This would leave him open to yet more AA fire and worse still more attention from my fighters. Matt meanwhile is bringing his fighters round for the next phase.

A few turns and dives later Matt finally can let the fish fly. My AA fire gets a hit on the leading bomber with Matt rolling 12 making it a special hit, I roll seven and we have an engine fire, the crew will need to pass a aircrew test next turn or they are gone.

Meanwhile Matt's fighters are in the perfect position to dish out damage on my 109's but with typical Matt dice style managers to miss much to my relief. 

Now after all the shooting Matt finally gets to unleash his torpedoes and of course keeping in the good old tradition misses with both torpedoes, Ian again breaths out. We called it soon after, the fire did not go out so he lost one of the bombers whilst I was breaking off from the chase so as to escape the fighters. I was bringing both back round to have a go against the damaged bomber but was mindful of the fighters. Instead of playing it through we went for a second game. With the loss of one plane each and the ship safe I felt I had done enough to take that one.

Same situation, but after the effect my AA fire had on the last attack the RAF felt they needed to suppress the flack so sent in 4 hurricanes. Two of these are ground attack with bombs and cannons whilst the other two were choke full of guns. I had the same planes but different pilots and you could tell. The 110 again had a green pilot but one of the 109's also went Kermit. Balanced though by my having an Ace. Matt was mostly skilled but also had a green pilot in the mix.

I did it again but only worse. This time I managed to get in the way of two of the supporting hurricanes with the closest taking out an engine. Unfortunately the second one also got a hit and for the second game in a row saw my 110 not only be the first plate to be shot down, but shot down very near the start.

Matt then went on to tag a 109 (the green one), things were not looking so good for me in this one. I was getting plenty on 10's on 2D6 from my flack but whilst they would be good against bombers, against these smaller faster targets I was just one off a near miss and half damage rolls (3D6!)

My ace though was still in top form and again I knew where Matt had to go. Ace's in CY6 really do have great advantages, they get to move last and their ability to change their orders by two points either way makes them fearful close up. Worse still for their targets they can hit a green pilots plane so very easily. We discussed this quite a bit, the way CY6 plays really gives you a feel for this kind of air combat.

I did manage to take out one of the ground attack hurricanes but it took Matt again rolling 12 and me again getting the seven for another engine fire that Matt's pilot could not put out and down he went. 

Matt's luck remained constant as both the bombs and all the strafing failed to connect with his last ground attack plane running out of ammo. My Ace soon followed suit with his cannons and leaving me with a green pilot in a damaged plane and a ace with two LMG's I knowing the AA guns were safe broke for home.

A success in keeping the guns safe  (through Matt's unlucky rolls) but the cost seemed a tad high. I would give Matt a minor victory in that over the two engagements I had lost or had damaged enough planes that protecting the guns would now be a difficult task.

I think you get a better feel for a set of rules or period at second playing and this is the case here. Not that it changed my opinion but this second playing showed me the nuances that make the rules such a winner. I can see why Matt likes the rules so much and why they have such a following. I have been looking at buying the Russians which is probably the direction I will go in though the Battle of Briton still has a strong hold from many years ago.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Building of the Week - Timber Frame House - Total Battle Miniatures

I know I said it would be the AAR of the Check Your Six games but I forgot I still had to do the building of the week slot. So the AAR is to be done before dashing over to Newstead Abbey for the Sealed Knot battle. 

The building itself is not newly painted, not even painted this year! But I count it as finished this week as I have added it to a base as part of my town. It's the first building of the town that is not a Leven Miniatures building, this one being a Total Battle Miniatures creation. It's next to the bottom of the page on the left Code  6BPBB09U and costs just £3 or £8 if you want it supplied painted.

It's part of the 6mm Black Powder range and I think will fit in well with the other buildings of the town. I will be adding a few more of this suppliers buildings to my town as well as plenty of the leven crop.

On the web site they have it as a red tiled building with most of the building then in a more washed out subdued browns and beige which looks rather nice. When I get wound to buying one or more of these extra I will do at least one in this way.

I really like the garret on the side of the building which gives it an almost fantasy feel. This make used to be my favourite manufacturer and I still like the mix of buildings they supply and being slightly larger in scale than Leven they remain good value though the building's themselves are not as crisp as Leven they have a charm of their own that pegs them over Timecasts more clinical style.

TBM are also not afraid to have a plain side to their buildings, something I do like to see. I have the majority of TBM buildings from the ranges for Black Powder, Pike and Shot and Spanish/Italian but have yet to touch the Russian range which I am fairly sure will change as I add more buildings to the ones I bought at last years Words from Andy Mc.

A great thing about TBM's is the free postage for orders over £20.01 which let's face it is most orders I would place anyway. I do have a rather nice TBM tile that I must paint up soon, I have had that piece since the Worlds as well from a trade with the self same Andy. It would be nice to get it painted with in one year of picking it up but it does not look good for it.

I have been busy painting terrain and buildings this week but with the game Thursday and general feeling of not wanting to do much I knew I would not get a fresh building finished but should make up for it at some point but as I had planned to slot in older buildings after rebasing I don't feel to bad about not getting something finished.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Chatter Behind The Bike Sheds History and Gaming

I got a game in last night against Matt, well two actually. You will have to wait till tomorrow though for the AAR. But whilst at Matt's I mentioned it was the anniversary of the Raising of the Kings Standard which kicked off the First English Civil War. Matt had not realised this which I found odd given his interest in the period and simply being a wargamer.

I should not have as it seems I did him a disservice as I also dropped the historical ball not realising it was also the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth this being 22nd August 1485. Maybe if Charles realised that was the fated day one English King lost his crown, he would have chosen a different day to try and keep control of his! Mind you as Nottingham was to become a Parliamentarian stronghold for the vast majority of the war he would have done well to pick a different location.

As I left Matt's last night I did mention that perhaps we should have played out an ECW game rather than the Check Your Six WWII plane action, which of course got me thinking of the possibilities of playing games linked to actual anniversaries or at least close too. How about that for choosing which periods to play that night. Personally I think that would be really cool and another item to add to the list come the day I win the lottery.

I think most wargamers have more than a passing interest in history and I tend to enjoy blogs that mix games and history together the most so I was real happy when follower number 179 turns out to be one of those types and better still he is just starting off his blog so I can follow from the very beginning. So why not head over to Flintlocks to Steel Pots and see for yourself.

The ECW is my favourite period historically but overall I have cooled to the period wargaming wise and yet have started a new army in 6mm and started to convert my old Tercio army over to FoG:R. I am not at all concerned as we wargamed it to death all those years ago. Now I am looking forward to trying out the new to us rules in 15mm and I have a few ideas on writing up some 6mm rules specific to the ECW itself.

This of course begs the question, "What is my favourite period to wargame?" and no doubt many followers will say Napoleonic's but the truth is not quite so simple. I really like Napoleonic's and think it may be the one for me but Ancients still hold a great deal of attraction with the many sub periods and variety of troop types and look of units. I intentionally ignore WWII and ASL as it's kind of a separate entity as it's a boardgame. It would also rank number one my a country mile so lets not go there.

I like so many other wargames read a lot about the various periods I game but unlike the wargames I tend to stray around quite a few different periods but seem to stick to one for a period for awhile before heading off in another direction. The two periods that have the lions share of my library is of course ECW and WWII though I have only in the last four or five years read books on the pacific theatre of WWII whilst I have books covering pretty much everything ECW. Napoleonic wars has understandably taken a leap forward in the last couple of years, especially the last year. Maybe more of a surprise is the very low number of books on the Ancient period, odd I think for a period that absorbs me on the game table.

So does your book collection dovetail your wargaming interests or have you some oddities?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Ultracast RAF Fighter Pilot Work in Progress

Busy painting away at the 6mm which look to be on track so last night I did a little more on the Fighter Pilot. Having already painted his uniform in the flat colour, Vallejo Field Blue I now needed to set about doing the shading.

The model has excellent detail and a wealth of small and large folds and ripples in the jacket and trousers making the work flow really well. The question though is how did it go? Does it look right? and have I got it close enough to the right colour? 

OK that's more than one question, but why does that surprise? ;-) When I started out I thought this would be a few months project as I can't give it long spells given the amount of work I am committed to already and safe in the knowledge I could take till Christmas. Now I am thinking it won't make it to the end of September allowing me to move back onto my Crimean trio.

Here we have the canvas back of the life jacket which is a bit heavy handed shaded but is a fair copy of the example I have saved so will let that run. Still have the gloves and boots to do which again brings up the dreaded black (boots) but I plan to use Black Grey and black (similar to the hair) followed by a little play with ink post matt varnishing the figure.

I still have the silver of the buckles, the buttons and the hardest of the lot, the braid on the cufts, these will be done in the not to distant future. But do I need to go back to the uniform and do some more work on it? have I enough paint changes on the uniform (I have seven in total between the darkest to most highlighted.

Cath thinks the trousers most of all has too much highlight which I did tone back a bit but is it fine as it stands or does it need more or less tone? I still have the front of the scarf to add but before I do I want to do more work on colour change on that as well. The scarf will be gloss painted in area's post varnish to hopefully give a silken sheen on the highlight points and set it off.

This is how he would have looked in 1940 during the battle of Britain. I like how this picture brings out the shading without letting on if it's been over or under painted, it is NOT greyscale like Curt would do LOL