Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Kings Lifeguard of Foote.

As I have mentioned a few posts back I have started a new project, this being 6mm ECW and I wanted to do the Oxford Army for a couple of reasons. First I have just started to write a campaign set around the Cropredy Bridge Campaign and secondly The Kings Lifeguard is part of this army. I was a member of The Guard when in the Sealed Knot so it is a personal favourite of mine. By the time of the Oxford campaign of 1644 it was a shadow of it's former self but I have taken the liberty of painting it up at it's prime. I have two standards though so I will possibly also do a weaker version of it as well. For the stronger regiments I am adding a third rank of pike, this is possible as Baccus supply the pike and musket in separate packs so  can top up the pike by buying extra packs as needed. The really weak regiments can be represented with less figures just by cutting a few figures off a stand. We are sticking to 60 x 30 bases which will make the conversions easy. Also the plan is to base the regiments at different points on the bases so when they line up side by side you don't get a nice neat line. This I think will give a more realistic look to the battle lines.

The Kings Guard wore a red jacket and are often portrayed in red trousers though I am not so sure this is as factual as it now seems. Certainly after the first campaign you could expect them to be wearing a real mix of trousers given the supply situation and that trousers wear our faster than jackets.

I painted some of the pike wearing back and breast as not all men would have been issued. Some may well have discarded theirs or had become damaged during the campaigns. All the musket are wearing either Montero's, Monmouth Caps or just plain benny hats.

The Kings Lifeguard of Foote was not as it's name suggests a lifeguard for the King but was raised to be a field regiment. Whilst the Kings Lifeguard of Cavalry did have this duty. As the King did not have a standing army when he raised his Standard in Nottingham on the 22nd of August 1642 he had been recruiting from June. The Guard had as it's nucleus from men of Lord Willoughby's estate the bulk of the regiment was originally Lead miners from Derbyshire and further strengthened by recruiting in Shrewsbury and finally with the raising of the Standard would have added Nottinghamshire men. The strongest and tallest men tended to be placed in the pike block which is why it has been assumed that many of the pike were the Derbyshire Miners.
The Kings Guard cut it's teeth at the Battle of Edgehill where it not only engaged in musket fire but did engage in the push of pike. For many a regiment that would have been it's battle but having the Kings Standard (not to be mistaken for their own regimental Standards) it was charged by Sir Philip Stapletons Horse and The Earl of Essex's own Lifeguard of Horse. These were beaten back with some loss to the cavalry, the pike having distinguished itself well. Essex then ordered two regiments of foot and several horse regiments to attack the tertia that the Guard was part of. After three charges from this combined force both the Guard and a couple of other regiments still held their ground, though by this point the musket was seeking shelter of the pike. Only once they were charged from behind did these regiments break and during this the Kings Standard (The Banner Royal) was captured and carried away from the Guard. This was recovered by a Captain John Smith. The Guard had suffered fairly heavy casualties but had been in the thick of the action for a good part of the day. After they recovered their order the Regiment was not sent back into battle, it is possible it was too badly handled to fight further. I suspect it would have lacked powder and ball by this point.
Over the winter the regiment suffered loss through sickness and desertion and was down to 400 other ranks and 100 officers! By the start of the campaign season it was up to about 600 which was about as strong as it ever managed since the heady days pre Edgehill where in numbered over 1000. The Guard became part of the Oxford Army over the 42/43 winter and fought in many actions over the rest of the war never put in as good a showing as at Edgehill though at it's final battle (Naseby) the regiment was part of the reserve and numbered between 3 and 500 men. It was tasked with covering the retreat of the broken Royalist foot and was itself broken and destroyed when it made its final stand. 10 of it's colours were captured that day as was all but a few of it's surviving common soldiers. The Regiment had taken part in many actions during it's time in the Oxford garrison but often not as a whole regiment.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Terribly Obscure A-Z Haitian-French War of 1801-03

Here's one for the Napoleonic Wars fan who wants something a little different. The island of Haiti known then as Saint-Domingue was French controlled but under the command of Toussaint L'ouverture a former slave. L'ouverture seems to ave done such a good job as Governor that he managed to turn around the colony. He was successful in bringing peace to the island, defeated both Spain's and England's attempts at taking control (part of the island was Spanish territory). Further more he turned the colony into a prosperous entity.  Both his sons were being educated in France but L'ouverture had further plans for his homeland and after hunting down the former Governor of the island proclaimed  self-rule for the island. Bonaparte was not willing for this to be so and sent his Brother-in-Law Charles Victor Emmanuel Leclerc with between 25 and 30,000 troops (L'ouverture was known to have over 16,000 troops. Leclerc took along both L'ouvertures sons and their tutor to show goodwill, though the sons were in the end held to ransom! The terms France offered were generous but were not offered a the French landed at multiple points with the intent to take the fight to the defenders. Not all of the 30,000 troops (31,131 all told) arrived at the same time but they still outnumbered the defenders from the start. The islanders had been ordered to demand a parlay and if none were offered threaten to burn the towns and kill the white settlers. This order was followed and the town of Cap-Haitien was set alight and a number of whites had their throats slit as the islanders well back from the town. In just ten days the French had control of all major towns and most of the cultivated areas whilst L'ouverture only had a few brigades left under command. At this point Leclerc informed L'ouverture of his possession of his sons whilst also offering him the position of Leclercs deputy in commanding the island if he would only surrender. This failed to get his co-operation so a combined attack from several different parts of the island finally forced their way into the defenders stronghold and the last towns and forts were captured but not before these were set on fire and the white settlers killed, even the women and children.
The defenders were not yet done and they fell back further into the interior but faced with certain defeat and generous terms all leading Generals surrendered and whilst under house arrest their former positions were granted them. L'ouverture though had not given up and as he watched his enemies wasted by Yellow Fever (as much as 15,000 in just two months) he corresponded with other leaders ordering them to be ready to revolt. Some though were not prepared to fight again and informed on L'ouverture who was then taken to France as a prisoner.

Toussaint L'ouverture

News came back from France that slavery would soon be reintroduced and about the same time another bought of Yellow Fever struck. The black troops had their weapons taken off them which inflamed their anger and were joined in revolt by the mulattos (mixed race from Black and White integration) who had to this point been loyal to France. The French now only numbering 8-10,000 and weak from fever were forced to retreat to the small island of Tortuga, here Leclerc died. Whilst his replacement Rochambeau tried to hold back the revolt it was not looking good. Cap-Haitien site of the original landing was the final position held by the French  and was under siege when the French were finally defeated at the battle of Vertieres. Yellow Fever and the British blockade of French ports were twin allies of the islanders leaving just 7-8,000 French troops alive at the end of the campaign. Dessalines proclaimed the colony of Saint-Domingue  to be the second independent state in the Americas, under the name of Haiti. The Island was finally recognised as free by the French in 1838 when they paid the French 90 million gold-francs as indemnity.

Henri I, King of Haiti
Wargameing the War. Unlike most of the previous  Terribly Obscure this one does offer a good mix of battles, sieges and would work as a campaign if the victory conditions were worked right. The Islanders can not win in the long term and can be expected to loose any early battles due to the French having better troops and larger numbers. Late in the campaign the French have even larger numbers though the Islanders have a better morale by this point. I would suggest points are lost to the French every time the Islanders burn a town and kill the hostages whilst the Islanders lose points based on a time line of leaving villages and towns to early. The battles on the whole should be of about 4 to 6,000 for the French with about 2/3rds  that for the islanders. The last battle has the French listed as 2,000 men facing12,000 a figure I take with a huge pinch of salt, especially as the French had 1,200 killed and wounded to the Islanders 3,200. With 23,000 troops facing 800 they would not have stopped attacking until no French were alive. What I would say is that in the final section of the war the French should be out numbered and very much on the defencive apart from the odd attack column were they try and get a local gain.

The final battle of Vertieres.
Note in the painting above the Islanders are partially dressed in French infantry uniforms, headgear and the lack of gaiters and boots being the biggest changers.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

6mm French Leger Infantry

I painted these guys up before the Baccus weekend (just) but had not got very far with the basing. Well I finally got round to finishing the basing up when I based up two Royalist Regiments for my new ECW project.

This is the first of the Leger or Light Infantry that I will be painting up. Basically it's a breeze as they have blue trousers so that's one less step in painting. Also it was probably the last of the French that will be painted in the old style. I am about half way through painting another 4 regiments under the new style of painting and so far so good. This will give me 9 Regiments of Baccus based on the 60x60 bases whilst all the Irregular are at the moment based on 30 x 60. I have to decide if I will rebase or just add a spacer to the front of the bases. At the moment it's a spacer as I may well sell them long term and convert all over to Baccus but that is plenty down the road.
I added 8 skirmish figures to the base which is possibly to many as they look cramped. I also should have taken off the rear row I think if I do this and would do so in the future. At least then I can add the surplus to a regiment that does not have skirmishers deployed.

Side view of the same unit. Today I bought a flat flesh from Vallejo as the medium flesh is to dark and the light flesh too pasty. The ACW had the flat flesh which I liked the result.

I am really enjoying painting the 6mm at the moment but I will be upping scale to 28mm as I finally get to work on another group of sniper reminders. The catch this time is not only are they actually snipers but they are on larger bases. These will be more terrain intensive. I also hope a figure will have arrived that is 54mm which will be a special project. At the same time I plan to do a bunch more of 15mm that just need undercoating, these have been waiting for me to get a new can as I was not convinced I had enough to coat all 12 and their mounts. After that it's a push to finish off the 20mm project and more 6mm goodness.

Friday, 27 July 2012

New Project Warning!

Not so long ago in the comments someone said something about admiring my restraint. Er maybe you will need to rethink that one. At the Baccus day I bought just a few things, the Foot mini booster pack of 4 regiments and five of each of the light horse as I had already mentioned. Now Lee bought some 6mm ECW just to see how they paint up. Just a pack of Musket and another of Pike. After a night of thinking about it and a train journey chatting about it and come the end of the show I was the proud owner of a ECW English Army and a Dragoons pack (for some reason the starter army lacks Dragoons). Lee also bought the same (so he has more foot with those packs he purchased. Looking at the flags available I conned convinced Lee to go for the Essex Army whilst I was planning the Oxford. I did offer him the choice of taking Royalist in which case I would have gone for the NMA. I would have taken any army (other that a Scottish) to set against what he wanted to do but I liked the idea of going for the Western armies as these have lots of information and a good mix of colours for the regiments. Lee was quick to request coat colours and names for his regiments and as I had these close to hand was able to oblige Sunday night.
Lee had done a little smack talk about starting them straight away, which of course I rose too. Now I have been telling myself I painted the two regiments above up only to put into practise the techniques just learned, but I have my doubts about my motive. Still got the bases to finish, varnish and flag but these babies are close to finishing. These are two red coated regiments and I have a blue coated part way through which is sharing painting time with the 4 French I picked up on Saturday. So it's a 6mm fest at the moment.

I have to admit I am rather pleased we have gone down this route as I can sell some of the excess 15mm units and still keep the rest which puts off the final decision what to do with the bulk of the 15mm. At the same time I can develop the 6mm. Long term I expect to paint up a Royalist Northern Army and if the NMA is still free I will do this as well. The bonus is that the cavalry is multiple use, only the foot and dragoons need to be bought with a mind for set Regiments, though I am thinking about labelling them.

Don't forget the Giveaway (see the post elow) Look to close this in about a week.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Giveaway Again, Giving Back!

Hi there. I still plan on an epic giveaway when I gt to 100 followers but thought I would jump in here with a little giveaway. Well it's more of a giving back as both items up for grabs were given to me at the Baccus Gameing Day. Talking of which I have planned to do a report on this but other than possible set of pics later I will point you to a blog I planned to pimp but he pimped me first. Anyway God's Own Scale has a great post on the Sunday so I leave it to him to give you the low down here

For me the day went in a bit of a whirl. First up it got to 4PM faster than I would have thought possible given we were there for pre 11am! The games all looked good but for me the best part and part I was very intent in taking part of was the painting clinic. Well every time I looked at it all four seats were taken but at long last I got a turn. This is ran by Mark and Ian who have different styles and tricks so it was great to get tips from both of them. I think my standard of 6mm painting is good but it is slow, way slow. So the idea of speeding it up and not losing too much on the quality was top of my agenda. As Sean states he spent 30 mins at the table and it was the most useful 30 mins at any con. I have to agree, though I was there for about an hour with a reasonable amount of down time.  The basis of this is to prime the figures in the dominant colour and work back. Also you repeat the same action on the whole unit which is on just the one strip.

This was my effort, that of a ACW Union base. Sorry for the pic but that was the best of the ones I took. Below is a close up all in focus. With more time I would have painted the brim hats a different colour and a few other things but speed wise I would not have lost out to much. Using this style I think I could speed up and get the 24 figs painted in 20-30 mins start to finish. Naps in under an hour.

I have to say I was rather pleased with the result. The final stage is inking with drawing ink (nut brown) I have a bottle on order! The figures have been varnished and put on a 60 x 30 base but not textured, nor flags added. As I mentioned before I don't do ACW so this is item one up for grabs.

Anyone wanting the 6mm ACW just leave a comment stating you want them, you can enter both draws.

I won this figure in the raffle, a Barbarian cast in resin. I have to say that it is a clear and crisp cast (the face is great, you can see both the teeth ad the tongue!) and whilst I would enjoy painting it up I feel it should go to a better home.

He is a limited edition of 300 and the packaging is signed by the owner of the company as authentic.  Again just put a comment if you want it.

In both cases you need to be a follower to enter so if your not and like the idea, well join up. Then it's the final push to 10 where you get to go for one of a couple of prizes I think will be of interest to many a gamer.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Baccus Open Day

With the mixed aids of satellite navigation and the great picture heavy directions provided by Peter we turned up at Baccus HQ about ten minutes before kick off. As we climbed out of Lee's car a lonesome soul enquired if we were here for the Baccus Open Day. Well me being the type I am and the other guys open friendly face just demanded the guise of ignorance, soon foiled when I asked if we looked like wargamers! Lee, Cath my wife and I had travelled the fairly short distance to the HQ in a little over 30 minutes so it's fair to say we were local, I think the furthest away anyone travelled was from Luton.
Not knowing what to expect but knowing it would be both interesting and fun we trooped in and the first imprecision was how small it was. OK I never expected it to be large but compact would be the way a Estate Agent would describe it. Space and set up though allowed the whole group good access (about 10 of us) and the whole tour was comfortable. The first thing we were charged with (after being given our brews) was doing the whole AA meeting bit. "Hi my name is Ian I have been a gamer since...." The striking thing was how many of the people there were normal, you would not pick them out in a crowd. Two none combatants were there out of the group though Cath was there more through her own interest in the process than just to make numbers up which showed as she asked questions and paid very close attention. Peter was both informative and entertaining in the right measure and was a joy to listen too. He has obvious passion for what he is doing and pride in his achievements.

So first impressions post the size of the workshop. The moulds, and they have a lot of them. Again had no idea what they would look like but they are well big. Then it's the lack of obvious machinery, no banks of boiling lead, no big boxes covered in flashing lights and churning noises. This could be any small workshop but just as easy a Taxi Cabs office! The thing that gave it away was the display cabinets of painted figures and the figure racks ready for the next show. Now don't take from these words that any kind of feeling of disappointment or let down, just one of anticipation. Kind of you know the magic trick is about to be performed but you have no idea on how it will be done, or really on who.

Once the AA meeting side of it had wound up Peter then gave us a potted history of Baccus that is well worth repeating. Peter was made redundant in the 80's version of today. He somewhat like me did not want his brain turning to mush and like me he was off for quite a long time so he started to make buildings in the scale so close to his heart. So one great looking building would take up to three weeks to make and then when he turned up at a wargames con trying to sell these 25mm gems he would be offered way below what it was worth to make. He just could not command a fair price for the buildings, no one questioned the fairness of the price but especially then, wargamers are tightwads on the whole when it comes to terrain and buildings (my words not Peters). Next he looked at making Masters instead of sale pieces. Then make and sell resin versions of them. He ran the cost's and still they would be too expensive. So he dropped the scale to 15mm, ran the costs, still too expensive. OK how about that new scale 6mm (grimace grimace) and sure enough finally he came up with a scale that could be made, sold at a price we would pay and still make something of a living off.

These are some examples of the buildings and fortifications Baccus produced. Whilst Peter was a die hard 25mm wargamer and this to an extent went against the grain he knew he had a product he could sell. One thing he was more than a little taken back was in some cases the outright aggression he was greeted with when he started to show the pieces at wargames cons. He was sharing space on Wild Goose trade stand and indeed running the stand for the owner. Peter suddenly had the polarisation that 6mm can cause brought to his attention. Some time later he worked with a figure producer who offered to make 6mm figures to compliment his resin models. This worked for some time but the quality and standard of quality control were not up to the standard Peter felt was acceptable. The long and the short is that Peter tried his hand at sculpting and discovered his skills went beyond the buildings so he created his own range getting someone else to turn the Masters into moulds and started to supply his own range. As this became more successful he sold off his resin designs and took on the whole creative procedure from figure sculpting through mold manufacture to sale of figures.

From here Peter took us to the actual figure production area, so what follows is the full process from Figure Sculpting to final production. I will go picture heavy saving you from as much written word.

Masters or Greens as they are also known. The three shown here are 54mm, 25mm and a real life Baccus 6mm. These unlike the plastics have to be done the exact size you intend the finished figure to be. So any detail you see on a figure, that is what the sculptor has done at the size shown! Can you guess what the figures are standing on?

This is the vulcaniser that is used to make the moulds. Either Master Moulds or regular production ones. Peter is pointing at one of the hot plates, these heat the rubber mould sections to 150 Celsius whilst the bottle jack below put the mould under intense pressure.

Here you see the whole machine with the bottle jack below. The pressure is so intense that it often smashes the Green so it is very often a one shot attempt to get this stage right. Whilst most figures break up in the process they maintain their integrity whilst under pressure so you still get a perfect Master Mould. The cooking process lasts for a couple of hours in which time the mould material goes from a flexible mouldable rubber to a somewhat fixable but rigid pie. The mould is made up of two of these discs and whilst under all that pressure and heat they do not become joined together. Brass studs have to be inserted in one of the mould sections so that the two halves can be lined up perfectly.

Here is the Green that was in a previous picture and a cast figure from the mould that is made from the Master Mould. Once the Master Mould has been created channels have to be cut in the mould for the lead to run from the centre where the lead is poured to the figure itself. This is a important task and one that if done wrong means the mould will be scrapped and if the master broke up in the process, well back to the sculpting table! Add to that you have about ten minutes to get this done, after that it is very difficulty to cut the mould as it has taken on it's new properties. The mould is then tested and if all went well a number of sample spins are done so that the very best casts can be selected for making a second Master Mould. This is a requirement for any figures that are produced in strips as the strip base needs to also be made. This is often done with a material such as miliput. The whole vulcanising stage has to be gone through again (but at least you now have the master mould if things go wrong). Once this master mould is made then the process of casting a number of samples is done again. The very best are selected and at last a production mould can be generated. Yep repeat the process and remember at each stage if the channels are not cut well or fast enough then it's thrown away and the stage needs repeating. Nick the caster told us that each mould has it's own character and to get the best results from a mould he may have to spin at different speeds, use lead at different temperatures or even spin the mould in the reverse direction. Notes are written on the moulds with the strangest requirements!

This is the main casting machine. It seems to be a very basic piece of kit and indeed it works on a basic system but is rather clever for all that. The hatch is up showing the wheel that spins the mould. Note the pouring hole in the lid.

The mould is held in place by three clamps (look to the left of the pic for the top half). The bottom half of the clamp is a weight. The act of spinning the mould forces the weight to move outwards forcing the clamp in place and holding the mould tightly together. So simple yet very effective. Nick cast a number of times to show us the procedure. The use of simplistic equipment and time saving techniques like the self clamping really make casting up a set of figures really quick. Nick tends to run off three moulds at a time. The idea being that by the time he has taken the figures out of the mould, QC'ed them and reintroduced the waste lead to the pot the moulds are ready to be used again for any more figures that are required.

Keeping with the simple solutions, This is a pic of the melting pot. The temp can be changed to suit the job. Peter mentioned that the lead they need to use to cast 6mm is different to that required for larger figures as it needs to run finer. And yes it does say 305 degrees C!

Here you can see the melting pot in full. The wooden handled tool is a ladle that has just the right amount of lead in to do the job. A massive amount of lead is wasted in the process of casting though this is recycled and added back to the pot. Rejected figures can be seen sitting in bins as well as lines of lead from the runs in the moulds can be seen waiting to be re-added to the pot (which is an induction coil). Whilst the area looks a mess this is the type of waste that is created which is then swept up and reused in a drop of production. The more successful they are in the capture of waste the better the chance if keeping their products competitively priced. Something they seem to have managed to do so far.

Peter is holding a master mould, the studded part is the top. Do you recognise now what the Greens were standing on? Note the ring showing in the mould that is on the inside of the figure sections? On creation of the mould a metal ring is placed in the centre. All channels then have to be cut from the centre to the ring and from this to the base of the figures. Note no exit runs, the air is forced out by the metal and yet the metal does not follow leaving the figure crisp and for the most part lacking in flash.

Some of the moulds that Baccus use to produce the ranges. Not all of them but most moulds just have a single figure pose so if you think that the range they offer they have to have rather a lot of moulds.

Yes a lot of moulds and this is not even close to all of them!

Breaking ground. You want your limbers and guns to be all in one cast, open spoked wheels? Well here they are. Some ranges will now need no assembly of parts. This has taken three years to get from concept to production as it has been a very difficult task. Figures normally go from concept to customer ready in nine months IF the project is not held up by other ranges or problems. The re-tooled Macedonian range is now available as of Sunday. This had a three month delay due to issues with the pike not forming up to the required standard. This is what makes Baccus what they are. If it is not up to standard they will not release it.

This wooden box has the new not yet in production items waiting for the next stage. Don't bother trying to blow it up to get good detail, I have checked and it's not worth it. I just wanted to tease.

Another surprise was that apart from show stock they do not keep stock on hand. This means your order is cast to order. What makes this possible to do with the fast turn round is how the moulds are made up and working with the pack sizes they have developed. Even so if you purchase a 10 regiment booster pack at a time no one else does the command element will have over half the figures cast sent back to the melting pot! Each mould has 24 stands  per casting. The moulds themselves also last for about three years before Baccus renew them. Again this helps keep the figures crisp. The French Line Infantry and a few others have two moulds for the code, the rest just the one mould which says something about the popularity of French Naps.

The whole afternoon was really good. Cath who was interested in the process also enjoyed every minute of the day, she even came home with one of the old worn moulds which the kids were fascinated with. Peter will be running the open days again and if you get the chance then I can not recommend it enough. Thanks to Peter and Nick for a great experience, one I would have been happy to pay for. On the day I just left with a few reinforcements for my Naps, the Baccus Game Day the following day it was a different matter but more on that in a future post.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Baccus Open Day Is Upon Us

As I mentioned a few posts back, Baccus are having a open day and Lee and I have plans to go. Barry also was coming along but through a bit of a mix up on dates was committed to something else. Cath mentioned she would have been interested in the casting side of things so rather than let a place go to waste I was quick to offer her the chance to go see. This is great from the view point that she has been very supportive of my return to the hobby but what if she starts to pay attention to the financial side of things? Now many of you may well be aware that for the last 11months since my return to wargameing I have been set on NOT spending a single penny on this hobby. Er well not true, what I should say is not a single penny of MY OWN! Christmas and Birthday money get thrown in a pot and used to help out. Also I have sold items of my own t help out, such as the armour and some electrical test equipment. However all these funds have been soaked up with paints, brushes sprays and er the odd miniature. I have also been given two armies from rather nice guys and my sniper reminders have kept me honest. So I am rather proud that I can go along to the open day, spend some money and still not have used a single penny of my own.

I also mentioned a few posts back that I planned to paint up a few units of Baccus figures before the big day. I have managed to paint up a pair of Chasseurs Regiments and started work on a foot regiment that whilst not finished will be plenty close as can be seen in the background. I also obviously went through my Baccus bag to see what I need to buy. I still have another five or so regular Regiments of foot and about the same of Grenadiers. I have skirmish elements for three times the number I think. I had the two regiments of Chasseurs and four of Cuirassiers  as well as plenty of Artillery and Generals. I then went over to the Baccus site and checked what comes in the army pack to make sure I was right with what I had left as I had bought the basic army pack and a bunch more stuff back at Derby last October. What surprised me was the quantity of such as the Cuirassiers running at four regiments when the Hussars and Chasseurs only get two and these were the most numerous in the actual armies. I guess it's a sign of the wargames desire to field the flash and not the typical of the period. So I now have my list, a pack of French Chasseurs, Hussars and yet more Infantry. These should keep me going until Christmas and the next hobby related injection.

So roll on tomorrow afternoon, Sunday will also see me at the Baccus Games day in Sheffield, so it's a good weekend for me.

Napoleonic Rules Test Game

Oh the joys of writing rules. Must e something in the air as Big Lee is also writing a set at the moment here, his though are Gladiatorial. The rules seemed to have much of what I wanted but at the same time I knew I was missing large chunks that would jump out once they were actually used in a game. Hence the need for a few solo outings to protect my pride.
Well sure enough I found a plenty that needed tinkering with. Whole sections that I knew I needed to include but had not put to paper etc etc.

As I was not playing proper like, I had not made up unit details so used counters from ASL to represent the three key values, fighting strength, cohesion and morale. I wanted the shooting to be somewhat effective whilst the melee to be bloody as that is how I feel Napoleonic wars to be. Above was the first clash, two similar cavalry units each coming into contact. The one on the right landed a turn earyier and against form the Prussian Hussars are besting the French Hussars. The yellow beads represent loss in cohesion.

Better news for the French to their left as through firepower alone the Prussian Landwehr are forced to surrender the hedge to two French regiments. This was down to first firing on the hapless fellows followed up with a taste of the bayonet. Turns are based on the controlling players selecting a Division or Brigade from the none activated rosta and trying to win the initiative. The successful player then gets to move that formation before both players then getting to select a formation to activate (the just activated now is not part of the unactivated rosta). If the losing player keeps with the failed formation he gets a bonus for that formations attempt. This runs until all formations have either been activated or both sides pass.

The attack by cavalry on the village was rather mixed. The Dragoons on the left were repelled whilst the right and forced the foot away from the villages outskirts. If I had hit the village with the Hussars both unit would have been probably been repulsed. Foot in defencive positions are more likely to stand by a great deal than foot meeting horse in the open and not in square. In fact I would be surprised with a foot regiment keeping any kind of order on such a hit, the dice would have to be stone cold. Possible but almost certain to fail. The rules really reward the use of cavalry to pin regiments in square and foot to break them or foot to make square difficult and cavalry to smash them. How ever charging well formed squares with cavalry would be a painful experience.

With the cohesion in tatters the French Hussars break and run for it. Not that the Prussian Hussars are in a great condition. This is where falling back and reforming would be a good idea. Cohesion is somewhat more than just order and disorder. Disorder can be recovered fairly easily, cohesion is far less easy to regain and can not be fully regained within the scope of a battle.

A nice volley of musket and the already wavering Landwehr break and run for their lives. The attacker has the option of shooting and fighting as one or attacking with two lower odds attacks. Having only a partial frontage reduces firepower dramatically.

Winning a melee is fine but if you lack reserves the unit may well lose the next round of combat to a fresh enemy. The Prussian hussars are about to be broken but the French would then be facing fresh Ulans, not a confidence inspiring thought.

Last of the infantry in the village start to suffer. A second charge by the repulsed cavalry starts to pay dividends. But with the two Ulan and one Hussar regiments between the farm and the village this could be a stalemate.

I left it at this point, happy in that the rule ideas stood up fairly well in a mini practise. Plenty more work required and some rather obvious gaps filled. I think I have enough here to work on further and if they shape up should work well for small to large actions with fairly low paperwork.

Mistakes I did make was making the cohesion too high. Units that fail the cohesion more than by two levels need to rout, if only for counter density! Failed morale results in cohesion loss, as does straight reductions through the melee and shooting charts. I think I will just keep the one bead on the unit to show cohesion issues but have a side note of all units strength, cohesion and morale states. All units will have rear labels that show it's regimental number and starting details making it easy to check up. Next up will be a better prepared mini battle with more units and the order rules fully included so here is hoping for good results and a fun fast game.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Rebased and Ready

As mentioned in a previous post I have been putting in a fair bit of effort into rebasing my ECW. I now have finished all the Foote regiments and made a start on the cavalry. Just five Regiments of Horse done so far and no guns or dragoons. The bases arrived so I can get these done when I get into doing more basing.

Four Regiments of New Model Foote and part of the original Essex starter army I bought, which was the first proper wargameing figures I bought for myself. Two regiments require new Standards.
Close up of two of the Regiments along with my single Scottish Foote Regiment. These need a Standard as well. The original army came with many of the musket wearing Lobster Pot helmets and all have musket rests, both major errors, such was the knowledge and inaccurate state of play then.

I enjoyed setting them up for photographs, though I look forward to trying out the FoG:R rules a little more. I expect them to flop in regard to ECW which could mean a total write up of a set of rules. I like the idea of a card driven set something like Maurice even though I do not own those rules.

More units either requiring Standards attaching or repainting due to extended Georges. All the figures in the foreground were figures that I have bought pre-painted and for the most part will be the ones that will be sold to buy castings to paint up for a new army.

Close up of my favourite pre-painted unit and the one most likely to remain after selling up the old stuff. Until the rebasing it has always has a high gloss finish. Looks much better with that taken away.

I will be seeing Lee on Saturday and I am sure we will discuss the ECW/TYW project at some point and equally sure we will not come to a conclusion LOL. 10mm is still a possibility but I would have to paint up a few units before committing to such a project.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Impetus Command Stands

OK I know Impetus does not use command stands, the commander is with the unit, but that's how Barry and I roll. I wanted to take advantage of other blogs ideas and one that I liked and has been done in a fair few places was round command stands. Now I was not going to cut a roundish one out so had to order some from Warbases. These arrived on Friday so I quickly set to. I still need to varnish them (later today) and then they will be added to the boxes waiting for the army to be completed. I have five more bases with plans to make two more bases up when I do more troops.

You have seen these guys recently, but now they are finished! I thought the base was going to be a little bit to small but in the end i think it looks just right.

I like the flow of the figures and felt they painted up without any trouble or stress. The detail is nice and crisp, just look at the grain in the shield.

I know you have seen Mr. Dolphin before but here he is in all his glory supported by his bodyguard.

The last Command base and rather colourful shields they all have. The last two command stands be a Elephant and a Light Horse, this should give me a nice mix. It also gives me three spare round bases which I have already got a few ideas for.

It's been a week of getting really. The HaT light horse I got a few weeks back that had the wrong items in (each had just the one correct sprue) had the replacements delivered. I asked to keep back the two correct sprues and sent back just the wrong ones. The E-bay shop has sent me full boxes back in replacement which was very nice. These being GB Models, Liverpool. I fully recommend them as they were great and quick with their response's and were quick to offer to pay postage cost to me (not required as the box remained unfranked).  I also got 16 WWII figures from Black Tree Design so I need to get busy with these sometime soon.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

It's Only A Game?

Tamsin ran a piece on her blog yesterday about Battlefront and Slitherine both releasing news that have already caused a great deal of negative feedback for both companies. Of the two the worst on the surface seems to be Battlefronts so I will deal with them first.

They spend about $250,000 on official tournaments and plan to double the expenditure in the next year. Now in general figure games company levels this is a huge amount of money, more turnover than many make in a year! However BF I am sure it's more than a drip in the ocean but it's affordable. Now they have made the decision that at official events (the ones they pay for) they will ban any none official figures or models. There is plenty of reasons back and forth why this is both OK and not OK but sticking with the business side of things. The idea is that by using only official models that BF will somehow re-coup some of the money they shelled out for the competitions. Well this especially makes sense if the players with unofficial models then go out and buy replacement models, paint them up and continue to partake in official events. But it seems that some of the army lists have models not yet (or ever?) supplied by BF. So in this case the player would have to either switch lists or go for a replacement unit that was not quite as good. Suddenly it's both a financial hit and a capability hit, plenty of reasons to get upset. Now this brings about a new set of wrinkles. Imagine over the last six months several super armies have been carving up the table, you know the score it's in every army list and tournament, there is always one of these armies. OK we know about them and we deal with it the best we can, most often the answer is to build the same type of army yourself. Now imagine if that army happens to involve using a lot of none BF miniatures and vehicles. Close inspection of the winning armies will show BF not leading the way in making all the required parts for the puzzle. Whats more BF would be forced to advertise the fact on their Forum, owned wargames magazine etc etc. Rather a home goal. But have you thought about the other side of that. They have knowingly generated lists that use parts they do not supply. One could say well that serves them right but I say good for them in not limiting what is available in a historically correct formation just because they have not done a model for it. However their handling of the whole thing shows a sudden and uncharatistic change in PR. Given their high media release of version 3 of the rulebook and the give away of the paperback version, customer care and positive attitude has been up to this point top of the agenda. Once the backlash started I would have expected a short statement to try and cool things down followed by reasoned points and a possible even probable change of heart that would have been spun to be a caring and compassionate company. Instead they are being compared to GW in all the bad ways and what ever now comes from the situation they are not going to look good. Who ever at BF turned into a keyboard warrior he or she may well need to be looking for another form of employment. I have said before on this blog that to many of the wargame companies are not Retail Professional and as such make major gaffs and often are surprised when they explode in their faces. Often taking personal affront at customer complaints or negative comments. More than anything regarding BF it's not the decision to ban none official product from their tournaments it's the reasons given and response to the negative feedback. When up to your neck in crap, stop digging.

Field Of Glory V2. I can almost hear Slitherine boss saying, "Quick lets tell everyone the new rule book will be released only in none printable form requiring a computer, it's the perfect time to let it out as everyone is laying into BF". If so congratulations as at first brush this is small news in comparison and with the hype BF is getting it's going to be buried. However I disagree. First the response on Tamsin's sight that it saves them having to find a publisher. Err, Osprey print the stuff for them, they have their own press. I can't think of any reason they would not want to do so except...
Have you seen e-bay? if not take a look at Amazon whilst your at it. FoG Version 1 has to have been one of the best selling rule systems ever released for figures given the shear number of copies of both rules and lists on the market and at prices that mean Osprey can't be selling many copies of what they are holding. The idea that they are doing it this way to stop us photocopying the rules is so flawed. It would be cheaper to buy a copy than it would cost in ink and paper to reproduce. £25 for the Rulebook from Osprey why make a copy? I wonder if they expect sales to be so poor that they do not want to do a large print run. I also wonder if they realise that making a electric media only version available makes them more likely to loose tournament event slots and market share? Imagine if it also gets bad reviews? No they should worry about software copying and a cold shoulder effect of players sticking to V1 and the probable split that will cause between those that have (V2) and those that don't. Imagine the scene at a tournament, two players both needing power for their tablets (not to mention the extra space) X tables in play. Imagine the fall out as these things start to get stolen dropped or fail through lack of plug sockets! V1 players become reliant on V2 players who have a rulebook or even V2 players who are loath to bring the tablet etc. with them. Bad image. I am not against a living rulebook, in fact it's much better than sticky errata that is the other option but I do feel hard and electric should be available and expect Slitherine to respond in such a way. I play friendly games but still want a rulebook both sides the table, I don't want to see a net book both sides the table!! to many other distractions. Hands up who likes playing someone who is constantly checking e-mails and the like. I thought so.

Something to remember, after all the shouting and nay saying most of which is from people who have no horse in the race in both cases it will settle down and what will be will be. BF will not be as harmed as I think they should be by dreadful PR but Slitherine are the ones who could loose out the most, Impetus is gaining er Impetus and that's something Slitherine needs to keep in mind, especially after a fairly poor response to their Napoleonic rules.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Design over effect?

You know the score, you and a mate turn up and lay out for x points for each army. Terrain gets put down with each player vying for best placement based on what troops you or your opponent field. How many times have I tried to put difficult terrain between me and the other guys pikes. Well apart from both fielding the same number of points each this in a fashion is what happened in the real deal. But the equal points has been set in stone for years, after all it's no fun playing someone who outnumbers you, has the best terrain and will smash your army. The only question is how long will it take them? But recent rules seem to be playing with this a little. Polemos Napoleonic rules have variable force make up for the battles. It can supply some interesting situations where you are not well matched but in most cases you still have a fair chance to win. But sometimes you get a dog of a army that is going to get crushed. Problem is, if like me you only get a game every now and again you won't ever want to wast a night playing a game destined for the toilet, even as the stronger side.

First FoG playing last December
However you can have fun fighting historical battles if they are balanced to give a good game without you having to win the battle to win the game. I do it all the time in ASL, every scenario it has been attempted to make it equally winnable by both sides. I have won scenarios with just a single squad in good order facing 10+ squads all ready to grind them up. We do get this kind of scenario with figures but the hard fast practise of playing with similar numbers and the winner is the guy with the least number of destroyed, broken or disrupted units makes it difficult to see the other guy as the winner. Scenarios that have last player to hold x position is the winner is the easiest to use unbalanced forces. Another good idea is the steady drip feeding of extra units into the battle (especially if neither side know when their reinforcement's are coming on).

Campaigns are an excellent opportunity to pit unequal forces against each other. Sometimes the force difference is constant, whilst other times the mouse can become the cat. The campaign of Montrose in the ECW is a great example. He often faced larger armies in Scotland but managed to defeat most of them. It's how you would control the game to give Montrose a chance. Restricted movement of the enemy works but only if good reasons are given. Lets face it "you have twice the number of units he has so you can only move half of yours each turn" does not cut it. When a scenario is based on a real battle, this is often the biggest challenge. In many cases their is a good reason one side won and not the other. Good Generals rarely find themselves having to trust to luck for their victory. At the same time not all that many Commanders send their troops into battle expecting to loose, yet one side must.

So historical battles, first you need to pick something that either gives both sides a fair crack at the whip even if one side has less troops or you need slanted VC's. A points system works well with this kind of idea. The disadvantaged side gets say 1.5 points per broken enemy whilst the favoured just gets a single point. If the weaker side gets ahead you could see all kinds of manoeuvres to remain in the lead, whilst the weaker side falling behind could also see very aggressive play from the weakling whilst Goliath suddenly starts to back peddle.

Maybe next time you are thinking about a nice balanced game, think again.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

20mm Numidian Infantry for Impetus

Got these finished off Monday night but no chance to get Cath to do the pics until today as I had the table set up for a few game of ASL for yesterday and only cleared it back this morning. I have a total of nine units with a minimum of 8 required so it's possible I will do a few more at a later date. Now all I need to do is the Elephant unit, Roman light horse (deserters) unit and at some point get round to the skirmish elements. I have three command stands painted but just need the bases from Warbases to arrive which were ordered on Saturday so should land in the next day or three.

Here is the first six units. I have based 6 figures to the base as they are lights. My Roman Axilia are based 12 to a base which was er..... full.

This time I added more bits to the bases, discarded shields and spears, the odd bit of tree, oh and the odd dead body.

Having already thrown down his shield as he ran away to speed up his progress he still seems to have not ran fast enough.  The figure was a spare from my Roman box. Just cut him off the base and shaved his side away at an angle so he would roll onto his left knee. The only limb not touching the grass is his left hand, this I have added a bit of blood so that it looks like before dying he had touched the wound.

For balance sake I also killed one of my guys. I had to do a bit of arm bending etc. to get the dead pose about right. Shaved a chunk off the back as well to get him to lie flat.  Many of the figures where possible have had arms bent into new positions etc to give a more varied range of poses. A standing version of the dead dude had his shield cut away from his body and arm bent so that the shield is in front of him. Overall very happy with what I achieved.

This Roman was quick on his feet!! Fighting for the Empire seems to have lost it's attraction, got to be worth a few mods in the game  ;-)

It's hard to see here but the spear has been glued just as it hits the grass between the feet of one of my men. So the Romans also are poor shots, that's another dice off their shooting quantity, looks like I have a chance...........

I felt a mix of Numidian based and Carthaginian designed shields as these guys had fought under Carthage and it's quite reasonable that they would get to either take some of that kit or reproduce it when home. Besides it gave me a lot more choices given that all 60+ figures have a shield! The Goddess Nubia features a fair bit which from the research I did is about right.

It was a fair bit of fun coming up with some of the shields but the overall result breaks up the units even more so you get that irregular loose look I wanted.

I also added a few Zebra skin covered shields for effect. The guy in the middle shield design came up a lot on the searches. Not sure the meaning of the arrows with the two different sized circles are supposed to mean.

I also added grape stalks as fallen trees to some of the bases (left to dry for 2-3 months minimum) these I have had 6+ months and look to be the perfect answer to the scenic requirement as they work from 6mm to 28mm based on the use and part of the stem used. Also I went with lush meadows rather than the barren look as at this point in time Africa was still a green and pleasant land (well Numidia was anyway).

Still plenty of guys with goat skin covered shields in this lot. I have a few units of just goat skin shields with others mixed in with the other shield types.

This is the shield I am most proud of. It took a number of attempts. Such a simple design but you need to get it just right or it looks crap. This is for one of the command stands so still is glossy from the army painter (did not put AP on any of the shields).

I would say sorry for being picture heavy but I would be telling fibs, besides Cath took 61 pics so I had to use some of them!