Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 29 November 2014

More Mansions of Madness Figures

I painted up eight figures from the original boxed set in the 3rd Annual Painting Challenge which were a lot of fun to do and so different to anything else I paint. So on a visit way back in April during a visit to my friends I saw he had bought two of the expansions so offered to paint them,

There they say for months until the shame got so bad I finally got them out and started to paint them up. The shame only got worse as I painted them up really fast managing between one and two figures a session. Photo's taken before base clean up or varnishing as I wanted to send images for him to check they were OK,

The only change was the blue shoes being changed to brown as they just did not work. On varnishing them the paint on the far right figures trousers reacted to the varnish (or the other way round) causing a white residue (clouded varnish?) to form, but just on the trousers. So these needed a quick repaint before sending off to their owner.

So these are off in the post along with posting out my Secret Santa and Santa Clause parcels. Really pleased with what I got sorted for my targets this year and hope they go down well.

Talking of these two Christmas delights, I am told by The Gaffer that both of mine have arrived and are awaiting the tree to be put up. So to both of you many thanks and I will see how good I was come Christmas day.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Popular's in all scales

I needed some Popular trees for my Hougoumont setting, these will go on a separate board that will run along side the complex opposite to the ornate gardens and these seemed to good to be true.

Well they are reasonable and excellent for the price costing me just £2.99 for all twenty and the 15 not used on the base (I need more of the small ones) will get based up and used in 15, 20 and 28mm gaming.

How they can make it pay when they are posted from China I just don't know. You can find them on ebay here. Not sure if they are available to other countries but I would expect so, especially if your closer than we are.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Building of the Month - Hougoumont Leven Style

OK this is the one I have been waiting for, yes I give you Hougoumont from Leven Miniatures. This is not yet released but it will be soon. Due to the large number of pieces it will be cast to order so at least you will not have to wait for Mike to build up stocks. 

The set has ten buildings in total though two are cast together, eight larger wall sections and two lower wall sections and of course the well. Final price is yet to be disclosed but I believe it will be around £35 for the set though the buildings may also be sold individually if you want to create other farms and such.

I think this is very reasonable for the amount of resin you get and the detail as you will see from all the photos is excellent. Take a look at the grey roof tiles and you will see what I mean!

It's been about two weeks worth of hobby time all told but that was to paint up two sets so I would say 10 days would cover it. I have yet to finish the ground work on Mikes set as I wanted to try out the shale in the inner courtyards and did not want to risk ruining two sets.

Rather than sort the images taken by Cath I thought I would just add them pell mell and the devil take me. I even planted a vegetable garden though by the time of the battle I am sure the contents would be in a lot of stomachs but that's my licence.

In some of the images I saw a garden out front and it was impossible to resist so a big splash of colour has been added.

The Manor House is an excellent building and I suspect many more of these will be sold as a single item and given the crisp detail rightly so. I have a couple of the already available Manor Houses from the Leven Napoleonic range to paint but can see me adding this one as well. Can't have too many can you?

All of the buildings can stand alone or be added to larger bases so it's great news that Mike will offer them as single items. When added to the other new Napoleonic buildings Leven have either released or are set to release you will really have a great selection of European buildings to choose from.

The covered well looks great and the open door in the interior wall was a nice touch as well. The detail and thought put into the set is just top notch. Mike will also supply a wall pack so you can build the walled gardens as well if you have the room for it (yes we are doing this for our game).

The stables are similar to previous released ones but are different and perfect for the set. No short cuts when it would have been easy enough to do so, top marks for effort then.

The eye candy that the main house is, I take into account that I really like Mike and what he is doing for 6mm terrain but even so on painting this set I have to say IT BLOODY ROCKS! I am really impressed, the whole thing just has a great presence about it but then it should it's really big.

It was really easy to paint, I thought I would have had trouble getting to grips with it but after looking at a lot of images on the internet and choosing the best images for me it soon took a momentum of it's own and it skipped on at a fair pace.

The board Hougoumont is based on is A4 close in size to America's Legal size, so as you can see it's a good footprint for 6mm. The orchard and gardens are each as big again, we will reduce both by about 30% so as to be able to work even with the space we have available. No doubt it will dominate the table and no more than it deserves..

Mikes version will have the shall part covered with sand and fine sawdust to take the edge off the size of the shale but I quite like the finish as it softens from a little distance. With Mikes being a display piece I think it's better to do the extra work.

Another chance t look at those tiles LOL. By the anniversary of the battle Leven will have all the iconic buildings available and as such 6mm will be the best represented scale for your Waterloo enjoyment. Not bad to say that Leven had not a single Napoleonic building let alone Waterloo based collection.

One last image for scale, here we have a battalion of Prussians, sorry I don't have any British and French just seem so wrong.

Building f the Week will be back to normal next week and thanks for sticking with this post to the end.

Monday, 24 November 2014

15mm Ancients Field of Glory AAR

Seems I am starting to get more and more games in at the moment, no grumbles there then as it's an area of the hobby that I have not got as much of as I would like. Lee is in the same boat but worse so, the answer then was a game but what should we play?

15mm Flames of War, played once, now packed away for the time being so happy to pass that one over. I have just finished Hougoumont so a play test of the action to try and take this would be good as we need to make sure this action works for the big game but in the end decided to save that for next time as I want to have the surrounding terrain sorted as well.
Other considerations were Saga but Lee needs to get more figures finished, a gunfight but I need to get more buildings finished so we ended up going for 15mm Ancients. Lee was interested in Hail Caesar but with me having just had the one game decided to keep with FoG. Lee last played about 11 months ago and about six for me so rusty was our byword for the afternoon.

My Left Flank
We both went Macedonian, Lee the man himself whilst I went for Early Successor, so lots of pike would be on the table. Lee went for Hilly as we had not gone for this before so why not. He then slammed hills and other objects mostly in my set up area and only thought  of the implications afterwards. We also went 4 foot wide with 750 points, next time it will be 6 foot and more thought into terrain placement (we do not like the method used in the rules). I had a steep hill covering my left flank so sent some light archers to play nice and safe on the top. The two hills next to it were gentle so I loaded these with pike and my heavy bolt throwers. Two lance armed cavalry units were going to go through the gap before I closed the door with more pike. The centre was a real bottle neck as the woods made moving troops on that flank a pain. One unit each of camels light horse (both with bow) and Thracian medium infantry had to pass through the gap.

My Right Flank
My right had two light foot, one bow and the other javelin and light spears and a heavy Galatian foot unit went through the two woods. My camp was placed in such a way that I would have already lost if Lee got to it.

Lee's Right Flank
Lee positioned his Pike on his far flank these would be well placed to attack my pike but the village would make manoeuvring for both sides extremely tight. Two light foot were to link to the centre and be a bane of my cavalry.

Lee's Centre
Lee had his two cavalry units in single line, this would get the most out of them in impact but made them difficult to move. The impressive ground in the centre actually is just uneven so less of an obstacle as it looks.

Lee's Left Flank
Behind the cavalry came some medium infantry, such was the tightness that these did not get into the battle till the end and even then only as a target for my bows but then again I had units doing nothing as well. The second steep hill was occupied by Lee's bow armed light foot.

Contractual Pike Shot
I love my Pike, used them far less than I have had them used against me so was really happy to get them on the table. I have to say that I find the Early Successor Army to be a better choice than Alexander's but that could be just inexperience talking. Talking of which I had three new units on the table, the Galatians, the camels and the bolt throwers, this should be a big mistake given the usual way it works with new figures.

Slow Progress
Lee was slowly moving his pike on the flank, something I was much in favour of. Not that I was doing any better on my left as the foot slowly moved into position. I was doubly lucky as Lee was a little slow with his cavalry. If he had got them out of the bottle neck first he could have caused me a lot of problems. 

View along the line
My plan was to have the camels positioned so that they would support the infantry and their disordering effect would be used only against the enemy cavalry. Mostly this was to work as Lee brought all his three mounted units directly into this area allowing me a small advantage. I doubt the same mistake will be made again.

First casualty 
Lee sent his light horse into the centre void with the intent of using the javelins against my camels but my bolt thrower struck first dropping them a cohesion level and a base with a close range shot that rolled well. The unit was soon to be routed when I turned yet more fire on them.

Pike confrontation
My Archers poured arrow after arrow into the pike but as always failed to have any effect. I could not get them into the battle elsewhere so let them stay hoping for the luckiest shot going but of course it never came.

View for Lee
Lee pushes forward but it's slower going than ever as he has to thread the gap whilst my archers sit and watch. My cavalry had gone through the same area but both units lost a base to fire showing how dangerous it can be. Both also lost one level of cohesion but rallied it back.

Plonker runs away from lights
I was forced to run my cavalry away from the lights, not the way to impress the rest of the army. Of course when the same lights faced off against my Pike he had the same issues I had against his pikes.

Too tight to fight
The lack of space meant both of us were having to queue up to fight. A view of my position shows my cavalry just running into the area that was to be the main point of conflict.

Galatian Contact
It's a game of inches, well in this case a few millimetres as Lee charged my camels and rolled a 2 for his Variable Charge Distance losing an inch. He got blasted by my a bolt throwers light horse and the just missed bow armed camels. Then I charged the cavalry with my Galatians. We gave the advantage to the cavalry being lance armed but whilst Lee won the impact I won the melee round. At this point his cavalry should have retreated back a move but we missed that and they stayed in for the following turns.

Bow V Light Spear
I then pushed past the cavalry/infantry melee and sent my lights to take the steep hill from the defending small unit of Cretan bow. First though I would have to survive a couple of rounds of bow fire.

Galatian Victory
Lee's cavalry being four wide suddenly turned against him. He had two bases in overlap on one side allowing the artillery and camels to continue the barrage and costing Lee a base and a cohesion level. Th close combat was then brutal and he soon was down three bases for an auto break and these were his elite cavalry.

Pike Clash
Lee knowing he was losing in the centre left drove his pike against the hill before he could get an overlapping unit in position. He was taking on two blocks allowing me one overlap and the hill. However his troops were the better quality, which would win?

Flank Charge!
Back on my right I was able to pull off the not often seen interception of an enemy charge by infantry. Worse still it was against cavalry and straight into the flank with the auto drop of one cohesion. Even though I was only one base wide Lee was to roll poor against my impact and follow on melee being also routed though he did bring them out of the route soon after.

New Dice full of love
Nothing can help your attack when your opponent rolls like I did in the pike battle. Winning the melee after a inconclusive impact allowed me to bring in that overlap and now Lee started to loose cohesion bringing his dice down further adding to my advantage.

Going Down
Of course once the odds are against you it's only a matter of time unless you can get more troops into the fight. I was trying to cover this by moving my best pike onto the flank. Lee would have to face my best pike with a smaller unit that could not be supported whilst in danger of having their battered block rout through them. This is exactly what happened, my blocks were taking a base off Lee's block each round and Lee was dropping a cohesion each time and so suddenly had one disordered block about to be hit in the front and flank. Time to call it we thought. Shame about a couple of mistakes that could have changed the battle in Lee's favour and given how long it was since he played it was not surprising I had the better of the action.

Good then that both of us enjoyed the game still feel we can go forward with the rules and want to go at it again only lets not leave it so long eh?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Zulu's Off The Table

With almost all my attention on getting the 6mm Napoleonic's painted up I have allowed these figures fall out of sight. Given that I have about 300 more figures to paint I really need to crack on. Well I should be able to throw more time at them soon as the figures for Project Waterloo are close to completion though I have not painted a single 6mm figure this month. These are Baccus Zulu's and are very nice castings.

These are for Matt and so will be based once he has all of them back from me, so some time to go yet then. Just two regiments to go with the four I had already done, these are uDududu and Skirmishers. Both should have small white patches on the shields but at this scale it did not look right so I repainted after a few attempts.

Whilst they are reasonably quick to paint up on the whole they don't half soak up time to the end as I got to the laces and spots on the shields. I think I will do the last lot of standard units all in one go, go a little industrial. Then it's the few bases that have the captured rifles, looking forward to that bit.

The next 6mm will be the Leven soon to be released Hougoumont set that I finished painting up yesterday, expect it in the next few days.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

I'm Published

Around a month ago a new Advanced Squad Leader product was released by Le Franc Tireur one of the best third party providers for ASL. The pack has had quite a journey, original concept and board artwork was done in America, the project then found it's way to the UK where Dave Ramsey got the boards turned from basic from to true works of art and then set about getting scenarios developed. This is where I got involved and with just a couple of scenario designs under my belt that were done for amateur publication I had a go at designing for a much higher spec. 

The packs globe-trotting did not end there as LFT is a French company and the printing of the pack was done in the Pacific (I think Cambodia). Scenario designers have been a good mix of nationalities as well.

The pack contains seven new deluxe boards almost doubling the number of boards available for DASL and being all rural really adds to the possible combinations for fighting in the country. Will well over 100 regular geo-boards Deluxe was well overdue fresh boards. Deluxe uses oversized hexes making the clutter of high counter density far more manageable. The boards were designed with PTO battles in mind so of course I designed a scenario based in Normandy. Worse still it also used one of the original Hedgerow Hell boards. 

I am guessing most of the readers now have a scene running through their heads of Sherman's fighting their way through Bocage whilst a lone German soldier stalks it with a Panzerfaust but hold your horses, it's set in 1940 and the tanks are little tin cans and the shoemaker is still intent on well shoes.

So what's it like having something professionally released? Very nervous, how well will it be received? If it's not a good scenario you get to know real quick. That is if it gets enough play. The pack contains 12 scenarios and I was not the only virgin scenario designer in the pack so I know we would be under close scrutiny and already one scenario has been labelled a dog though it's receiving a lot of support to make changes to make it work as it's a cracking idea.

I only know of one playing and it received a good reception that hopefully will get it more plays and it certainly makes me want to do more. It's got me no hot chicks yet but I am told it's pair for the course once your a name, maybe after the next design?

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Chatter Behind the Bike Sheds - The Cult of the Black SS

Has any period of war ever had such a polarising effect? Possibly the Roman's given the popularity of the Roman armies but the difference is that other than the misconception that all Roman's wore red (Thanks Hollywood) you don't get much outside comment on your Roman army when you get it out in public.

The SS on the other hand can get ugly real quick. I would hazard a guess that their is more SS armies for Flames of War than any other single formation and I am willing to bet that if you take a cross section of teenage players that ratio shoots right up. To start off with the SS are always depicted as being super efficient and add the bad boy image and you have wargames gold.

Not that it starts or ends with FoW, no sir not by a long chalk. The SS are a big draw not only in FoW, not even in figure gaming nor all of wargaming but in anything that has something to do with them. Be it historical memorabilia, reproduction or real, books reinactments or hobby related it's always a big draw and as such it's always a commercial opportunity. 

Germany with good reason has banned the swastika and as far as I know is the only country where denying the holocaust is a crime. But still the cult of the SS remains strong around the world. My intention is not to actually discuss the actual SS nor the relationship it has with far right movements even today, that is other than to say that it's wrong and very misguided. No what I want to talk about is the Cult of the Black SS, both in games and the supporting industry.

Way back when board wargames was the bigger of the two wargames arms (computer games being not yet thought of) the first strike for special treatment was the use of black counters to represent the SS. Special rules were introduced to represent the extra discipline or combat effectiveness of the SS and a star was born, even if it was a dark one.

I am not saying the SS did not need special rules, nor am I saying that supplying their own colour counters was a bad thing. What I do believe was that in doing so a precedent was set and a fashion was created. Why black? well for a start it's striking and would stand out against all other national counters and black and bad can go hand in hand just as well as black and sexy which is fortunate as I am sure different folks see them as one or the other.

Of course it has become more fashionable to address all German's fighting in WWII as Nazi's I think your hard pressed to get a book published in the last five or so years that does not constantly refer to Nazi soldiers with the term German Soldier failing to be used more than a few times through the book. Books being the chief misuse of said catch phrase. The idea that every German soldier (or probably even the majority) were of Nazi persuasion is clearly wrong and ignores that the typical German soldier was as much a victim as Tommy, Comrade, Buddy etc. It's a trend that actually I fear is more dangerous and damaging than most would consider. How long will it be till it's accepted that the only evil or wrong doing was those Nazi's and forget that every major nation played it's part in making WWII not only possible but inevitable.

But I digress, lets get back to the books, the books pictured above is simply a few pulled from a very large collection with four of the books from the same author and given that they are all from the same publisher it's not too surprising they have the same look.

However this is another book from my collection and surprise surprise it's also available in black. So obviously I am drawn to such books but a quick search shows that you are hard pressed to find books on the SS that are not dressed so, for example.

Lots more volumes from this series, again note the use of red on the cover, seven books out of seven so far.

This book lacks the red, the first one so far but keeps with the fashion of black and white and the stark relief it gives.

The black is somewhat more subliminal but it's still there and the red is back. Red of course is another colour that is seen as sexy, just sayin'.

Full house here, not that all the images of SS books were fitting the pattern I am showing here. I found TWO books under the search of SS Book Images out of over twenty that did not conform to the formula I present here. That's quite worrying that so many books share such a narrow design style.

My favourite board game Advanced Squad Leader launched with special rules for the SS and as such has counters just for the SS and have the SS lightning ruins in the top right corner to remind you they are SS. The counters were still the same colour blue as standard Germans but when Avalon Hill released The Bridge to Far historical module it released the first and last official black ss counters for ASL. That module now commands around £400 on Ebay due in part to being out of print but also because of the ss counters!

Not that other providers of ASL have not also provided black counters for the ss, I personally have at least five sets of ss counters from other packs.

The rarest of these third party producers counters can really increase the value of a pack when sold on ebay. Rarity itself pushes the price up but the fun using such counters at an event you can have as the debate rages over your game on their use adds a few pounds to the final bid I am sure.

Not that ASL or Avalon Hill have the monopoly on the black ss counter. Avalanche Press released a scenario book and counter set covering the SS and their involvement in the battle for Normandy.

Again the pack comes with the black counters that so often are used to depict the SS but in this case the Nazi emblems are missing which seems more tasteful.

So it's clear that the ss get special treatment either from the marketing department or based on the historical use of such things as black counters but is this a bad thing?

Yes and no is the answer I think. Yes in the fact that the wider audience and more importantly the less informed onlookers get exposure to the special treatment and as such can and often will come to the conclusion that somehow the ss are being looked up to and admired. It's fortunate that unless you have direct exposure to our hobby you don't see the even greater fan base that the ss have. More so as the chance of them understanding that special treatment and it's context within wargameing. much easier to brand all that wargame as warmongers and secret Nazi's. Something we have had to deal with in the past and still have to explain away at times.

No because any informed gamer is aware of the fact that the fighting units of the ss tended to be tougher than the army equivalent, was better armed and trained and was an elite formation. However all this could be done without their own special coloured counters and the downside is very often not worked into the units such as the high casualty rate often received on accomplishing the objective.

As for me I still use the black counters, still get a little satisfaction from knowing it pisses some people off and whilst that should not make me smile it still does. Black ss are sexy and I know it.