Monday, 30 December 2013

Looking Back, Looking Forward

Highlights of the past year in terms of gaming can be summarised as follows
  • Completing our Saxon and Viking armies (OK, no army is ever truly 'complete'!).
  • Putting on "The Battle of Ashingdon" Saxons & Vikings show game at Penarth in January.
  • Getting some of my figures/scenery into WSS (twice) and Battlegames.
  • Attending another W&C Gaming Day (although it was pity I missed the games at Devizes due to dental issues).
  • Starting the Three Kingdoms campaign and playing more Saga.
  • Finally moving house and getting my own Man Cave again!
  • The show game at Legionary, Exeter in May.
  • The show game at Colours, Newbury in September.
  • A splendid birthday gaming weekend with chums in October.
  • Joining the 4th Annual Painting challenge.
  • Meeting up with some fellow bloggers (Hello to Simon and Sidney in particular).

But what are my wargaming plans for next year? Well, I’m not going to declare a complete list of exactly what I intend to do because plans always seem to change. Rather, here’s a list of projects from which I hope to choose a selection depending upon what I feel like doing.

  • Achieve my Painting Challenge target of 500pts.
  • Complete a late war Austro-Hungarian force for TGW.
  • Complete a late war German force for TGW.
  • Try Bolt Action for late WW1 skirmishing.
  • Play some more 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Hobbit' Strategy Battle Game with my children.
  • Finally 'complete' my Early Imperial Roman army – ok at least get it to a comfortable 2,000pts plus options for WaC.
  • Play Black Powder.
  • Play Hail Caesar!
  • Re-base, overhaul and expand my British Celt army.
  • Improve the storage of my armies - possibly using more magnetic basing.
  • Expand my WW1 British army, e.g. add some artillery, maybe another tank.
  • Build a Norman force for Saga.
  • Complete the WW1 terrain boards.
  • Paint some Arthurian figures - just because they're lovely figures!
  • Build a Caesarian Roman army - I have heaps of figures waiting in boxes.
  • Start building forces for the Gallipoli campaign.
  • Rationalise my collection of half-started projects and sell or trade those figures that are never going to get painted!
Finally a big Thank You to all my readers and fellow bloggers!

Happy Gaming!

Friday, 27 December 2013

What was under the tree?

Hope you all had a splendid Chrimbo. Here's what Santa brought me.

I also got an A4 shredder, so now I can preserve any winning army lists (Yeah, right!?) in plastic and consign any losing lists to be shredded.

Bernie's "Pagan Lord" ... say no more! I'm currently reading Scarrow's "Gladiator", and still have "Praetorian" on the bookshelf so plenty of Roman derring-do to read there!

The Osprey books will add to my growing collection of books about the Great War, about 30 plus now I think! The ANZAC book will be especially useful for a future project I'm considering.

No dollies, but then the lead & plastic mountain hardly needs any reinforcements!!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Yuletide Felicitations!

Snorri and Sven  - the jolly Vikings - would like to wish everyone a Merry Yuletide Season and a very Happy New Year!

Although I'm not too sure that Mrs Snorri and Mrs Sven are so keen on the celebrations beginning under the village fir tree!? Sensibly, the geese are making a run for it too!

Finally, a big Thank You to all my readers and fellow bloggers for your support and encouragement. It really is greatly appreciated.

Matt :o)

Saturday, 21 December 2013

French Napoleonics

My first Napoleonics for absolutely ages! Chum Steve is planning a day gaming in January to celebrate his birthday. Not just any old battle either ... a re-fight of Waterloo. So he's asked everyone if they could paint up some extra troops. Here's my contribution. Two battalions of 1:72nd Italeri French Line Infantry.

These can also contribute towards my Painting Challenge total, although one of the battalions was started some time back, so only the second battalion and casualty markers can be counted. Still, that's 104 points done!

Here's the first battalion.

The second battalion.

Really enjoyed painting these. It's certainly given me much to think about in terms of how I might one day get my 28mm collection to a point where I could play a game.

K-e-e-p Painting!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

WaC & Black Powder

On Sunday I joined up with Rob (of Scarab Miniatures) to play some War & Conquest. What with being poorly recently and other commitments, it's been some time since I last played WaC so I was rather looking forward to it.

Rob was keen to use his lovely Samurai army whilst I wanted to give one of my ancients armies a run out, preferably the British Celts. No problem; the ancient & medieval genre covers a wide range of history and WaC caters for this without any issues. I know some players prefer strictly historical match-ups (this is my usual preference too) but that's no barrier to a good game.

Here's a pic of the deployment.


Both 2,000pt armies deployed using the Autumn variant. My objective was "Test of Strength" where I had get at least one unit into my opponents deployment zone by the end of the game whilst keeping any enemy units out of mine. Rob's was "Breakthrough" where he must get two regular units off the table via my deployment zone. But to maintain the suspense, Rob and I kept our objectives secret.

The game began with determined advances by both sides - not surprising given our objectives. However, I was rather too optimistic on my right flank with the chariots. They swept in to tackle the Samurai cavalry, rolled superbly to hit but then the dice gods abandoned me and only one Samurai fell beneath the storm of javelins. They disengaged but next turn Rob won the Strategic Advantage (again!) and the cavalry thundered in to the chariots and swept all before them.

In the centre my warbands advanced in to a hail of shots from the Ashigaru bowmen and hand gunners. But at last they reached the enemy lines and butchered the missile men.

With time drawing on we finished the game after turn 5 and it was clear that whilst some of the Barbarians had done well, the Samurai were going to be able to achieve their breakthrough. So a victory to Rob, well done sir!

As for the Black Powder... Steve (along with chum Simon) is planning a re-fight of Waterloo in January to celebrate the occasion of his birthday. So he and Simon were busily sorting through boxes of 1:72nd plastic figures to work out which formations could be represented. Here's a pic of just some of their cavalry!

A number of us will be joining in the fun so have volunteered to paint a few extra battalions. I'm currently working on the second of two French battalions. More on this topic in a future post!

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Joining the 4th Annual Painting Challenge

Some of you may have heard about Curt Campbell’s 4th Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.

I expect a few of you have even taken part! Well, this year I have decided to unofficially join in the fun too. I say 'unofficially' as formal entries have closed - Curt can only keep track of so many painters, plus preference is (rightly) given to those who have successfully taken part before.

For those not entirely familiar with the challenge, the basic idea is that for each model you paint between the start and end dates, you accrue a certain number of 'points' depending upon the scale and type of the figure. You begin by declaring a target number of points. To add to the fun there are some bonus rounds where you can gain extra points by painting a themed set of models.

The challenge doesn't kick off until Sunday 15th December 06:01 GMT and runs until 20th March 06:01 GMT. Models can be built and prepared before the start date but no painting is allowed! Everything works on an honesty system, well what else would you expect of gentleman* wargamers.
(*and ladies too of course!)

My first task is to establish a reasonable target! This should be achievable yet still challenging. Having looked at my collections and bearing mind other potential commitments I decided on ... trumpet fanfare please ...


I shall need to get busy with those brushes!

First on the list will be some 20mm French Napoleonic infantry for chum Steve. Then hopefully it will be on to the Austro-Hungarians for The Great War. A good thing about the challenge is that any figures will count, rather than having to be part of the same collection.

Please feel free to provide "encouragement" :o)

Sunday, 1 December 2013

The Hobbit: Painting Goblins ... Fast!

A while back, whilst struggling to think of suitable festive presents for our youngest, I suggested to 'HQ' that we ought to get GW's Hobbit boxed set. "Oh, I'll paint up the figures beforehand, no problem" I blithely assured a decidedly sceptical 'Senior Officer'. Hmmm? Think she knew what she was on about!

With the festive season drawing close I thought "Crumbs, better pull my finger out!". Thorin's company are wonderful figures and deserve a reasonable effort in terms of painting, but the Goblins are another matter. They can have a quick paint-job and like it.

First step was to prepare and prime them. The figures are well moulded with very little in the way of mould lines, so that saved some time. They were undercoated white using GW spray. Then I gave them a good base coat of Foundry Rawhide light. Here they are.

Drybrushing is the speed-painter's friend. The result is often a little untidy but serviceable. So out came the Foundry Boneyard light and a large brush.

After that it was a matter of picking out some details (loincloth, weapons, bags, etc) in either black or dark brown, Vallejo Leather Brown to be precise. The brown was given a wash of Devlan Mud (thinned ink would do as GW don't make Devlan Mud anymore). The black was given a couple of very quick highlights of mid and light grey. Weapons were easy; black, drybrush with GW Tin Bitz (dark coppery bronze) and a very quick highlight of GW Boltgun Metal, this gives them a suitably rusty appearance. Here's the finished - but un-based - result.

A close up. I gave the 'hair' and eye sockets a quick was of thinned Devlan mud, simply to bring out the details a little better.

All 36 figures done. Not bad for just two evenings work!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Reveille “Show Report”

Last show of the year! (For me at least) On Sunday I joined Scarab Miniatures and chum Steve to help out with a War & Conquest demo game set in Samurai-era Japan. The scenario was that described in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Issue 67 “The Battle of Domyoji, 1615”. Both Steve and Rob have colourful Samurai armies and Rob also has some wonderful buildings.

Here are the two armies deployed ready for battle. First Rob’s army (the army of Toyotomi Hideyori)


And Steve’s army (led by Tokugawa Ieyasu)


plus a close up of Steve's troops

I must admit to knowing very little about the Samurai era so I was looking forward to learning about the period plus enjoying a good game of toy soldiers with friends.

However ... things didn’t quite work out as intended. At about the same time as doors were opening to the public, I received a message from HQ that the kitchen was flooding! Cue a quick dash to the car and a 45 minute journey back home.

The culprit was the hot water feed to the recently replaced kitchen tap. In attempting to fix it, the cold water feed was also disturbed and began to leak. In the end I had to admit defeat :o( and simply isolate both taps. A ‘proper’ plumber is coming to fix it. I will freely admit that plumbing is not within my “skill footprint”.

After grabbing a quick bite to eat I returned to Bristol, arriving just in time to see most games and traders packing up. Grrr!

Steve and Rob had, by all accounts, a cracking battle which ended in a victory for Rob’s forces. Oh well, may be I’ll be able to play next time. Hopefully there will be some pics and notes on the Scarab forum or Steve’s blog.

I had hoped to pick up some paint, flock, etc from either “Colonel Bill’s” or “Stafford Games” but both were packing away by then; I could hardly ask them to unpack just so I could buy a few bits and pieces! However, I did manage to collect my order from Scarab – more A/H plus a lovely 1st Corps Romfell armoured car. The latter was a last minute agreement by the finance committee to make up for the fact that I missed most of the day. Thank you! :o)

Reveille itself is one of the smaller wargames shows but has lots packed in to a modest sized venue (Lincombe Barn, Bristol). Logistics seemed well organised, although they could have done with some info on their website about road closures around the venue. The chaps at LBWS were friendly and helpful, especially when we were packing up and carrying stuff out to the cars at the end of the day.

I did manage to have a very quick look round in the morning before the doors opened, although as it was still early many stands and games were still getting sorted. There was a range of traders but what I think the show really needs is for one of the big gaming companies (Warlord for example?) to come along. But I do appreciate that wargames companies cannot have a presence at each and every show. Still, it’s certainly worth popping along if you’re in the area.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Austro-Hungarians for The Great War

For a long time I've rather liked the look of Scarab Miniatures Austro-Hungarian range. A while back I bought a few packs to use as Stormtroops in my 1918 German army. However, after reading more widely about the Great War I've decided to collect an army that did not regularly appear on the Western Front (although I believe some AH troops were stationed around Verdun near the end of the war).

These figures are wonderfully dynamic, detailed and full of character. They've been a joy to paint, especially as I decided to try out the 'dip/wash' technique I used on my Dark ages armies.

Here's an officer with trusty walking stick, bristling moustache and pistol, accompanied by two Austro-Hungarian Storm-troopers. (Please note my lighting/camera/inability-to-take-decent-photos have resulted in some shine on the figures, but they actually have a nice matt finish)

The officer and NCO.

Officer and Private.

An angle that hopefully the enemy will not see too often ;o)

Painting Recipe
Start with a white undercoat - make sure the figures have any last mould lines totally removed or the dip/wash will really make them stand out!
Apply block colours as follows - ensure you have an even coat.
Uniform - Foundry Granite Mid
Puttees - Either Foundry Granite Light or Foundry Drab Light
Rifle - Foundry Spearshaft Shade
Skin - Foundry Flesh Mid
Grenade Bags - Foundry Boneyard Mid
Leather/Wood - Variety of Foundry Deep Brown Leather Mid, Spearshaft Shade and Bay Brown Mid
Metals - very faint highlight with GW Boltgun Metal

Wash with Army Painter Strong Tone using a brush to ensure a thin, even coat. Then leave to dry for at least 24hrs!

Apply a matt varnish. I use a W&N 'brush on' variety. If spraying then make sure the area is well ventilated and warm/dry to avoid clouding.

Then apply some quick highlights, mostly using the original base colour. For the skin I did an extra highlight of Foundry Flesh Light. Any black areas tend to look better for a light highlight with dark grey.

Spending a few extra minutes picking out details such as moustaches or gas mask eye pieces is well worth the effort.

Basing Recipe
Attach figures to Warbases 25mm round 2mm thick bases with super glue.
Using good quality PVA (slightly thinned with water) glue sand and grit to the base.
Base coat the sand with Vallejo Leather Brown, then highlight with Flat Earth, Tan Yellow and finally Dark Sand.
The flock is GW Scorched Grass. Finish off with a few grass tufts or clump foliage.

I've painted the base edges black as having seen the splendid figures on Sidney's blog (Roundwood's World - see link on right) I think it sets the base off nicely against the table.

Right! I'd better paint a few more... oh wait a minute - I need to get the Hobbit set painted up for a Chrimbo present! Look out for more A/H troops in a few weeks.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

King Harold ... Triumphant!

This rather splendid vignette of Foundry's King Harold was painted up for me as a gift from all-round jolly good chap and Wargames Table chum Phil. Naturally I was delighted with such a lovely present.

I think the pictures speak for themselves.

A rich, red, fur-trimmed cloak, only the best for the King!

The shields and the banner pole are both striking and very pleasing. The palette used ties all the figures together very well. Plus the basing is superb.

Another aspect that I really like is the subdued chain mail colour. Seems to give the armour real depth.

Thank you Phil! :o)

Of course, in his first battle he was slain by a horde of Danish warriors, but isn't that always the way with newly painted figures?

Monday, 11 November 2013

Lest We Forget

Here is a pic of a Rememberance Service held in Essex yesterday.

It was good to see so many people turning up to pay their respects.

As a painter, modeller, gamer and blogger with a keen interest in military history, especially the Great War, I believe that remembering the fallen and the wounded from past and current conflicts is particularly important.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam
From "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, 1914.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Digging In ... Again

About 10 years ago I built a modular battlefield. Then a few years back, after getting interested in gaming The Great War, I started converting it in to a small section of the Western Front. However, following the conversion of the garage (in our old house) into a spare room I no longer had anywhere to do all the messy work so the project rather stalled.

Anyway, we now have a proper garage so I've been making some space to re-start this project. Here it is.

I'd like to be able to do a some in a "little and often" fashion as it's going to be quite a lot of work! A couple of hours per week should keep it ticking along nicely plus allow some time for other projects.

This is one of the 4' x 2' (approx 1220mm x 610mm) sections. In background of the first picture you can see the other section that I've started - that will be the cratered ground in front of the trench section, i.e. placed to the left of the board in the picture below.

The boards are 50mm deep so I can have 'proper' depth trenches with fire-steps too.

I have two more 4' x 2' sections that are still rolling green wilderness so these will eventually be added to give me about 32 square feet of modular Great War battlefield.

Inspiration for this table has come from many sources: visits to Belgium and France, the Great War rulebook, the Gripping Beast table (by Wyn Rogers?) that I saw at the Evesham Front event and last, but by no means least, the Great War table created Sidney Roundwood - check out older posts on his blog for details.

All tips and suggestions most welcome!

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Wargames Table in the Press

OK, it's not exactly a direct mention but I can say that some of my figures have appeared in the latest 'Miniature Wargames / Battlegames', specifically some of my Great War British.

Scarab Miniatures supremo Rob Broom has written a rather good article for the 'Command Challenge' topic, all about the battle for Papadopoli Island on the River Piave; part of the war on the Italian front in 1918. This lesser known theatre of the Great War has some very interesting history and is often overlooked in favour of the western front. A great article and a thought provoking scenario - definitely worth reading!

As you can see from the photo I also picked up the latest 'Medieval Warfare' and 'Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy'. The former because it has several good articles on the Danish conquest of England; the latter because it's still my favourite all-round wargaming magazine.

Happy reading!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Gaming Weekend - Part 2 - The Great War

Here as promised is part 2 of our gaming weekend!

Sunday and Dave, Rob, Phil, Steve and myself all geared up for another play-test of Rob's "The Big Push" rules. They're still at a very early stage so we were all prepared to adjust things as we went along.

The basic premise of the game was that during the 1918 German 'Spring Offensives', a British battalion has become engulfed by the overwhelming attacks and was holed up in a strong defensive position. A combined force of British and French were trying to halt the Germans and relieve the beleaguered British.

I commanded the lone British battalion whilst Dave and Phil led the relieving British and French forces, respectively. Rob and Steve donned monacles to become German High Command.

Here's the table. My British would be in and around the fortified hill in the foreground whilst Dave and Phil would begin behind the distant hedge/tree-line. The Germans were deployed broadly diagonally across the table in and around the buildings and woods.

A closer shot of the further end of the table. The tree line is actually Phil's "Plugstreet Wood" terrain - very nice!

A lovely ruined building from Phil's collection. I should also point out that his craters were based on dining table place-mats - hope Mrs Phil didn't mind!

The front yard. What estate agents might describe as "making good use of natural light" and "in need of some renovation" ;o)

Another item from Phil's ruined property empire. Again, "compact and bijou" with "plenty of opportunity for open air dining"?

More Plugstreet Wood terrain.

Anyway, on to the game! Here's my British crammed in to "The Hill". Fine fellows eh?

Steve's Germans begin their advance from the buildings.

And from the woods! Yikes but there's "faaawsands of 'em!" (oops! Wrong conflict)

Here are Phil's French. True to form he/they begun the battle by having a long lunch and snooze. ;o)

Phil's reinforcements moving up the line.

On the other side of the ruined farm house the Germans have placed the support weapons in the yard to hold off the relieving British and French.

The relentless German attack continues. The British just couldn't seem to mow enough of them down with the HMGs.

On the right of the surrounded British Rob's Stormtroopers advance across cratered ground ably supported by two HMGs in the small ruined cottage.

Hooray for dear old Blighty! Here comes Dave's force! Up and at 'em lads!

Cavalry leap the barricades and bravely advance to take their lances and sabres to the Germans! Dave has done a lovely job converting these to be Indian "British" troops - if you look closely you can see the turbans. Great work!

The Germans close in on the British.

These Assault Troops were not delayed long by the wire, plus the chaps in the crater were giving good supporting fire.

Rob's Stormtroopers ... storming the sandbag barricades! (and showering the plucky Brits in grenades.)

The Germans have breached the hill's defences and some of the Tommies are retreating! Oh dear. I think it's time to put the kettle on.

Now please forgive the fact that most of my shots are of my end of the table. With five of us in my gaming room along with a 9' x 4' table (and a piano!) it was a bit cramped! Plus a few of us are more generously proportioned (I prefer the term "well built") than others.

The game was played with great bonhomie and, most importantly, much fun was had by all. Rob was pleased to get plenty of feedback on this version of the basic mechanics. Although there is still some tweaking required!

Finally, no party is complete without balloons ... just don't ask. Really.

The end result? Well, I suppose it would have to be called a winning draw for the Germans. As we closed the game Rob and Steve's Germans were over-running the hill. Phil's French were held mostly to their starting positions. Dave's brave attack had made good progress but his forces still had a long way to go to reach my British.