Monday, 29 June 2009

All Quiet on the Evesham Front - Report

What a brilliant day! Top marks to the chaps at Gripping Beast (Andy, Darren and Soapy) for organising a superb event. Plus many thanks for loaning me an army of Late War British.

There were 10 players at the event, 5 Allied armies (4 British and 1 French) and 5 armies of the Central Powers (4 German and 1 Austrian). There werethree rounds where the brave Allies were pitted against the fearsome Central Powers. The action begins with the Allies launching a major offensive, with subsequent rounds reflecting how the earlier battles went. Each of the 5 tables had a specific themed scenario, plus great looking terrain supplied by GB.

I'm delighted to say that all three opponents were superb sportsman, plus extremely helpful in explaining the rules to me, giving tips and advice, etc. I had three thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining games. I'm not really sure how I managed to win two of them (mostly by sheer luck I think!?) but they were certainly very close.

Game One vs. Mark's Germans
My first ever game of TGW ... my battalion were tasked with making a diversionary attack so as to keep German reserve forces from reinforcing the areas of the main Allied attack. German artillery provided a smoke barrage but this proved to more of a help to my chaps, allowing me to advance closer to the German lines before his Maxims and MG08's could open up. My Mark IV
male Tank was superb, heading right in to the heart of the German line and causing havoc whilst providing further cover for my troops. I managed to close with the enemy and keep the pressure on them right up to the final turn. Thus winning the game, but it was close. Enormous fun and a very enjoyable game for us both.

The results from turn one were generally not good for the Allies. The main British attacks had all been soundly defeated by the Germans, only the diversionary attack (me!) had succeeded in its objectives.

Game Two vs. Darren's Germans
With the Allies on the back foot, this game saw my battalion attempting to retreat in good order from a determined German counter attack. Most of my troops were strung out across the middle of the battlefield and had to retire to the allied baseline, the rallying point, and have more than 50% of the units intact by the end of the game, turn 8.
I quickly figured out that Darren was an experienced player and he certainly didn't hang about when it came to the attack. He craftily kept units in reserve so that they could mount a flank attack (note to self - read the scenario properly - doh!?) and these units mostly arrived on my right flank and tore it to shreds, particularly that flamethrower detachment! In the centre and left flank things were going a little better. I managed to get a Vickers HMG team and a rifle platoon with Lewis Guns in to a ruined building where they could cover the retreat. My tank once again proved its worth by engaging the German tank (a captured Mark IV, those cheeky Hun!) and immobilising it with a well placed 6lb shell. However, that did not stop it later returning fire and destroying my tank in a spectacular explosion.
Darren pressed on with his attack but somehow I managed to keep just enough of my battalion together to claim victory (if you can call a retreat a 'victory'), but it was very close indeed. Another hugely enjoyable game and a brilliant opponent.

Game Three vs. Rob's Austrians
I was really chuffed when I heard that I'd be playing Rob in round 3. He'd been very helpful in assisting me with choosing an army, plus his Scarab Miniatures Austrian army looks fabulous. In this scenario the Central Powers were on the offensive hoping to capitalise on the British withdrawal. The aim was to capture and hold ground, the winner would be who controlled more of the battlefield by the end of the game. I must say that I dithered slightly, not sure whether to take the bayonet to the tough Austrian troops, or use my Lewis guns and HMG's to soften them up a bit then counter-attack. In the end I didn't really do either and Rob exploited this ruthlessly. His assault troops, accompanied by a dreaded flame thrower, rushed forwards mounting a well coordinated attack and completely destroyed a whole company and its HMG support for little loss in return - almost half my army. The denser terrain on the other flank meant that the troops engaged more cautiously but again Rob made the best use of it and by the close of play the Austrians were firmly in control of the battlefield. Yet another great game and a brilliant opponent too.

Thanks also go to Rob for doing me a great deal on a big batch of Great War Miniatures, now available from Scarab, and for the excellent character figures of a downed pilot and soldier carrying a wounded comrade. They'll certainly be featuring in my army!

You might be wondering why I haven't any pics? That's because I didn't have my camera. Since I was going to drive all the way to Evesham for a day of toy soldiers, the rest of the family came along and went on to Warwick Castle and they had the camera. Hopefully Rob will put some pics on his website, or perhaps on the WAB forum.

Friday, 26 June 2009

WW1 Terrain Project #1 ... Digging In

As you may be aware, things have gone a bit Great War-ish recently. I was torn between many different eras and projects. It was a very close run thing with collecting an Age of Arthur army, especially after buying some of those wonderful Romano-British figures from Gripping Beast, highly recommended!

Anyway, I decided that if I'm going to collect WW1 figures then they'll need some nice terrain to fight across. Initially I considered making or buying some trenches and craters to put on my ordinary battlefield (GW mat glued to two 4' x 3' boards) but I then remembered my modular battlefield that has been packed away for quite a while. Here's a picture of each 4' x 2' module

Battlefield module 1
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Battlefield module 2
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Battlefield module 3
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Battlefield module 4
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I built this in the winter of 2003/4, spending many freezing hours in my garage. It cost about £150 all up. The most expensive part were the 2" thick wall insulation boards (like dense polystyrene). Basically I made four 2" deep trays from plywood and timber. The insulation foam went in to the trays then scenic features like roads, hills, etc were sculpted on. The rock face in the last module is made from oak bark (the in-laws have a open fireplace so that was free!). The whole lot was covered in PVA glue and sand along with a few rocks. I took a pot of Bestial Brown along to my local DIY store and they made a litre pot for the basecoat. The highlights were done using a few pots of GW light brown colours. Some flock and Woodland Scenics foliage finished it off.

I intended to use the boards mainly for skirmish games such as GW's Lord of the Rings, my own
Napoleonic rules, etc. Playing games on good terrain really adds to the fun.

For my World one table I've chosen two of the modules to become a small sector of the western front. The other two modules I'll keep for other games ... for now. Here's a couple of pictures of the work so far. Anyone who has seen the Great War rulebook should be able to easily spot my sources of inspiration.

WW1 Battlefield
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A close up of the trench section.

The Trenches
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The next step is to make all the trench revetting from strips of balsa wood, carved to look like planking. I also need to find a good source of finely corrugated card to represent the corrugated iron that was also used to shore up the sides of trenches. Then I'll go crazy with all purpose filler to sculpt the trench and crater edges. Sandbags I'll make from modelling clay. Cocktail sticks and thin bamboo will be used to make posts for the barbed wire, which will either be GW 'razorwire' or just plain wire. Twigs will do for blasted tree trunks.

Plus I need to get cracking on painting some soldiers too!


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Warlord Celts - Again!

Just blogged about my soon-to-be-finished Celt army, but it's appeared below my recent Great War ramblings? So, please scroll down to see how I'm getting on with my Celts.

Cheers :-)

Friday, 12 June 2009

The Great War

First off, apologies for the recent lack of posts - have been moving house, etc.

A proper post about what I've been doing is being drafted but I just wanted to quickly blog about an exciting event that I'll be attending soon. All quiet on the Evesham Front

My attention has rather switched to World War One after painting far too many Celts, but my own WW1 collection is rather small and decidely lacking in paint. However those splendid chaps at Gripping Beast HQ have agreed to lend me an army for the day.

More news to follow soon.

Warlord Celts

Although very busy in recent months I have managed to plod on with my Warlord Celt army, albeit rather too slowly. This is my first foray in the world of dipping and to be honest it's proved more work than I expected, but I am quite pleased with the results. I now have more than 100 models in various states of completion, all are dipped and mostly matt varnished, and about 20-30 are complete. The rest need basing properly and the shield transfers applied. Here's a few pics of the work so far.

The army
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Cavalry and dogs
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The infantry, including some slingers and skirmishers.
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Mostly Warlord Games figures, with a few Black Tree Design, Gripping Beast and the odd Foundry model. All up that's approx 1,000pts and should prove good opposition for my 1,000pt EIR force. The time consuming part was painting the stripes and checks. To be honest I've now reached the point where I'm rather fed up with this army so it will be taking a back seat for a while. It's not just that I'm bored with Celts, it's the whole basic painting and dipping process. Let me explain... I paint models because I enjoy painting them (in my now familiar 3-4 colour Foundry-esque style) and the effort of painting 100+ figures in a basic style then dipping, etc, has rather taken the fun out of painting. Don't get me wrong though, the dipping method is very effective for getting a decent looking force ready for the table, but it does necessitate a production line approach to your hobby. Perhaps I should have taken breaks part way through.

Tip - make sure that you shake your can of Army Painter Anti-shine varnish really, really well - like until your arm aches (no jokes please!). I did not do this with one batch of figures and the first few I sprayed went slightly "cloudy".

Not sure what I'll paint next, may be some more WW1 as I really fancy playing The Great War. Did briefly look in to getting a small collection of WW2 figures for skirmish games - this was mainly due to the research I've started doing for our holiday to Normandy later in the year. However, I've put that off in favour of expanding my WW1 collection, especially as I have the excellent rules from Warhammer Historical.

Perhaps I'll do some modelling or terrain building too. Seriously considering chopping up my four 4'x2' modular boards and making a WW1 battlefield. The 2" deep foam used in the construction of the boards would make for excellent trenches. I originally intended the boards to be for either Middle Earth (for GW LotR) or peninsular Spain (for Naps skirmish), neither of which I play much. They do look good, but WW1 demands trenches and craters, and the 'sticking up from the table' variety look odd IMHO. So the boards may well be converted for other duties. Whatever I get up to I'll post pics and reports here.