Sunday, 14 April 2019

Some 95th Rifles

Crikey! Real Life(tm) has been rather hectic recently...  When I haven't been working towards crazy deadlines I've been out having heaps of fun with my lovely girlfriend Sarah.  Anyway, I've managed to squeeze in a bit of brush time and fancied painting something a bit different.

The figures are Front Rank miniatures - beautiful sculpts!  The resin fountain is by Grand Manner and the church is from Charlie Foxtrot Models.

Painting Napoleonic figures has always been a slow process for me as I tend to get bogged down with lots of details.  So with these I've tried a slightly different approach.

The flesh is painted in the usual Foundry triad but most of the rest of the figure is just block painted or given a very quick single highlight.  I decided that lots of highlights and details are just lost when you're actually playing and viewing the figures from several feet away.  A friend (thanks Paul) suggested I follow the old adage of "faces, bases and flags"... no flags for these lads though!

So the basic recipe is:-
  • Flesh - Foundry Flesh shade/mid/light
  • Jackets, Cords and Plume - Foundry Dragoon Green shade plus quick highlights of mid
  • Trousers - either as jackets, or block painted Foundry Slate Grey or Chestnut shade
  • Packs, Straps and Boots - mostly black with highlights of Foundry Charcoal Black mid
  • Haversack - Foundry Boneyard shade/mid
  • Canteen & Strap - Foundry Night Sky shade/mid & Spearstaff Brown
  • Blanket Roll - Foundry Slate Grey shade/mid
  • Rifle - GW Scorched Brown & Foundry Conker Brown shade
  • Sergeant Strummer's sash - Foundry Conker Brown shade, Foundry Bright Red shade
Make sure any highlights are done quickly without any fuss.  Up close it can look a little untidy but on the table it looks fine.  One little indulgence to detail was to pick out the buttons first in black then silver.  I felt that really made a difference even at tabletop distance.

The basing scheme (trays by Charlie Foxtrot Models) is a mix of stones, coarse grit and sand.  Base coat with Americana Honey Brown, followed by highlights of VMC Dark Sand then Foundry Boneyard Light.  Finally, the tiniest highlight of pure white.  Then it's Colonel Bills (4Ground) Winter Grass, some tufts and a few clumps of Woodland Scenics foliage.

I'm keen to get a few more figures painted as I'm looking forward to playing some SP2 with an old friend in June.  When I say 'old friend' I don't mean he's old (Lol!), I mean he's been a friend since Uni days!
Sergeant Strummer gives the orders!

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Warlords of Erehwon Mini Review

Like many of us I was playing fantasy wargames ‘way back in the day’ using various incarnations of GW’s Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  So when Warlord announced these rules I was mildly interested, then I noted the author and my interest increased substantially.  Some good chums got the rules and said many good things, so I jumped in and bought the book.

The Book. The pic I took for eBay (oops... Spoiler alert!)

Initially I thought the production quality was very good, despite the book arriving with an errata card for some missing text.  But after an initial read through I see that Warlord still aren’t bothering with a thorough proof read.  This is a pity because otherwise the book is a thing of beauty.

Reading rules and actually playing them can be quite different experiences.  I skimmed through to get the gist of things knowing that a friend was going run some games for me and another friend me.  There are plenty of detailed explanations of how the rules actually work so I’ll not do that here but suffice to say players familiar with the basic Bolt Action rules will soon pick up these.  However, there were a few aspects of the rules that I didn’t like.

Or, more precisely, measuring distances, ranges etc at any time.  This irks me considerably.  It seems to take away part of the skill IMHO.  A typical unit movement seems to consist of establishing how far they could actually move, moving the unit, then checking ranges to all nearby units (often asking if the troops have any different movement rules), then tweaking the unit back so as to be just out of charge range.  Similarly for missile ranges too.  Players look to spend more time faffing the unit ‘back’ rather than getting on with game.  It just feels gamey.

This was less of an irritation for me but still mildly annoying none-the-less.  Simply put, unless you roll very well, your unit is likely to be ‘spent’ after just one combat.  Yes, they should be less effective but not practically useless.  Bear in mind that being a fantasy game I would expect to have  a lot more hand-to-hand combat troops (depending upon the exact army).  You end up having to hide them behind woods and hills – oh very heroic!

Four smaller units of 5 figures are far more effective than two larger units of 10.  This is due to the ability to inflict more pins with more, smaller units.  Again, it feels gamey.  This is technically also true of Bolt Action although in our group we tend to stick to section sized units of infantry.

This was just plain annoying.  For example, units can be repeatedly moved back to your own baseline.  Dull.

There are clearly a lot of players out there who are thoroughly enjoying these rules.  This is a good thing.  Rules are very much a personal choice.  But I don’t think I’ll be playing these again!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Everyone is looking for Carruthers

Following the hard fought encounter at Capela do Campo das Estrelas, the wounded Lt Carruthers fled into the hills and found refuge amongst friendly Portuguese villagers at Vila Nova de Capelo.

But with French patrols closing in, the villagers hid Archie (and any grog they couldn’t carry) as best they could and headed for the safety of the higher hills.  Both sides are searching for Carruthers!

The main objective is to find him and move off your own table edge.  The secondary objective is, as ever, give the enemy a good thrashing!

Dramatis Personae
Paul – French (Boo!)
Colin – British (Huzzah!) (Who, as it turned out, was “indisposed”)
Matt – Portuguese (Huzzah! in a Portuguese accent)

Paul’s French Force
Capitaine Pierre d'Escargot (III)
  3 groups of Line Infantry
Lieutenant Victor Feu (II)
  2 groups of Line Infantry
Lieutenant Rennie Lescun (II)
  2 groups of Grenadiers
Lieutenant Francois Rapido (II)
Sergent Hector Soixante-Neuf (I)
  3 groups of skirmishing Voltigeurs
Sergent Paul Galop (I)
  1 group Dragoons
Sergent Louis Souple (I)
  Light Cannon
105 points

Colin’s British Force
Captain Richard Blunte (III)
  1 group 95th Rifles
Sergeant Pat Cockburn (I)
  1 group Light Company Skirmishers
Lieutenant  Hugh Jercock (II)
  2 groups of The Royal Somerset Regiment (light company)
50 points

Matt’s Portuguese Force
Capitaine Jorge Vincente (II)
Sargento Filipe Macedo (I)
  3 groups Caçadores
Lieutenant Joseph Deacon (II)
  1 group of 16th Light Dragoons
Açougueiro – Partisan Leader (I)
  6 Partisans
Emilio Estevez – Partisan Leader (I)
  6 Partisans
54 points

Searching Buildings
Each building has 2-5 cards (ordinary numbered cards) depending upon its size.  Small 2, medium 3-4, large 5.  Determine the total number of cards and replace one with a joker - this is Carruthers. 

For extra fun replace 2-3 cards with picture cards to represent hidden stashes of fierce Portuguese brandy.

Shuffle and deal the cards to the buildings so no-one knows where he's hiding... or where the grog is!
Most buildings can only be searched by one group at a time although large buildings, such as the chapel, may be searched by up to two groups.

Groups must already be in a building to search, i.e. they cannot search in the turn they enter the building as they're too busy dodging musket balls from the enemy, tripping over escaped chickens, getting tangled up in abandoned washing, etc.
  • French - draw one card per group in the building
  • Portuguese - draw two cards per group, they might be allies but they're still "Johnny Foreigner" you know!
  • British - Archie automatically reveals himself with a cheery "hello chaps" if a British group searches a building

The player keeps the card and does not have to reveal the result until the unit moves out of the building, though may do so before if he (or 'she', Reg) wishes.

After being discovered, Carruthers accompanies (willingly or otherwise) the group that discovered him and is treated like an attached leader if the unit is shot at.  When he’s placed on the table, add another leader token to the bag.

If being held by the French then upon drawing Archie's token, roll a D6, on a 6 he escapes his captors and may move normally but at -1 pip per dice due to his injuries and/or being roughed up by the enemy.  A French unit only needs to move in to contact to re-capture him.

If accompanying friendly troops then drawing Archie's token has no effect, he is simply relieved to be with his comrades again, perhaps he sings a few lines of a stirring song.

Portuguese Brandy – if a picture card is drawn then the officer in charge must try to prevent his men guzzling the liquor!  The unit takes a looting test.  If they fail then they become intoxicated and the unit must make a successful looting test when next activated before they can do anything else.

Miss F. Batter
Archie has a sweetheart... Miss F. Batter (“Fanny” to her friends) is a very determined young lady.  Add a token for her in to the bag and she begins the game at one end of the table (select  randomly).  She will move from building to building calling out for Archie.  However, in her distressed state she is not able to actually find him.  Doubtless the French will be keen to capture an Englishwoman!

Troops may ‘escort’ her simply by moving in to contact.  Allied officers (being gentlemen) must spend one pip of activation trying to calm her.

Subsequently if her token is drawn roll a D6, on a 6 she heads off on her own to continue searching with complete disregard for her own safety.

If the unit she is accompanying is shot at (!) then treat her as an attached officer.

Some Notes from the Battle
The sleepy village of Vila Nova de Capelo

The battle begins with a distressed Miss Batter heading for the windmill “Archie! ... Archie, darling!

The French rapidly deploy Voltigeurs to search the nearest Farmhouse (the scratch built one, centre left in the pics) then the pigsty.

Sgt Cockburn and his men run for the for the small house near the olive press but he sprains an ankle! (movement event).  His men carry him in to the building.

Captain Blunte’s men are at the windmill and search the place thoroughly.  They find a stash of booze but they behave themselves (Blunte has “three rules” too!).

Fanny joins the riflemen in the windmill. Blunte is able to calm her and she joins them.

The French cannon opens fire at the building with Sgt Cockburn and The Royal Somerset Regiment Light company.  Only one man falls but they gain a number of shock.

Lt. Jercock’s  light bobs form a line near the grain store to give cover to Emilio Estevez’s Portuguese Partisans as they try to get in.

Sgt Cockburn and The Royal Somerset Regiment Light company search the small house but find nothing.  But, so busy are they looking for Carruthers that they are caught by a surprise charge from Escargot’s men marching through the centre of the village.

The fight is a very hard fought draw despite The Royal Somerset Regiment’s men being heavily outnumbered. Stout lads these!

A second round of fighting sees Sgt Cockburn perish and only one man, Pte Strummer, is left to retreat.

Emilio’s Partisans enter the grain store, find a stash of fine booze, then spend next few turns getting drunk... so much for fighting off the invading French!

Açougeiro’s partisans take up a position by the olive press and give the French Voltigeurs by the church volley after volley. Irregular skirmishers firing at long range from good cover, these chaps were finally doing it right!

Lt. Jercock’s men are forced to give ground after being badly shocked by a combination of shooting from French Grenadiers, Voltigeurs and Line Infantry. The Lieutenant fervently hopes all that singing in the nearby grain store is because Emilio’s men have found Archie ... ?

A well timed intervention by a local holy man (looking a bit like a Dark Ages bishop?) gives Jercock’s men a much needed boost their flagging morale (by rolling a splendid six).

Private Strummer is promoted to a Sergeant of the Light Company (0 level leader) and joins Jercock’s men by the grain store.

The French fire upon the windmill (with a cannon!) despite knowing full well that a defenceless woman is sheltering there ... with the Rifles.

Fanny’s token is drawn... A six is rolled... So with her ears still ringing from the French cannonade, she hitches up her skirts and ‘escapes’ from the windmill. In great haste she heads towards the grain store. Even with all the noise of battle she can hear what seems to be drunken Portuguese singing. Surely they are celebrating having found dear Archie?

Lt. Jercock steadies his men and they blast the French Voltigeurs who had been tormenting them.  The controlled volleys force the Frenchers to flee the field.  Huzzah!

Captain Blunte’s men advance on to the hill to protect Fanny.  Their Baker Rifles crack and the long range shots against Escargot’s men add more pins and force them back.

Açougeiro’s men add yet more pins to the battered French ... again they have to give ground.

At this point both sides morale is falling fast – it’s anyone’s game!

An advance group of Caçadores (led by Sgt Macedo) blast a group of French infantry and force them back too. But Capitaine Vincente is still somewhat to the rear!

The French cavalry appear from behind the chapel, spurring their horses from the canter to a full gallop, they head for the Allied line.

In the confusion Sgt Macedo’s Caçadores miss an opportunity to enfilade the infantry and instead direct their muskets at the fast approaching cavalry... who sweep in with blades flashing in the sunlight... The brave Caçadores are slaughtered, including the Sargento himself.

It’s a French victory ... but it was a damn close run thing.

Oddly enough Paul had found Carruthers in the house by the pigsty right at the start of the game!

In Conclusion...
Another fantastic game of Sharp Practice 2.  For me, indeed for all of us, this exactly what wargaming should be about!  Scenario driven, a strong narrative, bags of humour (we were literally crying with laughter at times), well balanced forces and a great set of rules to give a superb game all round.

Since the last game in this campaign we've all painted a few more toys (thank goodness!) added a few items of scenery. Although our collections are still woefully lacking in paint.

I'm really looking forward to the next instalment... Capitaine d'Escargot may have bagged Archie but he still has to get him back to French headquarters. That means crossing a lot of territory with plenty of places from which the Anglo-Portuguese could launch an ambush!