Wednesday, 14 March 2018

28mm Dark Age scenery

Adrian's Walls: wattle pens and fences
I already had the usual range of wargame scenery - passable cloth, trees, hills, rocky ground and rivers, but for playing Landwasters and Raven Feeders (Dark Age extension of Lion Rampant), I wanted to add some 28mm scenics of a specifically Dark Age character. OK, my last century vintage figures are 25mm but things have moved on.

I found two sources to help set the scene. Firstly, some wattle pens and fences from Adrian's Walls. I now prefer to avoid resin for larger pieces because of the weight, but resin gives smaller pieces some stability. 

The sets are not cheap but they are high quality and come ready-painted. The animal pens are particularly impressive - you can almost smell the dirt. There's one in particular I wouldn't want to fall into.

4Ground Saxon/Medieval dwelling
For buildings, however,  I avoided resin and turned to MDF,  specifically the ready-coloured Saxon/Medieval buildings from 4Ground. These need to be stuck together, including the teddy bear fur thatch, but don't need to be painted.

I've now completed both buildings. These are the first laser-cut building kits I've tackled. The instructions were clear and the parts fitted perfectly. I was pleasantly surprised by the finish and the level of detail. The kit was very quick to make, indeed, the main walls need to be constructed in toto before anything dries.

4Ground Saxon/Medieval hovel
The experience was far better than I expected and I will certainly look at 4Ground buildings for other scales and periods.

Thursday, 8 March 2018

28mm Pathans for The Men Who Would Be Kings

Pathans with muskets
I thought my 28mm Zulu War (1879) British for The Men Who Would Be Kings might be recycled for two other conflicts around that time - the Urabi Revolt in Egypt (1879-1882) and the Second Afghan War (1878-1880).

I have no doubts that the British regulars will be fine for Egypt, but the North-West Frontier is more problematic.

Pathans with swords
Khaki was adopted earlier for Indian service and this was the normal British dress for the Second Afghan War. However, I’m not too worried for the following reasons:

1. Scarlet coats and blue serge trousers are reported for the beginning of the war.
2. There were earlier actions on the North-West Frontier for which the appearance of red coats is more likely.
3. The British figures could be replaced later.
4. Let's not be pedantic.

A neat looking light gun and crew
So far the only Afghan figures I’ve collected are irregular Pathan types, so I’m not yet actually committed to the Second Afghan War. The figures are a mixture of musketeers and swordsmen. For TMWWBK they can be fielded in predominantly firearm units as Tribesmen (Irregular Infantry) or in predominantly hand-to-hand units as Ghazi fanatics (Tribal Infantry). Having individually-based figures gives you a lot of flexibility.

The figures came from two different eBay sources with rather differing ideas about light and dark finishes, but both sets of figures were well-painted and I'm very pleased to have them.

I just need to paint up (groan) a few more to complete the army, and add some steel paper under the bases for storage/transport. Steel paper now seems unobtainable, having been replaced with ferro sheet, but steel paper is thinner and I should have enough stocks for these figures.

Friday, 2 March 2018

28mm Plastics for the Swiss-Burgundian Wars

Perry Late Medieval European infantry.
Despite my current aversion to and lack of time for painting, let alone assembly, I've been completely seduced by 28mm hard plastics. Of course, they've been around for some time, but as I hadn't previously had much use for 28mm I never gave them serious consideration.

I did feel plastics were 'insubstantial' but since taking a particular interest in Dan Mersey's rules and scanning eBay for used 28mm recruits, I was struck by the fantastic appearance and quality of these figures.

Besides having better detail and proportions than many metal miniatures, and their potential for variation and customisation, they are also, obviously, lighter to carry and less likely to get damaged in transit or use.

I recently bought some second-hand 28mm Afghans for The Men Who Would Be Kings and it wasn't until I started handling them that I realised that they were a mixture of metal and plastic, so I had inadvertently already bought my first plastics.

However, I'm really interested in using plastics for a new project. There are very few ranges in comparison with metal figures but one area that has taken my fancy and is available from Perry Miniatures is the High Middle Ages which I wanted to do for Lion Rampant. The figures are sold as Wars of the Roses and European Mercenaries. There are currently five boxes as well as a range of metal figures to fill the gaps, e.g. artillery, although that's not particularly appropriate to a skirmish game.

I already had 15mm Wars of the Roses armies which I had no desire to duplicate, but I didn't have anything for the following Swiss-Burgundian Wars. I do in fact already have Swiss in 25mm but they are circa 1525 and based for Impetus.

The big question for me was whether to buy the boxes new or try to pick up figures second-hand. If I bought the boxes I would be able to organise, customise and paint exactly as I wanted. But then I took a reality check, realising that I would probably never have time to finish them.

If buying second-hand, on the other hand, I would have to choose carefully as most second-hand figures would probably have been painted for the Wars of the Roses. This is not an insurmountanble problem as many, but not all, livery colours could be recycled. The Burgundians wore blue and white so any figures with that combination or which could be easily overpainted could go to that side.

Some Swiss cantons also sported blue and white but that would be confusing. Bern was the biggest canton and its colours were red and black. These are strong colours which could, if necessary, be painted on top of other colours. And red and white were both cantonal and the 'national' colours of the Swiss Confederation, I think red, red and white, and red and black should all be fine for the Swiss. It would be more the suggestion of a uniform than an actual uniform, but I think that is quite realistic and what I would have wanted to achieve if I had painted the figures myself.

Anyway, I was very lucky to pick up some useful lots from eBay which I'm currenlty waiting to be delivered. I won't have any pikemen but I will have quite a range of other troop types.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Cavalier 2018

Tonbridge Wargames Club: Segesvar 1849. The writing is
on the wall for somebody...
Just a very short personal report on Sunday's Cavalier show staged by Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society in nearby Tonbridge. (The two towns are often confused by strangers!)

Tonbridge has its own club (Tonbridge Wargames Club) and they put on a demo game of the battle of Segesvar from the Hungarian Revolution 1848-1849. The game evoked a lot of interest.

On the credit side I got rid of a lot of stuff at knockdown prices on TWWS's excellently-organised Bring-and-Buy stall. It can't be much fun to spend the day running that so a big thank you to those involved for providing this facility.

On the debit side I bought a 28mm adobe house from TableScape, ordered a couple of  rubber-backed mats from Tinywargames and got some heavy-duty magnetic sheets from the charming people at Products for Wargamers.

Segesvar: the background

Thursday, 22 February 2018

First Game of The Men Who Would Be Kings

Natal Mounted Police and British Regulars.
This was my first game of The Men Who Would Be Kings and the first outing for the Zulu War figures I've recently been accumulating. Please excuse the unfinished bases made from Coins of the Realm. Queen Victoria would not have been amused and I would have been doing hard labour, but times have changed.

I didn't actually play myself but ran the game for two other players who had played it before so I could piggyback on their experience. The table was set up for Scenario A, a sort of ‘passing engagement’ in which each side is aiming to get off the opposite end of the table while picking up additional points for inflicting casualties.

I persuaded the players to throw for Leadership Ratings but not for Leadership Traits as they didn't want to be faced with too much innovation.

First move: the Zulus waste no time.
With faster moving troops the Zulu player (Bernard) had the initiative. Some units bolted for the far end while others concentrated on cutting off the British. This seemed like a good strategy.

The British move out a little but are outpaced.

The British (Chris) were inevitably slow but also handled  cautiously.

Over-confident Zulu attackers are pinned.

The Zulu blocking units advance in the open and suffer badly from British firepower. In this photo they are pinned. They recovered from the pins and managed a couple of charges, but were beaten off. Perhaps they should have stuck to the cover.

The Great Escape, but is it enough?
Three of the Zulu units, followed later by a fourth, make it off the table, but not without suffering some casualties from long-range fire. The damage was minor but was to cost points in the final reckoning.

Two Zulu units are wiped out, but the British haven't got very far.

With four Zulu units off the table and two annihilated, the British were left unopposed but still had to make it off by the end of the scenario (turn 15). One didn't, resulting in a draw. With my godlike impartiality and benefit of hindsight I'd say the British were too cautious and the Zulus not cautious enough.

Both players seemed to enjoy the game though Chris is more of a fan of Lion Rampant. Both players have played both games before. I look forward to taking command myself.

Monday, 19 February 2018

28mm Metal Figure Storage

Original 'optimistic' storage
I previously posted some photos of my 28mm Zulu War armies as stored in Really Useful Boxes (example posted again right). The figures are mounted on steel 2p pieces and the boxes are lined with magnetic plastic. All looked well but when I opened the boxes after wheeling them to my local wargames club, I discovered the figures had ended up in a heap!  Some figures had come off their bases but luckily there was no significant damage.

The 0.55 mm thick magnetic plastic is usually fine for 10mm and 15mm figures on multi-figure bases, but metal 28mm figures are simply too heavy to stay put.

Foamboard dividers under construction
I've since lined other boxes with 0.8 mm magnetic sheet which is significantly stronger. I've also used foamboard to create internal dividers. I approached this in a similar way  to using foamboard for buildings.

First step was to measure the internal dimensions of the RUBs. I then played around with a design in CorelDraw. After some thought I decided to  go with four figures per compartment. This accommodates the regular infantry who have protruding rifles and bayonets and which are convenient to have in pairs.

Better protected than before
After printing the templates using an A3 printer, I used SprayMount to fix them onto 5mm foamboard, before cutting them out with a scalpel. The design is very simple. There are two long slats crossed by four short slats. Slots are cut in each set, up and down respectively, so they slot together. This is then placed loosely in the RUB with some sheets of bubblewrap above. Next time I will make the dividers a little higher so they are flush with the lid.

I will also be dropping bubblewrap pads into each compartment on top of the figures.

There may be some movement in transit, but the threat of damage should be reduced.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Goodbye to the Lead Mountain Blues

The Workbench list: now of digestible proportions.
Besides my storage crisis (now eased) another burden was the long list of unfinished projects on this blog's Workbench page. Owing to what I suspect is some bug in Blogger, this page got overwritten and had to be recreated.

This apparent catastrophe was highly fortuitous as it gave me an opportunity to rethink and to relist only the projects currently being pursued or immediately in prospect.  The rest may potentially exist but out of sight is out of mind. The shame of the lead mountain is hidden, and I feel I can return to painting etc with some prospect of progress. So much so that I have  actually added  a new project! That may sound totally mad, but it's inevitable that new projects will leapfrog old ones, and that's perfectly manageable as long as something else is dropped off the list to compensate.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Repurposing my 25mm Vikings

Back in the days when I played 25mm WRG Ancients it was common to raise a discrete army of your choice and to pit it against the armies of other players. These match-ups were usually unhistorical, and one's opponents were often WRG super armies like Seleucids and triple-armed Late Romans. This left me with a couple of isolated armies which haven't been used for decades.

I offloaded my Later Greek Hoplites years ago and I'm planning to sell my Sassanid Persians, but I thought I'd repurpose the Vikings. Although the army would be relatively small for a game like Impetus, it will comfortably stretch to two skirmish-level warbands.

I had originally thought of using Saga, but I'm now more likely to try Landwasters and Raven Feeders, the official Dark Age variant of Dan Mersey’s Mediaeval rules, Lion Rampant. Some people have criticised Dan’s rules for being too simple, but I’ll live with having fun and finishing a game, or even two, in an evening.

When I first started collecting this army there weren't many multi-pose packs about, so I bought figures from different manufacturers and ranges so that every figure was unique. This mixture will now work to my advantage. The unarmoured infantry are pretty generic anyway, while the more stylistically-specific armored figures should split well enough into typically Anglo-Danish and Viking forces, though I do have some doubts that they would have been very distinguishable by the 11th Century.

The Lion Rampant Mediaeval categories readily translate into Dark Age types. OK, I’m aware of armour development, but this is a game not a scientific simulation, and the important thing is 'relative' difference.

These are the Mediaeval game categories and the Dark Age types I will have:

Foot Men-at-Arms
Anglo-Danish and Viking Huscarls with two-handed axes.

Foot Serjeants
Armoured spearman - Select Fyrd or Viking Hirdmen.

Foot Yeomen
Unarmoured spearman - Great Fyrd, and Viking Bondi who will be additionally armed with mixed weapons (i.e. will include archers).

Fierce Foot
Viking Berserkir and Ulfhedhnar.

Anglo-Danish skirmishers and Viking scouts with various missile weapons.

Next step is to take the figures off the old bases, throw away those afflicted with lead rot and then rebase the survivors on 2p coins. For skirmish games I really don’t like the look of rectangular bases, and I’m not keen on movement trays either. If I’m short of figures I can press some half-painted ones into service as I have plenty of those in the lead mountain. These were on my workbench over twenty years ago, but were packed into a box when I moved  house and have not seen the light of day since. I'll post some pictures when I've reorganised and rebased them.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Zulu War progress

I have been very lucky with the accumulation of additional 28mm figures such that I now have enough for two 24 point field forces for playing The Men Who Would Be Kings.

I have six Zulu units of 16, 3 12-man units of British Regulars, a Gatling (?) team, 8 Natal Mounted Police or Carabineers and enough spare Zulus to field a unit of Natal Native Contingent. That gives me some choice on the British side.

The figures are a mix of Renegade and Black Tree. The scale mix is just about acceptable IMO but I will need to be careful not to add any figures smaller than the Black Tree ones.

The figures are painted to different standards, some a lot better than I would have attempted, some not as good.  I may add some staining and paint here and there if I can be bothered. The bases obviously need finishing and some of the Zulus are missing weapons, but the armies are ready to transport and use.

There was a time when I  would have wanted to paint all my own figures, or, at least, have them painted for me to a tight specification, but I've grown out of that. Once the bases are complete the figures should present a reasonably unified appearance and feel like they're mine.