Tuesday, 31 January 2017

The Men Who Would Be Kings

There aren't many gaps in my wargaming interests but 19th Century Colonial conflict is one of the more obvious. I do have some old 6mm Anglo-Zulu War figures I completed many years ago but I don't now find them particularly appealing.

Besides the Zulu War I have at one time or another been interested in the Sikh Wars, the Indian Mutiny, the Second Afghan War, the Urabi Revolt, the Sudan, the Second Boer War and the Boxer Rebellion. There's no shortage of choice there, but I've never really committed to a particular set of rules.

For large battles, and many Colonial battles were very large indeed, Bloody Big Battles! is now an available option and I'm planning to try out a couple of BBB Colonial scenarios with my block armies. However, the prospect of endlessly refighting one particular battle does not really provide me with enough incentive to paint up two large armies.

At the other end of the scale (1:1) I recently got a copy of Dan Mersey's The Men Who Would Be Kings rules published by Osprey. I haven't played all Dan's rules, but I was very impressed with Dux Bellorum.

28mm Afghans from Artizan Designs
TMWWBK takes an unashamedly Hollywood approach, but why not? While the simulation of historical tactics and the reliving of historical battles has great appeal, you sometimes just want to play a game with military flavour and complete it in an evening without undue preparation or stress.

TMWWBK looks simple, fun and requires only a modest number of figures, another winner in my book. I don't know if it will go well as a multiplayer game but I can foresee that the officer characteristics (which govern unit activation) could be very entertaining in the context of a club night.

I was considering doing the Boxer Rebellion using 28mm figures from Redoubt Enterprises but that is already covered by another club member, so I have been revisiting other options. My current favourite is the Second Afghan War using the beautifully sculpted figures from Artizan Designs.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A strategy for wargaming

Owing to competition from another diversion I'm likely to have even less time this year for wargaming, so I need to optimise use of time I do have. In the past I've tended to flit from one game to another, which makes absorbing rules very difficult. A considerable proportion of gaming time is spent looking things up. Then you don't return to that game for weeks or months and the whole process starts all over again.

This year I'm aiming to become a serial gamer, playing the same games several times before moving on to another one. My current obsession is Command & Colors: Ancients. I've so far played two games and the strategy is certainly working.

Command & Colors: Ancients - Zama. At this point the Carthaginians (near side) were trailing badly.

The first game was the Battle of Akragas 406 BC. I got the Syracusans while my club comrade Chris took the Carthaginians. C&C:A scenarios are not necessarily balanced so the aim is to improve on the historical outcome. The Syracusans should have won but I lost. My ultimate defeat was entirely my own fault when I failed to retire an exposed general.

Chris had not played the game before and I had played it very little some time ago, so a great deal of the game was spent reading rather than playing and I'm not entirely certain we got everything completely right.

The second game was the Battle of Zama 202 BC.  This time I did a little preparation. In particular I studied the elephant rules and planned to counter the beasts with ranged fire from light infantry. In the event I got the Carthaginians (the historical losers) while Chris commanded the Romans!

Having also noted the effect of elephants on cavalry (to be expected), I began to move the elephants to the flanks where Chris had a predominance in cavalry. This was not a bad idea but Chris's light infantry soon closed in on them and took them out in close combat.

The problem with the Carthaginians in this game is that once the elephants are gone you are outnumbered in both cavalry and infantry. Despite this I managed to achieve some good local successes and the balance of Victory Banners (which you win for destroying units and sometimes for occupying objectives) was running at 7:7. It was a very close-run thing but Chris eventually got the eighth and final kill.

What I like about C&C:A is that it allows you to fight historical battles with a minimum of complication. By only the second game of this series, I had absorbed most of the rules and factors, and much less time was spent looking things up.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

10mm Chinese Warlord Armies for Red Actions

I've now got the packs for two 10mm Chinese Warlord Armies to play Red Actions. One pack came from Pithead Miniatures, but all the rest were from Pendraken.

Nobody actually does any CWE miniatures in 10mm and I am indebted to Victor Pocilujko (GrumpyOldMan on TMP etc) for his very helpful advice on conscripting suitable figures from a variety of WW1 and other ranges.

The armies are based on the Northern Expedition 1926-1928 in which the southern National Revolutionary Army invaded and crushed the northern Fengtian/Ankouchon faction, and brought the Warlord era to an end.

The Southerners were distinguished by caps similar to those worn by the British and Russians in WW1 while the Northerners had more of a 'pork pie' version similar to that worn by the Japanese at the time of the Russo-Japanese War.

Getting all the packs I needed has generated quite a lot of surplus figures. The overs may go towards Balkan War, British 1914, Mexican Revolution, Russian Civil War and/or Colonial projects.

I had expected to make some compromises in recruiting Chinese Warlord armies from substitutes, but I'm now quite satisfied that thanks to Victor the figures I've accumulated are an excellent representation.

Monday, 9 January 2017

ArmiesArmy Pegasus VTOL for Gruntz 15mm

I try to resist project creep but it's futile. Once I'd discovered ArmiesArmy's Pegasus VTOL I had to have one...

ArmiesArmy shop: V-212 Pegasus VTOL


The parts are cleanly moulded and fit together well. The only parts I had to trim to fit were the closed-position under-carriage doors. Alternatively there are parts for having the under-carriage down.

The parts were quickly assembled with superglue.

I thought the resin might be difficult to drill for the flight stand but it was easy.

In flight. Just need a base to put it on.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2017 Plans and resolutions

Crossfire: due for revival
I hope to reverse the downward trend in 2017 by getting more painting done and by playing more games. I'm unlikely to have more time, but I'm going to try to make better use of the time I do have.

My painting/modelling priorities are to :

1. Complete the Sci-Fi armies for Gruntz 15mm.
2. Paint the 10mm Chinese Warlord armies for Red Actions.
3. Undertake some trial painting of the 6mm Franco-Prussian War figures for Bloody Big Battles!

My gaming ambitions are to play games of:

1. Bloody Big Battles!
2. Command & Colours Ancients.
3. Crossfire.
4. Galleys & Galleons.
5. Gruntz 15mm.
6. Hammerin' Iron II.
7. Irregular Wars.
8. Maurice.
9. Red Actions.

Following the wise words in response to my last post from Norm of the Battlefields and Warriors blog about valuing engagement with all aspects of the wargaming hobby I should also add a few words about my plans for research, collecting and blogging.

I've largely completed the research for my  current projects, though some background reading and 'mood setting' would be good if I get the time. As for collecting, I would like to get some more painted 1/600 ACW ironclads if the opportunity arises, and I might photo some of my existing armies/navies that have not previously been featured on the blog in any detail. Blogging will continue as now.

Another aspect of the hobby which should also get a specific mention is 'planning'. Although it doesn't always have an actual output in terms of a wargaming project, I probably spend more time planning/dreaming about new armies than anything else. My current interest in that area is centred on possible approaches to and armies for Bloody Big World War Two Battles and The Men Who Would Be Kings. More anon no doubt.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

2016 Scoreboard

The film spin-off skirmish game, Terminator Genisys, was
my last game of the year. It's well designed and was
fun to play. I did just scrape a win even though all 
my surviving Terminators had been reduced to
Crawlers.
Owing to other commitments and distractions my painting and gaming achievements continued to decline during 2016. I completed the armies for only one game - 15mm Portuguese / Dutch / Spanish armies for Irregular Wars. I did, however, create usable if unpainted 10mm Seven Years War armies for Maurice.

I also started 15mm Sci-Fi armies for Gruntz 15mm, collected 15mm Japanese armies for Irregular Wars, collected 10mm Chinese Warlord armies for Red Actions, and bought a first batch of 6mm Franco-Prussian War figures for Bloody Big Battles!

Perhaps that doesn't sound too bad, but my gaming total was very poor. This year I managed only 17 games. These were:

Bloody Big Battles! 3
Irregular Wars 3
C&C Battlecry 3
Might & Reason 2
Gorechosen 2
C&C Napoleonics 1
C&C Great War 1
Terminator Genisys 1
Other 1

The 'other' was a gangster skirmish game devised by a fellow club member, Bernard, and based on a set of cowboy rules possibly called Fistful of Aces. The games in bold are my own.

This is not a great total but all these games were enjoyable and worthwhile, which is the important thing.

Perhaps I should also mention that this is the forty-second post to the blog this year, the highest ever. Some may suspect that blogging is detracting from painting and gaming. Perhaps so. Nonetheless, I have had some very helpful feedback as a result of floating ideas here first so it's not a complete distraction.

My next post will be in the new year and will outline my plans and resolutions for 2017.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Bloody Big Battles of WW2

WW2 at grand-tactical level on Bob Mackenzie's
website. 
I was always intending to have a crack at the 1940 campaign in France using Megablitz, or, more likely, the hex-based Hexblitz variant, using 3mm models. Now there is a new option for WW2 grand tactical/operational rules in beta, Bloody Big World War Two Battles, an extension of Chris Pringle's 19th Century Bloody Big Battles! It will be interesting to see how well a set of 19th Century rules can spawn a WW2 derivative. At this operational level with its inevitable abstractions I see no reason why it shouldn't.

The big advantage of something coming from the BBB stable is that it will be driven by historical scenarios. The provision of OOBs and maps will save months of research that would probably never be adequate anyway. Are historical scenarios obligatory for an operational level game? Well, they're not going to be possible for depicting the 'Cold War gone hot' because it never happened, but in general historical actuality does seem to go hand in hand with grand tactical wargaming.

BBWW2B uses 3" bases and a ground scale of 3" to the kilometre at the regimental level or 6" to the kilometre at battalion level. Bob Mackenzie, who is developing this WW2 variant, uses existing 6mm models on sabots which is not merely decorative but apparently allows for removal of casualties.

Bob Mackenzie's website has some some BBWW2B scenarios including battle reports and photos. Click on What's New to find them. Further details can be found on Chris Pringle's blog and the BBB Yahoo Group.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Bloody Big Battles! - basing figures 3

I have to admit that I didn't like the suggested basing for Skirmisher stands in Bloody Big Battles! and wrote about it here. I suggested the use of Skirmisher markers, thinking that there wasn't enough room on a 1" stand for additional skirmisher figures. Since getting my hands on some actual Baccus 6mm Franco-Prussian War figures, however, I think it is practical - for 6mm figures - to get skirmishers onto an ordinary base by placing the formed troops at the back. And that's not the only way in which my plans have changed.

The left-hand Imperial French infantry base (above) has a Skirmisher characteristic. The other one doesn't. The Baccus strips of formed figures have been clipped so the figures fill the MDF bases from side-to-side. However, I think it will be difficult to texture the MDF when the figure bases are flush with the edge. I've therefore rejected the idea of having five figures in line. Simply adding two strips per base will keep everything simpler (below).
I had assumed that two skirmisher figures would be needed, but one figure makes the point just as well if not better (above). This is obviously a more abstract representation than I had originally planned.

Heavy cavalry will be three-up as expected. Light cavalry might have two.

1" bases provide plenty of room for a gun and four crew. 

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tools of the trade

Thicker than water?
I've always thinned acrylic paint with water,  but proper acrylic thinner is said to improve flow and coverage. So I ordered some Vallejo acrylic medium which is apparently the same stuff used in the paint but without the pigment. The reason for this extra care is the prospect of painting 6mm figures.

Shiny new scalpels and lots of new ways to cut your fingers.
A visit to a homestore chain, The Range, produced a nice set of scalpels and a packet of small-to-medium sized files. I have in the past tended to crimp on dedicated modelling tools but now I pick up whatever looks like it might be useful.

Something to file away for the future.

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