Tuesday, 11 December 2018

'Rebels and Patriots' for 1798?

The latest and last set of Rampant rules - Rebels and Patriots - is due out in January 2019 and will fill the gap in the Rampant range between The Pikeman’s Lament and The Men Who Would Be Kings. The rules have been written by Michael Leck and Daniel Mersey.

Osprey wanted the rules to be focused on North America for commercial reasons, but they should be perfectly applicable beyond. One possibility amongst many hundreds is the Irish Rebellion of 1798 in which I have had a long-standing interest, especially since watching the TV mini-series The Year of the French which was shown in the 80s. I go back a long way!

At one point I started collecting 15mm figures for this conflict with the intention of using the Maurice rules, but it would have meant doing another mass army and the rules weren't really suited to pitching a predominantly pike army against musketmen.

So I was quite excited by the prospect of a Rampant set for the horse-and-musket period which would once again allow me to satisfy an historical interest with a relatively small game. I had assumed/hoped that R&P would have some type of 'charging infantry' that would accomodate Irish pikemen but from what I can tell the 'Natives' type in R&P is essentially a shooting type.

At first this put me off and I was wondering about creating a custom unit type or maybe using The Pikeman's Lament instead. However, it is possible to increase Aggression and make Natives Poor Shooters. This would represent a small number of firearms mixed in with the pike in addition to the firearms otherwise fielded by skirmishers, so I think I should be OK after all.

Trent Miniatures (currently available from North Star) do a good range of 28mm figures specifically for this conflict, so I've already begun to use my £5-a-month Wargames Illustrated credit to (slowly) accumulate forces.
Croppy Boys: Trent Miniatures 28mm Irish insurgent pikemen.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Comparison of 28mm Border Reiver samples

The 28mm Timeline Miniatures from Hoka Hey Wargaming will be forming the heart of my Border Reiver collection for playing Pikeman’s Lament as they have that true Border character but I will be supplementing them with some other useful Elizabethan models from the Foundry 'Sea Dogs and Swashbucklers' range which were said to match in height and bulk.

Before sending large orders I decided to get a sample packet of each just to check. I can now personally confirm that both ranges conform to the so-called 'heroic 28mm' size, i.e. they are really 30mm from top of the head to soles of the feet.

Top: Timeline. Bottom: Foundry
The Timeline Reivers were originally sculpted by the late Jim Bowen and are now sold by Alan Rudd. I had a minor query about horses which Alan kindly answered by phone. Foundry is of course a much more corporate enterprise.

Both ranges are nicely animated, clean, and robust, and this style is very much to my taste. I guess the Foundry ones are a little chunkier and deeper-cut but they won't be distinguishable by the time they are fully painted and based.

The seadog-style ‘shorts’ worn by some figures in the Foundry range may need a little conversion to better represent the more baggy hose worn by the 'lower orders' on land. There will also be Garrison troops, and everything may also double up as English Royal and Rebel armies if I want a change of scene.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Twilight of Divine Right

I never got round to playing Twilight of the Sun King but I’m currently looking for a set of Thirty Years War army-level rules and had no hesitation in ordering the 17thC variant of TotSK - the equally evocatively entitled Twilight of Divine Right - together with the scenario book of TYW battles.

The rules are written by Nicholas Dorrell and published by the Pike & Shot Society.

Regardless of how the rules might play, my first inclination with any new rule set is to look at the unit types, basing, and overall game ‘size’ in terms of elements and playing area.

ToDR offers a good range of unit types including four types of infantry formation. Units can also vary in quality and size, and infantry can have different firearm ratios. This is all good, and in a very clever special rule, the short-lived Swedish Brigades can switch dynamically between different firearm ratios during a game to reflect their flexible formations.

The game measures in Base Widths (BW) which can be any reasonable size, but 60mm is suggested with most base depths half that. However, most units consist of two bases and would thus occupy an overall footprint of 120mm x 30mm. As the bases are always placed side by side it isn’t really necessary to use two physically separate bases. A single base would suffice while remembering that a BW is half that. Using two bases would maintain more compatibility with other rules and would be fine for Regiments drawn up in two Battalia with one Battalia on each base, but would not be so good for Early Tercios which I wouldn't really want to split across two bases.

If using 60mm wide bases (120mm-wide units) the table typically needs to be 6’ x 4’ and can go up to 9’ x 5’. I’d certainly want to use smaller bases/units and a smaller playing area, as long as that didn’t make measurement and movement too fiddly. I wasn't quite sure what that size should be but I received some very helpful advice on the TotSK Yahoo Group.

The smallest measurement in the game is the range of pistol cavalry at a 1/4BW. Assuming you didn't want this measurement to go below 1cm, the unit bases would have to be at least 80mm wide (i.e. BW of 40mm). That would reduce the table size to two-thirds which would be 4' x 2'8" up to 6' x 3' 4", which would be much more manageable sizes for the space-challenged.

So how many units would you need for a battle? The smallest scenario has 21 units while the largest has 80. With numbers of that order and my preference for smaller unit bases, I’d probably go for 2mm blocks, Kriegspiel-style blocks or MDF counters, but all these musings are highly provisional.

Postscript

Rules author Nick Dorrell mentioned a possible reason to stay with 2 bases per unit, rather than 1 large one. For the largest battles you can then use a single base as a unit.  That's a very interesting option as it instantly halves the figures and playing space you need for larger battles while retaining visual impact for smaller ones.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

The Pikeman's Lament

In looking for Border Reiver rules I had first envisaged a 'true skirmish' game In which each figure was autonomous and had initially alighted upon En Garde. I may return to it, but while I'm not looking for games with mass armies, the number of figures used in En Garde (up to 20 a side) was smaller than I really wanted for this particuar project.

Then I remembered The Pikeman's Lament (2017) by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck (Dalauppror), a rule set I had looked at after I had started playing The Men Who Would Be Kings but before I started playing Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant. I also came across the reports of Border Reiver games using Pikeman’s Lament on Angus Konstam's Edinburgh Wargames website. That clinched it, but before the headlong rush into hitting the 'Buy' button, I thought I'd better try out the rules and period by substituting my as yet unused Late Mediaevals and playing a Reiver game.

The Rampant games are commonly referred to as skirmish games, and one figure does represent one man, but the idea of skirmish needs some qualification. In wargame terms I tend to think of these games as squad games in which individual figures act as strength markers. That is not a criticism, just an observation, and it is a type of game I prefer to 'true skirmish' games.

We staged a stand-up fight (Scenario A) pitting a Reiver family, retainers and servants (commanded by my friend Ian who has Border ancestry!) against garrison forces of the March Warden supported by other Reivers (commanded by myself). The backstory is that the Reivers  were ambushing a Hot Trod (or pursuit).

The Reivers comprised:

1 Reiver Family mounted* (Dragoons – customised) @ 4
2 Reiver Family on foot (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 = 12
1 Retainers (Clansmen) @ 3                   
2 Retainers (Commanded Shot) @ 2 = 4       
1 Armed servants (Clubmen) @ 1               
TOTAL 24

The 'Dragoons' had customised values which upped their Attack Value and Stamina in compensation for losing their Shooting factor and Skirmishing ability.

The Warden’s forces:

1 Border Horse* (Gallopers) @ 4       
1 Garrison Pike @ 4                
1 Garrison Shot @ 4                
2 Hot Trod Reivers (Forlorn Hope) @ 6 = 12
TOTAL 24

*Officers with these units.

The photos show the course of the game. In order to speed things up and maintain momentum we tended to make assumptions and bluff our way through on the basis of our knowledge of other Rampant rules. We inevitably cut corners and made a few mistakes but these were mostly corrected and probably didn't affect the outcome of the game.

Ian's force (far side) and mine (near side). My force was slow to start moving but I was relatively pleased about the match-ups. I hoped to out-shoot the enemy on my left flank, charge the Retainers with my Reivers and charge the enemy mounted troops with my lancers.
 
Ian's Commanded Shot 1 get the worse of a fire fight with my Garrison Shot. A Wild Charge by the Retainers and an Ordered Charge by Ian's Reivers 1 on my Reivers 1 is beaten off with losses on both sides. Both Ian's units are Wavering. The Retainers never recovered from this setback.

The Officers' units square up for a fight. The Retainers fail to rally and keep retreating.

The mounted Reiver unit attacks my lancers but bounces back.

The March Warden's unit attacks eliminating the Reiver mounted unit and the Reiver Leader. Tests all round for loss of Officer. The Warden's unit has ended up within 3" of a third party, the Armed Servants. We weren't quite sure what we were supposed to do about that illegality. We left it there.

Ian's Commanded Shot 1 is eliminated by overwhelming fire power.

I lose my Reiver 1 unit but the March Warden's unit ploughs into the Armed Servants who are chaff to the scythe. We should have gone on until there were only three units left in total on the table but the outcome was pretty certain at this point.
In conclusion:
  • The rules worked well (as expected) and there were no difficulties in stretching these Seventeenth Century rules back to the Sixteenth Century.
  • I probably wouldn't use the customised Dragoon option again. Any mounted Reivers will simply be treated as Gallopers.
  • Using substitute figures was surprisingly distracting and it would have been better to use MDF counters.
  • This is the first time I've played with my Late Mediaevals and I didn't like the rectangular figure bases as it's difficult to avoid lining them up. I'm therefore going to rebase all the infantry on 2p pieces like my other Rampant armies and this will make it easier to keep them in the prescribed clumps.
  • We both enjoyed the game. Reivers are a colourful option despite the Hodden Grey. I am going ahead with this project and have ordered some sample packets.

Friday, 23 November 2018

L'Art de la Guerre

In my first wargaming career as an adult - from the late 70s to the early 90s - WRG Ancients was the game I played more than any other, and I progressed through various rule editions, scales and rebasing experiences. When I returned to wargaming sometime after 2000 I couldn't go back to the mental contortions of Barkerese and took up other periods and games like Crossfire.

Over the intervening years I played a few games of Ancients with various different rule sets including DBA, which I did enjoy,  but I didn’t commit to any of them. Just recently a couple of friends at my wargames club, Bernard and Chris, organised a game of L'Art de la Guerre in which two other players - James and myself - enjoyed minor roles. None of us had played the game before, and my only introduction had been looking at the rules for an hour earlier in the day.

The game featured Sassanids versus Byzantines. In order to speed things up a small amount of scenery was arbitrarily placed on the table, but otherwise I think we followed the proper procedures. The game is said to be playable to a conclusion in two-and-a-half hours. We managed four moves each which for a first game seemed reasonable.

It's early days but all four players were positive about the experience. The photos show the course of the game as far as it went.

View of the Sassanid army from the Sassanid side.

The Sassanid and Byzantine armies from the Byzantine side.

The armies skirmish on the left and in the centre.

My command gets stuck in with mixed results.


The Byzantine centre weakens, but my light cavalry catch the Sassanid left flank.


The left flank conflict is as yet indecisive. The Byzantine centre is partly eliminated. The Sassanid left flank is under pressure. The Sassanid centre is strong and unopposed but can it be brought to bear on the flanks?


ADLG is now strongly established so I'll just comment on a few aspects that struck me. The standard game is fought with very convenient sized armies in a reasonably convenient area. The army lists are clear and strike a good balance between simplicity and complexity. They are also realistic and avoid the obscure gimmicks that are a feature if other rule sets, and which competitive players latch onto if it brings them game advantages.

While DBA is a game of sudden outcomes in which units die or survive unscathed, ADLG units suffer cumulative damage before destruction. This introduces a significant element of attrition, and seems to invite the need for intervention by reserves. Once the troops are locked in combat there is otherwise not a great deal of use for Pips.

Of the Ancient games I've played in recent years - DBA, Impetus and Sword and Spear, ADLG seems to be the most promising for my tastes, so I've set about reorganising my 15mm Ancient and Medieval armies and will rebase and supplement them where necessary. It will be good to get these armies out of their long retirement.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Border Reivers?

Something to whet the apetite? 28mm Border Reivers
from Timeline Miniatures.
From Easter until at least the end of August, wargaming takes a backseat due to other interests and commitments. I try to play a few games if I can piggyback on the efforts of others, but it’s not a time for being proactive. This year has been particularly busy and I've not got back into wargaming at all, hence the lack of posts to this blog.

In the first quarter, however, I did make some progress. I now have British, Zulu, Pathan and Egyptian forces for The Men Who Would Be Kings. The Pathans and Egyptians haven’t yet been used, but I’ve staged two Zulu War games and have now added a unit of Natal Native Contingent. For Lion Rampant I not only have the Dark Age and Late Medieval armies but have also begun to collect figures for a Medieval Anglo-Irish project.

I haven’t posted anything about Dragon Rampant but I had some ideas for armies and have played a couple of games kindly set up by my friend Ian. I started to write some posts but they are months old now so I don't know if I'll return to them.

I also added to my collection of 1/600 ACW ironclads for Hammerin’ Iron, a long-term intention which had been awaiting the appearance of ready-painted models on eBay.

On the home front I hit and overcame (for now) a storage crisis by disposing of unused figures and scenery, with a lot more heading for eBay when I can find the time to organise it. I also came to terms with my lead mountain by reducing my to-do list to current interests only. Anything not on the list may also become a candidate for disposal.

Buying second-hand, ready-painted armies overcame my lack of painting time but is in danger of bringing me back to the brink on the storage front. Buying is easier than selling but I will have to find the time and energy to ensure that accumulation is balanced by disposal.

As and when my interest in wargaming rekindles, it would be sensible to use some of my existing armies or even to paint some of the figures from the lead mountain, but where's the fun in that? This is wargaming. I need a new project in order to rekindle my interest! I've been looking at a couple of options.

First up was the French and Indian War using 28mm figures and the forthcoming Rebels and Patriots rules, another set from the Rampant stable, but as Ian was inspired to take the initiative on that one I've now moved on to the idea of a skirmish game using 28mm Border Reivers. Because of the typically (though not exclusively) small scale of Reiver activity, this would be a 'true' skirmish game in which figures operated individually rather than in units, and would therefore be played with a relatively limited number of figures. As such the project is potentially more realiseable than one requiring mass armies.

I'm currently looking at rules and will be trying them out with tokens or substitutes in order to make sure they have enough player appeal, and to avoid the debacle that I had with Rommel which failed to gain local traction.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Bespoke foam trays

Custom-made trays from Just Lasered. The centre one
is pick'n'pluck.
I didn’t want my new Dark Age resin scenery rattling round in a box when I transported it. I had already been looking at foam trays for figures, but I couldn’t find any to fit and fill my favourite storage solution - Really Useful Boxes.

Then I found Just Lasered whose products include RUB-friendly foam trays made to order. If you know exactly what you want you can get the cavities ready cut, but I decided to go with the pick’n’pluck option. Just Lasered are brilliant at meeting bespoke requirements and provided just what I wanted.

As the term suggests, pick’n’pluck allows you to create your own cavities by pulling out the partially-cut foam pillars. This allowed me to tailor each cavity to each individual piece of scenery, minimising rattle and making best use of the available volume. The pick’n’pluck comes in various thicknesses and some people favour a layered approach so they can pick out various different depths. This is possible but I found it a little tricky.

I will certainly be considering Just Lasered for future storage requirements where appropriate.

Just Lasered

Monday, 16 April 2018

Lightweight terrain

There are two big issues for those of us who have to lug our own stuff: weight and bulk.

The obvious answer to both these issues is to go to the smallest possible scales, but sometimes the appeal of a game lies specifically in using larger figures, i.e. 25/28mm, and then scenery can become a significant challenge.

There are a few ways to get round this, e.g. don't try to do Stalingrad in 28mm, but this post is concerned specifically in paying tribute to a couple of manufacturers whose products are particularly lightweight.

First up are the hollow resin hills from Tiger Terrain which are both very light and very strong. The company originally did a range of these - green, arid and unfinished. They still have some advertised on their website but I think they're being phased out. This is a pity. I'm not aware of anyone else making anything like these.

The other company I'd like to praise is TableScape. As I understand it, their products are also made from resin but they add a foaming agent so that their products emerge from the process as a strong, dense foam which is both light and robust.

I understand this process is unsuited to small items, so their terrain is restricted to 28mm products. I have a lot of their Renaissance buildings and have recently started to accumulate their Islamic-style pieces. The buildings come ready-painted and are extremely high quality.

Monday, 2 April 2018

Modular rolling terrain

A few of my sand-coated cork tiles
I began to to make some modular rolling terrain from cork bathroom tiles. The design approach was totally unoriginal but I can't find the source now. If someone identifies it I'll publish a link.

The 30cm/1 ft tiles are essentially divided into a nine-sector grid. The contours can be naturalistically wavey as long as they meet square on at the grid points. The concept should be apparent from the pictures.

The unpainted sand coating has caught the light
from this angle.
Cork tiles are thin so the contours are in low relief but that's more convenient for storage and transport. I subsequently invested in quite a lot of Hexon.  The cork tiles and Hexon are both rather too heavy and bulky to transport outside the house without a car. The Hexon is more than adequate for use at home so I didn't pursue this project any further. For club games I use standalone hills. I'm featuring it just out of interest but I've now passed it on to a friend.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

TMWWBK - Zulus suffer costly rule error!

View at start from Zulu positions. Tiger Terrain hills and 
scratch-built Irish farmhouse which is not bad for Natal.
This was my first ‘proper’ game of The Men Who Would Be Kings, that is as an actual player. We played Scenario C - To the Last Bullet - with my friend Ian as the British defender and myself as the Zulu attacker. The defender begins near the centre but has the option and objective of legging it to a building near his baseline.

The British had an 18-point Field Force (three 6-point units of Regular Infantry). The Zulus had 24 points - three Married Veteran units with better moralle and three Unmarried Fierce units who are better in close combat, all at 6 points each.
Perspective from the flank.

If the defenders can survive 5 turns without casualtues they win. This forces the attacker  to attack.
The Zulus move in. Cetral British section begins
a tactical withdrawal.

The British deployed in line. I deployed the Veterans on my left and the Fierce units on my right. My idea was to use the Vets as cannon-fodder while the Unmarried warriors got as close as possible before charging in.
The British can now see the whites
of their eyes.

At first Ian was unsure whether to stand or flee. When he did decide to withdraw his troops wouldn't move!
View from the Zulu edge. The outcome is uncertain.

I moved all my units forward using ordinary 'free' moves but this wasn't fast enough and I was in danger of losing the game by not inflicting any casualties in five successive turns. I then switched to Doubling.

I did make contact, did inflict casualties and did sweep away first one and then the other
flank unit, At this point it looked as if the Zulus were going to win, but the central British unit holed up in the farmhouse and in order not to lose the game the Zulus had no choice but to hurl themselves at the building.
One British unit (left) is under pressure. The
other flank unit has been swept away.

Unfortunately a couple of units had by then become Leaderless and it was difficult to activate them. Every British volley swept away a few more Zulus.
The central British unit has reached the safety of
the farmhouse but the other unit looks doomed.

The Zulus did attack the building and did inflict casualties but the trade off in each attack was about 3 Zulus for 1 Brit. The Zulu waves smashed against the British rock and became wasted in the effort. A couple of hopelessly depleted Zulu units were withdrawn to take themselves out of harm's way, but then they all found themselves so depleted that it would have been impossible to inflict any casualties. It was looking like Rorke's Drift...I had lost! But the story doesn't quite end there...

The Zulus close in for the final assault.
When my Zulus were storming the farmhouse, we were converting three hits into a kill. That would have been right for shooting but not for melee. Defending hard cover in hand-to-hand increases the number of hits needed to remove a defending model by one. (Soft cover provides no protection in melee.) Increasing the number by two made the defenders impregnable against overwhelming odds. Had we got this right I think the Zulus might have won. In fact, we were wondering how the Zulus could possibly win this scenario. Now we're wondering how the British can win. We will have to find out.

Successive assaults do some harm to the defenders, but the
attackers suffer more. This is where we went wrong.
I found this game very exciting and it fully met or even exceeded my expectations of the rules.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Octavian 3 Anthony 6

The Octavians (far side) boldly advance.
At the behest of my friend, Ian, I dug out my 1:600/1:650 Ancient galleys for a game of Corvus. As far as I can remember I’d previously played only Rome versus Carthage so I took the opportunity to set up a Roman Civil War game using a squadron a side on the standard 3’ square playing area.
Ian got the Octavians and deployed first with his heaviest ships in the centre and his Lembi behind. I concentrated my fewer, heavier, ships on my right flank, with some Quadriremes out on my left to protect the flank of my main force and to worry the rest of the opposing fleet.
The Antonine squadron rows to meet the enemy. My flagship (far right) turns inwards in a rather risky manoeuvre. First blood to me as concentrated shooting wrecks an Octavian vessel (far left of the Octavian line).

I was expecting some head-on rams, but having left too much space between vessels, my opponent was able to move into the gaps and ram me on the sides (two vessels on the left). However, ramming is risky to the rammer even when making a side ram.

Battle is joined along the line with mixed results.

Casualties mount, especially for the Octavians.

The situation at the end of the game. The Octavian squadron has lost a third of its ships in points and flees.

The rules are available from the Society of Ancients and come with some very nice top-down counters. Additional counters can be bought from Tiny Tin Troops.

I'm reminded there are a few minor loose ends with these rules, and I may return to that in another post.

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.