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.

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.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

Fastest to table

Lancers. 2mm is now my way to go for mass armies.
I might have written something like this before but no matter as it is a topic that demands revisiting. I often wonder what miniature wargames I would do if I was starting from scratch now. Obviously I would do games that appealed to me historically, but, more generally, I would do games that could be brought to table as quickly as possible. This is partly because I lack time to paint but also because I'd like the fruits of my labour to end up on the table rather than in the lead mountain.

At one end of the spectrum I would focus on skirmish games like Dan Mersey's Lion Rampant series for which 28mm figures have the most appeal. Somewhere in the middle are games that are 'compact' or otherwise economical on figures like Crossfire, Irregular Wars or DBA. For these I would use 15mm, 10mm or 6mm, and these scales would satisfy the aesthetic appeal of playing with toy soldiers.

Any games featuring mass armies, however, would have to be base-orientated so I could use 2mm or 3mm models, and thìs end of the spectrum would satisfy my desire to play large historical battles. I think this is the way I will now go with Bloody Big Battles! if and when I get round to it. The other advantage of these small scales is of course that they put less pressure on storage and carrying.

This  is not an entirely futile speculation as it should also help me to regulate what to do in future. I feel sure I've written that before as well. The difficulty is remembering it.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Storage crisis

Floor to ceiling
Despite having a whole medium-sized upstairs room just for my personal stuff (mostly books and wargaming-related), I've run out of storage space.

The room wasn't a bad size when we first moved in some twenty years ago but with the accumulation of cabinets, cupboards, racks, bookcases and storage crates, it's gradually shrunk to a narrow corridor. Besides filling all these storage units, the units themselves are stacked with plastic boxes which literally reach to the ceiling.

One particular problem is that I now don't even have a free space for moving stuff around or getting games ready to take out. What is the answer?

Move to a larger house

Moving  house is a very time-consuming and stressful undertaking. A larger lounge would enjoy uxorial support but the demand for more wargaming space is an aspiration unlikely to achieve joint critical mass.

Put stuff in the loft

Although the loft is already crowded with domestic junk and books, I could make some more room there. However, I've tried this before and it's very inconvenient.

Have a loft conversion

This would be fairly expensive and might not give me a bigger room than I have now, unless I utilised both rooms which would be a somewhat disproportionate use of a house. The main problem, however, is what would I do with all the other stuff already in the loft?

Colonise other parts of the house

Not an option.

Compress existing storage

This is an ideal solution but I doubt if it would free up more than 10% of the used space.

Sell books and/or figures

I already have about twenty crates of unwanted books in the loft which I would try to sell on Amazon or eBay if I had time. I have sold some figures at shows, but most of my armies are, I think, still wanted. The problem is that I will probably never finish painting them and they may never be used. So I have a strong attachment to them but it's probably more emotional than rational.

This is a troubling dilemma, but I have a plan of sorts. I think I should start by chipping away at the problem, that is selling off stuff I least want and seeing how far I get. There is some scenery and even a few figures which are definitely surplus to requirements. Gaining a cubic foot here and there would be an immense help. But it's getting rid of books that would probably be the least painful and most productive way forward.

While books about uniforms, hardware, organisation and tactics are essential to any wargamer, general histories and memoirs are only of marginal interest, especially once read. There was a time, perhaps, when I would have liked to have become some sort of 'military expert' and would have required a library to support that conceit, but it's too late in life now and I have other priorities consuming my time and energy.

Any suggestions will be gratefully received!

Monday, 15 January 2018

C&C Great War tank extension

The two nearest tanks were mine (German). Yes, one looks distinctly British. No, it isn't captured, it's just substituting for one of the German ones. The C&C Great War tank extension does include two German tanks, but the gamesmaster had mislaid one...
My first game of the year was the Command & Colors Great War scenario, Villiers-Bretonneux, the first tank-versus-tank battle in history. I've played C&C Great War before. It looks like a boardgame with miniatures because it is, but the rules work well and are easy to absorb, and despite the lack of 'realistic' 3D scenery, the game has flavour and draws you into believing.

This was my first experience of the tank extension. The tanks themselves are nice plastic models, and tank combat seems to have very realistic outcomes. Tanks are highly prone to bogging down and damage is quite attritional. I learnt that standing off was the best tactic unless fighting infantry who can be subjected to 'tank shock' in close combat.

Because WW1 tank versus tank combat was relatively indecisive, the best way of winning the scenario is to turn one's artillery on the enemy infantry. As  my opponent had sensibly dispersed his infantry on his first move, he was ahead of me in that respect, though, to be fair to myself, dispersing the German infantry was always going to be more difficult. Anyway, my cannon fodder was being gobbled up more quickly than my opponent's, and then the eventual loss of a tank finally sealed my fate. It didn't feel entirely one-sided. There was a point when I thought I was going to get lucky but it didn't happen.  As in other C&C games you need to focus on attacking the enemy units which are the easiest to eliminate.

It was certainly an entertaining game, so thanks to my friend Ian for providing it.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Heigh-ho! Khurasan Elizabethan English

English High Command
It was way back in 2013 that I started playing Irregular Wars and began collecting 15mm figures for Elizabethan English and Irish armies. Although supplemented with figures from other manufacturers, the core of this collection was the superb Khurasan Irish. Since then I've eagerly awaited the appearance of the Khurasan English.

In 2014 I was heavily involved in playtesting the second edition of Irregular Wars, but this was with counters rather than figures. I subsequently completed Portuguese and Dutch armies using real lead, but the Irish have languished in boxes unpainted, awaiting their English counterparts.

The weeks turned into months, and the months into years with the occasional return to Khurasan's website to see if they were coming. I noticed the gradual addition of some Spanish and then, in December, the arrival of the English. Well, better late than never, but four years' wait is a disappointingly long time to say the least. The figures are again absolutely superb and I've already ordered my first batch.

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018 Interests

Talking of 'plans' seems a little too optimistic after last year's meagre achievements, so I'm just going to use the word 'interests' to describe this year's possible areas of activity.

Bac Ninh Byakkotai
The Men Who Would be Kings

I'm still building up my 28mm Anglo-Zulu War forces for The Men Who Would Be Kings as fast as I can see and buy them second-hand, and I'm also looking out for Egyptians for the Urabi Revolt and Pathans.

Quite a few of the Zulus I've acquired have been in groups of about 16 and painted with different shield colours, so they have very readily been organised into TMWWBK tribal units.

With my last purchase of the year I now have enough figures to field 6 Zulu and 4 British units, but I'd also like to acquire some mounted figures and some Natal Native Contingent.

Doing the Anglo-Zulu War wasn't originally my first preference, but it seems to be the most popular Colonial subject and therefore the easiest to collect second-hand.

In keeping with my enthusiasm for the offbeat, I've also been looking at the Boshin War - the civil war in Japan  between  the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Imperial Court (1868-1869). The war featured an interesting mix of modern, Westernised, forces and traditional but unarmoured Samurai using archaic weapons. Some very characterful 28mm figures are available from Bac Ninh Miniatures but the range is currently lacking in the more archaic types.


I should of course focus on painting my recently acquired 3mm armies for Rommel, but I have to confess that TMWWBK is currently consuming the time available and will probably make for a more readily doable and popular club game.

Chain of Command by
Chain of Command

I've hardly mentioned them before, but I also have some 28mm WW2 figures and die-cast tanks for the Ardennes campaign. I got as far as undercoating the figures and making some snowy scenery but that was a few years ago. Recently I noticed the Chain of Command WW2 skirmish rules so these armies might get pulled out of the lead mountain. CoC is very interesting and innovative, but it seems to require quite a learning investment.

The Battle of Sablat (Záblatí), 10 June 1619
The Thirty Years War

The Thirty Years War continues to haunt my imagination - periodically - but I've made no final decisions about rules or scales. Amongst other things I'm currently waiting to see the pike-and-shot version of Twilight of the Sun King and I might knock out some counters or blocks for temporary use to try out various options.