Thursday, 17 December 2020

2020 - the year that was cancelled

Bought yesterday - the bristles are for
6mm Thirty Years War pikes.

Although I'd expected to get a lot of painting done during the Plague Year, things didn't turn out that way because of other distractions and circumstances. In the first half of the year I did make considerable progress with painting my 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day and I also made some progress with my all too numerous 28mm Rampant armies which I wanted to bring to a level where I could put any of them on the table even though they would not be 'fully painted'.

This essentially meant basing, adding filler to the bases, undercoating and adding an initial wash in the dominant costume colour. They would not be pretty, but they would be identifiable and distinguishable. I will reiterate yet again that I am committed to further painting before any given army is brought out again. I should also stress that some of my Rampant armies are already painted.

Well, I did get all the relevant armies sorted, cleaned-up and based, and I applied filler to the vast majority of those requiring it. That’s as far as I got but it was some sort of achievement. Before everything went pear-shaped I also managed 4 games - one of Lion Rampant and three of Rebels & Patriots.

I wasn't initially affected by the ennui that other wargame bloggers reported but I'm beginning to feel rather demoralised since they closed the coffee shops, pubs and restaurants even though there was no evidence they were spreading infection. They provided a little relief in a year when social and hobby activity has been closed down. Endless walks are fine in spring, summer and autumn but less attractive in the bleak midwinter.

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Musing: Early 20thC wars in South and Central America

I'm not actually planning anything new just at the moment, but this is an area of on-going interest. My historical education at school was very Anglo-centric with some extension into Continental Europe and North America, and last century wargaming followed a similar pattern. Being able to branch out into the history of the other Americas is refreshing, as is the prospect of modelling their armies and gaming their wars.

Anyway, on to the specifics.

Firstly, I bought another book on the Chaco War - The Chaco War 1932-1935 - by Antonio Luis Sapienza and José Luis Martínez Peláez published by Helion. Helion have a prodigious output. They also overwhelm you with marketing emails which I was about to cancel when I saw this title. The book is nicely illustrated with contemporary photos and some coloured illustrations, and is a worthwhile addition to my collection.

I've taken an interest in the Chaco since Khurasan launched their 15mm range. There are also plenty of vehicles available in that scale. I own that prior to that I'd never heard of it. I like the Chaco War because it's offbeat and obscure, and I'm particularly attracted by the 'quirky' interwar tankettes, but these were used in such small numbers that I could really only justify their use in a skirmish-level game. 

Here I think the most promising option might be Chain of Command as this would allow for tanks and all sorts of other assets - HMGs, mortars, field guns, trucks etc - all fielded in penny packets. Using CoC for the Chaco was discussed here.

For those seriously interested, a great collection of links to Chaco War resources can be found here.

Secondly, I note Peter Pig has launched a range of 15mm figures for the Mexican Revolution. This is another area in which I've had a long-term interest. Here I would be inclined to adapt Red Actions or something on that scale, i.e. companies of say 4 bases with multiple figures on each. This would be a higher level game and require more figures.

For 'mass armies' I remain more inclined to 10mm, but there's no sign of that happening and 15mm is at least a step in the right direction. I'll stop there. I'm not hitting any 'Buy Now' buttons. Well, not yet, anyway.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Russian Civil War in 28mm

Copplestone Ragged Whites
Lockdown was to have been a period of consolidation. It started well but there was a hiatus in hobby activity in May followed by the usual Summer distractions. And so my only wargaming-related activity in recent months has been the purchase of some 28mm Bolsheviks and Whites from the Copplestone 'Back of Beyond' range using my Wargames Illustrated/North Star monthly discount and a couple of books. This is another slow-burn project as it will take me over a year to collect the figures before I feel obliged to base or paint anything.

The RCW has long been on my wishlist and I eventually decided to go with the characterful Copplestones and The Men Who Would Be Kings rules. There are many other rule sets I could use but I already know and like these Rampant rules, and extending them to Interwar skirmish ought to be fairly easy. An adaption of TMWWBK to the RCW was discussed here and using them for the Mexican Revolution here. A further mention of using them for interwar colonial skirmish can be found here.

The main issue is how to accommodate vehicles and the most useful inspiration is Pierre Aymeric's WW1 Foch extension. The original version appeared on the Wargames Illustrated website here but a newer, fuller version is available from the author's blog here. I've yet to try these out but I also have ideas of my own having already been thinking of extending TMWWBK to cover shotguns and armoured trucks for the Irish War of Independence.

Anyway, these are just thoughts and I'm in no rush. Winter is coming and it's going to be a long one...

Sunday, 17 May 2020

Dragon Rampant: The Trolls/Orcs

I continue to plough through my Rampant armies adding filler to the bases. Here is another of my Dragon Rampant warbands which has recently had the bases levelled as part of the Great Lockdown Leap Forward.

Following Poul Anderson's world, these are Trolls but they're equivalent to Tolkien's Orcs (who Tolkien sometimes called Goblins). Anyway, to avoid confusion for other wargamers, I will probably have to start calling them Orcs and reserve the name Trolls for larger figures, a couple of which are also featured below.

The figures come from various manufacturers. It's been a while since I bought them, but I'll do my best to identify them. Their physiognomy is similar (I avoided very pig-like features) but clothing styles differ. I'm confident the divergent styles will be brought together once I get some paint on them.

These larger Orcs (Reaper) will provide the Troll King and units of Bellicose and/or Elite Foot.  It's now common to assume that Orcs should be violently green-skinned. Anderson's Trolls and Goblins are both green, but Tolkien visualised his Orcs as swarthy and 'Hunnic' in appearance. I'm compromising on this by painting my Trolls (Orcs), Goblins and giant Trolls in a light olive green, but Hill and other Giants will be completed in human skin tones.

The mass of Trolls/Orcs will be fielded as Offensive Heavy Foot. Some of the more weedy ones may be drawn out as Scouts. The most appropriate Trolls I originally found were the CP Models Orc clubmen but it's a very small range, so I also ordered all the Reaper figures I thought would do, and then added some from a new range by Elite Wargames. I also bought some newer armoured Orcs and Orc bowmen from CP Models but these are disappointingly crude and lumpy designs and I won't be using them.

These Half-Orcs (ex-Grenadier from Mirliton) will be Offensive  Medium Foot. I looked at the Grenadier Orcs but they were anatomically very extreme and I think Trolls and similar are most sinister when they are closer to human form.

There are a few bow-armed figures scattered amongst the various types. These will be ignored or used to indicate units additionally armed with missiles depending on how I want to field things.

Ogres (Otherworld). Great figures but the spear arm on the lower right one was a devil to fit.

Various opportunistic Nasties as Troll/Orc allies. Front row: A Witch (Magister Militum) with Rat (Eureka) flanked by two large Trolls (North Star). Back row: An archetypal 'Fairytale' Giant and a Fantasy Viking-style Frost Giant (North Star OGAM).

Wolves (various manufacturers) as Lesser Warbeasts. They do look a bit puny now, especially next to my wolf-riding Goblin cavalry.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Dragon Rampant: The Elves

Clockwise from bottom left: Elf King, Champion,
Companions, Shaman, Enchantress, spearmen,
swordsmen and archers. The figures will
have a variety of greens and reds etc added.
As I said before, my 28mm Elves and Trolls (Orcs) for Dragon Rampant were to be based more on Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword than on Tolkien, but in actuality I've been restricted by what was readily available in the form of models.

My Elves are 'old school' Grenadier miniatures now sold by Mirliton in Italy. They're obviously Celtic rather than Viking (as I originally conceived), but they're lovely designs and the castings are very clean.

They were previously photographed in a game but I’ve since expanded their ranks and added filler to the bases.

Despite the Celtic look, organisation is still posited on Viking lines so there are Huscarls (High Elves) and Bondi (Wood Elves). I prefer to deploy the archers amongst the spearmen so that every single unit in the warband has a sting. This really unsettles opponents!

There is also a Grenadier Shaman (Druid) and a Reaper Elf Enchantress.

Friday, 1 May 2020

The Pikeman's Lament: My 1671 Spanish and Buccaneer companies

Devoid of the usual May festivities I’m devoting this not-as-merry-as-it-could-be month to work on a range of Rampant armies. My overall minimal aim is to level the bases with filler, and get them all undercoated and base-coated while we wait 18 months for a Coronavirus vaccine or herd immunity.

To kick off, here are my 28mm companies for The Pikeman’s Lament based on the Buccaneer attack on Panama of 1671. The Buccaneers are flintlock-armed veterans, the Spanish firelock-armed militia.

The figures are mainly North Star and Blood and Plunder.

The Spanish (1): Back row: Mounted Captain, Gun and crew, Horse. 
Front row: Lanceros, Pike.
The Spanish (2): Three units of matchlock-armed Shot.
The Spanish (3). Front row: Captain on foot with some extras. Indian scouts as Commanded Shot. 
Back row: Armada de Barlovento (Marines).
The English: Four units of flintlock-armed Buccaneers with their Welsh leader, Henry Morgan.

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Using a wet palette

Too wet and the colours run. Too dry and the
colours dry out. But it's still a great idea.
While painting my 6mm Thirty Years War armies, I've been experimenting with a Redgrass wet palette.

I've never used a traditional artist's palette of any type to paint miniatures. I've used paints singly straight out of the bottles, or, rather, I've used a cocktail-stick or coffee-stirrer to transfer dollops of each paint onto old jar lids.

Using a 'mixing' palette encourages a dirtier approach, intentionally or just inevitably. This hasn't made much difference to the Thirty Years War armies which are block painted with dabs of bright colour, but I'm wondering if the increased spectrum of tone will add to realism when painting larger figures.

The wet palette can't be used for washes or metallics. Obtaining the right degree of wetness is tricky,  not least because the paints themselves vary in their wetness. I therefore still keep old lids (my dry palettes) and a little dish of water next to the wet palette for dealing with watery or overly dry paints.

With the right wetness paints will last quite a few days and I can quickly return to painting in an odd moment of opportunity which is very handy for fitting in my painting around other commitments. While I haven't yet optimised my use of a wet palette, it’s become central to my current painting.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 11: The Foot

The Foot bases are particularly packed and dark so I needed to optimise the use of light/bright colours. These artificially vibrant colours are intended to make the blocks pop - shocking close up but more visible further away.

Swedish Pike-and-Shot and Commanded Shot. These represent ethnic Swedes and German Protestants in Swedish service. Scots in Swedish service are in hodden grey and blue bonnets (front rank, centre). The Swedes have a higher proportion of shot than the Spanish, Catholic-Imperialists and Saxons. This will be more obvious when I replace the pikes.
My painting reference has been Steven Thomas’s series of uniform articles on Balagan, but my painting inspiration has been the 2mm (!) armies on Roundwood's World. Yes, a 2mm approach to painting 6mm figures is quite enough for me.

Spanish Pike-and-Shot. The drummers are picked out in yellow so I can quickly identify the blocks.
Swedish blocks (i.e. ethnic Swedes or Germans in Swedish service) and Saxons are uniformed  but the Catholic-Imperialists and Spanish are not, though the latter are distinguished by particular use of red and yellow.

Catholic-Imperialist Pike-and-Shot and Commanded Shot. Here the drummers are all in red.
Most of the coats don’t really show unless you view the blocks at eye level. Once again it’s the headgear that stands out.

Saxon pike-and-shot - awaiting uniform information. Steven Thomas is painting his own Saxons at the moment and will be publishing uniform guidance in due course.
Flags will be attached to dress pins. Pikes will be brush bristles in a natural brown colour, but I'll have to wait on the Coronavirus emergency before I can go out and shop for brush-heads.

I'll be adding a little more detail to Foot and Horse over the next few days. Then they'll be put back in storage so that next month I can move on to working on my many Rampant armies...

Monday, 20 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 10: Croats, Dragoons, Cannons and Commanders

Spaced out in comparison to figures on other bases, the Croats, Dragoons, Cannons and Commanders demand a fuller and more conventional approach to painting. The bases photographed here aren't necessarily finished but the general impression they give isn't going to change much.

Croat Light Cavalry
The Baccus figures used for the Croats aren’t exactly correct but give the right impression and will do. I cut away some of the lances to represent firearms, but if you look closely you can see anachronistic bow-cases. However, I will insist that all viewers maintain social distance. At 2 metres the problem disappears, a small compensation for the end of normal life.

Swedish Dragoons
The Dragoons are my favourite figures and I have created the bases as little dioramas in contrast to the massed ranks of the Horse and Foot. It’s tricky to get the paintbrush in, but there are only a few of these bases to do.

Some generic Guns
The Cannons are what they are. Not much else to be done on these.

Some generic commanders
The Commanders are like other mounted figures of various types - Cavalier, Roundhead or Cuirassier style. In theory I could attempt to complete the Commanders to a higher standard but it would only raise expectations. The trick is to make the whole army look good enough at a glance.

These bases have more room for static grass and maybe some other foliage. This will detract from the meagre painting and greatly add to realism.

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Blogger problems

Blogger is behaving strangely and it’s nothing I’ve done! Some photos have become unavailable for no apparent reason...

Monday, 13 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 9: Arquebusiers and Swedish Horse

Arquebusiers (using Baccus mounted Dragoon figures).
The vivid green sleeves pop close up but generally the
addition of sleeves is underwhelming.
Having made good progress in March on my 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly's Very Bad Day I decided to devote April to the same project.

Next up for attention were the mounted Arquebusiers and Swedish Horse. While there is no foreseeable prospect of using them in a normal game, painting is a good therapy in these troubled times.

The Arquebusiers are particularly closely packed which makes access difficult. Another way to look at that, however, is that those awkward areas are naturally in shadow and so don't need to be painted!

The main downside of not painting something is that it's not contributing to the overall lightening of the blocks. Other than that it's part and parcel of the approach I've adopted.

Another problem - and this is nothing to do with crowding - is the the surface available to be painted. Given the areas that are intended to be left brown (straps, accoutrements, small arms) and the shadow between them, there is very little figure left to paint - basically just the sleeves and that is a very small area.

At this stage I'm wondering if block painting, especially when combined with pre-basing, works better with 10mm figures because there is more area to paint. With 6mm it may be better to give the figures an overall 'end' colour.

Commanders, Swedish Horse and Arquebusiers.
Hats off to the addition of hats. Bits of horse, hats
and, of course, the bases are really all that
shows at a distance, and, therefore, all that's
worth painting!
Anyway, back to the job in hand. When painted the sleeves hardly showed. I got completely bored with this lack of impact and decided to move on to the hats. As expected, these really stood out and lifted the blocks immensely.

So, let me once again evaluate the painting approach with regard to these particular figures...

They had a pinpoint dab of flesh for the faces which took hardly any time at all, some tiny dabs of colour for the sleeves which required a bit more care and effort because of access, and a bigger but easy application of colour to the hats which were painted with 2-3 brushstrokes.

All in all a good effect IMO was achieved for an extremely economical effort. I can and will add more detail to lighten the blocks, but it will hardly be seen. Whatever more I do the blocks are not going to end up looking very different from the way they look now.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 8: Cuirassiers

First major use of a magnifying glass
which I found helpful in this instance.
In accordance with my plan for 'Getting in Sync' I decided to devote each month to painting/playing a particular game (or series of games). With the great lockdown the playing part has dropped out of the picture, but I am otherwise keeping to the single monthly focus.

It’s April now but I’m still reporting March’s progress and March was devoted to my 6mm Thirty Years War armies for Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Steven Thomas of Balagan has finished development of TVBD for now but I've yet to finish the painting, let alone play a game.

After the horses I decided to focus on the Cuirassiers who are wearing three-quarters armour. Armour was blackened in the Thirty Years War and I used gunmetal to represent this because these figures are only 6mm and I want to give the figure blocks as much lift as possible given the overall dark brown base coat. Silver is reserved for swords etc.
Thanks to the texturing and painting of the ground and the deep shadow, I think these figures look very 'realistic' despite having only two colours (horseflesh and Gunmetal) added to each figure.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 7: Faces

Faces: Visible from 15" at a low angle.
When it came to adding detail to these 6mm Thirty Years War figures, I had to think long and hard about the painting sequence. After horse flesh the most prominent features are hats and other headgear, but these are easy to access and best left till later. There is, therefore, some tension between wanting to cover the most prominent features and needing to paint the more awkward areas first.

My friend Ian had already established to my satisfaction that it wasn't worth painting hands on 6mm figures. I thought I might take this a stage further and dodge painting faces. As an experiment I painted - well, dabbed - faces on a couple of blocks as as experiment and then placed these at various 'tabletop' distances to see what could actually be seen.

At a distance the faces did show as specs of lightness, but close up they didn't show because with the higher viewing angle the faces were obscured by the broad-brimmed hats. How ironic!

Anyway, I decided I would paint faces where I could. The figures fell into three categories:
  • Cuirassiers, Lobster-pot wearers, Horse trumpeters and Foot 'shooters' either didn't have faces or enough exposed face to be painted.
  • The front-rank pike-and-shot block figures got faces but the rear ranks were inaccessible. That reflected the limitation of basing before painting and cramming the figures together. Many will consider this unacceptable, but I expect the hats and other headgear will detract from the omission and that it will not be detectable at normal playing distance.
  • Other Horse, Dragoons and Artillerymen did get faces.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

Thirty Years War 6mm progress 6: The horses

Not Thiry Years War and not 6mm, but indicative
of what actually shows up in smaller scales.
Since last Monday 'social distancing' has restricted outdoor activity to walks with the dog and provided an unprecedented opportunity for painting. Last month was 1798, this month it's the Thirty Years War.

I've now started to paint the actual figures, but rather than show you that straight away I'd like you to look at the picture (right) of my 10mm American Civil War figures.

This photo was taken during a game and shows what figure detail is actually visible. In fact, the photo is a bit of a close-up so please sit back.

What you can see is little more than the ground around the figures and  their hats. Some other bits do show up but only if they are very light and contrast with the dark brown. For my 6mm TYW figure blocks I am taking this lesson further by committing myself to painting only the bits that will show up.

The main purpose of adding any further paint is not to indulge the individual figures as would be the case with larger scales and other approaches, but just to contrast with and lighten each figure block as a whole.

The other thing to point out is that there is no preconceived end point. I will add paint/detail only until the blocks 'look painted' from a distance. I must also keep in mind that 6mm figures require much lighter and brighter colours in any event, and this is particularly so with the dark brown background approach.

Now let's look at some 6mm TYW figures. I'm prioritising the horses because after the ground the horses represent the largest and most significant area of paint.

Swedish Horse: the chestnuts are painted with Coat d'Arms Chestnut Horse Tone brightened with Burnt Orange. The brush shown is a Number 1 size but it's too small and requires too many dabs. I subsequently switched to a Number 3.

Without making it too obvious, I thought I'd also use horse colours to further distinguish the three types of horse, i.e. Cuirassiers, (Swedish) Horsemen and Arquebusiers. The photo above shows the Swedish Horse with some Chestnuts added. This was inspired by the Swedish folk art Dala horse toys.

The Cuirassiers will have a lot of dark armour so I decided to paint them in light colours (Greys, Light Bays) for contrast. The Arquebusiers would be fairly colourful so they were to retain the basic Charred Brown coat representing Dark Bays.This plan was somewhat modified.

I had originally intended to leave most horses in the dark brown base coat but as painting proceeded I realised that the blocks looked better if all the horses were overpainted with lighter colours.

The Coat d'Arms horse tone colours are all a bit on the dark side and need lightening for this particular project. Simply adding white is not necessarily the answer. I should research this question properly but the quickest solution is to imagine what a lighter version would look like and then pick a ready-made colour that matches that perception.

All horse colours completed and the sun is shining.

All the horseflesh is now picked out but the blocks still look too dark. I am thus relying on coats, armour and headgear to add further brightness.

On the plus side I should point out that at this scale and using this overall technique, each individual horse needed only one colour. Apart from the flank figures, the front rank required only head, front legs and the top of the back to be painted. The rear rank required paint only on the head and hind-quarters.

This was very economical in terms of time and effort, though I do confess that at my age it's quite difficult to see the detail on such small figures and this has made me wonder whether I should do another 6mm army. I do have a magnifying glass...perhaps I should try to use it.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Preparing to play 'Tilly’s Very Bad Day'

I was planning to play Tilly’s Very Bad Day for the first time later this month, but that prospect has receded into the distant future thanks to the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the impending great lockdown. Most people seem to have already gone into voluntary isolation here in the UK. Ticking one of the vulnerable boxes (age) I have also begun to become more cautious.

Anyway, remaining calm and carrying on, I've made a checklist of things to take. Simon Jones has a great scheme for organising playing aids but I haven’t got round to that yet.

The 6mm figure bases are currently being painted and will need to be stripped from their painting bases if they are not finished, but what else will I actually need?

Mat. I'm planning a small game initially. A 3' mat would be ideal for 60mm base frontages but the nearest I currently have is 4' square. I have, however, ordered a 3' one and it should be here long before the end of the Coronavirus crisis.

Scenery. Little of my scenery conforms exactly to the measurements for Small, Medium (the default) and Large pieces as defined in the rules, but I think they are near enough. I have a BUA, hill, woods, an enclosed field, physically flat fields masquerading as fields in season, areas of rough ground, felt templates and trees for woods, streams, roads and, should I care to deploy it, a river.

Measures. I've made some card rulers going up to 8 TUM (240mm in my case) which cover movement and small-arms shooting. As artillery range is unlimited, tape measures don't seem to be needed.

Cardboard Markers. Artwork is very usefully provided in the rules.

Cotton Wool to show units that have fired/moved. Almost forgot that.

Dice. At least three different colours required. 6 of each for each player should cover it.

The Rules. Two printed copies.

QRS. None as yet. I'll get a better idea if one would be useful after playing.

This translates as:

3 TUFF boxes of TYW figures
1 Mat (3' x 3')
6mm Scenery
TUM Rulers
Cardboard Markers
Cotton Wool
TVBD Rules

Perhaps a 'what-you-need-to-play' section would be useful in the rules themselves.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Rebels and Patriots 1798 game: Capture the plans

This was a first outing for my part-painted 1798 Irish Rebellion forces. I improvised a variant of Scenario A: First Clash At Lament Ridge which I called Capture the Plans:

An informer has alerted Government forces that secret plans for a French invasion are buried under a cottage floor. Players gain 3 Honour if they are occupying the cottage with an infantry unit at game end. Game is at least 10 turns. Thereafter throw D6 at beginning of each turn. If D6 >= 4, that is the last turn. Use character traits for Captains. Deploy in 9" zones one unit at a time starting with the Defender. Attacker activates first in each game turn.

The scenery needed careful definition:
  • The road is aesthetic only.
  • The cottage is Hard Cover and cannot be targeted by long-range cannon fire. It is enterable only by the door and has a capacity of one foot unit. To enter a unit moves up to door with one move and takes another to go inside. Shooting only via long faces with a 45 degree arc of fire. Attacking only via the door side.
  • Stone walls are Hard Cover but do not obscure LoS.
  • Hedges are Cover and block LoS. Units next to them can see and be seen through them.
  • The Wood is Cover. Units can see into or out of them but units outside them cannot see through them, i.e. they block LOS to units outside them.
I positioned the cottage nearer to the Rebel start line because I feared they would be shot to pieces. Things turned out rather differently.

The Companies were as follows:

12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
12 Pike/Shot Line Infantry Aggressive Poor Shots Green 3
6 Shelmaliers Skirmishers Sharpshooters 6

12 Militia Line Infantry Green 3
12 Militia Line Infantry Green 3
6 Light Infantry Small 5
6 Grenadiers Shock Infantry Small 5
6 Yeomanry Light Cavalry 4
1 6pdr +4 crew Light Gun 4

I commanded the Government forces while Bernard and Chris took control of the United Irishmen. Sometimes it’s an advantage not to have a collective command, but in the event my combined opponents played much better than I did. The Rebel Captain was with one of the pike units. I placed mine with the Yeomanry.

Crown Forces: Line, Lights, Grenadiers, Gun, Line and Yeomen Cavalry. The cannon had little potential for fields of fire that would not be blocked by my own advance so I placed it on the road. Rebels: Pike-and-shot units as shown. Shelmaliers initially on road.

Very early in the game I suffered a friendly fire incident (double 1 on Activation) when my left-hand Line unit fired on my Lights inflicting a casualty (above). My opponents found this very amusing! Worse was to come...

The Rebel Sharpshooters took up position behind the wall next to the cottage. With a 24" range, and hitting on 4-6 they began an intimidating fire on my Grenadiers and Lights. Cotton-wool denotes a unit that has had its First Fire.

Galled by the Rebel sharpshooters I decided to move around the other side of the cottage. It would be a long way round but seemed the best option. On my right the Line unit lining the hedge began to take its toll of the Rebel unit lining the hedge directly opposite it.

The Light Infantry and Grenadiers, both weakened, moved into the shelter of the dead ground provided by the end wall of the cottage.

The cannon proved completely ineffective though this was partly due to forgetting that artillery reduces Hard Cover to Cover.

On seeing a friendly unit rout, the Rebel General's unit, which was occupying the objective, retreated out of it! Result! This would give the Rebels a draw rather than a win.

View from the flank. I was bringing quite a lot of fire to bear but it was a bit of a sideshow. The Rebel sharpshooters had also moved round to the flank.

Aware of the Rebel unit crossing the field to my right, I moved the gun up to the hedge to get a crack at it but the pikes charged me causing a rout! We were unsure how to resolve this. We decided to move the crew away leaving the gun in place. I'm not sure that is correct and have not been able to find any further explanation in the rules.

While the Rebel General's unit remained exposed outside the cottage I decided to commit the Yeomanry but they declined to charge three times despite being accompanied by the Captain.

Even more significantly, the Rebel Captain's unit reoccupied the cottage at which point I gave up though the game was almost over anyway and a clear win for Bernard and Chris.

I didn’t play at all well. I think the mixture of infantry, cavalry and artillery confused my options, the large amount of cover shielded the Rebels and prevented me from bringing my superior firepower to bear, and the Rebel sharpshooters were particularly decisive.

I lost the game but I was pleased with how the 1798 project looked and played. It captured period flavour and made the game sufficiently different  from other R&P games (AWI and ACW) to make the project worthwhile. I had feared the Rebels would be shot to pieces before closing but this didn't happen so indications are that the game is reasonably balanced. I had always wanted to do this war. Rampant games sizes made it possible.

Painting Pledge

All of my current projects involve basing-before-painting and playing with unfinished figures, but I have pledged myself to do more painting before a given army puts in another public appearance. However, this is the first time these 1798 forces have been used so there is no additional painting to draw your attention to. I will be adding a 'Painting Pledge' note to all battle reports until figures are finished.

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Washes and Shades 1

Some textured card used to test washes.
It's been a while since I last completed an army of 28mm figures using a wash technique so it was time to think it through again. I don't have any coloured inks or dedicated colour washes. I do have a lot of different acrylic paints so that is what I’m using.

I've previously washed figures using a simple mix of acrylic paint and water. This time I wanted to get more contrast, so decided to mix the solutions more carefully and to experiment with adding detergent (dish soap) to reduce water resistance and improve flow. Isopropyl has also been mentioned as an ingredient but as it's used to strip acrylic paint I think I'll give that a miss. Another trick I wanted to try was to wet each figure with water before applying the wash.

The figures I'm working on are my 28mm 1798 Irish Rebellion companies for Rebels and Patriots. I want the Government forces to look uniform but I want the Rebels to look '40 shades of grey-brown' so they are an ideal subject for experimentation without running the risk of ruining anything. I therefore started on the Rebels.

Most historical peasant clothing was dyed grey but faded to brown. Various browns, grey-browns and greys will therefore feature as my principal wash colours.

It's a long way down the line but I will also be altering my finishing process. The provisional plan is:
  1. Spray gloss varnish.
  2. Wash with an ink stain or shade.
  3. [Highlight if necessary but hopefully not.]
  4. Add PVA builders’ sand, talus, static grass and tufts.
  5. Spray with Dullcote.
  6. Add flags.
The gloss varnish will again help the final shade to run off the raised surfaces and congregate in the crevices.

The figures had all been primed with white gesso. The washes are intended to be a one pass application of the main clothing colour, though other washes and block painting will be added for variation.

The washes were mixed in varying proportions depending on individual paints but they were basically about 1 part paint to 5 or 6 parts water and one drop of washing-up liquid.

This is what I noticed as I went along but I will be saying more in conclusion.
  1. Basically the constituency needs to be more like a watercolour than an acrylic.
  2. The detergent did break down water resistance and help the wash to spread but it took time to convince me. Use too much, however, and the wash bubbles and the paint gathers in arbitrary patches rather than running into the crevices.
  3. I tried wetting figures first as some recommend, but the effect was too extreme. It diluted the paint too much and created an overall very bland finish.
  4. Washes need to be put on pretty liberally. If you try to be sparing you end up covering the figure too evenly.

Group 1 - Coat d'arms 208 Wood Brown

Group 2 - Vallejo 160 Neutral Grey

The grey looked too neutral, so I added the remnants from the first wash.

Group 3 - Cda 501 British Khaki

Group 4 - Cda 537 Faded Khaki

Group 5 - Cda 519 Mid Stone

Group 6 - Vallejo 983 Flat Earth

Darker colours such as this provide better contrast and make the wash approach more effective. 

Group 7 - Cda 208 Grass Green

This was the first group of figures wearing uniform coats. At this stage they looked like exotic frogs…

Group 8 - Cda 110 Royal Blue

Group 9 - Cda 110 Royal Blue + Vallejo 154 Sky Grey

The gun needed finishing in a 'leaden blue' so I added some grey to the remnant of the Royal Blue.

Group 10 - Cda 238 British Scarlet replaced by CdA 146 Ruby Red

This was the most important group, the most challenging and the least satisfactory. Cda 238 British Scarlet covers poorly when block painting and made a very uneven wash so after a few figures I decided to wash it off and start again. My paint collection is quite old. I've been told that it may not be the age of the paint so much the age of the paint forumula. I then switched to Cda 146 Ruby Red but the figures still came up a sickly pink.

I was happy with the brown, grey-brown and grey washes for civilian clothes but I wasn’t confident that the final stain would make the uniform coats look right. The green was too vibrant, the blue was too grey and the red was shockingly pink.

I tried another wash of a slightly darker red on the redcoats. This reddened the pink a little but it also flattened the shade effect. Even Mrs Phalanx made a passing comment about how awful they looked.

Somewhat discouraged I put the redcoats aside and put a dark but very dilute wash of Cda 521 Army Green on the greencoats. This worked well. It toned down the luminous green but still left a lot of contrast. The figure on the left has been rewashed.

I made a similar improvement to the bluecoats using some cheap Navy Blue hobby acrylic. The figure on the left has been rewashed.

Encouraged by these successes I made a thin wash of Cda 509 Brick Red. Here the figure on the right is the one that has been rewashed. This toned down the pink and restored a shading effect, but they still don’t look quite right. Once the facings and cross straps have been painted in a lot less red will be showing. After the final staining I may have to touch up the red with a more appropriate colour. Time will tell.

These secondary washes on the figures in uniform coats pre-empt the role of the final stain but the figures do look better. Having to do a second wash is contrary to my central principle of economy of effort but it's still quicker and easier than a dark to light approach using two or three tones solidly applied.