Monday, 21 January 2019

More Napoleonics under way

I'm getting some more Napoleonics underway.  I'm intending to revisit an old, old project going back nearly 50 years or so, to do the forces at Quatre Bras in 1815. I've done this so many times with different figures and scales and with boardgames.

However, I'm still debating which figures to use.  One thought was to part with some of the 8,000 or so 15mm Napoleonic figures I have a switch to something like only AB Miniatures.

But then I thought about actually going back in time to my old 2nd generation Minifigs. I still have a lot of them (estimated at over 5,000) and I have a nostalgic fondness for them. With a bit or reorganising, I reckon I could do the forces at 1:20 figure scale, though I might have to use Russian or Prussian substitutes for the Nassau and Dutch Belgians.

So unpainted figures were brought from boxes and set out on card trays. The weather here was quite good last weekend so I had a good outdoor spraying session. Here's the product.

Here's a close up of the AB figures. I got these to try as a test. I'll see how these turn out before maybe getting more. 

Here I have given the figures a light wash of black to highlight the detail. 

And the first test of some red for the jackets. I used Vallejo flat red for this, again just to see how they would turn out. 

Now, AB miniatures have a lot of hype around them as being some of the best Napoleonic figures on the market. They are nice, and well proportioned, but I was a bit surprised to see no lace detail on the jacket and no real definition for the cuffs. These can always be painted on, but it's still disappointing for these details to be missing.

I'll see how I get on with the AB miniatures, but I also were to get more of my old minifigs done. 

And finally, this week at the club we're planning on a game of Hail Caesar with 15mm figures, just to see how it looks. 

More later … 

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Games of the year 2018

Here's a quick review of the club games I played in 2018.  In the order of most played to fewest. 

Black Power - 9 games 
Longstreet - 5 games  
No Retreat Russian Front - 5 games
Lion Rampant - 4 games
Hail Caesar - 3 games 
Great War Spearhead - 3 games 

Then the remaining games which were played only once or twice. Command and Colors Ancients, 1914, Maurice, Dystopian Wars ( a last game before I sold off my stuff ), Shako, Flames of War, Sharp (sh*t) Practice, To The Strongest, Blood Red Skies, and The Somme, Vikings and Panzerkrieg boardgames. 
All in all, not too bad for the year. The total was 43 games.    Here are some notes. 

Black Power - 9 games 

This has been the game of this year, as we embraced fun and playability and used it for skirmish games after abandoning the turgid mess of Sharp Practice. We played 4 AWI, 3 Napoleonic and 3 Great Northern War games. The AWI games were played with 28mm figures, the others with 15mm figures.  

Longstreet - 5 games  

We played these games as part of our campaign.  The Longstreet campaign system is not about taking terrain, but about you as a commander, making a reputation, getting your name in the papers and maybe even getting a statue put up in your name.  A great fun game.  

No Retreat Russian Front - 5 games

This was another campaign. My opponent and I took photos of the board at the end of each game night, so we could pick up next time.  A truly great boardgame. 

Lion Rampant - 4 games

Most of this was at the end of the year when we did our Lion Rampant tournament. Still a great fun game.  

Hail Caesar - 3 games 

We played HC with 28mm figures. All fun games, and it's only really lack of time that means we can't play more. 

Great War Spearhead - 3 games 

I played these with a friend's 6mm figures.  Good games so far, though as I get older, I think 6mm is too small for me.  

Shako - 2 games.

I still like this game, though it never caught on much with club members.

Of the other games, I said goodbye to Dystopian Wars as I hadn't played in a while. Maurice is still good to play as is Commands and Colors.  As usual with us, there are too many games and not enough time. 

And this year has started off with a game of Cruel Seas, the latest package from Warlord Games. It was OK, but I'll have to play again.  In one scenario we had a great bash with 2 small boats each, but then the second scenario was an escort to a tanker, and the tanker seemed to be more maneuverable and powerful than the MTB's.  We might have got something wrong, but it did seem oddly weird.  We'll play again though, because a couple of chaps at the club are fans of small boats in WW2.

More later … 

Game activity ongoing

Here's a brief update on recent game activity. Just to show games and painting have not stopped.  

First up, a recent game of Commands and Colors, using a friend's 10mm figures.  He also made these hex mats from railway terrain. This is the battle of Zama as seen from the Carthaginian side of the board. 

Next up is a Commands and Colors Napoleonic game. Same idea with 10mm figures on 3inch hexes. This was the battle of Eggmuhl between French and Austrians.  This is the view from the Austrian side of the field.

And some of my ongoing work with figures. First a test unit of Napoleonic 15/18mm AB British miniatures.  I'm going to test if I want to revisit an old project of the 1815 campaign, but using new figures and selling off all my old figures.

And the alternative is to rebase all my old 2nd generation minifigs. Here is a test basing exercise of unpainted figures.

Another alternative is to sell off my 15mm and move to 10mm.  Here are some 10mm test figures from Pendraken. Painting is slightly different with these. At the back are figures with a black undercoat, and at the front figures with the follow-up dry brush.  I liked the dry-brush idea at this stage as it lets me see what to paint.

And the painted 10mm.  I've tried to use brighter colours for these smaller figures. So the French tunics are a mid blue and the British tunics are carmine red.  The rifles uniforms are a mid green. The intent is the brighter colours are more visible across the tabletop.

And my Seven Years War figures stroll towards getting finished.  This year I want to get enough Austrians and Russians painted to do the battle of Kolin.

A side project is 12mm early WW1 figures from Kallistra.  These French are pretty much completed and I only have to flock the bases. 

More of my gaming activities later ...

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Black Powder 1 vs Black Powder 2 - a quick book review

So here's a quick review of the physical Black Powder 2 rulebook.  

I'll leave a review of the actual rules to others, though I will say I do like the rules and have had very good games with them. And I'll continue to play BP games. 

However, while the Warlord chaps are no doubt smugly congratulating themselves on a flawed product, I thought I'd give my view. 

Let's start at the very beginning ... the cover. 

BP1 had a clear cover. Dramatic main figure on the front surrounded by smaller images, and the key subtitle "Battles with model soldiers in the age of the musket." The simplicity of the cover gave the full idea that the rules cover battles from the 18th century through Napoleonics and the 19th century. 

And BP2?  Well, to me it looks like just another set of Napoleonic rules. There's nothing special here and no hint of other black powder conflicts. Just a bland cover.  

Now, if it was me, I would have kept the same cigarette card theme for the cover, and perhaps replacing the highlander with the French Line Infantry as the main central figure if I wanted to give it a Napoleonic theme. I would also have kept the key subtitle "Battles with model soldiers in the age of the musket."  

The vanity page. 

The vanity page. Ho-hum. It's part of a modern trend for authors and artists to put themselves into action paintings for rulebook covers. You know the kind of thing - Over the Hills, Napoleon and anything by Barry Hilton. 

You just know that these vanity people would run when they heard their first shot, and probably clutching their brown trousers. Still, at least the BP vanity page is a relaxed setting.

The text. 

Now to my main issue with the book.  Do you see the changes.  On the left is BP 1, on the right BP2.                                 



In BP1, note the black bold text headings and the text laid out in 2 columns. All good.

Now in BP2, headings are now orange on a buff background, and the text is now in 3 columns. 

Seriously guys, what stupid clown in the editorial team though that orange text on a buff background is, 
    a) readable in the first place, and
    b) more readable than black bold text.  

Seriously? What did the change to orange achieve. To me, it looks like change for the sake of change. Just the kind of thing smug idiot managers want because they don't think about the customer.  

I can't easily read these headings when flicking through the rules.   

And, 3 columns?  Again, seriously, why? WTF did this achieve? Change for the sake of change. 

Compare this picture of Hail Caesar (left) and Pike & Shotte (right). See how simple and readable it is. Bold black headings and 2 column text.                                    


Scenario for Quatre Bras. 

The hint on the back cover is that this is a scenario. Except, inside the book, it's a photo 'replay' of a Quatre Bras game. 

Again, seriously guys? 10 pages of photos?  How many times do you thing readers will look at this? Once if you're lucky.

This is a complete waste of 10 pages that could have been used to provide an actual scenario, or better, more diagrams and examples of play. e.g. How about examples of fighting at the edges and inside woods? More examples of support?                             



There are a few, and you'll find them on the internet somewhere. Most hilariously on pages 20 to 22. Lo and behold, here is a heading 'Skirmishers' in black bold text and a paragraph.  Except it's repeated at the top of page 22, this time with an orange heading. 

This looks like someone was changing BP1 and forgot this bit. It's also very amusing that the Skirmishers is a black bold text.  

Later in the rules there's even a die roll modifiers table in the wrong place. 

There's also a change to enfilade fire in the rules, but the QRS has not been changed.

All of these are just bad editing and bad proof reading. Probably done by people who were far too familiar with the rules and did not actually proof read anything.


So, all in all, a very disappointing product. Specially when they charge £30 for it. 

The clowns in the editorial team really need to be given a gook kick in the rear echelon. Or as Billy Connolly once said, "hanging is too good for them; it's a good kick up the arse they need."

Finally, if you have BP1, keep it. And keep playing games with it. Find out any changes and apply them if you want. Don't buy BP2. 

If you're part of a game group, buy one copy of BP2 for the group and learn the changes. No need for each of you to buy BP2.

Enough for now. There a good few more examples and you'll find them on internet somewhere. 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

And the activity continues - tricornes and more tricornes

After recent forays in bigger figures, I reckoned it was time to get back to 15mm.

First up were the final units for the Great Northern War Swedes. The bases have still to be finished and the flags added, but I'm happy to get to this point. At the top left is a finished unit I used for quick reference. The cavalry at the top right are the Life Guards in their pale blue uniform. The chaps at the front are the traditional Swedes in blue and yellow. I used Miniature Paints for the blue and yellow. Mid-blue for the coats and canary yellow for the facings. Nice and bright, and looks good across the table.   

And after a long time, I'm getting back to the Seven Years War Austrians. I want to see if I can finish enough to do a decent scenario of Austria vs Prussia with these chaps.  

Finally, some pictures from a recent Black Powder game at a friend's house. Napoleonic British vs French in the Peninsula.  In 15mm.   

A group of us have now got the Black Powder 2 rules.  We've had some great games with BP1 and hopefully BP2 will be just as good. 

I'll do a critique of BP2 later. I think the rules are still good, but I feel the physical production of BP2 is disappointing compared to BP1.  BP2 has typos and bits that are bad to read. The layout has changed a bit and it seems to have been rushed. Disappointing when it could have been so much better. 

More later …  

close up on the 28mm Italians

Some photos on the Italians. I've not found a flag yet, so I may well just doctor a French flag and paint the blue bits green. 

First the command. The senior officer holding the sword in both hands was a mini-conversion job. I liked that pose from when I did some Historex stuff a long time ago. 

The skirmishers. 

The fusiliers firing.

The fusiliers marching.

A closer picture of some fusiliers marching. Why is it I only spot a figure is skew-wiff on a base after I've taken the picture. The officer is now standing straight in the picture below. 

And the grenadiers. 

Sometimes I think I put too much flock on the bases, yet at other times it looks OK.  The slightly curved sabot bases came from Warbases. The idea was to give the impression a line of troops without it being too precise.  

More later … 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

And the 28mm Napoleonic Italians are done

Here are the finished figures. 

First a couple of pictures from my outdoor varnish session last Saturday.  It was a good dry day with minimal wind, everything worked out fine. 

And the finished figures, though I've still to do a flag. Overall not too bad, though I may have slightly overdone the green undergrowth. 

And having done these, the question is what to do with them. I'm going to move on to do French and British.  I'll offer these Italians to chaps at the club and if there are no takers, then they can go to ebay.   

I'll also try to take some better pictures of these. Maybe some close up. 

When I'm painting my next batch of 28mm figures, I reckon I'll try to adopt a much simpler style of painting - almost toy soldier style with bright flat colours. But we'll see … more later.