Monday, 8 January 2018

Here we go in 2018 - plastics, plastics and more plastics

So the first gaming stuff of the year is underway.  Inspired by our recent Lion Rampant variant game with dark ages figures, I got a batch of Saxons and Vikings.  

Here's some of stuff so far.  The big debate I'm having is on basing and if 20mm or 25mm is best.  Initially I was thinking 20mm might do, but I've increasing come round to wanting more space around the figures.  

I also realised that by putting the figures on the sabot bases intended for 20mm bases, I was getting a different impression of the figures as a group because the sabot base works out as the equivalent of 25mm bases side by side. 

The base size debate will continue as I continue to build the figures, but I'm thinking 25mm may be best.  

And here's the other stuff waiting in the wings. Vikings and dark age warriors.  

More later.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

games of 2017

I meant to do this a week ago, but here's the games I played in 2017.

Longstreet - 7 
Bolt Action - 7 
Maurice - 4
Pikeman's Lament - 4
Lion Rampant - 3
ADG - 3
Napoleonic games - 4 (2 of Over the Hills, 1 General d'Armee and 1 Sharp Practice)
Rommel and Flames of War - 2 (one of each)
Napoleonic Naval game - 1 (I think it was a Too Fat Lardies game)
Dystopian Wars - 1
Wings of Glory - 1
Commands and Colors Napoleonic Epic - 2
To the Strongest - 1

And boardgames - 11  
    Russian Campaign - 2
    Stalingrad Pocket - 1
    Squad Leader - 2  
    Battles for the Ardennes - 1
    Yom Kippur - 2
    No Retreat: the Russian Front - 3

Not a bad total for the year.  Here are the highlights (and thoughts on lowlights.)  

The high points. 

An excellent card-driven miniatures game.  I hadn't played ACW games in some 3 years, so we kicked off a Longstreet campaign.  Six of us are enjoying the games and we still have half the campaign to go.  

Bolt Action and Lion Rampant.  
Two skirmish games that continue to be fun.  We also played Pikeman's Lament a few times because it was new, but I think Lion Rampant will be the favourite using that system.  

Commands and Colors Napoleonic Epic
The Epic expansion module is the latest for the game system.  It's good, but a bit more involved and we needed more time to get through the games. I'd like to play more, but I think we're likely to play ordinary CnC and get two games in the one evening rather than play the one big game. 

No Retreat: The Russian Front
This was this years big surprise game.  It's a card supported hex game with counters representing armies and fronts.  I thought it was too high level for my interests, but I've found it to be a great game.  It plays like a normal hex and counters boardgame, but the cards add so much variation to make each game different.  I've played 3 scenarios and last week we started on a full campaign.  A great game, and so much so I bought the No Retreat: Western Desert game which uses a similar system though I've yet to play it.  

To The Strongest
Another surprise of the year. This is a card driven ancients game played on a square grid.  Although we've only managed one game so far, I found the game system really intriguing and fun.  I'm looking forward to trying this again.   

Other good games.
Maurice continues to be great fun.  A card driven horse and musket era game. 
Wings of Glory and Dystopian Wars. Both good games, but we didn't get the time to play more. 
Rommel. An interesting new game from Sam Mustafa, but we've only managed one game so far.

Low points and disappointing games. 
Napoleonic games. 
The chaps at the club flit like butterflies from rule set to rule set.  It gets frustrating, that by the time we've played a game, the next rules set has become the new fad and we get dragged down that road.  I stopped playing that many Napoleonic games even though it remains a favourite period of mine.  

For example, this year we played Over the Hills, General d'Armee and 1 Sharp Practice. If I recall correctly, General d'Armee seemed the most interesting, though despite the title, it's not an army level game. I think there's something about British rules writers that they cannot seem to get beyond a battalion and skirmish level of combat.  It seems like people get vertigo if they even think about the heady heights of higher command. Or maybe they've seen too many episodes of Sharp and think that it's the only representation of Napoleonic battles.   

I also found out what some people have said about poorly written rules by Too Fat Lardies. Early in the year we played their Napoleonic naval game, and we muddled through some of the poorly explained parts of the rules. Then, just to add to the frustration and punishment, the chaps started playing Chain of Command (with similar issues) and latterly Sharp Practice.  I've not tried Chain of Command, but I did find Sharp Practice a bit of a farce. In many key places Sharp Practice is poorly written, vague and a bit like some badly organised brain dump by the author. 

Here's an example. The Sharp Practice rules split infantry into Line and Skirmishers, each with sub-categories.  The rules give fire bonuses to the different types of skirmishers; light infantry, skirmishers and irregular skirmishers. Several people asked if these were cumulative. The author's answer was 'no', but then went on to explain that irregular skirmishers were not skirmishers. And that was it - no further explanation.  

So I'm left asking wtf ... what then are my AWI irregular frontier skirmish riflemen?  They're called skirmishers and classed as skirmishers in the army lists, but you're telling me they're not skirmishers. Bah humbug. Stuff it. I've lost interest in the Lardie jingo-ist and vague waffling approach to rules writing.  

Other than that, the games played this year were all good fun and I'm looking forward to playing many of them again.  Certainly I'm looking forward to No Retreat, Lion Rampant and To the Strongest.  

More later.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

end of year finish to a couple of Austrian units

Finally got a couple of Seven Years War Austrian infantry units flagged and flocked before the year end.  Not too bad.  I've now got the flag effect I wanted. 

And the artillery. 

I'm happy to have made a start on my Seven Years War stuff, though I've now a slight reservation about my usual patches of grass effect. I wondered if I might be better just flocking the whole base, but I'll think some more on that.  For now, it's a good start.   

And ongoing work on the 28mm British.  Finally got the chaps into the Bren carrier and the machine gun crew mounted on their base.  The base has been given a coat of khaki round the figures.  I'll do the rest of the base another time, finishing the khaki then highlighting it with sand and a cream colour. 

Roll on 2018, when I might get the British finished.  

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

More ongoing stuff - 15mm Austrians and 28mm British

Christmas greetings to all.  I hope you're all having a peaceful time and can look forward to a healthy and prosperous new year.  

Gaming activities continue here, though the painting of many figures is not quite finished.  

The first units for my Seven Years War Austrians are essentially finished. I just have to add paper flags and flock. I'll try to finish them this year!  

Another project that's come back to mind are my 28mm British for Bolt Action. They've remained in a semi-painted state for a while. The basic paint job has been good enough to push around in a game, but I'm going to try to get all 60 or so figures finished so they look the part.  

Here I've started to paint the many straps and packs that the British infantry have around them.  

These 3 chaps see me experimenting with colours for the wood work. At the left is a dark brown paint over the green brown I sprayed all the figures, then the centre rifle has a sepia wash, and on the right is a flesh wash. I've decided the brown paint is out for this bit.  I like the sepia wash, though the slightly more reddish tone that comes from the flesh wash does have an appeal. I'll test a lighter highlight later.  

And the rest of the figures.  I'm afraid the jolly spiffing old RAF spotter chap will likely be last to get painted. 

Hopefully I'll get a few more finished before the new year. 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

new project and ongoing stuff

Just when I thought it was safe ... after last weeks game I decided to put together some plastic Saxons that I got from a friend some time ago.  That then led to me ordering 4 boxes of the Gripping Beast plastic Saxons and Vikings.  

Here's the test figures so far.  But the big decision at this point is whether to go for 20mm or 25mm circular bases.  Most of the figures (all headless) are on the 20mm sabot bases from Warbases. At the front is one chap of a plastic 25mm base.  

The 20mm option is attractive, particularly as I have the sabot bases, but I do like the bigger 25mm bases. They are also the same size as those for my Wars of Roses figures for Lion Rampant. Decisions, decisions.  

And ongoing stuff - the Seven Years War Austrians move along slowly. Two infantry units are pretty much finished and will mounted in two ranks later.  

More later ....

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Last week at the club - a dark ages variant of Lion Rampant

Here are some pictures from our game on Thursday.  All the terrain, 28mm figures and QR sheets were provided by one chap who's thinking of writing an article for a magazine on this game (though not necessarily our specific game). The forces were Normans against Vikings, Saxons and Welsh. 

The setup was eight 24pt forces set up near the number counters on a random basis.  The letter counters were the objectives, with the sides having different objectives. There were only 4 of us playing as other chaps had work shifts or family stuff, so it meant we took 2 forces each. I had Normans. 

First the overall table near the start. It was about 8 to 10ft x 6ft. 

And some closer views.  There were peasants defending the villages and fields. They were controlled by the referee and they were hostile to both sides.  Also, we know that units should remain 3 inches apart, but ... who cares, we're here to get stuck in and have a good game.  

Here's my Norman knights after a tussle with some axemen.  The unit is now down to 3, though my leader has survived so far.  

The single horseman is the remnant of my unit of mounted serjeants. He is off the table next turn.   

A final view towards the end of the game.  The end result was a draw, though I don't think we cared that much.  

The game was great fun and well worth the effort.  It was good to see such a big table and I hope we can do something like this again. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

More ongoing stuff

Just to show that gaming activity has not stopped, here's a bit more.  

One project I have is to replace basetex with flock on some bases.  Basetex looked OK to me for a while, but then I went off the look and decided to replace it.  I could have taken all the miniatures off the bases and started again, but I figured it was easier to just replace the basetex patches.

The majority of my models which feature basetex are 15mm American Civil War, though there are some medieval I've yet to get around to working on.  It's not something I feel I have to do right away as the figures are good enough for tabletop battles, so this is a gentle on-going project.      

Here's where they start.  

I then brush water over the green basetex and let it soak for a few minutes. I may repeat the process before scraping off the basetext with a small screwdriver, modelling tool or old worn out brush. The bases then look a bit like this. 

Then I paint over what ever green is left to get back to a bare earth finish. I probably don't have to do do this stage, but I like getting back to a clear surface.  

Finally I apply the flock where the basetex once was, and the finish is more pleasing to my eye.  

Most of the bases I have to do are ACW infantry and artillery, and probably in the region of 200 - 250 total.  I've done about 50 so far and will do more as and when I can.

Meanwhile, other gaming activities carry on.  Here are two boardgames I've played recently at the club.  Squad Leader is still a venerable classic, and one of the best games for squad level combat.  

At the other end of the scale is No Retreat: The Russian Front, an operational or strategic game on that conflict.  It's a card supported game with a few units and another really fun game.  I'll do a fuller post on this game in the future.   

And just to show that painting has not ceased, here are some of my 15mm SYW Austrians which I've finally got around to starting.  I'm going to try to do enough Austrians and Prussians to refight Kolin for the Maurice rules.  It's an achievable target. 

Everything is based on 40mm front bases, with 4 bases per infantry or cavalry unit and 1 base per artillery unit.  

I've always liked these Essex figures, and I've put together my infantry as 23 figure units and my cavalry as 12 figure units.  I say 23 instead of 24 because I'm using a mounted officer in place of 2 foot figures.  This works out neatly with the Essex figure packs as 2 infantry packs of 8 figures and 1 command pack of 6 figures get me my unit, and all I need to add is a mounted officer.  

However, as I moaned in a previous post, I've never liked the cast on flags so I'm replacing all those figures with other officer figures, to which I've attached wire standard poles.  That will let me attach paper flags. 

And that's it for now.  In a couple of weeks at the club we'll be playing a Dark Ages variant of Lion Rampant rules, so I'm hoping to get a few pictures from that. More later ...