Saturday, 20 December 2014

Here we go again on the Great Northern War

I've been looking again at the basing ideas for my Great Northern War (and SYW) figures, following some recent games with the excellent Maurice rules.  For those games, we've used 28 mm figures belonging to chaps in the club, but I really want to press ahead and finish my own 15/18 mm Blue Moon stuff.   

Here's where I've come from, and where I'm staggering to, in fits and starts.  

At the outset (18 months ago...) I was thinking of 60 x 30 mm bases with a unit per base. Units would have 8 or 9 figures per battalion with 1 standard. 

The idea here was to play with the forthcoming Impetus Baroque rules or a variant of Volley and Bayonet.

Then I went off the idea of figures in 2 ranks and went to a single rank of 3 x 40 mm bases with 3 figures on each base.  I liked the idea of 120 mm frontage and a thin line.  At this point I was still toying with whether to include the Swedish pike in the unit, or to use a special marker stand at the back to indicate the unit had pikes.  Cavalry was based 2 figures per 40 mm base.  

Well, Impetus Baroque is still nowhere in sight, and is fading from thought. The Maurice rules have now become the preferred option.  And so, on to the basing ideas.

Maurice works with any basing system as all movement and range distances are measured in base-widths.  Infantry and cavalry units have 4 bases and artillery 1 base.

And so I come to my current options.  Units of 120 mm front.  First up are 16 figure infantry units in 2 ranks. 2 bases of 30 mm and a central command base of 60 mm. Infantry units would carry 2 flags.  Cavalry would be 8 figures on 2 bases of 60 mm.  Something like this.

This does go back to figures in 2 ranks which I'm still not sure about, but it looks OK here as a rough idea.

Then there's the option of 12 figure infantry units. Still on a 120 mm front but with figures mounted in a loose staggered line.  Cavalry would be 6 or 8 figures.  This has the advantage of giving me more units and being easier to base.

Or I could stay with 9 figure infantry and 6 figure cavalry units. I could then just stay with 40 mm bases and play with each unit as 3 bases. The rules work just as well with 3 bases; they just get counted as 4 bases for the unit break-point.  

Or I could change from 3 bases of 40 mm to 4 bases of 30 mm and / or 2 bases of 60 mm. Which pretty much gets me back to where I started.   

Hopefully if I stare long enough at units and pictures over the next couple of weeks, I'll eventually settle on one option and then just get on with the painting.   

Friday, 19 December 2014

rules of the year - maurice, art de guerre and dystopian wars

I've played more games than I've posted here, so I thought I'd post a year end view of some of the most fun and interesting rules of this year. 

First up is Maurice by Sam Mustapha. These are rules for 18c games, card driven and a whole lot of fun.  The base game cards are used to move and modify the actions of either your own army or to interrupt your opponent.  Then you can add 'national modifier' cards to give a bonus to some of your troops. Then there are 'notables' cards which can add additional general officers to help or hinder your army. The rules can be played with historical armies or with 'imagine-nations'. 

One of the great things about Maurice is that there is a free Maurice Lite version available on the Honor website. This is a trimmed down basic rules and cards set but which can still give a good game.  Above all though, it lets you try the basic system with minimal outlay.  

The first time we played at the club we threw in everything; base cards, terrain setup, national modifiers, notables, irregulars - the works.  And we stumbled a bit trying to learn everything and ended the game a bit uncertain about the rules. 

One chap definitely wanted to persevere with the rules, so I suggested we go back to just the base rules and learn the basics first.  We did that, essentially playing an expanded version of Maurice Lite but using the full card deck.  It was a great game. 

The next game we added national modifiers and had another great game, even allowing for some hilarious loser grumbling about re-rolls not rolling higher that the initial roll.  

And so it goes on, with more games affirming the basics and slowly adding complexities.  For me, I'm not sure about using the notables cards but will use them as the other chaps want. 

We've mostly played with Great Northern War figures so far, but it's got me looking at the basing my own GNW and Seven Years Wars figures.  

Overall - just a great game and highly recommended.  

Next up is actually my newest purchase - Art de la Guerre.  
(and a quick plug for Wargames Emporium in the UK - very fast delivery on these rules.)

It's a set of ancient rules and in scope it sits between DBA/Armati and DBM. It uses more bases than DBA but about half of a DBM army. 

Now I've not actually played this, but the chaps at the club have had a few games and really like it. And the games look good.    

It's a well produced book, nicely laid out with good diagrams and most wonderful of all - the rules AND the army lists are all in the one book.  Yeah!  Three cheers!  A major plus and the writers of ADG are to be applauded for taking this approach.  None of the nonsense of glossy rules and endless supplements to wring every penny from gamers.   

Apparently, these rules have been on the go in France for the past 5 years but it's only this year that an English translation has been produced.     
I'm looking forward to playing these in the near future. DBA, DBM and Armati were some of my favourite rules and this could re-awaken an interest in ancients.  There have been some good reviews out on t'internet and a few comments by people who are also looking to get long forgotten armies out of boxes and on the table again using these rules. 

And finally - Dystopian Wars.  
I'd stayed away from this, and for no other reason than it meant another set of rules to learn and more models to be painted.  But after a conversation at the club one night, I gave in and got the rules and a couple of American fleets off that on-line auction site.  Some great games followed - successes and failures (though I can't remember the successes now!).  

Then the chaps in the club decided to go for the second version of the rules. As a rules set, is supposed to be better but I find the amount of bold print to highlight important stuff a bit off-putting.  And the mish-mash of land, air and sea rules seem overly confusing to someone like me who only wanted to play naval games.  And the second edition cards - 4 quid for only 24 cards seemed a bit of a rip-off. All just a bit disappointing.  

But the biggest farce to me are what look like revamped air and carrier rules.  Unless I'm reading it wrong, under version 2 rules, tiny-flyers don't have to actually land on a carrier to refuel or rearm; they just have to get to within 4 inches of a carrier and then magically rearm. Maybe it's intended to be simpler, but I liked the idea of tiny-flyers having to land to rearm etc.  

And tiny-flyers ( a great name ). What was wrong with tiny-flyers that they had to be renamed 'wings'?  Bah humbug!  

But it's still a good fun game for naval combat, and for rolling lots of dice looking for exploding sixes.     

Roll on 2015 and more of these 3 games as well as some old favourites.   

Sunday, 2 November 2014

6mm Normans finished

Got the 6mm Normans finished today.  It was a nice sunny day so I took some quick pictures.  

First the Norman infantry.   

Then the light archers and lesser cavalry.  

And the first batch of knights with William figure at the front. 

The next batch of knights with Saxon axemen in the background.  

And the remaining knights.  

Overall, not too bad.  I'll pass them on to their owner later this week for basing.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Arnhem game for 70th Anniversary

This year is the 70th anniversary of several WW2 battles.  We'd planned an Arnhem game for September but real life got in the way so we played last weekend.  

These are my shaky photos from the day.  For better photos and a report, please go over to,
This is the blog of Russ, the chap who put together all the terrain and the forces and designed the scenario.  All myself and Nick had to do was show up and play.  We rolled a dice and I was the British. 

This is the first attack by the Germans as seen from the British side. It's on the north east corner of the perimeter and saw 3 SS platoons attack the dug-in and concealed British platoon. 

Here's the corresponding view from the German side.  German pressure took it's toll on the paratroopers and though the Germans suffered many losses they eventually overwhelmed the British platoon.     

A turn or so later, Grabner shows up crossing the bridge and trying to progress down the ramp.  We didn't represent the bridge - just the ramp on the northern side.  Just to the left of this picture - behind the buildings - is the blue line of the river.  The anti-tank guns did sterling work here as shown by the smoke markers on the destoyed vehicles.  

A later turn with the anti-tank guns doing more damage on the ramp.  And to the left of the picture are more German reinforcements - platoons of Mark 3's and Mark 4's. Just in front of the grey building beside the ramp are the British mortars who also did good work. On the top floor of the building is the spotter who survived several attempts by Grabners platoons to hit him.       

This is a view from the ramp looking west.  This was the end of the game I think and by this time, I think Grabner's force had lost 4 platoons and lined up the 75mm guns to destroy the paratroopers.  Also in this picture are 3 Mark 3 tanks that tried to assault the building but bogged down and were eventually destroyed when close assaulted by paratroopers with gammon bombs.  Alas, at this point, the British in the middle house are down to Frost, a platoon commander and a piat team.  In the distance is a destroyed armoured car.        

This is a wider shot of the game end situation. The British have been cleared from the east side of the ramp. Testimony to the defence is the platoon of 5 destroyed Mark 4's.  Two were destroyed by the anti-tank gun and one bogged down vehicle destroyed by a close assault by the second in command. 

Also testiment to the defence are the 5 german SS stands on the slope leading to the ramp - I think this was all that was left of the 21 stands that started the attack from the north-east on turn one. 

Across the ramp are 4 tigers moving foward. They and the infantry had just cleared the second building from the right on the far side of the table and were moving towards the last pockets of the British defence.        

We finished at this point. A very narrow win for the British for holding on till this point, but win or lose it was a great game, played in a great spirit.  And much kudos to Nick who was playing only his second game of Flames of War and thanks to Russ for all the hard work to set this up.  

Finally, there were some scenario specific rules used here. Morale for the British, Germans calling in artillery and making it easier for troops to move and enter an empty building.      

This will definately be played again.  Probably next September for sure and hopefully before then, when other players will maybe get the chance to play. 

Saturday, 18 October 2014

6mm Normans

Just a small update of what's on the some of the painting trays.  I'm progressing with the 6mm Normans for a friend at the club.  This is the companion army to the Saxons I did a while ago. 

This is a wide shot of some of the cavalry.  My approach here is to use bright colours so they stand out when viewed across the table.  I put a bit of work into the horses with fetlocks, tails, manes and such, just because I want them to look like more than brown blobs.  

A shot of the infantry. Some shields were undercoated white so a top colour would stand out a bit more.  Just behind them are some light cavalry and behind that some Saxon axemen.    

A close up of some other cavalry. Some work still to be done, but I'm happy with the horses.  

Wider shots of more cavalry.  

As with the Saxons, my task is just to paint the figures. My friend will finish off the basing.  

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

28mm Polybian Romans finished - 2

And the remainder of the Polybian Romans. 

At this point, I almost want to break into song ...
    There's a pink one, and a blue one, and a green one and a yellow one.
    And they're all made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same (but not quite ...)

And so, the yellow legion. I never got around to getting velites for it.    

And the mixed colour legion. I started off wanting to make this all blue, but I wasn't sure, so I split the colours by the hastati, principes and triarii.  I reckoned I could use this as a legion of slaves or raw recruits.     

And Italian Allies.  A basic colour for each unit but with variations so the figures wouldn't appear so uniform.   

And the cavalry.  Gripping Beast figures again, but the 4 chaps at the front are on Essex horses. 

And that's them. Not too bad overall. 

28mm Polybian Romans finished - 1

Finally got the 28mm Polybian Romans finished.  Took a bit longer than anticipated, but now I'll see if I can sell them on t'bay and re-invest the proceeds. 

Start with the generals. These are the Gripping Beast Scipio set mounted on Essex horses with an Essex general in the background.  I couldn't decide what to put on the standard because I wasn't sure if SPQR was applicable to this period, so I left it blank.    

Gripping Beast foot command with another Essex general in the background.

And the legions - all wonderfully colour co-ordinated.  Gripping Beast legion with Essex velites.   

A closer picture of the officer.  I've always though this a really nice figure.  

And the white legion. As before, Gripping Beast legion with Essex velites.      

And the green legion. Same as above - Gripping Beast legion and Essex velites.  

There is a theme here.  It's something I've done with a few of my ancient armies. No prizes for spotting it, but very well done if you do.