Saturday, 22 July 2017
In this post, I would like to show how a few different annexes and a bit of extra detailing can make the same basic model look a bit more interesting.
I bought four of these for about 20 quid on EBAY. It is a nice, but fairly basic "German style" cottage seen from front and back. Nice enough, but pretty boring en masse. The first thing I did was to add some extra timber work to a couple of them. Just styrene strip, but effective at this scale.
Here are the two side by side. Just the timber work and a different roof colour, but it makes a difference.
Here on the right is another cottage with timbering added plus a small extension made from plastic sheet and styrene strip. Not a huge difference, but again enough to give that extra bit of something. As well as varying the buildings themselves, you can alter the appearance and add a fair bit of visual impact with different garden annexes. Here are a few that I have already made, but I am sure I will make more in the future as it is such a cost effective way of ringing the changes when making up a village/town layout.
There really is no end to the variety you can work into your basic building modules. Another option I would like to explore, when I can find the time, is annexes linking 2 or more modules together to make different looking streets using the same basic buildings.
Tuesday, 18 July 2017
One of my main wargaming interests is World War 2, especially the later 1944-5 period. Whilst perusing EBAY (as you do), I came across a few plastic railway modelling buildings going cheap and, on an impulse decided to buy them. Within a couple of weeks I had purchased a load more - around £200.00 worth!! My initial attempts at painting them led to disappointment. Using my usual dry brush methods just didn't seem to work on plastic and I started to think that I had wasted my money. Fortunately, I had just bought an airbrush to try and get a decent finish on my WW2 vehicles and decided to try it out on the buildings. Over my usual base coat of Chocolate Brown, I over-sprayed 3 extra and progressively lighter layers and was pretty pleased with the result. The advantage with the air brush is that each application is so fine that the detail isn't obscured and the smooth surface of the plastic really benefits from this method. After that it was just a question of adding the weathering and detail.
In order to get the maximum possible variety, whilst saving on space, I decided to model the buildings and any extensions (gardens usually), separately. Terrain takes up a fair bit of space, buildings not least and a fixed module is what it is once finished. This way, I can design a variety of "add ons" which take a fraction of the time to do, but make a building look different every time. Because they are very light, they can also be stacked on top of each other, which greatly helps storage. The module illustrated can either be a simple stand alone house, or, if I want more detail and a larger footprint on the table, I can add the garden.
Railway modelling buildings really do have a great deal to recommend them: they are light, detailed and can usually be picked up, ready assembled, for a decent price. The fact that many of them are manufactured by German companies also helps, as they often depict German buildings - particularly suitable for my interest in fighting late war battles.
Over the coming weeks and months, I will try and post more of them on the blog. I look forward to hearing what you think of them.
Friday, 14 July 2017
After several years of slowly building up and then re-vamping this collection, currently my largest, I finally got the figures on the table last week. The game, a playtest of the Grimsby Club's "Corporal John and the Sun King" Marlburian rules, with some additions and amendments by yours truly, was fought out between old wargaming mate Dave Green and myself. Overall, it played pretty well, with only a couple of minor tweaks needed. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the rules are pretty old school - lots of dice throwing, simple and fun. I was a bit concerned that they might move a little too slowly, but in the event, we got a clear result in about 4 hours of actual play. Considering that Dave had 20 units plus guns to command (some 500 figures) and didn't know the rules, I thought that was none too bad.
One of the changes I did introduce, was to import a card-driven move system to try and bring a little uncertainty to the proceedings and that part worked a treat. Basically Dave and I had three infantry brigades and 3 cavalry brigades each. These brigades were each represented by a card. In addition each side had, what I have termed a "command card" and finally there were two "tea break" cards. The deck is shuffled each move and the cards drawn in sequence. If a brigade card is drawn, eg: Blue 4, that brigade is moved by the owning player. When BOTH tea break cards are drawn, that ends the movement phase, unless you have a command card, in which case, one brigade that has not yet moved may do so. Some moves all brigades on both sides managed to activate, on other moves, crucial units were unable to get going; this had quite serious consequences for me, when all three of my cavalry brigades failed to move at the same time.
The Dutch Guards and Murray's Scots, deployed in front of the village and were exposed to the full force of the French attack - no less than eight battalions! Both held on until over 50% casualties were taken, but were finally broken. Orkney's and North and Grey's English regiments on the extreme right flank also had a tough fight and were just about holding on at the end.
In the distance, the massed ranks of allied horse - seven regiments. In the end, this turned out to be my Achilles Heel!
And this is why. Eight regiments of French horse which in a series of devastating melees utterly routed my cavalry. One regiment, the Bavarian Arco cuirassiers, seemingly left their swords sheathed in a collective act of Gandhi-like non-violence! Here are the miscreants walking the walk, supported by the Dutch Blue Guards, but failing to fight the fight.
Here are a few shots to illustrate the unfolding drama/disaster:
And the final endgame - sauve qui peut!!
Only a single regiment of English horse remained intact. Unfortunately the pursuing mass of French did not, as I had hoped, pursue my men off the table. Instead they rallied, wheeled and overwhelmed my last remaining troopers. Nothing remained but to retire from the field.
Here are a few shots of the infantry battle, which was hard-fought and bloody. Although the village remained in my hands, it became untenable after the total collapse of my left flank.
All in all, not a grand day for the Grand Alliance. Murray's regiment in particular fought well and died hard, but all for nothing. The Bavarians are on notice that a repeat of this performance will result in a one-way EBAY entry!
Nevertheless, a good game, which played quickly and entertainingly. The rules are undeniably enjoyable and the addition of the cards adds a much-needed touch of uncertainty. I look forward to the next one.
Monday, 10 July 2017
This module is another mixed timber/brick construction, which gives a nice colour contrast I think. I decided to go for an earth rather than cobbled courtyard and the whole thing is a little less grand. It made its debut in a hard fought battle I played last week with wargaming mate, Dave Green (report to follow). Suffice it to say that I got my arse kicked!
With two pretty large village modules to my name, I think I will do something a little more modest next time. Still not sure whether to go for smaller modules with a couple of buildings and surrounding wall/hedge/fence or to do individual buildings. The usual compromise between flexibility and appearance. I am also experimenting with my terrain boards to try and build in a bit more flexibility; basically to do away with integral roads and settle for drop on. I bought a load from the delightfully named "Fat Frank" so that I could have a more complex road/stream network. With a little re-painting they look pretty good. I am also looking at a complete re-texture using grasses/flocks, rather than the old sand and dry brush approach. Still early stages and not yet convinced, but will report back when I have something to show.
This is just a part of my concerted push (and New Year's Resolution) to get my terrain sorted out in 2017. I have made a lot of progress and have lots to post on the blog over the next few months.
Tuesday, 4 July 2017
As the Duc de Gobin mentioned in his comment on the previous post, I did indeed say that I was intending to use Brent Oman's Field of Battle 2 rules with my Grand Alliance collection. As the Duc says, they area great set of rules - one of my top three of all time I would say. They are elegant, ingenious, full of great ideas and bring some much needed "fog of war" to the table top.
But sets such as these touch on a theme that our group is wrestling with at the moment - generic or period specific rules. Basically this has come about through our fairly widespread use of Black Powder over the last couple of years or so. Whilst generally unimpressed with the rules when I first read them, I was quite happy to give them a go when one of the lads organised a game. Whilst some of my fears were confirmed, what Black Powder did offer was a result in a reasonable time frame. This, it has to be said, counted for something, as many of our games seemed to end without any clear conclusion. We have since used them to play several periods, including AWI, Carlist Wars and more recently the Great Northern War. It was during this game that the problem arose. Whilst the game was enjoyable enough and played in a great spirit amongst old friends, I found myself trying to appreciate the differences between these three periods, separated by almost 150 years of history. And I couldn't. All the games were played in the same way using the same tactics, which were essentially driven by the rule system itself. I was left feeling a little deflated at the thought of accumulating different armies, which would essentially give me the same game.
Now in my opinion FOB2 are infinitely better as a rules system than BP, but be that as it may, the basic problem is the same: do I want to have essentially the same gaming experience with several different historical periods? Much as I like FOB2, I have concluded that I don't. Which brings me at last, to the point of this post. I have decided that even though learning several rule sets is a challenge for my ageing brain, it has to be done. Where Grand Alliance/Marlburian is concerned I am going to try out the Grimsby club's Corporal John and the Sun King rules that I mentioned nearly two years ago (19/07/15 post). Whilst decidedly "Old School" - actual figure casualties begod - they seem fun and pretty simple, whilst covering most of the historical bases. I have streamlined a few things, amended a few others and added a basic card system (a la Piquet), to mix things up a bit, but they are very much the Grimsby rules. I look forward to finally getting this collection on the table in the very near future. I will certainly report back when I do.
Whilst I don't usually go in for wargaming philosophy posts, I wanted to get this off my chest. I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this thorny topic.
Sunday, 2 July 2017
This is the 16th, and for the time being, final regiment of infantry for my Grand Alliance French army. I may add a couple more at some point in the future, but I think 480 figures will do to be going on with. With three more allied units still to complete, which will also bring them to 16 battalions, I have enough to play with. Truth be told I am a touch light on cavalry with only eight regiments per side (!!) and hope to add a brigade of Danish horse and another of French Dragoons when painting time allows. I bought a few of the excellent Warfare Miniatures waggons from Barry at Partizan a few weeks ago. When I get these finished, I aim to do a game based on Barry's own scenario, featured in the 1st Edition of Beneath the Lily Banners. The game is a rearguard action following the allied defeat at Neerwinden and has a force of allied cavalry and infantry attempting to hold back the pursuing French until the allied baggage train gets over the river. Hopefully more anon.
The Regiment of Poitou took part in the battles of Fleurus (1690), Steinkirk (1692) and Neerwinden (1693) during the War of the Grand Alliance. It was also present at Blenheim and Ourdenaarde during the War of Spanish Succession.
Thursday, 8 June 2017
One of my main sources of enjoyment from this hobby is the aesthetic. The way a game looks really matters to me. I have lost count of the number of games I have seen, particularly at shows, where well painted figures are let down by poor terrain. Conversely figures painted to a fair standard can be elevated to the excellent by nicely done terrain boards, buildings, trees and so on. This is why I am trying at the moment to upgrade my own terrain. Over the coming months, I will hopefully have plenty to show you. This module was designed to serve a variety of periods from say 1600 onwards. At the moment this covers my Grand Alliance and Napoleonic collections. I wanted this first effort to be a bit of a statement visually on the table, hence its size - approximately 15" by 15". This is larger than I normally prefer, especially as my own table is only 10 feet x 6 feet.
The model itself is a bit of a departure for me in a couple of respects. Firstly the main building material is 2mm cardstock, rather than 3mm MDF. The latter is an absolute swine to cut with a Stanley knife, especially the windows and I have found that if adequately braced, the card is very robust. Secondly, I have painted the walls with my latest toy - a very nice airbrush. This allows me to build up a more subtle finish through the application of several thin layers, rather than the dry brushing that I relied on in the past. Things have also been speeded up considerably by using Warbases tiling sheets for the roofs. I have to confess to being initially rather underwhelmed by these when I first saw them. Having used them on this model, I am now converted. Martin at Warbases is guaranteed a place in wargaming heaven for sparing me the torture of applying hundreds of individual card tiles! For those of you that haven't used them before, they come in A4 sheets, but as individual strips. You simply overlay them, starting at the bottom and working up, until the roof is done. It still requires some time and patience, but I reckon it is three or four times quicker (and therefore cheaper) than using individual tiles. Anyway, enough of the waffle - hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.