Saturday, 23 November 2019

A Year At the Sharp End

It's amazing how fast the year has flown by. Lots of good games played so far this year with Sharpe Practice II predominating.
Ah, Spain! What a great place for a battle
The Peninsula has been fought across, down, through and across again! We tend to play large multiplayer games of SPII (really 3 or 4 side-by-side games) where we all have our own Leaders and act on the card draw. For example, a Red Leader 1 card means that we each get to use our Leader 1 (if we are Red of course).
A lot of games have been with my friend Gavin who is definitely a "more is better" gamer hence the large number of figures, players and the 15ft x 6ft table we play on. And you will never see an unpainted figure on the table in our games. We enjoy the look of the game as much as the gameplay. Scenery is important too, lots of lovely buildings (Gav's again) used but most of the figures in these photos are mine!
The lads from Odin's Night club have been involved in a number of the big games, along with a variety of other "gentleman gamers".
Experimenting with double size units
As well as the big games we have been experimenting with tweaking unit size, mainly for visual impact. Those French columns sure look impressive in double size! Easy enough to do, each casualty takes off two figures, that way you get a bucket o' dice experience too!
Look at that column!
The 'thin red line' facing downs the hordes of French conscripts makes for an exciting game. In this particular scenario the British cavalry are shown at the point of breaking through the French supporting unit which you can see fleeing near the curve in the road. The British held, Napoleon's boys ran. Cracking game.
Pumpkin helps with the painting
I have been painting pretty consistently this year (for me) getting through British Light Dragoons, Light Infantry, Line Infantry and various bits and pieces. Always with the help of one furry painting buddy or another. Sometimes the generously shared fur gets in the way of a perfect paintjob but meh, c'est la guerre.
Brigade Lights in progress
I have been adding to my Napoleonics armies steadily too so my painting queue keeps getting longer (funny how that works) and I especially like the Brigade miniatures figures I have picked up. Lots of character. Perry Miniatures and Warlord Games metals have made their way onto the pile too.
Gavin and I have been playing a fabulous Dawns and Departures campaign in the Peninsular, with superb (and hilarious) moderation by Man Cave Paul. Some of the Hornblower/Sharpesque "despatches" (orders) between our named leaders have been nearly as fun as playing the game. Next round of the campaign is about to start as the first phase played itself out.
We have made a slight tweak to the casualty recovery chart, sliding eveything one dice pip into a deadlier outcome. We just felt that not enough attrition of forces was happening.
I can't wait to get the next game underway.

Monday, 7 January 2019

Goodbye 2018

Another year, another squillion miniatures have passed through my hands. Some of them have stuck around. The lead pile has actually decreased (slightly) as I have clarified what projects I want to work on.
As you can see by my sidebar total, I haven't exactly set the world on fire with my painting total this year. And most of that was in November and December!
Italian Stallions
Italian 15mm was the major part of the beginning of the year. I swore that I would never paint 15mm again several years ago but the temptation of Battlegroup wafted past me by Man Cave Paul and Dux was too strong to resist. I bought most of my army pre-painted but as always happens, I just needed a couple more miniatures...
Needless to say, my man cave is now awash with tiny Italians.
Later in the year I decided it was time to finally bite the bullet and build some Napoleonic forces. encouraged by excellent games of General D'Armee with the Carpenter men and Sharpe Practice with Paul, Dave, Alan, Phill, Aled and especially Gavin.
As mentioned in a previous blog I took it as an experiment, used three different techniques and ended up with a process and a result I am happy with.
It didn't hurt that I had a beautifully pro-painted force to inspire me as well.

A gorgeous Indian Mutiny game
I had the chance to play a lot of games in 2018 (part of my don't let the opportunities pass by policy) including a cracking couple of huge games at Gavin's, a big Bolt Action and a superb The Men Who Would Be Kings Indian Mutiny game.

Marty and Paul both hosted terrain making and painting days. No better way to spend a lazy day than hobbying with good friends, helped along with adult beverages. Some really nice terrain was the result (despite the aforementioned beverage consumption!

Superb Sarissa built at Marty's
I can't forget Slaughterloo. Dave K hosted a 6 (or 8?) player game of my favourite system. And this of course inspired me to paint more forces.
The very end of 2018 saw me get involved in two Challenges; the first was the Painting and Sculpting Miniatures (in association with Footsore) 30 Minutes for 30 Days November challenge. What rollicking (and sledging) fun that was. And the discipline was was so helpful to my overall output.
I found that challenge the perfect lead in to The Challenge. I have decided that despite previous years' bad luck, I would give the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge another go. I have been pushing myself to do at least the 30 minutes a day I started in November, helped along with painting days with Paul, Alan, Aled and various other Odinians. So far so good.

My first AHPC entry for this year
Overall, this has been an excellent hobby year, made all the more so by my great friends in Odin's Night Games Club. You people really make life more fun.

Friday, 2 November 2018

A Wander Into Wellington's Army

I have always loved Napoleonics but until recently I have never painted anything for the period with the exception of my vast Slaughterloo armies. As I have been enjoying Sharpe Practice II and General d'Armee with borrowed forces I thought that it was time to build my own armies.

As I have not painted any historical figures for this period (most people, wrongly obviously, don't count Slaughterloo figures as Historical) I needed to establish the technique. So I decided to undercoat 15 figures, five each in white, grey and black, to see how that changes the method. I am painting British infantry in the test and first group.
First five, white undercoat

These were the first five done, using the white undercoat and finished with Army Painter Soft Tone.
I am not happy with these first five, I think they are washed out and I found them really challenging (hard!) to paint.

And then fortune intervened. I lucked into 120 odd pro-painted French and British for an excellent price. Not only did I have a substantial kernel to build my army around, they were partially based and saboted, just what I wanted to do.
The basing and painting production line

I then spent a couple of days really looking at the deceptively simple pro paint job. I can't match the quality but I thought I could use it's example to improve. They were obviously done with a black primer. So on to the grey and black undercoats. At the same time I decided to finish basing the bought ones, and carry the same basing scheme through to any I painted. At first glance, from a distance, they will hopefully look similar.
The grey undercoat was easier to work with than the white but the black was easiest of all. I also changed to a Strong Tone Quickshade, mainly to try for more definition, particularly with the grey base. Not 100% successful.

I will paint the rest of the British on a black undercoat and sparingly use the Soft Tone (mainly on the trousers) to give a bit of definition.
Black base to left, grey to the right. Black is the winner.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

My Goodness! Mistakes Were Made.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Melbourne and spend a day gaming with my friend Mark N. We had long discussed us playing All The Kings Men, a set of rules from the US toy soldier company of the same name. As the name implies, it is a Toy Soldier company specialising in 54mm old style figures.
Mark's particular obsession is the War of 1812 so we had a game set loosely in that period, not a recreation of a real battle, just a bunch of toys on the table.
The field of battle
The toy soldiers are deployed in four types of unit; Infantry in 12 privates + Officer + Ensign, Skirmishers 6+O+E, Cavalry 6 + O +E and Artillery 4 gunners + O + E.
The rules are simple enough, with activation by random playing card draws, red for one side, black the other. Certain cards give you the ability to make special moves. Each play through of the (shortened) deck can allow your units of figures to make multiple moves in a full turn. However each move degrades their quality level from green to yellow to red. Green is good, yellow is ok, red is bad.
Get 'em lads, they is on red!
Battles are resolved with a simple roll of D6s, the number required for success grower higher with each drop down the colour scale.
As I said, rules were simple, toys were on the table and battle was rollicking. We played until the last toy standing and due to a good run of activation cards towards the end, and some lucky dice rolling, I emerged victorious.
This is not a game for anyone to take seriously but for a fun few hours or perhaps a light-hearted club night game, this fits the bill.
What? These old things? Had 'em for ages.
In fact, given my constant moaning about not being able to see 15mm figures to paint them, and the simple style inherent with toy soldiers, mistakes were made.
I spent the evening with Mark and his wife eating, drinking and discussing the idea of doing the game in Napoleonics. And now this huge box of figures have turned up at my house. I wonder where they came from? Looks like it's time to start painting old school.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Holiday time, let's roll some dice

Who doesn't love a holiday? We are having a 'staycation' this year over Christmas/New Year so I get a chance to play a few week day games.
Yesterday Paul (The Man Cave blog) and I decided to start the Chain of Command 29 Let's Go campaign. We have both played Chain of Command before but with an umpire helping us along. It's fair to say that we had only retained a basic understanding of the rules. The whole idea of starting this campaign is for us to work through the rules in our own time and get a better working understanding.
 I laid out the first map of the campaign (including the "slope rope"- which is what you get when you finish laying out terrain and notice the elevation change on the map). Paul was the Germans defending and delaying and I was the Americans probing forward. My objective was to get at least one unit off the left hand side of the table. Sounds easy in theory.
I managed to get two jump off points quite far across the table - about two thirds of the way to my goal. That may have been my problem. As I brought units onto the table they immediately came under fire from the entrenched German defenders. This lead me to having units bunched up in the centre of the table, under fire from three groups of defenders. Not good. I had a Sherman tank (played by a Chaffee in this episode) as Support, mis-read the deployment rules and brought it on the table too far forward. That's OK, Paul's off-board 88mms sent a high velocity hello screaming straight through my side armour and brewed it up. Bye bye Ronson.
My jump off point to the left, under fire from 3 defender units.
Overall, we had a rollicking good game and learnt a lot more about ChOC but still would not consider us experts. The book's layout is challenging and wording somewhat unclear but we will stick at it. In fact, since I lost we get to play this scenario again although this time I get more tanks for support. I must remember to bring them on at the back of the table. And away from those bloody 88s!
Today I was lucky enough to be invited by the father of Aled, one of my fellow Odinian gamers, to his place for a game of General d'Armee. This is another TFL production, this time grand battles in the Napoleonic era.
Dean (Aled's Dad) is a long time Napoleonic player and has a great collection of painted Peninsular figures. We have played General d'Armee together once previously and both enjoyed it. Today Dean and I played the French while Aled and our mate Phil were the stinky Spanish. We had two brigades of infantry and one of cavalry per side.
 Despite a slow start for both sides (just couldn't get the rolls needed to get the troops moving) we soon got into the action. My infantry brigades pushed forward, soon capturing the town in the centre of the table and putting pressure on the Spanish infantry's left flank. Dean then swept in from our right flank, crossed the river and smashed into the Spanish. Mayhem ensued with units dissolving before Aled and Phils' eyes. It looked like it was all over other than the cleaning up. We were mistaken. My absolutely atrocious rolling for any important result (anyone want a 1? I'm your man) combined with Aled's tenacious defence saw the battle swing back in the Spaniards favour. Phil led the Spanish cavalry, previously held in reserve, across the river and started smacking my right flank around. My left flank kept steadily advancing but my awful rolling frittered away a couple of chances. A re-roll wasn't enough to get my Infantry assault going. Fortunately my right flank managed to repulse the Spanish cav, despite the loss of a unit and the pushing back of our cavalry too.
The Spanish Cav pour over the bridge
It was all up to our infantry on the left. The drums beat, cries of Vive l'Empereur filled the air and the infantry columns crashed home into the Spaniards. The centre tussled but the sangria sippers held on. And then it happened, my leftmost unit routed a Spanish unit in melee and the Spanish right flank melted away. Victory to the French!
It was a great game, no one was assured victory until the very end. General d'Armee is a straightforwrd, quick playing set of rules with simple resolution of combat and clear results.
Dean's new wargames room got a big battle christening, we all had a laugh and it was a good day. Thanks Dean for hosting.
Well, so far, so good for my wargaming holiday. Still 4 days to go. who knows what war dolly madness I can get up to before going back to work.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Friends, figures and fun times - can you have too many?

It has been a long time since I put finger to keyboard on this blog. A long time. Life takes twists and turns, the day to day gets in the way but always around are friends, family and the sheer joy of the hobby. I have been thinking a lot of what I have a lot of in my life and conversely what I want more of.
The first is easy; I have a lot of friends and a lot of figures (unpainted of course). What I want more of is time spent with those friends and family, and more of those figures to become painted. I want less figures overall, it's time to streamline the collection into achievable goals. No more buying figures just because they are cool. Are they cool and can be used in an army that is close to finishing? Yes, then come on board!
Alan and Stephen, two of my Odin's Night friends
One of the really positive things in my life over the last couple of years has been the Odin's Night Games Club. Initially invited by the two original members Alan and Paul I have made new friends, caught up more with old ones and had a LOT of laughs along the way.
Meeting on Wednesday nights, initially in Good Games Chatswood but for the past year at the fabulous Willoughby Hotel, we play just about anything that catches our attention. As much as I moan to them about "sticking to one system for a bloody while" I do enjoy exploring all the options that this fabulous hobby offers.
A firm club favourite is anything written by the talented and prolific Daniel Mersey. Lion/Dragon Rampant has probably been the most often played club game. We are now exploring The Men Who Would Be Kings and Pikeman's Lament - much fun to be had.
Dragon Rampant even has encouraged a couple of the Only Historicals Here Mate players to dabble into the madness of building fantasy armies. Welcome to the dork side Alan. I have brushed off a variety of my old Warhammer Fantasy miniatures, along with Chronopia figures and various other Ooh That's Cool purchases and put together several DR armies.
Kings of War is another set of rules that have made an appearance. Although I am currently unconvinced by them I stand ready to play more games and gain a deeper understanding before dismissing them. People I respect like them, there must be something in them I haven't touched on yet.
Dragon Rampant in action on my home table
This year has also seen a health scare that started my self examination of where I sit with my hobby. As much as I love it, the time has come to rationalize a bit. I am no longer succumbing as easily to the cool bargain impulse (although those 25+ 20mm vehicles for $50 I saw today were mighty tempting!) and have started collating and selling my excess. I literally had a moment in March when I thought "Who will deal with my Good Crap pile if I die?". Hopefully that's not a problem anyone will have to deal with soon but I am taking steps to clean up my act.
I'm still buying (particularly books) but focus is the keyword. Any figures are to complete a unit, as long as that completed unit is not an orphan. Playable armies is the goal.
I have been happily sorting and re-sorting my painted miniatures and making up lists of what I need to complete to field whole units. Exploration of the Pile of Unpainted is leading to much going to the Sell pile. I have sold a bit so far, much more to come.
Anyway, that's it for now. It feels good to put down some thoughts again.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

So many games, so little time to write

The last couple of weeks have been fantastically busy gaming wise. I have had the chance to play Lion Rampant, Saga, Bolt Action, Chain of Command and Iron Cross. As well as wrapping up the Analogue Painting Challenge and of course buying more figures for my ever growing armies.
My first game in this great block of dice rolling was a game of Bolt Action against my boss Ian. I have the great fortune of working in the games industry but this doesn't mean that I get to play games all day. Quite the opposite. However, Ian and I had an evening free a couple of weeks ago and decided that a game of Bolt action was in order.
Using Ian's terrain and miniatures I had a chance to play Germans as opposed to my usual Yanks, and Ian played the US. It was a rollicking game, with artillery initially favouring me and air strikes redressing the balance for Ian. In the end it was a narrow victory for Ian but we had a lot of fun and we got to push around some well painted toys on a table with great terrain. An evening well spent.
       The following week Ian ran me through Lion Rampant against his friend Ian 2 (there are three Ians in the gaming group. It does get confusing.) with us playing the Crusaders vs Ian2's Saracen army. this was a great game, it allowed me to get my head around the mechanics of LR and be confident enough to play moderator to a game with the lads at Odin's Night club the following week.
        I provided all the forces so they ended up being a mish mash of Empire, Brettonian, Norman and Saxon armies. This is one of the great things about Lion Rampant, you can build historical or non-historical forces and still have a great game. 
The victims of the murderous rampage.
As the Analogue Painting Challenge was still in full swing I even provided a unit of old Empire Halberdiers that Paul and Alan (the murdering b@st@rds) tooking great pleasure in hunting down and massacring. Poor little purple plumed fellas. All in all, a rollicking good evening. You know that you are having fun when your table's "Yay" of victory makes the eight tables of roleplayers stop talking and all turn in your direction. We even picked up a new member for the Odin's with this game, Aled. Welcome aboard the crazy express mate!

Since then there have been so many games that I have lost track of them all but they have included;
  • Bolt Action one Sunday morning, Yanks vs Vichy French and then a follow up game on the same table using essentially the same forces but this time using Chain of Command. Admittedly we are not as familiar with CoC but the gameplay and results were hugely different. It was interesting to contrast the two. Both great for different reasons.
  • A brilliant game of Lion Rampant between Alan (Dux) and myself using The Messenger scenario. I set a new record for the number of failed Activations in a row. It was still heaps of fun.
  • Dux  "Cassandra Mouskouri"
  •  A four player game of Dragon Rampant. We were starting to get confident with the LR rules so thought that it was time to try the fantasy version. I have a couple (ahem) of painted Warhammer Fantasy armies so made up 6 different 24 point retinues based on the examples in the back of the book. Each player then chose whichever one appealed to him most. Once again, a brilliant day's gaming. So much fun that at least one historical stalwart was muttering "Must get some Dwarves, on goats or boars...." Dux had the "honour" of sporting the "Cassandra Mouskouri" wig of shame for predicting his own failing Activation roll.
  • Paul and new chum Aled show David, Stephen and I how to play X Wing.
  • Last week Paul ran us through X-Wing (it WAS May 4th). This was my first time playing this and really enjoyed the simple mechanics of gameplay. I won't be buying any ships, my long time gaming buddy David has taken care of that for us!
  • I'm sure that there were more games, I certainly saw more played but I can't remember which was when!

Lastly, time to update my most important Painting and Finished tally

Type Painted Finished
28mm Dark Ages Infantry 161
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Infantry 8 32
28mm Empire/Lion Rampant Mounted 1
28mm Dark Ages Mounted
28mm Slaughterloo Infantry 4
28mm Fantasy Infantry
20mm WWII 18