Thursday, 13 April 2023

Starting over

It is hard to believe that it was 6 months ago that I began my return to blogging and Napoleonics. In that time, I have made exactly three posts - all in August last year. It isn't as though I haven't had plenty to share, but as always, time spent blogging is time away from other aspects of hobbying. 

The plan to produce large Napoleonic armies for Epic Black Powder met an unexpected and unwelcome wall. Essentially the keen eyesight that has served me so well for so long has succumbed to age. It happened almost overnight. One week I could paint 12mm figures with the naked eye, the next I needed glasses to even find them. This made me re-evaluate the Napoleonic project. So out went the 12mm, and in came 28mm. I decided to try and use the same frontages as the epic figures, but the cavalry struggled to fit on 3 on a 60mm frontage, so they will now be on 75mm wide bases. Not everything has been purchased yet, but I have painted two units.

16 figure battalion. I've split the last element into the two elite companies.

I like the flags that come with the Warlord plastic figures.

First up, the second battalion of the 8th French Line. I used the full three tone painting technique on them. The thought was that I would take my time and make these Napoleonics the best army I ever painted. But recently I decided that I'd prefer to just get two armies painted as quickly as possible. Enter the slapchop technique - a white drybrush over a black undercoat to create depth, and then the use of contrast paints. This week I painted my first British battalion using this style.
The 29th Worcesters - home of my favourite sauce.

They're not the most beautiful figures I ever painted, but they work.

I'm pretty chuffed with the slapchop results, and this will be the way I approach the rest of the armies.

In case you think I've only painted 2 battalions in 6 months, I've been busy painting other stuff too - ancients for myself and a whole pile of commissions.
Lannisters for Craig

Some Thureophoroi for my Pontic army

Light Infantry and cavalry for the same

Iraqi T-72s for Craig

The Enchantress (3d print)

Blob and Pyro (3d prints)

The Goblin Queen (3d print)
The Marvel Crisis Protocol collection keeps growing.

Rebel bus

Shadow Collective bus

Maori warriors

Two 1840s British units

Close up of the Brits - Old Glory figures

The Maori and Brits above are for a Muskets and Tomahawks project which will be the French and Maori Wars (never actually happened, but stay tuned). These were the first figures that I practiced slapchop on.

And now, my prize collection. I collected GI Joe as a kid in the 80s. I read the comics and loved the stories. So when I found a patreon who was creating 3d sculpts of these guys, I joined straight away and started to get stuff printed by Potbelly minis in Wellington (the superheroes above were printed by him too).

Cobra troopers, HISS tank and Stinger jeep.

Dr Mindbender, BATs, Tomax, Xamot and Crimson guardsmen

Cobra 'heroes'.

GI Joes with Mobat tank and Vamp jeep.

Further GI Joe heroes with the vehicles

I've converted rules for these guys using Star Wars Legion and Tabletop Admiral - they work remarkably well!
Alongside Cobra and GI Joe I also have a Red Shadows army (those who collected Battle comics in the 80s may recognise these guys)

The Red Shadows lost this game

So I've definitely been keeping busy hobby wise. Hopefully another update won't be too far away!


Sunday, 28 August 2022

Epic beginnings

The Prussians showed up on Tuesday, and after a couple of evenings of snipping sprues I have them all based up. A few of the strips were wobbly in their bases, and a couple were completely loose, so I've dabbed those with a tiny bit of superglue to keep them in place.

Last night I decided to paint a trial unit, and was pretty happy with how they turned out.

In column
In line
These guys are the first battalion of the 18th Line that fought at Plancenoit. Sometimes they are depicted with pink facings and this would fit with the old pre-1807 18th line, but this battalion was drawn from a reserve East Prussian unit, and the likelihood is that they would have had red facings. The legend is that they threw away their stocks while marching towards Ligny which is why they were given pink collars afterwards, and this would seem to indicate that they weren't pink at the time. The regiment has no known flag that I could find, so I used the flag of the 8th, as it is black and white and stereotypically Prussian.

What I love about the Epic range is that this is a unit of eighty figures! They feel and look more like a battlaion than 16 men on four bases. And they were still able to be completed in one evenings' worth of panting. 

Pendraken 10mm, Warlord Epic Battles, Venexia 15mm

When it comes to the size of the figures, they are much closer to 15mm than 10mm, as you can see from the comparison above. In fact, some of the 15mm figures produced in the 70s and 80s would probably be about the same size as the Epic figures.

The French and British are on their way, it takes around 3 weeks for stuff to arrive from the UK at the moment. I am still unsure as to what rules to use. I've used Black Powder before, most recently with the American Civil War, but I remain unconvinced for Napoleonics. The representation of skirmishers is always the biggest issue I have with Napoleonic rules, and Black Powder is no exception to this. Alternative options are Lasalle, Bataille Empire, Shadows of the Eagle and Drums and Shakos Large Battles, but I don't know if any of them are going to suit me better than Black Powder - especially when I plan to play a lot of solo games.

Earlier in the week I also painted another 3 figures for Marvel Crisis Protocol:


She Hulk


A few powerhouses in there. Also, today I saw the first full shots of the upcoming Sentinels for MCP. They will definitely be my next purchase for the game!

Next week I hope to have another Epic unit completed, and I also have Rogue, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver on the painting tray.


Sunday, 21 August 2022

A bit of painting and the Epic saga

 This week I had some Star Wars legion figures to finish for Craig, but I did manage to get some test figures painted for the English Civil War project.

As voted for by you, the readers, they are painted in a three tone shaded style. The pikes are not the plastic ones that the figures cam with, but wire spears from North Star. A bit short, but much more robust.

At the same time I thought I'd do a test paint on my 1914/15 German and Russian WWI figures. This is an expansion of my initial Trench Hammer armies so that I could have some cavalry take part in the battles. Like the other WWI, these are in a glossy, traditional toy soldier style.

And I painted the Hulk for Marvel Crisis Protocol. 

After my last post about the Napoleonic Epics plan, I have had a week of difficulty actually ordering them. The French are unavailable in NZ and shipping from the UK proved prohibitive. Even with the cheaper shelf price, 80-90 pounds for shipping was getting ridiculous. Eventually Dave from Caliver Books came to the rescue, and so I have the French and British starter sets on their way from the UK, minus the buildings, the boxes and a rulebook, to reduce weight and allow them to be sent Royal Mail. Thanks Dave.

The Prussians, which were not going to be part of the initial plan were available from Game Centre in Hamilton for $165 NZD. I couldn't resist, and now the Prussians are also on their way.

With the core sets now purchased, I'm thinking about my strategy when they arrive. At first I thought I might keep them on the sprue for undercoating and painting, but then there would be no playing with them for a few years! So my new plan is to assemble them and play games with them in their original blue, red and black states, painting up a unit at a time. It might seem more like board gaming for a while, but so be it.


Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Napoleonics - a love letter

I've been thinking a lot lately about the wargames that I have most enjoyed in my 35 odd years of 'proper' wargaming (using rules and dice and stuff). And the ones that constantly pop up in a cloud of nostalgia are those with small figures in set formations. My solo Crimean game fighting over the Ford on the Bugaroff  and the ACW Chickatachee campaign are two of those from recent years. Going back a little ways we had the Frankenberg campaigns. And there was also a series of French Revolution solo games that I can't seem to find anywhere. And then there are the Napoleonic games, going all the way back to pushing around Airfix and Esci figures on green cardboard bases as a 12 year old. One battle I always remember is using a British brigade to hold off a French Division during a campaign set in New Zealand. It was fought at (tabletop) Karapiro and was an epic defence that I remember every time I drive past that area.

I may have started off with WWII toy soldiers, and used them as WWI toy soldiers, but discovering Napoleonics was the big wargaming moment for me - the point of no return where playing with little men was going to be my hobby for life. At the same time as starting gaming with them I delved into the world of Napoleonic history, devouring everything within reach. Napoleon became an object of fascination for me. I kept a history of his life beside my bed, alongside Charles Grant's Napoleonic Wargaming (both of which I picked up in a second hand book store) and delved into them frequently. I wrote and rewrote rules for me and my friends to play, and I was ALWAYS the French. The childhood admiration for Boney would fade somewhat, but certainly not my love of the period. When I went to Europe for the first time, Waterloo was a non-negotiable battlefield tour, much to my wife's discomfort - it was December and it was windy. But I stayed up that Lion mound for a long time, imagining the fields filled with men, horses and smoke.

I have tried multiple times to build Napoleonic armies in 15mm, 28mm and 6mm, and they have all failed. I just couldn't work out exactly what I wanted to do. What rules to use? Big battle or divisional or skirmish level? Early wars or later wars? Peninsular or Europe? The choices discombobulated me every time. Which is why the release of the Black Powder Epic Battles has nagged at me. Divisional level, linear battalion, small scale British, French and Prussian armies. It should be a no-brainer. But I have failed to build these armies so many times as my attention wanders, or I get sick of painting the British (the lace on their coats does my head in). Yet, my 12 year old self wants to do this. It is screaming at me that this is what I have always wanted.

The French Army - I can do this!

So on Napoleon's birthday (well for a couple more hours - we are a day ahead on this side of the world), I have come to the conclusion that the time has come to take the plunge and buy the British and French starter sets.  I will chart my painting progress here. Wish me luck. Help keep me on track. Give me encouragement. Let's see if I can finally do this.


Sunday, 24 July 2022

Do you still exist?

One might well ask me that question when my last blog post was in November 2020! Did I contract some mystery illness? Did I give up wargaming for scrabble? Did I drop my phone in the toilet and never replace it?  
None of the above occurred. In fact, life has continued just as it had when I was blogging regularly. The truth is that I just kind of stopped posting. The blog wasn't fulfilling any particular need beyond recording my latest painting and playing and I felt time was better spent doing these latter and less time writing about it.
I have been into the site a couple of times a week to check out my blog list and see what people are up to, but I've severely limited my time on perusing blogs with just so much else going on in life. I've popped up to comment here and there, but have been pretty slack in general.

That being said, my friend Adam and I discussed the idea of making a Youtube channel. Why not, I thought. Another outlet for creativity, and something quite different to blog ramblings. Well, we've gone and done it now, and the first few videos are up already. They have been a lot of work - way more than blogging ever was, but for now I am enjoying being part of it all. You can see them here: (make sure to like and subscribe 😆).

The plan for the channel is to do terrain tutorials, painting tutorials and battle reports, and so far there is a bit of a mix. Adam and I play mostly Lord of the Rings (Middle Earth Strategy battles) and Star Wars Legion, and the two battle reports so far are for the former, with the first of the latter undergoing editing at present. Adam is very into his terrain building, and I want to try and fill some niches for painting videos. I'm nowhere near as tech savvy as Adam, so it really is mostly him doing the donkey work at the moment.

Now what have I been up to on the wargaming front?

Above: Lando, a Landspeeder and operative Luke from Star Wars Legion
Above: Darth Maul, Count Dooku and B1 battle droids also for Star Wars Legion.

The last two years have been heavily invested in Star Wars Legion. I am very much enjoying the game which represents the conflicts of the cinematic universe authentically with well written (and well supported) rules. It is definitely my main game at the moment - the one I think about and prioritise painting for the most.

The beginnings of my Rohan force

I've made a couple of attempts to get into Lord of the Rings as a game over the years, but I think the problem is that I've always tried to go too big too fast. This time, I'm gradually being introduced to the rules through the Battle Companies campaign in Adam's and my video battle reports, and this is building my enthusiasm for painting and playing. I have a small Rohan force and a small Orc force that I plan to nibble away at, expanding gradually into armies for the game.

X-Men and the Brotherhood battle in Main Street
Another view from a different angle

Not on the channel as I haven't introduced Adam to the rules yet, is Marvel Crisis Protocol. I've played two solo games of this and have to say that I really like the mechanics. More importantly I love the feel of the game. Like with Star Wars, Marvel comic characters were a huge part of my childhood, and so these rules not only provide an interesting game to play, but the chance to reinforce that second childhood that toy soldiers is really about for me!

Kings of War Kingdoms of Men
Kings of War Orcs

I got hold of some more old Games Workshop Orcs and Empire figures in 2020 and began to move beyond the Dragon Rampant armies that I had initially put together. Hence, two Kings of War armies were born! Again, I've only played a couple of solo games with these guys, but I'm hopeful I can convince some of the other guys (like Adam) to build armies of their own.

Did someone mention nostalgia?

So that is all of the fantasy and sci-fi stuff covered - have I given up on historicals? Well, no. What I have done is gone up - in scale! More and more lately I have been wanting to play with 1/32 figures for my historics. Before the blog hiatus I had reported about my WWI project and the beginnings of a colonial Afghan project. I then put them on the backburner for a while, but recently the re-release of the 1/32 Airfix WW2 figures got me thinking about the big scale again. It is probably the reason for deciding to post again, as I feel this is a more appropriate place to chart the 54mm journey than on Youtube, where hours of editing would probably end up with few views. There is a much more appreciative community for this kind of thing in the blogosphere.
So I have acquired some Armies in Plastic 1914 Germans and Russians, have done my first test figures for my British and German WW2 paratroops (as you can see above), and ordered some A Call to Arms English Civil War figures from Arcane Scenery. 
The French are being painted at the moment.
All WWI figures will be in toy soldier style and support weapons will come from Irregular Miniatures. I'm still not sure about a French HMG - I can't find any available that aren't expensive collector's items, and it may be that I'll have to bite the bullet and pay the $125 for a Regal Enterprises one.

I'm thinking about using Chain of Command for World War Two. I'm not sure how well that will cater for 54mm figures. It is a little bit down the road as the figures take a bit of painting with their camo patterns. I was considering using Germans and US instead, as the painting will be more straight forward and support weapons are more available from Tamiya etc.

The ECW will be for use with Pikeman's Lament. My idea is to play out a fictional campaign in an imagined county during the ECW. The thing about 54mm is that it really brings to life the characters that you invent in these kinds of campaigns.

My final quandary is how I will paint the ECW. There are three options:

  1. Toy soldier style in gloss varnish (Like the French above)
  2. Realistic shading in gloss varnish
  3. Realistic shading in matt varnish (like the WW2 above)
2 is probably my least favourite option - the gloss shine detracts from the time spent in shading. So I'll open it up to you, dear reader. What do you think would look best?

Anyway, that is me, I am still very much around, and maybe I might even start posting a bit more regularly too.


Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Busy times

The year started with a steady production of blog posts but things have become much busier and I now surprisingly find myself writing my first entry in 6 weeks. As always, the hobby hasn't stopped, but blogging has had to be sidelined in favour of more productive pursuits. So this is a catch up, really, to see where things are at.

First of all, I've had the chance to get into some Infamy Infamy solo games. I have played three now, and the basics are beginning to stick. The core rules for fighting, shooting moving etc are pretty straight forward - it is remembering all the other details, like rallying points, and which points of drill are available and best to use in what situation, that I am learning to come to grips with now.

Here are the armies at the moment:

The British

British Leaders

British Light Cavalry

Chariots for one unit of Noble Warriors

And the other set of chariots

And here starts a series of photos of the ambush points/deployment markers that I've put together for the British/Gauls.

The British command including the mounted leader.

Another deployment marker

The warriors

I couldn't resist painting this figure which I'm assuming is meant to be Boudicca, but looks like some Fantasy character in a bronze bra.

And, of course, the Romans

Roman command with musician option.

Balaeric slingers
Iberian cavalry


Negotiations with the locals in this deployment marker

And much less civil negotiations

The Scorpio is going to need some extra crew. I'm sure I can rustle some up.

Here's a random selection of images from the games so far, no captions as they don't tell a story, just a showcase of what the games look like:

It makes a lot of difference to the enjoyment factor for me when you've invested time in the terrain and supporting figures. Of course, that means others will take the time to be involved as well, as you can see from the cat's convenient presence in the photo above. I was so impressed with these Too Fat Lardies rules that I bought Sharpe Practice 2, and a read through tells me that I will like them better than the first version, as they have many similarities with Infamy Infamy. It wasn't a massive step from there to purchasing Dux Britaniarum and Chain of Command. I truly have the bug now.

The only downside is that my Napoleonics order from the Perrys still hasn't showed up, and it has been 6 weeks. I'll hold out until the weekend before I e-mail just in case it is Covid's fault, but to be fair the Sharpe Practice rules were ordered at the same time and showed up 3 weeks ago. I really hope they aren't lost in the post, but I have my fears.

In terms of other painting, plenty has been done. All of the Marvel Crisis Protocol figures are now painted, and this Christmas break I aim to get all of the terrain painted for them and have my first few games.

Marvel heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Black Widow and Thor
Ant-Man and Wasp

Spiderman and Valkyrie

Baron Zemo, Ultron, Red Skull and Crossbones

Doctor Octopus, Hela and Loki

Some Heroclix civilians on MCP bases for by-standers

And lastly, the Star Wars collection has been completed, and Adam and I have made plans to get some games in over the Christmas holidays seeing as we both have armies that need to stretch their legs.
Boba Fett and Bossk

The Rebel Landspeeder

It's taken a bit of damage in its time

At present I'm painting some Wild West Exodus figures for Craig, but it is getting to exam season, and I'm about to get extremely busy. Hopefully I'll have half of them complete before things close in. It's also likely that I'll only get one or two more posts in this year, but hopefully they won't be quite so long.