Sunday 27 September 2015

The man who laughs

I finished the Joker and the Asker last night, as well as the heavy weapons for the Kiwis:
The Joker originally had fish in his hands, so I swapped these out for pistols.
Bricks and Mortar
Vickers MMG
Light mortar for the HQ section
And just a call out to any Welsh readers to say 'hooray!' The victory over England at the Rugby World Cup was a gutsy effort that had me on the edge of my seat. I would dearly love an All Blacks-Welsh final. If New Zealand (because I am a parochial, one-eyed Kiwi) can't win the World Cup, there is no other nation I would rather see take it home.


Saturday 26 September 2015

Henchmen for a Joker gang

I was wanting to get onto my next lot of commission work for Geoff, but the weather was rubbish and I couldn't do any undercoating, so I thought I'd pull out a couple of bits that were ready to paint. One was some WWII Kiwis for Craig in Napier, the other was a few Heroclix figures that I am planning to use for the Batman Miniatures Game.
Now I have to say that the Batman minis from Knight Models are very nice indeed (if a little pricey) and I have thought about buying some many times, but it all comes back to the fact that I have a whole pile of Heroclix figures sitting there already, and I don't even know if I will like the game. So for once I put common sense before 'ohhh shiny' and decided that I would use what I had - at least to begin with.
Triston and August, homemade style.
One of the things about the Batman game is that henchmen are not customisable. I would have thought that you would be able to kit them out with handguns or whatever, but the basic stats are locked down fairly tight, and even the basic thugs are named characters. So I looked at the goons that I had and what they were equipped with . One had a shotgun - the BMG equivalent was Triston. One had no weapons, but a clown called August had an axe, so I raided a Wargames Factory Viking and, voila, two goons for a Joker gang. The last thug had a handgun and a bag, which I have converted by adding a poncho and replacing the bag with a nasty looking knife. He is still a work in progress but will be the Asker. Then there is the Joker, who is also half-way done. Tonight I'll be painting purple.

The heavy weapons for Craig's army are also not finished, but here is a shot of the work in progress:
Urban bases for the Italian theatre.
I have to admit to enjoying painting the bases and making them unique more than painting the actual figures! I should have these finished by tonight. Then I'll be onto those 17th Century English chaps!


Friday 25 September 2015

A dabble in the Italian Wars

Here are some samples Allan from Lancashire Games gave me to paint up. I have to confess to being a long time fan of history and aesthetic of the Great Italian Wars, but never having bought figures for the period. Always too many other things in the way. However, When this range is released I plan to buy a couple of armies, about the same size as the Samurai armies I have for use with the One Hour Wargames rules.

First up are two fully armoured gendarmes. These are big figures - that is a 40x 30 base that they are mounted on. You could easily fit the required 3 figures for DBx on these bases, but I prefer to mount my figures prior to painting, and it is very hard to paint troops when they are shoulder to shoulder.
The figures themselves were vrey clean, so not much time needed for prep, and they are very easy to paint - no difficult to reach detail.

Next up are some lighter armoured chaps. I'm assuming that they are Genitors with their three quarter armour and lances.
I'm looking forward to these being released - I might even be able to paint a decent candy-stripe by the time I've completed a whole army of them!


Wednesday 23 September 2015

More Gauls

Looking back, August was one of my most prolific posting months; and then - silence. Just when I got on a roll of painting, playing and posting, exam time rolls around. So after a two week hiatus, I'm back, and hopefully normal service will resume.
The latest work off the painting tray are these Gauls, half a dozen slingers and 9 warriors to flesh out the Gallic Wars infantry for Eagle Rampant:
All sporting the latest hairstyle craze
Some of these guys need to catch up to be a fashion victim.
I've also now sold all of my Gauls, including the guys above. Initially I was planning to redo this period in 15mm, but the fact is that I'm not that big a fan of painting ancient armies. I'm not sure what it is, certainly not the period itself - I teach Classical Studies and love the Greco-Roman world. I actually believe it might be shields. Or maybe the amount of flesh that needs to be painted. 

Whatever the reason, my real historical wargaming focus tends to be the horse and musket and modern eras - from 1700 to today. I now have French and Russian Napoleonics from Lancashire Games which will be next on the personal painting list after Franco-Prussian War. I've also said that I'll take on another commission for a friend down in Napier in exchange for some painted Flames of War Soviets. It has been almost a year and I've been away from the game long enough to be looking forward to getting back into it. This is helped by the imminent arrival of Team Yankee - Cold War FoW. I will certainly be one of those who wants to fight it out in the Fulda Gap.

Next on the painting tray is a Front Rank Seventeenth Century British Regiment for Geoff, and a couple of test figures for Allan from Lancashire Games.


Tuesday 8 September 2015

Vive l'empereur - second time around

Yes it is the first French unit for the Franco-Prussian War.
Allons mes enfants!
These chaps are 15mm figures from Lancashire Games and they paint up very easily indeed. It's funny, looking at the photo above the guy on the right looks like he is trying to do squats, but the poses are actually very natural in real life. 
Seen from behind
The figures are only marginally bigger than the Rank and File Prussians, and it is only when you put them side by side that the difference is really noticeable.
Officers see eye to eye but the French Line have obviously been eating better than their Prussian counterparts.
I still have to fix the edges of the flag and varnish the figures, but the French army is underway! Chasseurs up next.


Saturday 5 September 2015


This is the last unit that I needed for my Great Northern War pocket project - Cossacks. They are 15mm Irregular minis like the rest of the armies. I really struggled with painting these chaps, mostly in terms of colour selection. In the end I just went with a bit of a rainbow but red bags on all of the caps. It seems to have worked OK.
'Charge! But only if the enemy aren't looking...'

The rules as they stand at the moment state that the Russians will have a seventh unit on the table - either an artillery unit or the Cossacks. The artillery seemed to work well in the last battle and balanced out the Swedes' hitting power. It will be interesting to see if the Cossacks can do the same thing.


Friday 4 September 2015


Some more of the samples that Allan sent me of Lancashire Games upcoming Napoleon in Egypt range. I remember converting Mamelukes as a teenager out of Esci Scots Greys and their Arabs set. There was just a few for the French Imperial Guard. These guys are the main French opponent in the early Egyptian campaign - the ones that charged repeatedly at the squares during the Battle of the Pyramids - so I'm going to need a decent number of them.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the range now. I'll have to spend a bit of time coming up with an OHW variant.


Thursday 3 September 2015

The latest project - Franco-Prussian War

Not content with all the other things that I am already procrastinating over, I went and started a totally new 'pocket project'. This time it is the 1870-71 conflict between Germany and France rather inaccurately known as the Franco-Prussian War.
The 8th Regiment - Brandenburgers to a man.
These Prussians are Rank and File 15mm. I bought them at the beginning of 2013 when I was at Cancon. They were on special and I had a vague idea that I'd quite like to use them for something. Of course, I never did, until I stumbled across them in the spare figures box. I'd looked at the Franco-Prussian War several times in the past but decided that I didn't like the rules I had, and the armies looked like too big an investment. That was turned on its head by One Hour Wargames. I worked out what I needed to complete the Prussian army and a French army and prepared an order for Allan at Lancashire Games. The figures are a pretty good match in terms of size, and I now have everything that I need for my Franco-Prussian pocket project.
How they appear on the table - in extended line
The Franco-Prussian War has always been one of my favourite periods. I remember a conversation years ago with my wargaming buddy Tim where I said to him that I found Napoleon III more interesting than Napoleon I. His reply was ' Only because he cocked everything up!'. To a ceratin extent yes, but it also has a lot to do with the aesthetic - baggy red trousers and picklehaubes - can't go wrong! And of course, as I was obsessed with WWI, the Franco-Prussian War loomed large in the background to that conflict.
As I painted these chaps up I have to admit to a feeling of attachment. It is hard to describe the exact nature of the connection, but it is entirely possible that people in the real regiment were related to me. My family history on at least one side traces back to Brandenburg, at least as far as I can go with it, and I have to admit to having a certain amount of pride in possessing Prussian heritage. At any rate, I've decided that I'm basing my brigade on Alvensleben's III Corps, Stulpnagel's division. These are the Brandenburg Leib-Grenadier regiment. I'm not too sure if they should have any distinctive lace anywhere, maybe someone can tell me. Up next on the painting tray are the 5th Brandenburg IR48.


Wednesday 2 September 2015

Made it to the funny papers

Sorry for a brazen piece of self-publicity here, but I've had my first wargaming article published in the most recent Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine (#80). I'm the culprit for the attempt to adapt Lion Rampant to the First Punic War.
Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy #80
I got my digital copy yesterday and was very pleased with the job Guy has done in presenting them.
I originally submitted them as my Gallic Wars version and was asked to turn it into a Punic Wars version to fit the theme of this issue. The playtesting that I did was done with a lot of proxy figures and a plastic Schleich rhino instead of an elephant. I've since bought a Crusader minis elephant, but it hasn't been put together yet, as well as some Triarii. As I haven't actually finished painting my Gallic Wars figures yet, the Punic Wars probably won't be finished until next year, but it's nice to know that I have a set of rules ready to go when it is.
I'll post my most recent Gallic Wars variant on the blog soon. In the meantime if you are interested comment below and I'll e-mail them to you.

In the meantime, thank you Guy, for the opportunity to give a little more back to the community and for running such a fantastic magazine. If you're reading this and don't get WSS, all I can say is - buy it! It is well worth the pittance being asked for it, even if it does publish people like me!


Tuesday 1 September 2015

One Hour Wargames - a review

A couple of days ago Paul from the Man Cave posted a review of One Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas. He makes quite a few valid points, saying that the rules are really aimed at beginners and if you have any of the Charles Grant scenario books (which I do) then  even the scenario section is largely superfluous. I think at face value there is a lot to agree with in this analysis. But I also think there are some other points that I would like to add to the review for a bit of balance.

The tome on trial
First point - the rules are for beginners. Yes, they will work well for beginners to wargaming, but that doesn't describe me and I like them. It also doesn't include people like Bob Cordery who has also taken them to heart. So what do we (Royal or collective 'we' as I can't necessarily speak for others) like about them? Well one of the selling points is the very simplicity that makes them so good for beginners. They are uncluttered, easy to remember and give a very enjoyable game. They are also a system that is easy to tinker with. Some might be put off by this, demanding a ruleset that suits them straight out of the box, as it were. Well these do play straight out of the box for the periods they cover, but they are so much more versatile than that. On the AMW yahoo group variants can be found that cover the Italian Wars, Spanish Civil War, Russo-Turkish War and more. Martin Rapier recently published his latest variant that he is using for Jutland among others. There are a lot of experienced wargamers out there doing things with these rules.

Second point - What are you looking for in a set of rules? For me they need to be able to be used solo; to allow me to concentrate on the game and not the rules mechanisms; and to be relatively quick so that they can be played out between my children's bedtimes and my own. They should ideally be able to be turned into a narrative campaign. I also like rules that I can play on a small space in the lounge during winter - I have a 3'x 3' card table that I can set up, as opposed to the 8'x 4'which is in the garage. One Hour Wargames ticks all of the above boxes.

Third point - the scenarios. If you have the Grant books then you do indeed have a fantastic reservoir of ideas for scenarios (and I would add the Tabletop Teasers that ran through the Battlegames magazine to the other books named by Paul). But they still take some adaptation to whatever period you are playing. The scenarios in One Hour Wargames are designed to work with the rules and army sizes that are given, and they really do work. Even unbalanced scenarios have well thought out objectives and turn limits. Either Mr Thomas is very good at fluking it, or he put quite a bit of time into designing the rules and scenarios to work together.

My tinkering with the Great Northern Wars variant is based on bits of the horse and musket and the pike and shot rules together with some of my own little quirks (I like base removal to show the deterioration of unit effectiveness for instance). There has been ample room to introduce these things and not totally unbalance the system, nor over-complicate it - I print the rules out on a double sided sheet of A4 in a booklet format.  Originally I had planned to fight a GNW campaign using an adaptation of Neil's Napoleonic Wargaming rules. I now wouldn't go back.

So in terms of this being a review, I guess I'd give One Hour Wargames 5 stars out of 5, because it works for the sort of games I want to play. Just like DBA is not for everyone, OHW will not be a perfect fit for all wargamers (what rules are?), but I must emphasise that they are not just for beginners.  For myself, I feel like I may have found my holy grail.