Friday, 17 November 2017

Starter Forces for Sharp Practice

With these rules I want to be able to play games that tell a story, or series of linked stories. Players can then be swept along by the narrative with each game helping develop the story and set the scene for the next chapter. That, to me, is 'proper' wargaming! So, I'll need to collect some initial forces to help make this happen

One of the joys of getting in to a new era is the plotting and planning associated with choosing your new toys and it's no exception here at the 'table. So... I decided to start by looking at the earliest era of the war; Lexington, Concord, the Boston Campaign etc. Now, if you're an AWI aficionado then please bear with me as I'm really only just starting to chip away at this rich seam of history.

My view of the forces I'd like are (for the British) a core of tough, disciplined regulars backed up by enthusiastic loyalists. The latter might be of dubious military value but "By George!" they do love their King! Here they are

The rebels on the other hand are a mix of militia and civilian patriots with a fiery zeal for their own self-governance backed by a determination to show the redcoats that they mean business.
Oops - the 2 x 8 Militia should be 2 x 10

Both forces come in at just over 40 points so I think they'll be large enough to give a good game, plus they should provide a good starter for larger forces. But, as I've not really played the game 'properly' I'd appreciate any thoughts as to whether these forces would indeed give a good game.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Building American Post and Rail Fencing

Battlefields for conflicts such as the AWI or ACW often have a very distinctive style of fencing that, in my opinion, immediately evokes the right sort of feeling for the terrain and the era.
My post & rail test piece

In reality such boundaries were easy to produce from the abundant natural resources and very sturdy. So I thought I'd have a go at a test piece before making many feet of fencing in miniature!

I began with an spare piece of 3mm MDF approx 4cm by 28cm, trimming the edges to give a slight 'chamfer' to the sides. The rails are made from kebab sticks - easily sourced from your favourite supermarket - Tesco in my case.

Mark out the holes and drill them ensuring the diameter of the hole is slightly less than the diameter of the sticks to help get a snug fit. Ensure that the MDF is on a solid surface when drilling (I didn't and the board partially de-laminated so I had to shorten it!). The holes should be slightly further apart than the diameter of the sticks as they will be laid at an angle.
Make the upright posts from the sharp end of the sticks as the taper makes it easy to insert and get a nice, tight fit. The posts vary in length from 33-44mm. Try not to make them all the same length to help give it a rustic look.

Glue the posts in place using good quality wood glue and leave to dry completely before adding the rails.

When adding the rails, trim each to the right length as needed. Again, vary this slightly for best effect. You'll also need to make some short 'spacers' to fill in the gaps at each end. The pic below shows this quite nicely. Let the glue dry completely then trim off the sharp points underneath with a pair of snippers.

Depending upon the quality of the kebab sticks you might find some that are warped or have bits missing etc. These are great for adding a bit more variety.

I haven't done a step-by-step for this simply because it's very straightforward! Prime the wood with your favourite primer then start with a good coat of a mid grey, followed by a light grey then an off white. I bought a small selection of tester pots from a DIY store for this. The important bit is to use an off-white (Soft Almond here) for the final highlight.
The base is Americana Honey Brown, then highlights of VMC 847 Dark Sand followed by a final highlight of Foundry 9C Boneyard Light.

The decoration on the base is just Noch 08310 static grass and a few tufts and bits of clump foliage.

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out. Being a test piece there are a few things I've learned...
* Angle the corners slightly as this will make it easier to layout gentle curves to follow roads, etc.
* Make complete sets of V's so that sections align nicely. This avoids the need for corner sections.
* Figure out how to make some gates.

Hope that was helpful.

Friday, 3 November 2017

Sharp Practice Basing Dilemma

Basing figures is always worthy of some consideration I feel. So I've been mulling over various ideas for my nascent Sharp Practice II collection.

I rather like the idea of basing all the figures for each group on a single base so as to make some nice vignettes. However, in these rules figures are removed to track casualties, so I would need to devise suitable tokens to represent this, that's in addition to tokens for shock and possibly other rules too; perhaps this might result in "token overload"?

Chum Colin of Charlie Foxtrot Models makes some lovely sabot bases for a variety of round base sizes. These, I think, are the way forward! But that in turn leads to the conundrum of what base size to use. Options are basically 1p or 2p coins. This has the added bonus of being able to utilise rare earth magnets (embedded in the base of the tray) to hold the figures in place.

So, here are the two options.
British 1p bases on the left, 2p on the right.

From above for comparison.
Many people have gone for the 2p (or similar) option which does offer the opportunity to do a little more with the base. It also suits the slight 'larger' figures from manufacturers such as Front Rank. However, I'm currently favouring the 1p configuration as it seems to better suit the slightly finer scale Foundry and Perry figures I have.

Anyway, here are the figures a little more clearly.
Foundry British Regulars circa 1775
Foundry Loyalist American Militia, a lovely present from chum Paul :o)
So now you know where I'm going with Sharp Practice II, the American Revolutionary War, or as we say over here, the American War of Independence!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Sharp Practice II

Oooh look what I got for my recent birthday!

But what particular period of the black powder era will I consider gaming? The rules includes lists for
  • French-Indian War
  • American War of Independence
  • Peninsular War (perhaps an obvious choice given that I already have some suitable figures?)
  • American Civil War
  • Indian Mutiny (oh the lure of gaming Carry on Up the Khyber!)
Plus the TFL forum has lots of extra lists, e.g. Napoleonic Russians.

Now, at least one of my chums will know the answer, so no spoilers (yet)! More news as it happens. By the way, if you play these rules then perhaps you'd like to comment on what era you play. Id be interested to hear from you.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Bristol Big Uns Club Night

Sunday night is club night for the Bristol Big Uns and we really couldn't ask for a better venue than the superb Iron Acton village hall. We've recently splashed out on some of the new mouse pad style gaming mats and very good they are too.

My visit on Sunday last was only a flying visit but it was still great to catch up with everyone and have a little natter. I couldn't resist taking a few pics to share.

First we have a game of Lion Rampant between Mike and Simon. The figures are all Mike's (20mm Zvezda I think), I reckon they look splendid! The beauty of this game is that you don't need masses of figures and you can fit a couple of games in to an evening. This has rather caught my imagination :o)
French vs English
Both sides getting stuck in!
What beautiful knights!
Archers and billmen

Next is a very characterful game of Kings of War between Dave S and Dave G. It's Forces of Nature trying to thwart the advance of the shambling Undead.
The game in the balance
Figures emerging from the water. Both sides had lovely looking units!
Excellent tomb in that unit of Undead

Alan and Nigel created a little slice of Normandy for their Bolt Action game of Germans vs US Airborne. Both sides were attempting to capture the objective (the crates in the centre).
Both sides converge on the objective
That tank (somehow) survived 8 faust shots, a 'shrek and a heavy howitzer hit!
US Airborne making good use of cover

Finally, another game of Kings of War, between Matt and Steve. Orcs vs Kingdoms of Men. Again, both armies looked excellent - Matt was using his former WHFB Orc force whilst Steve fielded his Samurai-era Japanese.
Only one or two turns to go
Steve's cavalry :o)
Gunpowder armed troops!
Matt's Orc General and his "Orc Air Force" - yes, those are flying warboars!
Hope you enjoyed the tour. Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More Romans

Yes, I've been at it again with the brushes! Just a few figures this time to bring one of my 18 man cohorts up to a more durable 24 figures.
The recipe is as follows

GW Black Spray
Tidy up any 'gaps' with a little GW black, slightly thinned helps.

Base of GW Leadbelcher
Apply black wash e.g. GW Nuln Oil
1st highlight GW Leadbelcher
2nd highlight GW Mithril (now Runefang Steel) for the edges of the armour
Then GW Gehenna’s Gold for the brass fittings. If you have it then a dark brass/copper colour like GW Tin Bitz makes a good base coat for the gold.

Tunic (and scarf)
GW Khorne Red
1st highlight GW Mephiston Red
2nd highlight Foundry Bright Red Shade
My Legion have a range of reds for their tunics, some have the Foundry Madder triad for example, other Foundry British Redcoat. Try making some of the scarves a dirty off-white with any light brown and the Foundry Boneyard.

Foundry Flesh triad.

Base of GW Mournfang Brown
Apply Agrax Earthshade wash to pick out the details
GW Mournfang Brown to highlight
Base of Foundry Bay Brown shade
Highlight with Foundry Bay Brown light

Leather (straps, scabbard, etc)
Practically any browns you like using! A simple base colour followed by one highlight is usually sufficient on these smaller areas.

Foundry Spearshaft triad.

Front – spray white (for transfers) then tidy the edges with black and then silver or gold/brass.
Back – Foundry British Redcoat shade, Agrax earthshade wash, highlight with redcoat shade.
After applying the transfer you may have to tidy the edge with a little dark red.

A good coat of brush-on gloss followed by a couple of coats of brush-on matt.

Have a look here

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Imperial Roman Rally Point

Here's my latest bit of modelling - a rally point (or objective marker, etc) for my Early Imperial Romans! For War & Conquest it's a rally point, but other games systems often require similar "objectives" or it can just be a nice piece of terrain.

The tent is resin, from Grand Manner. The stack of supplies came from Bad Squiddo Games, the shield from Black Tree with the excellent LBMS transfers. MDF base from Charlie Foxtrot.

Painting recipe: Tent - Foundry Spearshaft shade, a wash of Agrax, then the shade / mid / highlight, ie the full triad. Supplies - The darker wood was painted Foundry Bay shade, the 'parcels' in Foundry Buff shade, the jar in Foundry Conker Brown shade, the basket in Foundry Butternut shade. Then give the whole lot a wash of Agrax. Then highlight with the original base colour followed by the rest of each triad respectively. Note - for the dark wood just give it a light dry-drush of a light cream like VMC Dark Sand to bring out the texture.

Here's a closer shot of some of the details.

The fire pit was simply a circle of small stones with some short lengths of thick broom bristle glued in place. All ready to cook dinner on after a hard day of slaughtering barbarians!

The basing is exactly the same as the rest of my sandy/arid desert themed Romans: VMC Gold Brown as a base, then highlights of VMC Tan Yellow, VMC Dark Sand then some Foundry Boneyard light. Followed by a little static grass, a few tufts and a bit of clump foliage.

The reverse view.

Home from home whilst on campaign!

Thanks for looking!

Monday, 18 September 2017

War and Conquest Weekend (with some Bolt Action too)

The recent weekend saw a number of us gather at the Bristol Big'uns club venue in Iron Acton for a weekend of War & Conquest gaming organised by Scarab supremo, Rob Broom. Now, rather than try to give you a blow by blow account of all the games, I've taken a few pics so that you can get a flavour of the fun had by all. There were several EIR forces, Dave's Carthaginians (who thrashed my EIR in a warm up game on Friday evening), plus several Successors forces.

My first opponent was Barry, a relative newcomer to WaC, fielding his own EIR force. The figures were lovely old Citadel Romans.
Our Roman armies close for battle
That's a lot of Romans!
We had a great game! Neither of us achieved our objectives but Barry edged a win.

After a superb lunch (thanks to Barbara :o)) we set to again. And again I was facing more EIR, led this time by Nick.
Deployed for battle
Nick's Foundry Roman army
My EIR decide to take the fight to Nick's men
The pic below shows the result of the roll off at a decisive point in the battle. I threw in three strategy points, Nick added just one. Grrr! :-D
The lines grind against each other
Our very evenly matched armies slogged it out against each other for several turns with the advantage switching back and forth. However, one of my cohorts managed to rout their opponents, smashing a hole in Nick's line and swept away a nearby unit of Auxilia too. These men carried on to occupy to Nick's deployment zone and gain me a victory by achieving my objective.
Fighting almost to the last man
An absolute belter of a game! My thanks to Nick (and Barry) for two great games.

On Sunday, the WaC fun continued but a few of us wanted to squeeze in some WW2 action too. Rob was very accommodating and allowed a whole corner of the room ;o)

Orange Dave organised the games; he and I would be the plucky British whilst Nigel led the German war machine. Dave picked D-Day as the theme so the first game would be Commandos landing on Sword beach.
The landing craft head for the shore

Dave couldn't find the sea that he'd made previously, however he did find a roll of blue wrapping paper that made for a very effective stand in!
The ramp goes down and here come our heroic men!
Needless to say the Germans had prepared a warm welcome. Nigel landed a mortar round in one of the landing craft which left is stranded in deeper water for several turns before the men aboard regained control.
More British reach the shore
Things were looking pretty grim for the Allies until the artillery finally arrived in spectacular style! The Germans took an enormous beating so we agreed that the surviving Allied troops on the beach would be able to get inland, giving a narrow victory to Dave and me.

On to game two... Staying with the D-Day theme what else could we do but our own version of the daring glider landing to capture the Orne bridges! Dave folded the paper to make a very effective canal.
Dave's glider template came in quite handy!
The troops have safely exited the glider and prepare to tackle the Germans
We're on the bridge but the Germans are more than ready
A vicious close range fire-fight ensues!
Bayonets, knives, pistols and grenades!
A tense and thrilling game with some real moments of drama! The night fighting rules really add to the atmosphere of the game - highly recommended. However, as we shook hands it was a draw, the Germans were still vigorously contesting the bridge.

My thanks to Nigel for being a superb opponent and also to Dave for organising the scenarios and being a staunch ally. We still have game three to play; ideal material for a future blog post.

All round an excellent weekend of gaming. It's great to meet up with old friends, make some new friends and play some very enjoyable games of toy soldiers. Looking forward to the next event.