Monday, 31 December 2012

Cross's Brigade,Union 2nd corps

At last, the first painted figures from my new painting room. These represent my first unit of Union troops painted in readiness for the Gettysburg Refight this July.
They represent troops from Cross's Brigade, 1st Div, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac.

"Pour it into them boys!"

"Get some Reb!"

 The figures, as most of you have probably recognized are Dixon 28mm. I have to admit I thought they looked a bit gnomish and porky when I undercoted them but as the colours went on and they finally appeared fully dressed and ready for action I was delighted with them. The deeply etched creases and details make painting a joy and in fact this unit was completed over four painting evenings from go to whoa...shows you how much fun I was having. Some of the faces are, shall we say, a bit odd and I cant help thinking they may have doubled as extras in a Lord of the Rings trilogy in a previous life?

They still require the bases to be textured and drybrushed but I couldn't wait to snap off a few pics.
So therefore... I cheated.
I've never photographed my models outdoors before and I have to say I'm fairly happy with the result, so much so that you can expect similar treatment of upcoming units in the future.
Actually this whole outdoor thing set me to thinking about the possibilities of outdoor wargaming as a viable option during the summer months. Imagine the grand scope of such battles....bold out-flanking route marches, cavalry scouting operations and dashing charges, Railways, troops actually embracing the use of roads cause if they dont you wont get there firstest with the mostest. And then there is of course the vagaries of weather to be considered. I have visions of middle aged men on hands and knees with sou westers and oilskins toiling away in the mud trying to get their troops marshalled into winter quarters. FANTASTIC!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Wargamer in Exile.... happiness is a painting room.

Sadly I bring you tragic news of the recent surrender of my beloved wargames room, also known as 'The Redwood Redoubt', (Regional H.Q, Southern Strategists), to the Evil Army of Occupation otherwise known as my eldest daughter.
After a brief sojourn flatting said daughter has conducted a stealthy and insidious campaign to win over the heart and mind of her dear mother to the need to take up residence in my sanctum sanctorum.
Needless to say I fought doggedly against this dastardly Alliance but the writing was on the wall....resistance is futile, surrender now and full conjugal rights will be restored by she who must be's a no-brainer innit!
My fellow gamers and Comrades in Arms would be reduced to tears if they could see the sorry state The Redoubt has been reduced to...soothing neutral colour scheme, tasteful curtains, plush carpet, feature lighting, heating, a shower!...not a beer or pizza stain to be seen...Horrid!

Fortunately as the major breadwinner I was able to bring to bear the full power of my negotiating skills to the surrender table and I have secured the somewhat under utilized territory of the study as my new painting room....Yes I hear you say.... a piffling consolation prize compared to the splendour to which I was accustomed  but when one is outnumbered three to one it behoves one to be grateful for small mercies. I like to think of it not so much as the new painting room as the 'Wargamer in Exiles Lair'.

Wargamer in Exiles Lair

Wargamer in Exile. Why am I smiling??

Anyway not being one to dwell on past defeats I have vowed to make the best of my somewhat constrained new environment and have even begun work on my first unit of Union troops, Cross's Brigade, 1st Div, 2nd Corps for the upcoming Gettysburg refight next July. The figures are old Dixon figs I bought years ago. I still have enough for another couple of brigades. Compared to the more anatomicly correct Perry or Foundry offerings these figure look somewhat troll-like in appearance but
they have certain charm. Hopefully my painting can bring them to life.
I've quietly been salting away Perry Union figures including my favourite Union commander, Major General Winfield S Hancock. I'll keep you posted on progress.

Preliminary stages of Cross's Brigade

A big thank you to all those who are kind enough to take the time to peruse my oft times erratic and rambling blogs and even better, comment. Please don't be offended if I dont always respond in kind its just simply that I struggle to do justice to painting, gaming, motorcycling, drinking, blogging and work and life commitments. My New Year's resolution in advance is to give up the work and life commitments and concentrate on the aforementioned five items!

I'd like to wish a Merry Xmas and a peaceful New Year to all members and their families of the modelling/wargaming brother and sisterhood, whoever and wherever you may be and in the words of the great Irish comedien, Dave Allen, may your God go with you.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Liebster Award bestowed.

The Liebster Award

Quite unexpectedly I find I am the recipient of The Liebster Award. Till now I was blissfully unaware said award existed, never the less, I am truly humbled that someone finds my efforts worthy of commendation. The bestower of this award is a fellow New Zealand gamer whose blog I have been following avidly for some time, Scott Bowman. Scott has a prolific output of quality work and a keen interest in a wide range of periods and genres. See my list of blogs I follow for Scott's Blog, 'ScottsWargaming'

Due to work and domestic commitments at present my beloved hobby has had to take a bit of a back seat as it were and I've had to swap my modelling brushes for the home decorating type...something I'm much less adept at, as the large amount of paint that manages to afix itself to me will attest!

When time permits I shall formulate a list of worthy recipients of the Liebster myself.

Thanks Scott.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Coming to a beach near you...VIKINGS!

I've taken a break from painting Samurai to try my hand at some Dark Ages figures.

Compared to Samurai these were a doddle, especially when so much of the kit is mail, armour or leather. I've even painted the eyes on these little blighters which is usually something I run a mile from as the thought of cocking up a perfectly good face with goggle eyes is too much to bear.
I must admit some of these Vikings have the 'thousand yard stare' but Im attributing that to the light of battle glowing in their eyes rather than any lack of painting skill on my part.

Now theyre finished I'm quite chuffed with them so Ive posted an order to Gripping Beast for some more plus a Viking longboat. One the lads has the bright idea of staging a Campiagn using Saga Rules to fight the tabletop engagements....should be good fun.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Completed Samurai...Phew!

It's been a long break since my last posting due to the fact that I've been destroying my eyesight painting these blasted Wargames Factory Samurai  Figures.
I knew they would be bit daunting to paint  and to be honest they were a bit of an Everest for me...I actually yelled triumphantly "Ive knocked the bastards off" when I completed them, emulating our National Hero, Sir Edmund Hilary's, famous line on conquering the real thing....perhaps a trifle OTT of me.

The most difficult thing with these chaps is that, excluding the Ashigaru who are fairly standardised in their attire, each samurai warrior you pick up requires careful thought on what he will wear and choice of a colour schemes that match...a bit like interior decorating. Frankly this is all a bit too much like hard work and no I'm not going to even attempt to paint the eyes!

Anyway here they are... my first Samurai.
Please excuse the inappropriate rolling English dales and meadows in the background.

Ahigaru. I've just realised I haven't painted the leather forearm protectors


The Boss

Ive glued metal squares on to the base of the figures and these will fit into purpose built magnetic movement trays so the metal square wont be visible which should improve the look.

Now this lots off the painting desk I can potter away with a unit at a time which wont be anywhere near as difficult. My goal is to paint up a couple of Saga size clans. I think the Saga rules will do the job with a bit of tweaking. If anyone knows of any Saga Samurai adaptations I'm all ears. The other possibility would be adapting Kings of War but Id need much bigger units to make a decent game of it.

Ive just undercoated and drybrushed some lovely Perry samurai character figures which will be ajoy to paint. I particularly like the sepuku set.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Samurai, 1st attempt

Never let it be said I'm not open to new ideas and periods as long as it's even remotely Historical.
With that in mind I have taken a break from the little 20mm plastic men and decided to have a crack at Wargames Factories 28mm plastic Samurai.
Fellow Strategist, Tex Houston, planted the Samurai seed in my mind some time ago, and after much browsing on the net and research into the period....well I actually just watched a couple of samurai movies, I decided I'd give it a go.
I've always been a bit daunted about painting samurai due to the bewildering array of colours and detail so I thought I'd start with the Ashigaru, at least they had some semblance of standardised attire.

Here is my first foray into this fascinating period. Bear in mind this is just the preliminary stages of painting with the base coats applied and lots more detailing, shading and high-lighting to follow.

 As you can see they have a long way to go yet and I've only done the easy bits. I've decided to go with decals for the mons and standards because there's no way my hand is steady enough to make a crisp job of it.

I found assembling the figures quite simple but you do have to be careful not to catch your hand on the spear points as they have a tendency to snap off if you're a clumsy oaf like me.

My happy place.

All my vallego paints are in the drawer to my right for easy access and my brushes and tools are all in drawers. I like to tidy up at the end of a session, even if it's 1.00am so that when I recommence everything is ship shape and tidy...pathetic really, I bet Picasso or Van Gogh never worked like this.

I've found the gel computer keyboard wrist rest ideal for resting my painting hand on and the fluorescent overhead light is perfect for showing up my deficiencies!! I've given up looking at my figures under the magnifying glass...too embarrassing.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Battle for Miggins Pies (AWI battle report)

Last Wednesday's fortnightly stoush was a highly fictitious War of Independence game using Regimental Fire and Fury AWI adapted rules and based on the rather tenuous thread that the Yankees were attempting to capture the British held Fort Douglas and with it Mrs Eliza Miggin's famous pie recipe.

'The Miggins Pie'
The  Miggins and their famous pies have a proud association with the British Armed Forces over many years and have been a feature of a number of our games. In fact a fully preserved Miggins Field Pie, Mince. Mk8 was recently discovered on an archeological dig on one of the Somme battlefields and is currently on display at the Imperial War Museam. Needless to say said pies and the ownership of the secret recipe have been cause for many a hard fought contest at The Redoubt.

Back to the game... and some semblance of reality.
As mentioned the British hold Fort Douglas which sits squarley in the middle of lush farmland and meadows interspersed with tracks and carriageways through the sparse woods and vegetation.   The Fort is one of a chain of fortified blockhouses which have been built to defend the local Loyalist population as the area is an abundant source of supplies and fodder for the hungry Army. Apart from the occasional copse or wood the going is easy and offers no obstruction to formed troops.

The British can count on the support of a number of nearby Regiments including their Hessian Allies (for Hessians we used mostly Chris's Prussians as we didn't have enough Hessians) plus a strong force of cavalry and artillery that are currently re-supplying.

Dave 'Tex Houston's' Hessians by Front Rank

Wayne's Front Rank British Light Dragoons
The American Continental Army consists of a good many battle hardened veterans including a unit of Marines who are just getting their land legs back. They too have cavalry and a number of artillery pieces at their disposal. Their force is sufficiently large enough to assualt the Fort and hold off any enemy reinforcements which may come to the forts rescue.

Rodger's Continentals by Eureka

Turn 1 commenced with the Americans splitting their force into three with Dave's force tasked with capturing the fort, and Geoff and myself protecting Daves flanks from unwanted attention and if able assisting to capture the fort and those yummy pies.
A rapid advance was made all along the line with, as yet, no sign of the British reinforcements, Surprise appeared to be on our side.
Turn 2 saw Daves troops within musketry range of the pinewood walls of the fort whilst Geoff's troops formed up in supported line in the neighbouring field on Daves right flank. My Regulars and Rangers including a unit of cavalry and a light artillery piece had formed up on Daves Left flank to await devlopments with two units of French allies at the rear in support

Daves troops commenced a lively fusilade on the fort which swept a number of redcoated grenadiers  from the battlements, this was promptly answered by accurate and steady volleys from the redoubtable fort. "Sergeant be a good man and send the lovely Mrs Miggins to the basement with a couple of your toughest Grenadiers for protection to defend her and that pie recipe with their lives... just as a precaution eh what".

"For Liberty and Pies"

Steady and accurate volleys

The assault in earnest

Geoffs troops form up with Marines in the pun intended!

Turn 3 saw the arrival of the British and Hessian reinforcements so any hope of a quick snatch and grab were soundly dashed. The British and Hessians were commanded by Adrian on their Right and Chris on the Left with Rodger holding the fort.
The British wasted no time in forming up for the attack on both the American flanks whilst they manuevered a battery of artillery forward screened by light infantry in the centre.
By Turn 4 the British were just in range of my muskets so I opened up with a ragged volley and a round from the light gun for good measure, unfortunately with little effect other than to disorder  a unit of Hessians. The British and Hessians continued advancing with resolute strides.

Give em a volley boys!

Morgans Rangers give fire.

Meanwhile the struggle for the the fort continued apace and a well placed mine by the American sappers had the intended effect of blowing a huge gap in the corner of the pallisade so it was hand to hand and no quarter given. The British grenadiers were living up to their reputaion for toughness though and showed no sign of yielding their beloved pie recipe to bunch of Colonial amatuers.

The palisade is down.

Adrian, on the British Right advanced to make contact with Geoffs Continental troops formed up in neat ranks in the wheat field.

Turn 5  begins with Chris's Hessians unleashing a devastating volley that tore holes in my ranks and saw two stands fall to the Grim Reaper, again poor firing by the Continentals barely scratched the paint on those damned dog eaters in return and it looks like I'm going to get a taste cold British Steel as Chris's disciplined ranks launch a 'Cold Steel bayonet charge on my line. Worse still he's got cavalry forming up in support and waving their sabres in a most unpleasant fashion.

View from the British side, the centre advances, those guns are a worry for the Yankees.

'Cold Steel'

Turn 6 and still the staunch Grenadiers in the Fort hold fast whilst Adrian's British right flank troops trade volleys with the Yankess in the wheatfield. The fire fight appears to going in favour of the Brits.

Things are going decidely pear shaped for my chaps on the American Left as the Hessians slam into my Rangers with a ferociuos charge which forces my Rangers to retreat in disorder a full turn and lose two more stands. At the same time  a unit of Hessians supported by British Light Dragoons pounce on my Regulars in an unstoppable tide which sends my Yankees running and leaving my gun exposed on the flank. A breakthrough allows the cavalry to contact my gun so its days are numbered.
The poor gunners dont even have time to get a shot off before falling to Tarleton's Green jacket's slashing sabres.

British Cavalry charge my wavering Continentals

Those poor gunners dont stand a chance.

Turn 7 sees the British still tenuosly in control of the fort as they are now able to feed reserves into the fray whilst they are heavily engaged with the American forces either side of the fort. Geoffs Troops in the wheat field are starting to buckle under the weight of determined charges by the British but he moves his Marines over to assist with the assault of the fort in a last ditch attempt to wrest the famed pie recipe from the clasp of the British before the British numbers prove too great and their formidable artillery is brought to bear.

The action in the wheatfield

My French troops on the American Left are now up against three units of Hessians and two units of cavalry with their dander up. My absolutely abysmal dice throwing means I can't hit the side of the proverbial barn door and I suck big time in melee. I am consistently out rolled at every contest, in one memorably horrible melee by as much as 12 points. I have inflicted the grand total of two stands of casualties on my opponent for the whole game whilst my units are disintregrating before my eyes. A vain attempt to halt the steamroller with a unit of light cavalry is brushed aside and in effect the whole Americal Left flank is on the brink of collapse and the Frenchmen are making furtive glances to the rear.
By Turn 8 its clear that any hope of taking the fort and that damned pie recipe are long gone and continuing the fight would be unrealistic as no sane commander would allow his army to be savaged for the sake of a bloody pie.

All and all a thoroughly enjoyable game, even if a bit tongue in cheek.

The Professionals advance.
How it looked at the end

Yankee Cavalry Brigade Commander tries to rally fleeing troopers.

You will not be surprised to learn that I have since ground up my recalcitrant dice up and turned them into a gooey paste which I have smeared over a sacrificial chicken in an attempt to appease the 'dice gods' in readiness for my next encounter.....the lengths one goes to.