Monday, 30 January 2017

Wargaming Hygge

Its been a while since I painted anything. I find it relaxing and well, not so much mind-ful as mind-less! The only thing that ruins this state of mind is having to paint, you know, like when you have to paint figures up for a display. That's kind of where I was post Kirriemuir. Then Christmas came along and that wasn't a very quiet break this year, then back to work and we know that's a chav and a chore too. So the end of January neared and I hadn't lifted a brush. 

My AWI diversion is almost complete. I picked up most of the figures from EBay. I usually managed to get stuff which fits together with other purchases and my own stuff and this time I managed to get some bargains too. However my luck ran out with the last lot. The pictures online were not great but there were a lot of unusual poses, officers and nco's. I could tell the painting wasn't too hot and the basing wasn't either, but I figured I could remedy that. And so I had to. Not the worst painting. I've seen, I didn't need to strip them, but not great. The blue was to pale and somehow had made it onto the tricorns too (?!?). Worse than that was that the bases had been covered with a fine rubber type flock material. I've seen this in the packet - made by woodland scenics. Don't use it. It breaks down into dust like particles which clog and stick to the figures. Out came the broad stiff brush I use for large areas of texture basing and I went over each figure once I peeled them off the base.  This removed the grains of flock stuck in every crevice, (perry figures, so lots of those), and some loose bits of flaking paint too. 

Prussian blue over the uniform, matt black, with a little grey, for the tricorns, shoes and cartridge boxes, mahogany brown for the muskets and some of the figures hair and a little bit of ivory or white for trousers and cross belts. Then rebased on mdf with some pva.  It didn't take too long and the mix of headgear and poses turned this into a rough looking veteran unit. I have one done and another to follow. 

Whilst painting this lot I kept looking at a unit of unpainted Russians which were lying, still bagged on the painting desk. I had decided that I didn't need these for the display game, (it turned out the Russians could have done with another two or three units on the day!), and had left them for another time. Well since my painting mood had returned I decided the finish these off and if not actually complete the Russian army at least finish it off for the time being. 

The problem was the cold. It snowed here this weekend. Big white fluffy wet flakes. These promptly melted overnight and froze solid. This has little to do with painting the figures, but everything to do with undercoating them. If you want figures to come out with a speckled base coat or a dull white varnish, do them in cold air. Even a garage can be cold enough as I have found to my cost before. 

However I convinced my other half that I needed the utility room and set up a shoe box and some paper to cover overspray and got to work. I keep my spray tins under the sink, so they don't get cold. The room itself was pretty much room temperature and after the job was done I opened the window and turned on the extractor fan and shut the door to the rest of the house to prevent any whiff of spray paint. I returned an hour or so later once the figures were dry and the paint hard and took them up for painting. 

Soon I was immersed in my own little world. Underneath my magnified anglepoise painting away with no distractions and pretty much lost to the world. Zoned out. With a couple of comfort breaks to the sofa and a flick through some source material also managed to make some notes for the Sugar Islands Campaign as well.

A very productive, relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. 

Hygge - as they say in Denmark !

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Honours of War - Velletri 1744

We had a pop at refighting the "first" battle of Velletri on tues at the local club.
Drawing from both SW's "Defence of Piedmont" and Red Sash's "Queens Gambit" I made up a scenario which, if not actually historical, was designed to capture the flavour of the action.
The Austrian army had moved south from Rome and was sitting along several roads south, all of which led to Neapolitan territory. However Lobkowitz's 14000 or so men were effectively pinned in position by the Spanish-Neapolitan army of De Gages who mustered nearer 25,000. The latter force was made up of some 12000 Neapolitan troops whom at this stage in the campaign were perhaps not fully effective, but the numbers involved meant that the allies could cover any movement south and Lobkowitz seemed very reluctant to try his hand. 
The Austrians encamped at Nemi, north of Velletri, separated from that town by a steep volcanic ridge which was garrisoned, but apparently only lightly. The Bourbon allies camped around Velletri on the southern side of the ridge. Both armies sat for some time whilst detachments played cat and mouse elsewhere.  Eventually De Gage decided to act and set a force up the steep slopes to attack the troops ontop of the ridge. This attack was successful and the Austrians were soon driven off and back down into the valley. However the pursuit was recalled (- the objective had been achieved and support could not be brought up over the twisting tracks). This allowed Lobkowitz to reform and organise a counterattack which retook part of the ridge.




(Not the greatest pics, the green mat has absorbed the light and flattened image, the ridge was nearly 6in higher at the top than the actual table top. I should have dressed it more with bits of moss, floc, stones, etc, but we had little such stuff).

Looking at the OB's (Red Sash's booklet and Nafziger) I noted that Lobkowitz had 3 battalions of Croats present, so I made them the garrison of the ridge. I gave de Gage 6 battalions to achieve his objective (2:1 odds not overwhelming and hampered be a reduced movement for going uphill). To both sides I gave a further 6 battalions of reinforcements with 2 units of dragoons for the Austrians and a heavy gun to the Bourbons. These were drawn from the OB's again and the heavy gun added because the bourbons dragged one up the hill after the battle to bombard the position the Austrians retook. I set times for the reinforcements to arrive and constricted the freedom of movement of the Bourbons by making that brigadier "dithering".
All in all we had a decent game. The Croats crumbled rather quickly so I made an umpires decision to allow the Austrian reinforcements on. They made good headway against the Bourbons to the point where it looked like it had swung the other way completely. But the Neapolitan reinforcements had arrived at the ridge and I called time at 2200hrs, after 2 and a half hours play. 
Some piccies below. The Ridge was made from Hexon tiles covered with a cloth to get the steep sides. On reflection it should have been somewhat steeper and should have had more cover for the croats. The arrival times of both reserves was far too soon, but as umpire I changed these so the outcome of the scenario was more or less in line with the historical result. It looks a bit plain in the pics, clump foliage, trees and scrub would break it up better. Something for next time!!
However it was a good game and everyone enjoyed it, which is after all the whole point of it all!!
I'm looking to do Campo Santo in a few weeks time as a sunday game. This time I intend playing too!!!
The problem with all this is of course....I "need" Spanish now

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Loose Files again

Another game of Loose Files last night. I wasn't sure how many of us would actually be there due to work commitments and as it turned out the other three lads hadn't played before, so I there down some balanced terrain and figures and off we went.

This time we had both guns and cavalry meaning that over the course of all the gimmes I've played recently I've had a chance to try all the troop types and work out how best to use them. Loose Files is a small scale set of rules at a ratio of 1:10, so not a lot cavalry or guns are need, if any. 


This being very much an ad hoc type game there was no scenario and a lack of cover for the continentals meant that eventually the British prevailed.  Decent shots from the American artillery and rifles took and early toll on the British left, but the redcoats were able to redress their ranks when the run of decent dice throws tailed off. On the right the light infantry and a few "hat" companies took on militia in a firefight. Again it went better for the Americans to begin with until the British got fed up and went in with the bayonet. The first line of militia broke and ran. But there was a second unit and by now some continental light dragons which shored up that flank, so the lights retired and the Americans got a breather. 


Back on the left the British had by now recovered and charged the disordered riflemen and the large unit of continental line. The riflemen were swiftly ejected from their swampy cover and routed, but the continentals fought off the British and drove them back. Huzzah!


However the right flank had been thrown open by the whittling down of the second militia. Another bayonet charge and they were driven off. 

With their flank torn open there was little the Americans could do but retire and as it was by now 10pm it was a handy time to call it quits.


All in all a nice wee game. The rules force you to think ahead and don't give you freedom to do as you please. So they are quite challenging. However without a scenario which gives plenty cover to the militia i think it would seldom end up as a fair, balanced, fight. Next time we play we plan on having a CinC player for each side with a number of ADC's to relay messages. The other players would take control of the units but would have to enact the CinC's orders. Should be fun!

Monday, 9 January 2017

End of Year Post......

It's been so long since I last posted anything. The last few months of the year have been a very busy time. So here's a summary of what I've been up to in wargaming terms.

Targe, the Wargames show in Kirriemuir, took place in November, one of my favourite shows. It's small and very freindly and I really like the social aspect of this show, especially since quite a few folk I know go as traders and gamers. As a shopping trip it's not bad, Dave Thomas is usually there and always has something and there is a good mix of other companies too. I'll be honest I don't get more than a quick look round the games because I'm usually involved in one myself and the painting comp holds no interest. It's the closest (other than Skelp in Forfar) and worth a drive down, even for a quick flying visit.

This year we put on the Hagelberg fictional refight as the demo game from my local club Oldmeldrum. I call it a fictional refight because it is a historical scenaraio - a battle from 1813 where resurgent Prussia jumps a French column and cuts its up badly denying Napoleon of badly needed reinforcements.

This time the action's been rolled back to the 1750's. Russia, fresh from defeating Frederick, rolls into Germany and tries to flatten the army of Hoegaarden, deployed to protect that small state from being looted and pillaged. No easy task!

The odds were stacked heavily in Russia's favour, but the green and red horde debouched from the woods and rode down on Hoegaarden's cavalry just as it was deploying. This drove the white coated men back on their heels, but they deployed on a the reverse slops of a hill and sheltered from the shot of the Russians guns.

As they reformed the cavalry pressed down the road towards the town and on the right more Russian troops arrived.  Things were looking grim....

However as can be the way of things, the Russians never quite got their legs in motion and launched sporadic uncoordinated attacks. Each one not quite pressed home with enough troops and allowing the Hoegaarden men just enough time and space to either retire or reform. (Actually this was caused be some poor dice and the rotation of commanders with different players taking control of different units at different times!).

As a demo game it worked perfectly and we had lots of interest about the rules, the figures, the buildings, the fact we all spent as much if not more time talking as we did playing. Here's some pics !







I had a chance to catch up with Charles Grant, which is always good, and also Graham Cummings (of Crann Tara). The two of us discussed some new figures which Graham was working on and this has now grown into a project between us - but more of that in the new year!

Since Kirriemuir I've been giving Honours of War a break. Sticking with the 18thC I have been playing Loose Files and American Scramble - a set of rules for the AWI which I haven played in something like 20 years!!!! However now I have my Militia I've been able to play a few games and loved them. These rules don't give players complete freedom of action, the use of disruption points simulates the difficulty of operating in terrain and formations less than idea for 18thC warfare.




Finally I've also managed to get an ancients game in with my chum John, barbarians vs Late Romans, and been persuaded (by myself!) to get some Huns to use with out home made version of Ancient and Medieval Warfare by Neil Thomas. I bought two boxes of Fireforge Mongols. Other than the obvious stirrups they are perfect for Huns. I may scalpel the stirrups off, I have already done so with a test figure, but since these are for home use only I might just stick with them as they are.



So that's about it for another year. It really has been a good one in gaming terms. Looking back the AMG16 event was a highlight (and AMG17 will hopefully be just as good!). Playing with a great bunch of chaps with lovely figs and terrain was brilliant. That and the AMG Forum continues to inspire me. Honours of War has been adopted by the local club and we've had some great games culminating in Hagelburg. Pyrrhus and his men have fought and beaten the Roman Republic, but at a terrible cost and I've had some great games of Bolt Action too.

Roll on 2017!!!!