Saturday, 28 January 2017

More French infantry & how to add 'Ivy' to model buildings!

This weeks painting output has been another 12 French infantry figures, the last 8 figures to complete this unit are underway and I hope to finish them on Sunday morning before the family arrive for lunch. I find my Sunday morning paint sessions to be my favourite, nice and quiet, good coffee and I'll normally watch/listen to a few YouTube videos as I paint. I'm currently working through some 'Sharp Practice 2' videos in order to see if I can get any enthusiasm to try these rules. They do seem to give a lively fun game, and they work in numerous periods, so for example yesterday I watched a 15 minute overview of a game set during the American Civil War in which the Union force had to try and capture a coffin full of rifles! I think there was only about 80 figures per side (28mm), but the players were obviously enjoying themselves. The coffin - a lovely little model on a wagon, escorted by Confederate women - was taken on about turn 6 winning the game. I'm in the middle now of watching a longer demo game set during the Indian Mutiny, and I must say I'm finding that period very tempting. I have no doubt that if I could get into Sharp Practice 2 it would open up a lot of possibilities for me. Some of the mechanics of this 'large skirmish' game that I initially found a bit strange and hard to grasp are becoming more familiar to me the more games I watch, and there are a lot of 'add on' options that you build on as you master the basic game system. The opportunity to play ACW games without having to paint hundreds of figures is also tempting! However, some reviews have not been favourable, and there seems to be many omissions  and a fair bit of errata judging by the pages and pages of FAQ for Sharp Practice 2. I'm put off by the large numbers of dice that need to be thrown to work out a basic melee combat, in one example there was a total of 26 dice - red and blue- that needed to be rolled together! Again, I keep being drawn back to those wonderful Commands & Colors dice rolls, they just work so well at resolving both shooting and close combat as well as morale.

This French battalion for FIW will be the last of the infantry for this period, just a couple more guns per side and I can look to whats next. I'm committed to painting 28mm figures going forward, I just get so much pleasure from painting in this scale. I have placed an order with GMB designs for some very fine FIW flags, not cheap but the quality speaks for itself, just look at the Napoleonic flags HERE. Figures are by Front Rank Figurines.

Ivy tutorial.
I have been asked a couple of times to do a demo on how to achieve the 'climbing ivy' effect on model buildings. The key really is to use the excellent leaf flock produced by Noch, as it's very realistic and quite cheap. Decide where you want your ivy to go and simply use neat PVA glue to paint the pattern, start thicker at the bottom and then separate out into 'fingers' as you work up, it looks good on the sides of buildings and also on wall sections etc, especially effective on MDF buildings that can be quite plain and flat looking otherwise.

15mm MDF buildings by 4Ground, before and after.

Monday, 23 January 2017

WW1 dogfight rules - an update!

Thank you to those who responded to my request for information on the early 1970's set of WW1 air combat rules. I'm pretty sure now that this is the set of rules I used (below), but my guess is that as these are a revised second edition published in 1977 it must have been the first edition as published in one of the wargame magazines around 1973 or so.

The Author was Hugh Walters, and the name was immediately familiar to me. I have managed to track down a set of the revised rules here in the UK, the description made me laugh, they really sell them don't they!

A 1977 revised edition of a set of rules for a Great War Aviation wargame. It is completely incomprehensible to the lay reader and can serve no other purpose in the 21st century than to provide a jolt of nostalgia. A tight & clean copy of a stapled pamphlet in Fine condition. Bookseller Inventory # 003218

I'm going to grab the copy anyway, even at £15 for the slim booklet of less than 20 pages it will be worth it to satisfy my curiosity! I still would like to track down the original magazine version, as that was what I used to make my flight stands back then, so any further help here from those who collect old wargame mags would be much appreciated. 'Battle' magazine has been suggested as a possibility.

I have discovered that there are other WW1 rules out there, some very similar in concept, featuring somewhat over engineered metal stands that only sit a foot or so above the table, or a board printed up to represent a landscape as viewed from above, these generally use 6mm scale models it seems.

Another set that does use the same style flight stands appears to be 'Triplane', these would appear to be a slightly more advanced version of the old stands, much taller and ........ they are on wheels, how cool is that! Found some images of 'Triplane' in action, you have to hand it to them. I'm sure mine were of a simpler design and the poles were not 6 foot as in this game.

They even have wheels!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

FIW The British Army and a request for help!

As I managed to complete the 42nd foot this week including command base I thought I would get my entire British force out for a few pics. I say British, but it includes Colonial allies and also Iroquois who have agreed to fight on the side of the British. This was of course a very uneasy alliance, the six tribes that made up the Iroquois 'Six Nations' -  Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora - being reluctant to fight against those supporting the French. Montcalm regarded them as savages who had no understanding of the European way of warfare, giving no quarter and demanding the taking of scalps of fallen enemy.

The force currently consists of 3 units of British Regular Foot, a company each of Grenadiers, light infantry, Virginians, Rogers Rangers, Settlers and a 6 Pdr. Royal Artillery piece. The two bands of Iroquois complete the force. I have two more guns and and crews to paint, another 6pdr and a howitzer. General Braddock and Aide comprise two mounted figures on a single base. I will be adding a second standard bearer figure to the 42nd foot and 1st foot, and also plan better quality flags from GMB for all units.

As forces engaged were small by European standards I tend to think in terms of individual companies operating in largely wooded terrain in a slightly looser order than normal. The figures are mostly by Front Rank but with a smattering of Warlord Games metal figures. The blue coated figures represent the Virginia Regiment, commanded by no less than young George Washington who proved to be a remarkably courageous officer under fire, who narrowly escaped death on more than one occasion. He was however refused a commission in the regular British Army, something he never forgot.

I'll feature the French forces in a subsequent post, they are of similar composition being mostly French regulars with Canadian and Indian allies.

WW1 Air war game - can anyone help?
Recently over on Steve the Wargamers blog he recalled a game that pitched German and British WW1 aircraft - Airfix of course - against each other using tall wooden flight stands. This happened to be a game that also caught my imagination around the same time, and I was lucky enough to be able to construct numerous flight stands in my school woodwork classes. This would have been around 1972 to 1974 and we have been trying to recall where the article would have appeared at that time, I have read back through lists of both Airfix Magazine and Military Modelling from that period but can find no reference to it. Don Featherstone and Mike Spick have been mentioned but I can't find anything with diagrams or photos showing how the game was played. I did find the photo below over on TMP forum, it's very similar in construction with it's altitude marks on the upright dowel and wooden collars that slide up and down, although as I recall my stands were only around 4 feet tall. The aircraft itself fitted on a thin extension dowel and the model could be placed in climb or dive mode etc, very much as seen in the photo. The aircraft had varying move distances and turning circles and machine guns of various types, the aim being of course to shoot down the enemy in a dog fight by inflicting damage points as you manoeuvred your aircraft to gain an advantage. This would make a fantastic 'nostalgia' project for me on the blog, and I would love to put it together again, so if anybody can help with references etc I would be most grateful.

Image from TMP forum showing a very similar game in progress, but it seems to be on a larger scale.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

42nd Foot in the French & Indian War.

I decided that it was time to get down to some more French & Indian War figures and to paint the 42nd foot in honour of their valour at Fort Ticonderoga. After much research I based the figures upon some images of the regiment in 1756 uniform - which I'm sure changed as the ravages of campaigning took it's toll - so here is the first base of 8 figures. They are of course Front Rank figures, actually from the 1745 Rebellion range but close enough. All of my FIW collection are individually based, but sit in what I think of as company sized trays of 8 models. The unit will eventually comprise 16 rank and file plus a 4 figure command base. Units such as Rangers, Canadian Militia and colonials are on 6 figure bases, as are the Indians, the latter being on irregular shaped bases. Some will recall that the bulk of this collection was painted on commission for me by John from Kingscolours and I am grateful to him for his fine brushwork. But I really fancied getting down to some painting of 28mm figures again and so will add to them myself going forward.

I'm going to complete the next 12 Highlanders, the command base will comprise Officer, bagpiper and standard bearer plus possibly a sergeant, and follow these with a 20 figure French line infantry unit before adding more artillery to bring it up to 3 guns per side plus limbers etc.

Rules: I have in my mind a simple home made ruleset heavily based upon a combination of Commands & Colors Napoleonics combat system and the Sharpe Practice order card system, The game will be based upon a 6" square grid 10 deep by 12 wide. To be honest I'm just looking for a simple game that allows me to push my soldiers around the table, but that captures the flavour of FIW combat. I'm starting to get stuff down on paper, but I have a very clear idea on how I want this to work. More to follow as things develop. Just a quick note on terrain, the grid will be subtly marked out and the choice of a square grid will allow more conventional terrain pieces to be employed (as opposed to hexes). Using a 6" grid also allows for the use of all my existing road and river sections as they are all made from 12" or 6" pieces, my aim is to make the table look as conventional as possible with the grid defining movement, shooting and command and control zones etc.

First company, 42nd foot, took quite a bit of work and a week to paint!



The company forms column of march - the advantage of individually based figures.

And a few shots of some other figures from the collection as it's been a while sine they featured on the blog.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Some new bits & Xmas beer!

Happy New Year to my readers, Let's hope that 2017 brings a more peaceful time, and that we witness far less of the mindless violence of 2016. Sadly, I doubt it, but we can live in hope. 

I managed to squeeze in a bit of painting over the festive period, to be honest it offers an escape for me from the excesses of eating, drinking and the general upheaval of family life at this time of year, the noise has subsided and things are getting back to normal. As you can see below my eldest Son in Law did me proud once again in the beer department, we drank our way through one box of the Great British Ales already, and started the second. The Hobgoblin Gold is a particular favourite of mine but I'm saving it for a couple of weeks when I hope to have a couple of beer drinking friends round to help me with it, I have found in the past that it loses condition quite quickly once opened, and it needs to be done justice in prime condition.


I painted the US HQ objective marker and added the 2nd Armored Division flag with it's 'Hell on Wheels' symbol, this adds a final piece to my US army. I also painted a platoon of Hitler Youth bristling with panzerfausts ( Battlefront metal figures). I was watching a couple of videos whilst painting them, and felt appalled at the losses suffered by these children (many were 15 or under, some as young as 12), during the final weeks and days in Berlin. At a time when many experienced regular 
soldiers were surrendering,  the indoctrination was such that these boys were prepared to fight to the last and lay down their lives. Still, FoW is just a game and I enjoyed painting them, the red armbands as cast on gave a little lift to the somewhat bland colour scheme. Next up is a platoon of Soviet Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, resin models with metal figures. Very nice castings, I almost trimmed off what I thought was flash from two of the rockets before I realised they were actually arms supporting the weight and the figures go together in pairs! 

Katyusha rocket battery in action.

The pictures I took of the Soviet v German game were a disaster, to the point that I have given up with my old camera. The lighting up in the room is not good, and I also found that having just 18" either side of the table was too tight, I kept knocking the tiles and hill sections. I have now decided to play future games back downstairs in the dining room where the light is much better and there is far more room. When I get a free day I'll try again with a game write up and photos!

A quick note re Flames of War, with version 4 due out in March, and the news that the rules will be trimmed down to about a third of the current size, I'm delighted to read that the new publication will be given out FREE to those who hold a copy of the 3rd Edition - I have the hardback and it's a hefty tome. This is very pleasing and certainly will keep me playing this fine game.