Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Leibster, Romans and other matters!

Firstly, I must apologise for not yet responding to comments on the 'Action' post, and to the nominations for the Leibster Awards that is currently doing the rounds. I'm not really a big fan of such awards to be honest, but what does mean an awful lot to me has been the fact that I have read some very positive comments about my humble blog. To those who have taken time to write and post such comments I thank you. I'm not sure I can participate in these awards, such matters I still find difficult to motivate myself to get involved with, but what I would like to do is to write a few words about the blogs that I most enjoy and why they give me so much pleasure in following them. I hope this does not cause offence to anybody I might miss, I read quite a lot of blogs and enjoy them all!

Right here goes, a few words about my 'top three' blogs:

Hinton Hunt Vintage Wargame Figures -  I have been following the development of Ian's project for several years now and it's been a pleasure to watch that amazing vintage collection grow. Long may it continue.

Joy and Forgetfulness-  I was late coming to this fine blog, but I now await every new post with eager anticipation. Mr Kinch of course writes so well, it's just a pleasure to read his words. I enjoy the humour and the glimpses into his 'real world', and I am completely envious of the small circle of enthusistic gamers who meet to play games on the Kinch table. I love the pics, the funny hats, the cigars, the cats and the numerous bottles of Port that seem to accompany the games ....... Life is too short to waste, and I just wish I could have half as much fun playing wargames as Mr Kinch and his fellow C&C players obviously do.

Prometheus in Aspic - Firstly this blog is a fantastic recourse for anybody interested in Commands & Colors Napoleonic. I must have spent hours reading back to the early posts on C&C and I learned much about the game this way. It was of course Tony who introduced me to C&C at a time when my own enthusiasm for wargaming was again on the slide, and it's no exaggeration to say that it renewed my passion for the hobby in a way I never felt possible after so many years in the wargaming Wilderness. I have had a lot of help and support from Tony - whom we referred to as my 'Personal online C&C tutor' - and the gift of a set of fine wooden C&C dice is something I treasure. You are a Gentleman and a scholar my friend, and I'd just like to say thank you, it means a lot.

There are many others, Ross Macs fine blog, Steve the Wargamer, and Steve the Stoke City supporter, Wargaming in 28mm, Rafas Project Leipzig and his main site that also contains huge amounts of information for the Peninsular fan such as myself.

Whats them Romans doing here?
OK, so this is very much a Napoleonic blog, but as I am considering a Rome v Carthage set up for C&C Ancients next year I thought I'd share a couple of pics from a current painting commssion I'm engaged upon. Of course, the ECW project remains ongoing, with 20 bases completed now, although I have somewhat neglected my ECW blog of late, the intention is still very much to use the C&C/ECW variant rules as written by Tony. The current commission is very large, possibly up to 3000 Baccus 6mm figures to be painted and based up for C&C Ancients. I'm enjoying painting these figures and getting more of a feel for 'ancients' gradually. Images dont show the completed bases, only the sand/grit first coat. A Baccus 'basing kit' came with the  figures and I have to say it's very good and of course perfect for the scale with very fine sand/grit and short strand static grass as well as a foundation wash and mid/highlight shades, it even comes with its own little pot of PVA, a product I would now recommend to anybody basing 6mm figures. The casting themsleves are superb, no other word for it really. I believe its one of Peters later ranges which would explain the crispness of the castings and the incredible detail.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Peninsular action.

Having given my hill hexes a touch of texture to match the board I decided it was time for some tabletop action. I still plan more work on the main board in terms of improving the overall look, but for now its OK.

I placed 16 bases per side on the table and fought a straight encounter battle. I decided against trying to write the game up in detail, but rather to enjoy myself in playing the game. The game had a real Napoleonic feel to it under the C&C N rules. IN the centre the French placed 3 battalions on Legere in front, supported by a further 4 battalions and light cavalry. The Allies were in strength on their right flank, quickly moving to secure the village to their front which they held throughout the battle. On the Allied left were battalions of Portuguese infantry supported by British cavalry and artillery, who held back from crossing a stream to their front as French troops lined a ridge and deployed two batteries directly facing the Portuguese position. The main thrust of the French attack came in the centre, where deployed on a quite narrow front they advanced 3 battalion columns deep, the Legere battalions clearing the woods, crossing the stream and attacking uphill against the British defenders. Artillery fire failed to stop them and they swept forward, capturing a battery and forcing the second to fall back before it too was destroyed. It looked bad for the allies at this point, as two infantry battalions went the same way as the guns, taking the commander of the allied centre with them, killed by a single dice 'sabre' throw following the routing of the unit he was attached to.

In reserve were two battalions of Foot Guards, sitting on the British baseline. Lack of 'centre' command cards had allowed the dire position in the centre to develop, but now the Guards were ordered up to halt the main French attack. These two elite battalions, five blocks strong and firing with a massive six dice each when stationary opened fire on the already battered legere, routing one and forcing another to retreat. French line infantry moved up to replace them but again the steady fire of the Guards swept them back off the hill. The guards continued to hold the hill for the rest of the game, but allied losses were already heavy at this point of the game (4 to 2). On the Allied left the French now switched the attack onto the Portuguese, French cavalry charges forcing two battalions into squares, removing two cards from the command hand. French guns that had been forced to retire from the ridge under heavy fire were now ordered back up again and began to fire into the squares, causing a gradual loss. Pinned in square by the cavalry the Portuguese were unable to form line, unable to move and taking heavy casualties. At this point the VB score was 3 French losses to 7 Allied. The battle was over, a victory for the French, in spite of being driven back in the centre, and failing to take the village on the left.

It was a great game to play, and in true Commands & Colors style was fast and packed full of incidents. The allied hand was poor, lacking in centre section cards. They moved quickly on the right flank in securing the village with five units which then mostly sat in a holding position, firing out from the protection of the houses at French troops. Picking up a 'Fire and Hold' card was lucky for the allies at a critical moment, the volleys from the guards decimating the French to their front.

I played 6 command cards per side, dicing for first move (French). The images below were taken during the game at different stages.

Legere battalions move to advance through woods to the front.

British troops take the village.

RHA and RA batteries field of fire. Cole was killed as the French assaulted the hill.

The main French attack begins.

The Guards (red flags) move to drive back the French columns.

British Hussars - in reserve saw no action!

Overview of the battle.

Cacadores firing from the woods.

The card that probably saved the allies from total collapse, the fire of the Guards driving back the French attack.

Portuguese battalions helplessly pinned in squares as the French guns are brought up to fire upon them.

End of the game.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Commands & Colors terrain board.

Those who have following this blog for some time will know that I have not been totally happy with the original game board, it just looked too 'snooker table' like, I had no issue with the hex markings, but the bare green of the board really bothered me. So bit the bullet. Over the last week I have been gradually dabbing, sticking, drybrushing and generally enjoying myself with the board stood up againt the wall like a large canvas! At one point I almost tore the damn cloth out of the frame as I thought I had completey ruined it ..... but slowly it seems to be coming together, I'm quite pleased with it so far. I still need a bit here and there, and then to do all the hill sections to match, but it's close to what I had hoped to achieve, bearing in mind that I had to 'dodge' every single hex point dot on the board .... I think I covered only 2. I really did not want to go through the hex marking again so I had to work this way and it explains the short brush strokes you see.

So now I'm happy again with the 95mm hexes! The units dont appear so far apart now for some reason. And the board can be carried downstairs if I want to play in the dining room. Its a bit heavy as I used 10mm Ply I had in the garage, to be honest its much heavier than it could have been if I'd used lighter wood. Still it's managable. I still plan to make the smaller more portable version using glued on graphics, but my printer seems to have packed up, right after I replaced the cartidges for this job.

Few pictures below, please be brutaly honest, what do you think? Too patchy? Quilt like? Any suggestions welcome. I'll do the hilles tomorrow as I'm itching to play another Commands & Colors game on the table, Vassal is good, but just not the same as playing with model soldiers.

Vistula lancers on patrol in Spain.

As it was - the 'snooker table' version.

Friday, 16 November 2012


It's been a while since I posted here so I thought I'd just let everyone know that enthusiasm for the Napoleonic period remains high and I hope to be back to fighting battles again shortly. I've been busy painting commission work, but leave the evenings free for work on my own projects.

The 80mm hexes have not yet been started on, a test print of the graphics looked a bit naff to be honest so I'm trying to figure how best to use the new hexes. First I'll try to get some nice sharp prints of the terrain tiles on decent quality paper which should improve things.

I realised that I have left off the 'Waterloo Project' page when I was playing with the tabs, so I'll replace that as I want to keep that longer term running and will be painting new units towards the game shortly. I'm going to order some Baccus Scots Greys, Brunswickers and Dutch Belgians to begin with.

Meantime here's a shot of our very old lady Bump posing on my painting table last night. We think she's at least 16 years old now, and the three newcomers (now almost as big as Bump) seem to treat her with much reverence and respect. She has never been the most cheerful looking cat I have to say, but she just purrs away contentedly anyway.

Monday, 5 November 2012

More on Vassal, and those hexes again!

As I have been working on painting commissions during the last couple of weeks I have been listening to a series of Napoleonic pod casts, kindly sent to me by Tony. I have found them really informative and intend to work through the entire series. But I started with the two Peninsular episodes and learned much about the background to the campaign. I have also continued to get to grips with Vassal, which allows you to play all of the Commands & Colors Napoleonic scenarios on screen as mentioned here previously. All of this has continued to feed my enthusiasm for both the Peninsular campaign and C&C N in general. When I first played the 'Rolica' scenario on my table it was with the intention of writing up a blow by blow account for the blog, which did somewhat diminish the pleasure of the game, and most certainly destroyed the fast flowing pace of a typical C&C N game. I replayed the game using Vassal, but lack of understanding of the controls of the game also made that a slow and laborious experience. However, I am now pretty much confident with Vassal for C&C N now and so have re run the Rolica scenario once again! This time it is a whole different game - I'm up to speed, turns are rolling over nicely, I'm thinking more tactically, working on building a good hand for both sides, trying to push forward the Allies in the centre to pin the French to the ridge while attacking the French right flank with light infantry and horse artillery, and the left flank with the Portuguese in a more controlled and steady manner. The scenario aim for the British is to outflank the French and capture two designated hills behind the main French position on the flanks. 5 points required for a win in this game, with the 2 hills counting as 1 point each when taken and held. The game continues.

This leads me on to the purpose of this post. I have been Googling a lot of C&C N related sites recently as I wanted to get a picture of how other gamers use the rules for miniatures. I have to say that the boxed game as sold is probably one of the most attractive games I have seen, I am very attracted to the style of the board itself and the terrain tiles etc. For some time I have not been fully satisfied with my 95mm hex table as it stands. I think its because of the fact that unit spacing is too great in the larger hexes. After looking at loads of images ( a few linked below for example), I have decided to take a two tier approach to this issue. The 95mm hex set up will be left 'as is' for now, but in the future I intend to add further landscaping to the board for a more natural effect. But I now plan a reduced one dimensional board, using 70mm hexes (fairly tight for my 60 x 60mm bases, but that what I'm looking for). I'm going to create a single lightweight folding board, painted to reproduce the C&C N style game board, and matt varnished. I think the board will reduce down to around to 90cm long by around 60cm wide. I'm then going to order enough 70mm laser cut hexes from Tony at ERM to reproduce all of the terrain graphics just as they are in the box game. Plan is to keep everything one dimensional so that hills will be just a single flat hex, towns/villages will be graphically represented etc. What I hope to end up with is a larger version of the official C&C game board, presented in a way that is close in appearance to the boxed version but neatly painted and varnished by hand. I intend to use this board as the basis for playing my way through all of the scenarios using my 6mm miniatures. Somewhere in the pipeline is the official Russian expansion box, which may well open up future possibilities. I plan to get started on the new board later this week.

Hopefully it wont be long before I will be crossing swords with Conrad Kinch via Vassal, and I believe that Tony is also interested at looking into Vassal for a game. I am honing my command skills in readiness.

There is no doubting how popular Commands & Colors Napoleonics have become, a trawl of Google threw up many different interpretations of the basic board for use with miniatures, see the example pics below.

The first position Rolica scenario.
The board game is very attractive in itself (Google image).
I quite like this one!
Tonys 20mm version of the game - this is the business!
Wonderful interpretation!
The Vassal version - note movement and combat markers applied which are removed at end of each game turn.
The official Rolica 1 scenario.
Finally my interpretation of the above scenario - I am just not happy with this as it stands, despite the hours of work that went into it! The buildings are too dominant and out out of scale, trees too tall, hills just not right ..... I'm very much my own worse critic, but I'll get there.