Sunday, 18 June 2017

NWF: a generous gift

As regular readers will know I am lucky enough to be part of a regular group that take part in games hosted by Eric the Shed (Shed Wars blog).  During a conversation one evening recently with Eric I mentioned my 54mm North West Frontier project and how it was coming along.  He told me that his late father had some painted some figures and formed these into dioramas and very kindly offered them to me.  He warned me that the painting quality might not be great but they may be usable with some touching up.

A week or so later I picked up a 4 dioramas of infantry and cavalry and a very impressive mounted artillery piece.  All the infantry and cavalry are actually from the same Armies In Plastic range that I've been using for my armies so they'll fit in perfectly.  The cavalry are the British 19th Hussars set and  a unit of Indian Cavalry along with 27 regular infantry.  Although I couldn't see a limbered artillery set on the AiP website I'm pretty sure all the figures and gun pieces are from one of their sets.

 To be honest the painting was pretty good...I've certainly produced much worse... and I don't think the figures will need much more that washing and highlighting in most cases.  Because these are soft plastic there are some parts where the paint has flaked off: this is especially noticeable on the Indians (in the photo you can see the yellow plastic showing through on the sword).

So far I have removed the cavalry and the artillery from their diorama bases.  This was a harder job than it sounds as Eric's father had used what I'm guessing is Milliput or something similar to mount the figures and it was really tough to break off.  I tried soaking the cavalry overnight which helped a bit but actually it was easier when the surface was dry and brittle.  With a bit of twisting and chiselling with a screwdriver (and a few near misses with my fingers) the figures are now free.  I've still to attempt to remove the infantry yet though...they're a pretty substantial block of basing which might take a while.

Once these are free I'll start work on touching up the figures and rebasing and hope I can do credit to Eric Seniors modelling skills.  A very generous gift indeed!  Of course now I have lots of British so my Pathans are a bit outnumbered and I'll have to buy some more!!!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Sharp Practice 2 - 1st game

Napoleonics isn't really my period...don't get me wrong, I'll happily play a game at a club night and have played several excellent Black Powder games at Eric the Shed's place but I find the period a bit intimidating if I'm honest.  Too many uniforms, too many obscure battles and constantly changing alliances between obscure states.  I tend to lose track and it seems to be a period that some people with an interest have a lot of knowledge about, and get very intense about...just take a look at the Napoleonics section of TMP!

Incidentally what is going on over there???  There seems to be a complete meltdown by the editor and an increasing number of rabid right wing posts... After the last debacle with bizarre posts by the Editor about British gamers I've decided to take a break (maybe permanently) from the site and look to other more sensible forums like LAF and TWW for my wargaming info.

Anyway, back to Napoleonics. 

Since my knowledge of the period is a bit lacking I find myself drawn to a more Hollywood/fictional version and the Sharp Practice rules by Too Fat Lardies are ideal for this cinematic style of game.  I'd bought the 2nd edition of these last year but not actually managed to play a game with them so I was glad to test them out earlier this week in a game with a friend.

I've played a few games with the earlier edition (although not for some time) so I was interested to see the changes that they'd made.  The bulk of the rules were very familiar...especially around movement, firing and hand to hand (or Fisticuffs).  The card activation system is also similar but they have clearly been influenced by the development of Chain of Command.  Units deploy from a deployment point and in some cases can have a mobile deployment point, similar to CoC Jump Off points. 

Leaders are activated when their card is drawn and each leader then has a number of orders they can issue. This is one of the areas that can be a bit confusing...a leader's order can be to activate a unit which then in turn has 2 activations of it's own (eg move, reload or fire etc).  Leader's orders are much more varied and they can also add to a units firing, rally off shock points etc.  So a leader could, for example, do 3 things...activate a unit, move and do a task...and the unit could then also do 2 things as part of it's activation.  It takes a little getting used to but works really well in practice.

There are also Command Cards which are players can use to do additional things... a bit like Chain of Command points in CoC.   These can be used to add to firing or fisticuffs, or to allow units to do special activities or activate out of sequence.  Remembering what these can do is pretty important and annoying when you complete your move and then realise that you could have used them.

Sharp Practice works best with a scenario based game and in ours my dastardly French had managed to capture a British soldier and the Regimental Colours and were marching him off into captivity.  A British rescue mission commanded by Andrew had been despatched to bring him back and avoid the disgrace of losing the flag (the scenario would have been rescuing a damsel in distress but I couldn't lay my hands on my civilian figures so a flag bearer had to be pressed into to service instead!)

The French forces set off down the road with a column leading the way and the prisoner escorted by the Guard at the rear

Opposing them were a force of Highlanders, supported by a Navy landing party and the Rifles.  The Highlanders took up a position on a hill overlooking the road and waited for the column to arrive

Eventually they realised I wasn't going to march straight into their guns and they had to reluctantly come off the hill and try to intercept my Guards

The Rifles bravely blocked the road and caused the French column to halt, inflicting several shock points.  They suffered badly though when a returning volley from the leading unit in the French column caused casualties and they quickly took cover in a nearby wood

French Skirmishers had worked round on my right an began taking shots at the Navy who quickly joined the Rifles in the wood

The wood had become a difficult spot to get past as it was full of Riflemen and sailors (armed with 'Big Choppers' according to the rules...)

Andrew's Highlanders had advanced to cut off the Guard and the prisoner who were on the other side of a walled field and screened by the French Voltigeurs.  The potential firepower from the British formation was pretty daunting and would have caused a lot of damage but the French column had now broken up and began to fire into the flank of the British line, causing a huge amount of Shock points to one British unit.

The Rifles had suffered an unexpected penalty when they entered the wood: when 3 Command cards are drawn in a row, a Random Event occurs and unfortunately for a crack Rifle unit it was damp powder (presumably from all the soggy undergrowth), reducing their firepower.  To be fair I also suffered an unfortunate event when my Sergeant stepped in something unpleasant, reducing his command ability until he could wash it off!.

Andrew decided to throw caution to the wind and, having spotted that one of my Line Infantry units was unloaded after firing, the Rifles charged out of the wood and engaged them in Fisticuffs.  The Rifles were clearly led by a rather heroic leader (I wonder who!) as they completely routed the French unit after a couple of rounds of combat!

At the end of the evening the game looked like this.  The Guard are at the top of the picture, having made it 2/3 of the way up the table but are still faced by 2 out of 3 Highland units.  The Navy are a bit beaten up and skulking in the wood but still pose a threat.  The Rifles, at the bottom centre, are about to get blasted by the remaining French unit to their left.  So the game finished quite tightly balanced and still with all to play for.  With hindsight Andrew should probably have come off the hill sooner and taken a more aggressive approach as it allowed me to manoeuvre away from the rather scary Scots for most of the game.

I thought the rules were excellent and have a great feel for this kind of game...there are lots of mechanics for scenario-based tasks (eg burning down buildings, looting, wooing damsels) etc which fit well with the Sharpe-style of game, but which we didn't get into in this game.  I know Andrew wasn't very impressed with them but I find Too Fat Lardies rules are pretty Marmite and people either take to them or not.  For me these are definitely rules to use again and would be ideal for my NWF project.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

NWF progress

Steady work this week on the North West Frontier figures.... cavalry support for the British and the Afghans.  I've now started on a second cavalry unit and extra infantry for the Afghans (I figure they'll need them!) and some Highlanders

Later in the week I should finally get to try out Sharp Practice's been quite a while since I played the 1st edition so I'm not sure I'll actually notice the changes although Deployment seems to be the biggest change.

I also finally managed to get round to watching the first couple of episodes of 'American Gods' which I've been looking forward far it's been pretty faithful to the books and very good indeed.  I also watched the first series of Black Sails which took a little while to grow on me (the first couple of episodes are very slow indeed) but is fun in trashy pirate sort of way.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Some recent games and a North West Frontier update

So no updates for a couple of weeks while work and stuff ate into my time and enthusiasm for sitting in front of the laptop.  Hasn't stopped my playing the odd game though and getting on with some painting for a change.

I was lucky enough to take part in a couple of excellent games at Eric the Shed's.  The first was a very bloody and fun Predator game which involved a lot of running around the jungle being eaten by animals, plants, and occasionally a of those games where anyone actually surviving and getting off the board intact is a bonus: great fun!

The second game was probably the most spectacular that I've seen at Eric's and certainly was the kind of game that would rival anything you'll see at a show.  The full write-up can be found here on the Shed Wars website but I've added a couple of photos below.  The game was an ECW siege with the plucky Royalists defending the walls against a desperate assault by the Parliamentarians.  Have a look at the full report on Eric's blog...really inspiring and a brilliant game despite the walls eventually falling and the defenders being put to the sword.

I've been working on my 54mm North West Frontier figures and have made quite a bit of headway...I've now pretty much completed around 48 foot figures and an artillery piece for the Brits.  Now to get to work on the cavalry before I attempt tartan in 54mm!

The figures completed so far...

Just need to get to work on the riders now

I've also been giving some thought to rules.  Sharp Practice is a definite possibility but I need to get some more figures painted for this.  It would be good to look at something on a more 1:1 level.  Possible contenders include GASLIGHT, the old WRG Fire and Steel rules and possibly adapting Donnybrook.  Definitely more thought required but if anyone has any good suggestions I'd be grateful

Sunday, 30 April 2017

About Cromwell...54mm ECW

I'm increasingly drawn to larger figures and I've finally got back to working on my North-West Frontier figures.  I don't have the 'toy soldier' nostalgia thing that some people associate with this scale, so I'm not a fan of the shiny varnish and block painted look that you often see but they are nice to paint and look very impressive on the table.

Last week I was lucky enough to play a game with my friend Anthony's 54mm ECW armies.  His figures are from 'A Call to Arms' and look really impressive.  The rules we used were 'About Cromwell'.  These are a Belgian set of rules which owe a lot to Command and Colours.  The card element has been removed though and orders are given by the overall CinC and subordinate commanders using dice...rolling an I allows you to activate an Infantry unit, a C, cavalry etc.  The CinC can also transfer an order that he has rolled to a subordinate if it is needed and he is within command range.  The rules were really easy to pick up and the game flowed really well.

I commanded the Royalists  and had more early success in getting my forces moving.  My Cuirassiers tried a speculative charge against the Parliamentarian Commanded Shot (I didn't fancy mixing it with the pikemen) but I discovered that musket range is quite long and took casualties getting into charge range and eventually lost the combat.  I had more success in the left as I advanced my Pike and Shot unit and this time it was my musket fire that proved very effective in causing casualties and driving back the enemy.

The Royalists begin to advance...

...cheered on by the Commanded Shot skulking behind a hedge

King Charles views the battlefield

Over on my right the cavalry engaged after a halting start and I was soundly beaten as Parliaments Cuirassiers routed one unit and then charged into the flank of my second.  The good news was that in true ECW style they then pursued off the table and refused to come back for the remainder of the game!  If they had turned up I would have had nothing except a nervous looking gun crew to defend against them so I was very fortunate!

Boo...the evil Parliamentarians...

Despite my success in driving back Anthony's units on my right the casualties were mounting and, having lost my cavalry command completely, I couldn't afford too many more.  Inevitably the weight of musket fire and a well timed Parliamentary cavalry charge proved too much and the Royalists were broken.

An excellent set of rules if you like the Command & Colours style of game.  Apparently there is also a Napoleonic version called, not surprisingly 'About Bonaparte' which featured in Miniature Wargames last November, and an Ancients version called...'About Caesar'.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Salute 17

So, another Salute has been and gone.  I'm lagging a bit behind my fellow bloggers who all seemed to get their posts up within a day or so (and especially Eric the Shed who must be the winner in the annual 'uploading lots of Salute photos' race).  Unlike the others I spent the hours after Salute  resting my aching feet and watching rubbish on the tv rather than being gainfully employed writing posts.  Since then work has annoyingly got in the way of fun.

This year I approached Salute with a relatively blank shopping list.  I knew I needed some paints and varnish etc and I've been planning to pick up a copy of the latest Osprey rules, 'Scrappers'.  These are designed for a post-apocalypse setting and look (on the surface at least) like Frostgrave meets Fallout.  Their release may have been spoiled a little by the news that Modiphius games have acquired the licence for an official Fallout game due to be released later this year...very excited by this!!

Anyway...back to Salute.  The journey to ExCel is a relatively straightforward one for me and only takes an hour and a bit door to door.  As usual the Marathon runners dominated on the tube and DLR but I always like to play 'Spot the Wargamer' on the way up... it's usually easy to pick us out.

I arrived about 11.15 and missed the queue completely (and the Salute freebies sadly) and first impressions were that the hall was very busy this year.  I'm never any good at judging numbers but it seemed pretty packed until after lunch when it began to thin a bit.  The games were, as usual, of a very high standard and it was nice to see  lots of engaging participation games.  I did think that the show was missing a real stand-out game (except perhaps Dalauppror's game...but everything was of excellent quality and certainly far better than anything I could manage.  Purchases were all made smoothly, including picking up a copy of Over the Hills Napoleonic rules for a friend and I resisted buying things that I really didn't need...apart from a laser line pointer: c''s a laser and it shines a line on the table!! Who could resist!!  I also bought a small Aztec-style pyramid from a company selling lots of resin scenery.  I cant remember who they were though and if anyone can shed light on this I'd be grateful.

I nearly bought the relatively new Warlord Games offering 'Test of Honour' which is a samurai skirmish game.  It looks relatively good value as their are 35 rather nice figures included but after a lot of wandering past and looking at the boxes on the Caliver stand I eventually decided that it is a purchase that can wait.  I already have some Japanese figures for Ronin and don't really need another Samurai game.  Let's face it... this is a pretty flimsy defence and  I suspect I'll eventually give in and buy it but as it wasn't any cheaper at Salute I was able to hold out for now.

I also nearly bought some figures from Oathsworn Miniatures.  These were from their Burrows and Badgers range and are anthropomorphic fantasy animals in a Mouseguard style.  I really have no idea what I'd do with them but they were really nice and I suspect I'll also end up buying some of them at some point!

At 1pm the assorted Bloggers gathered for the annual Bloggers meet and it was good to see some familiar (and unfamiliar) faces including Tamsin, Legatus, Eric the Shed (who then departed for the Lead Adventure gathering), Bob Cordery, Ray Rousell etc.  There were fewer of us than in previous years but clearly we were going for quality over quantity.

One of these people is your mystery correspondent (thanks to Tamsin for the photo)

I eventually left around 3.30 with very weary feet (not helped by a touch of Tendonitis) and tired eyes which I can only assume was something to do with the lighting.  As one of the 2 DLR stations that serve ExCel was shut the crowds leaving the centre were pretty awful but once I got onto the platform  the train was actually really quiet and I had a smooth journey back home.  As always a great day out and even if I didn't buy too much, I've earmarked a few companies for a return visit online at some point soon.

And onto the photos.  As usual I've identified the game where I could but often forgot to take a note of who was putting it on so apologies if I haven't credited the organisers.  As always when I look at other bloggers Salute reports I'm amazed at the number of games that I completely missed!

Dalauppror's Fort Mosquito game...Swedish colonists in North America...who knew!?  Really impressive game

Warlord Games and The Friends of General Haig - Inverlochy 1645

VBCW Naval Game

Batman game

Peter Pig updated Men of Company B rules

Prototype In Her Majesty's Name boardgame

Some kind of D Day game I think

Huge Warhammer game.  Very impressive but so crowded with
stuff it was hard to work out what it was all meant to mean!

6mm Cold War game

Big Red Bat's impressive Raphia game...lots and lots of pikes!


Skirmish Wargames...Blood in the Snow

Excellent Jurassic Park game...very popular with youngsters...

I'd assumed this was Hastings but apparently it's another battle entirely!

Battlegroup Tobruk rules

Fantastic scenery from Oshiro

Hogwarts Wizard Racing

Russian Revolution game...looked like lots of fun

Sino-Japanese battle

Frostgrave scenery display

And my relatively small pile of Salute loot....