Tuesday, 21 March 2017

More Re-basing

More re-basing...it's quite therapeutic once you get into a routine!  Strip the figure off the old base and glue it to the next...add some Vallejo textured basing stuff, give the figures an Army painter dip, add some flock... and repeat...

 I've now re-based around a 125 Aztecs and 40-odd Spanish. I'm finishing off the remaining 20 Aztecs and that will leave another 44 Spanish....phew.  I've also discovered a couple of new boxes of unpainted Aztecs that I must have bought somewhere.  Although I already have lots of Aztecs I'll probably add a few more as Tlaxcalan allies for the Spanish

I spotted that the last issue of Wargames Illustrated has an adaptation of Congo for a South American setting and this includes cards etc for Conquistadors so I think an expedition to El Dorado might be on the cards!

The next batch of Conquistadors

A Jaguar Knight

The Aztecs so far...

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Spring cleaning and Aztecs

No, I haven't been spring-cleaning my Aztecs....I suspect that would be a bit of a chore given all the blood and gore from the human sacrifices.

No, I've been having a bit of a clear out of rules books, figures and boardgames.  I finally came to the conclusion that there is far too much stuff stacked up in the loft so a major clear out is in order with a  pile of stuff headed to eBay.

I've also finally resumed a couple of projects, beginning with sorting out the large amount of 20mm Aztecs that I'd acquired a few years ago.   I'd made a bit of a start on these some time ago but they've then  languished under my desk so I've spent a therapeutic evening rebating lots of figures.  They were actually quite well based already  (seriously...they seem to have been coated in concrete!) but I wanted to have them individually based.

I've now used up all my 20mm bases from Warbases and have textured all the bases and dipped a lot of the Aztecs in Army Painter shade.  More bases are on order as well as some movement trays.  There are a few Conquistadors that need rebasing but a lot of progress has been made!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Cavalier 17

As always Cavalier at Tonbridge in Kent marks the start of the show season for me.  It's one of about 4 that I try and get along to and it's only a 45 minute drive although this does involve the M25 so the actual journey time could be anyone's guess.

It's not the biggest show...in fact it's the smallest of the ones I go to....but it's usually fun and there are a decent showing of traders to tempt me.  Actually my haul this year was very small...a couple of Osprey rulebooks: Chosen Men and Pikeman's Lament.  I would have picked  up another Osprey, Rogue Stars, but when I went back to the stand where I'd seen a couple of copies they'd both gone. 
I nearly bought a boardgame but resisted and didn't feel the urge to buy any more figures or terrain.  I'm planning a bit of a cull in the loft with quite a bit headed to EBay in the near future as there is too much up there that hasn't seen the light of day in years... mainly rules and boardgames I think but there are some figures on their way to a new home too.

Here is an assortment of photos...as always I've tried to remember who was putting on the game but didn't always get the details so apologies to those I missed...

Fenris Descending by Maidstone Wargames.   Lots of little tin can type robots...

Big X Wing game... Gravesend Gamers

Large Scale D Day game by (I think) Crawley Wargames Club

Nope...not sure...

Impressive looking Chain of Command game titled 'Calvados and Chips'...
put on by the 'League of Gentlemen Anti-Alchemists'

The game featured an array of vegetable plots...

Society of Ancients - battle of Cannae
Rainham Wargames Club Naval Game...Blood, Bilge and Iron Balls Rules

Vietnam - North London Wargames

On an unrelated (but still vaguely wargamey) point, we went to see The Divine Comedy at the London Palladium this week...one of my favourite bands.  Here's a picture of Neil Hannon in full uniform...he didn't explain why, although their latest album includes a song called Napoleon Complex and one about Catherine the Great, and lets face it...who needs an excuse to dress up!

I'm tempted to post this to the Napoleonics boards on TMP and ask about the accuracy of the uniform but I suspect it would cause apoplexy among some of the denizens over there!

Brilliant concert!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Bits and Pieces (and storage solutions)

There's been a bit of a lull in posting for the last few weeks but I've been busy in the meantime with some games and a spot of semi successful building.

My paints (mostly GW paints as they're easy to get) tend to be chaotically chucked in a large storage box which means it can take ages to find the one I want.  I came across a Kickstarter deal for a self-assembly storage box from Warmage.de and rather rashly bought one

There were various options for GW or Vallejo style paints and varying sizes so I went for the standard GW one.   There were also options for a lamp, brush storage etc which I left out.  Building things, and any form of DIY in general isn't my thing...I'm very much of the "get a wee man in" school of DIY but I thought I'd give it a go and actually it wasn't too bad... the various stages are shown below and it all seemed to work!

The only bit that I still haven't got to grips with is the locking mechanism which consists of 4 pegs which slide through and twist, locking the lid.  For the life of me I can't get these to either go all the way through and/or twist but it may be that I'm being too gentle.  If all else fails a couple of elastic bands work just as well, even if they aren't as aesthetically pleasing.  Despite the fail on the locking device, which may well be down to my construction techniques rather than the design, I'm pleased with it and it should help organise some of the clutter.

I've also managed to fit in a few games.  I've had a couple of games of Conan, both of which were very enjoyable.  I played the same scenario twice, once as a player and once as the Overlord/umpire.  In the first game we nearly succeeded in escaping from the clutches of some evil Picts with the Princess and the head of their leader but fell down at the last hurdle as the turn limit counted down.  On the second outing (as Overlord this time) the players took their time getting organised but managed on the very last turn to escape the village and win the game.  In both games the mechanics worked really well and there weren't too many uncertainties in the rules.

There's a review of Conan in the latest Tabletop Gaming magazine which praises the game mechanics but is very critical of a couple of points.  The 1st of these I definitely agree with which is the lack of a campaign system or even an attempt to link the scenarios together.  Players acquire treasure from chests etc in each scenario and it would nice for these to have some meaning beyond an immediate fix of health points.  This shouldn't be too difficult to introduce if wanted though.

Their 2nd criticism is a bit more complex and is around the generally racist and sexist tones of the Conan universe.  Undoubtedly the books are both racist and sexist and the scenarios certainly suffer from a lack of strong female heroes apart from Belit.  The Princess figure only seems to exist to be rescued.  A number of the enemies also suffer from racial stereotypes as well.  Now, as a dyed-in-the-wool lefty I do get the issues that this throws up but I can't help but think that a game set in the Conan world needs to reflect the books.  Perhaps more effort could have been made to challenge some of the stereotypes though.  Food for thought perhaps.

Interestingly I bought the game as a Kickstarter and I happened to see it (without all the Kickstarter bonus bits and pieces) in Static Games in Glasgow today at an eye-watering £92!!  When did everything get so expensive!!???

Finally last week I had another game of Star Wars Rebellion and despite starting earlier than usual we still didn't quite get to a conclusion.  Still excellent fun though.  I really enjoy the mission section which does give a very cinematic feel as you despatch Princess Leia or Boba Fett etc.  on missions to stymie the enemy or gain rewards.  By the end of the evening I'd managed to increase the Rebels reputation and was only a few points from a win, but the Empire had a fleet sitting in the system adjacent to my Secret Base (which luckily remained secret) and I suspect they would have discovered it in a turn or 2 so a very close ending.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Rorke's Drift

So, following on from my last post about Eric the Shed's epic Zulu day, here is part 2'...Rorkes Drift.

We'd made an early start and fought through Isandlwana in the morning and had a short break for pizza and a reset of the table.  Legatus Shedlius has also written up his account of Isandlwana and no doubt Rorke's Drift will follow shortly and it can be found on his blog...Link

The afternoon game was to be a refight of the defence of Rorkes Drift, again using Black Powder rules but with some adjustments.  These are all set out in detail on the official Shed Wars write up which can be found here...Link

In summary the Zulus made a series of attacks,  each of which played out as a series of normal rounds until the Zulus decided to call of that attack.  The next phase could then either be another assault or a recovery phase where wounds were patched up,  the managers gave inspiring team talks and  (in the case of the British) some frantic shifting of mealie bags took place.

The other significant change was that the Zulus were able to make use of dummy units to force the defenders to spread out and never be sure where the main attack was heading.  This worked very well,  forcing the Brits to commit troops that could have been invaluable elsewhere.

We swapped sides for the afternoon game so James,  Legatus and I took the defenders while Eric and Mark got to lead the Zulu hordes. Each of us was allocated one of the characters from the film...

...in my case I had Owen, Hughes and both Jones'.

The initial Zulu attack was against the hospital building from the Western side and was pretty successful, driving the British back in a series of bloody fights inside the building.  Casualties on the Zulus were also mounting though and they eventually withdrew but not before achieving their main aim for this assault...setting fire to the hospital.  Once the fire was established in 1 quarter of the building we checked each turn to see if it spread.  Unfortunately it quickly took over the whole building meaning we could no longer use it as a strongpoint and nicely illuminating the camp as night fell.

The Hospital catches fire...
...which quickly spreads!

The Zulus now had a choice to either go for a recovery phase or to assault again and they clearly had a taste for blood as they piled straight back, but this time switching their attacks to the NW and NE corners.  The fight in the NW was a bloody affair with Allen falling and the Zulus, despite heavy casualties, pushing the British back from the walls.  In the first 2 assaults the Zulus had a +1 to Morale saves to reflect their early enthusiasm and this had a real impact. 

The Zulus advance from the Kraal

Over on the NE corner where I was the defender the Zulus were advancing from the Kraal and although I initially managed to flush out a number of Feint units, they were able to charge up to the defended wall, negating the cover bonus I'd been enjoying as we tussled over the rampart.  I was forced to pull one of the defenders from the Southern store building to throw them into the fight to try and hold them back.  Thanks to a successful multiple movement order Mark was able to throw an Impi onto the flank of one of the defenders wiping them out and killing Owen.  At least this spared us yet another rendition of Men of Harlech!! I also lost a Jones at this point although I can't remember which one...these Jones' all look alike!!

The Zulus then decided to withdraw again and this time had to have a Recovery Phase.  While they regrouped and tended to their wounded we decided to use this respite to build the Redoubt in the centre of the camp and waited for the next assault.

Again the attack was split, this time against the NW corner and against the Stores on the South wall.  This time the Zulus didn't have the +1 morale bonus and it showed as Zulu casualties mounted rapidly.  Fighting in the NW was again a tussle over the walls while in the south the Zulus were caught between fire from defenders at the wall and in the stores and Jones holding out in the Redoubt.  Several Zulu units were routed before they finally called off the attack but again they succeeded in setting fire to the building, forcing the defenders out.

Zulu snipers watch from the hills...they weren't very effective but were very annoying!

At this point we'd reached 5pm and as it had been a very long day and we were all pretty knackered we decided to call a halt.  We reckon there was potential for at least one more Zulu assault and this may well be played out as an evening game at the Shed once the weather is a bit warmer.

The game was really tense and exciting with the Feint rules and the changing phases adding to the uncertainty...where was the next assault going to come from, would we be granted a short respite or thrown straight back into the fight, were we facing real troops or was it a bluff?  Detailed rule amendments are all on Eric's blog and if you're thinking of a Rorke's Drift game it would be well worth checking them out.  What was very interesting was how different the game felt to Isandlwana in the morning, despite using the same rules (apart from the amendments).  The smaller battlefield and being confined to a defended camp made it feel much, much smaller and changed the nature of the game completely.

Huge thanks to Eric for hosting us and putting on 2 excellent games and to his wife and son for allowing us to take over their kitchen for the day!

Monday, 23 January 2017


Over on Eric the Shed's blog you'll find a post about his all day Zulu-thon which took place yesterday, not in the Shed itself but in his considerably warmer kitchen.  I was lucky enough to be one of 4 wargamers plus Eric himself who took part in both games.  One of the other players was Legatus Shedlius and no doubt there will be a write up on his blog too very shortly.

As every wargamer worth his or her salt knows, 22nd January is the anniversary of both Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, and as you can read in Eric's blog it has been a long-term plan of his to refight both battles on the anniversary.  Do pop over there and have a read as it will explain more about his reasons and the epic months of painting to get it all ready on time.

The huge Zulu army...over 800 figures painted by Eric in record time! (and some by Legatus too!!)
We assembled at 9am for some fortifying bacon rolls...very gratefully received as I'd already been out in the park with the dogs in -4° for an hour before the game.  The morning game would be a refight of Isandlwana with Eric and Mark taking the plucky but doomed Brits and James, Legatus and I leading the Zulu hordes. We used Black Powder with only a few amendments... the Zulus didn't have an overall Commander and each unit was allowed to either make a guaranteed single move or roll for orders as normal.

The British camp

...enter the Zulus

I commanded the Left Horn of the Zulu army.  The British right was held by a Rocket battery and assorted Boers, Cape Police and the Natal Native Contingent, commanded by Durnford.  Apart from the Rockets these were all skulking in a donga so our cunning Zulu plan was to largely ignore them for as long as we could and push on towards the British camp while the Right Horn swept round the defending redcoated infantry and into their flank and rear. 

The troops in the Donga

Some lucky successful orders meant the Zulu advance on either flank was pretty speedy but the mounted force decided to come out of the donga and take the fight to the Zulus.  I managed to overrun the Rocket Battery (although it did manage to hold off a Zulu Impi for a turn before breaking) and luckily Durnsford's orders to the Sikhali Horse and the Boers resulted in a blunder forcing them to retreat for a turn which gave me time to move another Impi into position to attack them.  I also tussled with the NNC  who did surprisingly well, holding back a Zulu regiment for several turns.  Ultimately though they were forced back and although I wasn't able to rout any of Durnsford's individual units the command finally broke due to the number of shaken units: at this point Durnsford sensibly decided discretion was the better part of valour and led his troops away as fast as their horses could  carry them!

The fight against the Horse
The British commanders continue to look confident...I think it must be the hat...
This left the British camp and right flank wide open and we duly piled in.  Over on the Zulu right it had been a bloodier affair as Stephen and James were facing Line Infantry but the sheer volume of 15000 Zulus had told and they were forcing the troops back and units were beginning to fall.  As units began to break and the camp was plundered the last remaining British unit was appropriately the Colour Party who made a last stand on a hill surrounded by Zulus in properly cinematic style!

The view from the Zulu right

Endgame...the Zulus pour through the camp

Despite there being no chance of the British winning from the outset it was still a surprisingly tense game and set us up nicely for the afternoon's defence of Rorke's Drift.  As Eric hasn't posted his report on this game yet I'll wait until he does before posting mine.  Suffice to say it was an equally exciting game and despite using the same rules (with some more substantial tweaks) felt really different. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017


So, it's 4 years and 2 months since I started this blog and 206 posts on my counter has hit the 100k mark!

I'd like to thank everyone who stops by and has a read (and the Russian bots that pushed up the number of hits last year!).  It's always a pleasant surprise to find that people read this stuff...the blog has introduced me to some good friends and fellow bloggers...here's to the next 100k!!!