Having the luxury of two consecutive days off of work I allowed myself the pleasure of wasting most of one of them in the workshop. The Castillo has been occupying the game table like some invading Leviathan, virtually demanding attention. I finished the molding line that runs along the parapet on all of the walls and bastions, completed the stairway, made the hard decision to only card-clad the vulnerable corners and edges (the sheer volume of surface argued against cladding the entire thing as I had done with the first bastion) and started on applying a coating of wallboard compound to simulate the stucco that covered the original fort. All in all a good bit of work.
the stairway had been started earlier, a simple enough thing, built up layer-cake style,
it took up a surprising amount of time to complete
Despite my job's best efforts at working me to death I managed to get a day off. I took a little while to unwind and worked on the Castillo project for a few hours. I had to make the walls deeper (another math error had left them too thin by almost 33%). Then I got to work filling gaps and added details. After this I am back to the card cladding of the surfaces then mounting the whole thing on sections of thin plywood.
the extent of my error is visible here,
the blue at the back of each section is the depth that needed to be added
In one final outburst of gaming before my job ruined my vacation I played on Sunday. Only Joe could make it so we set to with my new favorite rule set Pikeman's Lament. Three back-to-back games in just over four hours tested Joe's new "Combat Only" force of Pikemen, Clansmen and Aggressive Gallopers fronted only by two units of Commanded Shot against my standard firepower-heavy force. Joe won the first two games, the first by a narrow margin , the second by a landslide and we fought the third "Morning Assault" to a draw. We were having too much fun to stop to record things but I did snap a shot of the draw at the end of the third game
The Morning Assault envisions a dawn attack against an enemy held defensive line with a sneak attack on its flank. Victory conditions are only achieved through the complete destruction of the enemy force or, when there are five of fewer units still on the table. We battered each other until only four Commanded Shot were left; two of Joe's and two of mine. As usual, my Leader fell in combat as did Joe's. Both survived their wounds and will be back next game.
the figures were left largely where they fell showing the intensity of the fighting,
only thirteen figures on my force fled and ten in Joe's; the rest fell in combat on the field
Having lost my Leader, captured by oldSarge's Duelist in the last battle, I was resolved to try to rescue him from captivity. I laid out the terrain with a small farm in the center and offered oldSarge his choice of sides. From there we played out rescue mission in the rule book; half of oldSarge's troops were in the and around the buildings guarding the prisoner while the rest of his force was away foraging. With great caution and stealth my troops had crept close during the night. As dawn broke my troops charged forward with a loud "huzzah!"........or something to that effect.
the situation at the beginning of the battle
the French troops are arriving on the near edge, the Dutch reinforcements will appear on the far (top) edge with the two building in the center already occupied by some Dutch foot
My grand plan for building a Pirates game wherein the ships sail around in an imaginary sea and the game tables are islands has already been done. And in grand style I might add. R.U.P. found this gem that I somehow missed ages ago when it showed up on Jay's Wargaming Madness blog (which is an interesting way to spend some of your free time, I might add). Check his post here for more pictures.
The French confronted the Dutch in some anonymous corner of the Netherlands on the fringes of the main armies. Pikeman's Lament (once again) handled the action admirably; I wish I could claim my generalship was as effective. 30 points on a side; the Dutch had two units of Shot, two of Trotters, two units of Forlorn Hope and a single unit of Commanded Shot. Opposing the the French possessed three units of Shot, two units of Gallopers, two units of Commanded Shot and a lone Forlorn Hope.
the battle begins, I had advanced the two units on my left then failed a Command roll,
this turned out to be a theme for both myself and oldSarge in this game
We had decided to take a break from Pikeman's Lament and dust off some old figures and rules for a game of Black Powder set in Spain set in 1810.
enthusiastic, but frightfully unprepared, the militia assemble in the pass
Moore had fled long ago, Wellington is lurking near Portugal and the Spanish find themselves trying to eject the French from Spain on their own. There are still significant portions of the old Royal Army operating in Spain as well as some of the newly-raised militia troops. The Spanish have decided to fortify and hold one of the narrow passes between the French armies in an effort to keep the enemy scattered. They have asked some locally raised militia to hold the pass while divisions of regular troops move into the area. With this pass seized, and a respectable sized force of Royal troops assembled, the Spanish will force the French to spend the winter short of supplies, fragmented with poor communications and surrounded by a hostile countryside.
The French, to no one's surprise, have taken exception to this plan and have moved vigorously to thwart it. The stage is set for battle.
Once again Rich Uncle Pat has graced us with one of his cleverly contrived and beautifully presented games. This outing involved a stolen aid convoy, foreign mercenaries, rebels and an invasion by an aggressive neighbor. So, in other words, an unusually quiet afternoon in these parts. But far and away the most striking thing about the game is that it took place in a shanty-town that covered the entire 6x4 foot table. These little gems had been acquired from tinned-pears via Ebay.UK who produces them in 15mm/20mm/28mm and is also open to commissioned projects. He can also be found on Facebook at Tinned Fruit Buildings. I was completely blown away with the look and the fact that each and every one was a hand-crafted original. Simply Awesome!
R.U.P. has more buildings but we needed to have room for a few minis!
A view from the other end, just as stunning
the mean streets down by the docks
hardly a bustling waterfront, but then, civil war is usually bad for commerce
Inspired by the fun we were having with Pikeman's Lament Joe and I decided to dig out Lion Rampant and my old 15mm Middle Ages troops and play a game. I have to admit that my first experiences with Lion Rampant left a bad taste in my mouth. As I have played more of Mersey's games I understand his design ideas a bit better and have come to terms with my old apprehensions.
True to form, instead of playing a game of twenty-four points a side we thought that we would give a sixty point battle a try. We did make two changes; we broke each force into three Battles, these groups diced as separate entities so that one bad die-roll didn't freeze the action all the way across the table, secondly we decided that each base represented two figures (ignoring the number of figures mounted on the base) this changed the look of the game a great deal.
I chose a force heavy on firepower, crossbows with pavises, a couple of blocks of Foot Sergeants and some Fierce Foot supported by two units of dismounted Knights, my only mounted troops were one unit of Knights and one of Mounted Sergeants. Joe opposed me with three units of Elite Archers, one unit of Foot Sergeants, Two units of Mounted Knights and five of Mounted Sergeants.
the right flank of Joe's army, a threatening mass of cavalry, four units of Mounted Sergeants
in the distance the rest of Joe's force; four units of Elite Archers flanked by a unit of Foot Sergeants, on his far left two units of Mounted Knights and another unit of Sergeants
nearer is my army with (left to right) Mounted Sergeants backed by Mounted Knights then alternating units of crossbow and Foot sergeants backed by Foot Knights on my far right a unit of foot sergeants and two units of Fierce Foot
Once again I had an opportunity to play a quick game and my sole opponent was Joe, we quickly resolved on playing a round of Pikeman's Lament. I had a scenario in mind for a Napoleonic game but the it translated well to the 1690's so I laid it out on the table.
The situation is that a convoy of siege guns needs to be delivered to the besieging army, it is being escorted by a group of infantry with a nominal cavalry escort. Word of the convoy has been passed to the opposing side. They don't have the forces to lift the siege but there is a handy force of elite cavalry and brave infantry. With steely nerve and a dash of luck they just might be able to intercept the convoy and destroy the guns and disperse the crews.
the place of battle, the convoy will arrive from the far end,
This being one of my favorite periods and once again having just Joe as an opponent it seemed a perfect time to give The Pikeman's Lament rules another go 'round. We agreed on standard size companies but threw an added spin on it by gaming with my (ancient) Minifigs 15mm ECW forces. A little playing around with the look of things we decided that each base of figures would stand in for two figures under the rules; this gave a good looking game and matched the physical space that the larger 28mm figures would have occupied thus saving us from having to scale the moves and ranges. The battle was a heads-up fight to make sure things worked as we hoped they might.
The only person that could make it for the game on the 19th was my rules-junkie buddy Joe. Knowing this I decided that we would give Pikeman's Lament a try. Everybody else in my gaming group has pretty well made up their mind about the pike and shot era (and in a very negative way, I might add).
These rules are derivative of the Lion Rampant system but have enough differentiation to feel rather specific to the period. In reading the rules one of the scenarios gave me the idea for our game; a redoubt has been constructed in front of the main gate of the fortress and last night the big guns have been moved into position, these guns must be destroyed before they can blow in the the gate and allow the besieging army access to the fortress. To this end a desperate force of volunteers has been assembled and will attack at first light. They must place an unwavering unit on each gun for a full turn to spike the barrels and burn the carriages, anything else is failure.
the Gallopers burst forth from the main gate and headed hell-bent toward the guns
Actually a couple of people have expressed interest in playing games from the Neulandia Campaign so it looks like we will be running some VSF craziness.
First up Her Britannic Majesty's Forces will show the bandits on Vectis what proper hospitality looks like (tea and crumpets served a bayonet point, I am guessing)
Next we have the Mexicanish Empire's initial exploration of their newly granted lands, just so The Housemartin can show off his freshly painted soldiers. (Housemartin please bring your whole force so we can do an "Up close and personal" post on your unique force, you too Joe, and you as well R.U.P.)
Third will be the (hopefully) final encounter between the Prussians and the rebellious Malagassian upstarts.
And, because all of that should take less than three hours I encourage everyone to bring 36 points of their favorite VSF tank/walker/War-car etc for a free-for-all battle as a nightcap. If you don't have enough models I have lots of stuff left over from the D.O.D.O. DampfPanzerLandSchiff Korps so I can help fill in any gaps.
Having finished the fun part of the project I am now faced with the essential but hugely tedious task of cladding the surface with card. This process involves covering the model with glue and sticking index card weight paper over the surface. I find that this greatly strengthens the model and helps the foam resist dings and damage in handling. This is neither interesting to see or easy to photograph so I will refer my gentle readers to the posting on my efforts while building Fort Matanzas. It will take some time to complete this step so I will leave you with a photo or two before I return to the workshop.
it certainly looks like I'm going to need a bigger table
that is the "small" version of the fort with the 5" wall sections instead of the 15" versions
I had a moment to spend on the Starfort. Operationally unprepared to start cladding the fort in card I opted to build a few of the details that make it scream "Spanish!" Corner tower were a must and the spirit of the Baroque era demanded some sort of fancy gateway. While I was contemplating the off-cuts pile it occurred to me that if I made tiny sections of wall that would connect the bastions to one another it would save a lot of space on the table. There was a handy heap of blue board in 5"x5" squares. These were left over from the build phase and were exactly the right size for wall segments. So, off I went.
first I dug out my old Nemesis, the hot glue gun, and glued the squares into three-high stacks
Having completed the rough shape of the bastions I now needed to add the all-important parapet (that bit of the wall that the soldiers were actually protected by). I cut strips of foam to correct shape and then glued them to the top edge of the bastion, mitering the corners as I went. Below you can see one of the bastions with its parapet installed.
cutting, trimming and installing the parapets took longer than building the bastions did
OK, for once I turned down overtime at work and had a whole glorious day with nearly nothing to do with myself. Shunning the magnificent sunshine I descended into the depths of the Anton's Wargames Workshop to address unfinished project pile. Looming (literally) over the rest of my many "in-progress" efforts was the vast blue bulk of the starfort. I grinned and set to work, below you can see the fruits of my efforts.
the rough-cut bastions,these are slightly wider than the prototype,
I decided to just push ahead and start cutting foam, instead of the complex geometry stuff. It seems to have worked out so far, what the heck? So I cut three layers of foam to the outline of the bastion and then cut it again at the draft angle of the walls I had finished earlier. A couple of mistakes and a whole mess of hot glue and I have a bastion. All in less time than the math would have taken.
those are 28mm WSS figures from Wargames Factory
this is going to be a HUGE model when it is finished
the Mantanzas Fort looks tiny sitting inside this thing
and in relative terms the Castillo de San Marcos was small,
Spanish forts in Puerto Rico and Cuba are MUCH larger
Wow, if I had any clue that I was going to be doing this sort of thing later in life I would have paid more attention in Geometry (and drafting) class! So, it turns out that there is a lot more to cutting a bastion than nice straight walls. The intricate inside corners of angled walls almost defeated me (BTW, Pythagoras, you were no help) but then it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't need to cut the object in one continuous action, all I needed to do was make a pile of parts that would reassemble into a bastion. Blunt Force has always been a specialty of mine so the world made sense again and I got to work.
The next step was putting the lines down on my 1/120 scale test model, this is where some drafting skills would really have helped (or a CAD designer and a 3D cutter). After much head scratching and a lot of graph paper the drawing came together and was transferred onto the blue board. There were a few issues during the transfer process but I got it worked out producing this magnificent mess of a drawing;
the red lines indicate the footprint of the bastion,
the lines labelled "cut" account for the inward tilt of the wall face
As each cut passed completely through the block of foam I glued the block back together after each cut, making sure to only glue the areas that would be part of the final piece. This way I was able to use the fence on the foam cutter to ensure that the lines were straight. Finally with all the cuts made and the spoil cut away I had this;
now all I have to do is figure out how to get something three times as large to go through Proxie
All in all a satisfying experiment. Now that I have figured out the way to proceed with the cutting, reassembling, more cutting sequence I just need to find a way to get the parts through the tool. Another consideration is that each bastion will have a largest dimension of over 24" with all the storage and handling issues that arise from that.
............if this were a real fortress there would be three more walls and four bastions. My faithful servant Proxie had been misbehaving so I had OldSarge take a look at it. The cutter is now back up to speed and I wanted to give it a go, then this happened
of course it lack crenelations and a firing step but this was just an exercise
one glance at the arches and you can see that I am out of practice at cutting curves...
At fifteen inches long it is only half the length of the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos and the bombproofs would be tree times as deep and faced with a stone wall. That said, all of this took less than a half hour including waiting for the hot-glue gun to warm up.
I grew tired of looking at them so I skipped a couple of hours of sleep and powered through and finished the paint jobs on the 29mm Gripping Beast Arab Infantry. The Housemartin had wanted four readily identifiable units. You have seen the musket armed conversions. The other three groups were, swordsmen, Wallachians (in nasal helmets) and Akinji spearmen. I threw in an added level of unit identification by painting most of each groups with an over arching color scheme, this is particularly obvious with the Akinji, per the Housemartin's request.
As usual they were painted using Americana colors (available from Michael's, Hobby Lobby and other retailers) over a flat white primer coat. Colors were diluted slightly to ease the p[ainting process and then the figures were given a thin coat of Future Floor Wax. Over this was added a flesh wash of ten parts water, ten parts Future and one part Russet Brown, with just a touch of burnt umber. Once that had dried I did a fifty-fifty water /Future with a dash of black wash over the whole figure.
first we have the Wallachians, I have only the faintest clue about them but I imagined that study Balkan mountain-dwelling men would have muted colors so I went with a variety of shades of green
Long troubled by the ongoing conflict in the adjoining Satrapy of Kondoo, the Prussian Governor-General, Victor von Schimmelpfennning (brother to the famous Franz von Schimmelpfenning of Deustches Ost Daftrica fame) decided to intervene to stop feckless bloodshed. Backing the late-departed (or as others might claim, recently murdered) Satrap Iben Dunnin's, oldest son Muuhvin Onup the Governor-General sent his troops into the field to protect commerce and missionaries in the surrounding territories.
Effective native intelligence helped identify the location of the main rebel army and the Prussian forces, assisted by loyal Malagassian units, took to the field. A swift march hoping to catch the rebels in their encampments was foiled by the horrid state of the local roads and instead of catching the enemy napping the Prussians were forced to fight past the enemy's advance guard and engage the rebels in an open battle. The results was a close run fight as you will see below.
the initial deployments, most of the Prussian forces were still stuck on the muddy roads
as the cavalry and spearmen guided the artillery into position
One of the things that stands in the way of recruiting new players to the hobby is the significant amount of up-front commitment that a novice has to make before they can even get in a game. Witness the current popularity of "out of the box" boardgames that use minis as counters. These allow interested people a way to get into gaming without having to pick up a paintbrush or organize an army.
A good many people are intimidated by the standard of brushwork that appears in miniature wargaming magazines. To be honest even after painting minis for forty years I can still find the artistry displayed on those pages pretty darned intimidating. I point out to new players that nobody starts out at that level and almost anybody can paint figures up to an attractive standard with reasonable effort. I then show them some of my "early works"; those grizzled veterans that have served under my banners for three or more decades (and continue to serve BTW). These aren't figures with "bad paint jobs" I was doing my very best at the time with the tools that I had. They are just the product of my limited skills and circumstances.
In honor of those ancient warriors, and to encourage newcomers, and anybody else who hesitates to pick up a brush, I am opening a new venue here on the blog; my Humility Corner. I will post from time to time pictures of some of my oldest, most battle-worn troops juxtaposed with some of my better efforts. I encourage any and all readers to send similar pictures of their efforts to my email with the details of the figures and when, and how, they were painted.
To start things off here are my oldest, most experienced warriors; 25mm (yes, back when such things existed- along with dinosaurs) Der Kreigspeilers ancient Greek spearmen, I painted these in the fall of 1976 using Testors oil-based enamel paints (intended for model cars and such). Four decades of service under my command finds them suffering from the fact that they are made of nearly pure lead (notice the dreaded "lead-rot" afflicting some of them) along with much mis-handling. I will keep these heroes in service as long as I wargame.
cast in butter-soft lead (I trimmed the flash with my thumbnail)
they are endlessly getting bent and re-straightened,
a good many have broken off at the ankles
the patchy gray areas are lead-rot a form of oxidation that seems unstoppable short of giving the figures a "dip-n-strip" a heavy coating of Future a while back slowed it down a lot , but I'm still taking casualties from this insidious disease
The years have passed and my skills (although still modest) have improved; these are (not) Foundry minis "Turkish Officers" I no longer remember if they are from the Great War or the Darkest Africa range but they bear the unmistakable hand of the Perry twins (Boy was I wrong, an astute reader advised me that the Turks are from Copplestone's Castings). I just liked them when I first saw the package and bought them for no purpose other than the enjoyment of painting a well sculpted figure.
primed flat white with Rustoleum 2xpigment primer
and painted exclusively with Americana brand water-based acrylics,
Future Floor wax protective coat dulled to matte using Armory flat spray
Any reader who wishes to submit similar photos please email them with a description of the mini and the paints and any other pertinent info to me at firstname.lastname@example.org put "humble" in the title in case it goes to spam.
One brave reader has submitted a photo of some of his earliest work. Paul from Paul's Bods has given us a glimpse into his past with a picture of some Airfix Napoleonics that he painted a long while back.
Normally his work is to a much higher standard (see this photo that I lifted from one of his more recent posts). Take a look at his blog and remember that he is working with 20mm figures (which are only slightly larger than most "15mm" figures are these days). Beautiful stuff!
I confess; I am addicted to modifying plastic figures.
It is so easy, quick and lends such a air of ownership to my units that I simply cant resist. Thus, when confronted with the relatively narrow selection of torso poses offered in the kit I decided that no two figures would be the same, even if I had to go to Frankenstein levels of body part swapping. This was further complicated by The Housemartin's request that they fall into four readily identifiable groups, one of which was a semi-regular unit (and would thus be more alike than different). Much head-scratching and chin-rubbing ensued as I perused the available parts. I sorted the torsos into three groups (having already built the musket armed troops) and spent some time studying the selection of arms and weapons. The Housemartin added another complication by requesting that one of the units (all were of ten figures) be armed entirely with swords. I was forced to conclude that some major surgery would be in order.
after assembling one each of the "standard" poses I was unhappy with the way that the figure held the weapon, a quick fix is to cut off the hand and re-position the angle at which the weapon is held, or move it to an entirely new arm
It has been ages since I did a figure review and I know this isn't a particularly new subject. This is mostly because I have toned down my purchases to try (emphasis on try) to lower the height of the mountain of unfinished projects in my basement. I have been pounding away at the Lace Wars Project but I was starting to feel that itch, the desire to be distracted. Enter my old buddy The Housemartin, he is working on a project himself and doesn't care for the fiddly process of assembling plastic miniatures. The Housemartin has known me since we were both teenagers and he knows my tendency to love any new and different project. A few well-placed comments later and I found that I had not only agreed to assemble his minis for him, I had agreed to modify some of them to have muskets and then paint them.
Ignoring the lovely weather I stuck to my guns (deliberate bad pun alert) and got the crews finished. There is a surprising amount of fussy little details on the figures which slowed things considerably. In the end they were completed and will soon join the ranks of Caribbean Sea circa 1700 forces. Eventually I will have enough to run the giant game/campaign that has been haunting my dreams since these minis were released.
All that aside here are the guns and crews.
an undercoat of olive gives the gold paint (which is translucent) just the right touch of green for the bronze effect
I had a couple of hours so I sat myself down and worked on the guns and their attendant gunners. Having dug around in my sources it seems that blue coats with red facings was a common uniform for artillerymen of the day. I decided to paint my first batch of gunners in that livery. The white-primed figures allowed me to wash on a very dark blue and get instant highlights on the figures coats. I then went in and painted the flesh, facings and details. Looking at the sombre colors of the crews made the cannon look like Christmas ornaments so I gave the guns a dark brown wash to tone down the color and made the barrels look more like bronze than gold.
the best part is that I still have three more boxes of guns
Having gotten the Foot out of the way, and made a small dent in the Horse what could be next aside from some artillery? A long while back I reviewed the WSS artillery set from Wargames Factory, so I dug out the assembled models and began working on them. A few hours later I had a solid base coat on them and was feeling quite happy with things. I pulled out the crews and have started on them as well. These cannon are HUGE and give a good impression of the size of the older style guns that were still in use in the 1690s-1700s.
there were two guns with crew and a mounted officer in the original Wargames Factory box,
I haven't seen what Warlord Games has done with this set (or the price)
Despite many distractions I have been plugging away at my Lace Wars Project and have gotten another unit of Horse finished. These are Austrian Cuirassiers. Solid and dull-looking compared to the last unit they would look at home on a Thirty Years War battlefield. It seems that the Austrians were one of the last nations to give up on the armored helmet. I love the look and had to incorporate at least one unit in my project.
resplendent in his gilt-edged armor the standard bearer awaits his flag
Well, actually these are very similar to the paper boats that we looked at a short while ago. But they are different all the same; scale, era and publisher are all different from our last look at tiny paper boats. Once again we rely on the nimble fingers of Joe for the assembly and review of the goods. These models come from Eric Hotz of Hotzmats (or would that be the other way around?). They are available through the Wargame Vault or direct from Hotz Mats as PDF downloads. They come ready to print, already in color, just add some cardstock and grab your scissors and glue.
I feel a bit of self-congratulation in finishing my first unit of Horse. Life has been hectic of late but I managed to stick to my painting schedule and got these done in a bit over a week. The Regiment zu Pferd Markgraf Philipp von Brandenburg. I love a unit whose name is an entire sentence! Behold them in all their splendor.
the poor standard bearer lacks his flag as I have not yet printed it out
I finally got a couple of hours of free time and decided to take a crack at finishing the Horse. I didn't quite make it to done but they are coming along nicely. Just a little bit of detailing, a flag and some ground effects and they will be battle-ready.
the horses are a tad small for early 18th century Horse