Wednesday 10 December 2008

Too many games?? surely not.

Not often you hear me say this, but right now I’m feeling a bit “gamed out”!
It all started a few weeks ago when Philip M suggested a game round at his place in order to get out his new Americans, to be pitted against my Germans. No problem. Unfortunately the dates got changed and we decided to have the game on the 29th of November, this was fine, EXCEPT for the fact that I’d already eagerly agreed to head up to Scarborough for Gerry’s 50th Birthday bash, which was kicking off on the 30th. Now getting a week away was not too bad, but then adding another days gaming to it might prove tricky with SWMBO’d.
I casually dropped this into conversation at a suitable juncture, and incredibly, received a favourable response. Marvellous!
So all round to Phil’s for a Salerno beachhead scenario.
Phils Americans hunker down in the Almond groves
A cracking time was had by all (me, Philip, and Mr Freeth). The scenario was based on the counter attacks by 16th panzer in early September 43, with 2 KG’s attacking a US infantry regt which were then reinforced from the beach. I will do a further write up on this but suffice to say, the Germans got mullahed.

So, Sunday saw me off up to Folkton. The week was split into 2 halves, the first 3 days being just 6 of us for Gerry’s new take on Waterloo.
This proved to be a good game incorporating a lot of the “new” rules for In the Grand Manner Ged has been playing with for a while now.

Hougemont stands like a rock
Briefly, they include using skirmish screens as 12 man units rather than six, which reduces their flexibility and means skirmisher buildings become redundant.
Also, he’s introduced Skirmish Battalions: These are normal units (36’s 32’s, whatever) which perform exactly like skirmish screens. So, they fall back if advanced on, evade if charged, can romp around in woods at will, count as skirmishers for being fired on by infantry and artillery etc. The difference being that they fire like skirmishers as well although they are fired on and take casualties like a normal unit (with the modifiers for being skirmishers). So while the unit is in the first bracket they get 12 D6, second bracket 10 D6, third 8 D6 etc. This is irrespective of their starting strength, so a 30 man unit gets the same number of fire dice as a 48, say. If they fall beneath 50% they disperse. Also, if they fail ANY morale test, they also disperse.
They are signified by being in line with their bases staggered.
Other rules we were using was that a unit always needs his divisional (not corps or army) general with in 12” to initiate a charge.
Finally we were using the disengage rule: This allows an entire formation to roll to attempt to pull out of the line, 5 or 6 needed, modified by Army Cox’s if in range (Napoleon and Wellington were +2 each, Blucher was a MINUS2!)
If successful, the ENTIRE formation, infantry + any attached cav or artillery, teleports back out of the line 30”. All rout and retreat markers etc are removed and the whole formation goes onto “retire to own lines” followed by 2 turns of “walkabout” just like a cavalry unit. It can shuffle units around without going closer to any enemy and then after its walkabout is free to move off again.
This sounds at first like a fairly mental rule, but for big games, with lots of reserve formations it works really well. When a formation is getting knackered or has a lot of units routing, you can pull it out and re-organise. It rewards players who keep a second line to then throw into the gap, or if you have a plan which will allow 1 corps to trundle forward to do the damage and then have a fresh outfit ready to finish the job.
Enough for now….a bit more to follow on Waterloo, Plus Torgau and Chemnitz revisited… (The Return of the Gedaye)!
The Death Star at Cheminitz

Monday 24 November 2008

The late Ian Stables....some of his stuff

4 regts of Prussian Cavalry: All painted by Ian

The other weekend whilst at John's gaff, while I was sorting out the Napoleonics I wanted to take a few pics for this very site. After I'd taken a few units off the shelves and snapped them, it occurred to me that they were all the work of one man:
Ian Stables.
Ian sadly died at the absurdly young age of 43 in the summer of 2006. I first met him probably about 15 years ago when i was selling Connoisseur Figures at the shows around the UK. We got talking and I needed well painted figures both for display purposes and for my own collection. Ian was a real pro...He knew I couldn't afford the top prices he charged for a lot of his work, so I just used to give him figures and he'd just shake his head and say "I'll do them when I can". Months would pass and then finally He'd call me and I'd pop over to his place in Harrow and there would be a new unit. I was never disappointed in what I found. Quite the reverse.
They would always be lovely.

Landwher Lancers
I think I have about 15 units painted by him, mostly cavalry and a few batteries, I did have 3 or 4 British Infantry units but sadly they have been sold.
I used to prepare the figures, do conversions, replace swords,add plumes, heads etc, Ian would work his magic and then I'd base them.
Whenever I was with him He'd show me other stuff he was working on and it was always fabulous. I don't think he actually liked painting Connoisseur stuff that much, but he was far too polite to say anything. He loved Front Rank figures, did a lot for their catologue, and he always used them for his own work when he entered painting competitions. He won the Salute painting competition at least once, I remember seeing a unit of Highlanders he was entering. They were amazing. He spent literally months working on his entries and it showed.

Prussian Garde Du Korps

Russo-German Artillery
He didn't wargame himself a great deal, though I do recall him embarking on a Peninsular Skirmish project using mostly heavily converted Connoisseur stuff (he can't have hated them that much then, I suppose). He did enjoy converting, as do I, which was a shared interest. We'd spend plenty of time sharing ideas and tips.
Rather than wargame he was a keen chess player and member of the Richmond club.

Russo-German Husars

Brandenburg Hussars
Like all really good pro-painters he was also prolific and consistent. I'm always seeing figures and recognising his work. When I do, I think of Ian.
Anyway, he is sorely missed.Enjoy the pictures

French Cuiraissier

Cuiraissiers, Gendarmes D'elite and Grenadiers au cheval peeking round the corner

Friday 14 November 2008

Samples finished

Wurtemburg NCO
Managed to finish the ten sample Wurtemburgers in a couple of evenings which was pretty good, they were nice enough to paint, and I quickly got back into the swing of it after a 2 year layoff. It was quite peculiar to paint bright colours again instead of continuous Khaki's and greys.
The change up from 20mm to 25 wasn't too bad either, not as drastic as I thought it would be.
Infantryman charging at high-porte
I quickly got back into the groove, though re-learning to deal with expanses of white took a little longer to remember!
All in all a straight forward paint job. Grey undercoat, then Vallejo acrylics apart from an India Red oil wash on the flesh and a bit of black magic-wash on the white, plus a Burnt Umber oil wash on the pack.

High-lights were just mixed up from the basic colour, and given a further small highlight.
Wurtemburg uniforms are a bit of a pain. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, down to even disagreements over facing colours for different regiments. The whole thing is not helped by them adopting the German practice (funny that, being Germans) of naming the Regts after their Colonels (Inhabers) particularly as a number of them died between 1809 and 1814. So the same units have different names at similar times, plenty of scope for confusion.
I was helped by having the North edition of the Faber Du Four collection of prints drawn during the 1812 campaign. A lovely book and useful contemporary reference. I went through it and it was quite handy despite concentrating on the artillery.
These figures are painted up as the 5th regt, I've ordered the requisite miniatures to make up the rest of 2 x 32 man battalions for this regt, then I'll embark on 2 more Battalions for the 7th Regt which had red facings. Standards for these are en-route from GMB

I can't wait!!

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Momentous Day!

Firing Line miniatures: Line infantryman, Sargent, and Standard Bearer
Today is a momentous day. For the first time in 2 years I'm picking up a brush in order to paint some 25mm Napoleonics! After spending the weekend re-aquainting myself with my Napoleonic collection I'm suficiently inspired to have a change from the unrelenting WWII Soviet hordes in order to fulfil my idle promise to Noel that I'd paint up some Wurtemburgers for him...I'm starting with the samples I bought and will now order the rest + standards etc
Infantry march attack
Looking forward to this, I'm using the Firing Line miniatures figures, Firing Line are a well kept secret of the large 25mm world. They are carried by the guy who does Bicorne and Connoisseur, and are highly compatible with the latter, and Elite miniatures. However, although they are in the "Peter Gilder style" of figure sculpting they are IMHO superior to the mentioned ranges. No-one knows about them because the above company never advertises and the only picture on his website is of a Jaeger which is about the worst figure in the range! (marketing doesn't seem to be a strongpoint)
They do a lot of Wurtemburgers and a small French range (along with ACW and gunfighters). They also do a fantastic range of heads which are excellent for conversions -all the Wurtemburgers, and most of the French come with seperate heads so theres plenty of scope for minor changes within a unit without altering the overall pose and "feel" of a battalion.
Here goes!
(I hope you still want these, Noel)

Sunday 9 November 2008

Weekend at John's shed

French 4th Hussars romp over the bunny fur
Spent the weekend up at Mr Landers' - The majority of which time was naturally passed in the shed, apart from the time in the pub, and being entertained by the viperish tongue and hospitality of his svelte other half. - Incredibly, we didn't actually manage to play a game, the time being spent in tidying up the shed, which was a tip after John's massive Arnhem efforts. So a happy time was enjoyed with John chucking stuff out and me dusting off (and I mean Dusting) the Napoleonics.
Having cleaned some up, I had to take a few photos (only about 200). Given that I reckon I only managed to clean about 15 to 20% of the assorted 25mm Napoleonics there is still work to do.

A lot of time was also spent discussing John's next possible demo game for Salute. Here is not the place for to steal any of his thunder but a picture is forming, both for the subject and innovative methods of displaying it. It promises to be as spectacular and as unique as we would expect from the absurdly high standards John sets for himself.
I did show John some of my latest 20mm stuff, though he remains suitably unimpressed, which is fair enough given that he's got it all already in 1/35th. However, one thing he did seem to like was my new bunny-fur terrain mat. This was an idea slavishly nicked off some other geezer here on the world-wide-inter-web, and it looks alright. There will be LOTS of pics of soldiers swarming all over it.

The bunny mat: Xena looks on approvingly, but John shows his back.

Anyway, we explored its possibilities and Lander has some ABSURD plans.
We like the way it "clinged" to the terrain beneath it and created a truly undulating effect, giving a real feel of hills and dips

Prussian infantry enjoy the luxury of the bunny experience

Its relatively easy to produce, though colouring is quite difficult given the current dearth of decent spray paints in the UK at the moment (they have ALL been withdrawn, due to H&S...wankers). but with a bit of work, poster paints and a razor some good effects can be obtained. Might not be a universal future but it has possibilities.
Anyway, enough for now...More Napoleonics will follow in due course.

Monday 3 November 2008

SPW Battalion

The Dragon SPW btn

Next little bit of panzer porn is the German half track battalion, this has largely been built up this year and consists of 14 251's.

I'd had a number of 251's previously which had been acquired in dribs and drabs from shows and e-bay etc....a platoon of Britannia, another from Frontline, I already had about 15 or 16, but....they lacked commonality, different models, painted at different times. Didn't quite look right.

So, I flogged them on e-bay and with a healthy Paypal balance looked around for a replacement.. I wanted a unit where the vehicles would be similar, I checked out the various kits available but wasn't too keen on making that many AND then having to paint them...Milicast seemed the best bet, good, but expensive.. I was very impressed by the Dragon die-cast stuff but they were a bit pricey. A quick sum and a dozen plus 251's was going to cost getting on for £200, before crews and extras, and as you may have gathered by now I'm partial to plenty of crews and stowage:
Then I discovered a man called Craig at Realistic Wargames. He was knocking out Dragon stuff (I think they are seconds) at the ludicrous price of £5.95 a time, assembled, painted (better than I could). No Brainer as our American friends would say.A couple of e-mails and he informed me he could get what I wanted reasonably quickly.

Bingo!They duly arrived...9 251/1c's, 4x 251/10's and a mortar carrier. A bit of dry brushing and they were ready.

AB Crews, Fantassin dismounted grenadiers
Next up was an order to that nice Mr Michael at AB figures...if you cruise around their catologue they have dozens of figures suitable for crewing vehicles (ie no bases), a few more bits and bobs from the fabulous and underrated Lammercraft and Elhiem ranges and I had the 40 -odd figures to populate the half tracks. I bought a big bag of sage foliage, and a load of stowage from SHQ and Skytrex.

Knowing the vehicles were all there and ready to go made painting the crews a real pleasure, a bit of basing and we have the end result. I must say I'm pleased with them.

Huge variety in the AB crews
Now, I have come across some sentiments from wargamers who deride the notion of pre-painted stuff....come out with stuff like "Its cheating" or "I don't feel right, if I don't paint them". Now up to a point I agree with them. The idea of just opening the boxes and plonking a load of pre-paints on the table doesn't feel quite right to me either, but given that it allowed me the time and money to then personalise this unit to be something individual with relatively little effort (although, I reckon I probably put more work into these vehicles than a lot of gamers would into something they built from scratch), then I'm afraid I've no shame whatsoever about it. (as this blog continues it may become apparent theres quite a few things I have little shame over).
I probably could paint up 3 or 4 half-tracks and make a decent fist of it in a reasonable time, there are plenty out there who do, and who are better at it than me. The difference is that I don't want 3 or 4 vehicles, I want nearer 20(theres the armoured engineer coy too), and life's too short.

Sunday 2 November 2008

1944 Russian game at the Whc

My SU152's get a day out at Wembley

Sorry I've not been active here (what percentage of blog posts begin with that sentence, I wonder?). Been a bit busy with Premiere stuff for the new Bond film, during which I managed to break a finger, which is not terribly condusive to typing. Although actually, seeing as it isn't either of the 2 fingers I use to type with its not really a problem. So I bring you this despite the pain.
Anyway, last weekend saw me going off to Scarboro for another try out of Gerry's WWII rules. It was a vaguely 1944 Russia scenario, as he wanted to see what a few later tanks would be like. All the games we have done previously have been 42/early 43 with mainly Panzer III's vT-34 76's so this was upping the ante to bring in T-34 85's against Panzer IV H's and Panthers.

I took up a few figures for a day out at "wembley"... A Infantry Regt for each side plus some Soviet armour and a load of pak 40's (Gerry didn't have enough!)The scenario was for Russians attacking a big town, and it was a big town, about 12 feet by 6 in the centre of the table, with plenty of room on the flanks for armoured action.
The Forces were 2 good quality but weakish Panzer divisions - (10 infantry battalions, 4 small tank battalions, plus Stugs and Marders. Up against 5 of what Gerry calls Tank corps but are way too weak in infantry, basically 15 T-34's plus a regt of infantry, should really have double the quantity of infantry, although the soviets did have quite a few extra units; a couple of RECONNAISANCE (for John)btns, 2 heavy assault gun regts, and some T-70 light tanks (not sure what they are still doing running around in 1944, but, hey). Gerry is basically a lazy bleeder and needs to get his Russians sorted out.
I ended up defending the town (thanks) with a single German infantry regt plus 5 Stugs while the others ponced about on the flanks with all the good stuff.

Whc infantry assault the first line of the city

As it turned out it was too tough for the Russkis. It was easy for them to take the first line of houses. I just sat and waited, gave them a volley when they got close and then pulled out to my second line. The problem was it was difficult to repeat this for them without getting the Su152's into the town, and I had the entrances well covered by Stugs and At guns in positions which enabled me to get flank fire. They tried a couple of armoured assaults into the larger gaps but these were repulsed.

My Grenadiers lurk in the second line of buildings

The Russians then ran out of ideas and milled about outside the town (hiding behind their own smoke screens, which sort of sums it up) when frankly the armour they had there would have been better off employed on the flanks, where they were getting mullahed by the Panthers. All in all the Russians seemed a bit timid, didn't get their act together combining artillery with their attacks (vital, in the rules) Meanwhile their infantry hid in the first line of houses. Because they made no headway on the flanks, they couldn't get anywhere in the town and vice-versa. More aggression needed. In the end, I guess my losses tell the story: None.

I had a single hit on one Stug and one of my infantry battalion commander's got mortared when he strayed into a garden for a fag and was spotted.

More Grenadiers and a whc Stug defend a town square
On the flanks the Russian got shot to bits, although it wasn't quite as one sided as it looked at the end of the game, as nearly all the German tanks were in pretty poor shape. One last push and the Russians would have got some joy (maybe the 15 T-34's that did FA around the town?)
Anyway a good weekend and a good tryout for the rules.
There was a good feel to the game, with the potential to keep and manouvre reserves, with the focus of the action shifting from different company sectors- it sort of read like a account, which is probably a good thing!

Tuesday 14 October 2008

The Germans...First off, Aufklarungs Battalion

SHQ 250/1's +250/7 lurking at the back.+ Milicast 250/8's, ..Prieser, Lamercraft and AB crews

This project has been ongoing now for a couple of years, and theres still a way to its huge, so I'll do it bit by bit. I'll start with the Aufklarungs battalion.

The idea for these was for a Generic Panzer reconnaisance outfit that could be used for Italy, Russia and maybe Normandy (one day)
I wanted a unified look to all my German stuff, and plenty of crew figures on the vehicles, having said that, they were assembled bit by bit, a few E-bay purchases, and then the bulk of the 250's from SHQ..I'm not 100% happy with the painting but they will do. The effect is ok though
The above pic has 2 armoured infantry coys of 4 x 250/1's, with AB dismounted infantry deployed. One can also include a 250/8 (Milicast models) in each of these coys to give them a bit of 75mm support, or they can be grouped into a heavy coy. The AB stuff is so fabulous its hard not to just keep buying and painting it all.
The Prieser crews are great fun, hard plastic, in mad poses, but good for guys bailing out with a sense of urgency about them.

Prieser and Lammercraft crews bail out!

To back these lads up we a light armoured car company of 3 x 250/9.
I can use these for '43 onwards. These are Milicast models, really lovely. They are the best around and worth the money. I went for the extra detail bits of etched brass hatch covers and 20mm barrels. Again, Prieser crew

Milicast 250/9's

However I couldn't resist also giving myself an earlier/ more obsolete option with these SHQ Sdkfz 222' s- I've always had a thing for these little armoured cars.

SHQ 222's

Finally there is a heavy company, 2 x 234/1, and a 234/3. All of these I picked up on e-bay, so no idea of their provenance. I just added a few AB, Lammercraft and Fantassin crew, a quick re-paint and foliage.
Add in a towed Pak and or an infantry gun to taste.
This gives a pretty large unit with a lot of options, I feel its not going to be fielded in its entirety too often, but I like to build units at fullish strength and then leave bits out rather than be restricted in choice for a scenario.
The final piece of the reconnaisance jigsaw is a Hasegawa 234/2 Puma which I've got to make up- its on the "soon" list....Pics when its done

Sdkfz 234/1's - nose of the 234/3 poking in.

The Soviets

Altaya T-34 with AB tank riders

Took a few pictures of my burgeoning WWII Soviet stuff today. This project was begun at the end of April this year, so pretty good progress so far.

The aim is to assemble enough kit to do either an Infantry division or a Tank Corps with add-ons for both.
These are all for a 1 vehicle = 1 platoon style scale. Suitable for CD, Spearhead, etc.
I've bought a lot of Dragon/Altaya pre-painted stuff.If you know where to look these can be got VERY cheap. A big chunk was 18 Altaya T-34's on e-bay for less than £70 including P&P
About £3.90 a vehicle painted!...Impossible to match really. They are not quite as good as the Dragon models but form a good nucleus for the Tank corps.
So far there are:

28 T-34's
4 KV1's
4 SU152's
2 SU85's

These are sporting about 90 crew figures and tank riders

To back these up most of the infantry are painted, a few still to base. About 300 in total when I'm done. The majority are Fantassin models.
On order are:
6x BA64 (Frontline)
6x Trucks (Frontline)

Still to come will be 4 x SU76's plus some carriers, either White scout cars or Bren carriers.
After this a light tank battalion...not sure which yet, T70 or Valentines?..Hard to resist the Valentines.
Then I just need a few more trucks/tows and more Anti-tank guns. Currently I only have 4 x 45mm and 4 x 76mm.
I'm aiming for some of these to have an outing at the WHC in about 10 days time, I'll take some up there for a weekend out of their boxes. Gerry is doing an early 44 bash. Lots of photo opprtunities I hope!

MMS tankriders on a Dragon T-34 (nice figures, but multipart metal...a pain in the arse to put together)

Dragon KV1, Fantasin Tank riders

Dragon T-34 in the background, Elheim Infantry (removed from their HORRIBLE slotta bases)

Many more pics here:

Sunday 12 October 2008

Hardly in the beginning

Stephen's Scott's Young Guard crunch into me at the WHC (Sept'08)
By way of introduction:
Here I am, a longstanding wargamer. If you need my history read "Achtung Schwienund" by Harry Pearson. Like just about every late 40 something British wargamer I've ever met its all in there. Read it. it will make you laugh. (providing you are a gamer, otherwise you will think its rubbish)
Anyway, this is more about the future than the past.
So why a blog? Seems to be the way to go, and I want to use it, not only as a record of thoughts, games, figures, painting etc; but also a marker for my progress to my goal. Which is the one wargames accessory I don't possess. Namely; a games room, shed, palace, whatever.

About 16 or 17 years ago I took stock of my wargaming life, I was involved (when I was in the UK) in club gaming. Which was great. I had been a member of the Cambridge club from the age of about 15, and had gone through all the evolutions of a small town wargames club. We had a great time, played everything over the years: Points Ancients, fantasy, Napoleonics, ACW, ECW, Renniasance, WWII, Moderns....I had 25mm, 15mm, 20mm, 6mm armies in all manner of periods. The club was pretty vibrant, a good long meeting time, all sunday afternoon and evening, nice terrain, and, crucially...good people... wasn't enough. I wasn't playing the kind of games I wanted to play.
It took a long while to figure it out. The final crystalisation was when a friend (John Lander) suggested we go to he Wargames Holiday Centre for a weekend to play we went....and there it was... an Epiphany! This was what i wanted! .... A MASSIVE table with THOUSANDS of 25mm figures on it. Like the majority of gamers I thought "hang on, thats all very well...but that requires commitment, money, time, dedication, I just have a hobby involving a few toy soldiers"...but..if that is what you want, then maybe that is what one has to do...But, it didn't happen....I did move away from club gaming, it just wasn't enough for me any more, and I figured that instead of a weekly 3 hour fix an occasional 2 day orgy was a preferable solution, so I played a lot at the WHC, built up my own decent 25mm Napoleonic collection (about 4,000 figs), helped build a big shed in John's garden to put it all was more piddly 3 hour ACW games,it seemed a good compromise.
However, here we are, many years on and now I reach another nexus point. This is no longer enough. John has his shed, Gerry and Mike have the WHC, Mr Marshall QC has his flat, Noel has his garage, Nick Farrell has a business unit (for God's sake!) all of which contain other peoples' fabulous permanent wargames solutions. Not mine. I am a guest at all of these establishments. They are all great, I enjoy visiting all of them, but none of them are mine. They all have their good points that others do not possess, their own individual flavour. It is high time that I joined these ranks, and was able to put on the games I want to for my friends, rather than guesting at theirs.
So we reach another point...Now my games goal is not just to play big,beautiful games, but put on big, beautiful games. Its the next logical step.
Now this is not quite so simple....There is no room in my house...there is no room in my garden.. So a move will be on the cards. I don't know when, but it is likely in the future. It will happen in the lifetime of this blog. That, I promise myself.
In the meantime there will be fun!
A record of games, painting projects (for the first time in my life I now own a decent camera) trips, figures, thoughts, rules, et all et all

We will begin.