Monday, 15 October 2018

Napoleonic Naval: 1/1200 Scale French v British (RN)

To me there is nothing quite as enchanting as 1/1200 scale Napoleonic warships in the thick of fight. Here a battle squadron of five British (three ships of the line and two frigates) coming to grips with two smaller Squadrons of French (two ships of the line and a frigate a piece). The game was in progress as I joined so some damage had already been accumulated two the leading French and British ships at the bottom of the picture (see below): 

The vans close to exchange deadly fire (see below):

The plan is for the British (who have the weather gauge) to finish off the bottom French squadron before dealing with the second French squadron. This means the rear of the British line is about to be exposed to some long range fire as their "T" is crossed (see below): 

The British Flagship locks horns with its French counterpart and a vicious boarding engagement follows. Not wanting to run foul of the British flagship the second in line abruptly turns to cut the French line (taking "hot" fire as she does so) while the lowly rear most British frigates escape serious damage from the French long range fire. The third British ship of the line decides to cross the French's rear "T" at a more deadly close range (see below): 

In the distance (see top of photograph below) the second French squadron slowly tacks, finding themselves out of position. There are two fierce close quarter actions afoot, with a dangerous looking "French-British-French" sandwich developing against the British flagship. Luckily for the British the opportunistic Frenchman intending to blast the rear of the British flagship sustained withering fire as it manoeuvred. The rearmost three British ships are tacking in an attempt to overwhelm the two stationary Frenchmen before teh second French squadron gets into the fight (see below):

The British flagship is suffering from a withering close range raking, which did not help the boarding action as the French are across her decks. All hangs in the balance. The fickle wind is not helping the six ships trying to manoeuvre into the battle (see below): 

There sadly I had to leave it as each round of the game was actually quite time consuming (old 1970 rules were being used). I later heard the British flagship had struck her colours but the two leading Frenchmen were in a very bad way so the game was called  a "Tactical" French win but "Strategic" Draw as the ships that had fought were no longer sea worthy and sank. 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge? (4) Painting End Point

The "painting" end point (see below, quite pleased with it if I do say so myself, basing and varnishing still yet to be done):

The retro-painting experiment concluded. This time I cheated and jumped forward in time for advanced "decal technology" whereas in 1994 my counterparts (as per the 'Eavy Metal painting guide) it hard; it  was a case of "hand painting" tactical signs onto (multiple) shoulder pads (now that would have simply have broken me into pieces on the floor!). The glorious Humbrol Decalfix appeared alsi to prep the area, soften the decal and seal it to the plastic afterwards. So it was a case of snipping the relevant pieces from multiple GW Decals sheets and the results are shown (see below, front facing Devastator Squad): 

The paint tray to the rear shows the Warhammer 40K "Army Sign" affixed on the right rear lower leg of Space Marine armour (again in 1994 it was hand painted; hysterical laughter in the background). Now, for better or worse I have my first Space Marine tactical unit, a Devastator Squad (see below, pity I really should have started with a basic Tactical Squad as this is deemed an asset to the Order of Battle - but I didn't have those figures and they ain't cheap, cheap):

From a distance you cannot see the detail so here are a few close-ups (see below, hear after taking the guys photo I noticed a paint smear/dot [yellow] on the red casing - opps - I cleared it up afterwards - but just goes to show you the camera never lies):

Space Marine "look mean" (see below, note the inverted Omega decal on the left shoulder pad. What I like here is that there is no black lining but shades of darker blue and blue ink - really effective):

The close ups nicely show up the "extra detail on the eyes" that the 'Eavy Metal guide recommended. Also note the right shoulder pad armour has inverted V (lambda?) of the Devastator Squads tactical sign and the roman numeral ten (even in 40K?), denoting the "Tenth Squad" of the "Second Company" (Yellow shoulder pads, I am getting the complete nerd now)! Ready to drop into battle, sir! (see below): 

OK that was a good painting journey. I found out that figures could look much better paradoxically with less paint, also always water paint down (it flows much better) and do not repaint over areas for the sake of painting because you think you have to. I also need to take a course in "sensitive brush care" (a really bad old habit) as I load the brush with way too much paint - even though I thought I wasn't! Yep, I feel good for the experience - I thank you GW your painting guide of 1994 actually works and stands the test of time!

PS: It seems a pity not to varnish and base them, so there may be a follow up post. I am also intrigued to go along and get "taught to play" on an "adult beginners evening session". I may get the kids interested in wargaming this way - the model Spitfire didn't seem to work!

PPS: The main thing is getting some advantage from these techniques across over to my historical ranges. I am thinking British Infantry in 28mm Napoleonic or Colonial!

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Guilty as charged - I cannot explain why except to say they are vaguely Colonial (28mm Zulu Warriors and British Warriors)

This came out of the blue, sitting next to each other on the shelves of Gaming Figures were the veritable opponents from my previous "Zulu Charge". I chastised (or rather pleaded with) Ian for not having more British Infantry in the firing line. Now perhaps I could subtly add some in (see below, it has Rorke's Rift written large):

I seem to be taken by some form of Colonial affliction ;)

Monday, 8 October 2018

Stalingrad (2013)

Finally caught up with this one. A gritty extravaganza of set . A ruined city, a downed Heinkel, the statue of a circle of children dancing. Plenty of sustained HMG fire, snipers, Tommy gunners, mortars, a Soviet Scout, artillery barrages and crossing the Volga under fire, Least said about teh love interests the better. From a wargamer's perspective I really enjoyed it (see below):     

Spoiler alert: "Goodbye boys!" but a Soviet win!

PS: I know understand the Chain of Command scenery my friends have been conscientiously making ;) 

Sunday, 7 October 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge? (3) Well "old stuff" is still "good stuff" [smiley emoticon]

My retro painting experience continues. It is an exercise in 'sticking to the script' and keeping faith with the method, even if it is counter intuitive to the normal way in which I paint. However that is "why" I am doing it, to unlearn mal-rules or find new (better) ways of painting! Here is when the Space Marines take on their distinctive armour "shading" comes to the fore (see below, "first highlight" is basic Vallejo Game Colour Ultra Marine [the base colour was 50% Imperial Blue and 50% Ultramarine Blue] - Note: the Space Marines to the far back right are three  previously completed examples from Space Crusade, all nice with decals applied - they seem a brighter blue as I used Vallejo Colour Magic Blue as a final highlight, not making the Ultra Marines Blue paler with a touch of white):

I like the end result, but more importantly discover that I can get good results by putting on far less paint, watering down the paint (quite critical as it turns out) and "being brave" and letting the layers be distinctive. My attempts at multi-layering just meant that the paint built too quick up on the model. The surface of the model became uneven because of the "thick paint" not being uniform - watering down was being sadly missed here. The same batch receive the final "white + Ultramarine Blue" second highlight layer. The should pads were also given Yellow Company colours (see below, reading my Space Marine Codex this reads in 1994 as the Second Company - in 2018 this yellow seems to have been replaced with a sexier gold look):

The good news with the "scripted method" is that the amount of painting (and paint) gets successively less. I seems to be painting the figure almost fully "three times: Shade, Base and Highlight. With teh Base, Shade and First and Second Highlights, this perversely only seems to be like painting teh figure twice. It seems to be as third as fast but not that particularly "fast in real time" as I have been 'on and off' these in taking me about a fortnight.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Fighter Duel - Rules Walk Through

Sometimes it takes to tango and get your head round a set of rules, something about more than one person reading the same paragraph makes more sense out of it. "Fighter Duel" is a set of rules from Phil Sabin, a 'time and motion' study of fighter combat (each game segment is 3 seconds) and the game plays around three minutes of actual combat. He ran this at the Connections 2018 Games Fair this year. Using his original research it was combined from several separate board game components [Mustangs, Spitfire, Angels One High] but I was interested in translating it to 1/144 model aircraft for a demonstration game at a local show. To aid us in our understanding we are going through a "slow walk" of the rules. First we lined up a few combat sequences and performed them over a coffee and fire side chat (see below, lining up a killing shot as a Vet RAF pilot in a Spitfire comes out of the sun to bounce a Me 109E distracted in the process of shooting another plane):

Given that this was the "best ever" position the combat odds could be in, it is "anything but a 1" to hit and my compatriot rolled a 10, a spectacular hit. For every 2 over the required score an additional hit is accrued which means a massive "four hits" - the Me 109E only has four points of damage so he goes down in quick fashion (see below, nice shooting Sailor Malan):

A dramatic explosion is deemed necessary (see below). Working through the sequence, replacing the Vet RAF pilot with a rookie (two weeks of training "special"), this time shooting from two hexes (200 yards) away, and the Luftwaffe pilot was not distracted would reduce the hit chance from 90% to 10%. If a ten had still been rolled this time only one hit would have been inflicted and the Me 109E would still be "in the fight" (slightly damaged but to no obvious effect). This seems quite historical (see below, I far prefer the model visuals of the model to counters):

The beauty of the combat system is a magic grid that converts the historic gun factors of the plane adjusted by the circumstance factors to give the hit probability. The next stage is to master the flying dynamics. Interesting as the key elements of "energy" and "turn capability" are modelled. Nothing is a given, a turn may be attempted but not necessarily made. Given the three second tome span you get another go soon, provided you are not in the sights of an enemy. Being hex based it does have the advantage of keeping the planes locked into a specific place (that can be reconstructed or remembered), so an accidental knock does not subtly overwrite the "billimeter" positioning. 

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge? (2) There "IS" another way of doing things!

Following slavishly to the letter of the painting instructions my troop of Ultra Marines (plus Terminator) get the base coat treatment - Vallejo Game Colour 50% Imperial Blue mixed with 50% Ultramarine Blue (see below):

Then the shade colour (Vallejo Game Colour Imperial Blue) follows (see below, if truth be told I might have been a little too sloppy for my liking):

Next is to continue the base/painting to cover the other colours too! If I am learning anything so far it is to put less paint on the figure, mix or rather dilute with water and be a smart/clean but less fussy (or rather more subtle) with the brush.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

It's curtains for me!

Literally (see below):

Their practical use in the home was attempted to be extended by dying them a dark, lush green (smile, nice choice of colour don't you think - only partly encouraged by me). Alas, it was not to be, but rather than throw them away, for me it was a nice windfall of battlefield terrain cover.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Warlord Games: Cruel Sea

Have to say I'm interested in knowing more about this one!

However I am pondering on the facts that:

  • I have various ships in naval scales of 1/3000 .. 1/1200 .. 1/720 .. 1/700 .. 1/600 .. 1/500 .. 1/72 already
  • My "coastal forces" are currently 1/720 .. 1/700 . 1/600 (Skytex and various plastic manufacturers) with the thought of expanding my Navwar 1/3000 WW2 ship collection in that direction too
  • The Warloard Games models I havse seen pictures of looked very good; exquisite (practical for wargaming but also detailed enough to engage modellers) so I think they are between 1/350 and 1/200?

I think it might be quite expensive from the models .. but what about the rules? Can they be borrowed for other scales?

Stop Press: Update from Renko

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Jadotsville 1961

Every now and then you find something "new" and all you can say is: "Well I never!" That is the only way I can convey my amazement on watching "The Siege of Jadotsville" courtesy of Netflix and an amazing eye opener on the history of the Congo in the 1960's (see below, courtesy of NetFlix film):

At first I thought it was a made up story (akin to Apollo 19 Moon Monsters) but the truth was so close to home as shown in the film. Various scenarios immediately shout out probably using AK47?

PS: Best line in the film [Note: As time of writing remembering it] to me was: French (ex)Legionnaire Commander of the Mercenarie s speaking to teh Irish Company Commander. "You Commander have no experience of war." Quinlan (the Irish Commander) "I don't know about that. I have been married for ten years!"

For more information see:

Friday, 21 September 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge (1) How to Paint a Space Marine!

It is a strange question but what have I learnt from "the state of the art of figure painting from 1994"? I am a Charity Shop hustler always looking out for bargains. You can pick all manner of strange treasures there, unmade model kits (from Airfix WWI Female tanks to Trumpeter Chinese jets), Board Games at knock down prices) and items of curio. This is how I came across a collection of early 1990's GW Space Marine stuff, in particular a Warhammer 40K Painting Guide (see below, lain across my sinful box of Space Crusade "extras" [models I bought to spice the game up]):

On the principle of "you can always learn something if you bother to read the manual or book" I opened the Painting Guide and began to read. Back in 1994 it was written, "Thou best but some clippers to snip parts out of the frames/sprues so you do not break them!" I agreed, but it took me until 2016 when I independently purchased a cheap pair and entered into a happier modelling experience. You always snap something even if you use the sharpest modelling knife. Perhaps my older self was more attuned to continuous improvement. Two hints I have yet to follow is the use of small pieces of BlueTac in a prototype version instead of "gluing and regretting". Pinning with metal rods was also promoted, though [partly because of the infeasible size of Space Marine weaponry. Still I was impressed and read on (see below, I highlighted bits I found useful - this is a read and scribble type of text book; not much resale value in it after I have finished with it):

The painting instructions were very interesting. My technique was: basic undercoat (black to grey depending on whim and paint availability), an all over shade into the recesses [dark colour], Base [basic colour - mid tone] and then Highlight "I" and possibly "II" [lighter colour version]. GW reversed some of my logic promoting in almost all cases a white undercoat to brighten the end result of the model, go Base, then Shade only in the recesses, then Highlight "I" and "II". OK I can see a saving there. I needlessly shade the whole figure. One point that was coming across, the least paint on the figure, the more detail comes through. In tact they recommended watering down the initial Base layer - possibly painting two-three thin layers instead of one thicker layer. I chose my unfinished Ultra Marines as perfect for the 1994 retro painting experience (see below, far left are my early 2000 painting efforts [white lining on the shoulder pads] - horrendously overworked blending ending up with a very [almost too] grainy finish, moving to the centre are the troops I painted circa 2010+ for the resurrected Space Crusade Game [yellow lining on shoulder pads], then the undercoated and Vallejo Washed "others" waiting to be painted):

Note: I will never have a Space Marine Army, just some random things (sections) for Space Crusade and alternate Skirmish Sci-Fi or RPG rules (such as Rogue Trader). This should work to my advantage as "I don't really care' about the figures - it is more to see if I can paint to a plan and see if that plan producers a better figure in the end ;)

I guess in my old age I am finally trying to find short-cuts! Watch this space ;)

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Remember: 1973 Was not too good a year either!


Inflation has risen to 8.4%


March – Two IRA bombs exploded in London, killing one person and injuring 250 others. Ten people were arrested hours later at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of being involved in the bombings.


I was bemoaning the state of the world: Brexit, Trump, Putin, UK Political Parties (May and Corbyn as well as north of the border) and thinking how messed up everything was. Then a good friend reminded me of how bad it was all in the past and how things at least got better! (Eventually for the people who didn't get killed in the meantime). He wrote in an email:  

1973 wasn't a particularly "good year" - 

August 15 – The U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends, officially halting 12 years of combat activity in Southeast Asia.

Middle East: 

  • January 20 – President Richard Nixon is sworn in for his second term.
June 25 – Watergate scandal: Former White House counsel John Dean begins his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee.

today is easy peasy ...

Answer: Keep Calm and Wargame It!

Monday, 17 September 2018

2018 Connections UK Material Available to Download (Already)

I was might impressed to see that the Connections UK 2018 elves had manged to post the conference materials already:

The slides and presentations are first class and even more amazing they are being given away as free to promote a wargaming community of practice.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Gone in 60 Seconds .. Zulu Style (1972 Skirmish Rules)

It was one of those quiet names when a friend brought across a "game" ...

Somewhere in South Africa a peaceful landscape is about to be the scene of dreadful slaughter. A British Infantry patrol is about to stumble of a group of young Zulu Warriors (see below):

As the British Patrol crests the hill Pvt Jones 21121 calls out the alarm as the Zulu rise as one (see below):

The officer, Lt. Adamson, quickly calls his men to form a firing line (see below):

The Zulu's meanwhile chant a challenge (see below):

The they (the Zulu) set off at a run as the first volley erupts from the "Thin Red Line" (see below, teh first volley is at maximum range and is an abject failure with only one slight wound to a Zulu, stunning him briefly, the others charge on):

The second volley is slightly more telling. Again the range is in the maximum band and the Zulu herd keeps coming. It is clear now that the odds are approximately three to one. One Zulu in effect is (ineffectually) firing a captured rifle, while the British Officer is outside of pistol range (see below):

The rifles take four segments to load and fire which means the Zulus travel a good twelve inches before they hear the rip of the bullets (see below):

The range bracket drops to effective range file range, the Zulus are getting dispersed but still project a formidable force and threat factor. These Zulus are running on something "more than" adrenaline, being enhanced by their "medicine bags" (see below):

Perhaps the British have two chances to deliver telling rounds before it becomes a contest of bayonet and Assegai (see below, too few fall for the British players liking):

The same volley taken from a different angle (see below):

One final volley fire to the badly mauled but not defeated (and still very dangerous) Zulu foe (see below, the 'Thin Red Line' looks very thin; note the officers pistol has already been extensively used):

The dramatic British angle of that final volley which tore through Zulu flesh (see below):

But those Zulus still keep a coming as the combat now enters a ferocious hand-to-hand phase where the Zulus numbers may well tell (see below):

The first round of combat goes down as a draw to the British right hand side of the line (where Lt. Adamson is locked in a mortal do-or-die, or rather sword-to-Assagai combat) but the British gain a temporary to their left hand side as a second wave of Zulu come in (see below):

Zulu numbers begin to tell. Lt. Adamson falls, his troops meanwhile are more pragmatically interested in their own survival (see below): 

This is where even a wounded Zulu is a killer. The wounds have only slowed them down. They are not out of the fight. Another redcoat falls. Now there are only six defenders heavily outnumbered but with nothing to lose. Surrender is not an option (see below):

Half the British have fallen. One Zulu warrior in particular has felled the officer (the poor Lt. Adamson with now widowed wife) and two "rankers", but is in the process of taking on him fourth combat (see below):

Bodies pile up and chaos ensues. Half the Zulus are either dead or dying but the British are spent (see below):

The grim struggle moves to its ugly conclusion. The "indestructible paladin of a Zulu warrior" falls to the three remaining bayonets of the British (he had outstripped his supports and left himself vulnerable and exposed). The remaining three British Soldiers rally together in a final desperate stand (see below):

Three become two as one is disarmed and then finished off (see below):

The final two suffers wounds which only delays the inevitable (see below):

Finally it is over except for the moaning wounded. As many Zulu will probably die of their wounds as did in the fight (see below)

The South African hill bears no name to mark this engagement. No record of it will be found in the annals of the British Army as no survivors remained to tell the tale . Too few Zulus remember it as one amongst many. The wheel of time moves on. Only the carrion birds were happy as they feasted (see below):

An "entertaining" engagement. The 1972 rules are in the form of a time and motion study where 3:1, as per General Longstreet's dictum held sway and took the day with mathematical precision.

Note: The "Rules" used called - Skirmish Wargames Colonial 1850-1900 Period
Rules for the conduction of Colonial skirmish in miniature using tiny but perfect model figurines
Written by Michael R Blake, Stephen Curtis, Ian M Colwill and Edwin J Herbert
Printed circa 1972 (see below):

The rules to be fair in the real-time games mechanics and weapons characteristic sense still worked  very well, however more modern sense of morale was more left to the player.

PS: Also not bad for forty year old Hinchliffe Figures either ;)
Here's to the old ones figures including the few he has still to get painted from the original collection! Myself I would be interested in painting compatible Perry's in 28mm (Zulu or British).