Monday, 31 December 2012

What have we got here...?!

I received sizeable package today. But it was too early for my post-Christmas miniature orders to have arrived. What could it be?

I excitedly busted open the package...


Aha! My Blackwater Gulch kickstarter! I mentioned it back in March, so it was one of those expected-at-some-point packages. Eight heroic 28mm miniatures and some bonus sheriff dice (doesn't every gamer love special dice?), it seemed like a reasonable shout to me and is the only kickstarter I've taken the plunge at so at. The sculpts look like they'll paint up well, they can go on the assembly pile and may feature as a Challenge entry.

Friday, 28 December 2012

WWWII AAR: Securing Facility 621

Initial Contact report,  17 Commando Troop,  Second Squad, 24 October 1944. 

Operation TESTUDO

Most secret intelligence provided the location of 'Facility 621', whose purpose was unknown beyond that it was purported to be managed by the Nazi 'Science Advancement Service'.

Dropped by glider, the mission of 17 Commando Troop was to secure and hold three known entrances to the facility, allowing troops of the 1st Assault Infantry Brigade to enter, exploit and destroy the facility. Intelligence and Aerial Reconnaissance suggested that Resistance would  be high. 

The raiders approach

The assault began one hour after dusk and the squad split into two, to approach Entrance B through thickly wooded terrain either side of a dirt track. Initial fire was exchanged with regular Heer infantry, with initial casualties inflicted and incurred. Jacky-Boy caught a lucky shot and was killed, while the defenders brought up heavier weapons. That mad Scot Rossy surged forwards only to catch a panzerschreck blast. To our astonishment, he survived with barely a scratch - the giant has the luck of the devil, well or a very thick head!

First and second blood


Hunkered down and exchanging fire

Progress was slow through the rough terrain and resistance mounted by the minute. Our misfortune was compounded by the untimely return of a dog patrol, which did for 'Stiffy' Simpkins. Casualties mounted and further progress in the face of such resistance looked increasingly unlikely. 


Showing the utmost daring and bravery, Corporal Anderson scrambled over a steep incline, but we immediately came under fire and were unable to follow. We heard an exchange of fire with an unknown number of opponents, before Anderson's Sten went quiet. 

At 0217 hours, the assault was aborted. 

Casualties incurred: two KIA, one MIA, two minor injuries, leaving three combat effectives. May our colleagues have had better fortune. 

The Major

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

WWWII characters, last of the 10mm WWII

I sent my first Challenge entry to Curt well before Christmas, but my own posting has had to wait s few days. I managed to get two more Weird World War II characters finished just in time for a couple of games over Christmas. Last year, I went away for the holidays before even picking up a brush, only to be left watching others rack up points for a week. Not this time! 

On the left is a British army Chaplain taking up arms to confront the German monstrosities. A really characterful, if slight, Warlord Games miniature. I've named him Padre Jonathan Harkness. On the right, 'Mad' Ross of Erracht,  an Infinity miniature that I though would serve perfectly well as a furious claymore-wielding Scot from centuries earlier.

I couldn't resist adding a little Saltire on his backpack and decided on a simplified 'Cameron of Erracht' tartan, as the green base echoes my Commandos' berets and the flash of red that also features elsewhere in the WWWII force.

Full dress of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1940, 
wearing Cameron of Erracht tartan. Courtesy of Wikipedia

I supplemented these two with a few 10mm WWII from Pendraken, which pretty much finish my British force for Blitzkrieg Commander.  Two stands of mortars and two of  Commandos. 

I haven't decided if I will blog all of my entries, in a way it is a repeat of what Curt puts up, but also gives me a chance to ramble a little more and preserve my entries on my own corner on the blogosphere. I suspect it will come down to whether I have time to or am back at the painting table!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas bloggers!

A short message to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of my readers and followers. I hope you have a pleasant holiday full of good cheer, good company and good food, wherever you are in the world. 

And also a special thank you to my generous Secret Santa. The rattling package of small boxes was as suspected: Perry Sudan British infantry and Bashi Bazouks. I'm really looking forward to adding some colour to the latter. Ive already got a pack of mounted ones primed, together I think they will be useful for Sudan or as irregulars or slavers for Pulp gaming. Santa also sent some reading material, 'Waterloo Recollections', which looks like a fascinating selection of first-hand accounts. Thanks Santa! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

More Weird World War Two (not a Challenge entry)

I had a few Weird War British to paint before Christmas, which was my last effort before the Challenge starts proper. Unfortunately I've been really busy recently, so I didn't get these infantry finished until a day into the challenge.

The miniatures are from West Wind's Secrets of the Third Reich range. I converted one to have a long-barrelled Bren when I first bought them many moons ago. I particularly like the officer miniature.

I've found the main 'Weird War' providers are a bit lacking in inspiration for the British and found I haven't been able to do much better. While Nazis usually get all sorts of weird science and occult offerings, the British are a bit of a mish-mash of science and the mythological with no solid theme. I might go down a quasi-religious route with mine, you'll see why I mean when my first challenge entry is done.

With their more Stompy suits offering support. 

I've also knocked these barbed wire barricades up, courtesy of 4Ground. Really quick paint job on these - just some brown ink to make the wood more uniform.

Finall, I received my bloggers Secret Santa this week. Two packages - how exciting! After a good poke and shake, I've identified that one rattles a bit but isn't Lego (longstanding family joke). I think I know what might be inside each but must leave it wrapped for now!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

I am Ronin number 33...

...and I am not fully prepared

So, with the Challenge starting in a few short hours, below is what my box of goodies looks like. A motley collection, totalling 50-odd 28mm miniatures, 10 cavalry and umpteen odds and sods. A quick count suggests this is around 400 points worth.

I will confess that a good few were actually left over from last year's Challenge and I'm not sure I'll muster the enthusiasm to get them done this time around either. That includes a unit of plastic Perry British Hussars, I'm dreading those. 

I should get a few more bits to assemble over Christmas and I've yet to convert up the rest of my Spanish Cavalry, which I'll be keen to get painted. No doubt I'll also find some new tangents over the course of the next three months! So I'm fairly confident my target if 550 is achievable. 

Best wishes and good fortune to all of my fellow Ronin as well as no-participants and well-wishers. Wishing you all a very Merry Festive season. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Book Review: All the King's Men by Saul David

I picked up the attractive-looking hardback 'All the King's Men: The British Soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo' earlier in the year when it was on offer in  my friendly giant high street book chain. Purporting to be a 'compelling and vivid portrait of the British Soldier from Blenheim to Waterloo', I was expecting a slightly different perspective from the usual military history fare.

Unfortunately, It didn't really succeed at separating itself from its rivals. While it is well written and perfectly readable, I didn't find it added much of a different perspective at all. In fact, it seems to present something of an idealised view of something very different to the British Soldier: their finest generals: Marlborough, Wolfe and Wellington.

It details their brilliance, campaigns and occasional errors in some detail. But it is also frustratingly inconsistent. Some campaigns and battles are heavily detailed, some are barely referred to. There are precious few maps, many more would be welcome though those that are present are clear and appear well-drawn to my inexpert eye. It also takes huge tangents to offer context. It details Wellington's early life and Political career, which aren't hugely relevant to the prowess of the lowly infantryman under him. It also details the biography of military rivals, perhaps as a counterpoint: particularly Washington and Napoleon. Napoleon's rise and the French Revolution take up a substantial segment, despite being very heavily covered elsewhere. These don't really offer anything more than context to the thrust of the book. I think it gives undue weigh and words to the life and career of Napoleon, given the subject of the book is the British solider, not French!

There was no analysis of made British infantryman different, or better than his French, Prussian or American equivalent. It claims the British were the finest, despite their tendency to loot and pillage, but offers no real evidence to back up that assertion. It notes they lost the American War of Independence but 'learned to adapt (and) hadn't lost their ability to fight', one of many general and sweeping judgements. It barely touches on the life of an infantryman, their training or experiences and how these changed. While there are some first-hand accounts, chiefly from the memoirs of infantrymen, they seem to be those quoted in other modern histories, rather than anything unique.

Covered, but I'd prefer more about the British, thanks!

It is a very readable primer, but not something for those well-read In military history. I found the earlier sections illuminating, but more as I'm less well read on the War of the Spanish Succession and American Revolution. Given all three are well covered by military history books in English, I think you would get more depth from a specific book on each subject. Perhaps I'm being unfair and expected something that this book isn't really meant to be. As I note, it is well written and and an enjoyable as a light introduction/overview. But 'All the King's Men'? More like 'Three of the King's Men'.

Some Weird World War Two

Having dug out the WWWII for a little Christmas Pulpy goodness, I've a few bits to finish over the next week. First up was one of these 'British Steel' suits from West Wind's SOTR range. They aren't the most inspiring sculpts (compared the Incursion American ones, say), but they have quite a cute styling. Pity about the static poses, though.

I finished the left hand one a couple of years ago but think I've managed to colour-match the second, equipped with a flamethrower. You will note the new one is shinier, but I should be able to fix that with some Dullcote.

My camera also seems to have developed a Black Blob of Doom, more prevalent in this second photo. Probably some dust in the lens - it has had had a milder blob before but it went away. It's back with a vengeance, not good timing!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Digging in for the winter

In more sense than one. As well as assembling every scrap of metal and plastic in my cupboard, starting a  batch of Weird WWII which need to be finished before Christmas, I'm also finishing up as many half-finished and non-historical things as possible. 

With a quiet and mild Sunday, I've also caught up on a backlog of varnishing. As I was doing so, I realised I hadn't posted these resin emplacements for armour and artillery. Hopefully they will protect my 10mm WWII British from the usual hammering they receive!

They are from Timecast, each pair a reasonable few pounds. They are nicely sculpted and detailed and needed no preparation, so I'd definitely recommend them. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Challenge Accepted; The Great Assemble

Curt at Analogue Hobbies is running his Painting Challenge again this winter and I'm delighted to enter once more.

My target is to beat my score of last year, 519 points, just over one hundred 28mm miniatures. That's a fair amount for me to put out over three months. 
With that in mind, I ransacked my hobby boxes. This is what I came up with:

It's amazing what you have stashed away...

I will hopefully get a few more bits around Christmas, including perhaps some miniatures from my Secret Santa. In the meantime, the Great Assemble is now on - I can hopefully get this lot built over the next fortnight!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Board Game Weekend

Just back from a delightful, if chilly, weekend with the brother. Oddly, we hadn't scheduled any of our usual miniature games, mostly as I was on the train so transporting the necessaries was an issue.

Instead we busted out some board games. The first actually being a miniatures game: Angels 20. Dogfighting with pre-painted 1:150 planes. Its actually really good, a notch or two easier than Wings of War/Glory, but really fun and quick to play through. I liked the hex-based movement and the alternating turn order mean you had to predict where an opponent would end up to line up your shots. Although similar to many Pre-painted plastics, (the rules are almost identical to War at Sea), we agreed it is visually an tactical superior to all the others we've dabbled in.

 We got three games in a couple of hours. So I'd recommend it for something you can pick up and play or for less experienced gamers. Gharak has changed the flight stands to be telescopic, (read more in one of his rare blog posts), which looked ace and meant you could easily tell the altitude level of each plane. 

This poor German fighter actually survived unscathed

Next up was Caylus, a relatively complex Euro game. The theme was building a town and castle and competing for royal favour. It reminded me a lot of Agricola a it has similar man-placement and resource mechanisms. I found it less frustrating than Agricola, I think because you have 6 meeples rather than 2. But I think Agricola is perhaps a slightly better game, due to the challenge (and resulting satisfaction) and the choice of card decks perhaps making it more replayable.

Looks complicated, but surprisingly easy to pick up. 

Finally, a quick one from my collection: Braggart. A quick, humorous card game where you compete to make the most impressive boast of fantasy-world achievements. The art on the cards is good quality and the 'Liar' feature adds fun sabotage to turn great boasts into something quite bizarre and oft hilarious. 

One of my...less impressive feats

Id recommend it fr something quick and fun, but as all of these things I think the replay value is limited. I think D&D players would enjoy it in particular, perfect to start and evening off (or write some quick back story!)

All in all a fun weekend's gaming. At Christmas we hope to resurrect an old
project: side-stepping our Pulp game to a couple of quick weird World War scenarios. The best bit is I've already got all the minis for that and most of them are painted! 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Napoleonics: Cavalry, cavalry everywhere

I've been slogging away at the rest of the Household Cavalry Life Guards I posted the other week. And a slog it became, but I'm out the other side - the other five are now finished.

And with the originals, to make a more substantial unit. Why nine? Well I need eight per unit, but Perry come in packs of three so I just painted the lot. 

I'm particularly pleased with the horses, they came out well. I was a little more adventurous with the markings, though kept the coat colours very dark brown or black so they are more. Inform than my other cavalry units. I also changed the yellow cord for the trumpeter, plain it was quite jarring so I broke it up with red stripes. 

Samulus came over for a game of Sharpe Practice the other night, so while I had the table an terrain out I snapped both my units of cavalry together. The Life guards weren't quite finished at this point. I didn't take any photos of the game, so no AAR for you. 

And my next madcap scheme? More cavalry!

Photo sourced here:

Yup, I fancied adding a few Spanish cavalry to my fledgling force. The offerings are pretty dreadful, though Captain have recently released some Cazadores a Caballo, they are quite pricey. Front Rank have some but they are chunky, static and only have a couple of sculpts. Other than that, I struggled to find anything to buy so the challenge is on to convert my own. 

I mentioned the Maria Luisa Hussars before, they would be easy. But a bit more Internet research I decided those snazzy yellow Dragoon Uniforms would be nicely different to anything else. And happily, Perry French Dragoons are a pretty close fit. 

Perry French Dragoon body, head from a Victrix early French infantry (I got a single sprue from eBay). A plume from the bits box and bit of green stuff to make the bicorne a bit more prominent and voila! Pretty close I think, the main differences being the crossbelt goes the opposite way (though having just one is a start!) and the sheepskin on the horse furniture, though I removed the jagged edge of that to make it less distinctive. 

I think ill paint them as the 'Regimiento de dragones de Lusitania'. What do you think? Does anyone have a good method for yellow - I don't!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Sudan 1883, Scenario 1: Stop, Thief!

With the secret project revealed, I can do AARs for the first two games Gharak and I got through in August. This is the intro to the campaign and take place at the start of the war, though the events and places are of my own devising. 

Egypt: Spring 1883. Egyptian-held Sudan is in turmoil. El Mahdi has emerged and gathered his 'Ansar' around him: the tribes Korfodan, Beja and Nile Arabs. Yet Egypt maintains garrisons across the Sudan. The Egyptians attempt to extract these garrisons and mobilise its field armies to crush the uprising. They are aided by Britain, which provides military expertise, training and equipment to the Egyptian forces.  

Lieutenant Pilkington-Smythe is assigned to the Staff of Colonel William Hicks, chief advisor to the Egyptians.  The (fictional) garrison at Drongheda is uncomfortably close to the rebel stronghold in Kordofan. A stronghold and town on the Nile, it was chosen in as a trial location for to deliver British training in the Sudan. Training from the British army's finest: the King's Royal Rifle Corps, its small contingent led by a certain Sir Henry Huffington.  Huffington ensured he was given the assignment as he is partial to a little hunting and not so partial to soldiering, so prefers to avoid his seniors' watchful eyes. Worse, Huffington despises Hicks so much not even Cairo could hold the both of them. 

Hicks moves to extract British nationals across Egypt and the Sudan. To lose Huffington and his British trainers to the uprising would be embarrassing. But practically, Nile steamers cannot be risked in a rescue down the Nile. Instead, Lieutenant Pilkington-Smythe is dispatched with a small force to move swiftly over the friendly territory and command Huffington to return to Cairo. 

This first scenario was a little intro to ease us into the Brink of Battle rules.

Stop, Thief!

Day three of the march, with good progress made, all is quiet and our rescue party pitches for the night. 
Dawn comes, but something isn't right. Pilkington-Smythe stumbles from his tent. Where are the pack. Animals? They were right there...

The starting positions. Two Egyptian infantrymen and Pilkington-Smythe start awake, the others will rise as the racket starts (on a 5+ on turn 2, 4+ on turn 3 etc). Local tribesmen are paired, moving away with the baggage on mules and camels. Note the worst sentry in history snoozing on the hill!

Turn 2 orders phase. The rules were Brink of Battle, the 'any era' historical skirmish rules. I wrote quick rules for moving the baggage - mules were 4" or 8", camels D6" with +2 if there was an extra tribesman 'helping' them along. I bent the rules to allow group activations. The red gems denote troops who will activate in the coming turn. I wrote loose behaviour rules for the tribesman - they would both flee until threatened (i.e shot at), at which point one would turn to fight with the other making off with the loot! 

Pilkington-Smythe leads his men out to retrieve their essential supplies

I grabbed the 2012 National Geographic calendar from the wall as a rudimentary backdrop (leafing back to find a suitable one!), an idea I pilfered from someone's blog (I'll credit when I remember who!). I would like to sort a more permanent solution. 

With the commotion, the unfortunate sentry rises just in time to confront an angry tribesman...

The scenario played out over a few more turns, with the tribesmen being whittled down or abandoning their loot to flee. One nearly (oh, so nearly!) made it off. I think I made the scenario a tad too easy, while the stats for the Egyptian infantry were a bit pants, so werethe tribesmen, added to the fact they spent most of their time dragging animals rather than fighting. 

If I ran this one again, I'd stagger the pack animals, with some a longer distance from the camp, giving the tribal player the choice to play it safe and escape with a couple, or the whole lot if feeling bold! 

Our rescue party return with their baggage, having suffered just one casualty. 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Sudan: Mahdist reinforcements

My last post showed the British and Egyptian forces so far. While I already had a number of Ansar finished during Curt's painting challenge, I did add a few to supplement those. First up, I made up some more of the Perry plastics, this time as Beja tribesmen or 'fuzzy-wuzzies' (the nickname derived from the quite excellent hair they sport...). These will tend to be represent more elite warriors in game. These were painted in the same way as before, which is really quick to do and effective to get very dark African skin tones. 

I couldn't resist these camel-riders either. Great miniatures, they will be mobile and pack quite a punch. The above are loosely painted as dismounted versions of each. Perry Miniatures once more. 

A few of you commented you were looking forward to the project developing. Well, that's it so far, this was a little skirmish side-project and was never meant to take over. I'm quite pleased I painted everything to be honest!  I have some terrain I may do more work on and write up and AARs to post. But this is the most of it for now!

 Though, as I am a bit 'ooh, shiney', I would quite like a few more packs, which I may pick up here and there...

Monday, 5 November 2012

Dear Santa...

Ian over at The Blog With No Name is kindly running a gamer blog 'Secret Santa' for Christmas this year. Which is a smashing idea - who doesn't like presents, particularly gaming-related ones that our loved ones won't buy us! Assuming Royal Mail get the parcels to everyone, of course!

I'm aware that I have somewhat electic tastes and flit around projects a lot and  in'real life'  I'm  accused of being difficult to buy for (not true!). So thought I'd give my Santa some ideas by way of things I've recently had my eye on. 

First up, some reinforcements for my Napoleonic Spanish. To be a standalone force, they could do with some cavalry. I reckon the Perry French hussars would be perfectly serviceable as 'Maria Luisa Hussars', though a whole box is a squeeze out of budget. 

Don't they look dapper?

Another option would be to start another unit of infantry. I've been very tempted by the new Offensive Miniatures line as they seem very well matched to Perry, unlike Capitan who are a bit scrawny. I do like the bearskins on those Grenadiers, though the Line are the classic Spanish look.

The recently revealed Secret Project would also benefit from a couple of packs. Ive been using the Perry Miniatures Sudan range, many lovely models there, but I particularly fancy these packs:

British infantry firing line
10th Hussars swords drawn
Bashi Bazouks on foot skirmishing (above, nice to get some colour on the battlefield)
Sudanese Baggara Horse with spears

Another thought, my Saga Viking force could do with another unit of Bondi to round it out. Gripping Beast do a perfectly sized pack, and are nice minis to boot! 

I hope that's useful, Santa, unless you've got some ideas already...