Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sharp Practice - Encounter in the Peninsula

Samulus came over for a game yesterday and I whipped out an old favourite of mine: 28mm Napoleonic Peninsular War using slightly modified Sharp Practice rules. I've built up a fair amount of terrain for rural Spain and could field British against Spanish, though the latter were intended as allies rather than antagonists. So I was making do without any French, and did have to knock up some cards for the activation deck. 

As this was Samulus' first game, and my first of Sharp Practice for over a year, I kept it simple. A meeting engagement with small, balanced infantry forces. Each force had four units led by one Grade 3, one Grade 2 and two Grade one leaders. Of the units, one was  Light infantry, one 'Good' grade infantry and one 'Poor' infantry, though I shuffled around the leaders across each force. The objective was simple - small forces encounter each other in a rural region and to retain the field both aim to take and hold three defensible positions conveniently placed across the centre of the table.

Game start, and the colourful Spanish Blinds face off against the British in the opposite corner. The objectives were the farmhouse, church and walled wheat field. 

A couple of turns passed and I had rotten luck with the activation deck, with my Blinds activation only coming out once in three turns. This limited my movement and kept me in my starting corner while Samulus' Brits bounded across the table. On turn three, the Blinds were all spotted and the gloves came off. My infantry were exposed, with the well led, Good infantry in the centre took three volleys without getting chance to respond, leaving them in a bad way. The second unit safely made it to the wheatfield. 

The British put out a withering fire, forcing back the battered line infantry, by now on the verge of quitting the field. The Spanish in the wheatfield fare much better so I chose to push the poor Militia unit into the field aswell to take advantage if the cover. Things aren't looking good for the Spanish. 

I managed to rally my Centre, while the Lights took shelter in the wooded terrain to their left. 

These exchanges continued, with the most notable and surprising even being a large unit of British infantry charging battered Spanish line, who managed to repel and break them. Superior quality and command and some luck with the dice was telling. 

Meanwhile, the Militia finally make it to a position to put the 95th Rifles under fire. While they weren't that effective on the day, I do find Rifles can be  a pain, with a long range and accurate fire. 

The Spanish centre eventually broke the British to their front and sent their greatcoated light infantry off in search of the third objective. But in their state they faced no real chance of shifting the fresh Highlanders who held the Church. The Line in the wheatfield were in an exchange of attrition, as were the Militia and Rifles. The balance had shifted.

The field at game end, turn 8. Each side holds one objective, the walled field for me, and the Church for the Brits, while the third is neglected by both. Each side has taken a roughly similar level of casualties and neither of us had any great prospects of shifting the other. A draw, it seems! 

Once more, I enjoyed Sharp Practice. It had a nice level of complexity, with some attempt to model the fog of war using blinds and random activations. But it isn't too random, as units whose command card hasn't been drawn are able to take limited actions on the 'Tiffin' (or end turn card - bless the Lardies and their terminology). It does a perfectly good job of making a fun game with twists and turns, which feels right for the era and plays in two to two and a half hours. 

As I packed down, Samulus and I discussed what scale of clash the game is representing: 1:1 or up to each unit representing a company or two. This triggered by the fact each unit is modelled with their Colours, which they obviously wouldn't be in a skirmish like this. I remain content with keeping such things undefined as long as the game is fun, feels right and looks good. And they do look good carrying their Colours, if I do say so myself. 

Hopefully we'll get chance for another game soon, perhaps with some cavalry and artillery to mix things up. 

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Napoleonic British Regimental Colours

I finished fixing these Flag Dude Regimental Colours to the bearers over the past few days. I picked them up at Salute on so many months ago so it was well past time. They were already painted but needed a little touch-up work after my not-so tender ministrations with scalpel and drill. Also interesting: you can see my painting has changed in the 2 years I've been doing Naps - the chap on the right was first and the red jacket, sash and flesh are all markedly different to the other two.

The poles are all the same length. Honest!

And a shot of one full unit, because, well why not!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Back to Napoleonics: 2nd Life Guards

So a few weeks ago that brother of mine Gharak (he of many hobbies) proudly declared he was going to clear his painting desk and get back to it, after many months of distraction. Much to my shock, he declared he would work on some Napoleonics. I was stunned (and sceptical, I must admit).

Well, I'm shuffling around projects at the moment, so it wasn't too much of a problem for me to dig out some prepped Napoleonics to match him. Its been a good nine months since I last did any, which was a nice break. And voila: the first batch of a new unit of British cavalry. 

Yup, they are the creme de la creme of the British army: the Household Cavalry's 2nd Life Guards. Some Heavies to crush my brothers lighter Dragoons and Lancers. Let's hope he has a box of Cuirassiers hiding somewhere!

Ok, only four of them. They look a bit lonely, I should get cracking on batch two!

They are Perry metals. I found them much less frustrating to paint than my last Napoleonic cavalry, some Light Dragoons. Probably as I sprayed the troopers white separately from the black horses, so no white-ing out was required, unlike the piping, facings and straps of the balck-undercoated Dragoons. Awful job, that was. In comparison, these were finished off relatively quickly. I'm surprised actually, as I normally hate painting cavalry. 

A note on Historical accuracy: both regiments of the Life Guards did serve in the Peninsula from 1812, though they spent many months in Lisbon on ceremonial duties. They saw some limited action at Vittoria and San Sebastian, neither of which being the sort of game I'm trying to recreate using Sharpe Practice. The large skirmishes are more suited to the scouting and harrying abilities of the lights! The Life Guards were shipped back to Britain from 1814. These Perrys are of course meant for the Waterloo campaign, so the uniforms might be a bit off, but my limited research hasn't highlighted any major changes. 

On both service and uniforms I'm not so fussed, anyway, the models are too lovely for historical accuracy get in the way of me using them. You may also note the lack of tarletons on my Light Dragoons, also being Perrys meant for a few years later... As mentioned before, I'm a contented member of the 'what-if' club of historical gaming.

And Gharak? I queried his progress a week later. He had cleared the table, unpacked miniatures and paint...and promptly put them away again. Ah well bro, nearly there! 

UPDATE: Gharak has finished a Napoleonic French unit this week, having seen the evidence I take it back! 

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Short review and painting: Sarissa Precision Adobe Cantina

For the Secret Project, I bought a couple of the Sarissa Pecision Old West adobe line. I figured they were useful for a whole host of different games. The centrepiece was this two-story cantina. These are the bits out of the packet: basically, lots of precision-cut wood and a small instruction sheet.

I made two initial choices: to paint it unassembled (which is rare for me) and to leave the wooden boards the colour they were. So I started by dong a quick dry assembly to figure out how it went together before spraying everything that wasn't to be wood lightly with white spray primer. I split the walls into two batches to paint. Stage one was to pick out the brickwork in watered Vallejo 'Earth'. I used different consistency of paint and brushed it on lightly to give a varied texture. This avoided me doing any highlighting, but I may go back and dry brush some lighter shades on to reduce the contrast between the two colours. Stage two was to use watered down Vallejo 'Buff' on the lower portions of the walls and going up where walls would adjoin each other and other shaded areas (like around the beams). Here we are at stage two of the first batch:

Moving on, the walls got three highlights with 'Buff' mixed with white, up to a just off-white at the very tops. At all stages, I kept the paint quite thin to speed up the painting.  

Assembly now. I started off with superglue - don't bother! White glue works much better. The pieces all fit very snugly together. In fact, they can take a bit of jiggling and force to get them into the slots. I was a bit worried about breaking the thin pieces, but didn't so they much be quite sturdy. Getting them to fit in the right order is sometimes tricky, so test each piece before gluing.

Part assembled, I used elastic bands to hold the walls in while the glue dried. Probably not necessary, but a bit of a precaution.

And here we are assembled from the back and front. Quite an impressive building for its size. It also came with a ladder for roof access and I cut the doors out and mounted them on balsa-wood to make them openable. The kit was £18, a very reasonable price I thought!

I left off some of the window shutters of mine, but may add them later. You may notice that the second floor doesn't sit right from the back. For some reason the 'pins' holding the second floor on res on the beams rather than in the slots. So while everything else out of what was a pretty complex kit fit perfectly, these didn't. I emailed Sarissa these pics and they couldn't explain it either - apparently other kits in stock were fine and apparently I'm told I hadn't fudged the assembly either! Perhaps they were just being nice. Sarissa sent me another kit by way of apology - so full marks for customer service. In fact, service was impeccable, my order was dispatched very quickly and questions were answered promptly. With the price and custome service, I wouldn't hesitate to use Sarissa again, even among the booming laser-cut terrain market. Rather than leaving the unsightly gap, I fixed the issue with my kit by just clipping off the tags and filling in the slots with discarded tags. This worked fine and those particular noggins didn't seem important structurally - the rest of the structure, particularly the internal walls holds the second floor on.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

10,000 pageviews

Photo courtesy of the power of Google. 

I seem to have passed a great blogging milestone overnight: 10,000 pageviews. 

I've been slowly creeping towards it over the past few months - ever slower as my post rate has dropped from 12ish a month in the first six months of the year, to just 2 last month - oops! 

Apologies if any typos or other oddities have been creeping into my posts recently - the new Blogger interface is a nightmare on iPad, which adds to the usual typos that creep in. which means more time correcting and editing them! 

A big thanks to my readers and followers: your reading and commenting really does keep me blogging and painting! 

Monday, 15 October 2012

I haven't been to SELWG

Unlike what seems like every other gaming blogger in the UK, I couldn't make it to SELWG this year. Which sucks a bit, I would have liked to have poked about at a decent games show. It sounds like everyone had a ball of a time and picked up lots of goodies. 

I did get a trip to Greenwich on a lovely crisp autumnal day, taking a river boat rather than the tube for a change. Once there, I visited the recently re-opened Cutty Sark. While it was the Missus' treat, I did get to squeeze a bit of history in at least! Today I get the Eurostar to Bruges for a relaxing few days break. Bruges doesn't seem to be a hotbed of gaming, but ive brought the bumper WI issue 300 to keep me entertained and of course there is certainly plenty of history in the area to absorb. 

Approaching Greenwich

View from the deck

The hull of the now-raised Cutty Sark

I did hope to have some finished models to share, shock horror I have been painting Napoleonics once again. After 9 months off them, I could just about face more red and white. They just need finishing touches and basing, so I'll post them next week. 

I may get some more blogging time over the next few days, so I may be able to  post a few other bits that I had planned but haven't got around to writing. 

Monday, 1 October 2012

Still around, some aimless progress

You may have noticed a dearth of posts here. This is mostly because I've been pretty busy with real life for the past 6 weeks or so I've not really put a paintbrush to miniature. At least I feels that way, for some reason I've just not been feeling it recently. 

I exaggerate slightly, I have done a few bits in a vaguely aimless way. When I'm daunted or disinterested by bigger projects, I fall back on the old faithful: Pulp. the project of endless possibilities, of great figures for no particular reason. 

First up is a new NPC: 'Mustafa'. An Arab trader with goods for sale at the right price - some haggling required! Perhaps he also trades information, rumours and gossip. But will he help or hinder our heroes?

The miniature is from Black Cat. I don't think his tunic came out too well but as a minor character he'll do. 

Next up, the party leader for an antagonistic adventuring association: 'Monsieur Leclerc' of the Societe Archaeologique. 

I'm really pleased with the paint job on him. I started looking up French Foreign Legion uniforms, realised they seemed pretty varied in the early 20th century so went with a nonspecific military uniform. He was a pleasure to paint too, as always with Artizan Designs 'Thrilling Tales' range. The only thing I'm not sure about is his glasses lenses - what do you think?

Mustafa tempts Leclerc with an offer of information

Both of these still need varnishing, after much browsing of forums I settled on a new regime using brush-on Windsor and Newton matt varnish then Testors Dullcote. Despite the 'matt' being more satin, meaning it sometimes needing two coats of Dullcote, I was sick of touching up chipped minis. I may even go back and varnish/dullcote some older minis for the extra protection. 

I also finished these:

Yup, that's two bases, which one day will have Harpies on for Aegeus. The harpies themselves are half assembled. As I say, I've been a bit aimless!