Wednesday, 6 May 2015

What's been going on

Golden Week in Japan. And a chance to update the blog. Ok, I admit I'm not good at blogging. Or rather, I'm not good at keeping a regular update. The best laid plans of mice and men, etc.

However, things have been happening. I've done very little painting, but other areas have been more productive.

First, for my Eighteenth century armies, I got and made up a star fort kit from the Paper Terrain company. I'd always wanted a Vauban style fort. I saw one in 15mm being used in a game at a show in Harrogate when I was a student. Finally, I have been able to get one, and have some armies to go with it.

Dream come true. Vauban fort!

And with some figures:

With some of my GNW Swedes

I didn't include the fort buildings in the photo. You get some barrack blocks with the kit, one for each wall section, but they tend to clutter it up a bit. Instead, I use them as town houses, which means I have a fair collection now of buildings suitable for 16th, 17th and 18th century towns in 6mm.

I also bought the snake rail fences kit, which comes with about 40 feet of fencing! For 6mm, that's a lot. The fences don't need a base, they're free standing, but without one they tend to get knocked over or moved quite easily, so at the moment I'm working on ways to base fences. The fortress bastions for the fort have the same problem, so I have to make some bases to mount the walls and bastions on, too. Incidentally, I've kept the all the wall and bastion sections as separate elements. It's easier to store like that, and I can use single bastions as redoubts if I need to.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

News and Rules

January was quiet on the gaming front, and despite my best intentions, I haven’t got much new stuff painted. What I did manage to do was to dig out and start to repair my 6mm Great Northern War armies. I’d just started painting these when we moved house a couple of years ago, and unfortunately the boxes that they were in got a little crushed in the move. The Russians suffered worse. They have a lot of broken bayonets that have had to be straightened, not always successfully. Still, it could have been worse, and for me it’s another point favouring my choice of 6mm as a wargames scale. Larger figures would have suffered a lot more damage and been much more difficult to repair. For their size, 6mm are surprisingly robust, and can take quite a lot of mishandling. And if I do have to replace figures, fifty pounds can provide the bulk of an army. When I look at the offers from some companies of army sets for around five hundred pounds (these are 28mm figures), I really wonder who can afford them. I certainly couldn’t, and I am much less stretched for cash than many in the UK.

Also, my painting style has changed since I bought them. These were the first Baccus figures I bought, and at the time I was using a white undercoat with a dark wash on top. Since then, I’ve moved to the black undercoat camp, so the first thing to do was to give the whole lot a thin black wash over their existing white undercoat. Incidentally, I prefer to paint undercoats rather than use a spray. I find that using a spray I always miss bits. Although it’s not quite as fast, applying the undercoat by brush means that I get a better coverage, use less paint, and get a better idea of the details of the sculpting.    

Anyway, I succeeded in getting the Swedes done last weekend and the Russians will be started properly this week. The figures are all based for Phil Barker’s unpublished Horse, Foot and Guns rules, but the Polemos rules from Baccus can use the same basing, so I have a choice of which to use. It’s not my best painting, but it’s adequate. While the bulk of the Swedish army is pretty simple (everyone has the same uniform; even Charles XII wore a fairly plain coat) I wasn’t sure about the Valacks. I couldn’t find any pictures of them, so, on a reference that they were Polish irregular cavalry, I assumed they would be similar to the Saxon Uhlans raised a little later in the century from the same areas, and painted them up in the same kind of dress. A picture on the Gallica website dating from the 1730’s shows costume very similar to the Cossack figures Baccus produce so I used it as my main source.

My rules preferences depend on the type of game I’ll be playing. For smaller battles, like those of the American Revolution, I use Black Powder, but I like HFG for GNW because they are about the only set I’ve played where the Swedes have any serious chance of winning. In most sets, the sheer numbers of the Russian army will overwhelm the Swedes despite their higher quality. When I got the Polemos set I looked at the list for Poltava; the Swedes get about 18 bases of infantry, against about 70 Russian. It doesn’t matter how much better the Swedes are in terms of quality, sooner or later the Russians are just going to swamp them. The lists that come with HFG give 5 elements of Swedish infantry against 18 Russian. Still long odds, but rather better than under Polemos; the morale rules in HFG mean that the Swedes might just be able to get away with a quick, destructive attack. I don’t even want to think what the chances would be for the Swedes would be in Black Powder...

After a quiet January, I managed to go gaming on two successive weekends. This may not sound much, but in Tokyo it’s quite impressive, particularly as I live in Saitama and outside Tokyo itself.

I made it to the February Pub Con in Shimo Kitazawa. Pub Con is an occasional gaming meet at the Good Heavens British style bar. The games tend to be board games rather than figures, but there is an emphasis on multi-player games, and quick and easy games, so it’s usually quite lively. I managed to lose an adventurer to a mugging on the way out of the successful looting of a dragoon’s hoard in a Dungeon Quest game; got shot down in a Down in Flames game; wiped out a rival gang of thieves in an experimental game; and finally had a series of shoot outs in a game of Ca$h and Guns. All told, it was a great day. The venue has food and drinks, comfy chairs and sofas. It’s a little difficult to find if you don’t know the area, and the Google map still seems to show the venue located at an earlier address...

The next Sunday I watched Robert and Giovanni's French getting beaten, before starting a game of Command and Colours Napoleonics. We didn't finish, but it was becoming an interesting game, and gave me a good idea of its potential. I'm already thinking of substituting the unit blocks with 6mm figures. Another project beckons...

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to everybody! A little late, I know, but better late than never. The Christmas and New Year hostilities are finally over and life is slowly returning back to something resembling normal.

One thing I have realized in the last couple of weeks is just how much of a 15mm/6mm gamer I am. Santa left two boxes of Victrix 1804 French infantry. Beautiful 28mm figures, and quite fun to put together, creating different poses. But painting?...... I really hate painting 28mm figures. Seriously, I find it much, much more difficult than the smaller scales. There's too much detail, and mistakes are easier to make. And there is definitely a tendency among 28mm gamers to emphasize the modelling aspects of the hobby. I've looked at videos on Youtube and read blog articles about how to paint 28mm figures. They all assume you want to get that 'Games Workshop' art standard. They cover shading, highlights, and how to bring out tiny details on every figure to create a perfect work of art. Look at the pics of Victrix' figures on Google. Beautiful, but more dioramas than games figures. I don't want a diorama, I want an army to game with. I have neither the patience nor the ability to paint figures to this kind of standard. (So no photos this time.) Nor do I have the time. After painting 3 figures, I went and painted a regiment of 6mm French AWI infantry (48 figures) as relief. So much easier!

Regarding 28mm figures, I'm at one with Pete Berry's rant on the Baccus website. The current fashion for gorgeously painted miniatures is relatively recent. If you look back at photos of games from the 1970's or early 1980's, the painting standard is not brilliant, but it is acceptable. It's a standard that anyone can aspire to. I look at what appears to be expected, and move on to the smaller scales. I'll keep on trying to paint them - the figures are lovely, it must be said - but I can honestly say that it'll likely be the last 28mm purchase I make. After this, back to the little guys. Small is beautiful!

Friday, 26 December 2014

Christmas is over, the New Year beckons.

Can anyone spot a theme for 2015?

Happy New Year, everyone!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas is coming.....and I'm trying to get some of my current projects out of the way before the Christmas presents are opened, and new projects initiated.

December is always a bit hectic in our family; three birthdays, a wedding anniversary, and being in Japan, we tend to treat Christmas and New Year as separate events (well, the wife does...). Add in the end of year parties, hangovers and the rest, and the time to paint stuff shrinks dramatically. And my painting rate is pretty glacial; I belong to that faction of the hobby that tends to go for the game first rather than the painting. However, I am slowly getting things shifted. The Renaissance galley fleets I really need to finish. They've been painted bit by bit, so now I'm trying to get down and do the lot. The Genoese are just about done; just the bases left to do with the water effects (which I'm still learning how to use effectively), so now I'm on to the Venetians, who are now in the shipyard.

 The colours are similar to the Genoese, mainly red, but I've left the hulls as a dark brown, and have left the poop awnings as simple canopies rather than trying to go for the 'cover all' effect of the Genoa squadron. The flags are printed so the next task is to trim the cast ones from the mast heads and put the paper ones on. Then it's just the basing to do. Together, the Italians represent over half the Christian fleet. The next to do are the Spanish and Papal ships and galleasses. Then I can worry about the Turks and Barbary pirates.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The first Christmas presents to myself have started arriving. Two boxes of Victrix 28mm 1804 French infantry. I bought them largely because Victrix had a 20% discount on them last month, so I gulped, and shelled out, mainly so that I have my own figures to join in the club Napoleonic games in Tokyo. At 17 pounds for 60 figures they seemed a good deal, about 8,000 yen, including P&P (buy them from Amazon Japan and you pay between 11,000 and 14,800 yen per box!!). 

I have to admit to being a little nervous about them. I've always been a 15mm and 6mm gamer. My painting isn't great, and I worry about putting the figures together and painting them to the kind of GW standard that seems to be the norm amongst 28mm gamers.

Other items on the waiting to arrive list are Rousselot's "Napoleon's Army" and Command and Colours Napoleonic. I also got the US and Japanese fleet packs (plus some battleships) for the Coral Sea from Scale Creep miniatures. I actually ordered these back in September, but not everything was in stock, so they asked me if I minded waiting to send everything in one package. They've arrived just in time for Christmas.

So it looks like 2015 is going to be focused on two themes; naval (galleys and WW2), and Brown Bess (my C18th War of Spanish Succession, AWI and Napoleonics). Busy times ahead!

Friday, 28 November 2014

AWI Collection

Here are some more snaps of my AWI collection. As I said previously, this is still very much a work in progress. I still have more cavalry, Continentals, artillery and French to paint up. In the meantime, these are the meagre forces at my disposal for the defence of Liberty and Freedom.

The 3rd Continental Dragoons.

Continentals, including Kirkwood's Delaware light infantry, 2nd Rhode Island and the Continental Marines (c'mon, you've got to have the Marines!).


 Artillery and riflemen.

 Militia. These were the most difficult to paint. I tried to get a mix of clothing colours and styles. It's not always obvious in this scale, and period paintings show a lot of quite dull colours - browns mainly - but I think I did an adequate job of capturing the 'not regular' appearance of the units.