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 The figures are all based for Phil Barker’s unpublished Horse, Foot and Guns rules, but the Polemos rules from Baccus can use the same basing, so I have a choice of which to use.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...

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