Friday, December 31, 2010


Happy New Year! Well, here's the last of it. Cripes, what a steeple-chase this has been! Sorry for the crap photos. I literally took them 3 minutes ago.

16 figure regiment of Dragoons. (32 points)

Aide de camp group observing enemy dispositions over guns. (6 points) Note: The gun/crew are shown to give an idea of how the stand 'works' with the artillery stands. Ultimately each gun will have some similar sort of vignette with caissons lined up behind.

A Brigade-level command stand (4 points)


 ...and added 16 figures to an existing Leger Battalion (16 points)


Total should be around 58 points and right under the wire. Yikes, what a slog! I'll be interested to hear what the final tally is for everyone.

As a final note I just want to thank Dallas for putting us up to this - it has been a great impetus for me to get stuff done! Its also been super to see the efforts of all who participated. The Conscripts really took this by the bit and ran with it! Excellent work everyone!


Coming in Hot!

I'm madly trying to get some stuff done for the last minute of the Challenge. It's going to be pretty touch-and-go to see what I can finish. Lets just say the house smells like Krylon and Sarah's hairdryer is virtually overheating getting groundwork dry. I'm sure there are a few others doing the same so it will be fun to see what the results are when the dust settles. I'll be posting what I've got completed later tonight. Like 11:59pm...

Last-Minute Insanity

Finished painting some last-minute entries for the Challenge last night - something completely different - 28mm Zulus and British infantry from Wargames Factory!

I've only assembled and painted five British infantrymen so far.  There are 14 in the box but I have to say they are great in some ways and not so good in others.  On the plus side they are plastic, and thus inexpensive.  I really like the separate pith helmets and they fit very well on the heads.  On the other hand there is something very hinky going on with several of the arms.  I basically had to resculpt the right arms from shoulder to elbow to make the shooting poses look halfway normal.
The Zulus are awesome!  They come 30 to a box with a great variety of weapons (assegai, spear, knobkerrie, musket, and captured Martini-Henry rifle) with a variety of married and unmarried heads, as well as shields.  I enjoyed painting the Zulus, it reminded me quite a bit of painting Uruk-Hai for Lord of the Rings, is that wrong?

Anyway, I have the rest of the Zulu box primed and ready to go, but they certainly won't be done before the deadline tonight.  For Christmas I got some very nice models from Empress Miniatures, including some Natal Mounted Police, British and Zulu command, and a 9-pdr gun and crew. Certainly won't be running out of stuff to paint in 2011 ;-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

That "1812" thing...

OK, so I've been dancing around the idea of gaming the War of 1812 for a couple of years now. For those who don't know, the War of 1812 was a conflict fought between the early United States and the British North American
s (and early Canadians) along with their Aboriginal allies, at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. A friend of mine, Tim, is interested in the French & Indian Wars period and I thought he might be interested in the "1812" thing too. I've sent him links to various 1812 web pages, books, scenario books, etc. for the last couple of years, and he finally said, "...why don't we already commit do doing something for War of 1812?..."

...I decided it was time to get off the proverbial pot!

I wasn't sure what to do for figures, and Tim suggested an "1812" line by a newish company, Knuckleduster Miniatures. I had a look at their website and liked the look of the figures, so we decided to order a few packs and check them out!

I ordered one pack of "British/Canadian Command, Marching" and three packs of "British/Canadian Center Company, Marching" for a total of 24 figures (6 figures per pack). At only $10.00 US per pack, I thought this was pretty decent value for metal figs! Certainly beats the 8 figures for *whatever* that Foundry charges!

While waiting for the figures to arrive, I started researching the War of 1812 in earnest! (I've always had a passing interest in the conflict as it's part of Canadian military history). One regiment I came across in my research was the 49th Regiment of Foot. They had a young Lieutenant by the name of James Fitzgibbon that bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain "sharp" British Napoleonic soldier of television and literary acclaim! His exploits harassing the US forces on the Niagara Peninsula looked like they'd be perfect fodder for skirmish gaming! He was also the British officer that Laura Secord traveled through the wilderness to contact! With all these things in mind, I decided the first unit I would paint for War of 1812 would be the 49th Regiment.

The figures arrived in a timely manner and were well packaged. I set about to cleaning and basing all 24 figures. Since part of our usual gaming is 'skirmish' gaming, I based my figures on individual, 20mm metal bases by Wargame Accessories.

Aside from just showing off my painting, I thought I'd give a bit of a review of the Knuckleduster figures themselves. A comparison picture on the Knuckleduster site shows that they are comparable in size to Perry and Front Rank Napoleonics, so should mix reasonably well with those figures. Personally, I like the 'heft' of metal figures, so I was more interested in the KD line, over the plastic Perry or Victrix lines. But that's not to take anything away from Perry or Victrix - they certainly look like beautiful figures!

The KD figures have a certain 'chunky' quality to them. Some of the detail is also a bit 'over large' - as an example, the cuff buttons look like they would be about 1/2" thick if scaled up to "life size." Sometimes, there are mould lines running down the face of a figure - while this is annoying, it's also a function of the casting process and something that's difficult to avoid. In some cases, the sculpting could be a little crisper, but until I can PERSONALLY sculpt figures, I'm not going to complain too loudly!

Overall, I'm very happy with the Knuckleduster figures! They painted up very easily, and look great marching across a table!

The flags used are produced by a local fellow, Brian, who runs Vaubanner Graphics.

One thing that I like about KD's "1812" line - they plan to release figures that (to the best of my knowledge) are not available from any other company. One of the first "Big Battles" we plan to undertake will be the Battle of Crysler's Farm - involving a greatly outnumbered force of British veteran units, Canadian Fencible units and a small force of Aboriginals versus a large force of US units that were bound to attack Montreal. One unit in the British force were the Canadian Voltigeurs - basically a Lower Canada/Quebec Militia force, but they were trained and equipped at a level comparable to a British Light Infantry regiment. Knuckleduster already has plans to produce Voltigeur miniatures! KD also has plans in the works to produce characters such as Laura Secord, as well as James Fitzgibbon and figures to represent his "Green Uns" (a small force of 50 'Chosen Men' who operated as guerrilla troops, along side their Aboriginal allies, harassing the US forces on the Niagara Peninsula).

I was happy enough with the KD figures to be a 'repeat customer.' I took advantage of KD's recent Christmas sale (20% off per pack), to order enough figures to do two more units for the Crysler's Farm battle - the 89th Regiment and some Canadian Fencibles - and a couple of packs of Glengarry Light Infantry (useful for a number of other battles we may undertake, but eminently useful for skirmish games!). I will post again on this "1812" thing when I get some of those figures finished!

Oh, and for those who are interested, we plan to use the "Rocket's Red Glare" rules from Canadian Wargames Group.

Cheers, and Happy Gaming!

(footnote: ...and with this, I'm no longer in the "basement" of the Painting Challenge!! --woo-hoo!)

Valkyrie spam

Completed Elysian skimmer/flyer fleet, ready to to swoop in and mow down the enemies of the Emperor...or at least look great going down in flames

It was slow going, but I have finished the Valkyries for my 40k Elysians. This will give me six skimmer/flyer models for a 1500 point Elysian detachment. There are four Valkyries with rocket pods and multilasers, one Vendetta with three twin-linked lascannons, and a Vulture gunship with twin-linked punisher cannons. One of the Valkyries has the doors open with the door gunners in place, although sadly you can barely see them on the finished model.

Decal-wise, as I have already posted, I wanted to try and get some nose art and some kind of squadron symbol for the flyers. I remember seeing pictures of some Vietnam-era US helicopter units which often featured some unique squadron symbols on top of the official numerals etc.

The GW decal sheets are great for stenciled-numbers, but are thick with skulls (of course), planet names, vehicle names like "Hammer of the Emperor" and other stuff that did not fit what I was looking for. I wanted something a little more "contemporary" and irreverant. In the end was able to mix what I found on the net with the decals from the kits, and a decal sheet from Forge World that is actually really good (has pilot names and everything).

The gunships - the Vulture and Vendetta - as well as the CO's ride got to have some elaborate nose art: shark mouths for the gunships, and an Imperial Eagle head for the CO's Valkyrie. I also put a squadron symbol on the main access hatches of the Valkyries.

Here are a few pictures I snappped last night.

This is the squadron logo of a US Navy Viking squadron - I thought it would be sufficiently irreverant to go on the back hatches of the Valkyries

"The Road Warrior" - this is the CO's ride - the Elysian Commander and his assorted flunkies and advisors will ride in this bird; the eagle face on the nose is from a Forge World decal sheet

"Betsy" is the Vendetta gunship, set to hunt big targets with lascannons

There were two minor calamities that bit me at the last minute - I managed to ruin one set of the "Screwbirds" decals during the application process last night, so one of the Valkyries still has a blank door. I'll have to order a replacement, or just use an alternate facing "Screwbird".

The other notable problem is the canopies - they were much, much, much trickier to fit than I ancitipated. I have ranted previously about how the pilot has a damn massive skull on his shoulder pad that makes the canopies a challenge to actually place over the pilot. To get around this, I shave the skull off as part of the model assembly. But even with that, it turns out the canopies were a poor fit. Very frustrating!!! On the other hand, I will never be a patient or talented enough modeler to wow the plastic model society, and just like when there is a flaw on one model in a ten-man squad, the others tend to blend it out. Hopefully it will be the same with the Valkyries.

I am very pleased with the overall progress on this project, which started back in March of this year. Now we will be set for an airborne-style 40k smackdown. And I hope I get a few points to move up in the painting challenge!

Coming soon to an alien-infested landing zone near you...

This weekend I hope to snap some nicer official propaganda photos with the Elysians. Only a few odds and ends left to finish this project - a "scanner" for the HQ, and a banner (hopefully from Brian?) for the regimental standard carrier. Then it is on more new and exciting insane fact, another has already begun...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dead Heat...?

Well, the Painting Challenge (see sidebar) is coming down to the wire with only a few days remaining to get those models painted... looks like it's building up to a real East-West confrontation with Regina Conscript Sylvain being bumped into second place tonight by Ottawa Conscript Sean... and where is the traditional painting powerhouse Conscript Greg?  Saving up points for a final almighty tally at the bitter end, ensuring that no-one can "reaction paint" him out of an unassailable lead?  But what about the mysterious consignment of Wood Elves that arrived in Regina a few days ago?  Will the "Elfes Sylvains" ensure sweet victory for their Regina Conscript namesake?

This is getting intense so stay tuned... we'll sell you the whole seat but you'll only need THE EDGE!!!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

28mm Napoleonic French Line Artillery

Here is a 28mm Napoleonic French Line Battery using Perry castings. In 'Republic to Empire' terms this represents four 6 pounders and two 5.5 inch howitzers. Ultimately I will be adding another gun/crew and each gun will have a trail of limbers and caissons running behind.  But that's for later. So, 1 point for each foot figure and 2 points for each gun = 18 points to my tally.  Now, I just need to get those Foxconn workers painting faster. I hear its just a matter of voltage...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh My, That's a Big 'Un

...said the actress to the bishop... ;-)  Anyway, now that I've finished the base, I wanted to post a couple pics of the new addition to Hive Fleet Nostromo - the Hive Queen Bio-Titan.  I had always thought it would be fun to have a giant titan-like model for my Tyranid army, and I really like the Forgeworld Hierophant, but I just can't justify 220GBP for it...

Family portrait: (L-R) Trygon, Carnifex, Genestealer and "Mum"
Enter salvation in the form of an action figure (!).  I was at a local comic shop awhile back and noticed this amazing huge Alien action figure... inquiring, I found out that it was a McFarlane "Movie Maniacs" figure that's out of production.  Of course this is no longer a problem as we have eBay... $35 and a few weeks later a box arrives with the model.  Unfortunately it was the worst packing job I'd ever seen - a few bits of flat styrofoam and a couple pieces of newspaper, packed into a box that was two sizes too small and bulging out at the top.  Result: two busted off arms and after a fashion, a partial refund from the seller.  I pinned the arms, trimmed and textured the base and added some 'nid bits and Rippers, then painted it to match the rest of the army.  The Queen herself required no painting at all, she was conveniently pre-painted the same colour as the rest of my models!

So she will be an adequate stand-in for the Hierophant.  I've even converted, but not yet painted, two bio-cannons to plug into the chest, where the small arms are, to represent the ranged armament of the Hierophant.  Very convenient.  I'm looking forward to wheeling out this 800+ point monster in an Apocalypse game (or as we call them on Fawcett, "a pretty big game of 40K")

Alien Bio-Titan towers over Shadowsword super-heavy tank - Yikes!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Almost Finnished!

Here's the 28mm Finnish platoon I've painted for the New Year's Day game.  I built and painted the KV-1 on Sunday/Monday and finished the snow bases last night.

For the snow I used Gale Force 9 snow flock applied in the normal way (for me) with one exception: I undercoated the areas to be flocked with white paint.  I'd read that if the flock application turned out "thin" you might see the ground colour underneath and I didn't want that.

So basically I brushed white glue onto the area to be flocked, sprinkled a generous coating of snow flock on, pressed it down lightly with my finger, then blew it off.  Hey presto!  snow.

The KV-1 is in 1/48 from HobbyBoss and was quite inexpensively purchased at a local RC hobby shop (!).  The model went together fine (I left off the photoetched brass though) and was quick to paint: prime black, GW Catachan Green basecoat.  Stipple on GW Deneb Stone, then follow with a stipple coat of Skull White, leaving green showing through in some places.  Paint the national insignia and serial number (Ps.271-1, the actual number of a KV-1 in Finnish service), paint tracks, done ;-)

I've got enough figures for a reinforced platoon per the 1943-44 organization.  Company Command stand, AT squad of nine men, platoon command of four, four rifle sections of nine men each.  All that's missing now is air support... I've painted a bf109 for the Finns and am just waiting.... and waiting... on the decals to arrive from an eBay seller.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

'Republic to Empire' First Play: Rearguard on the Minho (Take II)

Last week, as our first playtest of Barry Hilton's  Republic to Empire, I set up the same battlefield we used for our inaugural 'Black Powder' game in November, a rearguard action on the Minho River as a quasi-fictional scenario set during Moore's retreat to Corunna in the winter of 1809. Dan took the British defenders and Sylvain led the French attack. As in the last game the British had two battalions of line infantry, two companies of Rifles and two sections of Royal Horse Artillery (a section each of 6 pounders and 5.5" howitzers). The British have to hold out long enough to allow the Engineers time to rig the bridge for destruction. Some monks from a local monastery have come out to help the heretics from the depredations of the French. (Each of the six monks serves as a turn counter for the engineer work party.)
This was the table a turn after set-up with the French rolling forward.
The French came on with four battalions of infantry, two squadrons of Dragoons and as a new addition: two sections of 8 pounder foot artillery. 

The French Brigade advances on a lonely regiment of Welsh fusiliers supported by two companies of Rifles and a couple detachments of Royal Horse Artillery.
We knew the rules to be much more dense than 'Black Powder' so I kept it simple for this first go and classified the majority of the troops as being from Seasoned brigades and of  Drilled quality (with the only exception being the Rifles which were classed as Veterans). Each of the  commanders were rated as Skillful.

The French Dragoons negotiate their way through a field as the rest of the Brigade marches in attack columns on the flanks. The foot artillery begins to deploy for action.
Republic to Empire (R2E) uses a movement point mechanism to enable players to pay for orders, actions and reactions.  These 'Maneuver Points' are modified by each level in the chain of command. So, for example, if you were playing a  corps-level game you would get a modifier from the Corps Commander (the C-in-C), each of your Divisional Commanders, along with  each of your Brigade Commanders within the Divisions. We were playing a very tiny game so all of this upper level command structure was not present as we only had a Brigade for each side. As each commander was rated as 'Skillful' they were given a +1 on the roll for Maneuver Points each turn.

Nearing the British defensive line the French brigadier is about to change orders from Advance to Attack.

Sylvain won the first initiative roll (something he would repeat pretty much through the entire scenario) and kicked-off the game. His forces started with an 'Advance' order which he maintained for this first turn. In R2E there are seven different orders that can be given to brigades. They are Advance, Attack, Defend, Move, Reform, Ready and Rest. Each order has a price in Maneuver Points (adjusted by the quality of the Brigade) and a set of conditions that has to be complied with, along with a series of caveats and options. It all sounds rather complicated but its really quite straightforward. One of the nuances to the game is the planning for appropriate orders for possible upcoming situations. Brigades can often stutter-step while changing orders or stall out completely.

We used the optional rule put forward by Clarence Harrison that in a small game such as this there is no need to spend MPs on maintaining an order which is required in larger actions. This allows the players more points to spend on other actions such as individual unit actions, charges and exploitation moves.

'Exploitation Moves' are a pivotal aspect of Republic to Empire as it enables players to focus their energies on a particular point of the battle in an effort to achieve that stunning breakthrough or critical defensive holding action. Essentially what happens is that after all the costs of maintaining orders is completed any remaining points can be allocated to allow either single units or entire brigades to continue their impetus. To me this is pretty exciting as it enables players to have a better chance of faithfully recreating actions such as Davout's brilliant defense at Auerstaedt.

Back to the game, Sylvain, eager to get to grips with adversary, duly uses his extra MPs to perform an Exploitation Move with his Brigade and they grind further towards the bridge and the awaiting British.

Dan's British, being on Defend orders and seeing a target-rich environment emerge in front of them, open up with the two sections of Royal Horse Artillery and the skirmish line of Rifles. The French units hit by artillery are compelled to check their resolve and one battalion retreats to get away from the  grueling canister fire.

The British gird their loins for the coming test of battle (or something like that).
Sylvain now realizes that he has to change his orders from Advance to Attack to enable his troops to get stuck in. Due to a poor MP die roll he only has enough points to change his orders and deploy his artillery. Dan's British have a breather to decide what they want to do.
The RHA 6 pounders in action, firing canister at the advancing Neuchatel infantry battalion (which breaks from the fire).
The 'Canaries'  shown here in the foreground are about to take a pounding from the pair of 6 pounders. They will break under the artillery fire and fall back.

A local monk berates the Welsh to make peace with their Maker. Meanwhile the RHA 6 pdr bangs away at the approaching French.
The Brits bravely decide to fight on and continue to bang away at the redeploying French. Nevertheless the French press their numerical advantage and prepare to charge the British line. To make a long story short both sections of guns are charged and since they are separated they do not have the firepower to see off the French assaults. The result is that all the guns are silenced and the Rifles are forced to pull back behind the Welsh infantry. In the British turn the Welsh give a blistering fire but the French take it and prepare to extract their pound of flesh.
The British general, ignoring the harranging of the monk,  knows the next few minutes will be critical to the success of his mission.
The French now have two infantry battalions and the two squadrons of Dragoons ready to charge. Sylvain wants to go in with his cavalry but the local Dragoon commander apparently doesn't like the ground and decides to allow the infantry the honour of the assault instead. The infantry duly goes in and the Rifles loose their bottle and route! This in turn cause the Welsh to check their resolve and they retreat after them. Its now a foot race to get across the bridge to which the engineering party below has very choice words at this turn of events!

The British engineer partly, aided by local 'colour', scrambles to prepare the bridge for demolition.

The 28th, feeling uneasy about the long odds, get a fire-and-brimstone speech from one of the local monks.
The British try to rally but fail and so the Welsh collide with the formed line of the 28th which disorders it. We call the battle there due to the late hour. It looks pretty grim for the British but we hypothesize that if they are lucky with some of their rolls they might yet buy enough time for the Engineers as they only need another turn or so to rig the bridge to blow. To be frank it looks pretty touch-and-go.

The British advance force caves in and its now a foot race to get across the river to escape the attacking French.

The retreating Welsh slam into the formed 28th causing disorder in their ranks.

Thoughts and Opinions:

On the whole I really liked these rules and I think I can say the same for Dan and Sylvain. Certainly they are aimed to a specific audience, one which has access to a large collection of miniatures,  an expansive playing surface and who are passionate about the Napoleonic period, but like the authors of Black Powder Mr. Hilton makes it very clear what type of game he likes to play and how it should look.

The core mechanics, once understood, are elegant, nuanced and effective. We especially liked the limitations placed upon players through the structure of Orders, Exploitation and the use of Maneuver Points. Artillery, often glossed over in other rules, is given its due by being both powerful but at the same time restrained. Cavalry is refreshingly treated as it is allowed to be used as it often was: more of a threat than a promise. The rules for combat in urban environments are simply brilliant as they reflect the brutality of this type of fighting, with great emphasis put on reserves, leadership and assault preparation.  

Some Criticisms: The rules, while beautifully laid out and obviously a labour of love, are simply too verbose and overwrought. For example, for a simple question such as "what are the rules regarding a unit's line of sight" (as opposed to arc of fire) the book has a full three-column page dedicated to it (pg 59). This loquaciousness could be forgiven if it answered the question - but it doesn't. To be frank we really don't care about the author's thoughts regarding ground scale vs figure scale vs thickness of bases, we just want to know if a unit has a 360 degree line of sight or not. The rules remind me of what a wry gentleman from the South once said to me, "Why use ten words when ten thousand will do?'

There needs to be more examples of each aspect of gameplay. This is a set of rules that reflects a certain level of tactical detail and as such players need clear confirmation of the rule's intent through diagrams and text. I know this is asking a lot from a book that is already tipping in close to 150 pages but I think this could easily be accommodated by foregoing some of the eye candy. 

Finally, and this is a quibble, the terrain movement cost table (pg 61) needs to be on the reference sheet as it is too regularly referred to be excluded.

So would I play these rules again? Most definitely, but not with every group of players. For a large group of players who don't live and breath the Horse & Musket period then I would tend to lean towards Black Powder but for 'Old Moustaches' I'd certainly use Republic to Empire.

Monday, December 20, 2010

"Let's see. What rhymes with smog, flog, and bog? Yet has nothing to do with Baldrick's rump."

That's it! It's a blog! I've reached a new level of narcissism and created a blog about, well, me.  No, actually its really about the hobby and (ahem)... me.

I wanted a spot to put up some galleries of my figures and games, along with a spot to post comments on rules n' stuff. So in the interest in not hijacking the Conscripts site with more of my blather here it is:

It's all a cunning plan, really. Come by and check it out.

Bienvenue à Braguette

This is what I have painted so far as part of my 6mm scenery project: the French village of Braguette, near Labitte. I was not supposed to work on these before 2011, but my last order of Wood Elves got late and I just could not let Dallas get ahead of me :-).

Most of the buildings are from Leva. I've met the sculptor/caster/CEO Alain Lévesque a few times in Montréal. He was kind enough to cast for free the missing part of an Ork Gargant, so I could finish the model. He was very open to suggestions and RobertR was not lacking ideas. When we were into 6mm Cold War, Alain sculpted for us LCAC Hovercrafts for the Marines. His 6mm buildings are quite large for the scale, but they sure do stand out on the table. One critic we issued Alain was that his buildings had too many windows. The truth is that we were too lazy to paint them. Some buildings in the lot are rejects: Alain was trying different formulas of Resin and he would give away the unsuccessful ones. Some of the material feels like dried clay. There is also a rejected master, behind the wind mill, on the right, probably because it was too small and had no windows. The three farm buildings with red roofs in the background are from GHQ.

Here is a close-up on the mairie with a 28mm figurine to give an idea of the actual size. I like the little arch. It has no strategic value whatsoever, but it adds a nice touch to the scenery.