Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beware the Hungarian light infantry...

....or not, more than likely. Tonight we will be playing Shako, hosted by Bill, and my 15mm Austrian lads will be marching to battle once again with Napoleon's lackeys. I don't have quite the right mix of units to meet the OB for the scenario, but I figured the least I could do was get them a bit closer by finishing of a unit of skirmishers.

I love the mix of colour in the Austrian army of the horse and musket era. Certainly there is a lot of white, but I find that makes the facings jump out. The white also lets some other cavalry and infantry units really stand out. In my well-worn Osprey book on the Austrian army of the Napoleonic era, there is a reference to a unit of Hungarian light infantry, with the requisite blue pants, but grey coats and bright orange facings. Looks perfect for a wedding, and a nice splash of colour to go with the white. So I painted up a brace of 15mm troops with this scheme and based them as skirmishers.

Skirmishers are the quickest units to paint in Shako, but for some reason this is only the second skirmish unit I have done for my 15mm Austrians. No doubt the Archduke would spin it as a major increase in support...

Anyway, we all know what happens to newly painted figures. Let's see how long these guys last tonight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sinister forces spotted....

What possible force on Earth could be more evil and sinister than Gordon Brown, Tony Hayward, Sepp Blatter and Glenn Beck put together? Why, the Dutch, of course...

We like to tease fellow Conscript Brian about his views on the Dutch, which are quite entertaining (Note - our enjoyment aside, he might be on to something. After all, who finds a way to lose a World Cup championship in a way that makes one of the most boring games in the world even sleepier - but I digress). I thought that we could capitalize on this by having the Dutch make an appearance in a 6mm WW3 game, so I threw together a couple of units that could be part of a NATO brigade.

The Dutch will have enough to make up a mechanized infantry battalion as well as a battalion of Leopard IIs. The Leos are some of the best tanks in Spearhead, so watch for the Dutch to dish out some serious abuse to the Soviets (or Putin's lackeys, depending on what era we go with) in our next WW3 game...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Astronomi-con Winnipeg 2010 - Results

Congratulations to this year's Astronomi-con Winnipeg award winners!

BEST OVERALL - BrockJ - Traitor Imperial Guard
BEST SPORTSMAN - DaveG - Witch Hunters
BEST ARMY - GraemeB - Witch Hunters
BEST APPEARANCE - MarioR - Ultramarines
BEST GENERAL - MikeK - Alaitoc Eldar
BEST TERRAIN - KevinN - "Welcome To The Jungle"
BEST SINGLE FIGURE - DaveS - Nurgle Blight Drone
BEST ARMY LIST - DaveV (me) - Eldar Swordwind

The breakdown of results are available here.

I had 6 fun games against great opponents. I have posted pictures, strategy and batreps for each game.

With regard to the other categories, I came in 2nd for Appearance, behind Mario's superbly converted and painted Ultramarines. This despite my receiving the highest Appearance score ever at an Astro event, 29/30. There's more conversions in my tournament army now than in past iterations.

With a game play record of 3W-2D-1L, I was also fortunate enough to finish Second Place Overall. Yeah, Brock and his Guard schooled me - we actually were tied for first place with identical tournament scores, and the overall event win deservedly went to Brock on the tiebreak.

The Astronomi-con series are qualifiers for Games Workshop's North American Tournament Circuit. As such, both Brock and I qualified for the Vegas Finals Invitational - the North American 40K championship tournament to be held in Las Vegas, NV in summer 2011:

My better half, J., is very interested in seeing the sights of Sin City, so I'm planning on attending the Vegas finals. Cirque de Soleil, here we come!

Thanks again to Christian, Mike and Keith for putting on one of the best 40K events around.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

First steps on a loooooong project (with crummy photos)

Devoted readers (hey - there are a few of you) will recall from February that Fawcett-Conscript-West Consigliere Curt has outlined a challenge where both he and I will build up a 25mm force to play a game of Black Powder - a new and rather grand set of rules for the horse & musket era.

I certainly love Napoleonics, and the proliferation of new rules as well as new figures in the 25mm/28mm scale (especially plastics!) has for some time now been causing me to do a few figs here and a few figs there. I have a huge hoard of metal Austrians from Foundry, and some others from companies like Front Rank and Sash & Sabre.

I had always thought one day I would paint these up and base them for Shako. And the Perry French I have painted so far are also based for Shako. Shako is not perfect, but it's pretty good, and I hoped that one day these models would see action with our group.

New rules like Lasalle and Black Powder are certainly changing the calculus. Lasalle offers real battalion-level battles, and an infinitely larger scope of scenarios. It also has drawbacks, but is pretty innovative. Black Powder is another game that does away with the pretension of representing all or even half of the very large battles which are so often a feature of Shako, and instead allows for you - even encourages you - to focus on a smaller action.

The spirit of these games is great. But they also challenge you in another way, especially if you want to do 25mm. The units are much larger - and in the case of Black Powder, really large. An average battalion in Shako is 18 foot models. An average one in Lasalle is 24, and in Black Powder, an average battalion can be as many as 36 foot models!

I have divided feelings about this. No question the large units look really, really cool. And I salute the desire to move away from "Let's do Quatre-Bras" and toward "let's do part of the advance guards from two armies clunking into each other one day in 1809". But wow - so many figures.....Black Powder (the rules are beautiful - I recommend getting them just to see the book) is really a rules set for people who have studio armies. And full credit to the authors - they don't think they are better than you, and they tell you to go nuts with any scale or basing size you want, as long the sides are consistent. Lasalle also goes out of its way to present ways to play in different scales with different base sizes. But to really capture the rules, you need to go the way they do. I'm just not sure that is practical for the long term.

Nonetheless, I have undertaken the challenge with Curt to do the units for a scenario that is small - three foot units, two cavalary units and an artillery battery. Even so, scaling for Black Powder, I will need to paint 120 foot castings just to represent the infantry! Then there will be cavalry, skirmishers and artillery....but I said I would do it, so time to start.

I already have a unit of Foundry Napoleonic Austrians based for Shako, but that won't work for our approach to Black Powder, so it's back to the hoard-o-metal, and square one.

My first unit will be 39 models - 38 foot and one mounted officer. The foot lads will be Sash & Sabre, and the mounted officer will be from Foundry. I mounted and primed 24 foot troops for painting, and polished off four of them last night. Sorry the pictures suck.

The above picture shows the 24 models - just over half of one unit.

Here is one of the "sticks".

This close-up is not too bad. The battalion will be "German" and has red facings. Unfortunately Sash & Sabre do not sell "Hungarian" troops in helmets, but I have some Front Rank guys that will do there. But one unit at a time! I like to think I can paint pretty fast, but this will take awhile. Especially because I struggle to focus.

I am going to try and post a little "counter" of some kind of the blog, to share progress and hopefully maintain some peer pressure on myself to keep at it...and hey, it's a chance for Cam to pile on.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pélican spotted in... Shilo

On my way back to Regina, yesterday, I made a stop in Shilo, near Brandon, to visit the Royal Canadian Artillery Museum. It's a very decent museum with 4 sections:
1. The outdoor collection, with British guns, captured WW2 German guns and some Soviet WW2 and Cold War weapons as well. There are no explanations outside, so you have to use your own knowledge. But I discovered that the German equipped their guns with a clever mechanism to lower the silhouette.
2. The main collection, presenting the chronological evolution of guns with the Canadian Armed Forces. Each gun comes with at least one dummy server dressed with the uniform of the era. It's a good visual reference for painting. I must praise the museum for having all the explanations in both French and English, and not bad translations at all, like I've seen too many times. And you can touch everything. I felt so proud (or alarmed) as a father to see how my 2 year old daughter could handle the shell of a 25 pounder.
3. The military history of Canada, composed mostly of posters with two or three items. Time can be spent more fruitfully in the other sections.
4. The military history of Manitoba. A surprising exhibit with lots of interesting stories. And in the corner, there was something that made me skip a heartbeat: a diorama of the Battle of the Hudson Bay! Apparently, this was the greatest naval battle of Manitoba. The ships were about 1/200, displayed in a very unrealistic "epic" formation, but there they were: The Hampshire, the Hudson's Bay, the Derring and the Pélican. I cursed myself for the rest of the trip for not bringing the camera. I'll have to go back next year. Since I did not take any pictures, I stole this photo of the 1992 replica of the Pélican from Wikipedia to add a visual dimension to my entry.

And thanks to the folks in Winnipeg for sharing a few games with me. It was nice meeting you.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Peter Nygard's Ancestral Home

I've been telling everyone that Peter Nygard built a replica of the home his family lived in when they first came to Canada (Deloraine MB specifically). It sat as a shitty plywood abortion for a few years after some controversy in which he was accused of exaggerating how humble the original house was. He finally had it finished (controversy be damned), so while in Deloraine I decided to take a few pictures and show you all how a great man once lived.

I love that he decided to include the pristine shithouse on the property. Commemorates the first of many things that would have to put up with Nygard's shit!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Review: Chapterhouse Xeno heads

As I alluded in a recent post, I've started another insane project (tm), this time a Tyranid army for Warhammer 40K. As with many of my projects, it consisted of narrowly missing a Great Deal on eBay, Bartertown, or TMP, and then being so excited about the new project that I frantically search out somewhat less-great deals and do the project anyway.

Nowadays I justify new armies by saying "these will paint up so fast" by using some simple trick or other. In this case it was to model the army after the "Alien" movie, and paint in basically monochrome with washes and gloss varnish to punch it up. Originally I was going to model the Alien heads with greenstuff, but then I came across Chapterhouse Studios' "Xeno heads" and the project just became waaay easier...

Chapterhouse Studios ( sells a variety of different resin bits to suit 40K enthusiasts - mainly Eldar and Space Marine stuff, but there is some love for Tyranid players too, with resin boneswords and lashwhips, and most importantly XENO HEADS!

So I immediately fired up an order for 60 heads, figuring that would be enough to outfit the smaller models in my army. One of the difficulties of ordering, though, was the fact that nowhere on the website are there any pictures of how the heads fit on actual Tyranid models, to judge their scale. I imagine this may be because of intellectual property issues but it made me a bit anxious as to how they would look, since there are no pics around on the 'net either. Until now anyway ;-)

Turns out I needn't have worried. The heads arrived, after a fashion, and I eagerly tore into the package. The heads come on sprues of 6, with 3 examples of each variant per sprue. The cost is roundabout $1 per head. Well worth it in my opinion; the heads are wonderfully sculpted and the casting are crisp and remarkably free of flash. One of the variants has a subtle socket in the bottom that is sometimes helpful in fitting, but the resin is easily trimmed as needed.
The heads really suit the larger Tyranid models (Raveners and Warriors) but I think they look OK with Genestealers, Hormagaunts and Termagants also. Check out the photos and you'll see what I mean.

Verdict: highly recommended. Just the thing to set your Tyranid army apart from the next nerd's, and most importantly, sets you up for a paint scheme that is quick and easy to execute. The next you see of these models they'll be ready for the table and getting slaughtered by Dave's Eldar ;-)