Monday, February 18, 2019

And Now for Something Completely Different... Superheroes!

Marvel's Alpha Flight: Back row: Shaman, Snowbird, Sasquatch, Vindicator/Guardian, Aurora. Front row: Northstar, Puck, Marrina.
One of the more "fringe" genres in tabletop wargaming has to be superheroes. Sure, you see the odd WW2 game with Captain America playing some minor role, but for the most part, superhero gaming just isn't done - by either the traditional "historical" community or even by the more adventurous sci-fi/fantasy bunch.

Omega Flight: Wild Child, Smart Alec, Box, Flashback with his "future men", Diamond Lil
For me, "peak comic book" was in the mid-1980s. I followed the Marvel titles almost exclusively, and the Uncanny X-Men with particular fervor. My favorite artist and creative person was the British-Canadian polymath, John Byrne. Together with scripter and co-plotter Chris Claremont, he created some of the best superhero stories of all time, including the "Dark Phoenix Saga" and "Days of Future Past" storylines in the Uncanny X-Men.

The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants: Avalanche, Mystique, Magneto, Pyro, Blob, Destiny
Byrne was also tapped by Marvel to create Canada's superhero team: Alpha Flight. Originally created (according to Byrne) "just to survive a battle with the X-Men," Alpha Flight proved to be so popular that they were spun off into their own title, written and drawn by Byrne. The prime adversary group for Alpha was Omega Flight. Like the Alphans, Omega Flight was created by "Department H" of the Canadian government as an officially sanctioned team of supers. While Alpha Flight were the prime team, Omega and Gamma Flights consisted of supers-in-training... and when Department H was disbanded due to budgetary considerations, the lower-tier supers took the easier rout of using their powers for selfish purposes. This allowed them to be manipulated by Delphine Courtney, a humanoid robot and agent of Jerry Jaxxon, an aggrieved former boss of James Hudson (Vindicator) who sought revenge against Hudson for "stealing" the battlesuit designed by Hudson for the company they both worked for, when Hudson discovered that the company was to turn over his invention to the US military. This resulted in a downward spiral for Jaxxon, who was fired and subsequently rendered paraplegic after a suicide attempt... Dark stuff for kids' comic books eh!
 
The Uncanny X-Men: Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Professor X, Storm, Cyclops, Wolverine
So as a side project some years ago I started buying and rebasing (and sometimes repainting and converting) Wizkids' "Heroclix" figures to create the supers of my youth. Heroclix figures can be hit and miss in terms of sculpting quality but they're usually cheap, and the variety of them is really monstrous. Pretty much every super you can think of has been made into a Heroclix figure (sometimes multiple versions), but having said that, I've still had to do conversion work on figures like Omega Flight's Box, Smart Alec, and Flashback, as well as on the "future" Colossus and Storm, before their specific models came out. For the most part, though, I just applied a black or brown wash to the models as-is and rebased them. Easy. The other great thing about Heroclix is that they're approximately 28mm scale so all of my modern 28mm models can be used with them. Great for those games set in the mid-'80s with our Eureka Soviets and US Army models!
 
The X-Men (Days of Future Past): Colossus, Storm, Logan, Kate Pryde, Franklin Richards

Sentinels
Wizkids also made Sentinels in their range - these are the giant mutant-hunting robots that have featured from time to time in the X-Men and other Marvel books. I've got two versions - the original (left) from the initial "Infinity Challenge" range and the "Alpha" at right which came later. I really prefer the sculpt on the Alpha version, and it also has exchangeable arms, torso and head to create a "damaged" version - cool. However in the Days of Future Past setting I can use both versions; the larger ones can represent the "triad patrols" combing the ruins of New York City circa 2013, while the smaller more detailed models represent the "Omega series executive cadre" that eventually kill the remaining X-Men (spoiler alert!)

Sentinel with Logan and Kate
The tricky part, of course, is actually playing games with the models. What rules to use? Well, we once played a "Days of Future Past" game years ago, I think using a modified version of GW's Lord of the Rings skirmish system. That was OK. But recently I picked up a trove of old TSR Marvel Superheroes RPG stuff so we may give that a try. MSH is pretty simple and might be suitable for skirmish gaming. There's only one way to find out, right!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 11 - Tirailleurs Algerien for the Franco-Prussian War of 1870

Turcos ready to defend the Second Empire.
My 11th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge veers once again back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Here is a unit of Tirailleurs Algeriens, the "turcos", colonial soldiers in service of the French Second Empire, ready to stand their ground in some Franco-Prussian War gaming. The figures are all 28mm metal castings from Wargames Foundry's Franco-Prussian War range - with the exception of the standard bearer, who is actually from Foundry's US Civil War range. For whatever reason, the Perry's never sculpted a standard bearer for the Zouaves/Turcos in the Foundry Franco-Prussian War collection, but thankfully the US Civil War Zouaves look nearly identical, so I swapped a figure in from that set and all was good to go!    

1e Tirailleurs Algerien

28mm figures from Wargames Foundry
The French army of the Second Empire featured many units raised from their colonial possessions in North Africa/Algeria - Zouaves, Tirailleurs Algerien and the Chasseurs D'Afrique (cavalry).  These units fought in the Crimea and Italy and built excellent reputations.  While the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 went super-very-bad for the French, these units were present at a number of the major engagements and fought bravely, among the toughest troops the French could call on.

Get your fez!
They also look cool. SUPER COOL. I love the cut of these uniforms, certainly a very unique sight on a European battlefield. 

I get a bit confused by it all, but by 1870 I believe the "Zouaves" were basically "Europeanized" units that retained the super-cool North African-style uniforms.  The Tirailleurs Algerien, however, remained as North African troops.  Naturally, they also had the super cool North African uniforms, but there were variations on the colours - the Zouaves had darker blue jackets and red pants, while these "turcos" had sky blue jackets and white/canvas coloured pants - although, confusingly, I have also seen them with sky blue pants as well...I opted for a white/canvas legging look.

As always, the packs feature plenty pans & stowage :)
The 1e Tirailleurs Algerien regiment was present at the Battle of Wissembourg, holding the town and train station against a number of Prussian attacks.  You may have noticed that I often refer to this battle in my posts - that is because the first game I hope to play will be loosely based on that battle.

I messed up when mounting the flag - it is too rolled up...now it just looks folded in half. Oh well.
I was so very excited to get painting this unit. Really, really pumped. But there were a number of small setbacks and frustrations along the way with this group... 

The standard bearer is a US civil war Zouave casting...he fits right in!
The flashing and mold lines were a real issue, and you can still see some nasty mold lines on several of the figures, mold lines I just couldn't eliminate even with hobby knife/file etc. The packing & shipping process was poorly executed, so every single figure had a badly bent rifle and bayonet, an issue I could not 100% correct, even with hours of careful bending/straightening. I wasn't sure about the sky blue on the coats (and I'm still disappointed - I don't think I found the right contrast). I tried to use colours to represent the right North African skin tone...and it didn't work, but I just coudn't find the right ones. The flag did not go on properly, and so when I folded it over, it glued dry in a folded-in-half position, so you can't read it or really get a good look on it. It looks more like the folded piece of paper that it is, rather than a nice flowing flag I meant to give an impression of...

Bring on the Prussians!
Basing the unit was a challenge too...the selection of poses for the FPW Zouave figures from Foundry is...annoying. I was able to use different types of figures in my other French regular infantry units to have a front rank firing and a rear rank that is advancing/supporting, but I can't for the the Zouave/Turcos - the figure selection doesn't work out.  It would have to be both ranks firing (or running, or attacking or whatever).

I had wanted firing poses, so went with all-firing poses without thinking it through...once they were all painted and I started to line them up for basing, it was a drag - very hard to get them to line up well. I experimented with different approaches...and in the end it still doesn't look great.

But for all these woes, well, I'm thrilled to have them finished.  While all of the little issues listed above were a pain, now that they are firmly in the rear-view mirror, who cares?! It is very exciting to have an iconic and colourful sort of unit such as this one completed and ready for a "Black Powder" game.

In terms of overall progress on my 28mm formed units for the Franco-Prussian War, things are (knock on wood) starting to come together. For the Prussians I have six units of infantry, one unit of cavalry and three batteries of artillery. This is my fourth infantry unit for the French - they also have an artillery battery and mitrailleuse battery to support them.  Just need to work on some cavalry for them, I think, and we should be nearly-all-set for a game of some sort...stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission 10 - Vostroyan Heavy Weapon Teams

Vostroyan lascannon teams for GW's Warhammer 40k setting.
Back to 40k again for my 10th submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  These are some more Vostroyan troops, members of the Astra Militarum Imperial Guard in GW's "Warhammer 40k" game.  This is a heavy weapons section - a trio of two-man teams equipped with Lascannons, the heaviest of the approximately-man-portable heavy weapons in the 40k setting, or, at least among the heaviest available to the Imperial Guardsmen (certainly the multi-melta gives a run for the money, but those are not available in this way).

Great sculpts from GW, back in the days when they made proper, metal castings.
I had an earlier submission featuring an officer and some special weapon troopers. As with that lot, these figures have also been sitting in my hoard for several years. It is a great feeling to get some paint on them, and continue to build my small collection of Vostroyan troops into something large enough to stand on its own on the gaming table.

Spotting a target down range...in reality, these things will be doing a lot of point-blank shooting.  It is 40k, after all.
Imperial Guard forces count on their heavy weapons to have any chance in the face of the assorted alien and heretic nightmares which plague the universe of the grim and dark far-future. These lascannons will be critical.  They can knock out vehicles, monsters and heavily-armoured infantry, and the three teams firing together helps to compensate for the fact that, when I am rolling the dice, at least two will miss with every volley...

Seems...not so safe to kneel that close to a heavy weapon? Oh well...
Of course they continue to feature all sorts of baroque whackiness all of the Vostroyan sculpts have - re-breathers, spooky goggles, colpacks etc.  Some of it even features on the lascannons - note the silly embossed "V" on the weapons.  It's a touch nutty, and I really like it. These are very cool sculpts, full of character.

The dismal Winnipeg winter can be seen in the blurry distance from my kitchen...not sure what these troopers would make of it...
Hopefully as the Painting Challenge progresses I will get enough Vostroyans knocked together that they can face off against Dallas' awesome Chaos renegade guardsmen in an 8th edition smack-down.

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Painting Challenge Theme Submission - Renaissance Mercenary Commander

"Can anyone tell me the way to Milan?"

This figure is another "theme submission" for Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge - it is a mounted 28mm Renaissance-era mercenary commander, of the sort which might have been seen in or around the battlefields of The Italian Wars. The figure is a 28mm casting from Wargames Foundry's excellent range for the period - sculpted by the Perry twins.

28mm sculpt from Wargames Foundry, sculpted by the Perrys.
Over the past few years Curt and Peter in Regina have been building up a very nice collection of troops to game the Italian Wars in 28mm.  I have really enjoyed following their efforts. All those pikes, all of those colours (and a lot of colourful personalities), man, it would be fun to get in on that!.  Every so often I am tempted to try it out myself - after all, the efforts of our friends tend to inspire us. The period is extremely daunting, however, so while I do have a small smattering of figures that work for the setting, anytime I thought I might give it a shot, I have turned tail before raising a brush on a figure.

Even the horse seems a bit confused...
The "mercenary" theme from this edition of the Painting Challenge inspired me to try again - as Curt says, it's a painting challenge, after all - a good chance to stretch your skills/painting experience, just a bit. I thought I would paint up one figure, just to try it out.

"The pikemen are in...Regina? Oh my goodness, that seems a long way off..."
This figure was supposed to have been carrying a (I suspect ceremonial) spear, but Foundry failed to include the spear (or any lances for the Knights...sigh) - and I liked the pose without the spear regardless.

He has a kind of confused look on his face - after all, he should have a big block of pikemen nearby, right? Instead, he is all alone in my kitchen...oh well, fun to try this out, and he'll look neat on the shelf for now.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Painting Challenge Entry Number Nine - 28mm Franco-Prussian War Artillery and Infantry

28mm Franco-Prussian War figures from Wargames Foundry.
My ninth submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge returns to a consistent recent historical theme - more Franco-Prussian War material! There is some more artillery for the Prussians, but we also switch over the French side, with an infantry unit for the French Empire. These are 28mm figures from Wargames Foundry's Franco-Prussian War range, sculpted by the Perry brothers.

Prussian Reserve Artillery

Ready to fire! Prussian reserve artillery in 28mm.
I had already done one artillery piece for the Prussians during this edition of the Challenge, and had not expected to ad a second.  But the gang at Wargames Foundry, while generally very nice, have this way of screwing up orders a touch (and also not replying to email, but I digress...).  In an order received last year, I found this Krupp gun in the box, even though I had not ordered it. Its packing code is quite similar to that of some figures I did order, but did not receive...

The crew figures are spares from other guns.
Anyway, we got it all sorted eventually. This is different from the other Prussian artillery I have painted for the FPW setting, as this is one of the larger 90mm guns that would have been part of the Prussian's Corps-level artillery reserve.

The finest product of Krupp's foundries...
The Prussian artillery - rifled, breech-loading guns - was very, very effective in 1870, and this 90mm piece barely qualifies as a black powder-era weapon.  I had planned to basically have reserve artillery be off-table for my 28mm games of "Black Powder".

The basket seats on the gun carriage make me chuckle...certainly a unique look.
But a free model is a free model! I had spare Prussian crew from the other guns, so I thought I would throw it together.  I'm sure we'll find a use for it on the gaming table - even just as a marker to show the game is about to be over as the Prussian Corps artillery is about to open fire...

78th Ligne

The 78th Ligne, ready to take their place in the French battle line.
And finally, we get back to the French! I just love the French uniforms from this period, really a central motivation inspiring me to get into this setting in the first place.  While I like painting the Prussians, really I am painting the Prussians just so I can paint the French!

Incredible detail on these wonderful 28mm sculpts from Wargames Foundry.
I just love the whole presentation - the red kepis, the baggy red trousers, the epaulettes, the blue coats...wow! What a great uniform - and this is the uniform of the regular troops!

NCO exhorts his troops as they prepare their deadly Chassepot rifles...
As with the other formed units I have painted, there are 24 figures in the unit. I'm doing relatively small numbers of castings in these units in order to allow for a bit more of them on a normal size table, and to make the overall goal of a "Black Powder" game more realistically achievable.  20 of the figures are used to represent the main unit, with four individually-based figures available to represent a mixed formation where a portion of the unit is deployed as a skirmish screen.

Individually-based figures used to mark out/represent skirmish screen to the front of the unit. 
The 78th Ligne was present at the opening battle of the Franco-Prussian War, Wissembourg, which would see a French division hold through most of a day against elements of a Bavarian and several Prussian corps.  The flag was printed out from Warflags (I have yet to find a source of French flags for the Franco-Prussian War - if someone knows of one, please leave a comment).

It's great to be painting some 28mm FPW French again, and I am getting closer and closer toward being able to run a small game of "Black Powder" using these formed units! I hope to have more FPW stuff painted as the Painting Challenge goes through its second month...

Monday, February 4, 2019

Painting Challenge Entry No. 8 - Epic 30k Super Heavy Armour

"Super-heavy" tanks in 6mm from the 14th Space Marine Legion, the Death Guard
My eighth entry to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge takes my brushes back to some Horus Heresy and Epic 30k material - the 6mm(ish)-sized-mass-battle version of GW's science fiction games.  There are two "Fellblade" class tanks and one "Falchion" class tank, and they are all painted in the markings of the 14th Space Marine Legion, known as (charmingly) the "Death Guard".

Lovely little private sculpts - in metal, with great, crisp details.
The Horus Heresy setting features lots and lots of tanks. Lots! Yay! This small scale is ideal for deploying masses of tanks, so playing 30k in "Epic" is great fun! While models exist for these beasts in the regular 28mm size of the game, getting more than one or two of those massive machines on to a regular-sized table is hard.  On the other hand, in the small size of the models in the "Epic" game lets you put whole squadrons of these monsters on a regular table, and do so with comfort!

I had painted a fair amount of Epic 30k material back in a different Painting Challenge...I think edition VII? Anyway, good to have some sci-fi breaking up my otherwise very-historical-focus these days.

I love the silhouette of the Fellblade...just a bonkers tank.
As with the 10mm FPW figures from my last submission, these are models have been painted "on the side of the table" - something I work on while other projects dry, add a layer here, colour there, and then they finish at some point.  This sort of semi-scattered painting approach may slow me down a bit overall, but I find it makes the painting more fun in general.  Particularly when the "side of the table" thing is very different in either subject or scale, it adds some variety overall.   

This angle shows some of the additional heavy weapons mounted in both the front hull and the side sponsons.
Byron already has a great a collection of Death Guard Space Marines for Epic 30k (and in 28mm too), so these are somewhat superfluous in terms of our overall group...but I do like the Death Guard, already had a few infantry and vehicles painted myself. I already had these specific models too, with their Legion iconography was sculpted into the doors, so I thought I would paint them up as intended.  I mean - how could a game where the Death Guard deploy three super-heavy tanks be better? Why, one with six super-heavy tanks, of course! I'm hoping Byron's troops won't mind the company...

The Fellblade, with its bonkers twin-main guns, and demolisher cannon, AND heavy bolters, AND quad laser weapons (on BOTH sponsons!) is one of the most heavily-armed vehicles to be found in the 30k setting (or, at least, thing that it is still a vehicle, as opposed to Titans).  It's bananas, and they are a lot of fun in Epic 30k.  Even if you are commanding just two of them in an Epic 30k game, when it is your turn to shoot...you are doing a LOT of shooting. Fun!

The Falchion - super-heavy-tank-destroyer extraordinaire!
If the Fellbalde is meant to be a kind of "general" battle tank, the Falchion has a much more specific purpose - it is a warped 30k-vision of a super-heavy-tank-destroyer, featuring a massive energy weapon (and, you know, still with the quad laser cannons on the sponsons, one presumes to let the crew have some sport while the big weapon re-charges).  The Falchion tries to knock out enemy super-heavy tanks, and also has sufficient firepower to severely damage or even knock out Titans.  Just look at that bonkers weapon! Oh man, I love the 30k setting...the very best, crazy sci-fi designs, brilliantly done.

A view of the bizarre machinery powering the Falchion's main battery.
These smaller models did not net me a whole lot of "points" in terms of painting, but every little point helps.  I look forward to a great big super-heavy-tank smackdown in Epic 30k sometime soon with the gang!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Painting Challenge Submission Seven - 10mm Franco-Prussian War

Selection of 10mm Franco-Prussian war figures - mostly from Pendraken, but a few from Magister Millitum.
My seventh submission to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge touched on a familiar theme - more Franco-Prussian war stuff, but this time in a different scale - these are some 10mm-sized figures.

When I dive into a period, I tend to overdo it.  Different scales of games give both different gaming options on the table (bigger battles vs. smaller skirmishes) and different painting & collecting challenges, a chance to experience a different "look".  One big draw for this period is the marvellous uniforms, I just love painting them, and only 28mm-sized castings, in my opinion, truly do these great uniforms justice.

At the same time, 28mm-sized figures bring a number of gaming limitations, namely a very limited ability to represent the main battles on the table.  The key encounters in the Franco-Prussian war were very large, multi-corps-per-side affairs.  I could settle in and paint only 28mm figures from this period and nothing else for years and still not crank out enough castings to represent all of the units for a major battle. And even if I did that anyway, well, no regular table would give a chance to hold all of that stuff for a game in 28mm - it would have to be huge.

So while I am excited to do 28mm "Black Powder" games (which would represent small parts of much larger battles), the only chance I will ever have to try to give the fellows a truly large battle will go to the smaller scales - 10mm or 6mm. I'm still primarily interested in 28mm, but I puttered around trying out both 10mm and 6mm in between painting rounds, but found that in this case 10mm was the winner, in particular the sculpts from Pendraken.

Last spring I painted up a few units of basic 10mm infantry to try and get a feel for painting in the scale, and just to see if I would enjoy it. I did! Now, with Curt's Painting Challenge under way again, and since I have all of the paints I use for Franco-Prussian War figures handy, I have been working on more 10mm stuff.  I have been painting it sort of "on the side of the table", doing a few here-and-there while something else dries etc.  After a few weeks of this now, I thought it would do for a submission, particularly as I don't have anything else to show for this week...

I am intending to try the "1871" rules by Bruce Weigle.  While some of the rules mechanics seem a bit bolshy to me (simultaneous movement? uh...ok...) the books themselves are a must-have for anyone interested in the period, as the research and planning he has put into the scenarios and force lists alone make these so, so worth your time.

In the basic "1871" rules, one base represents a battalion of infantry, two squadrons or cavalry, or one artillery battery.  Command figures are mounted one, two or three to a base depending on seniority. For bases I just used the handy "Flames of War" sized ones I have from Warbases, as they were on hand, and I have a lot of them already!

Prussian artillery, three batteries - sculpts from Magister Millitum
Prussian artillery, three more batteries - sculpts from Pendraken.
So in this submission there are six batteries of guns, a decent down-payment on the artillery complement of a Prussian Corp (a Prussian Corp typically had four batteries per division, as well as an artillery reserve with six or so batteries of the heavy stuff).  Among the guns are three from Magister Millitum - also fine 10mm sculpts, although on this range I have to give the edge to Pendraken.

Prussian Dragoons in 10mm - figures from Pendraken.
Two bases together represent a regiment
The cavalry are Prussian Dragoons, the two stands together representing a regiment.

Tremendous sculpts from Pendraken. Outstanding quality.
The officer is also a Magister Millitum casting (came with the guns).

Mounted Prussian officer from Magister Millitum - a fine sculpt, but I do prefer Pendraken's work in this area.
There is a unit of Prussian Jagers - this would represent the single Jager battalion attached to each Prussian Corp.

Prussian Jagers in 10mm

A splash of green among the green.
And I haven't ignored the French completely, honest! Here is a unit of French Chasseurs.  One battalion of Chasseurs was attached to each French division.

French Chasseurs in 10mm.
The single base will represent a battalion in the "1871" rules.
Of course, rules like "Black Powder" are very flexible, so there are many different rules sets under which these 10mm chaps could be pushed around the table. And "1871" can also be scaled up and down (so that one base of infantry would be regiment, or conversely, two bases could represent a battalion etc).  But, for now, I at least plan to try "1871" at some point. Even at smaller scales, large numbers of castings are needed - there were some big scraps in the Franco-Prussian war, so will call for lots of castings.

Thus, while 28mm will remain my main focus for this period, doing a few 10mm figures here-and-there throughout my painting sessions has been fun and I plan to continue that throughout the Challenge this year. With luck, it will bring a few more units like this to the table.

And will I try painting this period in 15mm too, just to see what it looks like? Yeah...probably...I'm bad for that...

This gave me another 74 points toward my goal of 1200 "points" of painting in Curt's Painting Challenge.  I'm almost half-way to my goal!