Thursday, March 28, 2013

Conscript HQ is on the Move

First off, my apologies for the paucity of blog posts from me lately. Fortunately Greg and the rest of the lads (especially Greg) have been picking up my slack in admirable fashion. Thanks guys!

Anyway, the reason for my lack of blog activity is that we're moving houses. The great news is that we'll now have a dedicated gaming space (most of the ~400 sq ft finished area of the basement); the not-so-great news is that with getting the new house ready, and packing up our stuff, I haven't picked up a paint brush (except for 1:1 scale house painting) for maybe two months!

We've already started transporting gaming stuff and terrain etc. to the new place, for storage in the partly-finished utility room. I've laid out the plan for the basement on graph paper and furious schemes are in the works regarding mass purchase of "storage and display solutions" from our "co-workers" at IKEA... oh yes, and a 50" plasma TV has to fit in there somewhere...

The move date is 11 April... wish us luck...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Seven Years War 28mm Austrians from Front Rank

For Maria Theresa!
So this is kind of a "WTF?" project - 28mm Austrians from the Seven Years War.  The Seven Years War? Yes - the Seven Years War. Why the Seven Years War? Why not? Is that an answer? No. But that's really all I have for an explanation.

Austrian SYW battalion in 28mm
My main horse & musket gaming interest is the Napoleonic period.  I have a collection of Napoleonics in 15mm and another group in 28mm.  I love the period, I love the various rules and I love the games.  Rolling out for the 28mm games in particular is a lot of fun. That huge battle in Regina is probably one of the coolest games I have ever been part of.

The frontage for each figure is 15mm

But the Seven Years War is really neat.  Linear fighting (none of those savage, peasant fuelled revolutionary columns), elite officers, polluted and incompetent officers, tricorne hats, crazy gloves, pimped up cuffs and collars, neck scarves, fancy hair, halberds...and poltroons.  Poltroons! And the Hungarians - bonkers! And lots of grenadiers with mitres. Mitres!  The period has a lot to offer. The Space Marine-like shooting abilities most rule sets attribute to the Prussians are pretty annoying but the whole spectacle looks amazing on the table.  Conscript Brian H. has a 15mm scale collection of Seven Years War figures that are, quite simply, jaw dropping to see, and when he brings them out for a game its an event for sure.  Although the damn Prussians will win...

BEFORE - painted originally as an 18-casting unit, just one flag

I cannot match Brian's skill with the brush, but I have dabbled with the Seven Years War before. Back in 2009 I painted up a few 6mm Adler castings.  For Christmas that year I received a pack of Front Rank Austrians from this period.  At the time I was reading up the "Might & Reason" rules by Sam Mustafa, so I started to paint them up for fun  in line with the basing for that game.

Another BEFORE photo - note the fade on the flag
But I didn't like how it looked.  "Might & Reason" calls for very small units in 28mm scale, about 12 castings per unit.  I didn't care for the look, and I didn't like the way the units were split into two halves - was hard to figure out where the standard bearers should be. A little thing, but it is the kind of thing that really irritates me.  "Might & Reason" is not rigid on its basing, however.  You can use any basing you like as long as it is consistent, so I painted these up originally as an 18-man unit, based on three six-casting bases with a 15mm-per-figure frontage.  This little orphan project sat on the shelf after that, and there are a couple of pictures in this post that show how it looked.  The flag was from GMB, and it was very fiddly - it reacted poorly to the glue and then faded under the dullcote varnish.

AFTER - increased to 22 castings, with a second standard bearer and mounted officer
Fast forward to 2011, and Curt gets me going on these bonkers grand-manner-style Napoleonic units with 40 castings.  As I finished more and more large Austrian units, I would look at my lone SYW unit from time to time, and it looked pretty small.  Fast forward again to Curt's Analogue Hobbies Painting challenge which started last December.  I dug out a lot of old stuff to paint - mostly Sudan, some WW2, but I also came across some extra musketeers that came with the 2009 gift.  I thought I would paint up the balance of the musketeers, the mounted officer, and re-base them using the system Curt had developed for the Napoleonics - still 15mm frontage per casting, but a deeper base to protect the figures.  It seemed like a nice way to get some extra points! I didn't get to them in time for the challenge, but I still got to them over the weekend...

Poltroon - awesome! Keep that line straight!
I did not wish to make this into a massive 40-casting unit, but I hiked it up to 22 castings with a mounted officer. I added a second standard bearer, and replaced the flags.  The unit was re-based. All in all it came together pretty well.

Mounted officer dressed to the nines.
Front Rank castings are certainly "well fed", but have lots of nice detail
The Front Rank castings are interesting.  They are beefy, beefy lads, hulking 28mm figures, and they barely fit into the 15mm frontage on the bases.  It's not that they are taller, they are thicker. They have nice detail, but some of the poses, particularly for the officers, are a little awkward. The fellow with the halberd on the command base is a good example - a neat pose, but he looks very awkward...the turn of his back just isn't quite right.  On the other hand I've seen a lot worse.  The Front Rank range is very, very comprehensive and there is a lot of lovely detail on the figures.  If 28mm SYW is your thing, I suggest Front Rank for sure.

A solitary unit...for now...
Overall I was happy with this little project and how it turned out. So will this herald a new "New Insane Project?"  You never know, but it is pretty unlikely.  Why? Well, for fun I took a "Might & Reason" scenario that Brian H. designed, the Battle of Lobositz.  Doing the Austrian infantry component alone would require another seven of these units...and then there is the cavalry, the guns...and then the Prussians!  All in it was something like 350 castings between both sides. Front Rank doesn't hose you, but it isn't cheap either - and there is other stuff I want to paint.  Even if I lowered my sights - say to just try a Black Powder game - it would still be a pile of lead, and time that I should probably invest in other projects (Napoleonic Austrians, or Sudan, or who know what else) instead.

So these lads will sit on the shelf and look nice for now.  We'll see if/when I come back to the Seven Years War, and in what scale...

28mm Madhist Cavalry and Infantry Command

Madhists ready to fight the crusaders!
Some more castings from the Perry Twins.  They were oh-so close to being done in time for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, but you what they say about where "close" counts :)  I must still be jacked up from the Challenge, however, because I keep saying to myself "hey, this would have been another 60 points!".

Madhist leader

Flags from TVAG
These are Madhist command figures - one set of cavalry leaders and two sets of infantry command.  Each set contains one leader, one musician and one standard bearer.

Beja warriors bearing inspiring messages of the prophet - or not, I can't read the script, so who knows what it says?

The flags are from The Virtual Armchair General.  Learning from previous experience I dispensed with the pewter staffs for the flags and went with steel rods instead.  These flags are not going to bend.

Large flag for the leaders of the Baggara horsemen

Baggara Emir will lead the Madhist cavalry
These guys will contribute to further Madhist mayhem on the table in games of either Black Powder or LOTR-type skirmish gaming.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

15mm Siler Force

 Here's the most recent 15mm sci-fi force. I basically wanted an excuse to paint up some siler tanks. All models are Khurasan except the AA tank which is from Critical mass games Merc range. Infantry are from Blue Moon manufacturing.

I can't remember what this thing is called, but it's also made by Khurasan. However, it is not available as it possibly infringes on the IP of a popular video game. The guy from Khurasan sent me one as a gesture of goodwill for misplacing an order of Siler tanks. I must say, I'm quite satisfied with the screw-up. I just added the two infantry and landing gear guns :P

Friday, March 22, 2013

Colonial Sudan - 28mm British Medical Team

28mm British Sudan medical vignette from Perry Miniatures
Here is the last of the posts highlighting my Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge submissions - a 28mm British Medical team from the Sudan, once again from the Perry Miniatures range.

Wounded fellow being tended to by orderly
Dallas brought me these as a gift from his trip to Salute in 2012.  I feel like it is good gaming karma to paint figures that are gifts, especially ones that travelled all the way from Salute! 

Stretcher bearers carry a wounded trooper
The team consists of a doctor, a two-man stretcher team bearing a wounded soldier, and another wounded fellow being tended on the ground by an orderly. You also get a little box with some medical tools on top.  I split the models into three pieces - the Doctor on his own, the stretcher bearers on one base and the other wounded fellow and orderly on the larger round base, together with the box of tools.

Poor guy...just imagine the thirst and the heat while traveling across the Sudan...
Being wounded in any war must be miserable, but in the Sudan was particularly daunting.  The wounded were carried along with the columns, enduring the punishing heat, the pain and every single bump along the way, hoping and waiting for a chance to be evacuated by steamer along the Nile, or to a hospital ship off Suakin.  If they held on.  These Perry sculpts capture that sense beautifully.

The Doc supervising things
I plan to use these figures as accents for the Sudan gaming tables, adding character to a camp scene, or the inside of a brigade square.  A big thank you to Dallas for these guys - sorry it took me so long to get to them...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Camel Corps Command - 28mm British Colonial Sudan

So...we volunteered for this, right?
Well, you can't have the Camel Corps without camels, right?  This was another submission from the closing days of the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge - British Camel Corps Command, mounted, from Perry Miniatures' awesome 28mm Sudan figure line.

Bugler calling out the Camel Corps 'tunes
I love these sculpts - they look suitably awkward atop their camels. I don't think the British troops in Sudan ever fought while mounted on the camels - or at least, not in the major actions - but these models will be neat command models, or just character pieces for Black Powder games.

I love how the officer looks just a bit uncomfortable on top of the camel...probably not a skill covered at Eton
These also work for skirmishes - you can just imagine some officer riding off from the column for a little look-see at something, and ending up with a surprise visit from the Madhists...that sounds like a fun scenario right there...

Love these figures - bandoleers, goggles, neck curtain, khaki - classic Sudan
Another figure in this submission was a Camel Corps guard - he is supposed to be watching over a group of sitting camels - but the sitting camels haven't seen the brush yet.

These figures (as well as those from the next few posts) helped me cling to 10th place in Curt C's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. As things wrapped up, I managed to stick in 9th place - considering that I finished with 1323 points, and the winner had over 4000, I feel pretty good about that.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

KRRC - 28mm British Colonial Sudan

KRRC ready for action in the Sudan
Another unit painted for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.  This group of 24 figures will represent the 3rd battalion, 60th Regiment, King's Royal Rifle Corps.  The models are 28mm Perry castings.

Officer, musician and NCOs in the group
The KRRC served in General Graham's force out of Suakin, fighting at El Teb and again at Tamai.

Of course the riflemen always have to be DIFFERENT somehow.  No mullets or volley guns with this group, but but their straps and bags are black leather, different from the other British units in the theatre.  Somewhere - either the Perry bros' awesome page, or maybe an Osprey - I saw a reference to a print that showed the Rifles in action wearing their more "traditional" green.  That would be cool, and I thought of painting a few like that, but in the end I stuck with the traditional khaki look.

I have ordered some sabot-type bases so I can use units like this one for Black Powder games to fight as a battalion-sized unit.  Otherwise they can fight on their own in skirmish style games.  The Challenge has one day left, but I have a few more entries still left - keeping my fingers crossed to finish tenth!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hussar Sutleress - 28mm Austrian Camp Follower

28mm Hussar "Sutleress" from Wargames Foundry 
This is another entry for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, a "Sutleress", a 28mm figure from Foundry, which I believe was sculpted by the Perrys. This was part of a vignette pack called "Hussars Mounting Up".  I thought this would be a near character piece for the Challenge.

I have no idea what a "Sutleress" was - the clothing looks a touch formal for some sort of standard camp follower.  The only reference I had handy (an Osprey book on Austrian cavalry) makes a mention of them as a "camp follower" in the "Hungarian" army, and not much more.  I think this will make a neat character piece for 28mm Napoleonic games.

The Challenge is almost over - just a few entries left to share here and that will be that for this year's challenge.  I'm not sure if I will stay in the top 10 or not (right now I am clinging to 10th place by my fingernails).  Stay tuned for updates!

UPDATE - 03/13 - Thanks to blog reader Allison M. for this info: "A sutler or victualer is a civilian merchant who sells provisions to an army in the field, in camp or in quarters. The sutler sold wares from the back of a wagon or a temporary tent, allowing them to travel along with an army or to remote military outposts."

Friday, March 15, 2013

General Graham - 28mm Colonial Sudan

General Graham by Perry Miniatures
The entries for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge continue.  This is a very short/small entry - a figure representing General Gerald Graham, commander of the British forces out of the Red Sea port of Suakin.

Winner of a VC in the Crimean War and a senior commander during the British intervention in Egypt, Graham commanded the Suakin Field Force.  He led the British into battle at El Teb, and through the close call at Tamai.  After Khartoum fell he once again went to battle with the Madhists at Hashin and Tofrik.

The majority of my Sudan painting and game has been set around Suakin, so I figured General Graham was the right officer to start with, serving as a commander for games of Black Powder.

Ideal figure for Commander in Chief in Black Powder colonial games
I was a little concerned with my paint job on this figure.  I was thought he looked a little more like the Man In The Yellow Hat than a hard working VC recipient. A quick Devlan Mud wash took care of it a bit...but still...

The Perry range is very comprehensive, and they have figures for Wolseley and Stewart as well - I hope to get to them soon, perhaps even before the painting challenge wraps up.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Battle Report - 28mm WW1 In Greyscale, 28mm

Is that 28mm WW1 in grey scale? Yes - it is.
I am very fortunate to be part of an amazing gaming group here in Winnipeg, and one of the things I enjoy the most is when one member of the group all of a sudden rolls out with some awesome project and you get to game it on the table.  I remember when Dallas suddenly rolled out with his FuturKom lads, and Mike F suddenly revealed an awesome force of modern Russian Federation troops (something we need to hit the table with soon...).  It's cool to see new project, new inspiration, new ideas.

The 6'x4' table - the lock is at the bottom, and the bridge towards the top
The Entente's objective - the locks

German Uhlans scout things out
Fawcett Ave "founding director" Curt C - proprietor of the Analogue Hobbies blog - was always a master of this - new, awesome projects were common on Fawcett Avenue.  Although he now lives a few hours down the highway, he has not lost his penchant or passion for very unique, very ambitious and very compelling hobby projects that look really f***ing cool.  Who else could convince me to paint 40-man 28mm Napoleonic infantry battalions? His latest project is 28mm WW1 in grey scale, and we got play this game when he visited Winnipeg a couple of weeks ago!

German Uhlans charge the Belgian armoured "car"
The Belgian Minerva armoured "car"
The Uhlans confront the Minerva

Lone survivor of the Uhlans' crazy charge
I lack the coolness or cultural depth to explain Curt's motivations and inspirations for this undertaking, but the photos you see in this post speak for themselves - and Curt articulated it very well when he first introduced it - see here. Curt is not one for half-measures with his projects, and he is whole-hog on this one.  Troops, terrain, everything. Bottom line is that we got to have an awesome game earlier this month, one the group will certainly remember for a while.

Most maneuvering early in the game is with blinds - you can see the Entente ones taking position, while sinister Kaiser-loving blinds move up from the opposite table edge at the top of the photo

A view of the blinds from the German side
We played using "Through The Mud And The Blood" rules.  The scenario was set in the closing stages of the early phase of WW1 - armies on both sides were driving to the sea in 1914.  Belgium, desperate to hold the Germans back, was flooding its own countryside to slow them down.  The scenario imagined and encounter between the leading elements of both sides but with slightly different goals - the Germans were out to capture a bridge over a Belgian canal so they could try and turn the Entente flank, while the Entente troops were out to blow open a canal gate to continue with the flooding.  These mutually exclusive objectives would lead to carnage on the table...

German HMG team
Dallas, Frederick, Dave and Mike F would play the German side.  Kevin H and Byron M joined me on the Entente side. Curt ran the scenario with his customary meticulous attention to detail and well-developed, multi-layered plot.  The card-driven rules system seemed to lend itself well to narrative development as well as engagement in the game.  We would maneuver using blinds at first, which would be revealed either through spotting, or if they decided to shoot or take a similarly unmissable step that would single them out.  Cards determined if reinforcements came, and provided the chance for any revealed characters to add some extra oomph to attempted actions.

French troops occupy the buildings in the village - the flash of colour represents an officer

Another view of the French position
The rules revolved around the idea of "big men" - in this case unit leaders.  They are ranked at a certain level, with higher ranked leaders able to order more troops, or add more "oomph" to attempted actions.  The units themselves had two actions once activated, and could be either firing or moving, or attempting both.

Some jocks occupy the woods - that would not work out well for them...
The scenario imagined the ground already covered with mud, shell holes from earlier fighting, and a layer of water from previous flooding efforts.  So it was SLOW going.  Both sides moved along and reinforced as the cards allowed.

Germans move toward the village
Early on the Belgian Minerva armoured "car" made an appearance, as did some German Uhlans.  The Germans managed to charge the Belgians, and succeeded in knocking out the vehicle! A quintessential early WW1 encounter.  A French HMG ensured the Uhlans would not live to brag about it, however.

Germans take cover in a church grave yard

Another view of the German advance - Highlanders in the distance
Eventually it became clear that we would not be able to make it to our objective - too much mud, too many Germans!  I managed to set a French squad up in the ruins of the village while the Germans advanced along both sides of the canal.  Byron set a squad of hard hitting Highlanders in a forward defensive position in a shattered wood, while Kevin drove his Belgian infantry and dog-led HMGs toward the locks.

Germans under fire in the ruins of a church - the "spray" markers represent shock on the unit
Both sides ultimately contacted (I was needling/nagging everyone to drop the blinds and "reveal" themselves) and soon the battle was joined. My French troops and Byron's jocks were driven back by the weight of German fire, but eventually settled into defensive positions that the Germans could not unlock.  Kevin led the Belgians in a brave and futile advance/charge up the village side of the canal, but the weight of German fire was too much.

Kevin H leads the Belgians in a brave charge...
The charge goes pear-shaped, and the Belgians are driven back
In the end the battle was a draw.  The Germans got nowhere near the bridge, and we were nowhere near the canal gates.  Both sides stuck in the slow going, confused battle, fighting to a draw with serious losses on both sides...sounds like WW1 to me.

Highlanders have fallen back to a better defensive position, supported by the French HMG
These photos don't do Curt's WW1 project justice.  I encourage you to check out his blog for more pictures of the various stuff he has painted (examples here and here).  This stuff looks unreal when you see it up close.  Just contemplating all of that relativity for the different gradients etc. makes my head hurt, but Curt has pulled it off.  It's really something, a totally cool and unique game! It was just great to have the chance to play with these awesome figures and terrain.

French troops, supported by Belgian HMG team
Thanks again to Curt for running such a magnificent game, and to the large number of Fawcett gamers who came out to play.  I hope Curt can visit Winnipeg again soon!
**UPDATE - I added some photos from Dave V.  Thanks Dave!