Friday, October 28, 2016

Renaissance Carnage In The Med - 1/300 Galleys Clash!

Bloody action in the Mediterranean Sea with 1/300 galleys from Skull & Crown

At the end of August Byron introduced a new, naval themed project he embraced to wash out the recent experience of a Warhammer 40k tournament - some 1/300 scale renaissance warships from Skull & Crown.  While I'm not wholly certain of the "Greg twisted my arm" characterization, I will concede to some incitement on my part...I have been broadly intrigued about this period for some time, and reading through a pair of books - Pirates of The Levant by Arturo Perez-Reverte and Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay - over the summer finally prompted me to place an order with Skull & Crown.  Since then Byron has prepared some lovely Papal ships, while I have completed a small force of Ottoman vessels.

Recommended reading - although be warned, you will probably order some galleys when you are finished...
All this to say we tried our first game of "Galleys, Guns & Glory" last night at Dallas' place, and here in this post are a few pictures of our first battle in this setting!

Initial dispositions - Ottoman forces on the left, Papal forces on the right
Ottoman ships - galiot on the bottom left, with a galley just above...the red one in the middle with two masts is the sultana, the command ship
Papal galiot and the much larger lanterna - the little discs on the decks represent soldiers on board - a lot of troops on that lanterna
This was a small battle. We wanted to try and get to know the rules a bit. For a scenario, we imagined it was some time in the early 17th century.  An Italian noble, moved for reasons unspecified (piety, shame, boldness, ambition - or all of those together, who knows?) has financed a raid by a small force of Papal ships into Ottoman waters.  They are seeking to recover what are believed to be precious Christian relics, supposedly found on a small island in the Eastern Mediterranean. As they approach their goal, they are caught by a force of Ottoman ships - battle is on, and no quarter will be given!

Papal galley and galiot (in background) move towards the enemy - backs into those oars now!
Both forces (too small to call a "fleet", really) were of equal size and composition.  The Papal ships included a Lanterna as commander, three galleys and four smaller galiots.  The Ottomans brought a Sultana (big command ship - same as Lanterna), three galleys and four smaller galiots of their own.  The Ottoman command ship included some elite Janissary crew.  The Papal ships benefitted from some short-range firepower bonuses (a taste for handguns), while the Turkish ships enjoyed some small-arms-fire bonuses, reflecting their ability to fill the skies between the vessels with arrows.

Ottoman vessels close with the papal fleet - note the little ship with the die; this is a "fusta", and used to keep track of hits on the larger ships - a very cool little feature of the game
Byron placed his excellent cloth-water mat, we put a few hills on to represent islands, and it was on! Byron and Indo took command of the Papal side, while Dallas and I commanded the Ottoman forces. 

Heavy papal force moving between the islands...the little markers on the bows of the three ships indicate their cannons have been fired and need to be reloaded; these markers are laser cut and come with the models - Skull & Crown really have thought of everything...
I deliberately made things a bit tricky by having the islands as a barrier to the engagement - again, more to get a sense of the rules and see how the maneuvering etc. would go, than any certain knowledge on my part. In an actual encounter, I'm not sure the captains of galleys would go to battle in such a way...but I thought, with religious motivation in the background, perhaps both sides would put aside such judgement just rush to get at the enemy!

The ominous sultana, with its Jannissary crew...
The Ottoman flag ship has a lot of cannons on the bow and troops on board - it would hold its fire until the last possible moment
It took a couple of turns, but soon galleys were ramming, firing huge cannons at point-blank range, blazing away with small arms and charging across in ferocious boarding actions!

Contact! The Papal galiot was boarded and the crew defeated - in the process the Papal ship caught fire, so the Ottomans will leave it for the sea rather than take it as a prize...
A Papal galley looks to join the action, but the flaming galiot is in the way...
Dallas and I were able to concentrate our force on Indo's side of the Papal line, and thanks to good fortune with the dice, before long the Ottomans had burned one Papal galiot, and captured two galleys and another galiot!

The Papal lanterna has fired its big guns....
Byron was able to bring the big Lanterna into action against one of my small galiots (the crew had been overconfident), and his soldiers swarmed aboard in a fierce assault - but miraculously my galiot captain held out! This only delayed the inevitable, and Byron did capture the small ship, but this was phyrrhic triumph, as the sequence of events had bought enough time for the big sultana to show up.  Showing no mercy for their Papal adversaries, the Turkish commanders simply rammed and opened fire on the hapless captured Ottoman ship, catching the Papal boarding parties while they were still aboard! The blizzard of artillery and small arms fire, to say nothing of the ram, obliterated the little galiot - and took Byron's lanterna troops to the bottom of the sea with them...Byron's lanterna was still afloat, but was down to its last marker - the captain marker.  It didn't look good for the Papal forces...

The little Ottoman galiot on the right is a bit too close for comfort, and was not able to get away...

Contact! The boarding spur of the lanterna hits the Ottoman galiot - which has already lost a crew token to the blizzard of artillery and small arms fire coming from the lanterna

The captain marker is always the last to go, and in this case, has heroically held out in the face of a huge assault from the lanterna's troop complement...
In the final turns the surviving Papal ships tried to change the momentum somewhat by reinforcing their lanterna with troops from their last surviving galley, but by this point the Ottomans had overwhelming numbers on their side.  The Papal troops fought ferociously - the Jannissaries and warriors on the Turkish sultana were wiped out, the sultana's own captain killed, and the sultana itself only saved thanks to the arrival of reinforcements from other Ottoman galleys.  Nonetheless the end was grim for the Papal fleet. Only a single Papal galiot escaped! 

Dallas' troops swarm aboard one of Endo's galleys...the odds do not favour the Papal forces...

Another Papal galley falls to the Ottomans...ramming and point blank fire have knocked out all the troop will make a fine prize in Istanbul
Two Ottoman galiots take a Papal galiot out...
No doubt these survivors will return to Italy with a grim tale of sacrifice, while celebrations will be had in Istanbul as that sultana receives a new commanding officer...certainly a blood battle!

The laterna's boarding party ultimately captured the small galiot - only to have the big sultana come and wipe them out in return!
The little galiot is replaced with a pile of flaming wreckage...meanwhile Byron and Indo have tried to reinforce their lanterna with spare troops from another galley
The battle gets confused, as more and more ships pile in - look at the different counters fighting aboard the Ottoman sultana - that Papal force went down fighting
"Galleys, Guns & Glory" is an extremely fun and fast-playing set of rules for this sort of battle, and the 1/300 laser-cut wood models are a real treat.  While the assembly is pretty straightforward and not complex as far as ship models go, I have to say a big "thank you" to Byron who helped me figure out how to use special thread (I think it was thread?) to put some rigging on to the ships.  I won't win any modelling awards for this, but it still really adds to the look of the ships.

The final carnage...the Papal ships are spent, with only a small galiot (on the left in the middle of the photo) able to escape...
With the Skull & Crown models, you get ships, crew markers, turn dials etc all for a pretty reasonable price.  The crew markers are a very nice and simple way for players to keep track of the back-and-forth of the battle.  At one point I thought I would perhaps use some 6mm troops to make little bases of boarding parties, but I actually like the markers a little better...YMMV. Whatever your preference, if you are looking for a fun game of Renaissance period galleys, I highly recommend Skull & Crown!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Back to Team Yankee - Soviet Motor Rifle Infantry

15mm Soviet Motor Rifle infantry from Battlefront for "Team Yankee"

My painting meanderings return to "Team Yankee", the 15mm cold-war-gone-hot game from the folks at Battlefront (based on the novel by Harold Coyle).  I had initially painted some forces back around the release of the game (nearly a year ago) during Curt's last Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. The recent release by Battlefront of a range of West German troops has prompted me to go back to my collection and start to round it out a little more for some larger games.  This has also happily provoked Dallas to start collecting a West German force of his own...always nice to see fellow Conscripts diving in!

Battlefront's box is very complete - you get everything you need to make the largest possible motor rifle company

To represent Soviet motor rifle troops I initially used 15mm modern Russian figures from Eureka. Battlefront's new releases often take a long time to arrive here in Canada, and the Russian infantry they had "released" were particularly late - but they did eventually arrive!  I want to add a second motor rifle company to my Soviet forces, so I thought I would start with the infantry, and I cracked open the box from Battlefront.

Battalion command base
The Soviet Motor Rifle infantry box has quite a bit for you - a very comprehensive pile of metal! The Soviet player in Team Yankee can vary the size of their Motor Rifle from small (and close in size to the NATO infantry platoons) to very large (with 21 bases total), and you can bolster them with a base of troops carrying shoulder-launched SAMs. This box has it all! No complaints on the selection of contents...but...

AK-74 teams - the base with the flowers serves as the company command base
Battlefront's sculpting of infantry can be quirky at times, but I generally like it.  What I find very frustrating about Battlefront is how uneven the quality of their casting can be, and this was certainly the case with this box! You expect to be cleaning up a few mold lines and removing tags, but among these figures were several absolutely brutal castings, with particular weakness on things like the magazines and barrels on the AK-74s. This was disappointing, and I wish Battlefront would do a better job on the casting process.

RPG-7 teams - you can see some of the bonky casting in the helmets
All the same, there are so many figures in this box that weaker castings can be lost among the decent castings, with dark paint and groundwork helping to overall cover these sins, and at the end of the day, we have another Motor Rifle Company ready to mount an assault on the West!

Another view of the AK-74 teams
For now they are really not "Motor Rifles" - just "Rifles" - until I get another batch of BMP infantry fighting vehicles finished.  As soon as I can get a shipment of bases in from the good folks at Warbases I'll get started on that.  Until then, I'll move on to some other Team Yankee projects.  My US mech infantry needs some M113s and other bits...

PKM MG teams - mounted on larger bases
If you are considering "Team Yankee" (and you should - it's fun!), I would still recommend the Eureka Russian infantry over the ones from Battlefront based on my experience with this box.  It's not a perfect solution - Eureka has no Russian infantry with the shoulder-launched SAMs - but they are very nice over all and you can leave the anti-air duties to the ZSU-23-4s.

Another view of the PKM MG teams - with the SAM team also visible in the back left
Another option for 15mm Soviet infantry is Khurasan (lovely sculpts - and they have incredible vehicles too), but availability of those figures is a bit hit-and-miss as the frequent "maintenance halts" leave the web store closed.  If you get through to Khurasan, be sure to order all you need!

The whole group - bring on the running dog lackeys of NATO!
Overall, it's great that there are options out there for 15mm modern gamers, so whether you go with Battlefront, Eureka, Khurasan or others, all the best with your painting projects!

Monday, October 17, 2016

More 20mm WW2 Randomness - 76mm Russian Gun

"Get that barrel lower - the fascists are STRAIGHT AHEAD!"
Here is some more random 20mm WW2 painting. This is another project which had been sitting on the desk, primed and base coated for like a year, and once I cleared off the German odds and ends from the same corner of the desk, I thought I should just finish this off as well.  This is a Russian 76mm gun.  The gun, the crew and the accessories are from the Plastic Soldier Company's very nice line of 1/72 scale plastic kits.

I built this more as an experiment than anything else - I had not attempted a large gun in 20mm scale yet, and this seemed like an easy one to try.  The kits from PSC are very, very nice.  In this case the gun could be built either as the 76mm or as (I think) a 57mm AT gun.  I felt the 76mm was a bit more "iconic" so I went with that for the model.

1/72 model kit from Plastic Soldier Company - highly recommended!

I believe the Red Army used these 76mm weapons both as direct-fire support weapons and as indirect artillery support.  I am one of those gamers that hates having indirect artillery pieces of any size beyond medium mortars on the table. But in this case I thought it would be great to have as an AT gun for the modelling skillz, however, were not strong in this case - the gun still ended up with a bit of an elevation.  This is a good reminder not to let go of a model piece before the glue is actually dry...
PSC gives you everything you need - gun, crew and accessories...

I really have to credit PSC for the all-around excellence of these 1/72 plastic kits.  And I generally hate plastic kits, so I don't praise them mildly. With PSC you get nice guns, nice selection of crews and accessories like ammo boxes and spent casings.  You really get everything you need in one fell swoop.  I guess they could throw in a base or something, but since every gamer has their own preference for basing,  I don't blame them for leaving that out.

Something for the German players to watch out for when we try 20mm WW2...

This gun will defend the motherland in games of "Battlegroup", "Chain of Command" and maybe even "Bolt Action", and give the German panzer and infantry commanders some pause...

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Few Random 20mm WW2 Germans

20mm WW2 German infantry- figures from Wargames Foundry and AB
After a long run this summer painting 30k stuff, it was time to switch painting gears.  I haven't painted any WW2 stuff in quite some time, and I have an appreciably sizable "pending pile" of the stuff, so I thought I would paint a few bits just to keep in practice.

A handy panzer faust out front...

These figures are mostly 20mm Foundry WW2 Germans, with a few from AB mixed in for kicks (and because the little range of Foundry WW2 stuff is profoundly limited). The AB castings are a little smaller (18mm, I think?) but mix in just fine overall.

On balance these would be mid-to-late war Germans, I think - particularly the chaps in camouflage smocks.

Iconic MG team pose - those fellows are AB castings
There is no particular plan involved in painting these figures - generally, they will help round out a German Panzer Grenadier platoon for games of "Chain of Command" or "Battlegroup", but I picked them because they were already primed and had been sitting around on the painting desk for a while.

Some chaps sporting rifle grenades mixed in the back
I found it to be slightly tough sledding to recall which colours I had used to paint these guys previously, but after a bit of trial-and-error I pretty much got it matched up and was able to finish them off without too much trouble.  I usually struggle with German camouflage, and this was no exception, but I aim to get "close enough" and this pretty much does that for me.

Ready for action on the gaming table
The Foundry figures were sculpted by the Perry Twins, I believe, and are wonderful figures.  But the AB castings are a true joy to paint - I don't have many of them, but that will change soon! I just wish some AB Russian infantry were out there somewhere...

Overall this was a reminder to me that I need to spend some more time writing down my painting "recipes" for different periods and settings.  While I'm tearing through a particular project, I settle on paint combinations that I get comfortable with, and just assume I will always recall them.  That didn't happen too easily this time around, something that will probably not change as I look didn't seem THAT long since I touched a WW2 figure, but I guess it was (the 2014-15 Painting Challenge maybe?)...can't trust the memory forever :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

For JamieM - Delegatus Computantis of XVI Legion

"Gentlemen - the Warmaster has sent me to assist with your leveraged buyout requirements..."
Through the summer I have been painting a steady amount of 30k stuff.  I'm actually surprised I have managed to stay this (relatively) focused for this long! But the time has come to shake things up, at least a little bit, and start painting something else.  Before I put away the 30k brushes for a little bit, there was one last figure I wanted to finish...

Some background is in order.  During Curt's last Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I accepted a number of "side duels" with some of the other participants - and was duly trounced.  One such duel was a "Horus Heresy side duel", and while I managed to paint a fair bit of 30k stuff, I was still defeated by Jamie M.  And so, to the victor, the spoils - I told Jamie to name his victory prize.

Fancy red robe to try and stand out while on assignment for Horus...
Jamie suggested an appropriate figure might be an officer from the Sons of Horus to be attached to his growing force of Word Bearers, sent by Horus to keep an eye on them. This was an excellent idea, and although it took me months to follow through, I have finally gotten around to getting the job done!

Brass etch stuff is handy for butchering an XVI Legion icon on to a shoulder pauldron...
Senior officers in the Space Marine Legions all seem to have bogus latin titles amid fairly bloated command structures.  Who would Horus send to keep an eye on things with the Word Bearers? Well, I present to you a "Delegatus Computantis" of the XVI Legion - a genetically constructed blend of super soldier and accountant.  Who else would you send to keep an eye on a bunch like the Word Bearers? As skilled at managing hedge funds and collateralised debt obligations as he is at orbital drop assaults, this officer has been designated for assignment to the Word Bearers.

The Sons of Horus all seem to affect a blend of ennui and repressed homicidal anger. Hard to see that fitting in well with the nutters in the Word Bearers. I doubt this guy will relish his assignment. I can see Aurelian boring him at meetings with readings from *cough* "devotional texts". Meanwhile Lorgar and the rest will probably be trying to conjure a means to "accidentally" catch this space-REMF with the backwash from a Stormbird...

Sorry it took so long Jamie! As soon as I can figure out a safe packing, this chap will be on his way over the Atlantic to take a place in your traitor forces.  With the red robe and borderline-pimp-style cane, he is trying to overcompensate amid the tide of fanatical believers filling the Word Bearer Legion...I hope he draws some fire for your fellows, if nothing else!

Just need to pack him up safely for shipping...
This fellow marks the conclusion of my 30k painting run of late - time to turn the brushes to something else.  The break might be brief - I am a 30k fanatic after all - but it's good to spread the mania around.  I need to get back to some other periods and's October in Winnipeg and that means many things.  The return of the NFL! The return of the NHL! Thanksgiving! And possible snow flurries in the forecast... Curt's next painting challenge will be on us before we know it!