Once you have rivers, you need boats

I have plans for lots of Sharp Practice games set in the post-Napoleonic period, with Medetia and Fleurie again going at each other, and I fancy having the option for some riverine and amphibious actions. Now that the river bank sections are done, which can also serve as coastline or lake shores, I need a few boats for the men to use to get themselves into all sorts of trouble dealing with currents, contrary winds and the like.

I have scratch-built one in the past as a test piece, and was reasonably happy with it. However, boat building is time-consuming and I decided I’d rather see what was on offer to buy. So far I have liked the look of the Small Row Boat that Ainsty produce, and also fancy two that are available from Games of War.

I decided to order a sample of each, and the Games of War ones have arrived first (very speedy service). These are the Jolly Boat and Tender from their pirate equipment range, and lovely models they are too. They are very detailed and produced in a very light resin-type material, to a high quality. I’m very pleased with them and may order a few more. The added bonus is their price: £5 each, with free postage. The £2.80 postage the package was marked with therefore brings these excellent models down to the equivalent of £3.60 each. That’s a bargain in my book.

Each will hokd about half a dozen 28mm figures on 1 inch bases (such as those below), or a couple more of the 19mm round bases I use for my 19th century forces. That’s fine for my purposes and will pretty much allow a Sharp Practice ‘group’ of about 8-10 figures to be carried in each boat. Handy.

Once the Ainsty order arrives I’ll post a picture of their boat, and the other related item I bought..


It must be 10 years or more since my only previous visit to the Triples show, but yesterday the weather was fantastic enough to demand a drive in the countryside to Sheffield, only 45 minutes away for me.

As a show, it was OK, much as any other I guess. I arrived in the afternoon and it was fairly quiet although there did still seem to be quite a few people around. The lighting was better than that at Salute (not saying much) but not great. Still, I was able to see what I wanted to see and the lack of crowds made it that bit easier.

Two priorities for me to see were Bruce Weigle’s St Quentin FPW game in 6mm and The Ilkely Lads’ Zorndorf. Both were superb and worth the trip alone. The scenery and sense of accuracy/reality of the St Quentin table were among the best I’ve seen, and it was nice to see some Heroics & Ros figures in use rather than the inevitable Baccus you tend to see these days. The battle had been played through earlier in the day so all was quiet by the time I was there. There was to be a re-play on Sunday.

I specifically sought out James Roach (Olicanalad) at the Zorndorf game as he’d recently painted a commission for me (the Saxon Rutowski Dragoons posted previously) and I hadn’t met him before to say hello. James was very welcoming and we chatted for a few minutes before confirming some further commissions that he’s going to fit into his busy schedule. The game itself was very impressive and it was great to see close up the large table covered in James’ work. The cavalry especially, and the hussars in particular, were awesome, as were all the hand-painted flags. Definitely eye candy!

Shopping wise I did pretty well. Some bargain old Ospreys (The Black Watch, Sudan armies and Ottoman armies), a handful of paints and some brushes, as well as a few figures – not something I generally buy at shows actually. I picked up a couple of packs of Perry’s from Dave Thomas, and a pack of Copplestone 15mm fantasy (bears and shape changers) for something completely different. Best of all was a good chat with Graham at Crann Tara (and Bob who was there at the same time), who in between discussion on future release plans, future games and flag commissions, did me a very generous deal on some superb Royal Ecossais who will be accompanying my Legion de Fleurie when they are done. Graham is a real enthusiast for the hobby and always a pleasure to spend time with. His corner of one of the halls was fairly warm, so he would definitely have earned the beer he was promising himself when he got back to his hotel!

A good trip out then, a bit of spending, and some familiar faces.

A couple of pics of the St Quentin game (I forgot to take any of Zorndorf, but James will have better on his blog anyway):



The Army Prepares to March

.. well, be carried more like.

As my figures almost always fight at home I’ve not had much need to prepare proper transport facilities for them. However, with the increased size of the force I’m taking to Ayton this year I needed something a bit better than just the usual boxfiles, bubblewrap and prayer – especially for individually based figures which will be vulnerable to falling over if not packed properly. Advice from other gamers (in particular Goat Major) led me to KR Multicases, who have a vast range of storage and transport packaging for wargame armies. Their stand at Salute was suitably grand but it was a bit crowded so I didn’t queue up for advice (also, I had no intention of buying anything there as I’d have had to lug it around for the rest of the day).

I did pick up a catalogue though and had a good look at the options before ringing the company last week. I spoke to a very helpful young lady who talked me through the different options and helped me come up with a useful mix of foam trays, all fitting inside a single touch cardboard case. Everything arrived a few days later and I’m very pleased with the quality and practicality of the KR stuff. I’ve gone for half-sized trays, in 2 different compartment sizes. This gives me plenty of flexibility for skirmishers, artillery crew, artillery pieces, scenery, dice and even cavalry. I easily managed to fill all the trays, which makes me think I might need to buy another case before too long!

All in all I’m impressed with KR’s products and service, and I think £25 is decent for something like this that’s going to last a long time.

Here’s a quick pic of some of the packed trays in situ.

FPW Expansion Plans

Following the very enjoyable Battle of Wingen with Simon a couple of weeks ago, there are plans for a bigger game some time in the future, involving 4 players. This appeals a lot, and I think the rules will easily support a multi-player set up and allow each player to command a full corps or so without getting bogged down in complexity or slow play.

I have most of the figures I’d need for this game, but it’s an opportunity to return to some ideas I’d previously had for increasing the forces on both sides – something every wargamer’s inner megalomaniac loves!

My existing Prussian/German and French forces are based on infantry corps of 2 and 3 divisions respectively. I have a full Prussian corps of 2 divisions plus corps assets, and 1 Bavarian division. I intend to expand the latter into a composite German allied corps by adding a 2nd division made up of various contingents, namely some Wurttemburgers, Brunswickers and possibly some Hessians. In addition there will be a couple of reserve cavalry divisions, which are largely done already.

The French have 4 divisions already, plus the Guard Grenadier division (well, you have to don’t you?) and a reserve cavalry division. I would aim to add 1-2 more infantry divisions and a 2nd corps command to roughly match the Germans.

This will give me overall forces representing almost 60,000 men per side – enough to give a decent impression of a good-sized battle of the period.

I need to have a look through my remaining stocks of unpainted Heroics & Ros to work out what I’ll need to order to complete this project, and then I’ll need to set some painting time aside over the summer to get them all done!

Maybe next year for the 1859 Austrians and Italians then.

In the meantime a quick pic of the other type of thing I’ll be doing a bit more of – army baggage and equipment. These are Line of Communication markers for the French and Prussians (with a French general in the background enjoying some shade while he reads his map) I use for certain scenarios, but can otherwise be used as general scenery in quiet corners of the table to add a bit of atmosphere. Baccus wagons with H&R figures.

Planning a Legion

I’ve decided that one thing I’d like to include as part of my growing 18th century collection is some sort of all-arms legion, as was pretty common in a number of armies around the time of the Seven Years War. My preference would be to add one to the Fleurian army, it being inspired by the French, who had a good number of this sort of privately-raised, flexibly organised force. Getting a nice cheap copy of this recently has provided further inspiration:

So, the Legion de Fleurie then.

I’ve got the figures, just need to paint most of them. My head-start is that I’ve done the cavalry contingent already – 2 squadrons of hussars (Minden Miniatures, below), and the legion commander (the Nadasty command figure from yesterday’s post). I’ll extend the blue-red-white colour scheme to the rest of the legion which will eventually include a full battalion with battalion gun, plus a light infantry company. Theyll all be in bearskins – using RSM Austrian Grenadiers and Minden Legion d’Hainaut respectively, and head swap conversions for the gunners.

This is something I’d like to finish by the end of the year, so I need to make sure I find some time to get them done!

A good haul

As well as my self-indulgent Minden order, I was also very fortunate in having a generous and thoughtful family which furnished me with some great hobby-related presents. First up, new and old books from my wife and mother in law respectively. The new ones add to my collections of the Wargaming in History and Wargamers’ Annual series respectively and both look like excellent editions. The Great Regiments book seems to have been printed the year I was born (so it’s a vintage publication obviously!) and contains an interesting mix of armies, units, battle histories and uniform information. Together these will keep me going for a while!

Then there is my academic artist sister who has come to my rescue as I could never find any Gesso when I’ve visited art supply shops. Now I can finally get to try it as an undercoating medium. Thanks sis!

Finally, there is my sister’s clearly bonkers partner, who decided he’d found the perfect present for someone into toy soldiers.


This door stop, clearly Airfix-inspired(!), weighs a ton, stands a foot high and comes from a company called Suck UK Ltd. Magic. Well we all like gag gifts from time to time don’t we?! 🙂

Now, I know someone into 54mm WW2 and that’s pretty big stuff, but I’m thinking I’d quite like to see a game using a bunch of these!


A pre-Christmas present

Well, a present to myself anyway!

I was very pleased to get a knock on the door on Christmas Eve, and open it to find the postman with a substantial parcel from the States. This was my Minden Miniatures order that Jim Purky kindly despatched very quickly, and which was very well packed, so that everything arrived in perfect order and sooner than I had expected. Jim’s generous offer to provide worldwide shipping for only $10 in the post-Minden takeover period was even more appreciated when I saw what the postage actually cost him. Thanks Jim!

Now I’m back from a very pleasant few days with family I have been able to look over the figures properly and, as with everything else I’ve had from this range, they are all superb. The high command packs are particularly good, although it’s the additional gunners for my artillery and battalion guns that I’ll be getting on with first.

The General Knyphasuen figure from Jim’s Fife & Drum range (see earlier post) is also a delight, and I was pleased to see a handwritten note on the pack telling me that the only other person in the UK to have this figure so far is the great Charles Grant himself, so I’m in exalted company for a change 😉


Helping the economy recover – the American one!

As per my last post, I have plunged ahead and placed an order for some more of the excellent Minden Miniatures, now in the care of Jim Purky alongside his Fife and Drum collection in the States. Jim was very helpful in explaining the new pricing model, and generous in providing not only the current offer of $10 worldwide shipping, but also a nice discount in the form of a free Baron von Knyphausen figure (the F&D item I was after amongst the Mindens). See the link below.


On the way then are the mounted Prussian and Austrian command packs, more Prussian artillery crew for battalion guns etc, some standard bearers which I prefer to use in units otherwise made up of RSM figures, and a small unit of Dragoons. With the high proportion of mounted figures the order value made me wince a bit – especially considering Christmas is never a cheap time of year, but I need the figures and getting them in one go made sense.

Using that logic I then ordered a handful of Huzzah! Miniatures from Fighting 15s, who always provide a super-fast service. These will make up the second command/flag base for the 2 battalions of these figures that I’ve already painted. Finally, I also need just a few from RSM – another company in the US, so I’m having a final ponder about what to get before I commit.

Overall this lot will keep me busy for the lead-up to the big 18th century imagi-nation game at Ayton at the start of May. I just hope I don’t leave the last of them until the morning of departure, as I have for the last 2 years!!

A Little Re-organisation

Having just finished my latest 18th century infantry unit I have been pondering a small expansion in battalion size – from 30 to 36 figures. The larger size would offer me a number of advantages. The main one is the ability to add a second command base. This provides a second flag (allowing me to have one state and one regiment flag per unit, which always looks good) and I’d then also have the option of playing games with half-sized units and making two from each battalion – something I’ve been thinking about doing in the future. Finally, bigger units look more imposing on the table! The downside is more figures to paint to get a unit finished, and I’d have to go back to the three battalions I’ve done already and add the extra base with its fiddly-to-paint command figures.

The pics below (with a second command base borrowed from the Borganza Regiment) show what I’d be getting if I take this approach. Stick a battalion gun on the end and it’s even more impressive. I have to admit I like the look and it’s pretty compelling, so… I guess I’ll need to get some orders in for some top-up figures from Huzzah, Minden and RSM! What this means for my cavalry unit sizes (12 figures) I don’t know yet…


Re-organisation, with a little help from Sweden

I did some rationalisation of my hobby storage at the end of the summer, and made some decent progress in the face of the challenge of new stuff regularly being added. Getting into 28mm in the last couple of years has brought with it a serious volume problem in terms of storing the figures and scenery. So, a decent amount of stuff got thrown out or moved to the garage, and drawer and cupboard space was rationalised to provide me with some room to expand into again. The next issue will be the new terrain boards I’m planning and although they’re only 1 foot square they will soon eat up space.

This made my remaining task to equip the games room’s wall cupboard with more capacity, which would be courtesy of an IKEA bookcase from the good old Billy range. Naturally this resulted in a delay to the project as a trip to the massive human processing plant that is an IKEA store wasn’t something I was looking forward to! This Sunday just gone was the day however. Despite not having darkened their door in the best part of a decade it was everything I expected, but we actually did quite well and dashed round averting our eyes from the endless stuff-you-don’t-need-but-might-as-well-buy-now-you’re-here on display.

Once we’d escaped from the carpark of eternal despair and made it home, I cracked on and assembled the unit (which I admit was a very simple process due to the quality of the design and components), which is 40cm wide and 2m tall. It fits in sideways alongside the wider unit of the same style I already have in there and after an hour of shifting everything out, and then back in, I have my new terrain storage in place and less unwanted stuff in the rest of the games room, sorry – office.

Pics of a cupboard are tricky due to the light, and not that thrilling due to the subject, but it’s a blog so here goes: