Latest recruits

With the big Ayton weekend galloping towards us, I’ve been hurrying to base some figures I’ve recently finished painting. So let me introduce Sebastiani’s battalion of converged Medetian Grenadiers, containing a company from each of the first 4 line regiments. This is a 30-strong unit of Huzzah Miniatures.

I’ve also added a unit of Wurttemberg Jager who are in the pay of Fleurie. These are Perry Hessian AWI figures which have lots of variety of pose. I bought a dozen on eBay which were made up of one pack of command and one of Jager. This meant I needed to convert one of the two figures carrying horns, as otherwise the unit would look more musical than martial! He’s not hard to spot, but at least I managed to arm him and paint him as just one of the guys.

 

Next up will be some cavalry, but with the need for some pre-game secrecy I may not post pics of them for a couple of weeks. Can’t let the despicable enemy (you know who you are) have too much information!

Ayton Event 2014 – Grenouisse Ascendant

Now that we’re into April, the preparations are gathering pace for the multi-player 18th century game at Ayton at the start of May. There are 3 and a bit weeks to go, and painting still to be completed (and not just by me – I’m sure most of the other participants are feeling the pressure too). A little bit of time most evenings seems to be moving things on fairly well, but no doubt the final push will be just as frantic as last year!

Over the last week the momentum, and excitement, has started to build. Although local arrangements are mostly in the hands of Peeler (as he’s widely known), the game and background are the work of Henry Hyde, who is currently working feverishly at the multitude of tasks and communications a full-on unpire needs to look after. The volume of messages and intelligence reports that 12 players can generate is clearly enormous, but Henry is handling it with style and creativity, and there’s always a period flavour to what you receive back, and a sense that we’re involved in great events and embarked on a course that will re-shape history. Some of the general information/news items are being reported by Henry himself at Henry’s Blog but naturally most exchanges are private and bilateral with the unpire, unless players’ characters are understood to be face to face with each other in which case we can contact each other directly.

At the moment the 2 sides, one nobly seeking to recover the Duchy of Granprix which was lost to the dastardly invaders from Grenouisse in the 2011 game, the other seeking to hold onto these ill-gotten gains (you can guess which side I might be on!) are beginning to assemble and manouevre. Plans are being made, well sort of (due to the challenges of differing opinions and troubled communications), and there will be some pre-weekend campaign moves by land and sea which will hopefully set everything up nicely for some dramatic on-table action as the culmination of the story.

Orders of battle are of course secret too, and that’s where the painting pressure really comes in. No-one will want to take the field with fewer troops than they’ve previously committed to, as the only one to suffer will be themselves. I will of course post pictures of my recent additions soon, but have to be careful not to give too much away to any enemies that may be watching..

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.

The Battle of Wingen, 6th August 1870

I played my first game of the year today, spending a very enjoyable day with Goat Major, as he’s known on a few forums. GM requested 6mm Franco-Prussian War and I was happy to oblige.

I decided on a hypothetical early war setting, on the same day as the Battle of Worth, involving the French V Corps and the advancing Prussian 3rd Corps. As we would be determining sides randomly I wrote briefings for each and drew up a battlefield map based on a selection of terrain boards for a 4×3 foot table, with appropriate towns, woods and other scenery to represent terrain typical of north eastern France.

Initial terrain plan, using small card tile versions of my terrain boards to define the basic setup

Towns and woods added, and placed within a larger map for pre-game manoeuvring using brigade-level counters and the odd dummy for fog of war, and to help replicate the poor scouting that beset both armies in this conflict.

. which translated into this scene of pre-carnage tranquility

 

The Goat drew the French of General Failly, so I was General Alvensleben. The French 1st division was already in position on high ground covering the key town of Wingen, which was both side’s objective. All other units were marching towards the scene, demonstrating a combination of brilliant generalship (probably), deployment blunder (me mainly) and a mutual firm determination to get stuck in.

Suffice it to say we had a lot of fun once the blinds were replaced by the real formations (with a few surprises on both sides, especially when the respective cavalry brigades were revealed – and used fairly aggressively in the true spirit of wargaming!) The fighting was fierce and the battle raged across the entire field, with both commanders toughing it out and pulling reserves in where they could to try to gain the initiative. The fighting for the town of Wingen was particularly bloody, with the French tenaciously holding on in the face of repeated Prussian assaults.

As the day wore on though, the devastating firepower of the Chassepot was put to better use by the French than the superior Krupp guns were by the Prussians, and the latter began to struggle to keep their attack going. As the sun set (ie. when the game clock ran down) the Prussians were finally forced to admit defeat and withdraw from the field, giving up their toehold in Wingen and leaving the field to the victorious French – well done GM!

The rules were from the Realtime Wargames series, the figures Heroics & Ros and the terrain and scenery a right old mix of bought and scratch built.

Although I didn’t take as many as I wanted to, here are some pictures of the battle:

The Prussians mass for the charge up the road to Wingen (in the distance, top right). The Prussian blind following them turned out to be the reserve cavalry, which launched a number of charges in an attempt to create havoc in the French lines. Some even succeeded!

For example..

Wingen under sustained assault

A remote corner of the field, demonstrating that bad things happen to isolated units

Prussian battalions grit their teeth and march towards the enemy held treeline on the western flank

Prussian cavalry sacrifice themselves to drive the French batteries off a hill overlooking the town, but in the end it’s to no avail and the day is lost

So, a very enjoyable game in good company as always, and with plenty of dramatic moments. The rules were straight forward and left the players to focus on fighting the battle, which I think is always a good thing. It was great to bring these armies out for a game, and it reminded me that I need to make a start on my 1859 Austrians at some point!

Army of the Month – Tiny Pike and Shot

Although we’re now into March, this is my slightly late February Army of the Month. There’ll be another one along before the end of the month!

This is the army where my involvement with the Grand Duchy of Medetia began.

To try to cut a long story short it all stemmed from the innovative Realtime Wargames rules produced by the guys at Realistic Modelling. Although the rules were for 19th century battles in 6mm or 10mm they appealed because they used both a gridded board and NICE (number indicates combat effectiveness) unit representation. Based on these principles my friend and I saw further possibilities with them. We settled on the idea of building up armies of our own ficitious Renaissance countries, which would sit loosely between the mid-16th century and the mid-17th century and would allow us to field regiments of pike and shot as well as more exotic troop types that took our fancy. The scale would be 6mm.

So, back in 2002, was born the Grand Duchy of Medetia and their sworn enemies from Schwartzberg, one with an Italian feel, the other German. To give us a chance to start playing games relatively quickly we built our armies in ‘forces’ of 5 units each, plus a general. Infantry, cavalry and artillery were the building blocks and we put some mild restrictions on composition to ensure a level of balance. One of my inspirations for this was Donald Featherstone’s book, Wargame Campaigns, which is a classic I return to regularly for inspiration or just plain enjoyment. In it he describes a club ECW campaign where players contributed 3 units each, made up of their choice of a combination of horse, foot and guns. I liked this approach and borrowed a modified version of it for this new project. We also defined these forces (or contingents, as was typical of the period) as either regular or irregular, and applied some simple rules for their relative effectiveness and for how larger armies would be commanded and led.

To the army of Medetia (and it’s irregular allies) then. All figures are from Heroics & Ros which, for me, balance the basing flexibility of being single sculpts, with the appeal of being more anatomically accurate than those of other companies. Over the years (and this army is still growing) I’ve plundered the ECW, Renaissance, Wars of the Roses, Napoleonic and ACW (a round hat is a round hat at this scale!) ranges and thoroughly enjoyed the freedom to be creative that this type of wargame project offers. I’ve also begun adding a second army of my own, the French-inspired Kingdom of Fleurie, to allow me to play solo games when the Schwartzbergers can’t make it.

I regularly enjoy returning to this army to play games, paint a little more, scratchbuild something or just look at the little guys. Basically, it’s one of my favourites. Enough background, here are some pics..

The army deploying for battle. It was sunny when I took these pictures and I struggled a bit with getting the lighting balanced.

Massed Cavalry

Field guns and labourers

Fortified camp

Eastern allies – Cossacks and Poles

 

 

 

Two regiments combine as a Tercio

Some battle shots from the last few years

 

 

 

 

Bridges, bridges

Since completing my new river banks I realised two things:

1. I didn’t have enough bridges to provide the scenery options I might need for future 28mm games
2. The bridges I did have were now compromised as they weren’t designed to work with 9-10mm banks – their centre supports wouldn’t reach the water!

So, to fix problem one I decided to find a decent stone bridge model and after some web surfing I settled on the Italeri plastic kit. This provides a very simple by effective model, with a road width just under 80mm, a span of about 130mm (more than enought for my 90mm rivers) and total length of about 230mm. I ordered mine via Amazon and it came within a couple of weeks – from Hong Kong, for a total of under £14 including P&P. Not bad.

Here are the kit components, 2 sides plus a top roadway and a underside arch, all nicely detailed with stone and paving.

With box cover art to make sure I put it together properly!

Ta daa! It took about 20 minutes to put it together, requiring a small amount of prep to ensure the arches went fully into the slots on the side sections. I used plastic cement, the same I’ve used for hard plastic figures, and it worked very effectively as you’d expect. I used the old rubber band trick for holding it together while the blue dried, and the result is a pretty sturdy bridge ready for undercoating and some fast dry-brushing.

 

 

Slightly blurry picture of the finished article. Painting took about 30 minutes. Black undercoat followed by a mid grey and then a light grey build up of dry-brushes. I then used a pale yellow/brown shade for the feature blocks and covered everything with a diluted GW brown wash. Finally I gave it all a light dry-brush of Vallejo’s Iraqi Sand, which softens everything and ties into all my terrain and other scenery as I use it for pretty much everything.

To solve problem 2 I added the necessary depth to the centre supports on my other 2 bridges. The (Hovels?) stone bridge received a stack of thick card pieces, stuck together and carved to shape. They then had a scraping of quick-dry plaster before being painted to a reasonable match for the existing stonework. The Renedra wooden bridge had a couple of plasticard struts added, which were painted to match. Now my troops can cross and re-cross my rivers with abandon!

 

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!

Powdered wigs and a bit of lace

Despite a shortage of posts this month I’ve not been completely idle. The figures I’ve been painting recently only had their bases painted this weekend so this is the first opportunity I’ve had to take some pics. Also, with the Ayton multi-player game at the start of May (and more specifically the pre-game campaign that Henry is going to run) there is a requirement for a little discretion about the forces being mustered in case any dastardly enemy spies are operating in Medetia!

Not much to be given away here though, so here are some command and staff figures and a new company of grenadiers from the Vantua Regiment resplendent in their new uniforms and mitres.

Minden Seydlitz figure and one of the mounted colonels. Grenadiers are Huzzah figures.

Minden Nadasty and another mounted colonel.

Nadasty again, showing the use of a bit of Rendera’s plastic fencing for scenery. Lovely stuff to work with, easy to snip bits away and takes a dry brush very nicely.

Seydlistz again, fantastic posing of rider and horse.

The daddy himself. Medetia’s General Barolo who’ll lead the expeditionary force to Grenouisse. Fife and Drum Knyphausen figure, with another Minden colonel.

In the gentlemanly spirit of the age, and for the benefit of any potential enemy agents who may be watching, I will offer the information that each of these pictured luminaries will of course be commanding a full brigade, or more, in the forthcoming campaign.

I wish!

 

Rivers Need Water

..and here are a couple of boards I prepared earlier (last October to be precise). They’re 4×3 feet of 20mm chipboard, so they’re pretty heavy. I’ve had them for about 15 years and in recent times they’ve been relegated to garage rafter storage duties, but I decided to renovate them with a fresh coat of a dark blue gloss paint in readiness for the riverbanks project. They’re stored behind the door in my games room/office, resting face to face with the reverse of one board painted the same colour as the wall, so they’re pretty much invisible unless you’re looking for them.

Here’s a quick set-up with some of the new boards placed on top. Obviously the addition of some trees, buildings and other scenery will enhance things, but this is the basic look I was after.

 

With a row of terrain squares removed the river can be widened, allowing for the off-cut islands to be used. I think this will offer me plenty of flexibility and options for different types of battlefield. I can do a large bay or inlet, a big central island, as well as straight or winding rivers. As I’m aiming to get my post-Napoleonic Sharp Practice project ready to play this year, I think a bit of water, with the odd bridge or boat, will make things interesting! These rivers, like the rest of my terrain, are designed to be used for all scales I play with, from 6mm to 28mm, and I’m looking forward to getting plenty of use from them.

Rivers and Hills part 5 – Finished!

Finally some colour!

All the boards have now been given a coat of green to bring them to life a bit. The colour is a specific Dulux mixed shade (‘Jungle’) found after a lot of trial and error, which I’ve used for probably 20 years on all terrain, scenery and figure bases. I suppose it’s a brybrush or overbrush technique, I’m not sure which, but it allows a hint of the black beneath to show through to add some depth and texture. I’ve brushed green over the edges of the brown patches too to blend them together as I don’t want them to look like bunkers on a golf course later. The board edges are painted too.

Next step was to dry brush the brown areas with my highlight colour, Vallejo’s Iraqi Sand. This not only lightens, but also softens the underlying brown, which is otherwise pretty dark.

After that the patches of vegetation were recovered, having been mostly lost in the ‘green’ phase. I use Vallejo’s Luftwaffe Green for this, although on this occasion I actually tried their new Heavy Green basecoat colour which appears to be an identical shade, just with presumably slightly better covering power. These will be drybrushed again later.

The next step was the real key to tying everything together – the yellow drybrush. Trying to keep it light and even is always a challenge when you’re also trying to do it reasonably quickly, but it worked out OK I think. Then the dark green patches were re-highlighted with the main green, to soften them a bit while still keeping them distinct. Lastly the rocks were given a coat of dark grey and then dry-brushed with a light grey.

Which meant… everything was finally finished! A fair amount of work over the last couple of weeks, and further back into last Autumn when the river banks were cut, but I’m very pleased with the results and it was well worth it. These boards can now be added to the ones I already have (making just over 40 square feet in total) and hopefully be used in a game before too long. I’ll post some pics of them in situ with the water base boards before putting them away.