Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Kids' project: toy soldiers

Today I put the last protective coats on some toy soldiers the kids have been working on.

They started painting them a couple of Sundays ago and did some more last weekend (though in the spirit of the Elves and the Shoemaker I would do a little more at night...).  

Here is how they turned out.

Very shiny, very green.

Hopefully the kids will enjoy them in their finished state, and fingers crossed that two coats of PVA and three coats of Tamiya topcoat will keep some of the paint on them for a while!

New Tubes

You know you're becoming a little odd when you get excited about tubes of paint... 

It's been some time since I popped into town for anything hobby related, and I was starting to worry that my favourite paint shop might have closed down. Having a free afternoon today gave me a good opportunity to go in and see what the story was. Thankfully, all was well: this is one local place that hasn't yet fallen victim to competition from Amazon and other online retailers. Let's hope it continues that way!

After a most enjoyable wee browse I grabbed a replacement Burnt Umber and some new tubes to go with it: a Carmine, a Gold, a tasty looking Mustard, and a Raw Sienna.

The Turner Acryl Gouache line has really improved my painting and painting output. They cover well (but you need to be a little careful not to put them on too thick) and are much less prone to the humidity-induced gloopiness that afflicts the modellers' paints from Tamiya and Mr. Hobby.

Used on a wet palette they are a real treat, and I can now paint here all year round. The only real problem is the whites don't last very well, so if anyone knows a good white, I'm in the market!

Anyway, I'm looking forward - perhaps more than is entirely healthy in a grown man - to getting to know these new colours tonight.

A bit of music, a glass of something good, the lights up high; you never know what might happen...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why we buy (lead)

With another large purchase incoming, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at some of the myriad reasons we wargamers find for buying figures and models. Here they are, in no particular order. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

1) They're on sale.

Always hard to resist. What's that? A stock sale of 20 packs of Old Glory Achaemenid Persians at $7 a shot? Gosh, that's 180 cavalry and 500 infantry for only... Woohoo! They may still be sitting in a large plastic tool box eight years later, but no one on earth can tell you that they weren't a bargain.

2) I just need a few guys to finish off my current project.

This is a good one. When you need three packs of spearmen for your Carthaginian army, but, well, since you're going to be paying for shipping anyway, you may as well get eight packs, a few more Numidian light horse, perhaps grab some of their thorakitai for your Seleucids, and now might be the moment to make a start on that German cavalry you may need if you ever finish your Marian army. Hmm, come to think of it, the Germans are reputed to have mixed infantry in with the cavalry, so maybe a couple of packs of javelinmen as well.

3) Dear, the grapevine says to expect a new set of rules from Designer X on topic Y, so I'd better avoid the rush and get some appropriate figures now.

Oooh, very cunning. If it sounds kind of reasonable to the missus when mumbled to her during the ad break in an exciting episode of her favourite TV soap then it must - ipso facto - be perfectly reasonable. Don't you agree?  Thousands of Orcs for Simon Miller's forthcoming fantasy version of To the Strongest! is not madness, it's good planning.

4) Our prices will be going up soon.

The thought that that crushingly massive order we know every self-respecting wargamer has to make someday for WWII/ECW/ACW/WotR/100YW but that one hasn't quite worked up the courage / found the right rules / figured out where to draw the line for might be rendered even more catastrophically expensive by a sudden and dramatic price increase is enough to give a man the cold sweats. So when you get warning that it's going to happen, you buy, buy and buy. That's all there is to say on this, really (it's still too raw).

5) Hey, the Society of Ancients' battleday next year is ______. How about it?

This is time for that fine talk you have with your wargaming mates only to realise on the train ride home that while Ted, Rupert and Ignatius get to add legionaries to their collections, you somehow drew the straw for supplying the Cretan archers. 80 of them. That you'll never use again. Oh well.

6) Good Lord, Blogger Murray's 1/3000 fleets for Jutland look magnificent!

At heart we're all suckers in our own way for naval and air games, but most of us will never actually get around to finding a set of rules that is a) playable b) realistic (enough) and c) is not hated immediately by everyone we know. Nevertheless, we live in hope, and a blogpost featuring a beautiful fleet can be enough to get us sending emails to Heroics and Ros, Langton, Scotia, or a letter in longhand to Navwar.

7) We're discontinuing the range.

We all know the story of a Frazer (pronounced like you're pissed as a goose) who could've picked up six packs of Grogan Miniatures' Minoan bull jumpers for a song in 1982 but thought he'd wait till the following week. Of course, by the time he went back they'd all gone, never to be heard of again, anywhere, on earth or in heaven. He still posts despairingly on TMP around Christmas, hoping against hope that someone, somewhere, has a pack that they will part with for a small fortune.

No one wants to be a Frazer, so best to buy all you can. Just in case.

8) There's this kickstarter...

I've never actually gone for a kickstarter myself, but I've seen the results in those who do. The frantic, noble thought that "[T]hese miniatures may never be made unless I pledge $250 right now. For these to languish unrealised would be tragic for the hobby. NOT ON MY WATCH!"

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Battle For Gettysburg: the First Day

A while ago I picked up a couple of copies of Battle For Gettysburg: The First Day from Chris Harding Simulations in Australia. As usual, it's taken me some time to get it to table, but after reading Allen C. Guelzo's excellent Gettysburg: the Last Invasion (see JJ's review here), and subsequently gnawing at the shelves and howling at the moon trying to find something in the house to play on the subject, I remembered this.

It's a desktop published release (see here for the review that sold me on it) and the rules are short (four pages!), but it's not a lightweight game. Now into the fifth turn of seven, things have reached a critical juncture: the activation chit for Buford's Cavalry division has come out, and there are important decisions to be made.

Buford holds the far left of the Federal line backing onto Seminary Ridge, and his two brigades still present have taken heavy casualties. The 1st Cavalry Division has held out against the odds all day (losing all its artillery in the process), and has fought off the whole of Pender's Division for the past two hours.

But the lines now are ragged, and if the men stay in place they will surely be eaten up when Pender's division activates. But if Buford orders a retreat back towards the Ridge it may give Pender the opportunity to get into the flank and rear of the 1st Corps infantry that he has been looking for.

Buford's Cavalry activate.

To Pender's left, Heth has been battered to a standstill. With just one brigade capable of attacking - and that having already taken 25% casualties - he has been reduced to keeping the Federals back with his artillery, demonstrating, and protecting the flanks of Rodes' brigades.

Heth's Division is close to wrecked: his three remaining brigades are down to just 2700 effectives.

Further to the left, Rodes has been on the field for a couple of hours and his men are engaged in trying to turn 1st Corps' right. To complicate matters, the Federal XIth Corps has just deployed into line north of Gettysburg.

Where is Early?

Rodes facing the whole of XIth Corps.
Well, Early is very close. In fact, his command will be arriving to Rodes' left at any moment. Does the army of Northern Virginia have the time and manpower to win a victory today?

It seems unlikely, but if it is to happen, it is Pender's Division that must provide the impetus.

That brings us back to Buford. Time to take a deep breath...

Hold, die but buy time for the 1st Corp to pull back, or retreat and hope the chits fall favourably?

What a great little game this is turning out to be!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Dux Bellorum solo: Normans and Saxons.

After finishing another batch of figures I thought it was time to get the Dux Bellorum project to table. Despite not having proper Norman spearmen yet, I decided I'd have a crack at a Norman / Anglo-Saxon game, based roughly on Hastings.

The Norman army had four units of knights, one spear, two bow, a foot skirmisher and a mounted skirmisher.

The Anglo-Saxons were possessed of a hill, eight units of shieldwall infantry and two units of foot skirmishers.

Both sides had the standard complement of six leadership points that are used to do things like roll an extra attack, ignore a hit, move a unit out of sequence or improve an activation roll.

The table used was an 80 x 80 board made up for my sidelined 'One Hour Wargames' project. I played in the dining room, hence the bad lighting and assorted sofas and mess in the background. Apologies!

The game turned out about how I would have expected it: the Normans chipped away at the Saxon line on the hill with missile fire and worked on getting the knights into positions to flank the ends of the line.

Once the Anglo-Saxon skirmishers were in awkward positions the knights charged in, and although the Saxons came down off the hill when they could, the loss of leadership points due to the eliminated units meant that the Saxons were unable to shore up the line everywhere. Under pressure from attacks on both flanks and bowfire in front, the Saxons crumbled.

The nasty bowmen.

The Norman left.

The Norman right.

The end is nigh.

Thoughts: the Dux Bellorum rules again proved very good to play with. There were some nice tactical interchanges, particularly in setting up chances for advantageous missile fire, and I like the simple zone-of-control rules which allow you to fix the enemy in place to attack a flank but without leading to too much emphasis on geometrical shenanigans.

I need to tweak the armies a little, but the project seems like a winner so far, and I'm glad that I've invested time and lead into it.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dark Age batch

It's been a while between brush strokes but there are finally some newly painted figures at house Prufrock. They are all part of my Dark Age 60mm base project and there is a real mix of figures. The bulk of them are Essex (DBA pack), but there are also a few Feudal Castings chaps and some others I don't know the make of.

These have all been done with a 'block 'em, dip 'em and forget 'em' philosophy, so you won't see any fancy stuff here, I'm afraid.

As you can see from the pictures, the basing is all over the place. I tried to give myself gradations between the huscarls, bondi and skirmish types (with a berserker base for good measure), but being realistic you might say that I don't have much clue. If you were to be more charitable, you might allow that I am 'basing to my own specifications.' It's to be hoped that it turns out to be the latter!

Most of these were primed very badly (my fault of course), so for extra durability I want to give them a satin varnish, Klear wash and matt varnish before flocking the bases.

Anyway, it's good to have something to show for the year.

By the bye, I'm not sure what make these fellows are, but they are quite clearly sculpted in a different style from the rest. If you know whose they are, I'd really appreciate it if you'd leave a comment.

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