Sunday, October 13, 2019

More Austrians

Hi all,

A bunch of things on the go this Thanksgiving weekend, including a visit from my Dad and sister to our new digs for Thanksgiving dinner.  First up are some more Austrians:

Battheyanai L, Forgach R

Forgach L, Batthayani R.

These are Hungarians, and are, I think, a later sculpt than the regular Austrian foot.  Don't know if I'm getting back into the swing of 6mm, or it's the sculpt, but I found these guys an easier paint.

Grosbruck L, Kolonrat R

And vice versa

I've done all of these battalions as the first of their regiment.  If I expand down the road, I can turn each of the two-regiment units into separate units of their own by painting up a second battalion base.

I've also been plugging away at the Russians for Blucher, and have also been experimenting with some 6mm armour for Rommel.  I had some test models for the latter done up on a 3d printer, and will set about painting them when I get the time and settle on basing.  Big issue there is space; Rommel scales its playing area nicely, but larger bases let me do some dioramic stuff I'd like to try.  Means gaming is a little more involved (as I'd have to rearrange the office to play a game), but what the heck.

In the mean time, Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians out there.  I have to go baste a turkey ;)


Saturday, October 5, 2019


Hi all,

I seem to be riding a burst of inspiration over the last week or so, as I've been busily pumping out units for the Blucher / Napoleonic / Russian project.  First up was a second base of infantry.



I'm playing around with different formations, this time a mixed line and column base.  Turned out okay, I think.  Formations and flags aren't to a specific oob, but I'm picking out formations that did actually appear in battles in 1812-13, and using them as a basis.

I'm starting to think, however, that my poor old Canon camera is on her last legs.  I've had the thing for more than a decade, and it's done yeoman service, but it seems to be struggling with both focus and light these days.


The cavalry (dragoon brigade) base was a little challenging.  I'm not sure it sells the idea of a brigade strength formation, but now that it's based, I'm a little happier with it.


The artillery base, however, was kind of fun, I definitely got to tell a bit of a story with it.



Not sure if I'll have room to use all the limbers and caissons I have, but I'll figure something out.

I've got another unit of infantry primed and ready to go, and the first of the cards for Blucher have arrived, so if I can steal some time I might get in a test game.  Fingers crossed.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The start of something new (only not)

Hi all,

Waaaaaaay back in the day, before the Cub came along, I lived and worked in St. John's, Newfoundland.  A gaming buddy, who it turned out was the Canadian distributor for Baccus at the time, introduced me to some teeny-tiny fellows who've gone on to be my favoured scale for historicals (more or less, anyways).  Our main thing at the time was napoleonics, in the peninsula to be precise, and I amassed a reasonable collection of French (some of which appear in the first edition of the Napoleonic Polemos rules).

Muromsk and Reval Infantry

At the time, we had many a discussion about that eternal issue, basing.  My buddy advocated using larger bases, inspired by some of the fantastic stuff people were producing for Grand Armee, but in the end, we opted for 60x30 Polemos "standard" basing, as a method that would give us maximised flexibility (in that the rules allowed for 2 gaming scales, and 60x30 let us play both).  The idea of larger bases, however, had always stuck with me.  Then came Blucher.

As I'm sure I've said before, I'm a unreformed fanboy of Sam Mustafa's games, and have yet to find one I don't actively enjoy playing.  When Sam announced he was releasing a grand tactical napoleonics game, it's fair to say I was intrigued.  I picked up the .pdf, printed the sample cards, and even talked the Cub into a game (which only lasted about three turns, it wasn't his thing).  After that though, it kind of petered out.  No one local with which to play, a host of other gaming priorities, and a huge painting queue, meant that grand tactical napoleonics kind of fell by the wayside.

Might eventually see about working in some actual jaeger figures.

The thing is, though, I have a fair whack of assorted 6mm napoleonics, mostly Russian, from the same Big Buy that's been driving the expansion of my SYW collection (which I got through the same aformentioned buddy in Newfoundland who was getting out of the business).  I also have the time and space now to putter about with a large collection, in multiple periods, and damn the torpedoes.  I also had some of those Russians primed up, and glaring accusingly at me from the shelf, where they were unpacked into the light of day last week.  So, this happened.

Next time, I might try to get in the cords on the Kiwer as well

Behold, the first base of Russians for Blucher (among others).  Bases are 80x60, roughly the same size as the cards used in the game (Blucher can be played with cards, and uses them as a partial blind deployment mechanic).  They're the old Russian figs from Baccus, the ones that are a bit smaller, and with the fiddly bayonettes, but once I adjusted to them (and the fact that my eyes are around 15 years older than the last time I painted Napoleonic 6mm), it went fairly smoothly.

Units in Blucher, as with most SM games, are loosely scaled, but one base corresponds roughly to one multi-battalion brigade, so that's what I've tried to represent here, more or less.  What flags to use was a bit of an issue, but I'm loosely assuming each base is a couple battalions from two different regiments, and including a royal and regimental colour for each. Flags are monstrously oversized; I tried to match the size of flag I've been using from SYW, but as they came from a different source, they ended up bigger.  Might try with smaller, or just leave it, haven't yet decided.  No doubt I've made errors with the pom-poms, but life is short ;)

Still playing around with basing.

One of things I'm looking forward to with this project will be playing around with different formations on the bases, and ideally trying out some dioramic stuff.  I'll work with what I have for now in the way of figures (which might mean some historical anachronisms), in the hopes of getting in some solo games.  If I get enough painted, I might even be able to tempt some of the local historical gamers (with whom I'm finally making contact) to play?

On an unrelated note, I've recently been catching up on the "God's Own Scale" podcast.  It's relatively new, but is doing a bang up job of generating content.  If you're into 6mm, or just wargaming in general, I'd recommend listening (can be found here). 


Monday, September 23, 2019

For Nick

Hi all,

As some of you might recall, back when we were in Toronto, one of my regular opponents was Nick the Lemming.  Now, Nick is a fine fellow, with many excellent qualities.  He's a gentleman, a scholar, and a Yorkshireman, all of which make for an excellent gaming companion, and occasional foil  Despite the many fine games we've shared, however, Nick always struggled with a couple of fundamental flaws.  The first was a stubborn insistence that it was possible to make gravy out of fungus rather than meat juice, and the other was a predilection for Austrians.

The regiments Waldeck and Baden-Baden

Despite my many and various efforts, Nick adamantly refused to acknowledge that there was very little point in playing "French Germans", when one could simply play the French, who are far superior in every way.  Much as actual gravy is superior to mushroom sauce.  While I'm sure both 18th century Austrians and mushroom sauce have many fine qualities, they are neither gravy, nor French, and suffer from comparison to the original.

Likely the first of many Austrian / Reichsarmee units, as I have a buttload.

I make this post, then, with some degree of hesitation, in that I recognize the potential to harm a dear friend, by affirming  what would be considered, in any sane society, a crippling delusion.  Yet, I cannot help but hope that in some small way, a recognition of the value of the lesser option might be of benefit to him. 

No idea what happened to the light in this one, and flickr is being difficult.

This post's for you, Nick.  I hope it finds you well.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Long time coming

Hi all,

It's been a busy couple of weeks.  The move, an ER trip (our daughter managed to break her arm two days before we moved), work starting up, and, oh, yeah, a hurricane (Dorian), have come and gone, and despite everything, we seem to be okay.  Move went as well as we could hope, kiddo's arm seems to be healing, work is all good, and miracle of miracles, we seem to have weathered a category 2 hurricane that caused untold destruction and chaos with no damage.  Someone has been looking out for us.

Minis are almost unpacked

Slowly getting there

On top of it all, my Carthaginians arrived.  Despite my last minute waffling, I ended up opting for Hannibal's lads after all.  A major factor ended up being that I already have a successor army in 15mm (Antigonus).  While I can manage having the same period in two scales, the same army was too much ;)  I ordered a box of the Victrix Warriors of Carthage from "Nanny Ogg" online, which turns out to be a subsidiary of Caliver books, and the figures arrived within the week.  Nice service from the UK!  I've put a few sample figs together, and am part way through painting the first ones, so they seem to have grabbed my attention.

Finally have room to put my books by my painting station

Still lots of boxes to sort out.

We're at the stage of unpacking where critical stuff is all set up, but we're still tripping over boxes.  Hopefully we'll clear some space out later this week once garbage / recycling gets picked up (figuring out the draconian rules of which took a little while), and by next week I'll be patiently enduring the "no, the other left" stage of picture hanging and final details.  This weekend was a bit of a write-off between getting ready for the hurricane, sitting anxiously through the hurricane, and then wandering around in mild disbelief that we got through the hurricane, but normality will soon assert itself I'm sure.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Stop the presses

Hi all,

With the Big Move now less than a week away, and pretty much everything non-essential packed up, hobby has slowed to something slower than a crawl.  I've been left (between binge watching shows on Netflix - Wu Assassins wasn't exactly good, but was surprisingly not bad if you follow me) with reading and trolling the internet to fill in the remaining gaps in my schedule.  This has led to much thought about where to "break in" to the planned project (along with some waffling about whether to do Napoleonics after all).  My main issue had been that the miniatures I most liked about the Carthaginian idea weren't the Carthaginians, but rather the allies and mercenaries (Gauls, Spanish, Numidians, etc.).

Image result for victrix gallic warriors
I mean, just look at these beauties.
Then word came through today that Victrix are planning to do Persians, and the presses came to a shuddering halt.

If you recall, one of the things I'd seriously considered (plastic minis, variety, etc.) was a successor morph.  Persians unlocks a LOT of options for that army, meaning I can start with a pike core, and then add a range of supporting unit to mimic any number of other armies.  It largely means moving to the east Med, and giving up the lovely Spanish and Numidian figs, but I can still do gauls (as Galatians), and will have access to the newest range of Victrix stuff (which seems to get better with every kit).  This has me very excited.

I'm a little concerned about transport and storage of pikes, I already have a small successor force in 15mm, and will have to look into what kind of troops would be most suitable for a "skirmish" level force (as Clash of Spears still seems appealing), but I have to admit some real interest in doing this.  A grand successor army gives so many options, and is the kind of thing I could build and add to for years - which was, after all, the original goal.  We'll have to see.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Project thoughts

Hi all,

As a follow up to my earlier post, on the prospects of a "Big Boy" project, I've been doing much puttering about on the interwebs (and have decided that spur of the moment subscription to Scribd was well worth it ;) ).  As I think I noted, I'm planing a large, long-running historicals project in 28mm.  Factors to consider were the availability of plastic models (as I'm more and more turning away from metals wherever possible), a degree of variety to keep my interest in the painting process, and a a range of supplemental reading material to keep me engaged (as half the fun of historicals for me is the reading).

Added to that, after some conversations with friends and hobby types, is the recognition that this will need to have some viability as a) a solo project, and b) a painting / hobby project.  I might get these on the table (conversations stemming form the Napoleonics game last week has me hopeful), but most of the activity in the short to medium term is likely to be at home.  That means I have to really enjoy painting the figures (and reading about the associated history) for their own sake.  This combination of factors means I'm likely looking at Napoleonics or a limited range of ancients (Successors, Carthage, Rome) projects.  All three have a good selection of plastics available (although successors are largely limited to the "west", and Napoleonics to French and British outside of infantry).

The flip side is this is likely to be a secondary project, and in 28mm, isn't likely to proceed quickly.  I did a fast count last night.  In the last five years, I've painted, in 28mm, about 250-300 infantry figures, and maybe 50-60 mounted, plus assorted commanders, heroes, and monsters.  I've painted other stuff as well, including a sizable contingent of 6mm and some 15mm, but that's been my output at that scale - an average of about 55 infantry and 10 cavalry a year.  Given that this output is likely to be divided between the Big Boy project and whatever GW stuff I'm working on, this project won't happen fast.

Image result for slow growth

Then it occurred to me that "slow" only really impacts big battle gaming.  When first conceived, I was thinking about this project in its end state - playing large, Hail Caesar / Black Powder type games with several hundred figures a side.  While this is a worthy goal, I need to keep in mind that it is also several years away by any reasonable estimation.  More importantly, it's not the only way I can use these figures.  That got me thinking about basing, and rule "types".

Games often get organised by scope / scale.  There's skirmish  (SBG Battle Companies, Song of Blades and Heroes, Morheim), Large skirmish (SBG, Saga, Muskets and Tomahawks), "company" or warband scale (Sharpe Practice, Chain of Command?), formation scale (Lasalle), and mass battle (Blucher, Rommel, etc.).  You can also organize them by the focus mechanic.  Some games are interested in the interaction between types or classes of units on the table.  These rules are focused on the specific characteristics of the units, and how units with a particular set of characteristics interact with different characteristic profiles.  In skirmish games, they'll have lots of rules for gear and equipment, and will be concerned with how taking a spear gains a reach advantage over one with a sword.  DBA would fit here as well, where there's been a conscious decision to abstract pretty much everything but "how the unit fights", and so the core interactions are how light horse can evade knights, but are vulnerable to massed archers in good order.

Image result for uruk hai
As opposed to Uruk-Hai, which are only vulnerable to archers at the neck, and under the arm.
There's another kind of game that focuses no so much on unit characteristics, but rather on command and control issues.  In smaller scope games, it's about motivating your troops to act (Song of Blades and Heroes is a good example here).  In larger games, it's about the challenge of coordinating formations, and getting units to work together.  Most of Sam Mustafa's games are good examples of this.  More often than not, there's some kind of command resource you need to allocate, and various elements of command friction.

Finally there's games that are designed around a particular kind of play experience - fast play / quick resolution, multiplayer, balanced tournament armies, period accuracy, etc.  Think about some of the most common criticisms of DBA (it abstracts too much in an effort to produce a "simple" game), or Black Powder (it sacrifices period specificity to allow for a "fun game"), and you see what I mean here.

Most games will include elements of all three, but will privilege one of them, and sacrifice the other two to it when necessary.  You also see some interesting hybrids, such as Impetus, where (although the do include unit classifications) the critical element is whether a unit is in order or disordered (with the latter state having major implications for both how a unit interacts, and command issues).  I find I tend to favour "command" over "game experience", and the latter over "unit interaction".  I'm comfortable with very abstract unit categories, like games I can play in an evening without feeling rushed, and am interested in the on-table challenge of getting my units (of whatever kind) to "work together".  It's why I think I like Maurice so much - it gives me the kind of game I want, and the play experience I want, and does it in the time frame I want.

Image result for maurice sam mustafa
Such a good game.

I find I most enjoy "mass skirmish / company" and "mass battle" games, which takes us back the the Big Boy project.  28mm tends to shine in the former scope, and it's the kind of game that I can reasonably expect to paint up in a couple years (50-100 figures is a a little ambitious, but I can see myself getting it done, even with other projects).   There's also at least one very solid period ruleset, Sharpe Practice (I'm sure there are others, I just know about SP, have had it endlessly recommended, and would like to try it out).  For ancients, there's a few "mass skirmish" rulesets either recently released (Gods and Mortals, SPQR) or soon to be released (Clash of Spears) for the period.  The latter, particularly, seems interesting, and has both a high profile and good support online (as well as a so-far positive community).  That game seems to include forces of the 2-4 dozen range.

Playing Napoleonics in this scale likely channels me into the peninsula.  While there's good support for Naps in plastic as far as infantry goes, cavalry tend to me more limited in terms of available nationalities.  I can see getting into a Peninsula project (I did peninsular French in 6mm many, many years ago), I like the Sharpe books / movies, and some of the plastics out or soon coming out are very nice indeed.  As a reading project, it's a little more limited, however, and can feel a little narrow.  On the plus side, I don't have any active Napoleonics project, I have an old print of a Welch Fusilier I "inherited" from my father, and I can easily see doing a Sharpe Practice force of them for starters..  Down side is that I'm unlikely to use the figures for big battle stuff any time soon, if ever (lacking space for a 12 foot table, even at the new house).

Ancients as a "large" skirmish game opens up a host of theatres, and in many ways, are more appealing to me than mass battle in the period.  Big battle ancients are a bit limiting, in that you are mostly working from the limited number of conflicts we know about.  But for skirmish, the sky's the limit.  I am, for example, unaware of any "recorded" major battles between gauls and greeks, or gauls and Carthaginians, but given that both greeks and Carthos were active in southern gaul (trading posts, colonies), I can see huge scope for skirmish / raiding games, or even small campaigns (never mind the kind of ambushes etc. the gauls would have inflicted on the Carthos on their long walk to Rome).

Using Song of Blades and Heroes, I can start playing with a dozen painted figures.  I could then build up Clash of Spears forces for range of historical opponents (Carthos, Gauls, Spanish, etc.), which would in turn form the core of a Carthaginian army for a larger scope of game - Impetus, Sword and Spear, even Hail Caesar.  I like this idea, although basing becomes an issue (skirmish means individual basing, mass battle games are usually element based, so I'm likely looking at sabots).  I'm not a fan of individual square bases (rounds look better), but will either need to bite the bullet, or find viable sabots that can handle rounds.

Although very much in the blue sky / planning stage, I'm already enjoying this project, or at least, mucking about with ideas for it, and am really looking forward to getting stuck in.  I like painting in 28mm scale (more and more these days), and having something I can pick at that reaches outside the painting process should be a joy as well.  The variety of the army, and the range of campaigns, also gives me some scope for "hobby-related" activity.  While a Peninsula project is still in the running, I'm strongly leaning towards Carthage for a variety of reasons..  Hannibal remains my favorite historical figure, the rise and fall of Carthage spans my favorite period in the ancient world (Fall of Alexander to Fall of the Roman Republic), and Carthage, short of a generic successor morph, offers the greatest variety of options of both army inclusion and potential opponents.  Also, elephants.  I cannot stress the importance of elephants.  Might be hard to work into a skirmish game, but it works for the Lord of the Rings, so, I'm sure I can find a way to jam them in ;)

Punic War by Fall3NAiRBoRnE

The fact that the Carthaginians roamed most of the med, and that a good chunk of their army was generally made up of mercenaries, gives a lot of scope.  Choosing Carthage also means I can use the Victrix plastic models, which are, as far as I can tell, the nicest available plastic ancients on the market right now.  With Carthage, I start with a small core of Liby-Phoenecians (and elephants), and can then, depending on which of many conflicts / armies I want to try, can add in citizen infantry, greeks (allies or mercenaries), Numidians, Gauls, Spanish, CeltIberians, Itallians etc, both infantry and cavalry, and, as an added bonus, can also fight pretty much any of these as well.  I can lever out any of these into separate armies if inspired to do so, and, if all else fails, can paint up Republican Romans to oppose if desired.  Heck, I can even do a successor list in opposition, given that the Carthos fought Pyrrhus in Sicily (the fight over which, btw, is one of my favorite bits of the whole "Rise of Rome" period).

Add in that the figures involved are just gorgeous (just look at the Victrix Gauls and Spanish, esp. the cavalry), and there's plenty of scope.  Once we get settled in, I plan to pick up a box, or even a test sprue (as some retailers on ebay seem to sell by sprue), just to make sure, but I think this may be "my thing".