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Galleys & Galleons

Posted by Adam on March 3, 2020 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

I thought I'd get some boats on the table this weekend and try out a set of rules. I had bought an electronic copy of Galleys and Galleons by Ganesha Games and liked the way it looked on the page. The proof is, as ever, in the pudding however... I decided to try the rules solo, as written to see how the gameplay felt. Obviously I had already started tweaking the rules to do things they way I wanted (Why am I like this!?! I started wargaming at the height of WRG and Barkerism; I should be accepting the words as written on the holy page!) I decided to use the three ship models that I have based and ready to go (I have a few others painted but not based.)



 

The two sides were an English Merchant Galleon and a pair of Dutch privateers; a sloop and a Brigantine. The rules come with multiple scales so that it can be used with smaller playing areas and different sizes of model ships. I used a card table, which worked fine for this size of encounter. The ships are characterised by just two statistics: their Quality and their Combat value. The Combat score for a ship cannot be more than 1 point higher than the Quality score, so this means that the larger ships with higher Combat scores are at a disadvantage when rolling for initiative. So really Quality is a slight misnomer, it is more like a combination of agility and crew quality, whatever the naval word for that should be. The upshot is that smaller vessels can be easier to activate giving them a balancing advantage against gun-laden behemoths.

 



In my small playtest the English galleon outgunned either of its Dutch opponents individually but I was interested to see if the quality advantage swung things back their way. I decided the best tactic for the Dutch was to try to get on both sides of the enemy ship to try for a raking shot and the threat of boarding from two directions. The English weren’t too keen on this outcome so used the wind advantage to try to pick on the sloop before the combined attack could develop. This was when I realised that, as a merchant ship, the English galleon had a minus on all shooting so was hard pressed to cause damage to the enemy. Luckily for the English my aggressive tactics caused the Dutch sloop to miscalculate its course and collide with the stern of the English ship. Now the Dutch (and me) discovered that this was a bad idea against a ship with a reinforced hull and took 2 damage. The decision to grapple and board was equally poor against a high sided galleon and the sloop took another point of damage as their boarding party was repelled.




The sloop’s heroics/idiocy did pin the English ship in place long enough for the Dutch brigantine to fire a close range broadside into her. This caused major rigging damage and a permanent loss of speed for the galleon. The sloop took the first opportunity to cut grapples and put some distance between them. With three hits it counted as “crippled”. The sloops three white initiative dice had now all changed to red and each time a 1 is rolled on activation something bad will happen including the chance they will surrender to a nearby enemy. Any further damage once crippled causes a critical hit which includes the chance of sinking or catching fire.




The remaining Dutch privateer was finding out the hard way that it had perhaps bitten off more than it could chew. Although it damaged the St George (the English galleon) even a raking shot was not fatal against the galleon’s reinforced hull. The English ship was quite prepared to battle it out but a slight change in the wind direction meant that it woul;d have to turn into the wind to get closer to the brigantine. With the damaged rigging this was going to be a slow affair. I decided to stop there as a decisive outcome was looking unlikely.




I did enjoy the short playtest of Galleys and Galleons. I do like the activation mechanism where there is an inbuilt risk in trying to do too much with any one ship and worse outcome possible once damaged. The rules are at the simple end of the scale but with interesting tailoring possible for individual ships by applying different characteristics (for example the sloop had “Razée” which allows additional move distance and the Galleon had “Reinforced Hull”, as previously mentioned.) There is little in the way of book-keeping required, although I will probably make up ship sheets as a reminder of which characteristics a vessel has and the effect during the game. Definitely worth trying some more and I can already see possibilities of house rules that I might try. (I know, I know…;)

 


Bigger Smaller Boats

Posted by Adam on December 30, 2019 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Barry Hilton's current enthusiasm with the naval aspects of the late 17th Century is very infectious and I have been following with interest.

http://leagueofaugsburg.blogspot.com/2019/12/the-big-one-part-1-getting-organized.html


Altough eminently practical, I quickly realised I could muster no interest in the microscopic ship models that Barry has been using to such great effect.  Instead I dug into the pile of  abandoned projects to find an alternative. Amongst my on again off again Armada project I found a stash of 1/450 Peter Pig ship models and some plastic kits that  looked good for conversion fodder. The first few efforts are now ready for the table top.


A small Engilish galleon investigates a Dutch sloop in company with a brigantine.


I found a half converted Airfix Mayflower that looked about right as a 17th Century galleon (at the small end for this type of ship.) Some further examples of this kit look like a possible basis for early frigate models from the period. A Peter Pig pirate sloop with a bit of milliput clay was an easy conversion. The models are bang on scale and just about perfect for the period. The third model up was a  Janapanese plastic toy which with some hacking around and changes to the rigging makes a passable impression of a two masted brigantine.


Left to right: Airfix, Japanese toy and Peter Pig.


Enlarging the scale to 1/450 does mean that fleets of ships of the line become impractical in space and financial  terms. However the lower level fights, convoys  and skirmishes that are the day to day reality of naval warfare, look like an interesting arena (and pirates become a viable combatant!)  The smaller warships of this period still seem to have the ridiculous baroque decoration that makes the navies of the period so picturesque.  Painting these models should be fun then; a 100 ft long frigate will be a model of around 3" long, so big enough to see some detail but not so large it is more of a modelling challenge than I want to take on. Finding a set of rules that suits this level of warfare will be the next challenge...

Caeasar vs. Germans

Posted by Adam on July 26, 2019 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We had the little used 15mm armies for a run out last weekend. The later Republican Romans masquerading as Caeser's army on an expedition across the Rhine. Les had amalgamated the allied contingents of several armies to produce a veritable horde of ferocious Germans. The Germans outnumbered the Roman army by about 2 to 1 in units. They were however outclassed in quality and armour, also the Romana had a more efficient Sequence Deck (3 Leader Check cards and no Milling Around for example.)



With just two command groups and no cavalry, the German options were tpo be a bit limited (and rightly so.) My plan (such as it was) consisted of a right hook with all my veteran units and the sole Hearth Guard unit attacking the Roman left. They had a line of standard Warriors to their front to absorb the Roman pila, allowing the second line to charge in and win the day! The standard Warriors would suffer badly from missile fire having only a feeble shield for protection (very light armour class.) The Veterans have only a marginal upgrade (light armour) indicating a slightly sturdier shield or maybe a helmet.



My only other strategem was to line one of my skirmisher units along the forest edge on the Roman right flank. This was to suggest that ambushing units were lurking therein. I'm not sure that they fell for it however.


The battle went about as well as was possible for the German side. The Battle Lust card came up at a very opportune moment. This card acts as an extra Melee Resolution card and gives the Germans a bonus in melee as well. The flip side is that victorious units have no choice but to pursue. Also every unit under Battle Lust that is within a move of the enemy must move into contact using up impetus to do so. The unfortunate timing for the  Romans was that they had not had a chance to react to the overlapping German units on their left. This meant that the Battle Lusted Germans were forced to turn and fling themselves at this open flank. A combination of frontal attacks, this flanking charge and rotten dice rolls caused  this Roman flank to crumple and several units to rout to the rear.


The third line of Romans (near the corner of the rulebook) watch as their colleagues ahead of them are roughly handled.


With the sucess of the left of the German army (even before the decent veteran units had got involved) the left hand command of the army was also ordered forward. The skirmish line of bowmen was successful in diaordering some of the leading Roman units and the Romans sensibly refused to waste their pila on these light infantry.  When they did  brush aside the skirmish line the disorganised attack was less effective that the Romans needed to swing the battle back their way. To add to their woes the bowmen along the edge of the forest moved up to pepper the unshielded flank of the advancing Romans.



Fleeing Romans in the centre being pursued  between their own lines.


The hard fighting and requirement to rally disordered units had quickly depleted the Roman supply of Morale Chips (these represent the overall staying power of an army, they are redusced by casualties and routs and spent on rallying or forcing enemy morale checks.) The final straw for the Romans was when the victorious German units that had pursued routers through the intervals in the Roman army finally had a chance to halt their pursuit (their enemy had routed off table). They both managed to halt and turn around. This now resulted in the Roman left being both depleted and surrounded. They were also (although not aware of it) about to face the better elements of the Geerman army (my cunning right hook plan.) Theis was a sensible place to finidsh our game with effectively no hope for a Roamn victory.



This decisive victory was acheived in effectively one turn of the game of Archon. The Romans really needed to hold on and be viable into a second turn when the Battle Lust card would no longer be in effect. It really did highlight that it is not enough in this rule set to have all the advantages in quality and equipment; the smaller better army needs to win the initiative and choose where the action will take place. Good dice rolls is also useful.


Caesar contemplates a rare reverse in his glittering carreer (obviously an off-day!)

A Sad Loss

Posted by Adam on May 14, 2019 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (1)

A very sad day on April 13th when we heard that our good friend Nick Langford had finally lost his fight with Parkinsons disease. My sympathies are of course with his family who have the loss of a lovely man as well as a great Dad and Grandad to come to terms with. For me a good friend is gone as well as my opponent across the wargames table and collaborator in many a history or gaming enthusiasm, for nearly forty years.



Nick commented to me several times, over the years what a lot of enjoyment he had received from our hobby of wargaming. He was certainly the prime mover  in the evolution of our wargames from being all about the game to being as much about a few drinks and an excellent meal with friends. That's not to say Nick's competitive streak had waned. He still liked to mash an opponents army, by brilliant tactics or unlikely dice throws, and rub it in with gleeful laughter! 



Nick was in no small part the cause of my own interest in history. Great long discussions and debates about all manner of  subjects and our thoughts about what we had been reading last are one of the things I shall miss the most. I'm really not sure how I am going to feel about the projects that we tackled together (Macedonian Successors, Seven Years War, Moghuls and Maharattas...) It will be weird that Nick's not there when the toys are out on the table. On the other hand I reckon that any time the lowly Pindaris charge to an unlikely victory or the French fusiliers stand and fight against the odds, I will be able to hear Nick cheering them on.

Goodbye mate, thanks for everything.





Ottoman Progress

Posted by Adam on May 6, 2019 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Whilst the T's are crossed and I's dotted on my upcoming house move I decided to get at least a few Ottoman infantry finished. The post Salute enthusiasm period would not be wasted before I have to pack way my painting desk. First up was the completed unit of 18th C. Janissaries converted from Perry Zouaves with my own sculpted and cast up arms included.




My first time moulded items have worked okay ("good enough for Government work" I think is the saying echoing round my head.) I enjoyed converting one of the Perry figures by adding a Mahdist drum to create a a musician for the unit. The Mahdist figure has bare arms so I added some loose unbuttoned sleeves to the figure. The aggressive look of the unit and slightly irregular feel was exactly what I was aiming for. They are slightly more varied than I was thinking; with not only yataghan swords but firing muskets, pistols and wielding musket butts.




The Bosniak / Albanian figures from Warfare Miniatures were also crying out to be painted. I wanted these to be a little less brightly coloured than the regular troops of the Ottoman force so I chose a limited pallet for these. Apart from equipment and occasional decoration I went with dark blue, black, brick red, cream and white. Taking a cue from Barry Hilton's technique for these figures I didn't worry about doing highlights after painting and shading. I think the detail is all there in the sculpts.



I am not sure yet if I will give them a command stand made up from the generic officers or I might convert some of the musketeers into an officer and standard bearer.



Some Nice Danish Gunboats

Posted by Adam on January 26, 2019 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Made good use of a spare hour in Copenhagen this week and visited the Military Museum. They have a lot of excellent ship models so I took a few snaps. Some very cute gunboats from our period of interest:





Casting Up Some Turks

Posted by Adam on October 30, 2018 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I have tinkered with home casting of lead* figures in the past mainly using Prince August moulds. Always imagined it would be very satisfying to field an army of miniatures tht were my own creations. The whole having to be able to sculpt the master that will be moulded hurdle kept this plan in check for many years but eventually the example of a number of blogs has pushed me to have a crack at it. It was inspiring to see a number of gamers just get on with it and not be too concerned with produing stunning works of art.  (*in fact some sort of white metal that is mostly tin I suspect.)



Prince August home casting kit.


My yen for an 18th Century Turkish army to take on my Austro-Hungarians, looked like a promising object for the plan. For the infantry I decided to use the Perry Miniatures  plastic ACW Zouaves modified to make them less regular and 19th Century looking. For the cavalry I would need an unarmoured rider who would serve as Timariot Sipahis and later mercenary / militia cavalry.  The cavalryman could have a separate head to allow for a bit of variation. Also a right arm weilding a scimitar, which could be swapped out for a lance of firearm for further  multiple use of the basic casting. The cavalry would be mounted on the nice plastic horses available from Perry Miniatures or Warlord Games.  I used a "dolly" from Ebob as the skeleton that I could pose and know was about the right proportions for a wargames figure.Epoxy putty was then added to give bulk to the body as well as clothes / other details.


The masters "ready" to go into a mould...


The infantry figure needed a new pair of arms. One weilding a wickedly sharp looking yataghan sword. The left arm carrying the musket. Again a form constructed of wire and plasticard was made for the putty to be added to. I started with grand plans for half a dozen interchangeable arms for the infantry and horseman but just the three minimum required took long enough to complete.I consoled myself with the fact that I could cut away sword blades to convert the right arms for other purposes (holding lances, flagpoles etc.)



The lego mould box to contain the liquid silicon rubber until it had hardened.


For my first ever silicon rubber mould I bought a tin of the correct grade of liquid rubber from Alec Tiranti in London. It comes with the catalyst that starts the reaction that turns the liquid rubber into the solid mould that can accept hot molten metal. I had read many articles over the years about home casting and got some good advice from current bloggers making their own moulds. I freely adopted the elements of others processes that looked like they would suit me and plunged in to see how it all worked.


Tools and containers required. The liquid silicon rubber stains everything it touches!


Some bits went well: lego for the mould box was very successful and versatile. I did get a bit too ambitious wit the number of components that I tried to stuff into one mould however (one body, three arms and two heads made the channels that the lead is supposed to travel through very constricted.) At the end of the process however I had a solid chunk of rubber with the clearly identifiable hollows where my sculted masters had been.


A completed mould!


My lack of experience iin laying out my mould became apparent when I poured hot metal into it for the first time. Less than half of the mould filled up correctly, it was a bit disheartening. I did remember that air getting trapped in the mould is a common problem and vents need to be cut to allow it to escape.  Some careful cutting with a sharp knife in the restricted space of the mould gave me the vents and some further surgery to improve the sprue to each component was carried out. Eventually I was getting the entire mould casting successfully on almost every pour!


The mould  with vents cut  and blackened by graphite powder which aids the flow of the molten metal.


Once I had enough bits to be able to contruct 8 cavalrymen and convert a bunch of infantry, I stopped the addictive process and went to work on the output. The drawback with my "clever" scheme with all the seperate arms now became apparent. Having to glue the bloody thing in place! Yes I do get instant variation in my Ottoman units but I pay for this with having to file every join flat to be superglued.I had probably over estiimated where my patience will run out with this. Instead of dozens of units I may not get beyond five or six.


Shiny new castings...


So far then not perfect but more of a success than I had expected. I will have learned from my mistakes for he next moulds. Yes there will be next moulds as the production of shiny new figures from a mould is quite addictive. My Turkish units from these initial castings will have their  shortcomings disguised in the ussual way; with nice looking bases and large pretty flags!


Lots of pieces packed in a mould. Too many it turned out.


Ottoman Foot

Posted by Adam on October 23, 2018 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

As well as casting up my own Ottoman 18th Century cavalry riders, I put into the same mould some pieces to help convert plastic infantry figures. The base figure is the Perry Miniatures ACW Zouave infantry. These are quite close to the look of many Ottoman infantry types (unsurprisingly when you think about it.)


I wanted a less regimented look to my Janissary / Sekban regiments than the poses out of the box. My idea was to have a right arm waving a scimitar or yataghan sword, which would give the right impression of ferocity. This would leave them needing to be holding their musket in the other hand (shoulder straps not seeming to be a thing in this period.) I will go into the sculpting and mould making in another post but I have ended up with a whole stack of the new sets of arms and of course the tedium of gluing the new combination of parts together.


As I am a new and untalented sculptor there is also a fair bit of work with greenstuff to get the new arms to fit and the results to look remotely human! To keep my interest levels up I decided to paint up the first stand's worth of figures (6 for Beneath the Lily Banners / Piquet). Here it is (the standard bearer is a Brigade Games Napoleonic Ottoman figure.)


(click on image for larger version)

This unit will be in fairly uniformI colours although the evidence is a bit lacking. Iam reasonably happy with the results but happier still that I now have the option of buying Warfare Miniatures take on figures for this period! I will certainly comp[lete the unit with the other two stands and then paint up a Warfare one so I can get a fair comparison.

My Own Ottomans

Posted by Adam on September 10, 2018 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (0)

My first unit of Ottoman Sipahi cavalry with a quick paintjob to see how they turn out...




For my first ever sculpt (more or less) and first silicon rubber mould, I am reasonably happy with the results. (I'm not claiming the horses, which are Warlord ECW plastic miniatures - courtesy of their half price sprue sale.)  The acid test will come when they are sharing a table with professionally sculpted miniatures.


These chaps are intended to represent Timarli Sipahis for the first half of the 18th Century. Aftert this the Sipahis were pretty much extinct and I shall be calling these mercenary Levend cavalry.

Allied Triari

Posted by Adam on August 31, 2018 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes I buy figures just because I like the person behind a company or I am wanting to show some support for a smaller commercial project. Agema Miniatures falls plum into that category without a doubt. I do not expecially need any more Republican Roman figures in 28mm but I appreciate the ethos and historical approach of Greg's company. So of course I bought all of the packs of metal figures that were produed to supplement the plastic offerings. The plastics are nice and well-proporrtioned but a little bit limited in their number of poses, so doing extras in metal made a lot of sense. 


Once I had the figures in my hand the "Wow factor" took over. These are some of the nicest figures I have ever seen sculpted in this scale. Just superb little castings with amazing detail and very natural poses, both action stances and relaxed. I was particularly keen on the Triari pack with the old veterans leaning on their shields and in a variety of more expensive armour types. Eventually I had to spoil it all though by adding my painting to the party! First I came upon a problem  The Agema plastic Triari match the metal additions perfectly for physiology but they are all in the classic kneeling pose. Totally not going to mix in with the stood up versions. My solution was to hack up some of the other plastic legionaries so that they could be adapted to carrying the Triari's typical spear armamment. 


(Click on image for larger version)

It works okayish... I had to steal some arms from Victrix plastic  figures which was altogether a nuisance. However the good news is that the new Hannibals Veterans box of plastics from Agema will provide additional bodies and spear arms that will do the job perfectly.


Here's some from the Agema Facebook page.


Just for the record the figures, counted from the left are: 4, 6, 7, 12, 13,15 are Triari Characters, 9, 10, and 11 from Maniple Command, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 16 are plastic figures from the Legionary box, (3 and 5 with heads from the Roman Allies pack of heads.) Figures 1 and 14 are interloperas that have been lurking in the lead pile fopr a very long time. They seem to fit in okay. They were I think from a company called Alban Miniatures possibly now a part of Matchlock / Minifigs. Apart from the last two all these figures are available direct from Agema at http://agemaminiatures.co.uk/product-category/republican-romans/metal-figures/



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