|Posted by Adam on November 25, 2020 at 11:55 AM||comments (45)|
I finally had a chance to reorganise my study and replace the huge clunky computer desk with a separate desk and painting station.
I went for a pair of Hilver Ikea desktops with a bamboo finish. They are hardwearing, reasonably sustainable and look quite smart. The most useful part is that they can be matched to adjustable legs (for the desk not me) so that I can have one set at a height that suits me for painting. For the computer / writing desk I have re-used the base units from the old computer desk that give me a comfortable height for typing and writing, which is about 10cm lower than the painting station..
I adjusted my rolling drawer unit a draw lower so that it will fit under the surface. The top drawer has all my small pots and dropper bottles of paint, so it is quite easy to look down onto them and pick out whicher ones I need. The first deep drawer has a bunch of craft paints in 60ml bottles as well as glues, varnishes and spare 20ml pots. Another draw has all my tools, extra brushed and all the bits and pieces that we seem to accumulate "because it will come in handy one day."
There is a nice big window facing east, so pretty good light during the day. I might in the future add additional light to augment the three adjustable spots in the ceiling and the lamps. No excuse now but to crack on with getting some toy soldiers painted...
|Posted by Adam on August 31, 2020 at 12:50 PM||comments (0)|
An interesting chat over on Lead Adventure Forum about the wild and woolly components of a Bactrian Greek army (click here) reminded me that I didn't quite manage to finish off my foot guard / foot Agema/ Hypaspist unit for my own Bactrian Greek project. The uncertainty about the name is due to the almost total absense of evidence for their existence... Almost. There is a gold clasp from the grave complex at Tillya Tepe in Afghanistan that appears to show two soldiers that have a very hellenistic look to them.This is my sketch of what I see of the gold clasp.
To me it looks like they are both wearing muscle cuirass body armour and a variation of the Boeotion helmet that is so ubiquitous on Bactrian Greek coins. They are definitely spearmen and their shields look quite dished or bowl shaped and perhaps with a rim. The closest Macedonian or Diadochi troop type that they remind me of is Alexander's Hypaspists. Considering the way that the rulers of Bactria had broken away from the Selucid Empire, I dont think it is too unlikely they would have recruited a bodyguard loyal just to them. Basing it on a version of Alexander's elite formation would be one logical way to go.
The Victrix box of Theban hoplites that I had been plundering for the distinctive Boeotian, helmets was able to provide me with a dozen bodies in muscle cuirass, with spears and even a few of them with cloaks. As I discussed previously I decided to add a few heads with the eastern version of the Persian Bashlyk or Tiara to give the unit a more exotic look to it. (click here)
The other way to give them an eastern feel was by their shield design. I had some quite dished round shields in the bits box so I decided they would do the job admirably. A symbol that I saw recurring through history in this part of the world was a winged griffen. So I found an image (possibly Achaemenid) and adjusted it to suit the size and shape I needed. Once I was happy I did few test prints before adding them to a sheet of transfers. I am quite happy with the results. They look suitably exotic as well as ornate enough to show the eite status of the unit. I gave the officer a spare LMBS decal for his shield which is a more standard Successor design.
The unit standard is another home-made decal, this time a basic Macedonian star design. They dont want anyone doubting their Macedonian pedigree. I made the cloth part of the standard from greenstuff for reasons that escape me now...
|Posted by Adam on May 23, 2020 at 5:55 AM||comments (0)|
It has been good to see people making the most of their extra hobby time caused by the Covid lockdown. Premier amongst those are the new series of 17th Century scenario "booklets" produced by Barry Hilton (Wordtwister Publishing.) Have a look at the webshop here:
Each of the packs contains a selection of vaguely lineked scenarios along with the background and uniform detail where appropriate. In Barry's own words,
"The 4 Play concept is designed to achieve multiple objectives for the wargamer First and foremost, it aims to be entertaining In a series of small, quick games, players can grab an hour and complete a single missionor, spend a session completing two or three making for an enjoyable afternoon or evening.)"
This sounded ideal to me, I already have a disparate bunch of 17th Century figures with odds and ends from the ECW, Three Musketeers and War of the Grand Alliance and it is nice to get even a small selectioon of them on a tabletop. After a good giggle about the name of the project (I'm still very unsure about the idea of paying for 4play...) I had a close look at the sample copy that I had been sent. Small tables and a not too many figures seem to tick all the boxes for quick fun games that can be done over Zoom or Jitsi whilst social distancing is still in place.
As my current detour from the project that is itself currently distracting me from my planned hobby painting, is 17th Century naval games, I flicked first to the naval scenario. A fight in the Gulf of Hormuz, ideal for the smaller vessels and limited numbers that suit my nascent fleets. But then, wait a minute, what the hell are those? Bloody Xebecs!
The Xebec was the descendant of the pirate galleys that plagued the Mediterranean Seas. They were elegant and fast, lateen sailed ships with a decent broadside and the capacity for a large crew for boarding actions. An easy addition to fleets in dinky little 1/2400 models but not easy to find in 1/450 scale that I favour...
Aftyer some fruitless scrabbling around on the Interwebs, all I had discovered that might be suitable was the Pirateology models that must be made of solid gold to command the prices that they do, or print your own 3D models (I don't yet have a 3D printer...) I did read througha lot of modelling articles in all sorts of materials and that did twig me to a posible donor model that might allow me to kitbash a couple for my own cheapskate requirements. I dug out the freebie Black Seas sloops that had been taped to the front of one of the Wargames magazines.
Quite a small tubby looking boat but suitably heavily armed and no shenanigans cutting it down to the waterline needed. The masts would be no good but are easily replaced. The trickier part would be adding the distinctive pointy prow and overhanging stern that give the type its distinctive looks. I liked the whole notion of pirates and Middle Eastern raiders anyway so I thought I'd give it a go. So far I have added some plasticard pieces to give me the overall outline. Next step will be building on that skeleton with a few bits of putty work to make it look like all one boat. Then new spars and sails. If the process is not too painful I may end up with a small flotilla of Xebecs.
(Of course if you have any sense just get the scenario packs and play them with whatever figures/models you have to hand...)
|Posted by Adam on March 3, 2020 at 2:20 PM||comments (1)|
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 outcomes 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… )
|Posted by Adam on December 30, 2019 at 6:55 AM||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.
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...
|Posted by Adam on May 6, 2019 at 12:35 PM||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.
|Posted by Adam on October 23, 2018 at 6:20 PM||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.
|Posted by Adam on September 10, 2018 at 6:40 AM||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.
|Posted by Adam on August 31, 2018 at 12:40 PM||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/
|Posted by Adam on January 16, 2018 at 6:05 PM||comments (0)|
I have previously avoided looking too closely at my wargames hobby in terms of how many projects I have active or stored away for future revival or just hopelessly stalled. Inspired by Ross Mac's no-nonsense look at his own resources and interests on his enthralling blog and where to commit his hobby time, I have decided to have a crack at something similar. I am writing as I review things, so excuse me if the mood swings violently!
My oldest collection of 25/28mm figures (not including Dungeons and Dragon RPG miniatures) is the Macedonian Successors. Started a little over 35 years ago when I first discovered playing with toy soldiers was a “real” hobby! My first purchases were towards a Pyrrhic army. This appealed to me from the pages of WRG’s 6th Edition army lists due to the diverse range of auxiliary type that could be added to the core of competent Macedonian pikemen and Companion cavalry. Elephants, Italian types, Keltic mercenaries, Cretan archers - basically all the fun of the fayre! Early recruits were able to get into action quickly thanks to my friend Nick starting a Hellenistic army at the same time. We were able to coordinate our buying and painting of figures and combine them into a joint army. (Often Antigonid Macedonian if memory serves.) A good starter army with no one “super-troop” unit that you have to pin your hopes on. There were a variety of dangers presented by this sort of army. I even had the Kelts pull the fat out of the fire one time, beating a unit of Varangian Guards when everyone else had given way.
(Includes some Persians and Indians, who were allies and enemies)
Figures painted: 644 (plus 8 elephants)
Figures unpainted: Around 600 about a third are Achaemenid Persians.
Active status: Very active!
Even after all these years this period of history still enthuses me. The Macedonians are being reinforced on two fronts currently: The Bactrian Greeks are mostly painted and ready for their first game in 2018. Also the Society of Ancients Battle Day is Paraitekene this year so I am adding a small number of units to my phalanx numbers for that game.
So hopefully at least 3 games using these figures this year. This gives quite an “ancients” slant to the year already… My next largest collection I suspect will be Horse and Musket, particularly the 18th Century and Seven Years War. Although these were originally bought as a side project when I acquired a large number of Spencer Smith plastic figures just before they went out of production. It has become my other main period of interest, expanding into the latter part of the 17th Century with the recent Nine Years War focus.
18th Century / Seven Years War
Figures painted: 533 (plus several dozen guns and 8 elephants)
Figures unpainted: 120 or so Indian cavalry and sepoys. Less than a hundred(?) Austrian and French SYW
Active status: Active.
An ongoing interest almost as long as the Ancients armies. These have taken a bit of a back seat to the League of Augsburg / Nine Years War in recent years. However I am determined to get my Ottoman Turk project properly under way this year. Some figures have been bought for this already from Brigade Games, Old Glory and Dixon Miniatures. Some will be home caste and modified plastics and then there is the tantalising prospect of Warfare Miniatures starting their range. Not sure if they will hit the table in 2018 but a round dozen units painted and ready by the end of the year is a reachable target. Hopefully we will get the SYW boys out to play at least once as well.
My other “tricorn based” army, that I mentioned above, has muscled in on the SYW figures’ territory. These are the late 17th Century Nine Years War units, which have benefitted from usage once or twice a year at the League of Augsburg weekends in Derby and Dumfries, keeping them on the agenda. I have no ambitious plans for painting units this year. I am lucky to have a friend (Les) who has collected enough figures for us to play manageable games with our combined collections. If events in the Battle for Britain campaign call for it I may be tempted to paint up a unit or two…
Nine Years War
Figures painted: 336
Figures unpainted: 472 plus artillery? (just a side project )
Active status: Active.
I will hopefully be able to attend at least one of the games up at Dumfries. I am likely to take along some or all of my painted units if they are needed. A fair chance we will get these chaps on a table closer to home at least once this year too.
My other main focus this year is related to the League of Augsburg via their skirmish rule set “Donnybrook”. I have a mainly Scottish themed 17th Century / ECW Donnybrook collection (~ 60 figures) which will in the course of time be expanded with more figures including Three Musketeers period heroes and villains. I think the rules should work fine for this kind of setting. More of a stretch is adapting the rules set for the new period that I started last year; the 1895 Heligoland Crisis.
This is a Victorian alternative history setting that I am greatly enjoying writing. The main opponents are the British Empire and the German Empire and the initial theatre of operations the British governed Heligoland Islands in the North Sea. I am taking liberties with history (but feasible ones) that have led to an Anglo-German conflict 19 years before the Great War. I am planning on expanding the conflict to include torpedo boat duels in the shoal infested waters around the islands and civilian / irregular forces for the 28mm skirmish games.
1895 Heligoland Crisis
Figures painted: 58 (plus 7x 1/600 ships)
Figures unpainted: 200ish
Active status: Active.
I have to accept that the effort for this project will be split equally between figures and terrain / rules tinkering. Getting to a usable version of the rules that gives the period a distinct flavour will be key to keeping up enthusiasm for painting new figures and organising scenarios for games.
The second ancients period that I have a big interest in is the Punic Wars and more generally the Western Mediterranean. This overlaps with the Macedonian Successors in the form of the army of Pyrrhos which included Italian contingents and of course the Republican Romans who clashed with him and, eventually, the other Successors. This project started for me with my buying and painting an Etruscan army with Gallic allies. There were no Etruscan figures available back then, so I used the multipart QT/Amazon range of figures to cobble together something that worked for me. For the Gallic warriors I used a bunch of the QT figures and a couple of examples from every range I could find. This gave me a fine irregular looking warband in the days before ranges had a lot of variants of any one troop type. This “project” has expanded in fits and starts over the years and now includes small forces for each of the Romans, Carthaginians and Samnites, to go with the Etruscans.
Figures painted: 432 plus elephants and chariots
Figures unpainted: 300 - 400
Active status: semi-active.
One of our Roman army owners left our small band of brothers, so we were somewhat reduced in the number of Legions we could deploy on the tabletop. I have been bulking up my Romans to fill the gap but I have less empathy for them than other armies so it is less of a priority. Instead of classic Punic wars clashes we have turned to games featuring Kelts and mercenary forces instead. There is always a chance we will gwt these old favourites out for a game particularly if I restart my Truceless War campaign...
These projects I would happily call the "Good". Well developed, with enough figures to have a game. Still plenty of enthusiasm and new figures joining the veterans. I will come onto the "Bad" and Ugly" next time.