Sunday, 29 March 2009

Long Weekend

I've just got back from a long weekend at Mark Freith's place where a few of us got together to celebrate Stephen Scotts' 40th birthday. I had a great time as always and was able to get in a few games as well as a visit to "Salute 2009" at the Excel centre in East London. The first game was a Warhammer 40K game with some blokes with lots of armour on one side, and some others whose name I forget on the other. I would be an abject liar if I were to pretend I enjoyed it. To be honest it was awful and I can't imagine what the attraction of 40k is. It just appears to me to be an exercise in stacking the dice as much in your favour as possible and then relying on blind luck. There will probably be howls of protest from committed 40k'ers but that's my opinion. We seemed to spend most of the time poring over various "codexes", a name invented to make army lists sound sexy, finding out if there were extra dice for having a new hat or an auntie in Bognor.
Our second game was a Warhammer Ancient Battles clash between Romans and Carthaginians. I surprised myself by quite enjoying this game as I've never been a huge fan of ancients. The rules are relatively simple and quick to play, though that might not necessarily appeal to the purist. Yet they seem to reflect the push and shove of how ancient battles have always appeared to my limited knowledge of the period.
Finally we played an ACW game in 15mm which was very good. We used Fire and Fury rules and I was unlucky enough to to have a poor Corps commander and a poor Divisional commander which made it very difficult to keep my Union troops moving. The first photo shows part of the game where the Rebs, tired of waiting for the bluebellies to arrive, attacked through broken ground which negated many of their advantages. The result was an interesting close fought game which sadly we didn't have time to finish.
The final shot is a side by side one of the new Kleve-Berg battalion and it's counterpart. Julian Watts painted both using different undercoats for each battalion and reckons he can tell the difference. I just think they're both equally gorgeous, especially with their new GMB flags.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A Few Random Shots

I received a favourable reception to the last series of photos so I thought I'd milk the compliments and post a few more. This first one is a general view across the battlefield, sorry about all the detritus but it is a game in progress. In the foreground is the Allied left where the Russians are contesting the walled enclosure. In the centre the French push against the Prussians is largely hidden by woods and in the distance if you're very lucky you can see the Austrian national marching team about to crest the hill at the far end of the table. Wave everyone.
Next is a shot of a French cavalry division racing forward to support the attack in the centre. They should arrive shortly at the scene of the action and in true Napoleonic style complete the rout of the Allied centre. In fairness the French players have done well to resist the temptation of getting these guys embroiled in the fighting earlier. They're now in an excellent position to mop up the Prussian cavalry and pursue the Allies should they break.
Same cavalry different angle, all of these figures were painted by Justin Davey who also painted the horse battery which is just in shot on the right. Justin has also painted several battalions, most notably some very nice Poles along with most of the Russian command bases.

Friday, 20 March 2009

No Brief Encounter

Yes I know it's a cheesy title but I really couldn't think of anything better. Even Shakespeare had his off days you know. Anyway back to the picture. The French attack in the centre gathers momentum as this fresh division is thrown forward to support the left flank of the tiring Poles and Confederation troops. Opposing them is what little remains of the two light and one heavy Prussian cavalry regiments, who's only real hope is to slow them down in the seemingly vain hope that the Austrian right hook will eventually materialise. At the moment they appear to be heading for Vienna but with luck might turn in time to make it for the post match round up and a spot of souvenir hunting. Oddly in keeping with their famed stubborness and inflexibility, they have followed their orders to the letter and are continuing to march towards deployment areas which by now have little relevance.
I particularly like this next shot which shows the Isembourg and a battalion of Kleve Berg moments before assaulting the Prussian battery in the foreground. Fortunately for the Prussians the Isembourg weren't up for it after receiving cannister and left the Kleve boys to do the bayonet work. Almost miraculously the gunners fought on for three rounds supported by two fresh battalions and were able hold their ground. However victory came at a hefty price and the battery is finished as a fighting unit. Also worthy of a mention in despatches were one of new Wurtemburg battalions which despite eventually sustaining fifty per cent casualties, charged and defeated a Prussian line.
In the final shot for this blog entry here's a couple of squadrons of Prussian heavies in the act of charging a French six pounder battery. Believe it or not one of them actually made it in and in the ensuing melee managed to cut down most of the gunners and rout the battery. So the battle as it stands at the moment seems to have swung in favour of the French. On the Allied left the Russians are taking a very long time to capture the settlement whilst in the centre two more French divisions are starting to force the Prussians further back. The French left holds firm and has even forayed out against the Austrians while they dither in the woods. It's not over yet but there's a phrase that keeps coming into my head about having the right troops in the right place at the right time. Just can't seem to remember what it was right now.....

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Westphalians

I went out and bought a new camera today and gave it a try out on the new Westphalian division. As you can tell I probably need to spend a bit more time with it to find out the best settings but there seems to be an improvement already. There are six battalions of these brave lads and I'm really pleased with the paint job that Neil Sheardown has done. I think the purist might point out that they should all have dark blue facings with this uniform as apparently that was the case by 1810 but we decided to go for the earlier facing colours which look much nicer. At the front you can see that Neils' painted the twelve skirmishers in the green light infantry uniform. Directly behind them are the Guard Grenadier in their Bearskins. Here's another shot of the Guard Grenadier, looking very imposing. Like the Gluchkov Cuirassier these boys haven't seen any action yet but that will be remedied shortly. I'll have to spend some more time with the camera and come up with some more pics but just looking at these has got me thinking that they should be joined by a foot battery and some light cavalry. In fact if I remember correctly the Westphalians had two cuirasier regiments as well, but that might be going too far.....

Friday, 13 March 2009

Encounter Battle

Our latest game is an encounter battle in which we're trialling the new light infantry battalion rules. As you can see from the photographs some of the blokes brought their own cameras around last night and there is a clear improvement over mine. These were taken by Eric and then uploaded to photobucket from where I then downloaded them. We tried plugging Erics' memory chip thing into my computer but it wasn't having any of it. Anyway the end result is some much nicer pictures. This first one shows the French right where a walled settlement is about to be assaulted by a combination of Russians and Prussians. Walled areas can prove extremely difficult to hold using ITGM rules. There's limited space for reinforcements during a melee and corners can be particularly vulnerable as it's hard to get much firepower into play. Sometimes it's easier to defend them from the rear though scenarios and victory conditions may not always make this possible.
Here's the same settlement from a slightly different angle showing the Prussians advancing in the background. There was a sharp firefight at one of the walls resulting in one French battalion routing, but there's plenty of fight left in them yet and it will be no easy task to take control of the whole thing. For those familiar with ITGM rules but unfamiliar with the LI variant, skirmish buildings can't be occupied and are purely a terrain feature, blocking movement. This final shot gives a better view of the battlefield in general and is taken from the French left looking across to the centre. It shows the massed French battalions advancing against what is in fact a rather weak Allied centre, held only by one division of Prussians. However just out of shot to the left are three large Austrian divisions about to attempt a right hook. The question for the French I suppose is do they push on and smash through the centre leaving their left flank vulnerable or take on the Austrians as the debouch from the woods? Only time will tell, but I'll try to get some shots of it as it happens and post them here.
Finally we also took some pictures of the Westfalian division en masse and I'll get those in the next post.

Monday, 9 March 2009

I Need A Decent Camera

I'm going to have to bite the bullet and shell out for a decent camera. My present camera just isn't up to the job as can be witnessed by the picture above. Believe it or not this is the best of nearly two dozen attempts, taken in varying light conditions and locations, and using different camera settings. It's supposed to be Prussian Cuirassiers in Litewkas, part of a twenty four man regiment which is my current painting project. Having painted the collars in the facing colour I discovered that they were always red, but I think the blue looks better so it stays. Not of course that it's easy to tell from the picture. At the moment I'm heavily reliant on Neil Braddon in his role of official garage photographer, but he's been unable to attend much of late and I'm running out of decent photographs. So I'll be trawling the internet for recomendations and special offers in the near future. If of course you have any suggestions please feel free to let me know.
So I'm now showing what the news people always refer to as "library Images". This shot is of an irresistable mass of Austrians, commanded by Duncan Stradling at the WHC if my memory serves me right. There's a certain ponderous inevitability about the big Austrian forty eight man battalions. They seem to shrug off casualties as they steam roller forwards and they take an age to wear down. Though I still have to say that the Russians are my favourite army I'm beginning to develop a liking for the boys in white.
One final piece of news is that I had an email from Neil Sheardown to inform me that the last four battalions and the skirmishers for the Westfalian division were in the post. Hopefully they'll arrive tomorrow and will certainly be featuring very shortly on the blog, of course I'll need Neil B's camera to do them justice until I get one of my own.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Skirmishers

I didn't realise when I set out on this venture just how many skirmishers would be needed. They often seem to be incidental to the drive towards more battalions, batteries and regiments of cavalry but you soon notice if there's not enough available.
I was extremely fortunate to get hold of the figures pictured here. These along with a couple of dozen others were, believe it or not destined for the dustbin. I was up at Scarborough when Steve Scott brought along about a hundred new skirmishers painted by Neil Sheardown and based by himself. Of course wargaming is done on a more industrial scale at the WHC and Gerry Elliott had nowhere for the old ones to go and no further use for them. To cut a long story short these lads were rescued, rebased and will hopefully see years more service in the garage.
I don't know what make the figures are (Chris any ideas?), but I do know that they were converted and painted in enamels by Doug Mason. I've never met Doug but I've come across lots of his excellent work over the years and heard many stories of his abilities with a soldering iron. Having only ever used modern water based paints I take my hat off to all those stalwarts who for years struggled with enamels. I could never get used to them and it's one of the main reasons that I only recently started painting figures myself. I know there are some that still swear by them but the idea of thoroughly stirring each pot, the odour of paint and white spirit permeating the house and their sheer unforgiving nature compared to acrylics was just too much hassle.
Anyway on to the main reason for this particular blog entry, tonight is game night and it's my turn to devise a scenario. So I've decided to use the new skirmish battalion rules which have been in use for some games at the WHC for a while now. Basically for those familiar with "In the Grand Manner" this allows for the use of specific light battalions, normally one per division, which fire and manoeuvre as skirmishers but operate as a single unit. There are several rule amendments which accompany their use, for instance they are the only troops which remain formed in woods but they do add different challenges and opportunities to the normal game. To be honest I'm not yet absoloutely sold on them as they seem to lend themselves to gimickry a little too easily. For instance each time I've seen them used each army's light battalions go haring forward into the nearest wood where they become embroiled in a firefight with each other. I've rarely seen them used as a screen for advancing infantry. This may or may not be historically correct and I'm not saying that I don't do exactly the same myself, but I think there is still a little room for improvement in the rules which govern them, possibly in the area of command and control.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Old Shed

I thought it might be worthwhile to show people the forerunner of the present garage. Always referred to as "the shed" it was in fact Dom Fielders garage in which he had built a 15ft by 6ft table. The games we played here were a little more varied in period than those played in the present garage and ranged from ancients to, on a couple of occasions 40K.
We had a sizeable collection of 15mm Napoleonics, some ACW, even some Zulu war figures and of course thousands upon thousands of 1/300th WW2 stuff. I'd have to say that if the Wargames Holiday Centre was my inspiration for setting up my own garage then it was Dom's shed that showed me it could be done.
The present garage wasn't actually intended to be a replacement for the shed. However peoples situations change and the shed disappeared into history, meaning that all of our weekly games have now transferred to my place. In truth this is probably what has driven the relatively rapid expansion of the garage into its present state. Considering there wasn't so much as one painted 28mm figure before September 2006 it's developed very quickly. Which I suppose proves the sad truth that blokes who would take months to put up a shelf can be relied upon to enter into a frenzy of activity in order to play with toy soldiers.
Here's a very young looking Dom appearing somewhat pleased with himself. Alongside him is the almost ubiquitous Nick Foot who has the strange ability of appearing in other peoples photos, usually looking directly at the camera. As you can see Dom has loads of the two foot square terrain tiles which he uses for his Mega-games so we had plenty of choice in creating scenarios. There was some temptation to use them in the garage but I went for three foot square boards instead and am glad that I did despite the extra work and expense. Dom still uses the terrain for his week long games, which are currently run in the very picturesque Cornish seaport of Falmouth. If you're interested there's a link to his blog on the right. Though personally I'd rather torture kittens than play WW2 especially in 1/300 scale, I'm assured by those sad fools who return year after year that it's great fun.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

More Problems

A big thankyou to Ian who has now solved my hit counter problems, it was something to do with re-routing the encryption code and diverting more power to the flux capacitor, simple really once you know how. However I had a startling experience yesterday when I went to close Blogger down. For some reason it started opening up multiple copies of itself on my monitor and I couldn't stop it. I tried various things like shouting at it and looking away to see if it was doing it to annoy me but all to no avail. Eventually I had to restart the machine. Consequently my hit counter has nearly doubled its tally of visitors.
My next project will be to fit a slide show somewhere which should be fun, though Dom's coming around next week and he's already done one on his site so he will be playing the role of resident expert.
Anyway enough of Blogger, I started this blog to showcase the garage and it's occupants so my latest pictorial offering is the Gluchkov Cuirassier painted by Neil Sheardown. These lads haven't seen any action yet as they've only just arrived so I'm trying to devise a scenario in which they'll take centre stage.
In this shot you can see that Neils done a very nice job of modifying one of the figures to provide a standard bearer. Again these figures are from Pete Morbey at Elite Miniatures. I tend to buy a lot of my stuff from Pete, he has an excellent range and his figures are very competitively priced. One of the best things he does though is produce unit packs. This means that lazy sods like myself don't have to go to the trouble of specifying how many packs of each figure are required for a given unit. I just order battalions at a time and what's even better is that the units are discounted.