Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Sad News

I have learnt today of the passing of the highly talented illustrator Bob Marrion.

I understand he had been ill for some time and my sympathies now lie with his family.

Like many of us there are numerous titles on my shelves that are evidence of the talent that Bob had and he will be missed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Busy Workbench

A tidy desk shows a tidy mind.

No it doesn't.  A tidy desk shows someone with not enough to do.
On the workbench right now we have:
Top right  corner the third Swedish battalion in the process of being rebased.  Twenty three figures have been placed on their new bases and the nine new figures to be added are in black undercoat along side them.
Immediately in front of them is the second battalion now with filler and sand applied to the groundwork of the bases.
Bottom right of the photograph is the last of the Hessian 15mm Dragoons.  Twenty four dragoons and a few staff.  All glued to card strips ready for undercoating.
Top left is the other squadron of the dragoons in the white primer ready for painting this week.

I've promised to have all the 15mm Hessians completed by the end of October because they have been committed to a large SYW game in November.

Once the dragoons are complete I've just two guns and crews to do and we're done.  So fifty pieces and we're finished.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Great Northern War - First Swedes finished

So here we are once again talking about the first battalion of the Swedeborg army for my Great Northern War project.  My regular reader may recollect that this is the third time we've visited this particular project.
The first idea was for very large battalions.  Forty eight figures individually based.  This soon proved impractical for nights gaming and I quickly moved to using three sixteen figure resin movement trays.  But I didn't like the look nor the ease of play.
So after seeing Barry and his League of Augsberg games at Partizan I decided to switch to using his  "Beneath the Lilly Banners" rules (BLB).  Rebasing them all into twenty four figures wasn't too difficult and they were soon ready.  But the rules lacked something for me.  Perhaps it was the predictability of the outcomes which were able to be calculated in advance.  Whatever it was I wasn't happy.
So by creating and additional couple of four figure stands for each unit I was able to convert them into units for the Grimsby rules and then take on the Danes or others for a wider variety of games.
But, to my mind at least, they still didn't look right.
Then two things happened.  
First the opportunity to put a game on at the upcoming "A Military Gentleman Forum 2016" event in June arose.  I want to put a game on using the Grimsby rules but not wanting to run the risk of having the wheel arches of the car rub on the tires by taking the WSS collection made the Great Northern War seem a suitable candidate.  At the same time it would provide incentive to get the collection back onto the paint table and get closer to being finished.
Then Jim Purky of "Der Alte Fritz" blog site (http://altefritz.blogspot.co.uk/) started posting his ideas for his great Northern War project.  His ideas for basing seemed perfect and were quickly appropriated for my own use.
And so I started redesigning the basing for the third, and last time.
They're still in 32 figure units.  Now, however, they appear on five bases.  Three bases of five musketeers and officer, drummer or nco; one of six grenadiers and one of six pikes and two ensigns.  Just like Jim I've positioned some of the figures in a false third row to give the illusion of three ranks per base.  The only downside so far is that Jim is using the Warfare Miniatures range which are slim figures.  Mine are all Musketeer Miniatures (now Footsore Miniatures) from the talented Bill Thornhill.  mine are bigger and beefier and take up more room so they look a little crowded.
But that's fine for me since I think they still show plenty of movement and action on a base.
 As other gamers on their blogs have mentioned, rebasing can be a chore.  So to alleviate that I've also decided to add in at least seven new figures to each unit.  This means that it doesn't just feel like rebasing but creating new units, whilst at the same time helping to reduce the large pile of castings still waiting for a coat of paint.
I've also reduced the length of the pikes.  Swedes had 4-6m long pikes.  If we take a 28mm figure and say he's 2m tall (I think people were much smaller in the 18th century looking at the size of coats in various museums but it makes the maths easier) then a pike should be 50-75mm in length.  But the longer the pike the sillier it looks for an eighteenth century unit.
So I've cut them all down to 50-60mm.
At the same time I cut the flag staffs down so that the ensigns are carrying them closer to the cloth.  It just looks right when you've got a large piece of cloth waving around.
The second battalion is well on the way too.  Last night I got to the stage where all that is left on the new figures is the hat lace and metal work.  A coat of matt varnish and they'll be based this weekend.

The good thing about all this is the Russians.
Using thirty two figures to represent the Swedes means that they are nominally at a 1:20.  With Russian battalions being four companies (the fifth grenadier company being detached into composite units) of approximately 120 means that I need battalions of 24 figures.  And they already are thanks to the work done to change to the BLB rules.  All I need to do is change one of the bases to have two flags rather than one rather than create three new bases per unit.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The Other Partizan - a Farewell to Kelham Hall

My last show of the year and the last time that this particular event will be held at Kelham Hall.
Arriving a little after 10am the queue to get in was moving and a number of familiar (and friendly) faces were in it.
At least someone is making money out of the show it seems
 Once inside it was quite apparent that the show was busy but not crowded.  Every hall was full and buzzing with enthusiasm it seemed.  My issue with the revised entry is that you get funnelled into the smallest of all the room and bottle necked at the next doorway.
My plan was to get into the large domed hall first and then work back towards the entry/exit to stop having to walk backwards and forwards all day.  What I did notice was the sheer number of staff present with the new owners.  Lots of them around and managing the affairs well.  It was also nice to see coffee stands in a number of places which made the experience a lot easier than trying to carry drinks through crowds of large gamers with rucksacks (fewer of those this year as well- rucksacks that is).
The main hall has busy but seemed to have a bit more space.  Of the games here a couple really caught my eye.
Nottingham Wargames Society - Culloden
The first was the Nottingham Wargames Society and their presentation of the Battle of Culloden.  All done in 20mm plastic using an amended version of Beneath the Lilly Banners,it was a simple but pleasing game to look at but pleasing to the eye all the same.  Also, the team presenting the game were happy and willing to talk about what they were doing.

 The second to catch my eye was the Burgundian Wars game by Mr Dave Andrews & friends.  Huge pike blocks of 120 figures or more each trundling across the table using Impetus rules.  Not sure I would have opened the conversation with a visitor using an expletive but a pleasant chat thereafter about the game.

 The third game was the Ireland 1690 "Yellow Ford" game from the chaps in the Like a Stonewall Group.  The terrain was superb and really captured the undulating wooded hills between two well modelled streams.  A really well presented spectacle.

Then my phone ran out of battery life and the pictures ended (why is it you go to a show making sure you have wallet, money and list of wants but forget to check camera or phone battery level?).
Simon Miller was presenting TWO large games with James Morris using his "To the Strongest" rules.  As ever these looked superb and Simon more than happy to chat with the crowd.  Lovely figures en mass and presented with enthusiasm.  Well done Simon.

But the highlight of the day for me was to spend a few minutes talking to one of my favourite novelists Harry Sidebottom, the author of the "Warrior of Rome" series of novels featuring the character of Ballista (a German warrior risen to high rank in the Roman army).  A really nice chap - Harry that is - and a conversation I will remember for a long time.  Harry hinted at a collaboration he's working on for next year at Partizan with Simon Miller (see above) and Ben Kane, another author of Roman novels that I like and that sounded really interesting.

So what about purchases?

For someone who said that my needs are few and my wants fewer before the show, I seemed to spend quite a bit.
Bases galore from the ever pleasant folks at Warbases (why go anywhere else when service is that good and so nice?) plus a few cart horses from their new range which are just lovely sculpts.  I was tempted by their mdf carriage and carriage horses but couldn't imagine myself having the skill to turn it into an early 18th century version.
A few Cossacks sufficient for a trial couple of squadrons from Eagle.  The chap at Eagle showed how to treat customers.  Helpful, friendly and happy to spend a long time talking to a customer only spending a few quid (£50).  He also had a copy of the Osprey "Peter the Great's Army 1: Infantry" for sale at what I considered a reasonable price for such a rare book so I bought that too.
Paints and brushes from the very nice people at Coritani.  This is now my default provider of paints and brushes because it is good value and so very helpful.
I picked up a copy of Wargames Illustrated but only because it includes a really good article (I had to say that in case Graham is reading this) on the AMG15 game I participated in at the Partizan show in May.  The rest of the magazine is a waste of time for me with nothing of any great interest, which is something I was discussing with Guy Bowers (editor of WSS magazine) about at the show as well.
Lastly I also bought a copy of "Painting Wargames Figures" by Javier Gomez from Caliver Books.  It is available at a lower price from Amazon and the like but I think Dave Ryan at Caliver supports the hobby so well he deserves to get our support in return.

Overall the show for me was a success and a fitting way to end the association with Kelham Hall.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Project Ramillies - last new unit for a while

My last post indicated a move, in wargaming terms at least, to more Northern climes.  Regular readers may know I have two great passions in the eighteenth  century the first being the War of the Spanish Succession and the other it's close cousin The Great Northern War.
Whilst I've been taking a forced absence (work related and nothing more serious) from actually getting figures to the table I have been painting more units.  The next, and last for awhile at least, is another unit of Dutch infantry - Regiment Schalenberg (appears as various spellings depending on your resource material).

 Charles Grant in his excellent work on the Armies & Uniforms of the Malburian Period describes them as having a a white coat and grey breeches and waistcoat, carmine cuffs and white hat lace.
So taking that on board I gave them an off white coat but retained the usual light grey for the other garments.
 The officer I gave a carmine waistcoat since it wasn't unusual for officers and nco's to wear such.  In hindsight I think my carmine red is too bright but I'm not going to change it now.
 The grenadiers posted on either flank of the battalion have been given the usual red hat with brass front.  The photograph doesn't really show the shading that i was please to achieve on the hat.

The figures are all from Ebor and the talented sculpts of Paul Hicks.  My only real gripe about them this time is the quality of the metal.  It's very soft and when the delicate (too delicate in my opinion) muskets bend it is just about impossible to get them back straight.  These are the figures that are the reason why I chose the deeper bases, to stop damage to the muskets.
The bases are also 3mm MDF rather than my standard 2mm just to help the figures look taller when lined up on the table against their beefy Front Rank comrades.
Flags are from, my now default supplier, Stuart at Maverick Models.  he's got a good range and offers a fast service and real value for money.

So why the last unit for a while?

My other project for the Great Northern War is going to take centre stage for a while.

Following on from the success of the AMG game at Partizan in May (and there's a darned good write up in the September Miniature Wargames magazine), the members have decided to get together for weekend event next June.
I rather rashly have volunteered to present a Great Northern War game for the members and thus need to get my figures in order.
 So on a rather cluttered workbench is the first of the Swedish battalions to be revamped.  I'll post some more thoughts about the hows and wherefores in another post later.
But for now the first battalion of 32 figures will be finished with the painting stage today and based by next weekend.
the eagle eyed amongst you may also spot some 15mm horse.  These are some of the last figures for the nearly completed 15mm Hessians.  More of those in another post too.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Great Northern War Expansion?


Almost before I've got started I'm already considering the possibility of expanding the project beyond the original (sketchy) proposal.
One of the reasons I like the early 18th century is the endless possibilities of interaction between the two major conflicts during the years 1704-1712.  The War of the Spanish Succession, for my project at least, centers on the battles in western Europe, whilst the Great Northern War is fought in eastern Europe by and large.  However, within that we have the Danes fighting in both conflicts, the Imperial forces facing the possibility of Turkish invasion and, the smaller German states fighting for the highest offer.  Throw in the Saxons, who were courted heavily by both England and France to join their respective causes before Augustus threw his lot in with Peter against Charles in Poland (and got thrashed for the privilege).
But more than that we also have both Charles XII and Peter the Great fighting the Ottoman empire before the end of the Great Northern War.  Indeed one could make an argument for a Swedish Turkish alliance against Peter after Poltava.
Warlord Games have had the above figures for a while I believe but they continue to add to the range.  The temptation to get some and create a small (do I do anything "small" I wonder) Turkish force is getting harder to resist.
My quandary is whether the dress of the Janissary corps changed significantly between 1648 (the end date on the Warlord Games box) and 1712 for me to worry about?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

War of the Spanish Succession website

Most of us are no doubt aware of the terrific resource for the Seven Years War that is the Kronoskaf SYW Project.


What you may not realise is that there is now a sister site for the War of the Spanish Succession.  It's in it's infancy at the moment but it is shaping up to be a something quite special in the same way that the SYW page has become.

Currently it is accessible by subscription only but this is only $20CAD or about £10 for a year.

The subscription link is within the page on the above link (top of the page n the news section)