Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Wars of the Roses - new novel

The second in Iggulden's series for the Cousins War (more usually known as the Wars of the Roses).  This time he takes us into battle proper with the conflict spanning the First Battle of St Albans up to the Battle of Wakefield.
The character list remaining from Stormbird returns, and we are introduced to new figures, some of whom are destined to feature heavily in the future.  No spoilers if I tell you that one of these is a young Edward Earl of March.
The story jogs along quite nicely and is reasonably well paced and the author does a good job of making us feel involved in the politics if not overly immersed in the history.
My issues with the book are several.  Firstly it began to niggle me and finally annoy me that in every battle he keeps referring to the practice of all the professional soldiers and nobility using shields in every fight.  I may be completely wrong but I thought the practice of using shields for protection had fallen out of favour by this time.  For a well researched book it seems a simple but frustrating over sight (or is it ignorance and it is not that well researched?).
Secondly, in Stormbird Richard of York was made to be the villain of the plot.  Here his character is transformed into, whilst not the hero, certainly a more likable sole who is simply just misunderstood.  Instead all the villainy of the first book is now transferred to the Duke of Salisbury and it appears that the war is all his fault.
Margaret, so very much the darling of Stormbird, comes into her own.  Whilst Iggulden tries to give some ground to the modern supporters of York he is still very much a Lancastrian and gives the House of Lancaster the upside of any poor decision.
All novels of the Wars have a faction they favour.  This series at the moment lies on the Lancastrian side.  It'll be interesting to see how the story goes after Towton which must be the main feature of the next one mustn't it?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Flags and Figures

I am still painting albeit at a greatly reduced rate.  This weekend saw me provide flags for the Royal Italienne Regiment.
The figures have been completed for quite a while, a couple of months at least, but it was only yesterday that I got around to their standards.  The flags are from Warfare Miniatures and are printed on heavy duty paper.  Simply cut out glue (using diluted PVA) to the staff and attach the Front Rank finial.  I then edged the flag with red or light grey to hide the white edges.


 
Some new figures have also been created over the last two months.  Two battalions of Regiment Alsaace.


 All the figures for these are from Ebor with flags from the excellent (and free) Warflag website.  The two battalions bring my total for this regiment to three of the four that were present at Ramillies.
They took a long time to paint, not because of the figures but the enforced absence from the painting table.  However, they're done now and I'm please with how they've come out.
I could always wish they were better but they match with the previous battalion quite well.

Monday, October 13, 2014

More Reading

With my continued infrequent visits to the painting room the amount of reading increases.  I have a wide variety of tastes when it comes to books but the last one may appeal to some.
This is the fourth in the series following the exploits of Hereward by James Wilde (the previous three being Hereward, Hereward:the Devils Army & Hereward:the End of Days).  We now find our band of heroes travelling to Constantinople seeking fame and fortune.


The story is nicely done with some interesting little scenarios and set pieces that would suit Saga players.  There is an excellent plot running through the novel that has a neat twist and one I didn't see coming having taken the bait just like our hero. 
If you enjoy novels about the early medieval period, and there is a plethora of them at the moment, you will like this one.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Recently Read

So what do you do when faced with periods of downtime that don't permit climbing into the painting room?  Read.
Picked this one up from a cheap bookshop because I enjoyed the last one of his I read "Best Served Cold".  This one is also a fantasy novel but actually contains little in the way of fantasy and more in the story of a prolonged battle.

The entire book is devoted to the description of a three day long (four if you included the prologue) battle between the army of the Union and the army of the North.  It moves from character to character with ease and you quickly empathise with figures from both sides.
So right now you're wondering why this is on a wargaming blog right?  Well the two armies are described just enough for you to be able to play the whole thing out on the tabletop as one large game or several smaller games.
The Northmen appear to be some sort of Viking/Medieval Scots crossover, whilst the Union sound more like a late English Medieval early Renaissance force (without any firearms).
Recommended reading for the pure joy of being a good story well told.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Update.

We all experience times when life crashes into our worlds and upsets the balance.  Right now that's where I am.  Things are happening with me personally, at home and work, that are making it difficult to think that the future is so bright I might need shades.  Quite the reverse.
Having said that an hour a night at the paint desk, and that's about all the hobby related time I can afford, is almost keeping me on the right track.  So please bear with me whilst we get though this difficult patch one way or another.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Workbench

I've managed to play a couple of games since the Blenheim refight - both WSS.  since that game work has also increased exponentially and is now threatening to eclipse a lot of my free time between now and January.
Having said all that I do try and find an hour a night to paint, if only to take my mind of work and unwind a little (better health option than a glass of bourbon).

 So on the workbench at the moment are three squadrons of French horse.  The troopers are Front Rank and the horses mostly Elite with some Front Rank.  The Elite horses are nice and suit the Front Rank troopers very well.  My main criticism of the horses is the difficulty in bending them to stand up straight.  Elite uses a very hard metal that is difficult to bend without fear of snapping the horses legs - hence the lean on some of the figures.  One trick to alleviate some of that is to glue the horses to the mdf base using a layer of wood glue on the base and then superglue on the horses metal base.  The almost instant adhesion allows the figure to stand reasonably straight and the wood glue hardens to give more support.
 Also on the bench are two batches of infantry for Regiment Alsaace.  I've finished and varnished one batch and undercoated the other.
 The figures are from Ebor and paint up very nicely as always (now I understand the figure and the sculpting).  My only worry over these long term is the ability of the musket to withstand the rigours of play.  Nick uses a soft metal that bends very easily and I'm worried that the musket extends too far over the leading edge of the base.  So worried that I'm considering rebasing them onto a deeper base for protection.
 
Why does blogger do this to photographs?  I've posted these on another forum without any issue and yet here blogger has turned them through 90°.  Sorry about the crick in your neck as a result.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blenheim the Refight

So the big game is over and the ten players, five travelling guests and five members of the Grimsby Wargames Society, had a great day.  Or so they told me.  Certainly it is a relief that the day went well and the players found the rules easy to pick up and were thus able to concentrate on playing the game rather than looking at the rules.
I'm not going to provide a step by step action report, which needs a better write up than a blog post and, a more productive format.  Instead I have posted a number of photographs from the day that hopefully give some insight in to the time we spent on the figures and the fun that the players had.
 
 The large table showing the battlefield between Blindheim (far top right) and Oberglau (lower middle right).  This is a 16 x 6 foot table and was the scene of some of the most intense action.  The gaggle of officers in the foreground were latter dispersed around the various commands as the numbers of players assembled.

The second smaller table (only 10x5) depicted the field between Oberglau and Lutzingen.  This was table was a continuation from the larger one and proved equally as challenging to the players.  Troops were able to move from one to another and it came as quite a shock to some when they did.
The Bavarians defending Lutzingen on the extreme left of the French lines.

The defenders of Oberglau in the middle of the French lines.
Blindheim on the French right.  We decided to use the Danube as the table edge and moved the town slightly to give more table space in the centre where the action was going to be.


"Salamander" Cutts sent wave after wave of infantry against Blindheim.  The charge being led by the English.
The Danes were unable to breach the defences of Lutzingen despite several valiant attempts.  The initial attack was spearheaded by the Danish guard in their straw coloured coats.  Supported by Germans in Imperial service in blue.
A perplexed Anhault-Dessau ponders the situation around Lutzingen as a rather more relaxed Elector of Bavaria looks over to the action around Oberglau.
Oberglau was never threatened by the Allies who preferred to try and pin the defenders in place.  Contemptuous of this the French sallied forth and saw off repeated cavalry charges from the Allies.
Marlborough crossed the Nebel using several fascine bridges and it was the same in the game.  Five fascine crossing points were provided to the Allies to be placed where they desired in order to allow the horse and artillery to cross.  Infantry were allowed to wade through the stream.

This allowed the Allies to push their superior numbers of horse across but only in small groups.  These in turn were countered by the French.  For me it was one of the better aspects of the day in that we had a continual see-saw action across the battlefield as the Allied army struggled to get a unified effort together.
The French used their reserve to bolster the centre as Charles Churchill began to apply the pressure and cause some gaps to appear in the French lines.
Everyone smiling which is a good thing.  On the left  - Robbie (as Marlborough), Andy (as Charles Churchill) and Tim (as Cutts),  little John was a great help to all.  On the right Graham (as Tallard), Mark (field judge for the day) and David (as Clerambault).
One of the other great things about a multiplayer game is that, whilst you give the players all the tools you are unable to predict how they are going to be used.  Robbie was to be seen frequently holding his head in his hands as Marlborough was unable to roll more than 5 on two dice a number of times.  Marlborough may have been the victor on the day but he had earned the sobriquet "not enough".
Near the end the English First Foot Guards began to make their presence felt.  Here they are seen in the centre of the picture clearing a path towards the French camp (which is actually where the dark wooden panels are on the rear wall).


The Allies won but it was a close run thing and in the end only determined by the fact that the French were running out of time to draw troops across from Marsins (ably portrayed by Julian who whilst not able to get troops to go forward was able to stop troops retiring) command to fill the gaps.
Other players not named - Tony as Eugen, Mike as Anhault-Dessau, Chris playing the Elector of Bavaria and, James with a split personality as St. Pierre in the centre and also assisting Marsin on the left.  Andy H was the sideline judge.
The troops were provided from the collections of Mark, Andy H, Chris, Ashley (unable to attend but provided some magnificent Spanish troops for the French side) and myself.  Thank you all.
Thanks also to Andy H & Malcolm (was prevented from playing due to a double booking with a holiday in Florida) for building the fascine bridges specially for the game. 
I must also thank Tony for helping with the ancillary equipment of dice, rulers and signage. 

I can have no better reward for the day than to read that one of the players left with renewed vigour and enjoyment of the hobby.  Wargaming should be a fun hobby and for me the most important part of the whole thing is that all involved had a great day.

So coming in 2015  - Ramillies.