Posts Tagged 'miniature-wargames'

A Long Overdue Update & Plans for 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog.  As usual, there are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Life has been busy.  My work got very busy in the second half of 2012 and I spent a lot of time working out of town.  Naturally this had a negative effect on my hobby time.  I also had some family health issues to deal with as well.
  2. What hobby time I have had has mostly been spent working on non-historical projects.  I picked up a copy of Warhammer 40K last summer and found a new (to me) local game store that had a healthy GW gaming crowd that had a vibe I liked.  As a result, I’ve spent most of my hobby time painting up a Tau army for Warhammer 40K.  I’ve started a separate blog covering my GW-related activities.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.
  3. When I’ve had hobby time, I’ve been spending it on painting versus writing.  I joined Twitter last year and spend more time writing short updates there.  I find the short-form micro-blogging that Twitter allows for is something I can keep up with much easier.  If you’re curious, my Twitter handle is @GreatRedoubt.  I talk about both GW & historical gaming there.  I haven’t found too man historical miniatures gamers on Twitter so my content & timeline skews towards the GW crowd.

I’ve enjoyed the break from painting Napoleonics figures.  While I would still love to build armies and play games with large blocks of 28mm Napoleonics, it’s not a short-term project for me, especially without at least one other committed partner.  In the meantime, I’m looking at starting at least one short-term, smaller project to break up the painting production line.

The main project I’m starting is 28mm WWII.  I recently bought some figures during some end-of-year closeout sales and am looking at a doing some low-level skirmishing.  I know, 28mm probably isn’t the preferred scale for this period, but I like the character and dynamism that figures from companies like Artizan, Crusader & Warlord (among others) bring, and I’m already committed to doing some 28mm terrain to play on, so the thought of having to duplicate a lot of it in 10/15/20mm scale is not appealing to me.

I’m starting with 1939 in Poland.  I have a few squads of Polish infantry and early German infantry on order, and eventually I’ll add some smaller tanks and supporting vehicles.   While the Polish campaign was over relatively quickly, the Poles put up as much of a fight as they could, and the combat at the tactical level was not as lopsided as some gamers may think.  The Germans had yet to perfect their tactics, so at a tactical level the two armies were probably closer in skill level than, say, the Germans and Russians were in 1941.  Both armies used the Mauser rifle as their main squad weapon, with the Germans having a distinct advantage in squad MG (the MG34, with it’s high rate of fire) versus the Polish BAR.

I’m looking at games with maybe around a platoon per side.  This keeps things small which means I can get game-able forces painted up faster as well as provide both sides without breaking the bank.  I think a number of the Warhammer 40K players may be interested in trying something like this, along with some of the historical miniature players in two.

The nice thing about skirmish gaming is that basing & organizations are the same across rules sets, so I will be able to try out and potentially play a number of different rules sets.

Current candidates include:

  • Bolt Action – This is the new ‘it-rules’ for WWII put out by Warlord Games & Osprey publishing.  I have yet to pick up a set but plan to do so soon.  I suspect this rules set may be one of the easier crossover games for GW players to pick up.
  • Disposable Heroes – I’ve played this before and it can put out a fun, if sometimes bloody, game.
  • Rate of Fire – These rules from Crusader Publishing look relatively simple while still being fairly ‘historical’.
  • Force on Force – These rules from Ambush Alley Games would probably put out the most ‘realistic’ game, but it’s a bit complex for novices.  I’d love to try it but it might be a harder sell among the local crowd.  I have the pre-Osprey edition of FoF that still had the WWII rules included.  A new, updated WWII version of FoF will come out eventually, but not until Bolt Action (another Osprey product) will have had a good head start from what I’ve read.

Over time if I keep on enjoying myself, the project will move into later periods of the war.  I just don’t want to have games that are wall-to-wall panzers, so early war seems like a smarter place to start.

Beyond WWII I’d be interested in other 28mm projects, whether it’s ancients (WAB or similar), Dark Ages (Saga) or horse & musket. We’ll have to see how things progress as the year goes on, and who I find to game with.

Well, that’s enough blathering for now.  I hope that 2013 is a good year for you and your gaming projects, and I hope to keep this blog more up-to-date as well.



Painting Update, or How I Learned to Live Without the Optivisor

After finally kicking myself in the butt I’ve started working in earnest on my 28mm Sash & Saber Russians again.  As I described in my last post I’m trying something new (and old) starting from a white undercoat and then blocking in the main colors with a bias toward the brighter end of the spectrum and then toning it down with washes.  Instead of using Minwax I’m using my current supply of Citadel washes instead.  Unlike previous go-rounds with the washes I’m not just slathering the entire figure in Devlan Mud this time.  The faces are being done with Ogryn flesh, the hair & linen pants in Devlan Mud, and the rest of the figure in Badab Black.

I like the effect a lot and think it looks good at tabletop distance.  I’m not trying to produce award-winning paintjobs with this technique; I just want to complete some units and play some games.  With a good basing job and some nice flags these figures will look good, and let’s face it, unless you’re a top-shelf painter displaying your figures with professional-quality photos, no one will look that closely at the rank & file figures anyway, especially when you need several hundred of them.  So why slow yourself down?  I also got rid of the optivisor for everything other that shako cords and straps which again saves time and removes the neurotic need to add one more highlight to that musket firing lock.

So, here are some WIP shots of my new figures.  I took them with my mobile phone so apologies for the meh photos.  The flash bleaches out the wash details a bit more than they should.

Sash & Saber Russians, White undercoat, basic block painting and citadel washes.

Compare that with one of my attempts to start from a black undercoat and do more of a Foundry/3-layer paint job:
28m Sash & Saber Russian Musketeer
More photos are available at my Photobucket page.


A Fresh Start

After another long break I’m trying to climb back into the saddle again.  I started a new career last fall, and while that has been a very good thing it has meant a huge learning curve both for me and for my family as we all adjust to a new lifestyle.  Painting and gaming took a back seat throughout the winter because of that.   Now that we are all starting to adjust to the new normal I’ve started getting the urge to get back into the hobby.

One of the local groups is scheduling a 28mm Napoleonic battle this summer, and especially since it’s been moved back to the end of summer I’m taking a stab at contributing troops for it.  Russians, of course.  I have my old Sash & Saber musketeers that I’ve stripped down and started again.  Those poor SOB’s are probably terrified of the pickle jar filled with Simple Green by now.

After thinking about things for a while I’m abandoning my usual black-prime-and-layer-up approach and going back to white priming this batch.  I love the look of the dark figures but I’ve never had good luck building up bright colors like reds and yellows over a dark undercoat.  I know it can be done but I lack the patience to do all of the successive layers needed to build up the base and, frankly, I don’t have the time needed to build up several hundred figures in such a style anymore.  Life is way too busy.  So, I’m going back to priming white, blocking in the basic colors and I’ll be trying the ‘dip’ method, using Minwax polyshades Tudor to give instant shading and definition to the paint jobs.  Since I’ll be using the dip to get the shadow/undertones, I’m blocking in fairly bright colors for my main layer of paint.  For instance I’m using GW Elf Flesh as the base tone for the skin and hopefully I won’t have to do any highlighting after the dip is applied.  I’ll probably do some post-dip highlighting for the metallics and possible jackets to bring out some definition but I’m trying to keep that to a minimum.  The object is to get serviceable figures cranked out in a reasonable amount of time, not create works of art.

Another change is that I’m backing off of using my optivisor for most of the painting.  The figures being made today have amazing amounts of details, and while using the optivisor I saw all of them and felt the need to paint all of them even if I’d have a hard time seeing them without the magnification.  This way lies madness, so I’m currently just using my normal glasses and painting what I can.  A three feet away I doubt I’ll notice much of a difference.  The net effect of this is that my painting time is increasing… or at least it feels that way.

I’ll post some pics when I have something completed.  I’m working on the first batch of 24 now, experimenting with colors and techniques as I go.  I have two units of 24 Sash & Saber musketeers at home and by the time I’m done with them the new Perry plastic Russians should be available.  They are slated to go on sale in late April.  I like that they give you the option of the pre-kiwer shakos since that’s what many of the troops that fought in 1812 & 1813 wore.


ACW project rolls on

I managed to get enough Perry zouaves assembled to create six stands for the upcoming 1862 project.  I’m trying something different and priming them white and then staining the base colors on to try and give me some natural shading so far so good other than the grainy white undercoat.

Assembling plastics is time-consuming and somewhat of a pain in the butt.  I do enjoy the variety that is possible with them and they are a lot easier to customize than metals.  Just make sure you’ve got some contour putty or green stuff available after gluing them together.  There will be gaps to fill on at least some figures no matter how attentive you think you are during assembly.

After the zouaves get farther along it will be time to order figs for the next regiment or two.  I’m currently working on Starke’s brigade around the time of the 2nd Manassas campaign which consists of Coppens’ zouaves along with the 1st, 2nd, 9th, 10th and 15th Louisiana regiments.

Brother Against Brother

I was invited to my friend Jeff’s house last Saturday to try out a small 28mm semi-skirmish game using the Brother Against Brother rules.   We originally were planning on an ACW clash, but circumstances being what they were it turned out that we played a game set in the French and Indian War instead.

The main purpose of the game was to exercise the rules and see how they worked.   Because of this, the French and British had identical forces consisting of three infantry squads at 10 figures each, two artillery pieces with crew, and an officer (the colonel).   We played one of the standard scenarios out of the book: a meeting engagement where both sides marched on to the table via a country lane and then had to deploy out to meet the enemy.

BAB uses a card draw system for unit activation and movement rates are randomized by rolling 2 d10 for infantry to move minus deductions for terrain.   You actually only move the squad leader figure and then get to arrange the rest of the squad around him up to 6″ away.   Jeff used an optional rule adding a joker to the card deck which ended the turn immediately which added (IMO) a nice fog of war effect to the game since we were not guaranteed that every unit would get to do something.

Fire Combat can be destructive, depending on the range and terrain.  As is fitting for a horse & musket skirmish game, infantry can either fire, reload or move in a turn, so choices should be made as to how many figures you choose to fire each turn.  You can unleash a volley but then you’re totally unloaded for the next turn.

Artillery firing cannister is nasty and can dominate an open board.  On the flip side, an average infantry squad volley can decimate an artillery crew in short order, so pushing your guns forward has both high risk and high reward.   Normally there wouldn’t be two artillery pieces with just three squads of infantry, so the guns had a larger effect on the game than might otherwise be the case.  Still, it was good to figure out what they can and cannot do.

Melee combat is brutal, and losing one’s squad leader can be a devastating impact on a squad.   We had a situation develop in the game where I had a squad of French colonial regulars in a tree line exchanging fire with a squad of British hatmen who were behind a wooden fence.   The British took a casualty, which forced a morale card pull.  The result of this was their squad leader being shot (the only way to lose a CO other than melee).  This meant that the British squad would not budge from behind that fence until their colonel came over and promoted a new squad leader.  They would sit behind the fence and shoot without issue, which seemed like an OK thing.

Next turn my French colonists took another casualty, and the morale card pull revealed that they were forced to charge the nearest enemy, which was the aforementioned NCO-less squad of Brits behind the fence.   This seemed like a suicidal move:  leaving a tree line to charge a squad set up behind an obstacle.  The French made it into combat, and then we figured out that having no squad leader means a -4 DRM for the Brits, which on an opposed d10 roll is critical.  My French ended up bayonetting the entire squad over the course of two turns which turned the game on that flank.   Lesson: keeping the colonel in a central location so he can react to things like NCO loss is critical.

Jeff posted a query about this on the BAB Yahoo group and it appears our interpretation of the rule was correct.

Overall it was a fun, if bloody game.  It ended with the French having one depleted squad left and the British the same.   I don’t know if these rules will become the staple small game set for this group or not.  The jury appears to be out, and there are other sets to try.  I have “This Very Ground” from Iron Ivan and Sharp Practice from Too Fat Lardies among others to try.

Changing Things Up

The one constant in life is change, and as such my hobby projects have changed a bit over the last month or so.   I’m currently working on some 28MM projects and am enjoying the process of relearning how to properly paint the larger figures again.

First up are some 28mm Perry French Dragoons I’ve had lying around for awhile.   I’ve got 13 of them about half-completed already with another 13 awaiting assembly.  The Perry brothers make some very nice figures and these are definitely among them.  It’s a little more putzy work assembling the figures, but cleaning them up is much easier, so it’s a trade-off in my mind.

Next, I’ve committed to some 28mm ACW figures for a local project getting up steam and will be painting up a brigade of Louisiana Infantry for an 1862 game to be held sometime next year.  I’ve already bought a box of Perry plastic zouaves to be done up as Coppens’ Zouave Battalion and have a few skirmishers in the works as well.  I’ll be ordering more infantry over the course of the summer since the target date for this project is next year to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the battles of that year.

I’ll post some pictures as time permits.

Plans for 2011

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted something here.  Family life and work have been very busy this winter and it doesn’t show many signs of letting up.

Looking to this year I can see two main projects for me.  I’m continuing to work on my 15mm 1807 Russian Army for Legacy of Glory.   I’m about 1/2 done with the infantry for Dohkturov’s 7th division and then have three regiments of horse and some grubby cossacks to crank out.  Hopefully that will be completed this year, giving me a nice-sized army to play LoG with.  We continue playing the old rules and are slowly mastering them.  I’m still hopeful LoG2 will be released sometime this year, but if it doesn’t David and I both seem to be up to speed on the old set and between the two of us can run a game without issue.  We would like to get one or two more players to both contribute armies and become well-versed in the rules.  We’ll see what happens.

The other main project I see for myself is WWII.  I’m trying to reconnect with some old friends and hopefully we can decide on a 20mm WWII project for a company or battalion-level game.  Rules and campaigns are still up for debate. Stay tuned.

The last thing I’ve been pondering recently is how to turn this loose affiliation of gamers that meet every month or two into a slightly more formal club.   It’s not easy to do; I tried running a formal game club years ago and it didn’t last long.  My main goal this time would be to get a few more people actively painting troops and learning the rules so we can play a variety of games without relying on one or two people to bring figures.  I’m looking for more gaming ‘producers’ and less ‘consumers’ I guess.

In the meantime we continue to schedule games.  Legacy of Glory and Johnny Reb 2 for ACW have been the recent fare, but newcomer Dave B. has floated the idea of 28mm Sword and the Flame and that sounds like a hoot.  We’ll have to see what we can rustle up for games this year.

On the Painting Table

What I’m Reading


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