Sunday 19 May 2024

Sir, We've Got a Bug Problem

And we're gonna need some Bug Dust. ASAP!

Hot on the heels of painting a bunch of zombies I intended to complete painting the half finished WSS English cannons that are sitting on my paint table. Instead I broke out a box of Wargames Atlantic Harvesters and started snipping and gluing plastic bugs.
I've wanted to do a hoard of bugs for a long time and I actually acquired a box of Starship Trooper bugs a while back. I painted them up but then lost interest in the whole bug thing and sold them. Silly thing to do: but there you have it! Anyway, now, for what it's worth, I've gone and made anther bunch of bugs.
These figures are difficult to put together and it took me most of the week just to construct this lot. On the other hand painting was easy. White undercoat, heavy wash using contrast paint, heavy light khaki dry brush, then dry brushed the red and then the black. A bit of detail on the fangs, mouth and eyes. Very easy. They are mounted on 40mm bases with a simple pva/grit mix. Reddish to make it look like Mars or any other desert terrain/planet.
I've since constructed a few more with ranged bio-weapons. I have 4 more to construct but I haven't decided how to do them at this stage: close combat or ranged? I think I'll get myself another box of these. I've got a method now for their construction which is still a pain in the arse but at least I know what I'm doing. There are 20 models in a box as well as 10 little ones. I'm not sure what to do with them. Put them onto individual 25mm bases or make swarm bases?

Here's a photo that gives a better idea of their actual colour against a more neutral background.
I also picked up a couple of other figures last week. This first is a spider queen. I think she could work well as a Hybrid Hive Queen. I picked her up a a local store House of War. If she doesn't work out she could become one of the leaders of my evil fantasy army. Either way, this is a great figure.
These next ones are Ankheg - I only know these creatures for D&D. I don't know if they exist in any mythology or fantasy literature. I'm just going to use them as big bugs/bug leaders... Whatever. They should look okay. Also, these are the first ever 3D printed miniatures I've ever bought. It will be interesting to so how the material reacts to painting.
Now, I also have a bunch of other things that I can shoehorn into this bug army of mine. Some of them I actually bought when I started with the Starship Trooper bugs. It was actually waiting for a long time for them to arrive in the mail that crushed my first attempt at a bug army.
This guy is pretty big and looks pretty imposing. He'd make a good sort of tank-bug.
I have quite a few more more of these flying guys than the ones pictured here. I'm pretty sure I still have some unpainted ones too. I'll have to try and find them. I used them as giant flies when I was playing Rangers of Shadow Deep.
I also have these figures that might fit in with the bug theme too. I have a feeling I might have added a saddle and a goblin to the scorpion. The other is an umber hulk. It looks buggy and mean. It doesn't fit with any other figures I have so maybe this is army could be a good home for him.
These are from my evil army and they could work but I don't think they'll fit in. Wargames Atlantic make some fantastic spider models but they are so good that they worry me. I have a very acute case of arachnophobia and those figures just scare me. These GW spiders don't worry me because they look like silly toys. But realistic spider figures just freak me out. I have about a dozen or more of these and I'm pretty sure I rebased them onto round/oval bases at some stage.
So there you have it. Bugs, bugs, bugs.

As far as rules are concerned: I have a copy of Xenos Rampant which I've dragged out. I'm pretty sure there is a generic space bugs list in the book. I'll go through the book again and see what I can come up with. I already have an enemy for them that is ready to hit the ground fighting. All I need to do is work out a good list for them.

On the other hand I also have Firefight from Mantic games. I like those rules although I haven't played them for a while. But the last time I played the game there was no scope for a bug army. Maybe that has changed. I'll look into it.

Saturday 11 May 2024

Back From The un-Dead

 Greetings folks, it's been quite a while since I posted anything here. The reason for this is that I lost all interest in the wargaming side of my life and didn't do anything for quite a while. I did actually paint a brigade of 10mm English for the War of Spanish Succession but I never photographed them and never posted anything. I started painting some guns for them and that's where my interest ended.

But things have changed and I've hopped back on the wagon with a decision to look again at the solo zombie game I wrote during covid: Infection Z. I put it to rest for a while but now it is time to look at it again with fresh eyes. So here I am again, back from the dead with some undead.
Having lots of time to think I came up with a new concept. One of the problems I was having with the game was discerning Active zombies from Inactive zombies. This is important to the game because active zombies react differently to inactive ones. The solution I've come up with is really very simple. Inactive zombies are grey. When they meet the criteria to become active they are replaced by a fully painted zombie figure. They might get replaced straight off the mark before the first turn even begins or they may remain inactive for the whole game.
As it is, it's nothing to write home about but the concept has changed a whole raft of rules that were making the game difficult to write up as rules. I understood what I wanted but when trying to write the concepts they seemed convoluted, confusing and overblown. This idea has helped streamline a lot of these issues.

Painting these guys also gave me a very simple little project that I could start and complete in a couple of days (I had to let the black wash dry overnight). This was good as it got me back upstairs and into the hobby room. A couple of weeks back I took a bunch of stuff to a bring & buy. In amongst the stuff I found a bag of unpainted zombies. I pulled them out and put them aside, and that got me thinking. 
There are 36 zeds here. To place them on the table for my game it's a matter of dropping them and where they land is where they start the game. I'm not too precious about plastic zed-heads, even my painted ones live in a box all jumbled together. I do have some metal figures and I do take care of them but these guys are for dropping and standing them up.
I also dug out this mini-supermarket building that I started making a couple of years back. I started and then got bored with it. I've decided to finish it off. It takes a surprising amount of time to make these terrain pieces look nice and then semi-destroy them to make them look derelict. But the results are worth the effort. I've made a few in the past, some MDF models like this one and some from scratch.
The kit is from Sarissa Precision and it comes with a service counter and a couple of small shelves. I made the larger shelves with thick card. There's enough shelving to make it look like a proper mini-mart and to enable easy placement and movement of figures as well as plenty of places to scavenge for potential loot.
Well that's it. Something small to get me back into my hobby. I'll finish off the guns for the 10mm WSS English in the next few days and take some photos.


Wednesday 10 January 2024

Some Guards for King Louis ~ Gardes-Françaises

I thought I was finished painting French for my War of Spanish Succession but, as I was getting some Allied battalions ready for painting I decided to complete a half finished guards battalion that I started at the start of 2023. It was actually painting these figures that stopped me painting WSS in the first place.
The reason I stopped painting earlier in 2023 is that these figures are just too detailed for 10mm. They're Van Dyck Figurines and whilst they look outstanding and have beautiful detail I find them really hard to paint. You'll often hear people say about the smaller scales: "I could never paint those they're too small!" the usual reply goes along the lines of: "But you don't paint them in detail. It's all about the mass effect.

Unfortunately this doesn't hold true for Van Dyck Figures. They have fantastic detail for 10mm. The level of detail would be great even if they were 15mm and because of this they almost demand detailed painting. This for me is a deal breaker. My recent love of 10mm is that they are easy to paint and I can pump out big battalions and squadrons at a heft pace... But not with these figures.
The first battalion was half done and still took me about 4 days to finish whereas I've been doing 36 figure battalions in about 3 days from scratch. That's two per week (or three squadrons of horse in the same time). The second battalion took me about a week of some pretty solid painting sessions. That's what I'd spend of a 28mm battalion. That's not good!
Also, these figures don't fit with the Pedraken figures very well and that, plus the high detail is why I decided to do them a Gardes-Françaises. The uniforms aren't quite right so I just gave them a perfunctory "paint conversion," to give them a representation of the proper uniform. As it is; they're 10mm and using the 3' Rule they pass muster well enough. Just don't look too close and expect perfection.
Anyway, this was a labour of love and now they're part of my army. They do look nice and I intend to add a Gardes-Suisse battalion to complete the brigade some time in the future but for now I'm going to concentrate on an English brigade: Rowe's Brigade @ Blenheim - First regiment is Ingoldsby's Foot ~ the Welch Fusiliers, who later became the 23rd Foot. They are primed and ready to go.

One thing I realised as I was taking these photo's is that I forgot to give them a brigadier. I'll have to find a figure and rectify this situation.

Sunday 31 December 2023

Last Battle for 2023 ~ Sedan 1870

I was invited to take part in a final big battle to close off 2023. This was the Battle of Sedan 1870: The major defeat of the French Army by the Prussian and German allies that signalled the final stages of the Franco-Prussian War.

The game was put on by Andrew in his lovely spacious wargaming space and was played over two days. The rules we used were a variation on Fire and Fury/Age of Eagles. Other players included John S, Jenko, Nigel and Anthony (who I met for the first time on day 1). Anthony and I played the unfortunate French on Day 1 and Nigel stepped in for Anthony on Day 2.

The spectacle of the initial deployment was mind bending. So many troops... So many Prussian guns... All those coloured dice on the table were used to differentiate corps & divisions, otherwise it would have been too difficult to keep track of who was who and what was what. As it turned out is was still an difficult task to keep track of the French who were crowded in to a tight area with very little room to manoeuvre.

"We are in a chamber pot, and we're going to be shat upon."
 ~ General de Division Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot ~
Unfortunately, the photo's don't do justice to sheer amount of figures on the table.
Above and below: Looking at Sedan (the central built up area) from the north bank of the River Meuse to the south.
The French eastern perimeter edge. This was where the initial Prussian thrust came from. Facing these troops was the massive grand battery in the pic below. The Prussians didn't have many troops deployed at the start of the battle but huge amounts of reinforcements were pouring in right from the word go.
This massive gun line started delivering casualties right from the first turn and it continued for the whole battle. Unfortunately there was little we French could do about it. We did manage to deploy our own grand batteries on some high ground opposite but it did little to help. We managed to silence some of the Prussian guns and slow down the initial infantry assaults but the weight of Prussian firepower and troops just wore us down.
We managed to hold the banks of the stream for a short while. The first Prussian attack was pretty much repulsed. But subsequent assaults drove us back. We formed a second line but that was driven back, as was a third line.
On our western flank the Prussians were slowly moving into place to try and close the pincers around the French. We had a couple of cavalry divisions and decided to attack with the hope of driving the Prussian infantry back and charging their guns before they had a chance to unlimber. We had limited success. The charges went through but failed to follow up and hit the guns. As a result our counter-attack stalled. We did cause a major traffic jam but by the time we sorted ourselves out for a second push the Prussians got their troops into a decent defence.
This was the Prussian pincer coming from the east. We managed to prevent these troops from getting too far and they were pretty much held for the entire battle. (You can see John's hand-of-God instructing his troops on how to perform the classic "pincer move.""
Yet another Prussian gun line pounding our troops from the northern bank of the Meuse. In this sector (north) we had major traffic jams but we put up a good defence for the majority of the battle. However, when the main Prussian push came in this sector our forces pretty much began to collapse. It was more a matter of isolated worn out units getting in the way of the Prussians and slowing them down. By battle's end the Prussians had pushed through both of the small built up areas that you can see and almost to the walls of Sedan itself.
Still holding the river line to the east at this stage. We did make them pay to get across but, unfortunately, we also paid a high price trying to hold them back.
On the French right (west) the Prussians got the better of us and started to push around our flanks. We had received the order that we could attempt a break out and this was the direction we thought would be our best option. Throughout the battle we did push into the Prussians and gave ourselves some breathing space but as the Prussians slowly shook themselves out we began to lose ground again. We lost the opportunity and now we were beginning to be squeezed.
You'll note that our central reserves are looking very thin. We were getting to the stage where we had suffered "Heavy Casualties." This would give us deductions on our command dice rolls and when it happened whole brigades started routing and leaving large gaps in out lines.
The western arm of the pincer was getting around our flank. In the photo below we still had a chance to drive into the Prussian guns and then into the big traffic jam. But it didn't eventuate. The Prussians got their guns deployed and slowly started decimating our cavalry. 
As you can see the weight of numbers in the west was getting the better of us and the Prussians began to push us back. It was a slow grind for them but this sector was where the; "-2 Heavy Casualties" modifier, really took it's toll on our troops with several of our brigades either retreating or breaking.
The photo below was our second line of defence. It looked good but collapsed pretty quickly because it was manned by worn and spent units. Also, our line had nothing to anchor itself upon and that huge battery to their front was still pounding away. You can see our own gunline on the high ground behind. Parts of it did good work pinning down the eastern arm of the pincer but other than that it was of minimal effect.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any more photos as the battle became more intense. The French reached that critical "Heavy Casualties" mark and things just went down hill faster and faster. We surrendered. The Emperor Napoleon III was taken captive and that was the end for the Second Empire.


It was a great game for the end of the year and I'm very happy to have taken part - even on the losing side. A big "Thank You," to our host; Andrew who took the time to do the research, create all the unit labels and set it all up. These photo's really do not do much justice to the vast amount of troops on the table and, as more and more Prussian reinforcements arrived, the numbers grew even larger. 

Also; thanks to the other players. I didn't really know the rules as the last time I played Fire and Fury was several years back. I managed to pick up the rules fairly quickly but the help of Anthony, John and Andrew was greatly appreciated. 

So it was a big end to 2023 on the wargaming front.
Happy New years folks, and I hope you have a great 2024.

Monday 25 December 2023

A Brigade of Dragoons for The Sun King

I finished painting these chaps a few days before Christmas but I didn't do their flags until last night after a day of eating and greeting. These little fellows make up a small dragoon brigade for my War of Spanish Succession French. Once again, they are 10mm Pendraken figures and, as you can see, I've done them both mounted and on foot (with a base of horse holders).
The yellow facings are Regiment de Fontbeausard and the green is Regiment de la Vrilliere. They are both from Fontbeausard's Dragoon Brigade commanded by Comte de Dreux at Blenheim. I don't have any more mounted dragoons but I have enough left over to make another couple more dismounted regiments; so I'll do a dismounted dragoon brigade sometime time in the future.
I'm going to stop building this little army for the time being. I got a package from Pendraken last week with the troops for my Grand Alliance army (roughly equal in size but a bit more infantry if I recall correctly) but I've decided to wait on a couple of deliveries of some books on uniforms and organisation before I tackle these chaps. I'm of the opinion that I should base the Dutch and British differently: 5 figures to a base and 7 bases to a unit to represent the larger battalions in longer, less deep, 3 rank deployment. When I read a bit more I'll make a decision on that score.

In the meanwhile I intend to get some Napoleonic 28mm Prussian cavalry done or maybe I'll try my hand at 10mm French Napoleonic's. I'm also still trying to determine what to do with the little houses in the background. I think they could make great village pieces with a bit of work.

Sunday 24 December 2023

A Little Bit of Northern Harrying

Well, we had a refight of Hastings planned for October but it never eventuated but this weekend we found that the campaign season was still in full swing so the Normans decided to get in a bit of Northern Harrying whist they had the opportunity. To this end my brave Anglo-Saxons, lead once again by Ætholguy the Seeker, stood against the might of the Norman invaders to save hearth and home from excessive, wonton harrying.

The stage was set; Ætholguy deployed his troops to defend a ford close to a nearby steading. The defenders held high ground on the northern bank and the woods to the west of the settlement. The Normans deployed to the south with a strong infantry centre and mounted knights on either flank.
My opponents on this red day of battle were Darryl, Ian Jeff and Piotr (D and P commanding the cavalry on the flanks). On the English side were Myself on the left and centre and John on the right. There was only on crossing point on the river however, each river section could be scouted in order to try and find alternative crossing points by expending one unit action and rolling a 5 or 6 on 1d6. The rules we used were Hail Caesar.
The Anglo-Saxons had a few allies in this fight in the form of two units of Irish mercenaries with javelins and a squadron of "Not-The-Riders-Of-Rohan" (because we were a little bit short of figures). We deployed our forces up to the line of the dirt track which included the steading and small wooded area.
The small wooded area to the west was surrounded by smaller streams which could be crossed but would inhibit movement. Ætholguy stood at the centre between the steading and the high ground with his housecarls and a small reserve. Our position looked strong but the Norman host looked large and intimidating.
The Normans took the initiative and advanced on their left (west) bringing their archers and crossbows into range. Their shooting took no toll on the defenders but they did cause disruption in the ranks of those troops defending the steading.
The Irish mercenaries took up positions to defend the ford and faced a lot of formed archers and crossbows but they held their ground.
On the Norman right their skirmishers set out but their knights sat their mounts, content at this stage, to watch the battle unfold.
Likewise, in the Anglo-Saxon centre, Ætholguy the Seeker watched the initial stages of the battle; hoping that his shield walls would hold the invaders at bey to protect their people and his beloved Judith of Durham.
The first Norman assaults came against the western woods where the light troops of both sides cashed in hand to hand combat. One of the Anglo band held and the other fled which opened the way for the Normans to walk their mounted knights over the brook and through the woods. Ætholguy sent the greater part of his reserve to block any potential breakthrough.
The Norman line continued to advance although those troops to the east were finding the going harder so they didn't advance in a solid line. The mounted knights had still not advanced putting less pressure on the Anglo line. 
At the steading the Earl D'Arryl pressed the Norman attack but John's doughty thegns held their ground and pushed the knights back over the stream with heavy casualties. The fighting in this area was hard and heavy with both side pushing forward and falling back throughout the day..
Near the centre the Normans under Baron Jeffery found a crossing point and began to cross in a dense column lead by their crossbowmen. This presented a fine target for a charge and Ætholguy ordered part of his shield wall off the heights to drive the enemy back over the river.
Unfortunately the Anglo charge failed to reach the enemy bowmen which gave them the chance to form a perimeter (gamewise: it was a matter of who gained the initiative in the upcoming turn). This was a crucial part of the battle.
Back at he western wood the Norman knights formed up for another push to break the Anglo flank.
Along the river the Normans' searched for more crossing points whilst the Irish struck at them with their javelins. However, it was only  a matter of time before the enemy found a way across the to the northern bank.
The Normans got the initiative and formed a small perimeter, thus enabling the heavy foot knights to begin their crossing of the river. Ætholguy ordered this thegns to charge the thin line and drive the enemy back to the opposite bank.
As the men from the high ground charged into the front men also poured from the steading and hit the side of the Norman perimeter. They would be crushed and hurled back in a great slaying with red swords winning the day!
Anticipating the breaking of the Norman centre the thegns on the height advanced towards the river with a mind to cross and bring their strength to bare when their enemy became shaken from the riverside attack.
As predicted the crossbowmen were swept away and the armoured Anglo thegns surged forward to take the attack to the Norman foot knights crossing the river. The thegns charged and the Normans "locked shields" (this is a tactical option in Hail Caesar which decreases the defenders ability to cause casualties whilst increasing their defensive value). The Thegns were stopped in their tracks and forced to take a Break Test (they lost the combat by 1 point meaning I got a -1 on the dice roll).
"Just Don't roll Snake Eyes." quipped Earl D'Arryl...
The Anglo-Saxons broke on the Norman shieldwall and fled the field. There was now a big hole in the line and the Normans would soon begin to pour across the river. The only troops in place to stop them were some light archers and Ætholguy the Seeker with his hearthguard.
It was now that the Norman eastern wing surged forward as their light troops searched for a possible crossing point. The men who had vacated the heights were seriously thinking they might have made a major mistake.
The men who had sallied forth from the steading were targeted by Norman archery and forced back into the cover of the walls. So, with a heartfelt speech reminiscent of Théoden King, a cry of "Follow Me! " and the appropriate dice roll, Ætholguy lead his hearthguard with their long Dane axes into the fray. First they hewed down the last remaining Norman crossbows on this side of the river and realigned themselves to drive the drive the foot knights back so that the river ran red with their blood.
The English Earl and his men then hurled themselves at the real target. but as they clashed more and more Normans joined in the fight and their numbers began to tell heavily against the brave hearthguard. (This was a matter of Jeff throwing more units in as supports to the combat before any dice were rolled).
Meanwhile the light archers attempted to stall  more Normans from crossing the river. They had no chance and were easily brushed aside by the heavy foot knights.
Meanwhile, at the western wood John had pushed back all opposition and pressed into the Norman left flank. His thegns attacked a group of light horse who decided to stand and use the high ground of a small hillock to hurl their javelins. This did them no good and they were routed from the field.
All along the river the Normans began to cross and there was no way to halt them. The Anglo-Saxons had yielded the high ground and were now in danger of total defeat.
The fighting at Ætholguy's front intensified and he put his full energies into throwing back the invaders (committed 3 dice to the melee which, in turn, increased his chance of being wounded or killed). Jeff decided on the same tactic and locked shields: This paid off if only a little. The major issue was that Ætholguy fell and was wounded. This added to the losses of the hearthguard and they had to take a Break Test. No worries. 
Break Test: They rolled a 4 with a -2 to the score - Break/Rout!
No worries they got a re-roll...
Another 4 (with -2).
And so the Anglo-Saxon centre broke. The hearthguard dragged their wounded earl from the field as the Normans poured across the river to continue their harrying. The North is lost.


What a great game that was. A few hundred figures on the table and a great bunch of blokes. Darryl and I sort of ran it none of us really had a solid handle on the rules. We sort of knew what we were doing and decided that so long as we kept things consistent then all was good. We had to go wading through the horribly written Hail Caesar rule book on a few occasions.

I actually like the HC rules but they are so awfully written. Why used a sentence to explain a rule when you can stretch it out to a few paragraphs? Why write a paragraph when you can write a whole page? It's so difficult to find anything in the rule book and you can't skim over anything when you're looking because that tid bit of info you need might be buried in amongst several paragraphs of verbosity.

Enough of my whinging... It was a great game even if we got hammered (and I was to blame). The battle was never a forgone conclusion. Jeff pulled off some heroic saves for his troops in the very teeth of certain defeat and definitely saved the day for the Normans.

All the troops were provided by myself - the Anglo Saxons - and the Darryl supplied all the Normans. A lovely army by anyone's standard.

We have a rematch planned for next year at the first February club meeting.

And for those of you that don't know and maybe wondering:
Earl  Ætholguy the Seeker is based on the bass player
from the Seekers. The first bass player I'd ever heard of.