Tuesday, June 30, 2009

9th Bengal Lancers---In a Day!

So I'm indulging in a bit of gloating tonight...at exactly 12:02 AM I finished a troop of the 9th Bengal Lancers for my growing Sudan collection. I started them at 7 am this morning and worked on them periodically throughout the day. Even with my little guy home with a slight fever and a newborn in the house (she sleeps a good bit), I was able to paint a little each hour and lo and behold a finished unit! I'm pretty happy with the way they turned out and hopefully I will be able to get the entire collection into action before the end of the week!...nothing like finishing a cool unit to get the painting momentum moving!

(...'cause I'm going to need it when the entire Mahdist force arrives in a few days!)

The Old Glory figures worked out well and I was particularly happy with the horses since some Old Glory horses (the older castings) are a bit skinny...the colonials however I think were redesigned back in the late 90s. These horses are really nice and animated so the unit looks very "spirited". The other factor that played to my advantage today is the khaki uniforms are really well suited to a paint and wash approach that tends to go pretty fast...I used GW washes and was really pleased with the way they work on a white undercoated figure. I'm planning on using Connoisseur Minis to fill out the collection. They are now carried by Bicorn Miniatures and they have a nice Sudan range that will fill the gaps that the Old Glory figures don't cover.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

In Search of a Lost Chord

OK...For the fourth!? time in my life I'm (re)starting a colonial collection! It's a period that for me epitomizes the spirited fun of wargaming and by its nature seems "way Old School" to me. So my first collection was old Minifig zulu war figures, the second was a really nice Northwest Frontier collection done with Old Glory 25s, and the third was a rather large collection of Frontier 25mm Zulu war figures that I did not paint myself but aquired in exchange for painting stuff for another gamer. Each of the three collections had to be sold to either feed the "gaming dragon" or amazingly to keep the rent paid in rougher, younger days. But finally my life has stabilized to the point where I can reasonably expect to hang on to a collection if I choose (a great luxury!)

...so...I took the plunge into collecting figures for the Sudan using Old Glory 25s (I signed up for the "Old Glory Army" 40% discount from Merrimac Old Glory Shipyard) so I was able to mass a fairly large pile of metal for a reasonably low cost and not too much alarm from the wife...well, actually a fair amount of "alarm" but she got over it...god I love that woman! :) ...and the Old Glory figures are decent castings..not the absolute best but with a bit of care in painting, very good for my taste. So even with the arrival of a new baby and a busy time in life I've been able to get a nice little colonial force painted up destined for a game soon using my rules of choice the classic "The Sword and the Flame" by Larry Brom. Now I can revisit with renewed interest that wonderful gaming site "Major General Tremorden Rederring's Colonial Page"...a site that to my mind set the gold standard for gaming sites. It is now unfortunately long un-updated, but it's still a great place to go to for ideas and inspiration.

I've got three companies of British already done (I'm going with 10 figure and 2 officer "companies" instead of the 20 figure units called for in the original rules), and I just today finished an Egyptian force of 2 companies and a section of Krupp guns to start. I've also got 6 companies of Sikhs still in the bags to futher bolster the British column when they are done.

I have a tendency to tailor my units to the make of the figures I am using, so with Old Glory, that assumes a 30 figure bag plus a command bag to get three 12 figure companies (for 36.00 USD...a pretty good deal!). By the same token that is how my 18th century units were worked out based on 36 figure bags of RSM figures. It might seem lazy but it works out efficiently for my purposes.

I just placed an order for the Dervishes, so hopefully in a month or so I can get some natives on the table...in the meantime it's going to be Egyptian revolt in the Sudan! I've got plans for scratchbuilt gunboats and all sorts of cool stuff that comes with colonial gaming...but more anon.... (and of course Germans, Italians, French, for a hypothetical colonial "what if" in East Africa!)

Friday, June 26, 2009

One Word..."Roadbed"...!

The Magic Material...

A few pics to help address a question that Fitz-Badger asked on the last post about my stone walls...I use a lot of HO scale cork model railroad roadbed for various building and terrain stuff here at the Leadgardens. It is really great stuff and comes in 3 foot lengths with a pre-cut 30 degree angle on one side that can be used in a variety of ways. In these pics you can see the material glued in a stack to make a quick earthen redoubt for 25mm figures. I also use it to make ruined walls inside the lift-off base of my buildings and I use two pieces glued back to back to make stone walls. I also use it for the banks of the river sections that show up in many of the posts. As you can tell I really love the stuff! It cuts and glues with ease is reasonable cheap and it also comes in N scale for those of you working in 15mm. As I mentioned previously it also makes great "dug in" markers for WWII Flames of War games. ( I'll post pics of that asap)

A redoubt made of HO cork roadbed...

a simple redoubt...but eventually I will fill in the back side for a more elaborate terrain section...

4 layers works well for 25mm scale...and it is cut in straight and angled sections to allow for a few different configurations

...In the background you can just make out an embrasure cut for a gun

I will eventually fill in the back side of the redoubt with either "Sculpey" or just fill it in with epoxy putty, but for now it serves au naturale...the unpainted cork makes a credible earth texture and works just fine for quick earthworks. I just place the sections on a cork surface to mark the extent of the fortification. Here are some pics of an assault on a redoubt to show the material in action...

A Grolstein horde overruns a Bleiherzen redoubt...

...and a few pics of stone walls made of unpainted cork roadbed glued back to back with drawn in stonework and a grey painted coping on top:

...and also as the ruined wall around the church in the above pic...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Battle of Hooks Farm - Refought

After the last battle between my 18th century nations, I had the bug to set out another game this time to something that I had been wanting to try for a while. I have a copy of HG Wells' "Little Wars", and as most of my readers know, Wells included a demonstration battle in the book to illustrate how the game is played. I thought setting up the "Battle of Hook's Farm" with my 18th century stuff would be fun and perhaps a little of the Wellsian "mojo" would color the game.

the original HG Wells sketchmap...
my interpretation for an 18th Century game...

The battle was set up as a classic Austrian vs Prussian matchup using the proportions of 4 Infantry to 2 cavalry to 1 gun plus a gun or Light infantry unit for each side. The Rules were, of course, "The Wargame" by Charles Grant.

Hooks Farm

The Hovel and the stony ridge

Firefly Church

So just some pics of the battle without much comment....

a dramatic moment...Austrian Dragoons overrun the Prussian artillery battery.

the final assault of Prussian fusiliers (actually Bleiherzeners...) on Hooks Farm...the assault ultimately failed, giving the Austrians the win...

The battle ended as an Austrian victory and then the battle was reset with some adjustments of the terrain and an increase of both armies to give a more balanced battle.

The second time the Prussians were victorious! A really fun exercise and now I'm hunting for other "classic" games to refight.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A New Gamer in the Making?

Much Celebration! As of June 10th CinC Lead Gardens is the proud father of a new baby girl! The CinC anticipates being a bit busy for the next few weeks, (actually, years... ;) so a slight delay in Part 2 of the Action at Grosse Kirchbaum report to be expected.

Perhaps we may have here what H.G. Wells with his late-Victorian charm, referred to as, "that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys games and books."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 6 1944

These guys went a long way towards defining Honor for the rest of us...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Action at Grosse Kirchbaum

Another small 18th century scenario I set up a couple of days ago, this one involving the Konigreich and Grolstein. I was working on this map last night of the battle (used Adobe Illustrator) and I was thinking that maps and mapping is one of those wonderful sub-interests that the hobby of wargaming encompasses and can be an absorbing pursuit in itself.

In making this map, I finally got down to trying at drawing my own standard symbols in Illustrator and trying to puzzle out such complexities as using the "gradient tool". I wanted to try using buildings that appeared "in elevation" rather than a block footprint but it poses some problems when you want a unit to be posted in a town. I opted to try putting the unit symbol "behind" the front layer of building symbols and made units in town transparent so you could see the buildings "under" the unit.

Anyway, this scenario may not be balanced but it is basically a column of Grolsteiners (Red) attempting to cross into Bleiherzen (Blue) via a bridge and a ford. I set up the forces with Grolstein having a straight up 2-1 advantage of each arm. The table is taken from an area that is in much dispute between the two countries.

Monday, June 1, 2009

18th Century Church

Finally finished a small project that had been sitting on the back of my workbench for a few weeks. I had, until now, been using a church building for my 18th century battles that I had scratchbuilt a long time ago for AWI battles but was a bit out of character for an Eastern European context. Having recently bought my little guy a HABA Russian Church wood block construction set for Christmas I noticed that the wooden domes in the set are ideal for 18th century/25mm buildings. So I liberated one of the "onion" domes and set it aside for a future project. (...all these projects eventually will be what I leave for my son when I pass on so I don't have too much guilt in reducing his toy block collection by one dome for the good of his future gaming! ;) I did a bit of internet research to find a few examples of mid 18th century eastern european churches...i.e. Rococco style with some Ottoman/Russian influences. I found a church called the "Wieskirche" located in Eastern Europe that provided some appropriate colors and hints at details that I just translated and simplified for a medium sized wargames building (of course in the "Grantian" old school style with a lift off/ruins inside feature we all enjoy!)

I used my loose drawn on detail approach (explained in an earlier post) to simulate moldings and depth on what is otherwise a flat basswood surface. The result I think is pretty cool and I can't wait to get a battle worked up around this building! The figure in the pics is an RSM 25mm Prussian Hussar.

The fun part about this drawing/building technique is that is produces an illusion of depth without the hours of building or painting that you would have to go through with a more elaborate model, at the same time preserving a nice "old school/The Wargame " quality in the outcome. Hopefully in the pictures above, you can see the surface of the model is flat... but it does not appear that way on the table. The overall approach is "loose" without too much worry about precision...more of a "freehand" look....and the total cost of the structure was just a few dollars and some "quality time" sitting in front of the TV with the Mrs. to do the drawn details. If I had to add it up, the most costly element was the dome, which required the purchase of the entire HABA Russian church (50.00 USD)...but my little guy is using the rest of the set for his clothespin soldiers, so perhaps, in my case, it's a good deal all around!