Saturday, October 31, 2009


Not exactly the way I'm traveling, and not as picturesque...but perhaps a bit more safe from the roving English privateer and a bout of scurvy!

Leaving tomorrow for Italy and could not be more excited! All my sketchbooks, watercolors and camera are packed and I've got some good things planned for this "Mini-Grand Tour". These trips come so few and far between for me that any chance to go to Europe is a really big life event that I get pretty keyed up about. The last month has gone by in a flash and I'm spending this evening (aside from "trick or treating" with the wife and kids) going over my itinerary and hunting down those last minute addresses of things to see before everything sets in motion.

I'll be missing reading all of your great blogs for the next few weeks but plan to enjoy catching up when I return.

Cheers and Ciao!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Bound For The Continent!

I remember my history of art professor pointing out the "foreshortened perspective" of the dead guy in the lower left front of Ucello's painting The Battle of San Romano as being the beginning of the European development of perspective drawing ....and I remember thinking I needed to try painting my lances a lighter color!

My allegedly tough academic job just got "tougher" by virtue of having been chosen to travel to Europe with an enthusiastic batch of architecture students! I am a lucky guy to be teaching at one of the best architecture schools in the US and I get to join their Europe travel group on occasion and this year I get the great opportunity in November to go to Italy for a couple of weeks to see the wonders of Florence and Rome. Of course my hidden agenda is always wargaming and I'm going to be on the hunt for all manner of things military and so I'm open to any and all suggestions of things to see in Rome and Florence with a nod towards my all consuming madness.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What To Do With a Dead Mech?

One of the dirty little secrets here at the Lead Gardens is that I'm not immune to the lure of the "Pre-painted But It's Hard To Get What You Want in the Box Without Spending a Lot on Stuff You Don't Need Collectible Miniature Marketing Systems".

"MechWarrior", by the now defunct "Wizkids" was my latest venture into such. It was five years ago during a two month "ebay binge" that I netted a large tub of plastic Mechs for a fairly cheap price. I played the game for a few months and then moved on to other stuff (as we all often do). Though the rules that came with the figures were ok, I just couldn't love (though I tried) the click bases and the surprisingly slow pace of the game... probably due in large part to my failing eyesight trying to read the microscopic numbers on the bases. The final straw was when I witnessed a large MechWarrior tournament at Origins where all the tables were simply flat green squares with cut out flat terrain...I'm sure everyone was having fun, but visually, it was definitely not my cup of tea!

But I still have the miniatures and they are pretty good castings even if a little indifferently painted. So this past month I have jumped into trying to repaint the minis and snap them off their bases and use them with a better (at least more fun... IMHO...) set of SF rules, OGRE/GEV by Steve Jackson Games. These rules are great fun, fast and you don't have to get bogged down in a lot of detail. I've worked up several collections of vehicles over the years and used them with these rules. My favorite was a set of "Mega Force" vehicles by Kenner that are now out of production and unfortunately I sold my entire collection many years ago and surprise surprise they are now highly valued by toy collectors and are as rare as hen's teeth now on ebay.

So while I cry in my beer over that, I'm painting up these Mechwarrior minis and here is the first batch of repaints...(the vehicles are based on fender washers and the infantry is based on the plastic disks that were formerly a part of the original click base....and yes this does ruin the figures for using the original Mechwarrior game but....nonetheless I went ahead with the project). The numbers you see on the bases are the combat values of the minis in OGRE/GEV to make the game even faster to play!

A Company of PanEuropean GEVs

the numbers are read left to right: attack value /range in (4") hexes /defense value...the game used a "classic" odds table 1-1, 2-1 etc. from the original board game which makes adding and designing vehicles to the game easy.

I've got a "model-bashed" Ogre planned that will use parts from two vehicles reassembled and there is a nice set of additional rules for Mechs adapted to OGRE/GEV to be found at Steve Jackson's website.

Pan Euro Heavy infantry based on disassembled plastic click base about recycling!

Combine Infantry

Combine Commander with a missile launcher battlesuit.

Combine heavy mobile missile launchers

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Battle of Cheriton Wood

Cheriton Wood 1644

A historical refight here at the Leadgardens! After the latest ECW skirmish reported in the last post, I reset the table to do a historical refight of the English Civil War Battle of Cheriton in 1644. At first I was planning to use the topography already set up for "The Skirmish at Glenton" but after studying the historical maps found at the UK Battlefields website, I decided I could get a better game out of it if I re-oriented the table so that the opposing sides approached from the short sides of my 8x5' table instead of the more traditional long side deploytment. This approach to the set up made Cheriton Wood a more prominent feature on the table and ultimately produced a more challenging game. I used the order of battle from the GMT boardgame of Cheriton to set the forces for the game....coincidentally it required all of the figures in my collection and I had to fudge the artillery numbers (I only have one gun model per side) so that each model represented the whole artillery train for each army.

Royalist positions

Parliamentary positions at start...

The London Trained Bands hold Cheriton Wood at the start of the battle.

Lord Brooke's regiment freshly painted in their first table battle...(From here I'm using the names of the regiments as painted in my collection, not as they appeared historically in the battle)

Newcastle's White coats hold a lane for the King.

Royalist artillery

Sir Henry Bard launches his ill fated charge down the lane towards the Parliamentary left center. (This was historical move programmed into the table battle with a chance card turned in the early rounds...)

Haselrigg's Lobsters respond with a volley and a follow up charge...

Meanwile the Londoners are met by Colonel Appleyard's musketeers in the tangled wood of Cheriton

...a hard struggle in the wood, but the Londoner's eventually fall back leaving the wood in the hands of the Royalists.

The Roundheads press forward on the left and center...

Hopton orders his foot forward into the shallow valley to meet the oncoming Parliamentarians.

The main infantry battlelines close the distance while the Royalist artillery fires from the ridge...

musketry duels erupt at mid-field...

Parliamentary foot issues fire...

Lord Hopton trys in vain to rally Sir Allen Apsley's regiment after they are broken by the weight of the Roundhead musketry.

The Whitecoats hold for a time and trade volley for volley but are eventually forced back up the ridge...

the tide turns against the King...

Sir Marmaduke Rawdon's Regiment for the King stoutly holds the forward slope while other Royalist regiments stream to the rear.

The Lobsters gallop up the ridge lane sending Parliamentary artillerymen scattering for their lives...

The end of the battle...and a roughly historical outcome with a win for Parliament...(always a nice testament to a set of rules to be able to roughly replicate history with just enough uncertainty to make it an interesting game...Clarence Henderson's "Victory Without Quarter" worked well for these big 40mm figures as usual! I used the full set of chance cards and commander ratings -actually homemade tokens in my game- and it gave a nice richness to the whole game)...The table battle took about 4 hours to complete (played in my spare moments over 2 days). Thus Waller earned his reputation. In the historical battle the Queens regiment held off the Roundheads until the artillery was carried off but the win secured Hampshire for Parliament.