Friday, May 26, 2023

Painting Styles: A Thirty Year Journey

This week a new unit was mustered into my 18th Century Russian army, and a suitable parade was organized. The First Grenadier Regiment’s new banners (flags by Adolfo Ramos) were blessed by the Czar’s preeminent mad padre, Father Mikhail Petrovich.  

Then, the Grenadiers passed in review before the commanding officer.  So why is this the First Grenadier Regiment?  Because it is the first such regiment that I ever painted, some thirty years ago, sometime around 1990 as I recall.  

Here below on the front of the right-hand base you can see three of the original figures, Front Rank Russian SYW grenadiers advancing which I purchased from the long defunct and legendary Emperor’s Headquarters, which I once visited on the south side of Chicago (I think it was the south side, it was a long drive).  I was a starving graduate student at the time, on a tight budget, so I think I purchased sixteen figures.   I was working from black and white drawings in a book on SYW Russian uniforms that I was lucky enough to find, and used whatever paints I could lay my hands on.   The green of the tunics was from a bottle of FolkArt craft paint (I want to say the colour was named Clover??) which wasn’t as dark as the traditional Russian Green of the period but I thought maybe the coats could be faded?

The other figures with the upright muskets are recently purchased from Foundry, which as I’ve said here before is now my go-to range for 28mm SYW.  Once I started rebasing my SYW figures six foot to a stand, I realized that I needed more Russian grenadiers to flesh out the unit, so I ordered another 18 of these figures from Foundry and got to work on them last month.   

In thirty years I’ve learned a few things about painting.   As you can see on the old Front Rank figures, I was fairly ignorant of layers, shading and washes.   The skin was very pale, and I had an idea that if I mixed red with flesh for their cheeks, they’d look a bit like toy nutcrackers,   I did my best with the eyes, but hey have that starey look to them.    I think I mixed some red with a bit of yellow to try and give some highlights on the red turn backs, but highlighting was something I didn’t really understand well.



The difference now, besides thirty years experience, is that I can afford better materials and brushes, which offsets the slight deterioration that my eyes have experienced.  The Foundry figures are painted using he tri-tone Foundry paint system in the school of Kevin Dallimore, and as someone kindly said on Twitter the other day, these new figures are done at a good tabletop standard, a compliment I’m glad to take.   

It gave me great pleasure to fold these old and new figures into a composite grenadier battalion, and to give them spiffy new flags.   It’s a small tribute to thirty years of trial and error and slow improvements, but I love them all.   These figures and the rest of the Russian army are rumoured to be preparing to march against Turkey.   More on that soon.

Thanks for looking.  Blessings to your brushes!


Thursday, May 25, 2023

Thursday Napoleonics: 6mm Polish Lancers Finished

Good morning friends:

Back in April I did a WIP post of these figures as nearly finished, so here they are done and based.   As said before, they are 3D printed, from MC Miniatures, Polish Uhlans in French service.

One pleasant thing I’ve discovered about painting these strips is that a little effort goes a long way.  A few variations in horse colour, for example, gives a pleasing variety but I don’t get fussy about painting socks or blazes on the odd one as I would with 28mm horses.   Likewise, painting only the details like the shabraque on the end figures suffices.

That being said, I still got silly with two-tones of French blue for the tunics, and used a quite tiny bush for the lance pennons, but I think it was worth the effort.  

These fellows will serve either as a single unit if I’m playing LaSalle or a full brigade for bigger battles.  Next unit on the paint bench takes me back to 28mm horses as I have 12 Front Rank Prussian SYW cuirassiers to get to grips with.

Thanks for looking and blessings to your brushes!


Monday, May 22, 2023

Checking into the blog after a busy spell (church work plus a LOT of gardening) to report on a brief game played using  Osprey’s Xenos Rampant, the new SF miniatures rules by Dan Mersey.  I heard good things about it from my friend James, and since both of us have crossed swords many times playing the fantasy rules Dragon Rampant, I thought it would be fairly easy to learn these rules since I knew the Rampant system.   I was right.

Xenos Rampant (XR) is best thought of as a tool kit that allows almost any conceivable SF trope to be modelled using the core Rampant rules architecture of values for Attack, Defence, Armour, Shooting, Morale.     The value of the tool kit comes in skills and doctrines that can be purchased for each troop type, and then a further set of “Xenos” skills that can be assigned as the SF trope demands.

In my case, I decided to pit my “Space Kitties” (Khurasan 15mm Tigrid figures), which I think of as Kzinti from the Larry Niven stories, vs humans.   I built a decent force of Kzinti-proxies using the Khurasan figures and vehicles from Ground Zero Games, giving me a mechanized platoon with some heavy support.    I’ve only recently started working on the human figures, so all I could do was pit one mounted section of cats vs a small section of human Recon Infantry.

One of the first decisions I had to make was whether to take the XR recommendation of converting inches to centimetres for 15mm figures.  I decided to keep the units as inches to give greater ranges as befitting future weapons.

Here a five man section of humans classed as Recon Infantry in XR terms.   The figures are from Darkest Sun miniatures  and since they are all I have currently painted, I decided to massively upgrade them, giving them the Sniper (no shooting penalties for long range fire), Combat Medic (chances to recover lost figures, basically a Heal spell in Dragon Rampant magic rules), and Fire Support (calling in off board artillery).   In rocky ground which is classed as hard cover, they sight a Cat APC and call in fires on it.

The fires have no effect, thanks to bad rolls, and the Skimmer goes to ground and disgorges a ten-strong section of angry Cats.   To reflect Larry Niven Kzinti canon, I made the Cats Berserker Infantry with Wild Charge, and gave them the Close Assault Doctrine which favours them in base to base assaults.    I also gave them the Mobile skill from the Xenos skills, making these Cats extra pouncy.   Not great fans of a firefight, but very fast and deadly in the charge: Banzai Space Kitties!

Here the Cats come under a second salvo of Human Fire Support and take casualties, but still charge into hand to hand combat.  Being in bad terrain meant the Humans has a decent chance to stand, which they did, throwing the Cats back with 3-1 losses.   In the following turn the human fire proved deadly and broke the Cats morale.

So a good opportunity for a quick look at XR and an incentive to paint more Terran figures and build some more SF terrain, which will mostly have a desert theme for the time being.  Good fun to dig out my SF toys and play with them, and hopefully James and I can get together for a chance to dig into XR some more.

Blessings to you die rolls!


Tuesday, April 11, 2023

#Terrain Tuesday: Warbases MDF Fields and Ponds

Hello friends:  

I’ve been quiet here last week, which, as you might expect, was a busy one for my day job as a wargaming vicar, but time to catch up now that Holy Week is concluded.

Recently I needed some custom-made MDF bases and ordered them from Warbases in the UK, as my Canadian supplier didn’t seem to need the business.   While I was on the Warbases webstore, I saw that they offered fields and ponds, in a part of the store called Terrain Bases   It wasn’t clear to me that these were 2D images printed onto MDF, I had formed the mistaken idea that they were somehow 3D, which was my own misperception.

There wasn’t a full range in stock, but I ordered two field sets, one in spring (left) and one in autumn (right).  Here are the large pieces from each set, each with a stone wall and gate around the edges.  They blend nicely against my Geek Villain game cloth.  

And two small fields in each set, again, spring (left) and autumn (right).

And I bought a set of ponds, which includes a generous five separate ponds.

28mm figure stand for scale.

And a 6mm stand for scale.  In 6mm, depending on the game scale (eg, Blucher where this one stand would represent a brigade), these would be decent sized lakes!

In 28mm, the large stand would accommodate a four or five based unit quite nicely to represent a terrain objective or a defensible terrain feature, such as a walled field.  Useful if one didn’t have enough actual wall section models.

Some folks might balk at the idea of putting 2D terrain representations on the table, which is fine, but for a fast game or if one is travelling light to a club or convention, these models might well be fit for purpose.   The quality of the printed images of the field and pond sections is pleasing, so they are a definite step up from fields and ponds of cut felt.

Cheers and blessings to your tabletops.






Saturday, April 1, 2023

Saturday Painting Bench: Lots of 6mm Napoleonics

Hello and welcome to April!   The temperature has dropped about 12C today so sitting beside the gas fire writing this post sees like a splendid use of time.

Almost finished today on the painting bench are these four strips of 6mm Napoleonic Polish Uhlans, who will soon I hope be crossing lances with Russian Cossacks in one of the opening battles of the 1812 invasion.

The figures are from MC Miniatures, the brainchild of Marco Campagna of Genoa, Italy.  Marco’s 6mm strips are ideal for mass-producing units, and is my go-to for my current rules interest, LaSalle2, which requires four bases for each unit.  They have just enough detail to satisfy, but are simple enough to paint en masse.  I printed these on an Elegoo Mars 2 machine.   Hopefully done before I go to bed, and then they can report to the Basing Depot.

 Also recently hot off the Mars printer are these strips of Austrian grenadiers, also MC Minis prints.  These fellows will be getting blue trousers, just because the blue and white Hungarian uniform is such a classic look and should pop on the table.  It may be another week before these chaps are finished.


What’s on your painting desk?

Cheers and blessings to your brushes,


Friday, March 31, 2023

Austrian Napoleonic Dragoons in 6mm from Henry Turner

 Good day friends and welcome to the weekend.  I had fully intended to post this yesterday as one of this blog’s semi-habitual Napoleonic Thursday post, but my computer had some issues and no matter, here they are today.

While I have some Austrian cuirassiers in my collection, I didn’t have any Austrian dragoons (though in 6mm it’s hard to tell the difference between the two) so I easily rectified that by printing myself a mass of 6mm figures thanks to Henry Turner’s Europe Asunder Napoleonic Kickstarter that I’d backed last year.

The figures are based as per my usual standard for 6mm Napoleonics, giving me either a division’s worth for a grand scale game like Blucher, or a full regiment of four stands (1 command stand and three rank and file bases) for Sam Mustafa’s LaSalle 2.  I have a separate post planned for basing units for LaSalle, coming soon.

The flags were purchased from Stone Mountain Miniatures.  To their credit, they have a good selection of 6mm flags, though it took me a very long time to receive them.   I always want to cut self-employed hobby business owners a lot of slack.  Who knows what’s going on in their personal lives? 

A quick word on Henry Turner’s figures.   I printed these on an Elegoo Mars 2 resin printer.   The results were quite satisfactory, the figures have a decent amount of detail, though some have told me the horses don’t look convincing.    I wouldn’t print his figures at any scale larger than 10mm, but for 6 they satisfy and mix nicely with my Baccus collection.  I’m a fan.

I have a lot of 6mm Napoleonic stuff currently on the painting desk - a substantial mass of Austrian grenadiers and some Polish Uhlans, and after that lot is done it’s back to the big scales for a while.

Cheers and thanks for looking.  Blessings to your brushes!


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Wednesday Boardgame: C&C Napoleonics Battle of Gunzburg

I decided to give my Command and Colours Napoleonics some love, as a fast way of getting acquainted with some of the more obscure battles of the period.  I chose the second scenario from the Austrian expansion, Gunzburg.  This was one of the actions of the Ulm campaign, when General Mack ordered General D'Aspre to find a way across the Danube so that Mack might extricate his forces from Ulm.  At the same time, Ney had ordered his Third Division under Malher to seize the bridges. The battle is brilliantly described by Jeff Berry on his Obscure Battles blog here.

It’s an interesting battle because the two forces were evenly matched, about 7500 per side, and faced each other across a stretch of the Danube with four bridges, two of them leading on and off a small island in the centre.    There is also a ford near the left most bridge, though I just noticed that when I set up the board I mispositioned the ford tile closer to the centre, which may have disadvantaged the French.

Here’s the board set up.  As you can see, the ford should have been two hexes to the left, screened by the woods.  As it was, it was covered by Austrian troops on the hills, and the one attempt of the French to cross there was badly shot up.

It’s an interesting tactical problem for both sides.  The scenario gives the Austrians a temporary victory banner for holding three of the four towns, but both sides get temporary banners for holding bridges and for pushing troops across the Danube (not counting the island).  Either side can win the game if they choose to attack, though the more tempting approach is to let the other side try to cross and then punch them hard when they reach a bridge or ford.ave 

In the game I played solo, the French tried to advance, but a big (5 block!) Austrian line infantry unit smashed into the French light infantry on the right most bridge and threw them back.  That was pretty much how it went from then on as the battle became attritional.

The game ended with a 7-3 Austrian win and the French bled white after chasing an illusory success on the left wing.   In retrospect I should have tried to mass troops at several crossing points before committing to an assault.

Sharp-eyed CCN players will have noticed that I was using the Tacticians cards from Expansion 5, Generals, Marshals, and Tacticians.    I like extra opportunities that these cards provide, though I suppose some purists might complain that they make the game a little too “gamey”, like the cards in Sam Mustafa’s Longstreet.  Throwing down the “Break the Square” card when you charge with your cavalry might be gamey, but it is very satisfying.

Death of Colonel Gérard Lacuée at the battle of Günzburg, on October 9, 1805. Oil painting by Georges Moreau de Tours.

“They rolled two sabres for Leader Kill!  Damn them!”

I knew nothing about this battle before playing the game, so I learned something, and would consider lifting the victory conditions from this scenario to apply to a 6mm miniatures version, since my collection is mostly French/Austrian, though I would need to improvise to get enough river sections.  It would be a fun project.  Visiting Gunzburg and seeing the Legoland there would also be a fun project.

Thanks for reading and blessings to your die rolls! MP+


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