Saturday, January 31, 2015

Two Grumpy Old Men

These two crotchety gents are the prizes for the Play by Blog/Email Diplomacy game that finished here last month.   

The fellow on the left goes to Edwin King, who played Italy, and won the prize for Best Roleplaying. The fellow on the right goes to Mark Haughey, who led the game as England when we had to stop.  Well done, lads.  Sorry it’s taken so long to get these done.

 Both these figures are Artizan, from their French Foreign Legion range.   Edwin first suggested these figures to me when we were discussing a figure that might do for the persona he created, Count di Graspi.   Edwin wrote a lot of brilliant fluff for our in-game newspaper, The Daily Dissembler.  My favourite entry has to be this one, in which he is a charming schemer and lecher. I have no idea what Italian generals wore in the early 1900s, but I liked the dark green uniform to suggest the traditional in-game colour for Italy in Diplomacy.

 The other fellow was painted as per Mark’s specifications, kind of English, kind of French.   With the moustache he calls to mind Sir John French of the BEF, if French wasn’t such a total Francophobe.  I’ll get these chaps in the mail early next week.  

Cheers,  MP+

These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 6; Mounted Figures: 10


15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5


Kilometres Run: 80

Thesis Pages Written:  75

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kitten On The Keys, A Weekend Scrap, And Some Dragoon Goodness

It’s been rather hard to get any blogging (or painting, or writing, or housework, or …) done lately, thanks to our newest family member, Luigi, who is the most alpha-kitten I’ve ever met.  No shrinking violet, he wants your attention NOW, whatever you’re doing.

Saturday evening I did manage to get over to my friend James’ place for an evening scrap.  His friend Patrick kindly put on a very interesting interwar game between rival Chinese warlords, the Zhilli and the Fantien as I recall.  Since the Zhilli were attacking and had lots of men, I volunteered to lead them to glory.  Patrick used Paul Eaglestone’s World Aflame inter war rules, published by Osprey (now Bloomsbury, I guess).  I found these rules quick to learn, simple and playable.  Patrick added some chrome in the form of random events at the start of each turn - I think the rules for keeping track of ammunition and ammo resupply may have been his as well.   The attacker’s objective was to capture an enemy aerodrome and its three precious aircraft and western round eyes pilots.  My plan was to throw as many men as possible against the least anchored end of the enemy line and get in with the bayonet before they could shred me.  The plan worked surprisingly well, and led me to wonder if the rules underestimate the lethality of infantry weapons, especially the two HMGs that James used to enfilade me?   Or maybe his die rolling just sucked.

Here my infantry swarm the enemy trenches and put them to the cold steel.  Figures are all painted by Patrick, a mix of 20mm plastics from various companies with some head swaps.  They looked quite convincing from the nothing I know about interwar Chinese warlord armies.  Some of the fellows lying down at the top end of the brown swarm are from my unfortunate “bullet magnet” platoon whose job was to soak up the fire and let the other lads get stuck in.  Hard duty, but they did their job.  The trenches are also scratch built by Patrick and look rather good.

My glorious infantry advance across the bodies of James’ two reserve platoons, which were caught in the open by my mortars and shredded rather badly.  I quite like the red fish tank ornament across the road.  In the foreground is half of my armour support, an armoured car whose crew went a bit wobbly on me at first but got their act together eventually.  My other tank, a Renault, was driven off by a field gun whose crew were subsequently bayonetted after they refused to turn their coats, despite my generous offer of a dental plan (you join us and we don’t pull out your teeth with rusty pliers).  In the background is a CFB Suffield coffee mug doubling as an aerodrome water tank.  At this point James conceded, and his western pilots at the aerodrome happily agreed to fly for the Zhilli Air Force … they didn’t bally care who they dropped bombs on, as long as they got gold, girls, and white silk scarves.  Woof!

 Changing the subject, here are the ten Front Rank SYW Russian dragoons I finished painting last week.  Participants in the Analogue Painting Challenge will already have seen them.  Here they are, borrowing their battlefield of MacGillicuddy’s Corners (still ongoing) for their class portrait.

I bought about five pounds (weight, not currency) of unpainted SYW Russian cavalry figures off a fellow just before Christmas, including these ten Front Rank dragoons.  Most of the figures, as far as I can tell, are Front Rank,  which is fortunate for me as most of my Russian infantry are Front Rank as well.   To my mind FR is the gold standard for the period - I love the Foundry 28mm SYW Russians and the Crusader range looks interesting, but FR are big, burly sculpts with just a touch of Old School about the poses.   The only problem is that the range hasn’t been added to since I started collecting these figures in the 1990s.

 Sadly the figures I purchased did not include any command figures so I will have to remedy that at some point.  They’ll do for now.   I shall probably go with FR for the command figures, just to give this unit a uniform look.   I would like to get some of the Foundry dismounted Russian dragoons (the madness never ends)for skirmish gaming using the TFL Sharpe Practice rules, but that’s a longer-term project.  The decision to sculpt these fellows hiding their muskets rather than swords is interesting, and suggests that they are about to dismount - riding around with a musket in your hand doesn’t make a lot of sense, unless you’re going to use it as a lance.  And why do the muskets have fixed bayonets?

In the absence of a command stand, Sgt. Kropotkin will lead them out on patrol.

There’s something almost Zen-like about painting the same figure in the same uniform over and over again.  I found I had to parcel it out over time - red turn backs one night, buff cross belts the next, and so forth.  To speed the process, since I am a slow painter, I decided on only three basic colour schemes for the horses, and gave them all black tails and manes.  I tried to compensate by washing the first coat with Army Painter Strong Tone and then wet blending two lighter shades, so I am pleased with the quality of the horses, even if they lack variety.

It helped my productivity too that the Russian Dragoon wears a simple uniform, no elaborate shabraques or lace and piping.  However, the cornflower blue coat with red trim gives a very bright and pleasing look.

Powdered wigs or not?  I decided that powder might be all well and good for those fops in the Horse Grenadiers and Gardes aux Chevaux, but not for these hard working troopers out on the fringes of Mother Russia.  They all got their own hair colour, but curiously I decided to paint the queues in black.  Not sure what I was thinking there.

These fellows give my SYW Russians some badly needed cavalry capability.  The same lot I purchased also includes Horse Grenadiers, so I may try to get them done before the Challenge is over.

Thanks for looking.  Blessings to your brushes and die rolls!

These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm:  Foot Figures: 3; Mounted Figures: 10


15mm: Armour/Vehicles: 5


Kilometres Run: 66

Thesis Pages Written:  72

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Painting Desk

New up on the painting desk is a collection of Artizan figures for my Weird War Two project, and a stand of Yanks getting their banner fixed (a perennial problem).  The Russian Dragoons featured here last week are done, I’ll show them off tomorrow.  Off to game tonight, hurrah!

Blessings to your brushes! 


Thursday, January 22, 2015

First Time Playing Longstreet: Battle of MacGillicuddy's Corners Part 3

In my last two reports (see one and two), the two brigades (Schotz’s Union brigade of 90 day volunteers, mostly from Wisconsin) had collided with Crutch’s brigade of mixed western CS units) in a meeting engagement at MacGillicuddy’s Corners somewhere on the Tennessee-Kentucky border in the early fall of 1861.  This has been a solitaire game to help me learn the mechanics of Sam Mustafa’s Longstreet, and of course I had to also try out the campaign game rules.  Since I’m pecking away at it a turn or so a night, it’s taking a while to tell the story.


Crutch’s rebs got the first volley in.  The 21st Mississippi and Snedden’s battery pound the Schlitz Jaegers in front of them.


Confederate move phase is next.  Union plays the Confusion Interrupt card which allows it to move one CS unit either forward or by the flank.  Since the 19th TX (Galveston Rifles) were marching on the CS far right to extend the line, check the Union infantry on the other side of the hill and protect Snedden’s battery, the US uses the card to turn the head of the column to the right, into some woods and moving away from the Union.  Perhaps the commander of the 4th saw a trail he liked?  Some people might find this degree of friction excessively “gamey”.  The Longstreet forums  note that while it’s fun to play these interrupt cards, as more units get into action, it is far wiser to play cards to mitigate casualties rather than to generate grief for the opponent.  At any rate, the 4th TX will need to get straightened out before it can move towards the US.  Now that the Confusion card is played from the CS deck as an Interrupt card, it is removed from play for the rest of the game.

All other CS units remain stationary.


Union turn.  US spends a card to declare a fire phase.  The only unit that can shoot is the Schlitz Jaegers in the centre.  They have four of six bases that can fire at up to a 45 degree angle and are within 6BW range of the 21st MS.   They fire and after casualty mitigation, have one hit.  Roll to kill (always a 4+ on a d6) is successful.  One stand of the 21st MS is lost.  First blood to the Union!


Union Movement Phase.  It’s taken a while but Engel’s Brewer’s Battery (two 6lber smoothbores and one howitzer) has finally unlimbered and can fire next US turn.   Is that a barrel of pilsner at far left?


More US movement phase.  Schotz make a virtue of necessity and has McCleary’s Milwaukee Irish (The Fightin’ Navvies) keep marching.  Last turn you may recall the CS played a Confusion card and marched them off the road.  Colonel Schotz is hoping to get reinforce his right and use the Irish and his cavalry to turn the CS flank, if he can get McCleary’s boyhos forward in time.


The Pabst Blue Rifles move up the hill and into the woods with the intention of charging Snedden’s battery.   Normally in Longstreet woods are not obstructing or disrupting to infantry.  However, the CS play a card that makes it disrupting to enter the woods this turn, forcing the Yanks to burn an extra card to do so.


Bird’s eye view of the situation at the end of the Union turn.


Confederates begin their next turn by playing a card to declare a fire phase.  Snedden’s battery can’t shoot at the Pabst Blue Rifles because there’s more than 2BWs of forest separating them, so the guns join with the 21st MS in bombarding the Schlitz Jaegers in the US centre.  With three artillery stands bombarding, and three infantry bases firing, the rebs do well and score four hits on the German boys.


Here’s an example of how Longstreet’s Morale or casualty mitigation rules work.  Before the CS player rolls to see how many of the four hits are actually kills, the US player can use cards to reduce the number of hits.   Since the Schlitz Jaegers are a Recruit regiment, only one card can be played.  The US player has the Old Rivals card, which can be used as an Interrupt card to do bad things to the CS in his turn.  However, it can also be used as a morale card, in which case the number on the top left is the number of hits that are removed.  This halves the number of hits that might cause kills on the Schlitz Jaegers.


Alas, this time the Schlitz Jaegers are not so lucky.  One of the hits is rolled as a kill.  “Aaahhhhhh!!!!!  I thought this war would be fun!”.  The Jaegers lose a stand.  Casualties are now matched.


CS movement phase.  Behind the embattled 21st MS, the 5th KY (“The Lincoln Killers”) right wheel into a position on the flank of the Pabst Blue Rifles.  Are they going to charge next turn?  Oh yeah.


Also part of this CS movement phase, the 4th TX, which was wrongly headed out of the battle and into the woods to its right, extricates itself by forming line and turning about face to threaten the Yanks up on that hill.


Another example of sneaky card play in Longstreet.  At the start of the US turn, the CS plays this as an Interrupt card, which takes two a random number (1d6) of cards out of the current US hand.  Not a terrible result, but still annoying if the US wants to achieve a lot this turn.  Since I was playing solitaire, I chose the cards to be discarded randomly.  Since it is used as an interrupt card, it is out of the CS deck for the rest of the game.


US spends a card to start the turn with a Fire Phase.  Engel’s battery finally gets to fire for their guns in anger for the first time.  “Prosit!” they yell humorously as they let fly at the rebs.



Engel’s target (at the end of that handsomely painted range stick) is the 5th Kentucky, which has moved into position to flank the Pabst Blue Rifles in the woods. 

While in the same US fire phase the Schlitz Jaegers fire four stands at the left oblique at the 21st MS.

US gets two hits each on the 21st MS and the 5th KY.  CS mitigates the damage by playing two cards to reduce the hits by one per unit.  One hit will always remain - one of Longstreet’s core rules is that no matter how many morale cards you play to mitigate hits, “One Hit Always Sticks”. Then the US roles for kills and misses both rolls, including the reroll on the fire of the Schlitz Jaegers thanks to Col. Schotz’s special ability to influence the musketry of one infantry unit per turn.  “Nein, dumpkoffs!   You are shooting too high!  Shoot at zee belly buttons like I am telling you in practise!"


That was disappointing.  The Pabst Blue Rfles up on the hill are now in an untenable situation.  They can’t reach Snedden’s battery in a charge move, it’s about a BW too far away, so they would just end up standing in canister range. They can’t remain there with the Kentucky boys on their flank.  The PBRs spend two cards to make an about turn (two cards because an About Turn within 6BWs of an enemy is a Disordering Move) and march their full move of 4BWs.  They can’t About Turn twice in a turn so they finish the move with their backs to the enemy.  Hopefully the 5th KY can’t reach them in a charge move - they might if the right card is in the CS hand, so this is a calculated risk.

For the rest of the US movement phase, the dismounted Kansas cavalry push forward to threaten the their opposite numbers, while McCleary’s Irish continue to advance in column.  Schotz is hoping that if he can throw enough weight on his right flank he can relieve the pressure on the rest of his line. That column will have to veer left or right to avoid that duckpond!

Play is interrupted by a kitten on the table.  Sadly that’s not a Longstreet Interrupt card (which would be awesome), but there are DIY cards in the deck so I could design one, I suppose.  This is Luigi.  He’s three months old and we just adopted him from the local shelter because we didn’t have enough cats or something, I don’t know.  He’s quite charming and fearless, and a dauntless explorer.  I am hoping that come my posting this spring, our new house with  have a room with a door for my next games room.

Hopefully one more post will tell the outcome of this riveting action.

Blessings to your die rolls!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday Boardgame: Goodies From GMT

No games to report on today but I did get a box in the post yesterday.

Upon opening it I was very happy to find the Spanish Army expansion for GMT’s Command and Colours Napoleonics.  I had put an order in for it with GMT’s 500 reprint club, and had gotten a message from them recently saying my card had been charged, though they didn’t say for what (I have several 500 orders in and they charge credit cards once they reach 500 orders, hence, you know, the name 500 club, but I probably didn’t need to explain that to you, did I?  Right, never mind, carry on).


Anyway, hurrah, says I, I’ve now got the whole CCN series, though as I’ve just finished putting the Prussian Expansion stickers on the blocks, I think I’ll take the Prussians out for a test drive first.

This morning, as I was about to take the packing box down the hall to the recycling bin, I said to myself, “Hello, this box is still rather heavy.  Can they be using extra heavy packing peanuts?”  I looked under the peanuts and found this.

If there’s one thing the nice folks at GMT could do better, it’s tell you exactly what’s shipping to you.   Once I heard how good The Hunters was, and being fascinated by U-Boats since forever, I really wanted to have this game, and it was also shipped out to me.  Super excited to get it. The components look very intriguing, even if there’s no map.   I’m taking the rulebook off to bed with me now,

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Saturday Painting Desk

I was hoping to have my 28mm Front Rank Russian SYW Dragoons finished last week and entered in the Painting Challenge on Thursday (my day to enter work in the Challenge).  So close, but the thesis claimed much of my time this week.  Hoping to have them off the sticks and onto bases tonight.

I hope your own work is going well.

Blessings to your brushes!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Eminently Victorian?

(With apologies to Lytton Strachey).  These three figures were my entry in the Victorian Bonus Round for the Analogue Painting Challenge, in which there were some cracking good entires.

The figures are Architects of War, from their “Blown By The Breeze” set, part of their whimsical 28mm American UnCivil War line.  Two cheers for these figures, I would say.  They are amusing, and unusual, but somewhat lacking in detail, particularly the faces.   I certainly wouldn’t put them in the top tier of ACW figures (e.g., Perry Bros) but they are interesting



I did a bit of priming on the Friday night, and then spent most of last Saturday painting them.  It’s quite unusual for me to paint figures this quickly.  Usually I take days or weeks to paint figures, but I wanted to get figures in at least one of the Bonus Rounds.   Not my best work, but not my worst, either.  With the officer’s outstretched hand, it seemed fitting to base him together with the winsome young lady, even if she is wearing a tad too much makeup.  The civilian gentleman, who has a certain Rhett Butler / Clark Gable vibe to him, got a garish plaid pair of trousers and a fancy yellow waistcoat.  The small pistol or derringer gives him a touch of menace and may make him useful in skirmish games.



“Frankly, Pink, I don’t give a darn, but I am going to shoot your clot of a boyfriend.”  Pity they don’t have a proper antebellum mansion to pose in front of.


On the Challenge Facebook page some longwinded clot (ok, it may have been me) was wondering what exactly qualifies as “Victorian” in hobby terms?  Is it between 1820-1901, the reign of Queen Victoria, or is it generically 19th century?   Does it have to be British (which would make sense, in that one doesn’t hear much talk about “Victorian Germany” or “Victorian France”) and if so, could one extend it to the Colonies and even to America?   Certainly America in the Civil War period was Victorian in some respects, such as culture (think of the influence of Sir Walter Scott and similar novels on Southern culture and the cult of chivalry), fashions and morality.  It also went the other way.  Queen Victoria wept when she read Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and some historians think that book helped keep England from intervening in the Civil War. 

At any rate, these figures weren’t chucked out of the Challenge by the black-hearted Curt, so I guess they are Victorian enough.

These figures bring my 2015 totals to:

28mm Foot Figures: 3


15mm Armour/Vehicles: 5


Kilometres Run: 41

Thesis Pages Written:  49



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