Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Marking strength/casualties

I thought I'd put up a photo showing how I'll be recording strength or casualties (depending on the rules used) for my rebased ancient and dark age armies. This is shamelessly pinched from James but it works so well I think it deserves a wider audience.

Each and every base has a spear or javelin towards the rear stuck into the ground at a slight angle to look "natural". This is used to hold casualty rings. The ones in the picture are actually for making Roman Blinds and are available from eBay sellers or Amazon.

In some rules I'll start units with a complement of rings, removing them until the unit has none and routs. In other games I might let casualties accumulate. Overall I prefer this spear/ring method than other types of casualty marker. It also avoids confusion with other markers in games such as disorder in Hail Caesar or Leadership points in Dux Bellorum.

Hope to make more progress with those Romans tonight. After that I might do something different...dark age commanders perhaps or maybe those cataphracts if they arrive tomorrow or Thursday.

Off to see Star Wars Ep I in 3D tomorrow. Looking forward to it greatly.


Sunday, 26 February 2012

Quiet Weekend

Not much to report.

  • Scotland seem to have held their own in the first half against France; let's see how things finish.
  • Next 12 Caesarian Romans have some of their base colours blocked in. Hope to finish these this week in 30-60 minute sessions. Won't do anything on Weds as I'm hoping to see Star Wars Ep1 in 3D
  • Been tinkering with ideas for using Dux Bellorum (not even published yet) for earlier Ancient sub-periods
  • Have painted a load of MDF 120mm wide bases with brown fence paint ready for my next basing extravaganza
  • Returned the Romano-British, Saxons and Late Romans to the figure storage facility now their bases are all dried out. Plan to have a game of Dux Bellorum with these a week on Wednesday.
  • Ordered some bits and bobs from Foundry (hellish prices, no) as a sort of birthday present for next month including:
    • 2 x blisters of Late Roman cataphracts
    • 1 x blister of Arthurian mounted command
    • 1 x blister of Caesarian Roman mounted command (Pompey, Caesar, etc)
    • 1 x blister of Caesarian Roman standards/musicians
    • lots of 100mm lances/spears to replenish supplies
    • Hail Caesar Army Lists
  • The figures are mostly to produce new command stands for each army for when I use Hail Caesar or other rules requiring separate commanders. In most cases I'll be happy for sub-commanders to be embedded into units rather than removable - and having to take their chances in combat.
The rest of the weekend has been taken up with birthday celebrations for my youngest daughter's 8th birthday and with getting homework done with both of the girls.

Anyone who hasn't started planning their May weekends, don't forget Partizan in Newark is on the 27th May with the normal array of eye candy and traders.

England 12 - Wales 19

Well watching that was hard work, but a good result in the end. Italy up next in a fortnight and then possibly a Grand Slam decider in Paris on the 17th March.

Hopefully we'll come up against a weakened French team as they are playing on four successive weekends to make up for the match cancelled due to a frozen pitch.

I thought England continued to show signs of improvement. Despite being a Nothampton fan I have to be critical of Ben Foden who is becoming a bit predictable at full back. For this reason and to encourage strength in depth it would seem a good idea to give someone else a try out at 15.

On the war gaming front, the next 12 Romans are on the painting table and I'll work on these during the week. I'm also considering a small order to Foundry, despite the high prices, for a few extra blisters to round out these armies. For Spanish and other allies/opposition there are better and cheaper options though (A&A, Crusader, etc).


Saturday, 25 February 2012

Experimenting with new camera app

The Powercam app has a sketch function.

Quite funky. Now I can colour-in pictures of figures :-)

Roman Progress

Must get those bases ready!

Friday, 24 February 2012

Roman WIP

Hi all

This week I have been mostly working on some Caesarian Romans pulled out of the lead pile in the garage. These need the flesh finishing off, some Matt varnish and their shields attaching, but they seem to be coming along OK.

This is a resurrection of a very old project. The shields were painted not long after the range was initially released by Wargames Foundry.

The plan is to produce a couple of bases of armoured legionaries with blue shields and 4-6 bases of unarmoured ones. These can then be combined with the red-shielded ones and numidians into a big army, or they can fight each other in a little civil war. I'll probably get some A&A Spanish at some point to act as allies.

My next stash of bases have arrived so over the weekend these will get a coat of brown fence paint.

Now I just have to keep my fingers crossed that Wales do over England at Twickenham and my weekend will be complete :-)


Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Base sizes

A couple of people have asked about the sizes of base I have used in my recent rebasing exploits.

All bases are of 3mm MDF with a 120mm frontage.

Mounted troops are on bases 80mm deep with 5 or 6 figures for proper fightin' cavalry and 3 for skirmishers

Skirmishing foot are on bases 40mm deep with four figures per base. This allows two bases to be combined to give a more substantial open order unit such as an auxiliary bow unit in a Roman army

The remaining foot types are on bases 60mm deep alloeing between 10 and 14 figures depending on manufacturer and the type of "diorama" being created. Hence the Foundry arthurian foot in shieldwall manage to fit in 14 figures in two ordered ranks of 7 but the larger Gripping Beast Saxons in a looser warband formation look fine with 10 or 11 figures.

I haven't dealt with elephants or war macines yet but the best bet seems to put these on 60mm frontages. Where a rule set demands a fixed element width these can then either then be used in pairs or put on 120mm sabot bases.

As with all things I approach this by basing so it looks good and then adapting the rules as necessary - much more satisfying!


Sunday, 19 February 2012

Rebasing a gogogo

Hello again!

Well, I managed to get the static grass onto the Saxon horde so here are a couple of shots:

...and to finish for today here are some fairly generic mounted skirmishers and a unit of cavalry. I do have some infantry with black shields to match these cavalry but there really isn't time to get them based this weekend - and I have no bases left anyway. An order has gone off to warbases.com so reinforcements should be on the way soon!

Hope you enjoyed your weekend!

Rebasing a gogo

Hi all. I have had the house to myself this weekend so before the family return I thought I'd pop up some pictures of what I have been up to.

Having decided to turn my back on figure removal as far as possible I have begun to rebase my ancient and dark age armies to be used with rule sets such as Hail Caesar, Impetus and the upcoming Dux Bellorum from Osprey. I have opted for a standard base frontage of 120mm as per Impetus and will adapt other rules to suit.

Firstly I have revamped a chunk of my Late Romans. This has turned a force that was too small for a satisfactory WAB game into something eminently useful for Basic Impetus or DuxB. Five units of heavy foot, two of which will do nicely as elite auxilia palatina, five units of skirmishing archers, some of which can be combined into more formal units of archers and two mounted units, one armoured and one unarmoured:

Next up are the Romano-British. Firstly the force I always think of as Arthur's with a colour scheme of black, white and red shields. These are followed by the core of an opposition force (Vortigern's in my mind) with yellow and blue shields. Naturally they can join forces to fight the Saxon menace...

and now we come on to the Saxons as work-in-progress. I am just waiting for the glue to dry on the patent basing mix (dark earth flock, sand flock, chinchilla sand, polyfilla powder and a touch of static grass) before I glue on patches of static grass. Also in the mix below are some more Romano-British cavalry and there are a couple more bases out of shot. The rebasing has again turned a force too small for much of a WAB game into 2 units of elite and 6 bases of ordinary Saxon warriors, the core of a very handy army for DuxB or Basic Impetus, or a couple of divisions for Hail Caesar.

Lastly I have begun to rebase my Caesarian Romans along the same lines. Below you can see the start of the main battle line and a shot of the general's base (ground work to be finished at a later date). I have four units of legionnaries, two of numidian imitation legion, two of numidian light horse and one of Gallic cavalry. I have now had to order some more bases before I can turn to the unit of Spanish foot and all the Greeks...

I'm really chuffed with how these have turned out and it makes to prospect of enlarging the armies less daunting as a unit/base now needs only 3 light cavalry, 5-6 medium/heavy cavalry, 4 foot skirmishers or between 10 and 14 medium/heavy foot. These feel much more manageable as mini projects than the larger units needed for rules like WAB but have more presence on the table than a DBA army would (not that I dislike DBA and it would work with thes bases if I use a bigger table).

Using these bases I can now fight small battles using DuxB or Basic Impetus on a 6x4 table or even on my 5x3 kitchen table if I scale back some of the distances. Larger battles can use Hail Caesar on my 8x4 table in the garage, even if I scale down the moves by a third or so.

Right, off to see what I can get fiinished in the next hour or so.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Squares Updated

I have corrected that typo, amended the rules for fighting in woods and added a reroll for some units defending hills.

Off to the dentist now!


Squares typo

A typo has been spotted in the rules! Under the assault section morale tests should use their morale die type, not quality type. I'll correct this at the weekend. The version published in WSS I think is correct. Cheers Steve

Monday, 13 February 2012

Dark Age Spectacular

I was fortunate this weekend to participate in a spectacular dark age game that will form the basis of an article for the 300th issue of Wargames Illustrated. I don't want to spoil the article in advance so this is all I'll say for now, other than that a great time was had by all.

Thanks to everyone who played and to Dan at WI for hosting things.

Back of Beyond thoughts

Hi all

I have been giving some more thought to the shape o my BoB/WW1 rules and the basing of my units.
Having looked at the first painted examples (armypainter soft tone works wett BTW) I have decided to rebase the infantry companies of 8 figures onto 60mm wide bases rather than in pairs on 1p coins. This reduces the frontage, allowing two units to fit side-by-side in a 15cm grid square and is simply less fiddly than the original idea. Cavalry will be mounted on similar bases in groups of 4. The bases will be 40mm deep to allow for a marker along the rear edge. I haven't decided about artillery and HMGs yet.

Rules-wise I have started to put together the sequence of play. Key to getting the feel for the period is to allow something more fluid than the volley fire of colonial warfare but not quite the flexible fire & manoevre of WW2. To this end the turn will begin with a shooting phase that will result in squares accumulating "weight of offensive fire" (WOOF) markers. The WOOFs will then play a significant role in determining how the rest of the turn flows. Units will need to take some kind of test for the effect of WOOF and markers will amso make it harder to enter a square during the movement phase. Small arms will simply roll to place a WOOF but area weapons lie artillery will place one WOOF per unit in a square to punish players who mass too much stuff in close proximity. Aircraft will also have the opportunity to place WOOF markers (I expect)

The WOOF concept is a bit of a distant relative to the blast markers of Epic:Armageddon from Games Workshop.

This all perhaps sounds a little more certain and finalised than it actually is but I think as a concept it will give a game that feels "in period".

Next step is to get some bases from warbases.co.uk and either paint up some figures or perhaps just mark the bases for now and use them as game counters.


Friday, 3 February 2012

Kitchen Tables and Back to the Back of Beyond

So, with the 1809 campaign done, disted and available for any PBEM or similar bug that grabs me I can turn my attention back to an old favourite - The Back of Beyond!

It was a BoB game that kicked-off this blog; a demo game at Salute using 28mm figures. While I still have these figures tucked away I am also experimenting with some 10mm stuff from Pendraken, painted up in a rudimentary manner and then finished with Army Painter soft tone. The first few are drying as I type and I'll post some photos over the weekend once they have been matt varnished.

This 10mm project is part of my current drive towards "kitchen table wargaming". This is a similar concept to Richard Clarke's "snack pot gaming" mentioned in his column is Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. In essence it is a response to

  1.  not having the time or inclination at the moment to paint large numbers of figures, or paint larger figures requiring lots of effort and detailing
  2. Wanting to play games in the warm, rather that the garage
  3. Wasting to play quick and easy games - I'm still keen on grids at the moment
My kitchen table is just a shade under 5 x 3 feet and I have been giving some thought to how best to fit interesting games onto this. My napoleonic "square" rules shoudl work well. On a bigger table, using TSS tiles the grid used is made up of 20cm squares (9 squares to a 60cm x 60cm tile) and this means a "standard" wargames table of 6 x 4 feet would give a grid of 6 x 9 squares.

A little scaling down of the grid to use 15cm/6in squares means that the same games can fit onto the kitchen table and actually give a "wider" game as this will measure the same 6 squares across but will be 10 squares wide. The change means that the TSS tiles aren't so viable, but I have a 6 x 4 gree felt cloth that doesn't get much use and which could be easily "gridded" - I'd just marke the vertices with dots or crosses rather than drawing a full grid. As the napoleonic rules use 1 square = 1km (approx), a 10 x 6km battlefield should cope with a reasonably sized battle. Bigger games can be played at the club on Wednesdays or wait until the summer when the garage is more practical.

For the BoB my current thoughts are to use the same grid (but probably on a brown cloth or a baseboard) and develop suitable rules. Using a grid and some basic wooden or polystyrene squares will allow me to build up suitable hills and mountain passes for the likes of Afghanistan. This may not be the absolute pinnacle of aesthetics but I think it can be made to look quite good with a bit of effort and imagination.

The tricky bit now comes in the form of scaling battles appropriately. My main interest is in battles where the basic unit being shoved around is the company, each battle perhaps having around a brigade-equivalent per side - somewhere between 12 and 18 "units" - companies, squadrons, gun sections, etc.

To begin the process of pulling some rules together I have done what I always do first - get a few figures together to decide what looks "right" for a unit. In this case, with the 10mm figures a company of 8 figures - 1 officer/nco and 7 other ranks looks OK and for now I have based these in pairs on 1p pieces, with 2p pieces for MG teams and higher-echelon commanders.

So, we have our 8-figure "company", four of which will produce a battalion in most armies, along with a base of officers as battlaion command. MGs can be allocated as support either as single bases, or fielded as an MG company of 3 or 4 bases grouped together. As with the napoleonic rules I think a square should hold a maximum of 4 units and a few supports such as individual MG bases or gun bases (each representing a section). Grouping MGs or Guns into larger formations (MG companies or batteries) will offer some advantage but will in return take up a greater number of "slots" in a square.

Moving forward, then, a square can hold the equivalent of a battlion of infantry in a formation equivalent to a 2-company frontage with 2 companies in reserve. This approximates (very roughly on the back of an envelope) to the 15cm square representing up to 500m x 500m.

From here I can start to rough out some ranges. Rifle fire can easily penetrate into an adjacent square and probably one square further (except perhaps for untrained troops who could be limited to the close range only). Keeping ranges down a little is important if the game is to be contained within the boundaries of the kitchen table and also allow for artillery, etc.

In the napoleonic rules I use the mechanism of different dice types to represent different abilities - as is the case in Force on Force and I think I'd like to stick with this. By separating out different factors of ability it is possible to give some character to the units. My first thought are to rate units for shooting, melee and morale. There is a subtle difference between units which are good at fighting but have average morale viz-a-viz units with an average ability but high morale. The former can be a bit fragile whereas the latter can get overwhelmed but have a distict "stickability" in the face of battle. The system of recording "hits" etc has yet to be really thought about. Blackpowder currently feels like a reasonable model to use as a base for adaptation, but I also like more in-period rules such as Red Actions - so there is plenty to have a go at.

That is really about as far as I have got for now. I'll post more as the ideas develop. At this stage I'll concentrate mainly on the infantry and MG mechanics and then try to add-in cavalry, armoured cars, artillery, aeroplanes, etc.

Lastly, then. For those who are unfamiliar with this period, what kinds of match-ups am I planning? Well, there are lots of possibilities but the following are the ones foremost in my mind at the moment:

1. Smaller actions of the campaign in Mesopotamia (Brits v Turks)
2. Dunsterforce's adventures in and around Baku (Brits v Persian tribesmen, Brits & local militias v Turks)
3. The Malleson Mission in Transcaspia (British and Indian troops allied to Mensheviks and Turkoman tribes vs Bolsheviks) with a full complement of armoured trains
4. The attacks by the Turkish 3rd Army [The Army of Islam] under Enver Pasha agains the Russians in the Caucusus (Turks v pre-revolutionary Russians)
5. Third Afghan War (British and Indian army vs Afghan tribes and regulars)

British, Russian and Turkish figures are all easily available in 10mm from Pendraken, as are afghan tribesmen. Other forces can probably be put toghether from other stuff in their range.

More soon!

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

1809 Campaign: Neustadt Aftermath 21st April

The map above shows the positions of the armies following the battle of Neustadt.

The battle itself was nasty, brutush and short. On the French left Davout was overwhelmed by the Austrian IV Korps, Grenadiers and Cavalry Reserve. Despite some spirited counterattacking, there was little that could be done other than retreat with the few survivirs of his proud veterans.

The right flank fared better and with the arrival of Massena they drove hard into III and VI Korps but failed to inflict a decisive defeat.

Both armies are again licking their woulds but with the imminent arrival of I and II Korps the Austrians would appear to have the upper hand. At this stage I feel that Napoleon would be likely to withdraw in the short-term until more reinforcements could be secured.

3rd Corps (Davout) has almost ceased to exist, however its remaining two infantry divisions and the light cavalry are about to re-join. These will be strengthened by incorporating the Bavarians into a new formation under the command of Davout - if only to spare his blushes. 2nd Corps (Lannes) remains relatively fresh and 4th Corps (Massena) has suffered just a few casulaties but must fall back to a position on a line of supply.

The Austrians now need to rest IV Korps as a matter of urgency and both III and VI Korps are in need of some recovery. The army has secure lines of supply however and are surely buoyed by two victories over the French.

Vienna seems safe, for now...

This was an enjoyable campaign and the map and rules ideas seem sound, so I can replay this in the future, perhaps with some real players!