Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Personalities of Zheltarus and Yesilkara

I decided to have a go at populating my early 18th century imagi-nations using the "Personal Qualities of Commanders" rules from Black Powder combined with some of the ideas in Henry Hyde's The Wargaming Compendium and from Maurice. I could have equally well have pinched ideas  Tony Bath's Setting Up a Wargames Campaign.  All fine source material.  So here are some of the key personalities.  The sections in italics are specific to Black Powder.

Mikhail III, Grand Duke of Zheltarus
Social Status 4
Clever, resourceful and courageous, Mikhail is loved by his men.  His health is poor, though. He is said to cough blood into a silk handkerchief.

General Ostrovski, commander of the Zheltarussian Frontier Corps
Social Status 3
A man of immense ability to quickly assess a situation and act accordingly. Somehow he tends to manage personally to steer clear of the thickest fighting and, perhaps as a result, he is unpopular with the men.
Decisive - can always re-roll a failed Command check but if the re-roll fails it is automatically a blunder.

General Prince Mamurov
Social Status 3
A bull of a man, Mamurov is said to juggle cannonballs in the mess as a party trick.  Though no great thinker, he is popular with the junior officers and rankers.
Headstrong - +1 Staff Rating if he issues orders first in any turn but always blunders on an 11 or 12.

General Robert McCrumb, Scots mercenary officer
Social Status 2
An experienced commander but something of a cold fish, McCrumb has built a reputation for steadiness in defence.  Some say his cold demeanour hides a razor-sharp mind. Others say he keeps quiet to avoid being known for the fool he is.
Hesitant - if he successfully gives an order that results in three moves he must reroll and abide by the second result.

General Willem Fronkensteen, Dutch mercenary officer
Social Status 1
Perhaps the cleverest man Zheltarus, Fronkensteen is a keen student of microscopy.  He is popular with his soldiers who sympathise when he is, all too often, prostrated with severe dysentery.
Decisive - can always re-roll a failed Command check but if the re-roll fails it is automatically a blunder.

Murad the Vicious, Emir of Yesilkara
Social Status 4
Murad is perhaps the perfect eastern potentate; immensely strong, courageous, sharp-witted and loved by all his followers.  His only known weakness is almost terminal maladie imaginaire, which often keeps him confined to his gilded divan.

Harkan Bey, the Vizier
Social Status 3
With his flashing dark eyes and magnificent waxed moustaches, Harken Bey is loved by men and women alike.  With the Emir prostrate, the Vizier charges around Yesilkara keeping the an assortment of governors and tribal leaders in check.

Roustam Bey, Cavalry Commander
Social Status 3
Roustam is in his late eighties and, to be honest, barely has the strength to retain his seat on a horse and sometimes has to be reminded what day it is.  The Sipahis love him, though, for the many victories he has brought them over the years.
Senile - if he successfully gives an order that results in three moves he must reroll and abide by the second result.

Karim Bey, Commander of the Light Horse
Social Status 3
Karim rose to his current status as a result of his long service as a wrestling partner of both the Emir and the Vizier.  He is said to have felled a camel with a single punch.  Sadly his intelligence is closer to that of the camel than it is to his old friends'.
Aggressive - plus 1 to his Staff Rating if giving an order to charge.
Unimaginative - minus 1 to his Staff Rating if giving an order before the Commander in Chief of the army. If he ever blunders, the player rolls twice and chooses one to apply.

There's a few characters to start with.  More will follow later when I get them photographed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fantasy gamers review Black Powder

This is worth a look; one of the more unintentionally funny wargames videos on Youtube.

Two fantasy gamers talk about Black Powder.  "What factions do you get in the book then?"

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Home-made Mistral

My Spanish Marines for the forthcoming Cold War Commanders big game at Broughton need some Mistral SAMs and while I hopefully have some coming from some of the guys taking part, I thought I'd have a go a scratch building a couple.

Mistral is a French-built pedestal-launched system.  The stats are comparable with the American shoulder-launched Stinger and that's how I'm going to point it in CWC.

When launched it has a distinctive signature, kicking up dust from the initial launching charge before the white rocket plume starts to form.

Having previously built a rocket battery for my Ottoman Turks, I had an idea of how I could do a 1/300th scale Mistral.  A little Green Stuff, some wire, and some hamster bedding gave me this:

I think it'll do until something better comes along.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Action at San Serafino

Gus, Ron, and Leo came over today and we played our first game of Sharp Practice 2.  Gus and Ron played the British while Jamie and Leo were the French.

The scenario was based on one in the rulebook.  The British were to rescue a Royal Navy officer who had been captured by the French.  That this officer just happened to be the scion of an allied German royal family just added to the urgency.

The British entered from the bottom right edge of the picture below whilst the main French force, sent to interfere with the British plans, entered from the middle of the left-hand side.

The prisoner was in the white house at the bottom right corner of the town square.  He was guarded by a sergeant and eight fusiliers.

Because I'd positioned a building within six inches of the target building, the scenario deployment rules allowed Gus and Ron to position two units of 95th Rifles in the adjacent "gatehouse".  This was to prove decisive.

Jamie's main column of 36e Ligne fusiliers split, with one group heading to occupy the house in the picture below.  Unfortunately they were the victims of an error on my part.  A misapplication of the rules meant that they were rather more badly mauled by the Rifles than should have been the case.  Badly shocked they fell back behind the mule-train.

Meanwhile, a large force from the 20th Foot, led by Major Robert Helmsley, advanced towards San Serafino.

At this point the village (no the real one that I live in) was hit by a power cut!  We were playing in the available light of a rainy Saturday afternoon.  Suddenly it became easier to believe that we were in Galicia in January 1809!

Below we see Jamie's main column about to launch a close assault on the gatehouse (centre left).

While Helmsley's column edge closer....

As the power came back on in Storrs, the fisticuffs in San Serafino were disastrous for the French who fled towards the cover of the barn.

In the end, Helmsley managed to get the 20th Foot's light company into position to assault the target building whilst a groups of Lieutenant Pugin's Rifles threatened to attack it from another side.

Sergeant LeBrun's group left it too late to escape from the house and they elected to surrender and relinquish their prisoner when surrounded by British troops.

My initial impression is that Sharp Practice 2 is a significant improvement over its predecessor.  There's enough in there to tell me that when we've got a better handle on the rules, we could have some good games with it.

Jamie's view is that we've played Sharp Practice in one form or another several times and on each occasion one of the players has had their day ruined by having a large chunk of their force wiped out or badly hamstrung by unfortunate dice rolls or horrible runs of cards.

There's a lot in that view and I can understand Jamie being reluctant to try SP again because he was the victim on more than one occasion.  However, in the defence of the rules, part of the problem was in the way we tend to play.  Our games tend to involve several players on both sides and to some extent I've been giving our players too few units.  I should probably given Jamie and Leo at least another leader and maybe two more Groups of men.

We may try playing it without buildings next time as they did rather turn into strongpoints and to some extent made the game feel more like a WW2 action.

Friday, August 19, 2016

And he crosses the line...

These twelve Late roman legionaries (from the Gripping Beast Plastics boxed set) get me to 28 figures painted in my self-imposed timescale.

These guys continue my newly found conviction that "finished is good enough".  I don't pretend that they are great paint jobs; indeed a few years ago I'd have been very unsatisfied with them.  I'd also not have got close to finishing them in the time these have taken.  However, they are done and I'll be able to use them in my planned Lion Rampant Bacaudae campaign.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A surge towards victory?

As British athletes piled up an impressive horde of gold medals this Olympic weekend, I was pushing forward with my attempt to complete 26 figures in 26 days.

First up is this mounted knight.  He's combined from a couple of unidentified castings I found in my random box of spare figures.

Very broadly inspired by the Osprey book on the Baltic Crusades, I've gone for a vaguely Swedish colour scheme.  No basing yet as I'm not sure what this figure's ultimate role might be.

Next to be completed was this Numidian cavalryman.

The rider is one of a handful I picked up cheap on eBay.  The horse is left over from a pack of Foundry Plains Indians.  Again, not based yet apart from his bottle-top painting stand.  He may join a few of his fellows on a 120mm wide Impetus element base.

And finally for now, a unit of Late Roman skirmishers.

These are slightly modified from the Gripping Beast plastics set.  I wanted a bit of variation from the other archers I've painted so I chose a different base colour (Vallejo Khaki and white mixed) and I replaced the round patch decorations with square swastikas.  On some of the figures simply filled in the etched circular patch with Green Stuff, on other I attached a square panel of very thin Green Stuff to represent an appliqué cloth panel.

I've added a bit of variation to the unit by importing some non-standard heads.  I wanted the unit to look like a cosmopolitan bunch from across the Western Empire so I've used a couple of heads from GB's Dark Ages plastics and one metal Numidian head left over from the figure I converted into a mounted Bacaudae shepherd.

So sixteen down and ten left to do with another seventeen days left in August.  I'm in gold medal position on this one!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

A useful civilian?

This is a repaint of an old figure I've had sitting in undercoated form on my desk for months while I figured out which colours to use.  In the end I used US Olive Drab and a greyish blue.

He'll provide useful set dressing for Lion Rampant games.

This will be the last finished figure for a few days in my push to do 26 figures in the last 26 days of August.  I'm now working on a unit of six Late Roman skirmishers.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Another two down

The 26 figures in 26 days challenge continues.  First up this evening is this old true 25mm Napoleonic officer.

I've no idea which manufacturer he's by or even what nationality he was meant to be.  He came out of a large tin of mostly plastic bits I had from Tim Gow (and which I passed on to Richard Phillips).  I've tidied up an originally all white uniform and painted him as an Irish rebel officer.  He'll likely see action as part of a United Irishmen force for Sharp Practice 2.

Second up is this Basilisk:

This was a secondhand purchase and was painted when I got it.  I'm claiming it towards my total, though, as it needed some touching up and basing.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

5 down 21 to go

The first part of my personal challenge to get 26 figures painted in the last 26 days of August sees me get ahead of things by painting these five pulp sci-fi aliens:

They are from Artisan Designs and in a chunky, "heroic 28mm" scale.  I picked them up at least a couple of years ago at the Penkridge Wargames Sale and they've been awaiting completion ever since.

One of them has a different style of helmet so I've painted him with red sticky-up-shoulder-thingummies as the leader.

Not really sure what I'll do with them - they were something of an impulse buy.  I'll probably stat them up for Pulp Alley.  Perhaps they'll see action in some Doctor Who-ish context?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

26 Figures in 26 days?

As I've mentioned here before, for no particular reason my wargaming year begins on 1st September. I keep a log of what I've bought and what I've painted in an attempt to keep the lead pile in some sort of order.

This year, despite a horribly disordered painting table, I may just be within range of painting more than I've acquired in every category of model.

A horribly disordered painting table today

So far this year I've built and/or painted 38 buildings or terrain pieces (and bought 24 new ones), 27 various game markers (and bought none), 37 infantry, cavalry, vehicle or artillery units in 6mm  scale (19), seven 6mm scale aircraft (none), 74 20mm scale figures (14), 3 20mm scale guns (none), and 15 1/3000th scale ships (none).So I'm ahead of the game in all but one category.

This year I've bought 117 new 28mm figures but only painted 92 (including a few old 25mm chaps). So that's 26 figures to paint if I'm to have reduced the lead pile in all categories this year.  And 26 days to do it in!

I shall report back here as I progress with painting what will probably be a fairly incoherent mass of assorted figures.