Monday, 31 December 2018

Goodbye 2018, hello 2019!

Over the last year I've played a lot of games and painted an awful lot of figures. New rule sets include Sharp Practice, Chain of Command and Rommel all of which I have enjoyed greatly especially as they have involved playing new opponents at my club.

Gaming highlights of the year were probably the Sharp Practice competition at Britcon especially as I hardly play any competition games now and Gary's wonderful AWI campaign against Dave's British together with rediscovering the 25/28mm scale.

Going into 2019 I have the following projects on the go:
  • 28mm FoGR ECW Royalists/ Imperialists. I have most of the figures for this now but still need to paint two infantry regiments and two cavalry units minimum plus buy some suitable generals. This project has not made any progress for a while.
  • 28mm Peninsular British for Sharp Practice. The first group for these should be done soon and I have all the figures. They'd give me another option if I enter more competitions.
  • 28mm Blitzkreig Germans for CoC. Part of the 'Sealion' project I've bought enough infantry for a minimum sized force plus a Panzer II. A trial figure has been painted but that's all to date.
  • 15mm Early Napoleonic Prussians for Blucher. These are Essex figures, around 1/3 of the army is painted and I have the figures for another 1/3. These have not progressed in quite a while now which is a shame as the ones I have done look nice.
  • 28mm Woodland Indians for Sharp Practice. These are the remnants of the figures I bought to supplement my AWI armies when I first started playing Sharp Practice.
Potential new projects I've been considering:
  • 10mm Late War Germans for Rommel. Having finished the Americans it would be nice to have an opponent for them. I did have some 10mm Germans but in an unfortunate error of judgement sold them just before I started playing Rommel thinking I'd only be using 3mm armies! This will probably go ahead especially as they will be quick to paint.
  • Adding some new cavalry and perhaps some barbarian infantry to the refurbished 28mm Late Roman army.
  • An army for Dragon Rampant, several club mates play this and think they are decent rules, however I keep telling myself I do not need to start off a new ruleset and a new period!
  • A 28mm Confederate army. I have an old 25mm Hinchliffe Union ACW army which I never played a game with and which has been stuck in the loft for years. Against this idea is the fact that I have considerable Union and Confederate armies in 15mm already!
If previous experience is anything to go by it will be interesting and amusing to see how what I actually do next year compares to the plans above!

Friday, 28 December 2018

Refurbishing 28mm Late Romans

Among the numerous boxes of unpainted figures and box files of old veterans that had not seen the light of day for years I found when emptying our loft was a box file of 28mm Late Romans. Inspired by my recent game against Gordon with the Byzantines I thought I'd refurbish them.

The figures were mainly infantry manufactured by Garrison probably in the early 80's and were some of the newer figures Garrison produced at the time. I don't think they are available any more though 'The Eastern Garrison' blog seems to be run by the owner now. There were a few rather badly painted Hinchliffe cavalry as well which were not some of Hinchliffe's better figures so perhaps that's why they were badly painted!

The original paint job was based on information in the WRG 'Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome', published in 1981, which I still possess:

At the time this was pretty much the only source of information on the Late Roman army. It included several pages of Late Roman shield designs for numerous units which I distinctly remember colouring in (they were black and white with the colours in the text!) then figuring out which ones I was capable of painting:

As with the other ancient in more ways than one armies I've refurbished the army was actually in a reasonable condition. Many spears had been dropped but most of them were in the box. The original gloss varnish had yellowed considerably in some areas and the basing did not fit in with ADLG.

Some of the figures before refurbishment:

The first refurbished unit, Auxilia Palatina 'Iovii Seniores'.The original light blue shields had yellowed badly so I repainted them, matt varnished them and rebased for ADLG:

Another Auxila Palatina, this time the 'Batavi Seniores'. I seem to remember that they were one of my favourite units in the army. These were just varnished and rebased:

The first of the Legions, Legio Comitatensis 'Germaniciani Iuniores' and Legio Palatina 'Thebaei'. Again just varnished and rebased:

Two more Legions, Legio Palatina 'Octaviani' and Legio Comitatensis 'Septimani Seniores'. The Octaviani shields are still a little yellow but don't look too bad:

The last of the Legions, this time Legio Comitatensis 'Matiarii Iuniores' varnished and rebased:

Next up was the Hinchcliffe heavy cavalry. I don't think they were painted as a specific unit. Originally they had dark blue cloaks which made them look very dull and for some reason the varnish was very glossy making them distinctly unappealing. I painted the cloaks a lavender colour to brighten them up a bit, re-varnished them matt and rebased them. I think they look a lot better now though I'm still not that keen on the figures:

The final unit was a couple of bases of light cavalry. Rather like the heavy cavalry these had red cloaks with thick black lining and single colour tunics. For these I repainted the cloaks red with a dark red shade, highlighted the tunics in off-white and added some decoration in purple to match the Auxiliary infantry. After varnishing and basing I think they look okay now:

All the Legionary units were originally 12 figures strong so I have enough figures for two more Legionary bases though they would have mixed shields. It is tempting to add some better cavalry for the army and some cataphracts but 'as is' the army is usable now with some additions from the Byzantines and Huns.

All I need to do now is arrange a game for them!

ADLG-R Polish v Imperial Austrians

One of my club mates, Simon, has been developing a Renaissance version of the ADLG ancient rules so, rather than play Fog-R as we usually would, I thought we could give them a try.

As the pike and shot units are based differently for ADLG-R I thought I'd use Later Polish as they don't have any pike and shot units! Simon used Imperial Austrian, historically an ally but in this case they must have fallen out!

The terrain consisted of a waterway on my right flank and a few fields mainly on the right again. Both armies pretty much lined up across the table and, with the waterway and fields reducing the open space available, pretty much filled the table:

 The Polish right flank, Winged Hussars, Lithuanians and Cossacks:

The Polish centre, masses of Haiduk infantry armed with the fearsome (but fairly useless in FoG-R at least) two handed axe musket rest:

The Polish left flank: more Winged Hussars and Cossacks:

Both armies advance with the Poles starting to take some hits from the Austrian artillery and light troops:

The two infantry lines open fire. The Poles have a slight advantage in numbers:

Following an exchange of fire the Polish Infantry charge home hoping their axes will give them an advantage:

The Polish charge is ferocious! One Austrian unit is eliminated and the others take heavy losses:

On the left the Poles have mainly rallied though one Cossack has had to be committed to an uneven fight against an Austrian Kuirassier:

On the right the two sides continue to skirmish ineffectively:

 In the centre the Polish Infantry have now wiped out the Austrian centre and are now advancing to exploit their breakthrough:

On the left the Austrian Kurassiers charge home against the Winged Hussars but the initial combat goes badly for them:

 On the right the Hussars have charged themselves and swept away the Austrian cavalry facing them:

There is only one Austrian infantry unit remaining now and it is being attacked from all sides:

On the left the situation is just as bad for the Austrians with their remaining cavalry being overwhelmed giving the Poles a clear victory:

It was interesting to try out this version of ADLG, while it is still in development Simon has produced a set of amendments which work in a similar way to ADLG but have some Renaissance flavour to them.

As ever with ADLG I find the armies very small giving me the feeling that I am basically playing a slightly larger version of DBA (which is in fact the attraction for many players as you don't need to buy and paint nearly so many figures).

I think it will be hard to include a lot of the subtle differences of FoG-R into ADLG-R such as the differences between the various ratios of pike and shot in units with their advantages and disadvantages which was one thing I think FoG-R did really well.

Unlike in FoG-R in this game the axes of the Polish infantry gave them a significant advantage in combat against Simon's pike and shot causing them to win tied combats and inflict an extra damage point in melee which partly resulted in the implosion of the Austrian foot to occur so quickly in our game (together with my better dice rolls I think). They are however very vulnerable to cavalry as they have no pikes but Simon didn't manage to get any cavalry into the Polish infantry.

I also thought the Austrian artillery was quite ineffective, as you start so close together in ADLG-R they don't get many shots off before the lines close and you either have to risk them being run down or cover them with other troops. I'm not sure if Simon has included the FoG-R concept of supporting the guns as I didn't read the rules before we played!

All in all good fun and I'd be happy to play again occasionally.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

British Pill Boxes for CoC

Another of my (many) ongoing projects is to collect scenery and some Early War Germans so I can play some Operation Sealion games with CoC.

I saw Sarissa Productions had some nice looking British Pill Boxes and, after my recent experience with the BEF against the Germans decided that the British defence budget would stretch to a pack of these!

The pack contains two concrete boxes and one brick one:

They were very easy to make and painted up well I think. Together with the Post Box and Telephone Box I did earlier they should contribute to a British look for the Sealion games.

Sharp Practice Austrian Grenzers

I wanted a few British Napoleonic officers and sergeants from Front Rank and thought I might as well order a few Grenzers for my Austrians at the same time!

The service from Front Rank is really amazing so two days after I placed the order I received the figures and quickly had them undercoated. I've now got back into the habit of painting 28mm figures so they didn't take long to paint at all:

They are painted as the 'Warasdiner-St.George' regiment as I thought the brown coats would make a change from the white of the line infantry. They are probably better value than the very expensive Jaegers in SP so next time I do a Front Rank order I might add another group. Some Grenadiers would also be nice...…..

Friday, 21 December 2018

ADLG Justinian Byzantine v Han Chinese

Another outing for a 25mm army in ADLG, this week against Gordon's Han Chinese. Not having an historical opponent for Han I decided to use the oldest army I still possess, a huge Byzantine army which was first painted in the late 70's when I was at school!

The figures are all Hinchliffe and are, somewhat surprisingly, still available today. In their day they were some of the best figures available (having said that the only alternate choice then really was Minifigs or Garrison!) and the army is still in pretty good condition considering it's age. 

I sprayed fresh mat varnish on the figures and rebased them a while ago so they were all set to go for ADLG.

The C-in-C, in this case representing Belisarius the Strategist, must have fought many battles in the good old days of the WRG 5th and 6th Edition Ancient rules:

I went for an army with quite a few infantry supported by some tough cavalry and light horse. The table ended up empty on the left flank and centre with some fields and a plantation on the right. The Byzantines won the initiative and decided to attack.

First out for the Byzantines was a command of mixed Skutatoi and Archers under the command of the somewhat slippery 'Armenian' John. They deployed on the right opposite the small plantation:

Opposing them was a large Chinese command of heavy halberdiers, mixed crossbowmen, convicts and javelin men:

Belisarius himself deployed in the centre with more Skuatoi and Archers together with his Boukelari and other cavalry. He also had some Moorish light cavalry skirmishers:

On the left flank Boutzes deployed next to Belisarius' force with a similar mix of Boukelari, cavalry and in this case Huns:

The Chinese had another large  infantry command very similar to the first in the centre:

The final Chinese command was mixed light horse and cavalry with a couple of heavy chariots, The quality of this command was much lower than the Byzantines opposite but the two chariots would be dangerous opponents especially as they were elite:

The Byzantine plan was a simple one, to dash forward on the left and in the centre with the Byzantine cavalry and overwhelm their Chinese opponents before the rest of the Chinese army could destroy the Byzantine foot. One Moorish light horse was despatched to delay the Chinese right flank while Belisarius and Boutzes advanced. Armenian John split his force with half supporting Belisarius' foot and the other half hanging back:

The Byzantines forced back the Chinese light horse as they pushed forward. The Byzantine reserve cavalry are moving up in support while the Skutatoi and Archers nervously observe the Chinese infantry line!

The view from the Chinese lines of the advancing Byzantine cavalry:

The Byzantine cavalry drive back the Chinese horse leaving the chariots and convicts slightly exposed:

On the Byzantine left the Chinese flood forward but are still delayed by the heroic Moorish light horse who hold on to their advanced position:

Combats are now occurring all over the left flank and centre with the Chinese mounted wing starting to suffer casualties. However, the Byzantine infantry is heavily outnumbered and won't be able to avoid contact for long:

On the Byzantine right the valiant Moorish light horse have been dispersed and the Chinese infantry are closing in on Armenian John's force:

The cavalry battle rages on. The Chinese chariots have been outflanked and much of the Chinese cavalry dispersed. The Byzantine infantry though are coming under increased pressure as they are forced to advance to support the cavalry:

Much of the Byzantine infantry is now in combat against the generally better equipped and motivated Chinese. They are starting to take some losses:

Gaps begin to appear in the Byzantine lines:

Meanwhile the Byzantine cavalry continue to mop up the remnants of the Chinese mounted wing:

With both armies teetering on the brink of defeat Armenian John leads his Skoutatoi against a Chinese mixed swordsmen and bow unit. The odds are even but the outcome does not reflect this as Armenian John and his Skoutatoi are cut down to win the battle for the Chinese!

For quite a while it looked like the Byzantines would win this one. The Chinese army itself was close to breaking but had held on well as had a couple of mounted units which delayed the Byzantine cavalry from exploiting their success quickly enough so that, in the end, the quality of the Chinese infantry paid off.

After many years of not really playing 25mm games I've greatly enjoyed returning to this scale and getting my older armies on the table again!

Friday, 14 December 2018

Chain of Command BEF v German

Another outing for the BEF, this time using a Regulation 1940 Platoon against Dave's 7th Panzer Division Schutzen.

We played the 'Swift to Support' scenario from the 1940 Blitzkrieg book with the British defending. I had 23 points of support and, looking at Dave's list which has 2 LMG's per squad, I decided to go for maximum field defences (barbed wire and minefields) plus a pre-game barrage, an extra section, a Matilda and a Bren Carrier. The objective for the Germans is to capture three of the four British jump off points while the British reinforcements are delayed in arriving.

The table had a road running from one end to the other with a village and orchard along the road and some fields. This was the view from the British side:

The British deployed their defences blocking off some of the table and awaited the German attack. First to appear was a Panzer II and some German infantry. The British 2" mortar started to lay down smoke:

 In response to the German advance No. 3 Section deployed behind a building on the side road:

Another Panzer II appeared and the German infantry advanced. Meanwhile the first Panzer II advanced through the smoke:

The advancing German infantry made it to the edge of the field while the first Panzer II continued to advance:
On the left flank the German's had deployed another squad which made a dash towards one of the buildings with a British jump-off point in it but didn't quite make it to the building. No. 2 section deployed into the building to fight off the German attack. The resulting combat ended with 7 men down on either side and the German survivors falling back:

 The British survivors hold on but start to take HE fire from the Panzer II:

As No.2 section was so depleted the British deployed No. 1 section on the upper floor above them with two objectives, to finish off the retreating German squad and take a shot with a Boy's AT rifle at the Panzer II. The firing at the German squad was ineffective but the AT rifle hit home forcing the Panzer II to retreat a little:

The Germans deployed another squad to attack the building held by No's 1 and 2 squads. The resulting fight led to both No.1 and the German squad being largely wiped out again! There was still no sign of the British reinforcements:

The two Panzer II's were now blasting the survivors of No 1 and 2 squads in the building with HE causing them both to break. Both sides only had one effective infantry group left but the British had suffered more force morale drops and were approaching defeat:

At last the first of the British reinforcements arrived in the form of the Matilda! It took a shot at a Panzer II but missed. The Germans then deployed a third tank, a Panzer III this time, which fired at the Matilda. Against all the odds the shot struck home and destroyed the Matilda!

 The victorious Panzer III:

With this loss the British force morale was reduced to two and with no prospect of survival they decided to withdraw.

Dave selected a very effective army, two LMG per squad gave his infantry huge firepower so even when he 'charged' the British sections in the building behind cover the odds were still even. The Panzer II's HE fire is also extremely effective against infantry.

Added to the extra 'red dice' the Germans get the odds seem very much stacked against the British as they fire much worse, have less ability to activate and don't have any effective HE support from their tanks. Given that, similar to other TFL rules sets, there is no time limit on the attackers the British can't even hope to hold out long enough to win.

This may of course reflect history and it is easy to see how the Brits would become demoralised. Perhaps next time I can persuade Dave to use a less effective army list...….