Thursday, 23 April 2020

Black Sea's Spanish 'Monarca'

The final Spanish 'Third Rate of Renown' the 'Monarca' has joined the fleet. The 'Monarca' was commissioned in 1794 at Bilbao, fought at Trafalgar under Captain Teodoro de Argumosa y Bourke being captured by the British and subsequently sinking in the storm following the battle.

I went for a slightly different colour scheme this time, black and a more brownish red than usual. The model after rigging but before adding the sails and ratlines:

The finished ship:

The entire Spanish Fleet on the table:

I now have one First Rate, six Third Rates, three Frigates, four Brigs and two Merchantmen. I'm not sure that anyone at the club has any ships bigger than a Frigate so it is hard to see how the bigger ships will see any action.

I have really enjoyed making them though, the kits are great and go together well even with my limited modelling skills. I've got the hang of the rigging now which isn't too hard at all leaving only attaching the sails (being thick card they have no 'give' and the rigging gets in the way) and the ratlines as the hardest part of making them. If I was starting again I'd seriously think about cutting the sails out of cloth instead of using the paper ones.

There does not seem any point adding more ships to the Fleet now (though I have thought that several times before and it didn't stop me) so the next choice is to either stop the project as it is or bite the bullet and buy the Royal Navy Fleet box to give them some opposition. The Fleet box is actually pretty good value from Wayland Games at around £60 which gets you HMS Victory, the three '3rd Rates of Renown', three named Frigates and six Brigs. I suspect at some stage I will invest in one.....

Dead Man's Hand Cowboy Gang

I used to play quite a bit of 'Dead Man's Hand' but have not played for years. It was one of my first returns to using 28 mm figures after many years only painting 15 mm figures and I found it quite hard to adjust to painting the larger figures at first.

One of the gangs I painted was the 'Cowboy' gang from Great Escape. My paint job looked quite poor so I tried dipping them with Army Painter Quickshade which improved them a little but not much (Quickshade is something else I never managed to get the hang of really) so they were useable but I was not at all happy with them:

As I've been thinking DMH would be a nice solo game in this lock down time I thought I'd have a look at repainting them. An initial inspection showed that either there was not much detail on the figures in the first place or the detail they had was obscured by layers of paint, quickshade and varnish. Being unwilling to strip the paint from them I decided to paint over the old paint job as it couldn't really make it worse!

An afternoon's work later and they now look like this:

It is defiantly an improvement, painting all the neckerchiefs and chaps in the same colour gives them more of a theme I think. They still don't look quite right to me, I think perhaps as they look too clean and tidy! I've got some 'Desperado's' to do as well as they also look quite poor, the rest of the collection is not so bad as I got better at painting them.

Sunday, 19 April 2020


I played my third solo game of TMOCB yesterday using the newly finished Esci Americans against the VC in a repeat of the first game and hoping to have learned some lessons for the Americans after their disastrous defeats in the first two games.

The peaceful Vietnamese countryside before the action started:

The USMC arrive! The Platoon Leader, 1st and 2nd Squads are in supporting distance of each other rather than spread out as previously:

Two VC leaders try to gain recruits for the cause:

The first only manages to recruit a single base, most of the villagers must have fled:

The second does better and recruits 4 extra bases:

Sgt Rambo of the 1st Squad interrogates a villager with no success, either he knows nothing or isn't talking:

The two initial VC leaders start to advance their forces:

A third VC leader moves into some jungle:

Rambo uses extra motivation to make the peasant talk:

The information he gains allows the discovery of a cache of food which the squad destroys:

The US forces start to advance supported by a pair of M113's:

The 2nd US squad is assaulted by a large group of VC emerging from a bamboo forest:

The assault is bloody with 3 VC and 2 US bases down and a further 2 VC bases knocked out as the VC retire:

More VC move up:

The US Platoon Commander finds another cache of food and destroys it:

The Platoon Leader then calls down an artillery strike on a village teeming with VC. IT takes out two VC bases and an unfortunate collateral damaged peasant:

Co-operating much better than in previous games Rambo then leads a follow up assault on the VC after the barrage and wipes them out!:

The M113's and the 2nd Squad attempt to finish off the VC that assaulted from the bamboo:

The 3rd USMC squad arrives and immediately engages some VC:

The VC have taken a lot of casualties, the Americans have taken few and seem to have the upper hand:

Rambo reprises his interrogation technique on a woman and child. They give nothing away:

None the less Rambo's men manage to find more food supplies and destroy them:

The M113's finish off the remains of the VC squad they were facing:

They start to target more VC in a village:

The US 2nd and 3rd Squads face a single VC group. The VC concentrate on the 3rd US Squad which is now down to just two bases:

The US Platoon Leader calls down another artillery strike on a VC held village. One VC base is taken out but disastrously FOUR peasants are killed, the media will be outraged and the VC will be able to use the massacre for propaganda purposes:

The VC losses are mounting (the red counters) but they are preventing the Americans searching any more villages and slowly causing casualties to the Americans:

A desperate assault by the VC wipes out the US 3rd Squad:

The battle is over and both sides consider their losses and gains:

This time things appeared to be going well for the USMC for quite a while. The Platoon Leader managed to survive the battle, there was some evidence of combined tactics and keeping most of the US force together certainly helped though the 3rd Squad deployed isolated and paid the price again.

Looking at the victory points though again the Communists had a clear victory. Communist VP were 25 for turning up, 14 for 7 village squares not searched, 15 for 5 US bases lost, 9 for media outrage over peasant deaths and 4 for destroying the 3rd Squad giving them 67 VP. US VP were 10 for Communist bases lost, 8 for two Communist units destroyed and 27 for three low value caches destroyed giving them 45 VP and a difference of 22 to the Communists.

So a better result for the USMC though still a heavy defeat really. As in reality the problem seems to be that if the US spread their forces out to maximise searching the villages they are very vulnerable to being overwhelmed while if they concentrate they can inflict heavier losses on the VC (but they don't really care about that) at the expense of finding it very hard to search much.

More thought is required, perhaps the support options could be better (but I like the M113's) and I think it is even possible that using a raw US force (which gets two whole platoons) might be a better option. I could also try using a veteran US force but with even fewer numbers I'm not sure how that would work. I am still enjoying the games though which is good but unless I can come up with some way for the US to do better I'm not sure it will be that popular as a two player game!

Saturday, 18 April 2020

Black Sea's Spanish 3rd Rates of Renown

Two more additions to the Spanish fleet for Black Sea's, This time from the 'Spanish 3rd Rates of Renown' set. The set consists of three of the basic plastic 3rd Rate ships plus some cast metal figureheads and stern sections to make the 'Argonauta', the 'San Justo' and the 'Monarca' all of which were present at Trafalgar.

The kit also includes a special 'Spanish' metal upper deck but I couldn't get it to fit properly so, as it was little different to the plastic upper deck, I didn't bother using it.

The first to be finished was the 'Argonauta', an 80 gun ship built at Ferrol and launched in 1798. She fought against the British Ferrol expedition in 1800, at the battle of Cape Finisterre in July 1805 and finally at Trafalgar under Captain Antonio Pareja where she was captured by HMS Polyphemus, later sinking in the storm after the battle:

The metal figurehead of a bull:

The stern with the ship's name engraved:

The second ship is the 'San Justo, launched in 1779. She participated in a number of actions including the Battle of Cape St Vincent, the siege of Gibraltar and Trafalgar under Captain Miguel Gaston de Iriarte.

The San Justo survived Trafalgar and was eventually broken up at Cartagena in 1828. Interestingly there is a model of the ship in the National Maritime Museum which has a black and white colour scheme. I painted my version of the ship in a red/black combination:

Again the stern has the ship's name engraved:

That just leaves the 'Monarca' to complete to finish the set.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

TMOCB US Elite Forces

Having decided that firstly I was quite enjoying playing TMOCB and secondly I didn't much like the Pegasus USMC figures I'd painted I ordered a box of Esci 'US Elite Forces' from Amazon.

As can be seen from the Plastic Soldier Review site (the source of all my info on plastic figures!) the figures are slightly more 'Hollywood' than the Pegasus ones, something I personally don't have an issue with. This time I put a bit more effort into painting them as well, highlighting the figures rather than using the black wash method I'd used on the Pegasus ones and the Vietnamese.

The first squad emerges from the jungle:

The second squad moves up to a paddy field:

Squad three examines a village hut:

The command figures (or at least the ones I will use as commanders). Why the guy with the sniper rifle is also carrying a radio is hard to understand, I will use him as the Platoon Commander anyway:

A comparison between the Pegasus figures (left) and Esci ones (right):

Who is this meant to be? Could it be a certain Rambo portrayed by Sylvester Stallone using his full range of acting abilities?!:

I also added another M113, this time the ACAV version. This came ready made and painted from Easy Models for a remarkably cheap £8.99 which is less than a normal kit costs I think. As I dislike making kits it is ideal for me. Some weathering would probably improve it but it is very useable as it is:

I did like the Pegasus figures, they are probably more accurately scaled than the Esci ones but this makes the weaponry very delicate and is not helped by the very soft plastic they are made of. Their poses are great though and it is a shame they didn't come out that well. I think I will try varnishing them again to try to remove the slightly glossy 'sticky varnish' issue and see if that improves them.

Great War French

Having finished the refurbishment and recruitment to the 28 mm Renegade 1914 Germans I moved on to their French opponents.

I already had enough infantry (though some needed painting) and just needed to add an artillery piece and an MMG which I bought from Great War Miniatures.

The officers and a couple of extra infantrymen:

A group of ten infantry:

The second group of ten infantry:

The third group of ten infantry:

The M1897 75 mm Field Gun and crew (from Great War Miniatures):

The two MMG, one Renegade and one Great War:

This picture shows the huge difference in size between the manufacturers:

As with the Germans I think the additions blend in okay with the original ones. I should probably have done something about the eyes, I really can't paint eyes and they all look permanently surprised! Even more so than the Germans the Renegade figures are huge, the Great War ones are not small but look small in comparison!

But for the current lock down I'd have tried to arrange a game for them but as it is I think it will be a while before they see any action.