Monday, April 30, 2012

Yankee ACW Cavalry Project - WIP

It's currently 10:20pm UK time and at midnight over there Build 2 of the Guild Wargamers year long Project is done.

In my last post, I said I would try and get my Yankee cavalry project, a unit of mounted and dismounted 28mm cavalry, finished before this deadline. That ain't going to happen now. I spent a good part of the small hours of this morning and much of my day off cracking on with them, but there is just too much to finish and I don't want to rush the job and compromise the quality. So, I'm downing brushes for the day, and thought I'd show you how far I got.

The almost-finished unit on my table at 22:00hrs UK time today:

Elements of the mounted command group. For some reason, I had already glued some figures to the horses before I started, why I'm not sure. The officer and bugler are Perry, the smaller mounted chap is an ancient RAFM figure I've had for years.

Perry horses waiting for their riders. Much easier to paint them when the rider is separate

"A horse, a horse! Get me a horse! It's bloody uncomforable up here!" Perry riders wait for their horses. Easier to paint the riders this way, too, but it took blooming forver to glue them to these nails. Hope I can get them off now!

A not so great shot of the Foundry dismounts milling about. They are a few days behind their mounted brethern.

Hopefully I can get back to these guys by week's end and declare them finished. I think I've been pushing my luck staying so close to the painting bench, the lawn and garden is in awful shape and Mrs. Padre is now muttering darkly under her breath about hiring a groundskeeper.

Cheers, Mike

Saturday, April 28, 2012

On The Painting Bench

This weekend is mostly dedicated to cracking on with these mounted and dismounted Yankees and getting them finished.

I've needed some US cavalry for my ACW collection for some time, and particularly for my ongoing email campaign. The mounted figures are mostly Perry, with a three ancient RAFMs, and the foot figures are Foundry. The Foundry figures are especially nice, and I have some lovely GMB flags to adorn them when they're done. The impetus for getting them done is the April 30 midnight (UK time) deadline provided by the Guildwargamers website for its year long Build project,which has helped me decide to focus this painting year primarily on the ACW. I'll report progress Sunday, and hopefully Monday have some finished figures to show off here. Wish me luck.

Speaking of the ACW, here are some 1/600 scale ships in progress:

These two ships represent the Confederate navy for the above mentioned ACW email campaign I am running - the ironclad is the fictional CSS Joshua and the cottonclad is the CSS Maccabbee. They are both from Throughbred Miniatures, and I can't say enough good things about Toby Barrett, his models, and his customer service. As soon as these two get done, I have the Union fleet to work on for the campaign.

It's not all ACW, however. Here are some 20mm WW2 late war British/Commonwealth figures I bought from TQD Castings.

These figures will be useful for skirmish gaming, and will stay individually based.

More TQD stuff in progress. I placed an order with TQD when I discovered they made a Padre figure, who you can see here on the right. The officer in the middle will represent Lt. Denis Audet, the callow French Canadian whose Normandy adventures are chronicled on this blog. The fellow on the left seems to be a motorcycle dispatch rider who is doing temporary duty as a traffic cop.

Finally, I mentioned the Guildwargamers site, and last week I noticed that they have an eight week challenge to make some buildings. I have had these two kits for a year or more, and haven't really come to grips with them because they are rather Italian - definitely would be out of place in Normandy. But now that there's a challenge, I think I'll jolly well build them and use them for something.

Any ideas what to use them for?

Finally, I am both pleased that I discovered how to do manual paragraph breaks in html and annoyed that the new version of Blogger requires me to do it. Perhaps its the older version of Vista I am running, since I am getting an odd message when I load the Blogger composer. Can't say I'm impressed with the new look of the Blogger back end, but it is free, so I'll live with it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It's Hugh Jarce!

When I ordered one of the first five hundred copies of the Third Edition of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum!, the flagship rules set of Too Fat Lardies, Richard Clarke did a jolly decent thing for his customers. He threw in a specially cast 28mm figure, designed by Dick Ansell, of the TFL mascot, Hugh Jarce. Hugh Jarce is a lantern jawed, two fisted, gallant British officer. He adorns the pages of another Lardies WW2 rules set, Troops, Weapons and Tactics, where he dispenses advice to readers and, occasionally, shows that he has a decidedly unique private life. Let's just say that he has is obviously devoted to the ouevre of Carmen Miranda.
I have no other 28mm WW2 figures in my collection, and had no plans of acquiring any, despite the tempting offerings from Warlord/Bolt Action, Westwind, and other manufacturers. For Hugh, I could make an exception, and had great fun painting him. From what I could see of the figure, it looked like he was wearing a shirt, and had removed his battledress blouse, so I painted him as such.
I really must learn to get sharper macro images.
So Hugh is finished and sits on the mantle, and I have more WW2 figures from my usual scales, 20 and 15mm, to keep me busy.
However, I did glean a tidbit tonight in the mess. Pardon me while I splash some more whiskey in this tumbler, and I'll tell you. You see, a chap who knows the S01/G1 told me during a rubber of bridge that he had heard that Hugh was posted to a new unit, just being stood up, all very hush hush. Something to do with SOE, possibly, but my friend heard that Hugh had been requested specifically by Major Terntadust, the padre fellow who made a name for himself before the war with that horrible Alastair Crowley business, the one that was in all the papers. Seems that my bridge partner had heard from an IntO friend of his that Whitehall was all abuzz about something that Lord Lovatt had cottoned on to during one of his raids, something Jerry was cooking up on the spook side. So, if you ask me, we haven't heard the last of young Captain Jarce. But mum's the word, old fellow, what? Loose lips and sinking ships, you know.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Boardgame Night: High Frontier

Last Thursday the guys at the local boardgame club wanted to play High Frontier, a space exploration game by Sierra Madre, a European publisher of educational and family games. In High Frontier, each player heads a near future consortium trying to develop spaceships to explore Earth's solar system. I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to play High Frontier, but it probably doesn't hurt. I confess, the game fairly quickly made me head hurt. In building a spaceship, players need to acquire various technologies, such as thrust, power plant, coolant, and guidance systems, choosing from various types. Each component has a tradeoff, whether in power or weight, and the heavier the spaceship, the more it costs to go anywhere. Once you put a bunch of bits and pieces into low Earth orbit, you bolt it all together, and then try to go somewhere. If your brain isn't taxed by building your spaceship, it will probably be taxed once you look at the map and try to plan your route:
I only had a finite amount of time, since I had to go to a late night hockey game. I stayed long enough to throw some bits and pieces together and blast off, with the cry "I'm a goin' to Mars!" Once I got out of Earth orbit, I went through a radiation built and something important failed its rad safety roll. Then I went through some sort of gravity braking zone and failed another roll, and my ship kinda fell apart. "Houston we have a problem". Well, as I said, I'm not a rocket scientist, but this game made my head hurt. The hockey game later made me hurt too, but it was more fun. I can see how this would be a great game to teach people how complicated and challenging space exploration will be, and for a certain kind of player, this could be a fun game, but I, alas, am not one of them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thirty Seconds, Seventy Years

The Grog News website reminds us that today is the 70th anniversary of the Doolittle Raid, the USA's first real chance to hit back at Japan in the Pacific War.

If you are, like me, fond of doing the odd bit of painting while watching an old war film, this would be a good evening to watch Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, with Spencer Tracy as Doolittle. That's my plan at any rate.

I totally agree with this chap, who rates Tracy's performance as being streets ahead of Alec Baldwin's in the 2001 film Pearl Harbour.

Fun fact department: between the wars, Doolittle earned an MA and PhD in aernoautics from MIT, and in WW2 was the only reservist to hold a numbered air force command. How cool is that?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bailey's Crossroads: An ACW Skirmish Report

(I totally love the retro Technicolor feature in Google Picasa.)

This Friday last we played another ACW skirmish at the Mad Padre's gaming chapel. My friend Ryan came over and since he knew the rules (Terrible Sharp Sword from Too Fat Lardies) from a previous game, I was able to actually play rather than referee and teach. We carried using Chris Stoesen's excellent early war scenario book, The Coming Thunder, using Scenario 2, Bailey's Crossroads, August 28-30, 1861.

In modeling this engagement, Chris only had Union sources to work with, so we know that the Union forces were a detachment from the 2nd Michigan, serving in Virginia, and defending a locale known as Bailey's Crossroads, in Fairfax County, near Arlington. The rebel forces, from an unknown regiment established on nearby Munson's Hill, challenged the Michigan men over a period of three days, but could not disloge them.

This scenario gives the Rebel player a stiff job of work and not a lot of time to do it in. Six groups of eight men from an unknown regiment , with three Big Men (leaders in TFL parlance), must push forward and deal with two Union groups of eight men each before their reinforcements can come up and strengthen the picket line.

The table, with my rebs advancing from the right hand side. You will notice from all the timber lying about that I still haven't made any more rail fences since my last ACW skirmish game.

View of the Union side of the table. Ryan has wisely positioned his blinds up against the split rail fence and concentrated them. Which of those blinds are actually his pickets?

Crossing all that open space, my right most element, a formation of two groups under a Level 1 Big Man, are automatically spotted, but I roll a 12 on 2d6 and spot one of Ryan's picket groups, eight men under Lt. Dillman, a Lvl 2 BM.

"Wolverines, make ready!" Lt. Dillman orders his men to shoot as soon as they see the Yankees. This was a wise move on Ryan's part, as it put the Reinforcements card in the deck, giving him 40 men and two leaders to look forward to.

By the time the picture above was taken, my attack had fully developed. On my left, I had my other four groups organized in two formations of sixteen men, each commanded by one of my remaining Big Men. My plan was to advance as quickly as possible, not stopping to drag it out in a firefight, but to try to get over the fence as quickly as possible.

In true TFL fashion, I did not get the cards I needed to keep my three formations advancing in concert. Those that never moved in a turn I fired on the Sasparilla card, and managed to drop the Lieutenant commanding Ryan's second group. In the confusion we had an amusing random event, as some panicked livestock broke out of the barn and wandered about the battlefield. That horse with the rather Norman saddle in the above picture, the one by the fence with the GW directional dice, is standing in for the livestock. We moved them at the end of each turn, each time with the chance that they would disrupt a formation, but the animals were wary beasts and kept out of the way. Also in the above picture you can see that Ryan was lucky with his reinforcement card, and they are pressing forward through the cornfields towards the sounds of the guns.

At this point in the game we were joined by Ryan's boss, the Mad Major, who drove the reinforcements forward in fine and aggressive style.

By the time the above picture was taken, things had gone poorly for me. I had launched one of my two right hand formations at the fence, tangliing with some 20+ fresh Yanks that Ryan had rushed up while pulling his leaderless pickets back. My boys got over the fence and tangled with bayonet and clubbed muskets, but despite my superior troop quality and better leader, we were pushed back. On right, my formation there had also charged the fence and pushed back Capt. Dillman's skirmishers, only to be body slammed by the Union reserves. Moments after the above picture was taken, my senior leader was unceremoniously shot off his horse, thus ending my hopes of recovering from the shock I had accumulated in my unsuccessful charge, and was continuing to take in musketry from the fenceline.

Here Capt. Judd, commanding the Union reserves, waves his hat in the air and leads his men in manly cheers as the Confederates withdraw.

With this result, we invoked the final line of Chris's report on the actual fight: "The Confederates returned to their lines and the skirmish was effectively over". I had taken more casualties in the game than the rebs did historically (Chris describes the fight as "ineffectual with little casualties on either side".

Despite the challenges the Rebs face in this scenario, they have a decent chance of doing well. If the Union player is not allowed to open fire right away, the CSA might have a chance of maneuvering around the US flank, using the cornfields at the centre bottom of the table, and not coming of blinds or being spotted until they are in a position to do some damage. In looking at the above pictures, I am surprised I didn't try to flank Ryan rather than coming at him head on like a good Southern warrior. I continue to be impressed with Chris' scenarios and am glad I bought The Coming Thuder.

Both Ryan and the Mad Major (himself a veteran of boardgames as well as of places like Bosnia and Afghanistan) both liked the TSS rules and we will likely play again, this time adding some artillery and perhaps cavalry, methinks, although they were both interested in my WW2 kit.

Bailey's Crossroads as it apparently looks today. As an aside, last week I put my name in to do a Canadian Forces sponsored MA in Peace and Conflict Studies starting fall 2013, and of the four places I might be able to study at, one is George Mason University in Arlington, so who knows, I may be able to visit Bailey's Crossroads myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Guild Flak Build

Back in February I posted here that I had discovered an old Airfix kit that I intended to complete and enter in the Flak Build competition on the Guild Wargamers site. Thomas the Mad Penguin, who follows this blog, also submitted a cracking entry to the Guild Build.

I am happy to report that this:

has become this:

It's been over a year since I tackled a plastic model kit. After reacquainting myself with that particular joy, I can see why people spend good money on resin kits. Not that trying to cut tiny bits of plastic, badly moulded in China, and assembling them with strings of plastic glue going everywhere like Shelob's web isn't brilliant fun, mind you, but it's less and less my cup of tea.

I wasn't intending to assemble the model in the limbered position. I was watching something on telly while cutting and gluing, and that is always dangerous.

I kind of ran amok with the rust, thanks to a Tamiya weathering kit. I've been walking around the base all week, studying rust patterns on vehicles.

The Allied air recognition star and the 3rd Canadian Div markings are from Dom's Decals. They are intended for 15mm models but they work ok for 20mm, methinks. The piece of stowage on the back of the vehicle is from a RAFM pack of 20mm boxes and stowage items I snagged at Hot Lead last month.

The two crew figures are from AB Figures - first rate stuff. I had them in my bits box and wanted to give the model an extra touch. As someone on the Guild kindly commented, the model has the look of troops waiting for the order for a convoy to resume. The faces in this photo are too dark for my liking. I am working on a three colour face painting process using a lot of glazing, and I hadn't managed the lightest shade yet when this was taken.

The face on the standing guy, seen on the right, is a little better here, after the last coat. Could use some eyes, methinks.

I know I haven't got a chance in heck of making the top four of forty plus entries in the Guild Build and I'm fine with that. It's very stiff competition and I find this sort of thing useful as a way to challenge my painting game and see if I can find ways of improving, and that's what it's all about, really.

Now, what will I do with this model, now that I've made it???

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Really Happened at 1st Manassas

Someone sent me this a week ago, and it still cracks me up. You may have to google Leroy Jenkins to get the full joke, but I warrant you'll enjoy that too. Every wargamer knows a Leroy Jenkins.

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