Monday, January 28, 2013

Analogue Hobbies Entry #4: 20mm WW2 German Infantry

I managed to knock off another goal for the Analogue Painting Challenge by getting this batch of Germans done. Yes, they are SS (I can hear young Kinch getting ready to go Boo, Hss!) and yes, I am ambivalent about painting bad guys, but they will give my Canadians someone to shoot at, and I am already thinking we are due for another batrep about your Denis Audet.

This set (WS02 10 MAN INFANTRY SQUAD IN CAMMO SMOCK/HELMET COVER)of 10 figures are from TQD Castings, which I gather is an imprint of CP Models from the UK.

I have to say that I like these figures, but TQD/CP's sculpts are a bit of an acquired taste. Sometimes the bodies seem just a little off to me, heads a little smaller than they should be or bodies a bit distored. The chap lunging with the bayonet is an example, as is the slightly overlong pointing arm on the squad leader. However, these figures grow on you. The sculptor certainly knows German kit, and the attention to detail in terms of webbing, gear and weapons is first rate. A good example are the MP40 machine pistols some of these figures are holding - they all look right in proportion to the bodies.

These chaps are my first real attempt to do a proper late war Peadot style of German camo as was often seen in the Normandy campaign. The paints used for the camo are all Vallejo, and I studied many examples and tutorials posted by the knowedgeable chaps on The Guild. I leave it to you to decide if I got it right, and if I didn't, please tell me! I promise I won't sulk.

Also part of my Analogue Hobbies entry are five German casualty figures from AB Figures(WH11 Dead Germans 6 figs - I painted one previously) that have been sitting in my lead mountain for a few years, while I worked up the nerve to take on German camo. I know fellows who feel that spending perfectly good money and precious time on casualty figures for wargaming is a waste. I respect that point of view, but for me, I believe that if we are trying to faithfully recreate an experience which is fundamentally horrific, then casualty figures are necessary. Whether using them one for one in a skirmish game, or using one to indicate morale, shock points, accumulated hits on a large formation, etc, I want to use them. As Robert E. Lee said, "It is well that war is so terrible, for otherwise we should grow too fond of it."

As I said on Curt's site, AB Figures to me are the gold standard for 20mm WW2 gaming. They are simply the finest figures in that range on the market, and I would love to have more of them. I can only say this about their infantry and vehicle crew figures, I haven't seen any of their support weapons, vehicles or accessories yet.

a final painting note: the TQD Wafffen SS figures were painted using a white undercoat from Army Painter. The AB casualty figures were primed some years back in a flat black spray paint from a DIY store. To me the camo looks brighter done on the white undercoat. Can you see a difference?

Thanks all for looking. Don't forget the Mad Padre Wargames contest currently running. All you need to do is write a few lines (they don't even have to rhyme) about something you see or read here and get entered to win one of four painted miniatures. To date we only have two entrants, so your chances are excellent. Don't be shy!

Next up, two Russian SU152 SP guns, another target for the Analogue contest. Painting is going well, I had a successful outing with my airbrush, and I am about to start experimenting with my Vallejo pigment set. Should be very exciting. Plus a pack of 20mm Revell Soviet Cossacks jumped onto the painting desk, jealous of the 28mm Front Rank SYW Russian Hussars I've started. It looks like February will be the month of Ivan here at Mad Padre Wargames. May God prosper your brushes and your die rolls!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The 100 and 50K Celebration And Contest

Two great reasons for celebrating occurred this week. This silly blog reached 100 followers this week, the 100th being a chap named Friendly Fire, so welcome aboard and thank you. I hope you don't mind if I call you Friendly?
The other milestone was reaching 50,000 page views, which to me is even more exciting than numbers of followers.
Most wargaming blogs usually mark these sorts of milestones with some sort of contest, and I would like thank everyone who reads this blog. So here's what I propose.
Write a poem (free verse, rhyming couplets, haiku, sonnet, limerick, rap) about something you've seen or read about anywhere in this blog. If you're shy, you can simply email it to me at madpadre atsymbol gmail dot com. If you're bold, you can show your creativity for all to see as a comment to this post. You have until Sunday, 2 March, to come up with something. Since not all poets are created equally, I will choose the three entries at random.
In order of their selection, the first, second and third winners will get to choose one of these miniatures.

Great War Miniatures British WW1 motorcycle dispatch rider.

Bob Murch Pulp Figures Son of the Empire in pith helmet and tropical kit.

Bob Murch Pulp Figures Dangerous Dame on safari.
But wait, that's not all! Each of these miniatures will be painted by this blog's humble proprietor and mailed to you if your entry is chosen.
But wait, that's STILL not all! A bonus fourth prize will be given to the entry that amuses me and Mrs. Padre (who has been known to bust a rhyme herself). I'm not sure what this prize will be yet, but it will be at least as cool as the first three.
And so dear readers, of this fine cadre,
Who read these posts of one mad padre,
Come stir your wits and rouse your inner bard!
Do not be deterred, for rhyming's not hard.
A simple verse may win you a casting,
And earn you a poet's name long lasting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

More Weird War Two Good Guys: Burton and Alberta McAskill

As shown in my Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge Entry 3, these minis are the first of a mittfull of fellow Canadian Bob Murch's Pulp Figures that Mrs. Padre kindly bought me for Christmas. The fellow with the hat is from the Sons of the Empire pack, and the cowgirl in the duster with the serious expression is from his Dangerous Dames 2 pack. Mrs. Padre dutifully examined them all on Christmas morning and pronounced them too blocky for her tastes, though I quite like them.

The western flavour of these two figures had led me to write a backstory for them for my Weird War Two campaign and I thought it was rather good, but the post mysteriously vanished and only showed as a partial draft in Blogger, with all the nice fluff gone. Sigh. I don't have time to write it down again, but it exists somewhere in the back of my head and one day I'll drag it out. Suffice it to say the McCaskills are from the Alberta side of the Rocky Mountains, and Burt was headman on Alberta's father's ranch when they net. Te headstrong young cowgirl married the headman rather than some rich Calgary banker. The two are expert shots, good riders, trackers and hunters. In 1937 they teamed up with Staff Sergeant Jake Steele of the RCMP to track down and kill the dread Werewolf of Rogers Pass. Perhaps that story will be told here one day, with the aid of more of Bob Murch's figures.

It's a long story as to how these two Canadians ended up as part of Project Alice. The short version is that when the Brigadier learned that the Nazis had a lycanthropy program, he remembered a young Canadian soldier he had met in the trenches, and how they stalked a huge and sinister wolf through no man's land.

More werewolves to swell the Nazi ranks. Arrrooooooooo!!!!!!

Stay vigilant chaps. In my next post, a Mad Padre Wargames contest! Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Messing On The Mississippi

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” Rat, The Wind and the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

p>Early on a rainy morning in late June, 1862, and a Union force of three warships is steaming downriver to capture Island No. 6, a Confederate fort blocking passage to Bluffsburg, the last rebel bastion on the Mississippi north of Vicksburg. Leading in line astern is the tinclad USS Chaffee, her sister ship USS Golconda, and the Cairo class casemate ironclad, USS Ironton. Behind them is an unarmed steamer carrying the troops tasked with seizing the island.

The Union commander aboard Ironton, Captain Holquist, is surprised to see two ships emerging from the mist in the middle of the river, heading upstream. He immediately assumes that they must be the Confederate ships guarding Bluffsburg, the scratchbuilt casemate ironclad Joshua and her consort, the cottonclad riverboat Maccabbee. As per his SOPs he signals the transport to turn about and retreat upstream while he moves to engage.

Aboard the Confederate ironclad Joshua, Captain O'Donnell unleashes his escort, the fast sidewheeler Maccabbe, with instructions to use her speed to work around the union flotilla and distract where possible. As the two Union escorts alter course to port to pursue, Joshua's forward gun, a heavy rifle, opens up and hits Chaffee as she turns and presents her unarmoured broadside. First blood to the rebs as the rifled shot knocks out one of the two medium smoothbores on Chaffee's starboard broadside.

An unconvincing green tablecloth fills in to represent the Father of Waters as Maccabbee makes her run around the Union line, while Chaffee and Golconda try to catch her. Now that I've got the ships done I must think about scenery.

Ineffectual fire continues as the range closes. Maccabbee takes minor damage as her speed, far superior to anything else on the river, allows her to work her way behind the Union flotilla, and then come in hard and bows on Ironton's starboard side. Maccabbee's boilers are going flat out when she hits Ironton, causing both ships significant hull damage and locking them together. It is only the lack of a ram on Maccabbee's bow that spares the US ship from a fatal wound. At that moment Joshua passes alongside Ironton's port side, and the two ironclads unleash thunderous broadsides at one another.

To Captain Holquist's dismay, point blank shot from his light rifles and medium smoothbores fails to penetrate the armour on Joshua's casemate, while a lucky shot from the rebel guns causes a critical hit, ripping a hole in Ironton's hull below the water line. The river begins to pour in. Meanwhile Ironton's starboard guns smash the hapless and fragile Maccabbee to bits and she begins to sink, still locked together. It is only the fact that Ironton is a larger vessel that keeps her from going under as well.

Joshua (top) steams by the unlucky Ironton, locked together with the sinking Maccabbee and herself taking on water. Note the very useful Litko "Flooding" markers.

The situation now goes downhill badly for the Union. Ironton and Maccabbee drift downstream and away from the fight. Ironton's critical hit is the worst possible result, a loss of three flotation points per turn (a 3 result on 1d3)and she fails three repair attempts in a row. While she frees herself from Maccabbee's sinking wreck, Ironton herself floods and sinks in middle of the the river, forcing Captain Holquist to watch the battle from a lifeboat. Golconda and Chaffee bravely engage the confederate monster, and Chaffee's captain desperately tries to ram Joshua, but causes no damage to her armoured stern and comes away much the worse, taking much hull damage.

To the right, Ironton and Maccabbee helplessly drift downstream, sinking. In the centre, Chaffee, with the blue paddlewheel housings, attempts to ram Joshua, and only gives herself a bloody nose in the process.

A circling duel follows, and while the Union medium smoothbores largely fail to penetrate, they do get lucky. At one point Joshua suffered three critical hits, having her two starboard gunports jammed and her rudder cable damager, restricting her to starboard turns. However the Confederate damage control is excellent, with Joshua making all her repair rolls. Joshua enjoys standoff advantage, as her rifled guns can hit the US tinclads at short range, while the Union ships' smoothbores fire less effectively at medium to long range. Soon Chaffee has lost three of her guns, one sidewheel is nearly crippled, and her hull integrity is below 50%. She exits the Union table edge. Joshua is now between the Union table edge and the Golconda, who gamely starts her escape run. Alas, it is not to be. The Joshua's bow rifle smashes what's left of Golconda's stacks, and the lack of updraught to the boilers reduces her speed to slow, giving Joshua ample time to keep broadside on and pummel the tinclad, whose return fire is ineffectual. Within a few more turns the Union skipper strikes his colours.

With one if its precious Cairo class ironclads sunk, with one tinclad lost and another facing many days of repair, Union control of this sector of the Mississippi is gravely weakened. General Moore's orders to move by land on Bluffsburg depend on cooperation from the Navy, but with that ironclad monster Joshua roaming the river, his whole operation is undermined. His boss, Old Brains Halleck, will not be happy. Meanwhile General Hatcher, whose division is slowly being pushed back on Bluffsburg, will find that with his river flank secure, he can concenttrate forces with a better chance of checking the Union advance. The battle is thus a major CS victory.

At least, it would have been if this was a real fight. This AAR describes my first attempt to get to know the Smoke on the Water rules from Canis Publications. The website for these rules claims that SOTW does not sacrifice realism for playability, and I have to agree. Other than a few head scratching moments with the collision rules (and things seem to collide a lot, even when playing solo and making probability rolls for individual ship moves), the mechanisms seemed easy enough, and the result seemed right.

What I need to work on here is play balance. I had historical ship stats for Ironton (a fictional member of the historical Cairo class), Chaffee and Golconda are based on the historical Fort Hindman class of tinclads, and Maccabbee used the stats for the CS Planter tinclad. Joshua however is a creature of my campaign, and I think I erred by giving it the stats for the CSS Tennessee, which was a pretty fearsome customer. Bluffsburg is supposed to be a minor town on the Mississippi, a mini-Vicksburg, and I doubt her workshops could produce such a monster. I need to reconsider her armament and armour before turning her loose for real, because as the above illustrated, a whole campaign can hang in the balance while people go messing about in boats.

Thanks for reading what has been a bit of a departure for this blog, namely its first naval AAR! AAARRRRRGGHHHH! Mike

Friday, January 18, 2013

Analogue Painting Challenge Entry #3: The Sultan Of Swing And The Dangerous Dryad Dames

If you haven't been following Curt's blog, or even if you were because if you blinked you missed it (Monday was a busy day on Curt's blog), here is my third entry in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. And no, it's not the Doctor's latest gang.

This lot of 5 28mm figures is however a mixed bunch. The two on the left are Bob Murch Pulp Figures and I'll get to them in a subsequent Weird War post.

This chap, longtime readers may recall, is The Assault Group miniatures renaissance Ottoman general that they kindly sent me as a free figure during their promotion last year. It's a wonderful sculpt and I have just ordered some more figures from TAG (the Spahis of the Porte) as a way of rebooting my SYW Ottoman/Russian armies.

I wasn't sure what to do with the feathers on the turban. I thought about peacock feathers, but the ones I've seen are flimsy things, and these look like big bushy sort of feathers, so maybe they are dyed? I have more Ottoman research to do, apparently.

These two dangerous leaders are more minis from the Wargames Foundry Faerie pack. I showed off their sister, Charlock the Hunter, in an earlier post. Some readers may be questioning the Padre's interest in scantily clad women, which, I hasten to add, is confined to lead. I find it odd myself, rather. I do enjoy the challenge of painting skin tones and getting them right, and I was pleased when Mrs. Padre (full disclosure, she knows who I'm seeing on the painting bench) pronounced me moving in the right direction. I'm reasonably happy with them, though I need to fix the unibrow on the spear lady.

I was amused by Curt at Analogue Hobbies commenting that he admired "the sylvain support garments provided to their archers (how she draws and releases a bow beggars the imagination)".

These ladies will join Charlock the Huntress as part of my LOTR collection. I'm thinking of a wood elves version of Special Forces, called "Galadriel's Scouts" or some such, to keep the glades free of foul orcs. Sounds like a great excuse to clear off the games table once I finish sinking some ironclads (next post).

Finally I'd like to welcome followers 98 and 99. Ross McFarlane is a semi-legendary Old School gamer who hosts the Battle Game of the Month blog among others. Of him, young Kinch recently opined that "There are days I just want to strand him in a scrap metal yard. I guarantee within two weeks, he'll be playing the War of 1812 using homemade Britains knockoffs cast from moulds made of out of old sparkplugs and prayer. A chap of infinite invention." Brummie is from the UK, and his Brummie's Wargaming Blog shows a talented painter and eclectic gaming mind. Both welcome, chaps!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Really Big Wargame

Saturday last I was fortunate enough to attend a day of lectures by one of our officers, who I will just call Major Jim, on tactics in the attack and defence. This lecture was for a mixed audience of ranks and units, Regular and Reserve, conducted at the armouries of the South Alberta Light Horse (affectionately called the Sally Horse) Squadron in Medicine Hat, AB.

As an aside to military historians out there, the SALH served in the Normandy Campaign as the South Alberta Horse, and one of their officers, Major D.V. Currie, a welder from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan before the war, is the only officer of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps to have won the Victoria Cross for his actions near Falaise in Normandy. That's Currie, below left, holding the revolver, in this famous photograph.

Here is Major Jim, holding forth on the armoury floor, in a photo I sent to him entitled "Master of the Battlefield". Jim wrote back to say "Apparently either I went to mime school, or I was getting ready to meet a female later that day." Jim came up from the ranks, served on nine (maybe more that he can't talk about) deployments, was shot while in Bosnia (his advice, "Don't get shot, it's really painful and it sucks"), and instructed at the infantry training centre at CFB Wainwright. He knows his stuff, and despite his claims that he is merely a dumb infanteer, is easily one of the smartest and nicest guys I've met in the Army, though he could probably kill me three different ways with a coffee stir stick.

The rather unconvincing map, made of a large tarp and three dozen boxes of printer paper, illustrated a ridge line, and the problems discussed were how to attack and defend this ridge using a combined arms force that looked like the Canadian Army plus kit (ATGMs, attack helicopters, mortars and even MLRS systems) that we no longer have or have never had in our order of battle. The OPFOR (opposing force) was a combined arms force using Russian kit (BRDMs, BMPs, T55s and better). When I asked Jim latter why we were still talking about fighting the Warsaw Pact, his answer was that Army doctrine is now shifting back to basics, on the theory that we are at risk of losing key knowledge following ten years of fighting a lightly armed insurgency in Afghanistan. When one considers that our next deployments may be to African hotspots where the bad guys do have armour and aviation, this shift makes sense.

Speaking of gaps in the Canadian Army inventory, I have to say that there was a shocking lack of toys, and what we did have to work with was in pretty rough shape. Unacceptable! Damn these budget cuts and these parsiminous pennypinching parliamentarians!

I have to confess that I spent the day using my wargaming ears more than my chaplain ears, though it was interesting to think of how my trade might be employed in a more mobile, conventional war. In Afghanistan chaplains are mostly confined to bases, but in a force on force war we should go back to our traditional places forward, such as Casualty Collection Stations, but that's another point. As a wargamer there were two things that really stood out for me.

The first was Major Jim's emphasis on recconaissance in the attack, which may have been tailored to his audience since the SALH now have an armoured recce role. To the question, what should recce elements be looking for and noting, his answer, repeatedly, was EVERYTHING. Everything seen on recce is of potential use to the commander planning his attack, from the location of kill zones, of run-ups and gaps in the obstacles on a defensive position (showing the likely moves of the armoured counterforce) to plumes of exhaust seen during engine warm up cycles (how many vehicles are present, in what shape are they, how good is the enemy's training, etc). I got to thinking of how badly recce elements are often represented in wargaming, on the level of, here are your armoured cars, go get them killed and find out what's under those blinds. I would love to see a scneario where the goal was to approach an enemy position, develop as complete picture of it, and safely get back to report. I'm not sure how much fun that would be for two players, but it might work well solitaire or as a team game with a referee playing the enemy.

The second learning for me was the importance of the mobile defense. As Jim explained it, defending the position alone is a good way to lose, as the enemy have the freedom to maneuvre into attack positions without hindrance, can get get good locations for FOOs and FACs, and can coordinate their attacks with artillery designed to suppress and disrupt rear areas, resupply points, and routes for the enemy countermove force. If however the defender has sufficient forces to put a guard force ahead of his main defensive position (MDP), he can trade ground for time, and strip away enemy resources (first recce, then anti-tank, then command and control, etc), this forcing the enemy to attack blind and uncoordinated, or to delay the attack while fresh forces are brought up. Modern wargamers schooled in NATO vs Pact will understand this theory better than I do. In most games I've seen and played in, the constraint of available table space forces one to play a set-piece battle, where the fight happens on or very close to the main defensive position. It would be interesting to have the time to play the defensive battle in several phases, first the battle of the guard, second the withdrawal of the guard through the MDP, and third the fight for the MDP itself. In each successive phase, losses would be deducted and capabilities removed from both side depending on how they fared in the previous phase. This could be more easily done in smaller scales than in big ones, I think.

I could go on, but I think you get the point that it was an interesting day, with much to absorb, and with much food for thought for the wargamer. It leads me to wonder, for those of you who are trained in military operations and tactics, how much of your training to you get to use on the wargames table?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Still Going Commando

It's been a bear of a weekend. After coming home from a fascinating Army PD event on Saturday (more on that in another post) I was helping Mrs. Padre fix dinner when the flu rushed up and jumped me like a spiv in a back alley. Literally one minute I was fine, the next I was shivering, teeth chattering, aches and pains. Felt better enough on Sunday to go into the base for chapel, but Lord knows what they made of my sermon, it was pretty incoherent. By Sunday afternoon, after my wife sternly and wisely ordered me upstairs for a nap, I felt we'll enough to send pictures of my next Analogue Hobbies painting challenge entry off to Curt (only 5 28mm figures, but it will earn me some points). It will be a day or so before I can show them here, so I thought I would show some more photos of the Warlord Games Commando characters I recently finished for my Weird War Two project.

Speaking of commandos, the blogosphere did me a favour when Sean McLachlan's excellent Civil War Horror blog led me to Jack Badelaire's Post Modern Pulp blog last week, where I discovered that Jack is the author of several novels about Britain's Commandos in World War Two. Such is the awesomeness of the internet. I'm currently reading Jack's WW2 commando novel, Operation Arrowhead, which as a Kindle download is a heck of a deal and is worth checking out. I'll post a review of it down the road.

This fellow here is the 2IC of "S Commando", Capt. Tom "Ginger" Beare (pronounced "beer"). Another lovely Warlord sculpt, and I have to say, while half way through assembling a box of plastic Warlord commandoes, that I prefer working with (but not paying for) lead miniatures.

I haven't thought up much of a Weird War 2 backstory for him yet, but I have some ideas for him. I see Ginger as a fairly simple, stolid chap, the kind of fellow who only reads The Sporting News, horsey face, somewhat protruding front teeth, end many of his sentences with "what". He's a good soldier, athletic, likeable, a competent subordinate, popular with the lads. There is a certain unimaginative personality type that is preferred by Project Alice, on the theory that they will be less susceptible to fear when in contact with the nightmares being cooked up by the Reich.

I like the fact that the figure is wearing a jumper (sweater as we would say in North America). The sculptor has obviously spent time with British army officers. :). For some reason I felt like painting him as a red head, a much maligned type in the army today.

I mentioned in my last post that Mad Major Macallan never goes into battle without his piper. Here's Cpl. Jock ("Pibroch") MacGregor. I've never painted a tartan before, and I resisted trying to copy a specific pattern as I was afraid that would be too intimidating, so I aimed for a more general impression.

Again, not much of a backstory for Jock, but I see him and his family as long time tenants of Kinch, so when the Laird went to war, he naturally took the best piper with him. Jock is a good shot, very handy with the commando's trademark Fairbairn knife. Personally he would rather go into battle with a weapon in his hand, but the young birk of a laird is the boss, and if a wee tune will help the lads, well, Jock is the lad tae gie it tae them (sorry, slipped into bad brogue there, I blame the ghost of James Doohan). Having Jock along on S Commando raids won't help the stealth rolls, but the skirl of the pipes may frighten the wulfentruppen, or, maybe, attract the zombies?

Thanks for looking. These little character vignettes have been helpful for me in defining how I see my own flavour of Weird War Two gaming working out. I'm thinking that in the near future I will write a post on Weird War as a sub genre of gaming and what the parameters for my own campaign will be. If you like that sort of thing, stay tuned.
In the meantime, stay vigilant, chaps, and go commando.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More Weird War Two Good Guys: Major Graham Macallan, MC, The Laird O' Kinch

I've been away in Ottawa these last few days for a wedding and meant to get some background stuff/fluff posted for my Weird War Two project, but internet access was spotty. So here's a chance to show some more pictures of the Commando Characters I recently finished, to lay out some back stories for them (because it amuses me), and to try the character generator mechanism for Savage Worlds, the RPG rules set that I want to use for this project.
Major Graham Macallan is the officer commanding S Commando, the military arm of Project Alice, the Allies' counter to sinister occult forces stirring in the Third Reich. Macallan inherited Kinch, the family estate in the Western Highlands, when his father went missing in the trenches in 1917. By long tradition the Lairds o'Kinch have been soldiers, and Graham was commissioned into the Black Watch in 1937.

While serving with the 1st Black Watch during the German invasion of France, his company was cut off along with the rest of 51st Division at St. Valery and presumed captured. However, Macallan and his company made it through the enemy lines by night and found the last Royal Navy destroyer lying offshore. His debrief was going well untl he mentioned that it was his father who had guided him through the German lines to safety. He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery, but a hero who took direction from his dead father left the Army doubting his sanity and reliability. Fortunately his file found its way to Project Alice and Brigadier McAllister, who has a keen interest in all things supernatural.

Known to his men as "the Mad Major", Macallan has a first rate tactical mind and has an uncanny ability to see opportunities in battle. He is also quite eccentric, obsessed with legends of the Highlands and with a Sir Walter Scott-like code of chivalry. As part of this obsession, he is never comfortable going into battle without his piper at his side. On occasion his men will see him speaking to thin air, as if talking to someone who is not there, but these invisible conversations always seem to leave him with some insight that helps keep them alive, so they trust him.
The "father's ghost" idea came from me looking at a wonderful figure in a Great War miniatures character pack, a British officer in a turtleneck sweater with a shotgun under his arm, and wondering what I would do with it. My plan is that in any action or campaign setting where the Laird o' Kinch is present, he will get so many interactions with his day's ghost, gaining intel on enemy positions, terrain features, etc, which seems in keeping with old stories of Scots having the sight or similar supernatural tendencies.
Major Macallan's Savage World Statistics
Agility (d4) = 1
Smarts (d8) = 3
Spirit (d8) = 5
Strength (d6) = 1
Vigor (d8) = 2
Fighting (d8) = 5
Knowledge of battle (d8) = 7
Notice (d6) = 1
Shooting (d6) = 5
Survival (d4) = 2
Persuasion (d10) = 9
Climbing (d4) = 4
Major Hindrance = Code of Honour
Minor hindrance = quirk - bagpipes in battle, habit - carrying his father's ashplant walking stick
Leadership Edge = Tactician. If he makes his Knowledge of Battle roll, can gain extra action cards and give them to subordinates
Rank / experience: seasoned

Friday, January 4, 2013

Last Figures of 2012 (3 of 3): The Hardee (Hat) Boys: Analogue Painting Challenge Entry 2

More ACW figures from Wargames Foundry. The command stand for the 19th Indiana brings my Iron Brigade project up to three complete regiments - a group shot of the lads is due, methinks.

The good news for me is that these figures were started after 20 December, the start date for the Analogue Hobbies painting challenge, and thisnlittle group earned my 37 points. Curt kindly gave me two bonus points for the explosion diorama. That puts my total at 49, so I am starting to fight my way forward from the back of the pack. More pics and comments at Curt's blog.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Last Figures of 2012: Going Commando (2 of 3)

Well done, RSM, we're first on the objective! Bally shame that Curt chappie won't count us, but the plastic lads are coming and they'll count, and then we'll go give Jerry a damn good hiding. Piper! Let's have "Reeling From the Varnish!"

Three daring Commando heroes, from Warlord Games, and purchased from that excellent emporium, J&M Miniatures. Really nice sculpts to work with. These figures, calling to mind Lord Lovat and his piper of D-Day fame, are perfect for the leadership of "S Commando", the military arm of "Project Alice", Britain's anti-occult effort in my Weird War Two project. I'll post some more photos of these chaps along with some character fluff in the days to come, for those that like that sort of thing.

Last year I mentioned that I was experimenting with white undercoats for larger figures. For these chaps I used Army Painter white spray paint, then gave them a wash of dark brown (GW Devlan Mud) seeing as their primary colour will be brown (Vallejo English Uniform). For other figures, like the reb officer in my previous post, it was a white undercoat with a black wash (Army Painter Dark Tone), and for the Union figures up next, it was white undercoat with a blue wash (GW Asurmen Blue). I am very pleased with the results. The colours seem brigter and it's easier for me to see details that need work while painting. Still using black undercoat for 15mm and 6mm figs.

A brief cautionary note on the Army Painter white undercoat. It works a treat with metal figures, but when I tried it on the plastic Warlord Commandoes currently in process, it was diastrously blobby, destroying so much detail that I had to throw away two of them. Perhaps I used two much. I will be much more careful and more sparing using this product with plastic minis.

Sadly I started these before the Analogue Hobbies Challenge began, so they are not eligible, but next up, some dashing American Unionists that will count.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Last Figures of 2012: Confederate Officer (1 of 3)

Another hat-waving "harmless personage" as Sam Watkins of Co. "Aytch" would say. This Renegade Miniatures Confederate officer is another hat-waver, either leading his men from the front, or, in my opinion, waving them off from behind before he returns to his mint juleps to await news of the attack.

Most of my ACW collection is based in group stands, a legacy of my time using Johnny Reb rules, but this fellow is indiviually based to fill a need for Confederate Big Men for the TFL Terrible Sharp Sword skirmish rules, which I've become quite fond of.

Now I have a decision as to what to do with the rest of his peers, still in the Renegade Rebel Skirmish box. They are nice sculpts, and I am inclined to base them individually as well for TSS. I can always get a box of those new Perry Brothers plastic rebel infantry to flesh out my rebel units for bigger battles.

If you're wondering what that light ochre colour is on his boots, coat and hat, I was experimenting with some Vallejo pigment for the first time, to see if I could get a mud spattered look. I'm not sure it was a success. I could have been more successful just drybrushing a yellow ochre onto him, I think.

I'm happy with the face. There is something a little roguish about him. He kind of reminds me of Don Johnson's planter character in Django, which Mrs. Padre and I saw last night, and of which my mind is quite divided.

I'm pretty sure we'll see him hat-waving his boys to death or glory pretty soon. Thanks for looking, y'all.

Mad Padre's Old And New Review

Actually this picture was taken on Canada Day, but who's counting?

Happy New Year to one and all! I have missed the tide of year-in-review posts in the wargaming blogosphere. I read and enjoyed many of these posts, but they showed me that I really didn't have much of a plan for 2012, and that lack of a plan may explain my rather sporadic production.

In looking back at my blog posts for 2012, I see relatively few figures produced. Most of the minis I finished were in one of my first love periods and scales, 28mm ACW: a Union mounted and dismounted cavalry regiment, a Confederate mounted and dismounted cavalry regiment, a Confederate two gun battery, and a Union regiment of the Iron Brigade. I also finished six 1/600 scale ACW warships, the first naval minis I've ever done. All these models were completed for the ACW PBEM campaign I started in Nov 2011, the Bluffsburg campaign, which sadly went into hiatus in the late summer of 2012.

Otherwise my production was sparse and scattered. I managed a handful of WW2 figures in three different scales, but not enough in any scale to really push a project forward much. I did start a new period, 6mm Napoleonics, and made some progress and, more importantly, increased my confidence level in painting at this scale, something quite new to me. Another project, what I'm calling Weird War Two, may have mystified some of my readers, but it amused me and lead to a small handful of figures getting finished.

Finally I looked at my 2012 blog posts and saw a lot about boargames. This is not surprising, since where I live currently (Medicine Hat, AB) there is no wargaming community to speak of. There is a boardgames club, and I like going there for the the people, but it's not very fertile ground. The club did however connect me to my wargaming roots in board gaming (SPI, AH, GDW, if you know those initials), and led me to acquire a few myself. For me, boardgaming is a legitimate subset of wargaming, and will probably continue to appear on my blog, but my first love will always be miniatures.

So, before we move on to "Whither Mad Padre Wargames in 2013", here are a few of my top things about 2012.

Best face to face wargame: a fortuitous meeting with another wargaming padre, Major Kevin White of the British Army, who was in Canada with his unit for training, let to a wonderful evening of gaming in which I was thoroughly trounced.

Best long distance wargame: an experiment that the mad and noble Conrad Kinch and I conducted, using Apple's FaceTime technology to play a Command and Colours game using his table and figures in Dublin. The result was successful, and plans are afoot to try this again.

Best wargaming swag of 2012 - while my Posties Reject golf shirt, courtesy of Fran the Angry Lurker, will be a treasured part of my wardrobe, my red staff Hot Lead shirt as edges it out slightly as a reminder of an awesome weekend spent with James Manto and the gang at Hot Lead, Canada's best wargames convention, this March.

Best wargaming meme of 2012: while the Liebster Award was a great morale boost for the wargaming blogosphere, my vote goes to those two gits, Fran and Ray, for their 20 Questions meme, for helping us get to know each other better.

Favourite figure that I painted in 2012: this gallant fellow, a Wargames Foundry 28mm Union officer, doing a gallant but highly conspicuous and questionable maneuvre, thus demonstrating why Confederate Sam Watkins considered officers to be "harmless personages" whom he never fired at.

Best reader response of 2012: from Christ Church, New Zealand, Ion, aka Archduke Piccolo, offered this wonderful poem in response to my last post of 2012, about a scary encounter between some stout British soldiers and a seductive undead lady. Well done, sir. A painted figure will be coming to you in due course.

Finally, thanks to all who have followed and supported my blog this year. I don't know how you do it, since I barely have time in my life to skim the many excellent hobby blogs out there. This blog reached 97 followers this year, and some posts made several hundred views. I've enjoyed sharing my work, my hobby, and my sense of humour with you all, and I look forward to continuing into the new year.

(Signpost at Signal Hill, St. John's, Newfoundland)

Whither my hobby plans and goals in 2013? (I don't really have an answer to that, it's just fun to use the word "whither"). I have decided to give myself five goals for the coming year. They are:

1) Continue and wrap up my ACW PBEM campaign. To any of you readers who have roles in this and were wondering what happened to "Bluffsburg, Mississippi", I will have some results for you this year.

2) Focus on the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. I haven't done well with hobby challenges and build projects in 2012, but the structure that Curt has come up with, to paint as much as you personally can in a set period of time, has managed to resurrect my painting interests. I am hoping that the Challenge will allow me to get better at painting figures at something faster than my normally glacial pace, and to generally hone my talents. Malcom Gladlwell once said that proficiency comes after 10,000 hours of doing something. I doubt I can manage 1000 hours of painting time this coming year, but I'll do my best.

3)Game more. I am lucky enough to have a dedicated gaming room in my house, and I haven't really done much with it in the 2.5 years I've lived here. There will probably be a posting for me this summer, but for the next six months I want to game more, even if it is solitary. My goal is to have four batreps a month, in a variety of different periods and rules sets, on this blog.

Revisit WW2 in a serious way. I purchased Too Fat Lardies' excellent IABSM3 rules last year, and haven't really done much with them. My goal is to purchase one of their campaign systems, probaly the Biennville or Bust scenario ladder, and work through it. As part of this, expect to see more stories about tha gallant Canadian officer, Lt. Denis Audet, and maybe something about a German equivalent on the Ostfront.

5) Work on expanding my Napoleonic 6mm collection to the point where I have enough units (French and some other nationality to be determined) to have a smallish game.

So those are my goals for 2013. I thank you all for showing me the wisdom of making hobby goals, and I wish you all success with yours. May we all have an enjoyable and productive year in our painting and gaming, may we deepen our friendships and develop new ones, and may we and our loved ones be healthy and happy.

Cheers, Mike

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