Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Not quite what I asked for...

Hello again.

Picture the scene.

You are at a wargames show. The shekel in your pocket is burrowing furtively through your trouser pocket cloth t find its way in the world, eager to make the acquaintance of a trader. You know what you want to buy, but there are just so many goodies on display form so many purveyors of fine wargames materials. But you know what you want and, there, just to the left of the guy with the shiny books, rests the emporium of one whom you know has "the business".

You sidle over, you act as calm as your frantically beating heart allows, you casually enquire of their ranges and they proffer you the show catalogue.

"Hmm," you think to yourself, desperate not to betray the fact that they could sell you anything and you would happily part with your coin.

"I think I'll have half a dozen of code X," you announce, looking at the floor lest the purveyor of fine wares catches the gleam in your eye for his leaden offerings. "A code Y, two code Z and..."

Your eyes flick from side to side, your breath bursting from your heaving chest with too much gusto for one who is neither exhausted nor having a cardiac arrest.

"And one of those cannons with crew."

Job done.

You get home later that day, broke financially, but elated at the offerings, trinkets and baubles of yet another wargames show, high on the elixir of expenditure and safe in the satisfaction that you have, with professional-level deviousness, managed to sneak a backpack full of a hundredweight of lead figures, a half ton of books, sundry sheets of magnetic materials and scenic matter and the odd board game past the love of your life.

Some time later, perhaps days later, when the emotions have cooled again, you trawl back through your purchases and sift through in a more diligent and leisurely manner than is afforded by the mad press of the wargames show, salivating and delighting at your delightful new toys.

And then you come to the cannon and crew.

It's a mortar.

"And one of those cannons and crew," you said to the imp who knoweth not his catalogue.

It's a mortar.

You want to fire roundshot straight down the necks of those scoundrels the Redcoats...

It's a mortar.

"I don't (insert your favourite expletive here) need a mortar!"

You secrete it away in a fury of realisation that you have been duped and dismayed by the bounder. You forget about it. You put it down to experience.

Then you decide you are going to do a show game featuring a FIW siege...

"How foresightful of me to buy that mortar," you muse to yourself.

So you build it, you base it, you paint the crew, you paint the officer it comes with also and you offer it up on the altar of the blog post.

Cue one Redoubt Miniatures French mortar with colonial Cannoniers-Bombardiers crew figures, together with said officer.


One mortar, which I obviously meant to buy really (!), duly mounted on a base made with coffee stirrer planks and my usual ground cover around the edges. I intend to build a little firing position in which to house it, with gabions, planking and built up soil banks, but that is a while away yet. I need to get the figures done first!

"I said lob it over there!" One officer of the colonial Cannoniers-Bombardiers in siege armour.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Rallying call for the Volontaires Etrangers

Hello again.

A new job and the demands of that and other factors have left little actual hobby time of late, but I have managed to scratch together and complete a couple of projects recently, the first of which I present for you here. Now the clocks have gone back, however, there will be even less time to paint with it getting dark earlier, so I had better get cracking with what time there is!

As you may know, I started my Seven Years' War In America (i.e. French & Indian War) units recently and decided to do them as 20 figures each for the French (historically smaller in practice than we Anglo's and less likely to receive help from the homeland due to the Royal Navy's control of the seas), which left me a few spares from the 24 figure packs of Eagle Figures I chose to build the regiments with. I will actually build them up to 24 anyway for aesthetic reasons, but the packs come as 24 figures and two of those figures are Ensigns. I only need one ensign per regiment for the FIW, so I was always going to have at least one figure spare.

"Not to worry", I thought to myself. "I can use the spare ensigns for command vignettes, give them spades and whatever and make them into engineers/ sappers and I can use one of them for my Volontaires Etrangers unit, which is all singly based for games of "Muskets & Tomahawks"/ "Sharp Practice 2".

It went something like that, at any rate...

So here is that rallying cry to those Germans (and probably a few other nationalities too) in French service in the Volontaires Etrangers, in the form of an Eagle Figures ensign with home-made flag from calico hung on a brass wire pole.

With most French metropolitan (i.e. grey-coated) units having either red or blue facings, the green is a nice change! The flag is also simple enough to be easy to paint but distinct enough to be both recognisable and something slightly different.

If I ever get around to expanding my Seven Years' War French to the European theatre, then I will not be rushing to provide Swiss units, as their flags were anything but simple (!), but Auvergne will be an early addition with the lovely purple facings and simple purple and black flag!


One Volontaires Etrangers Ensign, showing the obverse side of the standard

And the reverse, of both flag and figure

Monday, 16 October 2017

Derby Loot

Hello again.

After my belated post on the Derby Show, held on the weekend of 7th and 8th October, I thought I would muse on the things I went for, what I missed and what I bought from the show.

Perhaps unusual for me, I had actually made a definitive list of what I wanted. I reckoned I wanted two further regiments of French foot for the Seven Years' War in America/ French & Indian War. I also wanted another three British regiments for the same conflict. All five regiments, along with some half a dozen individual French figures, would come from Eagle Figures. I then planned on visiting Redoubt for some Highlanders and Light Infantry, together with a British gun or two. That would see me right for my FIW needs, I felt.

I also went with the express intention of boosting my 10mm Crimean War project, mostly with Russians, but I also wanted to check out Magister Militum's offerings in this arena, so that too was a definite. Most importantly in this project, I wanted the uniform book by Laurence Spring on the Russian Army, which Caliver Books had stocked at previous shows but I had not so far purchased a copy of.

I had planned to get the new "Ghost Archipelago" book, and possibly a few figures, new in from the "Frostgrave" people, but learned that it was not yet out (at the time of the show). Also, I wanted some Chinese Pulp-style characters for something I had in mind for the reasonably near future.

Anything else would be ad hoc.

So, what caused me to part with my money on the day?

A large selection of Eagle Figures SYW castings, which will bolster my FIW ranks considerably. I managed to get a whole single pack of British command from Redoubt too - their stocks were rather low, so I missed out on Highlanders, etc. The book looked interesting, so I picked it up from Paul Meekin Books.

A host of the desired Crimean War figures from both Pendraken and Magister Militum, along with a range of bargain books from Paul Meekin again. Almost £80 worth of books for less than half that! I now have a miniature British Light Brigade, the Heavy Brigade, the Guards Brigade, a Russian Light Cavalry Brigade, two brigades of Russian infantry and whatever the Pendraken packs hold. Quips that I want to host Balaklava in one-to-one scale are wholly unwarranted!
THE book I had set out to get, covering all aspects (I hoped) of the Russian army. A flick through showed just how much I did not know, such as Russian cavalry regiments having identically coloured horses within each regiment. I have started my first regiment of dragoons with their horses and had painted around half of them chestnut, with a view to doing the rest bay with the odd grey. NO!!! All chestnut now, which makes them either the Tsarevitch dragoons, Prince Emil of Hesse's dragoons...there are a few options! Flags are described too, so I can hopefully get them right as  well.

Related to my Crimean War interests, these two books were nice to have. The very new Osprey offering covers the Piedmontese but also other Italian forces in the unification struggles. Gringo 40's were at the show with some wonderful-looking troops for this conflict...The large, hardback book features loads of uniforms in colour for conflicts ranging from the Crimea to the Boer War (the 2nd one, featuring Spion Kop, etc). Ideal I felt not just for my Crimean interests, but also my latent ACW, 1859 and 1866 collections, all of which are awaiting their turn in the spotlight.

I have a passion for the Wargamers' Annual series, so this was a must-have. My currently dormant interest in the Thirty Years' War also meant I had to have the book on the Bavarian army too. Returning my 30YW figures to the tabletop is long overdue!

A hefty dose of whimsy! All looked interesting and "Bolt Action" may well see the light of day with my First World War figures, although I do have a 28mm Japanese army in the "To Do" pile...

And finally, more whimsy and necessity. I always need bases, but the Goblin Spider Rider and the two LOTR trolls were just "shiny".
So, I got a lot of what I went for, bought a lot of stuff on top of that, and still missed out on a few things.

  1. No Highlanders or Light Infantry for the FIW.
  2. No FIW British artillery.
  3. No Fu Manchu or similar for Pulp games.
  4. No "Ghost Archipelago".
  5. Rather stupidly, I did not stock up on magnetic sheet and steel paper. I used the last of my supply of the latter yesterday! D'oh!
But, that was what I call a successful show overall. Whilst I felt there was too much crammed into the hall, some games not really "on the money" in my opinion and it was a bit of a pig to get to from where Nephew Nick and I live, the trade was lively, the money well spent and the Winter reading and projects well stacked up.

I really should take stock of the mass and bulk of my "To Do" list, however, and curtail my expenses going forwards. That may well mean I curtail one or two show visits for the next twelve months and Derby may well be one I miss next year. We shall see.


Saturday, 14 October 2017

Derby Show, 2017

Hello again.

Last weekend saw the annual Derby World Wargames Show. I would query both the "Derby" bit (it was held several miles away in Leicestershire) and the "World" bit (in the same way the World Series is American baseball and seems to have nothing  at all to do with anyone or anywhere else), but it was a wargames show of some magnitude and Nephew Nick and I were going !

The venue, at Hangar 42 of Bruntingthorpe aerodrome, was a bit of a jaunt and not the easiest in the world to find (for us anyway - locals would have had no real problem of course), was a decent size, well lit and with decent facilities...but it was far too cramped.

Around a third of the venue was given over to tournaments of various descriptions, whilst the poor old demo and participation games, not to mention the traders, were left with too little room to move in my opinion. Coupled with the usual souls who think standing in the middle of the path chatting away oblivious to any spatial awareness concerns, it made for a sometimes fraught, often sticky and humid and sometimes unpleasant experience. I almost felt I was competing for oxygen at some points!

One solution would have been to have moved more to the entrance lobby, but this was curiously left rather short of clutter, but did feature two very good-looking sizeable games, a smaller affair and a couple of smaller traders. I reckon a couple more of both games and traders located in this very light and airy space would have helped a fair way to ease the issues in the main hall and, as you had to both enter and exit the same way, no one would have lost out.

It was quite pleasant being greeted by some Imperial Stormtroopers in full gear at the door and, playing to type, the chap with the Rebel Alliance hat badge was grilled before entry! I thought a good game could have been to see who could do the best Alec Guinness ("These aren't the punters you're looking for") for a free entry pass or something, but that's just because I'm a bit strange...

There was a good selection of traders and some decent games, but I felt the overall standard was rather lower than previous Derby shows and other shows in general. It was difficult to engage with show-goers given the limited space I dare say, and too few people gave any thought to trying to do so anyway. We went on the Saturday and got there early, so fatigue could not really have been a factor. It must have been lack of desire to engage with Joe Public for me, which I do not like. Like certain political parties who preach to the converted, and thereby claim extra popularity, I gall at the gamers showing other gamers what is on offer - surely WE KNOW ALREADY what wargaming is!!! There may not be much in the way of a passing, casual observer at most wargames shows, but surely the variety and scope of our hobby precludes any of us from knowing everything and, therefore, engaging with us on subjects which may not be our particular subject area is a vital mission and should be a gimme?!

Anyway, I did enjoy my day, despite the claustrophobic conditions and mild annoyance at the awareness-challenged (they crop up a lot in supermarkets too, I find, which is even worse because they are also usually armed with an errant trolley!!!) I also spent a small fortune, even though I did not get everything I was looking for.

I will debut the purchases one day soon, but do not tell my wife how much I spent!

But enough rambling, grumbling and pontificating. Time for some photos of some of the games that caught my eye.


The League of Extraordinary Kriegspielers put on this "Back of Beyond" game, featuring some nice figures, good, functional terrain with some highlights and featuring a "period" I have some interest in, albeit more in the Russian Civil War context than specifically Central Asia as here. Probably my favourite game of the show.

Two Tachankas and some Red cavalry cross the railway line.

The whole table, with a very nice looking Asiatic city as a backdrop. They were using the "Setting the East Ablaze" rules I think, version 2 which is newly published. Very nice and one I would have been proud to have put on. WELL DONE FELLAS!

The Leicester Phatt Cats put on this pirate game entitled "Blood and Plunder". I am not sure if they were using the new rules of the same name.

And another shot of the same game.

A post-apocalypse game, which I think was "Not a Test" from the Yorkshire Renegades club.

I took a photo of this game by Leeds Wargames Club depicting the Battle of Jutland. It's scale was impressive, but I have reservations about its value as a game at a show for anyone who is not actually playing. It just doesn't show well for me, but I admire the club's desire to put on something of such magnitude and historical importance.

This Battle of Port Arthur, whilst still a naval game, showed rather better than Jutland I felt. The scale of ship was larger and the inclusion of the harbour at the top of shot gave it that bit extra to warrant attention. Thanks to the Derby Wargames Society for this one.

Port Arthur itself.

The "Last of the Mohicans" by the Boondock Sayntes depicted the scenes towards the end of that film when the British column left Fort William Henry and were ambushed by the Indians loyal to the French. The rules used were "Sharp Practice 2". A winner for me given my current painting schedule!

Fort William Henry itself (sort of).

The command stand for Royal-Roussillon, complete with Colonel's flag. One of the team behind the game said this regiment took the first battalion to North America hence the Colonel's flag being present. I do not know if this is true or not, but my reading so far states that no first battalions went. Who cares anyway!?!?
"Buford's Last Stand" from day 1 of Gettysburg was on offer from York Wargames Society.

The Battle of Cerignola, 1503,put on by someone or other. As the game does not feature in my show guide, I am at a loss to say who demo'ed this, but the figures looked good, the terrain looked effective and it was probably my second favourite. This shot shows the Imperialist lines judging by the flags.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Montcalm's opening offer

Hello again.

Well, after a brief (but to be continued) fling with the Crimean War with 10mm figures, the latter part of the summer has been taken up with my n-going fling with the Seven Years' War in North America, aka the French & Indian War (henceforth FIW).

Whilst the "Wyrley Retinue" were debating what to do for a game at shows next year, the original idea of something First World War-themed gave way to using the FIW forces I had built up for Muskets & Tomahawks/ Sharp Practice 2. However, not especially keen to do another skirmish with individually-based figures (see our Dark Ages Vikings in Ireland stuff), something else was required. This basically meant adding some formed line infantry and perhaps some artillery to represent something along the lines of Ticonderoga or Quebec.

Now, we have not so far depicted an actual battle in any of our demo games, preferring to use a scenario or three, mix them together and show a feel for the period in question as a sort of "what if", so do not expect Ticonderoga or Quebec to see the light of day, at least not from us. But, always keen on a strong basis of fact for our games, you will at least see regiments that actually made it to North America, two of which I give you here. The game should debut at the WMMS show in March next year.

The figures are all Eagle Figures, which I purchased from the ever-helpful Ian McCulloch of Eagle (I think he is "Eagle" actually) at the Barrage Show in Stafford back in July. The bulk packs have 24 figures for £28, which is good value IMO. The slight fly in my particular ointment is the provision of two ensigns per pack. As the French regiments did not have their colonel's battalions present in America, I only need one ensign per unit, but Eagle do sell individual figures too, so I simply need to purchase a few of those to make up the numbers vacated by the extra ensigns in each pack.

The flags are my usual (in 28mm anyway) painted calico affairs, oversized, which shows them off better but makes storage harder (!), and hung around a brass wire staff. I still need to add ribbons and cords to the flags when I can either:

a) find a good way to do it, or;
b) find a suitable product I like.

So, the first two French regiments are here, La Reine and Royal-Roussillon.

Eagle will be at the Derby Worlds show next weekend, where I intend to purchase more, but, if other commitments get in the way or whatever, they will also be at "Wargamer" in December in Birmingham, so I can also add extras there if required.

(As a side note, I also like the idea of some European SYW action after re-reading the first couple of volumes of the "Wargaming in History" series by Charles Grant. I'll add this notion to the Arthurians, Napoleonic skirmish, Operation Enduring Freedom, WW2, 10mm ACW, 10mm Crimean War, etc on the "To Do" list...)


La Reine. I originally decided to do 20-figure units for the French as they were historically smaller in actuality than their British opposition, who were to be 24-figures strong. I like the bigger unit size however, so will increase all units to 24 figures with the addition of a couple of two-figure wings.

The reverse of the La Reine flag, just about showing some of the fleur-de-lys on the cross. Officionadoes of the SYW French will know that La Reine's official uniform was different to the one shown, but also that they wore this one in North America due to supply constraints.
Royal-Roussillon. Again, they will be increased in size to twenty-four figures.

Even more fleur-de-lys than La Reine meant I thought this one would be tedious to do, but it was actually quite therapeutic! I know. I am strange!

Friday, 29 September 2017

Old, new, borrowed and...bilious green

Hello again.

Way back on 2nd July, I proudly posted about my latest purchase, which was the latest incarnation of Warhammer 40K, together with the Chaos Space Marine Codex.

I drank deeply of the putrid filth that is the Death Guard, waxed lyrical about new options allowed by the new rules to make this doyen of disease and decay even more palatable and bemoaned the fact that I could no longer have Terminators in my Death Guard forces as the new Codex omitted them from the relevant list.

Well, on September 16th I hurried down to my nearest Games Workshop store to purchase the newly-released, specifically "Death Guard" Codex. I also managed to get some cards to use with them, showing tactical gubbins of one sort or another for use with 40K, but I was unable to get the special dice also released at the same time because they had already sold out when I got there.

I had a flick through on arriving home and, lo and behold, not none, not one, but TWO TYPES OF TERMINATOR IN THE DEATH GUARD LISTS!!!

Had they relented at GWHQ? Had they been bombarded with bile by those of us who were old enough to remember the last century at the omission of the Tactical Dreadnought armour types from the Chaos Codex? Had I read that part of the Codex wrongly and confused myself (not too uncommon a thing, unfortunately...)

Who cares?!

My entries into the genre are more of the "Blightlord" category than the "Deathshroud" variety (see pages above), but I am sure I can field both with some thought and coercion of my opponent, when I get a game in that is. I knew there was a reason I originally built eight of these though."Blightlord" units are five+ strong and "Deathshroud" ones 3+ strong!

So, what better way to celebrate than to post a few more retro picks of what younger G used to get up to in his gaming time.


These Terminators were originally built mainly from parts from the plastic Imperial Terminators available a couple of decades ago. By mixing parts from other sets, adding some Greenstuff rotten flesh, patches of textured paint scoriasis, etc, I got what I was looking for and made them into something Nurgle-esque. This is the leader figure.

Three ordinarily-equipped figures, with Storm Bolter and Powerfist. A judicious mix of Greenstuff, protruding worms, rust and other detritus all adds to what I was trying to achieve all those years ago.

And the effects are both back and front on various figures.

The "Specialist Weapons" types - heavy flamer for smoking out troops in buildings, the Reaper Autocannon for rapid, heavy firepower, a combi-weapon for mixing effects vs various targets and a good old chainfist to rip through tanks.

And a close up of a few of the disease effects I was after, namely mottled, diseased skin, boils and scoriasis, together with rust, rot and patched-up armour.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Half a century in the making

Hello again.

A few months ago, before the various technical and other challenges I referred to in the first post I published this month, I mentioned that I had a certain milestone birthday approaching. Well, as far as I am aware, Harry Potter and I have four things in common - we both wear glasses, we are both sans parents, we both have scars (though his main one is far more prominent than mine and was caused by something very different), and we share the 31st July as our birthday.

Yes, Monday, 31st July, 2017 saw yours truly turn fifty, whilst on a family holiday with around twenty others who decided they would like to join me at a collection of stone buildings down in rural Somerset where we stayed for an excellent, if slightly damp in places, week of relaxation, sightseeing, fun, laughter, games and the odd disagreement!

I had a jolly wonderful time and, as it was my birthday, although I tried to tell people we were not actually there for that, I received a number of very decent gifts from the entourage. The wargaming-related ones are here.

The "Travel Battle" was courtesy of wife and children - I must have dropped a few hints somewhere...

For those few of you not in the know on this one, it was originated by one of the Perry twins many years ago as a quick and portable option for a game whilst away at shows, conventions or re-enactment events. The box contains two armies, terrain and rules. The option exists to paint the two forces in the box, which are generic Napoleonic-style figures in red and blue plastic, so basically French vs British. Given that my passion in Napoleonic terms is to play Austrian, I wonder how the red ones would look in white...

There will undoubtedly be several articles on the web and in future magazines about how to expand this further, which I await with interest, but the set is on the conveyor belt of projects that is my "To Do" list. It can, of course, be played without painting either the figures or terrain, but that would not be very wargamer-ish.

Now this little offering was a very generous one from Nephew Nick and his wife, Claire. I had heard of it, and its derivatives, but never actually played any of them. It looks great and could very easily become my de rigeur choice whenever I want a quick WW2 game. It too is chock full of figures, including tanks and artillery. I very much look forward to giving this a go asap.

A good birthday!!!

See you soon.