Saturday, 18 February 2012

Big Bang Theory

Given the amount of material the Swiss captured from the Burgundians, there can be no doubt that Charles the Bold had a passion for artillery. (Not to mention lots of money....)


Hinchliffe organ gun, Front Rank crew. The banner is a company flag, but I have no idea whether it should fly on an artillery piece. Still, if Hinchliffe put a flag pole on the gun, I had to hang something on it.

White probably is not the best colour for someone who plays with black powder weapons......

Front Rank gun (I think) with Foundry crew. The guy with the box and the bigwig pointing in the background are Front Rank.

Another big bang (or perhaps little bang...), the good, old handgunner. Front Rank again.

"Oi, don't you know we can't move AND fire???"

"He's right! It's move OR fire"

A rather older piece of ordinance (as opposed to "Ordonnance"). Front Rank again. Some "Belgian" input to the cosmopolitan army of CtB, with the Flanders lion on the gunners pavise.

Where did we leave the horses?

Time for another enigmatic unit.

On the face of things, a unit of gens d'armes, albeit dismounted, tooled up with the best weapons and armour, trained from an early age in the arts of war and with their prestige as much dependent on their battle prowess as their lineage, would be a good battlefield choice.

So, why do they underachieve? They ran at the first sight of those chocolate-making peasants from the mountain valleys in their first game and have hardly covered themselves in glory since. It might just be that it will take a bit of time for a team of start players to gel, and I do not take them out much (or their colleagues), but I hope the problem is not a wider one.

The banner is that of Philip de Crevecoeur. I noted recently, that there is a village that appears on a map of the Battle of Cambrai in 1917 called Crevecoeur.......

Front Rank figures. From the left of the photo, we have Oliver de la Marche, Guillaume de Vergy, some guy who could not be bothered with his livery so shall remain anonymous, Philippe de Crevecoeur himself, Jan van Broechhuisen and Hugues de Thoisy.

Close up of the command group. This is one of the few flags I painted myself for this project, most originating from the Lance and Longbow Society.

De Crevecoeur, van Broehhuisen and de Thoisy.

All heraldic details for this unit were derived from "The Burgundian Army of Charles The Bold: The Ordonnance Companies And Their Captains" by Pat McGill, Armand Pacou and Rod Erskine Riddell.

I got my copy from the "Lance & Longbow Society" stand at some show or other. They seem to be present at every show I visit and, in my opinion, do a great job and have some excellent products on offer. Highly recommended. Give them a visit if you are at all interested in any aspect of medieval history.


Scorpio, and my name is Charles.......

My friends call me "the Bold", my detractors "the Rash" and my enemies "the Terrible".

NO, NOT ME, as in G, but Charles de Valois, Duc de Bourgogne!!!

This is the first showing of my late medieval stuff, inspired originally by the Armies of Chivalry WAB supplement. I am not a massive fan of WAB, but accept it for what it is - a fun set of rules that give a reasonable game, but perhaps more "game" than "history". I chose the Swiss-Burgundian War as my cue, three battles that, following the result in round 3, established the raison d'etre for most of the next 250 years of warring in NW Europe. It was either that or Condottieri, which may appear at some point too - there are some Italians in the Burgundian forces at my disposal, clearly identified by such details as Papal crossed keys on pavises, Florentine red fleur de lys, etc. It was never going to be Wars of the Roses - uberdull!

"Interesting" fact time - what have Charles the Bold/ Rash/ Terrible (delete as appropriate) and my eldest daughter got in common (apart from dark brown hair)?

Answer - they were both born on the 10th November (albeit 560 years apart.....)

Now, what was that awful pop song/ group that inspired my above title? I can remember "Leo, and my name is Larry", a black American band, probably a one hit wonder and I think the title was "Float On".....?

I preferred Fat Larry's Band and "Zoom". But, with a record collection dominated by the likes of Metallica, ACDC, Van Halen, WASP and lighter stuff like Foo Fighters, Genesis and Marillion, I will not admit that in public.................oops!


Front Rank figure. I did my best with the heraldry!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Steinkirche, part 2

The WMMMS show is less than four weeks away, and Nephew Nick and I will be there with Steinkirche, for its second outing, in our guise of the "Wyrley Retinue".

We have a lot to live up to. The show features some tremendous looking games, with some awesome figures and great original ideas on display. I have been trying to upgrade a few bits and pieces to make our little offering a bit better, but there is one thing I am sure will be better - the lighting in the hall!!!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed our outing at Wargamer last month, but the lights in the hall there made me think I was wearing some sort of hippy yellow sunglasses all day. It reminded me of all those weird French car headlights from the seventies. Not good when I had to drive home later - I even managed to miss two potential turnings and took a circuitous route home in the end!!!

Just how do you miss the M6????? My excuse is that it was that hideously ineptly-designed junction 7........

Do say  "Hello" if you are there. I am the big guy, probably in my Gloucester rugby shirt. If I am not in that distinctive cherry and white hooped homage to my hometown sports interest, then you may rest assured I will at least be wearing something!!!!! Just don't confuse me with Big John from Yorkshire. He is even bigger than me, talks "funny" and looks like a Viking, with his long white hair and beard. Hi John! He also helpfully wears his Stafford Gamers shirt to most shows, which helpfully has "John" printed on the hem of the left sleeve. If I am wearing my Stafford Gamers shirt, you may be interested to hear that it has "Gary" on the hem of the left sleeve.........


Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Phoenix from the ashes (with green stuff step ladder)

Last time out, I bemoaned my lack of success with the Warlord Games metal/ plastic Cuirassiers boxed set, as the separate right arm pieces did not fit the concave sockets cast into the figures, meaning I had a torrid time trying to build them.

Well, I may be slow, I may still be wading through fog banks of blue air in my modelling chamber (what She calls "the conservatory") and I may be a little lacking in enthusiasm for painting at the moment with job losses at work announced etc, but I did solve the problem in the end.

What I hope the photo shows is that solution.

1) Fill the shoulder cavity with liquid green stuff (I used Games Workshop's version).
2) Whilst the green stuff is still wet, push the arm into it to get a proper fit.
3) Remove the arm from the socket and wipe the green stuff off the arm.
4) When the green stuff is dry, put your superglue of choice in the newly part-filled shoulder socket and hold the arm in place for 30 seconds.
5) Voila!!! Sit back (unstick skin as appropriate) and enjoy your newly finished figure.

It is quite simple really. As with so many white metal kits of my acquaintance over the years, the bits don't fit. Thus, you give 'em a helping hand with the green stuff. It should not be necessary, but it is. The figures would be so much better IMO if they were one piece castings for the riders, but hey ho. I also think the arms stand a little too proud of their sockets, giving them a slightly dislocated look, but I am hoping I will forget to look going forwards and just enjoy the game instead!

I have elevated my appreciation for these figures to "recommended with some reservations" now, so it is not all bad. I still have a couple of quibbles, however.

1) Several riders do not have scabbards at all moulded on. Thus, not sure what they are supposed to use in melee. I added mine from some cut down plastic swords from other Warlord boxes.
2) Several riders have scabbards, with swords, moulded on. Thus, not really appropriate to use the sword arms supplied for these. Take care when building them to match up properly if you are anal like me and notice this sort of thing. THIS IS OF ESPECIAL CONSIDERATION IF YOU GO ON TO BUILD THE WARLORD DRAGOONS!!!!!! Be warned!
3) Whilst I had little trouble with the plastic horses, which come in two parts, be wary of which parts you match up. Some options look more like dressage contestants with both legs on the same side raised up, which I think is unnatural for a horse in normal movement.
4) Also, there can be large gaps where the neck and shoulders on the horses join, so keep your green stuff ready for that too.
5) The box comes with a metal lance arm for the standard bearer. Throw it away! It is so weak and flimsy as to warrant no less ruthless a stance than melting it down, jabbing it in the eye of your worst enemy or just plain replacing with something much better. Either forget about a standard bearer in your unit or use one of the plastic arms from the other cavalry sets and either paint convert it to an armoured one or sculpt something on to show it is armoured.

As I said above, "recommended with some reservations".


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Why I loathe white metal kits

Failing completely to stick to my first quarter plans for this year, I decided to dig out my Warlord Games cuirassiers (I will use the French word this time, rather than "Kurassiere", as they will become Swedish when done and I do not know what the Swedes called such cavalry...) I made the plastic horses easily enough, and the metal riders glued easily enough into place atop their respective mounts. That is where it turns sour......

I know from long association with white metal kits that the parts usually do not fit, that the glue, even when the "best" superglue available is used, often takes an age to adhere, that I get blisters and sores from constant pinning and drilling and I have to be extremely careful not to try and glue my fingers to the pieces I am working on! Armed with this knowledge, I set out to affix the separate right arms to the bodies, choosing my weapons carefully from the options available, as several riders had scabbarded swords, so were not getting one to hold as well.

The riders come with proper hollows into which to glue the arms, so I expected little trouble. One frustrating Saturday later and I can say I DO NOT recommend these figures to anyone with any remaining sanity.

They look very nice on the box and I have built the Warlord dragoons with no issues, but those separate parts are a pig.

The holes are too deep/ too shallow/ out of kilter (delete as appropriate) and I had to resort to filling the arm sockets with liquid green stuff from that "big company" who started me on my road to white metal kit loathing. I will get them built, I will get them painted, I am certain the arms will spring loose the moment they are handled and ruin my paint job, but Tott's Cuirassiers will be at the WMMMS Show in March.

I see absolutely no need for the separate parts or the poor fit. Give me all in one next time. The metal sprues to which the arms are attached are big enough to warrant separate upper body halves, half with melee and half shooty weapons, so just do that instead Warlord and stop stressing me out with your cavalry kit!!!!!!

Rant over. I love their other 17th Century figures, which represent a very characterful and cost-effecive way for entering this period. Just DO NOT give me separate white metal parts again.......


Thursday, 2 February 2012

The first game in ages (well, a month or so)

Last night saw an outing to Stafford Games with Nephew Nick for a most enjoyable set to with...............
my 1914 Austrians and Russians.

I can count on the fingers of no hands how many times I have seen anyone else use 1914 Austrians, let alone game the Eastern Front in 1914, but I love this sub-period and this army. So, I played the Russians (??????)

We played a scenario I wrote many years ago to try to give something of the flavour of those first steps to contact in August 1914 in southern Poland. Both sides picked units from the army to start the game with, Nick picking some dragoons, some jager and two machine guns and I electing to field a dragoon regiment, a hussar regiment and two infantry battalions. The remainder of each army was available from turn 4, but we rolled at random to see what arrived, if anything, and no more than two units could arrive per turn of reinforcement. We used the "Contemptible Little Armies" rules.

These games are usually bloody and decisive affairs, and we started off in that vein with the Kaiserlich dragoons crashing headlong into the hussars. My dragoons reinforced the combat as the infantry moved up and the MG's sought a suitable position to deploy. You see above where I said "these games are usually bloody and decisive affairs"????? Well, the cavalry melee lasted all game, as we both fed in more cavalry as it arrived. By the game close, I had spent three units and Nick two to gain absolutely nothing!!!!! (Except some practice for the odd surgeon back at base......) What an exercise in futility that fight was!

The infantry set to and whittled each other down as more reinforcements arrived here and there (deployment of these was also random).

Nick brought on some hussars who trampled an infantry battalion into the Galician dust, I brought on some more who, although they lost 33% of their number to one of the MG's, charged home and skewered the poor Kaiserlich gunners before riding on to confront some newly-arrived Austrian lancers.

That brought the game to an end. I had two intact infantry battalions and the remainder of my MG-mauled cavalry, with other troops yet to arrive, and Nick had his lancers, the rampaging hussars, a few battered infantry and a staff officer. He too had units yet to show.

We called it a draw. Could I have shot him down with my infantry? Could he have closed and sabred me with his cavalry? Would either of us have managed to get some reinforcements on table to tip the balance?

We will never know.......

A jolly good game.

With the 100th anniversary of the start of this massive and poignant affair so close, and my mind ever turning over gaming ideas, this ranks high on the wishlist for a 2014 demo.