Wednesday 31 August 2016

Long Expected Reinforcements

I have been trying some larger SYW games over the last year, with a small group of wargaming friends attending for some daytime gaming which gives us a bit more time. Most recently I have found that I can squeeze a 10' x 6' table into my dining room, and as this room doesn't see much use, the set up can be left in place for 2 or 3 days to make the whole process of setting up and clearing away much more relaxing.

As a result of this slightly more ambitious series of games, I have felt the need for a few extra units. Some of you may remember this post, where I expressed the view that my collection was more or less complete. Ah well, never say never, especially when it comes to wargamers purchasing more stuff. 

These days I limit my painting of SYW kit to the odd general or wagon, as I find painting whole units just too time consuming and tedious. A bit of lightweight painting is enjoyable and relaxing, but for me the production-line stuff is just a chore. So I ordered my new units from the current producers of my favourite RSM95 figures, namely the Dayton Painting Consortium in the U.S.A. 

In this case I had to wait a few months for the figures to turn up, which I was warned about beforehand, but they have finally arrived. Using the DPC means the figures don't have to be bought separately and sent to the figure painter of your choice, and prices are excellent. Generally, one pays about £3 - £3.50 for a painted infantry figure (depending on the exchange rate), which includes buying the unpainted figure, painting, flags, and shipping to the UK. A definite bargain. I base the figures myself as this makes shipping easier with less chance of damage to the figures. The painting style is exactly what I want - basic block painting to a good wargames standard. None of this 5 levels of shading, £5-a-figure just for the painting nonsense. 

Two battalions of Hungarian line infantry plus a regiment of Prussian dragoons were in the current tranche, with a further 2 battalions of Prussian infantry and some Saxon chevauxlegers to follow in a few weeks. Along with the unexpected free units acquired recently, I should be able to fill my table nicely when needed. 

The 2 battalions of IR53 Simbschen. The mounted general was part of the order as well -
the Bavarian officer on foot having an argument is my own work.
Prussian DR6 Schorlemmer, the famous 'porcelain regiment'. Just 8 figures in my HoW cavalry regiments, making it easier to build an army quickly. You can of course use bigger units if you wish.
A close up of the quality. Not good enough for some, I'll admit, but I buy and paint my figures for wargaming,
not for close-up shots on blogs, rulebooks or glossy magazines.

My basing work is pretty basic, as you can see. The bases are made from 2mm thick plastic card or MDF. Paint them grass green, a coat of PVA glue, then sprinkle on the grass flock. Done. I don't think there's much chance of a modelling article in Wargames Illustrated from me in the near future. Not quite enough content to please most gamers!

'Til next time!

Thursday 4 August 2016

The Battle Of McHook's Farm

For anyone unaware of the significance of The Battle Of Hook's Farm, see this link. H.G.Wells' original map is shown below.

McHook's? Well, I'm working on a project at the moment to adapt Honours of War for the Jacobite Rebellions of the 18th century in general, and the '45 in particular. It turns out Stuart has a fine collection of 30mm figures for this period, of both sides, so we are now working on things together. For this purpose, Stuart had set up a terrain based on Hook's Farm on his dining table (6' x 3') so we could have a little play test of the ideas I have produced so far.

I only took a few snaps of very average quality, so I can't show you an overview of the table. The Government forces (Stuart) were 2 regular battalions, 1 battalion of inferior militia, a regiment of dragoons and 2 light guns. They were set up on the northern table edge. To the south, the Jacobites (myself) were set up with 6 small Highland units, 2 small cavalry units, and 1 light gun. Only 2 of the Jacobite units were given muskets, and these (the ones on the right and left of the first line) were allowed to be superior, although their firing would be classed as inferior. 

The battle turned out to be something of a re-run of Prestonpans. If I may say so, Stuart made the mistake of advancing forward with his regular battalions, temporarily isolating them from the support of his artillery and militia. When the inevitable Highland charge occurred (surging forward either side of The Hovel Public House), all 6 Scots units were concentrated against the regulars, with 3 attacking each battalion, led of course by the musket wielding superior clansmen. The Government fire was not as effective as it might have been, and in the melee that followed both Government battalions, well..., ran away.  My current rules allow the Highlanders a significant charge bonus, and when added to the modifiers for supporting units, the redcoats were simply overwhelmed.

Stuart, gentleman wargamer that he is, pronounced himself pleased with how things had worked. The 2 regular battalions were outnumbered and had fired poorly, and the result seemed fair. The main trick I need to accomplish is to balance the ferocity of the Highland charge against the defensive capabilities of the British line units, so that, as quality and numbers on both sides are varied, a series of plausible results occur. Then maybe we can re-fight some actual battles and see how they work out.

Below are a few snaps, with a little commentary on how things progressed.

The Highlanders crash into the Government left flank infantry.
(And yes, those redcoats are vintage Spencer Smith plastics. Handle with care!)
HoW dictates that in this situation, one unit melees hand-to-hand whilst the other 2 act as support.
2 moves have been played, and both Government battalions are in flight,
overwhelmed by both numbers and the aggression of the Highland charge.
A bit of black-and-white old school flavour for you.
One of the Government guns is feeling rather exposed as the supporting infantry disappears.
The 3rd and final move saw a unit of Jacobite cavalry (Bagot's Hussars) move rapidly round the
Government right flank and charge the hapless militia. 'The Cottage' is seen top right.
The Government Dragoons try the same thing on the opposite end of the table. They find themselves faced by blue-bonneted  Jacobite cavalry supported by the Jacobite light gun. This encounter could have gone either way, but we left it there as the game was effectively over at this point. Firefly Kirk in the background.

Although brief, this was an instructive engagement that supported some of my adaptions so far, and also showed up areas where I had not thought through all the possibilities (for example, the question of Highlanders pursuing following a successful melee). A great pleasure as well to have Stuart's lovely figures to use.

The project has now grown another branch, as Stuart is working on adapting Young and Lawford's Charge! rules for the same period. Plus he has promised to set up a proper re-run of Hook's Farm, complete with wooden building-block houses, Britain's figures and appropriate vintage guns. Oh yes, and then there's the re-fight of The Ancient Battle of Trimsos, from Donald Featherstone's original book, using the original rules. So many games, so little time...

Monday 1 August 2016

Unexpected Reinforcements

As any wargamer knows, the best kind of reinforcements are the ones that come as a surprise. I was certainly surprised recently when my wargaming friend in Northleach, Stuart Asquith, offered me a whole drawer-full of tricorn-wearing figures entirely for free. Stuart is in the process of thinning out some of his current collection, and has sold many of them, but decided this lot would be a gift. I was bowled over by this act of generosity from someone I have only known for few months - thank you Stuart.

As the pictures below indicate, this is not a collection of battle-scarred veterans from way-back. These are beautifully painted 25mm figures in mint condition, mostly organised in units of 18 figures, which suits Honours of War perfectly. What was particularly intriguing is that Stuart had forgotten which manufacturer's figures they were (both plastic and metal figures are present), and he had painted them in various fictional uniform schemes just for the pleasure of creating colourful units. Immediately, the idea of developing a group of units that were fictional but fitted into a believable SYW narrative was born.

Stuart finishes all his troops in gloss varnish, and the units were based to allow single casualty removal à la Charge! rules. I had the briefest of notions to give the figures a coat of matt varnish to match my own figures, and prise off the individual castings to rebase them. Such sacrilegious thoughts were soon abandoned. The figures look wonderful in their glossy coats, and they wouldn't be Stuart's figures if given a flat finish. As for the basing, this had been done so well that re-basing would be an equal mistake. Stuart had given each figure a 20mm x 20mm space, which fits my basing scheme exactly. Some thin plastic card is already ordered, and the current bases can be glued onto 40mm x 40mm squares of this material to bring them together.

With that decided, an extremely pleasurable afternoon was spent inventing a set of suitable backgrounds for the new units. Some of them received new flags as a result, but that was about the limit of my 'conversions'. The results are described below.

Here we have the 2 battalions of the Royal Lomdardy regiment, allied, of course, with Austria. In gratitude for their service, the Empress Maria Theresa has given permission for them to retain their green uniforms and the flags of their home country. The command figure was a further gift from Stuart, just so that my new units wouldn't lack officers! Wonderful. Plastic figures to the rear, metal in front.
The Fusiliers Francaise. This volunteer unit of Frenchmen resident in the Habsburg lands has adopted the white
Austrian uniform, but again they retain their own national flag by special permission. Plastic figures.
The magnificent blue-coated men of the Polish-Lithuanian regiment Zamoyski. This mercenary unit of exiles are for hire to the highest bidder. Note the grenadier company on the left. More plastic figures.
These imaginary units are designated as originating from the real Prussian ally of Hesse-Kassel. In the rear are the men of the regular regiment von Gräffendorff, and in front the two smaller Freikorps battalions of Haller and Bischausen are seen. The mounted command figure was another gift from Stuart. All these are metal figures.
There was also a group of about a dozen dismounted hussar figures. These close-ups reveal the quality of the painting they had received. They will be re-based as light troops for HoW, providing a very valuable resource of dismounted men for either Prussian or Austrian armies. Metal figures.

So there we are - 8 new units for the table, ready in an afternoon. Can't wait to get these guys into action. Thank you so much Stuart, this was a much appreciated act of kindness.