Friday, November 11, 2011

New things and a gift!

Not to belabour the point but it seems this has become a monthly posting exercise. And as before, I've not been idle even though my gaming has been sparse. The ImagiNation project continues apace with the addition of several new units. At Council Fires (about which a post will follow soon), I contracted some painting out as an experiment to a local painter. I've heard good reviews of his work but I'll reserve naming him until I receive the first commission (don't wanna recommend someone without first seeing his work) and I check with him to be sure it's OK. Currently he's working on the first unit of Das Kaiserreich, Regiment der Grenadiere Oettinger, modeled on Prussian grenadiers with the very nice pointy caps!

Meanwhile, I've managed to finish up a couple of units and come closer to finishing the (first stage of) the forces of Gourmandie. You can see the photos below with some explanations but perhaps the most interesting development in the Grand Duchy of Gourmandie has been the raising of a new unit by the Grand Duke himself, Le Garde de Gourmandie (painted and gifted to me by my good friend Bob Lehman from Ohio). This is a small infantry unit recruited from the landed gentry, and sons of wealthy land-owners and businessmen. Not intended as merely a ceremonial unit, Le Garde has already been fielded once with the army of Le Marquis de Fromage, standing up well for its first time under fire.
 Le Garde de Gourmandie.
Crusader Miniatures, painted by Bob Lehman (and gifted to yours truly with much thanks!)

 Les Chasseurs de Chevrotin.
Crusader Miniatures, two divisions of chasseurs with command party in the center. These were painted with the dip method, which has not quite captured my imagination yet. I haven't given up on the technique for horse & musket armies yet. These figures took longer than they should have, I suspect because I was playing around with the technique. Once I discover the sequence that works for me, I believe it will shave my painting time significantly (without sacrificing quality).

Chef de Battlaion Henri LeSanglier, Chevalier de Merlot, accompanied by Capitaine Phillipe Dangereux, Seigneur de Chapeau Rouge and musician.

Les Grenadiers de Camembert.
Crusader Miniatures, three divisions of grenadiers with command party and led by Colonel Jean-Jacques LaPierre, Comte de Champagne (Front Rank figure). I didn't think I'd ever finish the last division of this battalion but I drove my way through them. Each of the three divisions has a different facing colour (red/buff/blue).

Le Comte de Champagne. 
Behind him you can see the last division of the battalion finished with blue facings.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Shameless Plug!

OK, yes, a shameless plug for Council Fires 2011.

For those of you who don't know yet, Council Fires has been resurrected and is taking place on October 1 at the Cambridge Newfoundland Club. You can see all the details here and follow us on Facebook here.

We now have eight vendors for your shopping pleasure, a full breadth of games and, of course, Vidal's smiling face as you walk in the door. For the astoundingly low price of $10.00 CAD (that would be $10.11 USD for our American cousins) you get a full day of gaming and emptying your wallet. 

And I'd be happy to concoct excuses for your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/significant other to explain the dip in your bank balance and/or your unexplained absence.

Remember, Playing with Toy Soldiers is Really Just Playing with Toy Soldiers.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Imagination Game and campaign thoughts

I hosted a small ImagiNation game last weekend to give my Gourmandie troops a chance to stretch their legs. My friend John came by to partake of the toy soldier goodness. I decided to take Field of Battle out for a spin, something I hadn't done in a long time. If you look back through the Napoleonic posts on this blog, you'll see that I really gamed the hell out of these rules. My compatriots at MIGS and I played at least 100 games using Field of Battle and a couple of campaigns.  But once I sold off my Napoleonic and War of 1812 collections, coupled with so much FoB gaming, I decided to take a step away from the rules. The game Sunday reminded me why I like these rules so much. They give quick results in the normal Piquet fashion, with lots of uncertainty and drama.

The good news is that my Gourmandie army was able to fight its first battle without a defeat. Now, I'm not saying I won...but a draw is at least not a defeat! Check out the pics below for a short synopsis of the game.
The forces of Gourmandie deploy for battle under the watchful eye of le Marquis de Fromage. Ordered to the border with Andalonia in order to face incursions by the army of Don Pedro, the intrepid Marquis has thought to be bold and make the first move. He has moved his small force to the town of San Miguel, a known Andalonian base, to try and draw out Don Pedro's army into a precipitate assault.

Don Pedro encourages his men to attack the brash move by Gourmandie. And yes, they do bear a remarkable resemblance to another of my collections...suspend your disbelief.

The first Andalonian units begin their assault on the Gourmandie line. Le Marquis' plan is coming together...really!

 Andalonian lancers await the chance to pounce!

 Les Grenadiers a Cheval Boursin move to support the artillery of the Gourmandie line.
While I haven't been too active on the painting front, I have been gaming and thinking and planning. One focus of late has been campaigning. This internal conversation was sparked by a recent external conversation with Daniel about his and his brother's prospects after graduation from RMC. Both will be posted about the country (or deployed abroad) and our chances of gaming together will be severely limited. To keep in gaming contact, I thought it would be interesting to play a campaign with them but there would be some significant challenges. We couldn't count on getting together to play out the tactical battles so the ability to solo game the battles or play them out with friends in our respective vicinities would be necessary. Fortunately, when Daniel, Michael and I build collections, we usually build both (or multiple) sides or factions. Unfortunately, we don't build the same collections. So, we could find ourselves in a situation where Michael is posted in New Brunswick with his 1/285 WWII and Modern collections (oh, and his spaceship fleets), Daniel is in Manitoba with his 28m WWI collection (and maybe a new 28mm Thirty Years War collection?), and I'm here in Ontario with 28mm Carlist Wars, 28mm WWII, and 28mm Imagination. What to do? It's clear we couldn't play a conventional campaign, such as WWII or horse and musket.We need a system that allows us to play a map campaign and fight the tactical battles in whatever genre, scale, or historical context we have available and choose at the time. So one battle initiated by Michael may be fought out by him and his local gaming group using 1/285 WWII and another battle initiated by Daniel may be solo-gamed by him using 28mm TYW.  Bizarre? Perhaps, but the campaign system itself needs to be generic enough to accommodate different tactical battle possibilities. Perhaps a point system to translate from campaign map to any of the specific tactical rule sets? Or maybe only worrying about ensuring proper ratios between forces fighting a battle need be considered? The interesting thing to consider is how each campaign participant may look at the exercise. If the map and campaign system is handled properly, one player could see it as a WWII campaign, another as a horse and musket campaign. It wouldn't matter much really, I don't think, just a matter of perspective. Anyway, things to ponder...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Special Guest Blogger: Too Lazy To Get My Own Blog

I, the youngest son of the respectable blogger, have decided to hijack this blog to showcase some of my newest work and incoherent ramblings.

I have had a very productive summer in terms of modelling. My 28mm WW1 collection has expanded exponentially over the last few months. Though I am not quite done the project, I am well over the halfway point having just finished the last batch of Canadian Corps troops this week. This leaves me with about 30 more German figures left to go, which will round out a full company for the dastardly Hun.

Without further ado, I shall provide you with some eye candy of my latest diabolical creations. Enjoy:

First off, I recently finished my last terrain board for my modular trench system. This board was half finished when I completed the rest of the project, and lay in that state until I finally got the motivation to complete it. I built it with building foundations sunk into the board, so that ruined buildings could be placed on top. I must give credit to Sydney Roundwood and his fantastic blog for inspiration. The effect is quite striking:

The center piece of the board in the beginning stages of construction. This are plaster bricks cast using Hirst Arts molds.
The same church, now with wooden planked floors and rubble. I lacked sufficient bricks to make the ruins more extensive, but I am happy with the end result.
Now with a portion of roof still intact. I chose to fortify the ruins with sand bags, as this church is only built to go on my modular trench system.

The finished product

One of the other buildings on the board. 

What used to be a building

The stained glass was a fairly intricate detail to add. I cut thin plastic sheeting into rough shapes then glued each piece to the end of a pin which has been stuck into foam. I then painted each piece with a random selection of colours, making the colours lighter towards the edges. Realistically there probably would not be any stained glass left on a ruined church like this, especially after the pounding it must have taken but, it looks pretty!

Next, I have decided that I want to move my WW1 project beyond the trenches. To do this, the first thing I will need is some sort of grass matt. I am a big fan of the old GW felt gaming mats. My father (the author of this blog!) owns two of these which have served him well for many years. What I like about them the most is that they have a lot of texture, what I do not like is that they are too drab. They look fantastic, but I would like something with a bit more depth than your standard grass mat.

This desire for depth sent me on a trip to my local Fabricland store. I scoured the racks for any material or cloth that looked greenish or brownish with the texture I wanted. Alas I could not find exactly what I had pictured in my mind. However, I was able to find a roll of faux fur that had a fantastic texture to it.

Sadly, the colour was not precisely what I wanted. Taking inspiration from various other gamers before me, I chose to paint and texture this fabric myself. Firstly I sprayed the entire piece with watered down PVA glue, then sprinkled a dark green flocking. This helped to give it a green hue as well as to give it texture. Next I took a variety of green spray paints and sprayed the mat. I went from darker to lighter and painted in a mottled pattern. Once this was done, I sprayed it once again with watered down PVA and water. Onto this i sprinkled a medium green/brown static grass from Woodland Scenics. Once this was dry I was quite happy with the results:

The matt has lots of texture and depth as well as flexibility, allowing it to be placed on top of hills.

Next, I played a rather large game last night of Through the Mud and the Blood, the wonderful set of WW1 rules from Too Fat Lardies. If you have ever played any rules from Too Fat Lardies, you will understand the basic mechanics, which transfer quite easily to the period.

The scenario consisted of a large company sized attack by the Germans during their Spring Offensive of 1918. To fit this scenario (and the number of figures I have), I gave the germans smaller sections (6 men) as by the end of the Spring Offensive German manpower was running dangerously thin. The German force consisted of 2 small rifle platoons and a stormtrooper platoon, forming an understrength company. This force lacked heavy weapons, apart from a couple MG08/15 light machine guns. The Germans did however have a pair of massive A7V "tanks". The Canadian defenders were given a variety of infantry and heavy weapons, giving them less than 50 men against twice as many Huns.

To portray the then revolutionary stormtrooper tactics employed by the Germans during the Spring Offensive, I chose to give the Hun a unique objective. The Germans were not required to take or hold any specific terrain or objective, they merely needed to exit 6 of their 11 units off of the Canadian board edge. This reflects the fact that stormtrooper tactics were based around avoiding strongpoints, taking the path of least resistance, and penetrating as deeply as possible.

Luckily Johnny Canuck was able to halt the dastardly Hun's evil plans, winning the entire war for the Entente in the process. The Canadian gunners were able to knock out both A7Vs with their 18 pounder over open sights, while machine gunners mowed down wave after wave of Huns pouring across the wire. Obviously the German preparatory barrage was not effective enough, as the Canadian barbed wire entanglements were left largely intact, along with the defending Canucks.

Enough rambling, here are some pictures of the game:

The table before the game

Canadian mortars firing from the basement of the church

The 18 pounder turns to engage the German "tanks"

The 18 pounder finds itself a target at the other end of the table. Note the piper in the trench in front of the gun.

Gas masked German infantry advance under cover of Cyklop

German troops moving up a communication trench past the body of the comrade

German flammenwerfer engages Canadian bombers at close range

German MG08/15 team supporting the advance of Mephisto

Stormtroopers attempt to rush a Canadian Lewis Gun inside a fortified building

After destroying Cyklop, the gunners move on to Mephisto

Monday, August 1, 2011

Mid-summer Update

So it seems this has become a monthly blog. Besides my normal lament that work seems to get fully in the way of my hobby, I seem also to have settled into a lengthy hobby ennui, at least in terms of painting. Not much to report there except a couple of experiments with the dip method. First, I tried out the method on a few Old Glory 28mm WWI Yanks and was quite pleased with the result. I had bought one pack of these figures with this experiment in mind. You can see the result below. Those with a keen eye (and who can see past the horrible photography) will notice that the green of the uniforms is a little too light and bright but this was a deliberate choice. I've always felt that the look of the figures at three feet is more important than at six inches (but that is, of course, just a personal opinion). Thus my choice to use a lighter green than was historically used. It provides a better representation at distance and also serves to give a better uniform to equipment contrast in this oh-so-drab period. I liked the result well enough that on my trip to Historicon last month, I picked up enough figures to finish an entire Yank platoon.

Old Glory 28mm Yanks. 
Not my favourite sculpts but the price point is attractive and they have a certain charm of their own.

My second experiment was aimed at my ImagiNation project. Given the slow pace of painting lately, I was looking to pick up the speed on this project as well. I chose some Crusader Miniatures SYW Austrian light infantry that would make up les Chasseurs de Chevrotin in the the army of Gourmandie. Originally slated for green uniforms, I had a slight change of thought and bought sky blue primer for the experiment. After the prime coat, I blocked in the other colours then proceeded to dip. After the dip had dried and before I applied DullCote, I highlighted flesh and red trim. I think the result as seen below is quite good. If I were to notice anything with my failing eyes it would be that the blue perhaps needs a highlight. However, the speed of production far outweighs any slight reservations about results.

Chasseur de Chevrotin. 28mm Crusader Miniatures. 
This regiment will eventually comprise two divisions of eight figures each, plus various command figures.

Besides these experiments with the dip method, I have played a few games, pictures of which can be seen below with short comments. Vidal and I also played a delightful game last week, of which I have no photographic evidence (probably a good thing since he once again gave me a good whuppin'). This was a Carlist Wars clash using ATKM rules and took place in my new permanent gaming room. We've been in our current house for four years and it's only been in the last month that I've taken the steps to get this room together (now that's just not proper commitment to the hobby, wot?).

The new permanent game room, shared with a 12-year old girl's botanical creations.

A couple shots of a WWI game played in Kingston recently with Daniel's superb game boards, 28mm figures and tanks!

A new addition to Daniel's WWI collection, one of two German tank kits found in the Flea Market at Historicon this year, with Daniel's usual fine brushwork. An almost completely useless vehicle but it will look damned sweet on the table!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Raycon 2011

Damn, I see it's been almost two months since my last post (not counting Daniel's last hi-jack post, of course). It's not that I've been completely hobby-idle even though I've painted very little. I was able to finish up the last few details of my Imagination Régiment d'Infanterie Roquefort, adding a grenadier division and artillery limbers (see photos below). After that, work and life got in the way and my painting production came to a crashing halt. Gaming has also fallen off but I was able to make it to Raycon 2011 a couple of weeks ago. This is an annual gathering of friends hosted by Ray Martin at his cottage near Southampton (Ontario...not the UK version) for steaks, beer, wine...oh, and gaming. I was lucky to have both my sons join us this year, along with another cadet from Royal Military College. Michael, Daniel and Phil comported themselves within the traditions of a national military academic institution...yes, they drank, swore and generally acted like soldiers on leave (without the whoring, I might add). Vidal and I, older and wiser patrons of the hobby, were models of gentlemanly behaviour...I'm sure of it. The first day of Raycon was wet and miserable but we rigged up a tarp and set the tables up outside, as is the tradition. You can see some pics of us braving the Lake Huron spring weather below.

The forces of Gourmandie to date.

The grenadier division of Régiment d'Infanterie Roquefort, with their distinctive red hat lace (Crusader Miniatures).
The two battalion guns of Régiment d'Infanterie Roquefort (Crusader Miniatures), with limbers and ammunition wagons (Front Rank).

 The outside set-up at Raycon 2011. It was a miserably cold day but we braved the weather for Daniel's fabulous WWI game.

Some random shots of Daniel's board and the game.

Vidal and Daniel pondering.

 French infantry nervously await the German assault. They were gassed from their trenches before the wave of German grenadiers hit them. The French are the product of Phil's brush...his contribution to Daniel's megalomania.

Some additions for my 1:2400 WWI project, awaiting paint. Russian cruisers and battleships (GHQ).