In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vorwarts! Warlord Prussian Landwehr: a Review

I was quite tickled to be sent a box of the new Warlord plastic Prussian Landwehr the other week. It is a nice set. In the box you get:
  • 9 sprues of plastic infantry with three different poses on each sprue. The sprues also include two separate sabres for adding to the figures if you want.
  • A bag of 3 metal command featuring officer, drummer and ensign. The bag also includes a brass pole for the ensign and metal tassles for the flag too. I thought this was a nice value added touch.
  • A full colour insert giving some background, painting guides and 11 flags that you can either cut out and use or scan/photocopy.

{Edit: picture added 05/11/2010] Shot of plastic sprue on a 1 cm grid.

All this for 17 Pounds (or approximately Cdn$27 or US$26.75). 30 figures for under a dollar a piece. That makes them competitive with the Old Glory figures (unless you have the OG Army Card).

The infantry are one piece in the basic 'March Attack' position. So no assembly, which is a plus to me. I found trying to assemble the Wargames Factory Zulu War British infantry a bit of a nuisance. I can see where one piece does limit the potential for conversions that plastic modelers enjoy, so I doubt we'll see any of these used as the basis for 40K Imperial Guardsmen like has happened to some of the Victrix or Wargames Factory figures. However it does mean you can get a lot of Landwehr ready to paint very quickly.

I also like the March Attack pose. Figures can be ranked up easily. I find figures close assaulting or engaging in a firefight while in the March Attack pose less troublesome to my imagination than figures in a firing line pose (especially if the front rank is kneeling!) charging or marching or being kept in reserve. Plus the March Attack is historically correct unlike the old 'advancing' pose (musket held forward at a 45 degree angle) from the 70s and 80s, which I think was popular because it was a compromise between marching, charging and shooting. I would gladly do all my Horse & Musket line infantry in the March Attack and leave the more animated poses to the light infantry.

The metal command figures had some flash between the legs and a few vents that needed trimming, but the details are well sculpted and crisp.

[Edit: picture added 05/11/2010] WIP shot of the command group and rank and file.

The plastic figures are well sculpted too. A few problems where undercuts would be required such as where the backpacks meet the back of the coat or the cartridge boxes join the hip, but the faces are nicely defined (one fellow looks old, one youngish and the other middle aged) and the lines of the coats, buttons, straps and ragged pant cuffs are good. The muskets and bayonets are quite delicate, making them more realistically proportioned, unlike the thicker metal muskets and bayonets.

The figures are 28mm from the soles of the feet to the eyes, so they are a bit on the large side but they should fit well with the new Perry figures. With both companies co-operating on the army we can hope that other troops will be out sooner rather than later. Warlord has already released another command group to give some variety to your Landwehr battalions and they have some more metal figures (including casualties) in the works.

I think this set is good value for the money and provides a nice starting point for any Prussian army. These fellows will look smashing forming up alongside my Russian brigade.

So it looks like I'm doing 25mm Napoleonics after all. Considering my slow output, by the time these boys and the Russians are done and in need of supports, Warlord should have the artillery and cavalry released.

France 1940

I finally got Patrick and his 1940 French army over for a game of I Ain't Been Shot, Mum last night. Scott put in an appearance to help run the French defences while I ran the Germans. Patrick had a company of infantry supported by a MG platoon and a couple of 47mm anti-tank guns and 4 Char B tanks. They were defending a couple of hills dominating the road to the cafe where Divisional HQ wanted to have lunch. I had a Light Panzer Company of 2 Light Platoons with Panzer Is and IIs, a Medium platoon of 3 Panzer IIIs and a Support Platoon of 3 Panzer IVs. I also had a Panzer Grenadier company with two platoons in halftracks and one platoon in trucks. Supports were a MG platoon, an 80mm mortar platoon and a pair of 75mm guns from the Support Company.

Scott took a few pictures with his Blackberry at the height of the action.

My left hook comes undone.

Swarming the brokendown Char B.

Right hook under fire.

 View from the German end of the table. Supports have deployed in the lower right corner. A light panzer platoon and a panzer grenadier platoon are pushing up on the left while the rest push up through the fields on the right of the main road.

The best way to deal with a Char B.

View from the French side. A platoon of infantry are in the woods at the top of the hill on the left while beside the road a lone Char B holds up the German advance.

Patrick and Scott dug in the infantry along the hills while the tanks took up position along the hedges at the bottom. This forced me to deploy early and my Panzer Is and IIs were pretty ineffective against the lumbering monsters. Two brokedown though and one got caught by a Stuka while it fell back across the field to it's next position. The fourth was eventually damaged by the Panzer IVs. But my casualties were fairly heavy; 2 PzIs and a halftrack knocked out and 10 KIAs among the Panzer Grenadiers. 2 PzIIs, 2 PzIIIs and another halftrack were heavily damaged.

So not exactly a win to brag about but I think a pretty balanced and challenging scenario.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Blood & Chivalry 2

I've been getting back to the second edition of my Medieval rules Blood & Chivalry a bit lately. Although working 45+ hours a week doesn't help much. If I had a reliable laptop then I guess the hour lunches could be put to better use.

Earlier versions were pretty chart and factor heavy. I think I counted over 2 dozen positive and negative modifiers on the morale chart! That's probably too many. Plus I've been pondering the subtleties of the Black Powder mechanics. Do you incrase a unit's base combat value or make all men equal and then add modifiers for weapons and training?

I've realized that with some troops (like the Swiss) I've double dipped; giving them a bigger combat value because of their reputation plus giving them bonuses for weapon type and formation used. Although the 'special rule' system of BP can get annoying and hard to keep track of.

Of course, perhaps a deep column of really fierce Swiss cantonal troops armed with nasty halberds and pikes should get more than the usual bonuses?

I've also been inspired by some of the lovely Medieval armies out on the blogosphere (and another here and here) to carry on with the Great Rebasing of my Medieval armies which started way back during the Christmas holidays of 2008. I've got everybody (except my Feudals) rebased on to regular sized stands but they need flocking. Lots of flocking.

Everyone started looking rather like this:

Now I've got everyone onto 40mm by 40mm squares (50mm deep for cavalry) like this:

But that's not very photogenic is it?
I'd like to get everyone to this stage:

I was tired the other afternoon, but wanted to paint, so I managed to slop a lot of brown paint onto stands. Still a few dozen to go though. But the next rainy Sunday afternoon should see a flocking good time. Then I can do a battle report with proper pictures!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why Boys are Icky. A Report from the Front.

Both of my daughters are extremely bright and competent young ladies pursuing their own adventures. My youngest has gone off to Queen’s which is across the harbour from the Royal Military College, Canada’s oldest officer training school. The girls on her dorm floor were invited to attend an RMC dance. Those of you with teenaged boys may want to direct their attention to what girls think. Here is her After Action Report, names have been changed to protect the innocent:

Short version:

The RMC dance was fun.

Very long version:

Right before we all went to get changed X_______ found out that it was a more casual event than we'd thought so I just wore my white dress with black tights, my birthday necklace, and my black wrap sweater over for warmth. The rest of the group also went for the dress with cardigan/wrap/jacket on top look.

I got the age-of-magical-access-to-alcohol wristband but to drink you had to go on the drinky drinky side of the room. It looked like a pain in the butt and scary since only 1 of my friends (X) there is old enough to drink and she was with her boyfriend (Cadet A) so I didn't want to 3rd wheel it. Thus, I drank Dr. Pepper (also, it's cheaper! Yeah!)

The music: The Trews were good and I knew almost all their songs from fm96 back home. Kind of got bored after a while though so Y___ and I sat down for a well deserved Dr. Pepper break.

Once The Trews finished, a DJ took over and it was a fairly fun music selection. Strangely, the DJ was fond of alternating Great Big Sea tracks with tracks like Far East Movement and Ke$ha . People danced about the same to both... we all sort of squared danced at some point though.

We also learned that Dancing Queen  makes RMC boys take their shirts off.

Boys boys boys! :

The few girls who’s dates didn't cancel out were decent human beings and by the end of the night most of the arbitrarily assigned "couples" were making out/grinding/exchanging phone numbers while proclaiming their undying like like for each other. Cue alternating "awwwwwwwww"-ing and gagging from the rest of us. Although some giggling, drunken bags of hormones had to be poured into a taxi alone.

Of the remaining sober girls who didn't have a guy, we danced it up. Sometimes we were left alone in our disco inferno / Buffy dancing/ cha cha-ing but for the most part, any group of us gathering was surrounded (at varying proximity) by a drooling flock of horn dogs.

Sometimes we didn't mind: some of the guys were acceptably attractive and seemed non-repulsive. These guys would dance with the whole group and made eye-contact in a non-creepy way and usually their dance moves involved minimal thrust-puppying.

Some of the other lads were disturbingly fond of the "grab the girl's waist without asking and try to grind" approach to courtship however. This one super creepy guy tried that on W____ (one of my floor mates that's pretty no nonsense to begin with AND was paired up) and she jumped away and was like "Oh, thanks but I can't. I'm here with someone." and then he got in a grump about it before trying the exact same thing on every other girl in our group before we ran away. U_____ had to tell a guy she was engaged just so he'd stop trying to grab her.

Luckily, when guys would start getting really creepy, A____ would usually come over with X_____ and dance with us while giving the creeps the "That's right. They're with me. And I'm a 2nd year. Keep walking" glare. We decided last night that we love A_____ and he is definitely an honourary Adelady now. We even included him in our fruit loops and salsa pajama after party. Most hilarious.

One really creepy guy was trying to dance with me (in an interesting variation though, by trying to grind up against me from the side versus the usual waist method as seen above). The A____ glares didn't seem to have much effect so finally I did the "Oh look! My friend! Over there!" not-so-subtle run several feet away to dance with S_____ and Y_____ instead. Another time, a guy was trying to creep our whole group so Y______ grabbed my and S____'s hands and danced us away into the crowd.

You’re probably thinking at this point, "Silly Bunny! You should want to dance with RMC boys! That's just how people dance!" but I say "HAH!". All of the stereotypical "I can speak 5 languages and have chiseled features like a greek statue" boys were taken, leaving the gormless mouth breathing ones. Icky.

I wasn’t, and I’m glad she wasn’t one of the giggling drunken bags of hormones being poured into a taxi. Besides one of the multilingual Grecian deities may break up with his girlfriend in the future, so it’s always good to make a Good Impression.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Painting Updates

I find that as I'm prepping or finishing one project I usually have dead time waiting for glue or primer or something to set so I'll work at something else too. Consequently I've got about three different projects on the go right now.

-I'm finishing up Peter's Victorian British Cavalry for his Canadian VSF army.
-Assembling and priming the Mad Padre's additions to his 15mm WW2 Canadian army; a platoon of infantry, a 6 pounder AT platoon and a section of 17 pounder AT guns. The trails on the 17 pounders are being a pain to glue in place and one barrel has a nonfill between the barrel and the recoil block so I've emailed Battlefront for a replacement. I'll work on the infantry while I wait.
-So while I'm gluing and priming and painting some WW2 Canadian kit I got a Firefly, a Sherman V and an LTV Buffalo assembled and primed for myself. The Sherman I got in trade, the Firefly was gifted to me by the owner of the Italian paras I painted up and the Buffalo I got for free. It's a bit over scale (1/76th I think) but the price was right.

Rabbitman returns to Middle Earth

I'm going to nail my colours to the mast and declare that in my opinion J.R.R. Tolkien is THE GREATEST writer of the of the 20th century. For scope of vision, technical craftsmanship, ability to sketch characters and landscapes with breathtaking skill (and sometimes great economy), his nuanced control and manipulation of narrative voice and his massive impact upon later writers and readers makes him more important to 20th century literature than other greats like Dylan Thomas, Faulkner or T.S. Eliot. I'll challenge any dissenting opinion to a steel cage fight.

I like a lot of different styles of fiction although I'm reading less Science Fiction and Fantasy these days and more detective fiction. I think because I'm older and the main thrust of most SF/Fantasy fiction seems to be adolescent wish fulfillment for adventure, whereas detective novels are much more concerned with restoring the world to order. Or perhaps it's just the precocious heroic youths in these novels that bugs me. I rather like George R. R. Martins Fire and Ice series, but sometimes I think his child characters are too clever for the age they're supposed to be. If he'd made them all about 10 years older it might be better. Consequently, noir detective fiction like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, or the more modern Amos Walker stories by Loren D. Estleman and Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels have a stronger appeal.

To me, a good novel is one I can reread and still enjoy. I just like how the author uses the words, so I appreciate the activity of reading even though I know how the story will end. Well written prose just grabs my frontal lobes and massages them like a large breasted woman. Consequently I keep coming back to Tolkien's Middle Earth. I've been reading his novels since my sister introduced them to me at the tender age of 10 or 11. I've reread them regularly ever since. It's a ritual I have every few years to start with The Silmarillion, and then have a light break with Bilbo in The Hobbit and then move onto The Lord of the Rings. Every time I read them I get something new out of them or appreciate another well-turned phrase. After that I'll go and rewatch Peter Jackson's movies.

Many people can't stand The Silmarillion, but they don't get it. It's not a light adventure like The Hobbit. It is Tolkien's creation myth that sets the scene for the events of Lord of the Rings. Obviously the scope of action and cast of characters is going to be a lot larger. Of course I liked to read Homer and Malory and Norse sagas in my university days, so I like the epic chronicle narrative style that he uses. The epic sweep of the tales is quite thrilling but also his sense of small events leading to great events and how the doom of the world can rotate upon an ill-concieved oath, or putting a ring into a pocket. Even though I know how it ends I still get choked up over the story of Beren and Luthien.

Middle Earth is for me a bit of a comfy blanket. I like the moral order and find reassurance in noble characters struggling against a rising darkness without hope or the promise of glory. They just do it because it's the right thing to do and keep faith that the sun will rise and victory will come unlooked for.