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!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Not So Scary Old SYW Baggage

While waiting for the glue and gesso to dry on more mobs of Fuzzy-Wuzzy warriors I got some baggage done for my SYW era armies. Since Hotlead 2012 is coming up in a month it is only proper that I try and finish some of the figures I bought at Hotlead 2011!

First up, those Museum Miniatures 2-wheeled baggage cart and water cart that I bought second hand with new paint and new wheels:

The drivers look scruffy enough to be just the sort who'd tramp about selling wares to the armies. They're generic enough (floppy hat, cloak, tunic, disreputable trousers) that they would fit with my Roman baggage too, I think.

An Essex 2-wheeled cart and some camp followers of unknown manufacture. A friend found them in his gaming closet and had no use for them.

The baggage is made from some WW2 AFV stowage and is removable, being set upon a card plug that fits into the box on the cart.

Next a pair of 4-wheeled wagons. The drivers are extras from Patrick's Thirty Year's War armies.

The loads are made from green stuff and are removable.

I don't know why I wanted removable loads. Maybe the idea of committing to filled wagons, even though empty wagons bother me, was too much?

I also have a pressing need for limbers. So I got a 4 horse limber from Essex and painted it Prussian blue since I figure the Prussians will be doing more maneuvering than the Austrians for a while.

The base is extra long to accommodate a gun.

I also got a pair of Blue Moon Great Northern War Swedish ammunition caissons. Painted up one in Prussian blue and the other in Austrian ochre.

With gun unlimbered

Since getting these I've discovered Frei Korps rather impressive line of 15mm SYW miniatures, which includes 4 and 2-horse limbers and 2-wheeled ammunition carts plus numerous other goodies.

I still need many more limbers, but this accomplishes my goal of having some rear echelon elements for every miniature army. But it does create some dissatisfaction with the shade of light blue that I painted my Prussian guns in.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What I'm Reading Right Now

My buddy Mike likes to prowl through charity shops and sale bins always looking for hidden treasures. One of his recent finds at our local Goodwill Shop was this book; The War of the Two Emperors, The Duel Between Napoleon and Alexander Russia 1812 by Curtis Cate. I think he may have paid $2 for it and he gifted it to me in the hopes it would inspire some work on my 28mm Napoleonic Russians.

Interesting read so far and I'm only up to August 1812 and the Russian rear guard action at Vitebsk. Cate does a good job of pulling together the political, economic and personal factors that drove these two empires to war. His main thesis seems to be that the war was a result of Napoleon's ego and he could have avoided it if he hadn't been blinded by hubris.

He also has a good grip on the logistics governing the movements of the various armies. Even by July the French corps were running out of supplies and horses. Troops and horse were already dying along the roadside of starvation or exposure. It's hard to bring the Russians to a decisive battle if you don't have enough draft horses to pull your artillery. As wargamer's playing out campaigns on a map we all to often think of set movement rates and blame the Generals for being dilatory. Jerome wanted to catch Bagration, his starved troops were just too exhausted to keep up.

Since I haven't read much of the campaign before, this is all news to me. I thought the French weren't really beset by supply or weather problems until the retreat. But apparently some units (especially among the German and Italian allies who were lowest in priority for supplies) were reduced to 25% strength before the first major battle.

Certainly worth the $2!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

15mm Sudan Campaign

Here's the latest off the painting bench; lot number 2 in a fairly large and ambitious 15mm Sudan Campaign project I'm working on for a client. I showed you batch 1 with some British line here. This lot has a unit of 24 Camel Corps troopers plus a unit of 24 Beja tribesmen ("Fuzzy Wuzzies") and a unit of 24 Ansar.

The Camel Corps are Peter Pig figures. I gave them a coat of the Army Painter Quick Shade to bring out the details.

Camel Corps front

Camel Corps back

Command front

Command back
The Beja are Essex figures.

Some of the poses required gluing swords and spears into hands, which considering the flatness of the pose, I thought a trifle unnecessary. Their linen kilts got a coat of Army Painter. For the flesh I used Games Workshop's 'dark flesh' and then a coat of brown ink.

The Ansar are Old Glory.

GW 'dark flesh' and for their robes, dry brushing 'raw linen' over my standard 'burnt umber' base coat.

Lot 3 will have the Naval Brigade and then rifle armed Beja and Ansar.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Idistaviso AD 16 with Hail Caesar!

One of the rare big, set piece battles on the German frontier, the Battle of Idistaviso in AD 16 has had a constant appeal since reading about it in John Warry's Warfare in the Classical World  (Salamander 1980). I was able to have Mike, Patrick and Scott over Friday night for a go at this battle using Hail Caesar. So I made the tea, set up the table and off we went!

view from the German end of the table
The battlefield is pretty simple; a big hill with a river (the Weser) curving around one side and some woods on the other. Mike has been working on a few zillion Woodland Scenics trees lately, so we used those for the forest. The armies (from my 15mm collection) are deployed on either side of the hill.

German warbands. Arminius in the center.

Romans. Who's idea was it to put the cavalry in the woods?
I just followed the deployment given in Warry's book as best I could. Tacitus mentions the cavalry being sent to charge around the German flank, so Warry puts them in the forest a la Gladiator, but they could have been operating on the flats between the hill and the river too I suppose.

Of course that is the perennial problem with historical scenarios; who ever has the exact order of battle? Warry's reconstruction calls for some 28000 legionaries, 2 cohorts of Praetorian Guards and 30000 auxilia plus allied tribesmen and cavalry. We do the best we can with the figures available. The Germans were made up from my Spanish and Goth tribesmen. I just used the unit stats as given in the Army List Book.

Both sides advance hampered by low command rolls.

Skirmishers getting engaged. German left hanging back.

Cavalry in the woods trying to turn flank. Legionaries getting stuck in.
The German left hung back with bad command rolls. Arminius in the center inspired the warbands around him with Hatred of Rome and they surged forward. The German right did a bit better than the left, but the Roman cavalry turned their flank forcing them to bend their line back. The Roman advance was more steady, but the right advanced to meet the reluctant warbands and threaten Arminius' flank in the middle.

Some times my Break Test rolls really suck.
In the center an early disaster struck with an abysmal Break Test on my part. But the second line of cohorts was able to move up and plug the gap. The fighting then surged back and forth in the center.
To and fro fighting in the center.
Many warriors went down and Arminius charged into the fray himself adding 4 extra dice to his warband's attack.
Roman supports add weight to the line.
The Romans recoiled but the second line came up to add support and the Roman right wing outflanked Arminius in the center.
Roman right breaks into German left and turns flank of German center.
After a vicious fight in two directions, Arminius went down pierced by a pilum. His loyal bodyguards died fighting around him while the rest of his warband broke and ran. The German front line was a bloody shambles and the second line had taken a lot of wounds too. The left had been driven back and the Roman right was getting ready to envelope the remains of the Cherusci tribe. In the woods the fighting had been more even but the warriors had been steadily driven up the slope towards the center.

It had been a tough slog, but with Arminius dead Germanicus could celebrate a great victory and claim that revenge for the Varus disaster had been finally exacted.
End of game

Objective Met with 1 month to go!

The games have been positively pouring in for Hotlead!

I set myself the goal of having 50 participation miniature games covering every scale, period and element. With the latest batch sent off to Don for posting to the website, we've reached that goal.

We've now got 50 games in microscale, 15mm, 25mm and 40mm. Fantasy, SF, ancient to modern, skirmishes to big battles and air, land and sea games. It's gonna be huge!

Of course, now I have to redraw my hall layout to fit everyone in. Some of the GMs have requested some pretty big tables!

More Tea

One of the small distributors I deal with carries a lot of interesting imports. In their list was Bewley's Irish Breakfast Tea. This was a nice addition and helped round out my rather pedestrian selection of Tetley and Red Rose.

It started selling like crazy. People coming in and asking anxiously "Have you got any Bewley's in yet?" Sadly the rep only comes in every 4 to 6 weeks and there are only 6 boxes in a case. I brought in two cases; one for an anxious woman and another for the shelf. Here I am thinking that the 'Bewley's woman' is the only one buying it and the other case will sit. Nope. Sold out over the weekend!

So I bring in FOUR cases. Gone. But not before I was able to buy a box for myself to see what the fuss was about. It's a nice, strong full bodied black tea. Just the way I like it.

This weekend Patrick came over to play and he likes to buy things for people. He brought me a box of tea:
 This is also very good and the way I like it; full bodied and strong enough to soothe anxious nerves during the Blitz or help generals during disasterous battles.

The fact that it is fair trade, rainforest friendly and organic just makes even better.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


In between studying for my WPC102 (Written Performance Check aka a 'test') and my PPC102 (Practical Performance Check i.e. I have to give a lesson- my PowerPoint on the CF Role in the UN and NATO is going to be stellar!) I have been reading a few books loaned to me by a friend.

Both are from the Stackpole Military History Series.

First up was Goodwood by Ian Dagleish. An interesting study of a controversial battle which I had heard of before but didn't know much about. The attempt to force a corps of three armoured divisions through a narrow gap in the minefields and overrun the German defences after a paralyzing bombardment was bold and had some initial success, but eventually reinforced the lesson that tanks need infantry up close to help clear those pesky anti-tank guns out of hiding.

He gets very detailed in his analysis and the book provides a wealth of scenario ideas for company level actions.

After that I started Armoured Guardsmen, the diary of a troop commander in the Coldstream Guards from Normandy to the Rhine. It is a fascinating and well written account from the commander's seat of a Sherman tank. His view of the Goodwood battle was quite interesting to read after the bigger picture provided by the previous book. But the small details of the friction of war and how it can effect things (like his radio operator is wounded and how having a good Operator makes life so much calmer for a Troop cmdr) makes me more understanding when the cards don't fall the way I'd like when playing I Ain't Been Shot Mum!

Both books are highly recommended and also reinforce my pressing need for some orchards and walled Norman farms for my 15mm games.