Friday 29 January 2016

The Battle of Neue Strassen - AAR part one

 The terrain for the Battle of Neue Strassen before deployment. Scenario notes on the terrain and forces can be found here.
Peter (in a blue jumper) took command of the Austrians. Graham (in white jumper) took the Prussians. Why do things work out that way?
Both players chose a cavalry command as vanguard. The Austrians deploy their vanguard on the Der Grat. The Prussians deploy their below Neue Strassen facing Mautbrucke. 

The Austrians begin to arrive. The Grenzers and hussars advance quickly towards the Schlammigenstrom. This will be the only time the Austrians will be ahead of the Prussian deployment. From this point on the initiative is well and truly with the Prussians.

Although it's the Austrian troops which arrive first, its the Prussians that arrive in force. 
Before the Austrians can get onto the field of battle the Prussians are deploying around Neue Strassen and massing cavalry facing Mautbrucke and the Schlammigenstrom.
At Mautbrucke the Prussian cavalry, led by squadrons of 5th Hussars launch repeated attacks against the Grenzers that are occupying it. 

It takes three attempts, two repelled with heavy loss, but the Prussians break into Mautbrucke and cross the Sclammigenstrom.
 Meanwhile, Prussian infantry are streaming through Neue Strassen.
Before turn two is over, the Austrian left, with their commander watching on from Die Pickle, is coming under increasing pressure
 And the Austrian main force is still in the process of arriving.
It's going to be a close run thing for the tardy Austrians. 

On Die Langenhugel the Prussian infantry can be seen preparing to launch an attack in considerable strength against the Grenzers in Schlammigenwaldchen.
This is the only place where the Austrians have formed anything like a battle line.
Frederick arrives at Kibitz. Better late than never.
At the close of the first night's play everything it set for a major clash, and it's the Prussians who have the jump on the enemy.

Sunday 24 January 2016

X-Wing 'jettisoned freight container', or something

Today I've made a prototype 'jettisoned freight container' for X-Wing. Of course, it could just as easily be something else, a weird looking communications satellite perhaps.

 It took about five minutes to make and a little longer to paint.
 It has plenty of inbuilt detail from all angles.
It is, of course, made from a couple of razor heads glued together back to back. I've added two thin pieces of plastic over the bit that is supposed to be good for the skin (pale green on this one) because it is actually quite rough, and a piece of 3/32 aluminium pipe along the top. I'll make another two; another red one and a blue one I think.

Whatever it is, I think it looks to be about the right scale, and whatever scenario it appears in is bound to be called "A Close Shave".

Saturday 23 January 2016

You laughed at my smokes, now you can laugh at my asteroids

Some time ago I made a load of smoke screen markers out of sponge because I was fed up with small bits of cotton wool getting stuck to bases and figures. To say they raised the odd eyebrow is a bit of an understatement; I think several of you feared for my sanity.

However, I'm still a great believer in stuff made out of cheap sponge, especially for the smaller scales. I remember when I collected 1:300 and 1:200 stuff I made several feet of hedge and several dozen trees out of it with some success. The other day, whilst feeling quite poorly, I was looking at the gubbins that came with the X-Wing starter sets and decided that the asteroids, although serviceable, were a bit 'flat'. When I'm not well I find it hard to paint figures because of the extended periods of concentration required. Making stuff, especially simple stuff, is quite another matter so rather than spend the day in bed I knocked these up.

These eight asteroids are simply pieces of cheap kitchen sponge that have been torn and pinched into rough looking rock shapes, some with small impact craters made by 'pinching' deep. 

They were undercoated with household emulsion that was heavily soaked into the sponge - to make them dry 'solid'. They were then painted with artists acrylic paints and acrylic inks - very dark brown then given a three shade drybrush with the last dry brush only added to the 'ridges' to bring out the shape of the asteroids.

Initially I thought about buying flight stands for them. Then, with several odds and sods I constructed these. They are large bases by Battlefront (50mm x 64mm), with a 3mm hole drilled through the centre. Into the hole I superglued a length of 1/8" aluminium tubing that I had bought by accident a couple of years ago.  I painted the stands with satin black enamel.

Into the asteroid, I glued a short length of 3/32" aluminium tube. I glued some of these tubes off centre (centre of gravity) in an attempt to give the asteroids the look of weightlessness - I'm not sure how well this worked. The tube in the asteroid fits perfectly inside the larger tube on the flight stand; you can spin the asteroid in the stand which might prove a useful thing. 

Not permanently fixing the asteroids to the stands means I can use the stands for other stuff too. 

For something made whilst ill, I'm quite happy with them. I'm thinking of making some space mines and cargo containers next.

Sunday 17 January 2016

The Battle of Neue Strassen 1758ish

This will be a fictional meeting engagement scenario set during the Seven Years War. 

This scenario has come about in rather an odd way, in so much as the terrain over which the scenario will be fought was created before anything else was decided upon. It came about this way because my primary aim was to see just how well my new road stock worked. I wanted to see just how well it negotiated hills, and to see just what kind of road systems I could build. This is what I came up with on my table (set up, without the drop leaf extension, 12 x 6). I didn't quite use all of the road I have - there is still another four feet of it in the drawer - and the road network seems quite extensive. I certainly think I have more than enough road to be going on with.

My only reservation about the Early War Miniatures track sets is the lack of 90 degree angle junctions. You can use the 'Y' junction to produce a 'T' junction with a judicious use of 45 degree turns, but I do like something more angular, especially for junctions in villages and so forth. Fortunately, I bought enough road sections to cut a few up and, although not a perfect solution, by cutting away some 'verges', I came up with this. This will do until EWM make some new bespoke junctions. 

(BTW. The roads are latex rubber. They came unpainted and I chose to paint them dusty so that they would fit with all of my 28mm collections - my rational being all rough roads get dusty in a dry summer).

You can see a photo of one of the T junctions in use below. It is at the centre of Neue Strassen. As near as I can figure it, this represents about twenty five feet of road network. I'm very pleased with EWM road as I can now have my roads going up and over hills, something I had to mostly omit before.

The title of the scenario shouldn't need explanation.

And this is what the terrain, and roads, look like on the table.

All hills, except for Die Pickle, have type I slopes not effecting movement. The Pickle has type II slopes. To count superior position a unit must be clearly at higher elevation than the enemy. Troops firing up hill do not count inferior position.

Buddenwald and Eichenwald are type III terrain to cavalry and type II terrain for infantry providing type II cover to all.

Die Schlammigenstrom and Schlammigenwaldchen are type III terrain. Schlammigenwaldchen provides type II cover. 

Die Hexe Teich is impassible.

All enclosed fields are type II terrain for movement and provide type II cover. They do not effect line of sight.

All built up areas count as 'Town' and provide type III cover.

All roads add 25% to movement rate provided that the troops using them start and end their movement fully on the road in column of route. The road exits marked 'A' are the possible entry points for the Austrians, those marked 'P' are possible entry points for the Prussians.

A shot showing the complex of roads and fields around Neue Strassen. 

This where the Prussians will arrive. 
From behind Die Langenhugel, looking down on Mautbrucke (Tollbridge).

The Sclammigenstrom (Muddy Stream) and the Slammigenwald (Muddy Wood) will be very heavy going.

Behind the boggy ground is Die Pickle (The Pimple). 

The Prussian army in four commands. 

The army comprises three units of grenadiers, five units of musketeers, two units of fusiliers, four units of dragoons, four units of hussars, two heavy batteries and a battery of horse artillery. 

The Austrian army in five commands. 

It comprises one unit of grenadiers, ten units of German musketeers, one unit of Hungarian musketeers, five units of Grenzers, four units of cuirassier, two units of dragoons, two units of hussars, two heavy batteries and a battery of howitzers.

The Scenario
The scenario is a simple meeting engagement. The objective, for both players, is the destruction of the enemy army. 

Each side may deploy the units of one command containing cavalry, up to 24" on table, in any formation, anywhere along the players short edge of the table. This is the army's vanguard.

Except for the vanguard all other units must enter the table by road in column of route. Each player must mark the road 'exit' where each of his commands will enter using the counters provided (Prussian 2 - 5 of spades, Austrian 2 - 6 of diamonds). Aces will mark the entry point of the C-in-Cs, though they may enter at any time on the appearance of an officer check card. 

The only timing restrictions for entry are: 

  • Only one command may newly arrive on the appearance of each appropriate move card, thus staggering the arrival of each army.
  • Units must arrive in a single column of route at each entry point; simply getting off the road as soon as possible will not allow the next unit to move on table at full rate. 

Thursday 14 January 2016

Last night in a galaxy far far away

I finally succumbed to the dark side.

In 2014, I played X-Wing using the quick start rules with the models from the starter set but, until last night, I've played nothing since. Over Christmas, whilst loading various gift vouchers I thought of X wing as something to spend them on - Kerching! 

All of the X Wing stuff I ordered over Christmas and New Year having arrived, I was itching to play a proper sized game using the full rules. 

The game I set up was initially done with three players in mind, two versus one, each flying three spaceships; each side was 120 points. As it was, Graham was absent so it ended up with one player playing with six. Peter and I flipped a coin to decide sides and Peter ended up being the over worked Imperial player.

Someone kindly pointed me in the direction of this X Wing squadron builder site which I found quite excellent as it remembers what expansion sets and cards you have. I have started to print my squadrons off and file them for quick pick-up use. As a complete novice at building squadrons I have very little idea of how things work in combination so this was a real stab in the dark.

These are the lists for the Imperial and Rebel fleets used in the action.
A couple of turns into the game things were pretty equal. Then the Imperial fleet suffered some collisions between vessels of it's own fleet. With most of the Rebels moving last, this meant they could escape the confusion and gain a position of advantage.

This was also the moment when Chewbacca, manning the turret mounted laser cannon of the Falcon, started to come into his own. The wookie just couldn't miss - his accuracy was astonishing. On four occasions in the game he rolled maximum hits, rolling four hits a time on two occasions. With such effective fire power, it wasn't long before exploding Tie fighters rocked the vinyl fabric of space.
At the mid point of the game the momentum was with the Rebels but the issue was not settled. 

It was the droids in the X-Wings that swung the issue beyond doubt as they repaired nearly all of the light damage sustained before it became truly destructive. 

The Wookie took out another two Tie, including Darth Vader in his Tie Advanced, with a flurry of fearsome shooting. Four kills to Chewbacca.
With just one Tie Fighter left, and that with critical damage to its weaponry, Peter threw in the towel.

Overall, the game had been decidedly one sided. All of the rebel ships came off almost unscathed. Luke's X-Wing and the Falcon were still defending with shields, the former's down to R2 D2, though Luke had suffered damage to his sensor array earlier in the fight. Bigg's ship was nearest to being taken down - his ship was without shields and damaged (1 card).

The one sidedness was in no way down to any superior flying skill or tactics on my part. I think we flew with similar efficiency. My fearsome dice rolling versus the usual rubbish rolled by Peter, who couldn't shoot for toffee, was the deciding factor. I still think this is, Peter's dice rolling not withstanding, an excellent game. We played this game out in about two hours, which I though pretty pacey for two novice players. 

Several people told me that a six by four playing surface was far too large an area to fight X-Wing: a three by three being much more appropriate. Consequently, I ringed off a three by three area with a piano wire and place holder boundary. The area was sufficient but I confess to finding it a little cramped, possibly due to my unfamiliarity with small playing spaces. With so many ships in the area it was difficult not to have several targets available most of the time. The next game I play will probably be just four ships a side, and I'll set it up in the same nine square feet then, to compare how it plays, I'll game the same ships in all twenty four square feet my 'galaxy far far away'.

In the near future I'm planning to expand both fleets, initially by the two 'Aces' expansions and an A-Wing. I suppose I'm looking at combined fleets of thirty or so vessels by the time I'm finished. Peter has just bought Armada, but I'm hoping to keep clear of that money pit.

One annoying thing I have noted, is the basic set does not come with enough dice. I bought two starter sets, so I have six of each type, so I do have enough but looking at the cards I have, I think five attack and four defence, per set, would have been better. In production cost we must be talking pennies difference and given the high quality of the rest of the product I'm surprised at this niggling oversight. 

Sunday 10 January 2016

A Long Dusty Road

This weekend my new road stock arrived from Early War Miniatures. I've been wanting new roads, and more importantly roads that can traverse the slopes of my 'under cloth' hills, for ages. 

Late for Christmas or not (my fault, not EWM, for ordering late), I'm delighted with the present from my wife. It comprises four Track Set 3 (totalling about 30 feet). EWM were happy to change the contents of the packs to suit what I wanted, which was very nice of them.

EWM Link 

The road is made from latex rubber. Unlike most of the gamers I've known, I've not dealt with latex before and was sceptical about the ability of it to take paint - memories of silicon sealer smeared up a wall came to mind. I shouldn't have worried.

Anyway, as an aid memoir, should I be required to do more of it again in the distant future, I'm doing this 'how I did' post so I can repeat the process and hopefully end up with a very similar result. It might also be useful to anyone wishing to follow in my footsteps.

First I washed all of the sections in warm soapy water. I wet each section, laid it on a towel and gave it a gentle scrub with soft paint brush, then I rinsed it and dabbed it dry between two old towels. 

BTW: I tend to keep hold of old towels (that are heading for the rubbish bin) for use when decorating or, more importantly, making terrain with big brushes. It means I don't wreck the new ones and my wife buys me roads!
I laid them all out on some sheets of plywood to air dry for a couple of hours.
Next step was to apply a fairly heavy dry brush coat of artists acrylic - I used Daler Rowney 667 Raw Sienna acrylic. 

This is basically an undercoat that blends the road sections together, some come in a slightly darker shade than others.
When dry I added a wash of Liquitex Burnt Umber acrylic ink diluted 1 part ink to 3 parts water. Each long section got one squeeze of the pipette which was then sloshed over the surface with a soft brush. I didn't do the outside of the banks.
Next I applied three dry brushes of the road colour. 

These roads are for, at present, five theatres: The Italian Wars; The Punic Wars; The 1st Crusade (in Anatolia); The Seven Years War; The Peninsular War. As the road surface would probably be 'dusty' for most of these, that's the way I decided to do them. 

Coat one was Daler Rowney 667 Raw Sienna acrylic.

Coat two was Daler Rowney 667 Raw Sienna acrylic 50:50 with Daler Rowney 634 Naples Yellow acrylic.

Coat three was Daler Rowney 634 Naples Yellow acrylic.

I did the base coat of the bank using ink. I did consider flocking but I couldn't decide what glue I could use that would preserve the flexibility (the bendyness of the latex), so I decided to paint. For undercoat, I used Liquitex Sap Green acrylic ink straight from the bottle.

Then I stippled the green ink with three shades of dappling.

Dapple one was Daler Rowney 335 Emerald acrylic 50:50 with Daler Rowney 663 Yellow Ochre acrylic.

Dapple two was a 33:33:33 mix of Daler Rowney 335 Emerald acrylic, Daler Rowney 663 Yellow Ochre acrylic, and Daler Rowney 620 Cadmium Yellow acrylic.

Dapple three was a 50:50 mix of Daler Rowney 663 Yellow Ochre acrylic and Daler Rowney 620 Cadmium Yellow acrylic with just a hint of green.

 Lastly, I did the edge of each road with a streak of Liquitex Burnt Umber acrylic ink diluted 1 part ink to 3 parts water to highlight that there is a bank.
And that as they say is that. So far I've done about ten feet. A couple of painting sessions and it will all be finished.

This road is good stuff and I can recommend it. I look forward to Early War Miniatures producing more junctions and turns - I'll be their first customer.

Sunday 3 January 2016

Austrian infantry painted

Today I finished painting my SYW Austrian infantry. There are sixteen units of German line infantry; three units of Hungarian line infantry; three units of Grenadiers (including one Hungarian unit); eight units of Grenzers. The line and grenadiers are each twenty four figures strong whilst the Grenzers are in units of eight figures. Each line unit represents a regiment sized 'unit', the Grenzer units represent a single battalion.There are 592 infantry in total and, in a later post (when I've finished the cavalry), I'll do a complete unit ID roll call of the army.

Several units still need basing and four need flags.

The last units painted were two eight figure units of Grenzer. They are from the Slavonisch-Brooder and Slavonisch-Peterwardeiner regiments. As with all my Grenzer I chose to paint a single battalion from each of the eight regiments I chose to do. These two Slavonisch regiments were very plain so I had to cut and file away the lace on their coats and sleeves. I also painted Slavonisch-Gradiskaner (some time ago) which stands out from these regiments by being very ornately dressed. I omitted doing any battalions from the Banal Regiments or Karlstadter-Ottochaner

So, I'm running slightly behind schedule: I still have a handful of cavalry units to finish. Fortunately they are only eight figures strong so I should have them finished in a couple of weeks. 

I put in an order with Front Rank for a load more Napoleonic stuff on Christmas Eve and I'm itching to get started on a that new project. I'm not going to be overly ambitious on this. I plan on painting thirty six units in the first year and thirty six in the second: A two year project, done and dusted; then onto the Sudan for which I got my first two books at Christmas.

Saturday 2 January 2016

Star Wars Christmas

For the first time in my life I'm taking a walk on the Dark Side. 

Now, I've played the odd fantasy and Sci-Fi game before and, as a kid I even had a few miniatures for Dungeons and Dragons, but I've never bought anything I'd call a 'gaming collection'. In March 2014, Peter brought his X Wing game over and we had a blast with it. I really liked this game. I thought it was ideal as an end of session, early main game finish, time filler. I promised myself I'd buy it, then promptly forgot the promise.

Over the New Year I went to see the new Star Wars film (3D) on the local Imax screen and very good fun it was too! Yesterday, I was loading my Christmas Amazon gift vouchers into my account thinking about books I might buy then........ wait a tooting minute, X-Wing! I did a quick Amazon search and sure enough, there it was. I filled my boots and now have a small collection of space ships.

I've bought two starter sets so that I have two sets of game aids, rules, etc. This should help speed up play.

It was also a very good way to get six ships cheaply. This set is currently £23.20 on Amazon.
 So I have four Tie Fighters....
 ...and two X Wings.
No collection would be complete without a Millennium Falcon, so I bought one of those.
I bought a Tie Advanced, so I have an excuse to make heavy breathing noises,
 a Tie Interceptor because they look very cool,
....and a Y Wing to, hopefully, balance up and start a collection of some of the less familiar craft.

Finally, to fight on, I bought one of these. It's a battle mat called Star Birth. I got it from a company called Something Geeky. Even with £6.00 P&P it is significantly cheaper from these guys than it is on Amazon. I bought a 6 x 4 one.
I can't wait for everything to arrive and, damn it, it all comes painted and ready to go!