Sunday, 29 July 2018

The 5th Muster In

I have managed at last to complete my second British battalion for my Seven Years War project, next up will be my second French battalion but before then I am going back to Ancients, something my Wargamers OCD would not allow even a year ago. As I have mentioned the SYW is a long term project and I am deliberately not pushing ahead as all that will happen is I will start something else and I really don't need that. The new battalion is the 5th of Foot with nice lime green facings so they will stand out from the crowd, they have a piece of lace on their lower arm which is different to normal and I have painted my interpretation on top of what was modelled on the arm. I should in hindsight have sheared this off then painted it but it only occurred to me after I had painted the coats. Lesson learned. I think the next battalion will be the Gardes Lorraine.

 I decided after all to get a unit of line cataphracts from Aventine and add them to the Seleucids. They turned up within 48 hours, great work, I noticed they are also now mounted on the new sized horses. Aventine used to get moans about the size of their horses, personally I had no problems with them, yes a tad smaller than some manufacturers but in all fairness GB and Victrix horses for example are probably on the large side. Anyway, these are bang on. I got the unit deal, six back rank and six in the front with kontos lowered, I gave my officer a sword, this gives him a more dramatic look. You can also see some extra officers for the Thunderbolts in the picture, a Tribune and a Centurion for when I get that new cohort. Yes, that is also the latest addition to my dice collection, my new Seleucid dice, out with the old and in with the new.


 While looking for something to read some time ago I noticed an Ian Ross book in the background of a photograph of some soldiers my friend Gary had sent, I got one to test the water, I have not looked back since. I managed to get them all for a pittance as they had been out for some time, the last, "Mask of Command" almost had me turning to the end to see what happened it was that good. I have now ordered up the latest and expect it next week. I highly recommend these novels.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Even More Romans and Daniel Day Lewis

Doing some catching up, the weekend games were large at 3,500 points, if I play larger games I will need to add some troops to my two Roman armies so in the near future I shall interupt my Seven Years War project with the odd unit of Romans. The Patricians need one more Legion, I have lots of troops which can join them as Foederati or simply Barbarians in my Saxon and Romano-British armies so it is the core Romans I need, for the Twelfth I may add two cohorts, one legionary and one auxiliary, oh, and the Patricians need another skirmish unit. The Seleucids are already large, last night I ordered up some of the new line cataphracts, I am not waiting for the Agema, I could probably never field these anyway at 30+ points each even in a large army. This still leaves the Companions to come.

I didn't get the 5th of Foot finished last week as I had too much map work to catch up on and real life has also been hectic over the past few weekends and will continue to be so through August and September but you should be able to see the 5th by this weekend as they are now at the varnish stage.

As well as getting the new cataphracts and some Roman officers I decided to treat myself to a Prime subscription to Wargames Illustrated Online, this means I have access to all the back issues as well as the new ones along with other rewards. The rewards, like my rewards with Emirates are mostly useless to me, I also find it unfriendly to move around in, for instance I have the Spectator Online and you can choose specific pages from the contents and immediately jump to them, you can't with WI, you have to scroll through the whole magazine, it also seems to have a very large advertising content, yes I know it needs that to survive so I will live with it. But with already having the subscription I don't need to have all the offers in front of me again every time I log in. Perhaps I am missing something or not using it correctly, time will tell. I have no trouble with download speeds and the search facility through the back issues is pretty good. It is also nice to dip into it when I have half an hour or so free. There is a lot of inspiration in the articles as well, especially the terrain used, very nice.

I have lost my favourite tape measure, one I have had for some thirty or more years, perhaps I have misplaced it and cannot remember where I put it which is fairly likely as I get older, I was sure I got it out for my wargaming weekend but on the day it simply wasn't there. It is funny how you get attached to certain things without any value whatsoever, I also use an old Confederate First National Flag sticker as a bookmark while having half a dozen others. I may have another look around this afternoon, to hell with the blistering heat.

After the weekend I also consigned my Seleucid dice to the bin, well I gave them to Mike to take away and dispose of in a quiet manner, perhaps a field between here and Leicester, there were simply too many 1's and 2's turning up. It was my own fault, I went cheap, they looked cheap, I am now expecting a gold and green marble effect set today from Postie. My Saxon dice are looking askance at me as they might be next.

Muskets and Tomahawks at the club, Rob was back and put on a scenario once again inspired by the Last of the Mohicans movie although I was unsure which part it was but the rest of the guys got it. We, the British, had to rescue some people from a blockhouse, I was at the wrong end of the table with two units of Scots, natch. I decided to simply go for the nearby French Indians as I was assured of monetary gain for each one I killed, Julian and Ryan could get the civvies out. Despite there not seeming to be very many Scots initiative cards in the deck I gave poor Stuart's Indians a hard time and by the end of the game had knocked them all out, I even managed to send my light troops to help in the main battle around the stockade, too late though, but I had a heap of scalps to take in.

Stuart's less than ferocious Indians.
Daniel Day Lewis ready to make off with the women.
Julian approaches the blockhouse.
The game was a laugh to play and the insults and banter flowed like good wine, particularly memorable was a drummer boy (again) who was the only survivor of his battalion and whom the evil Frenchies of Fran's detachment were determined to kill, he managed to survive and get away. The French leader refused to lower himself and get off his horse and pick up a musket to help kill the lad, considering it more important to wave his hat flamboyantly at the enemy.

Monday, 23 July 2018

Romans, Romans and more Romans 2

A fry up on the Sunday set us up for the day, two battles to finish off the weekend, I was looking forward to the first game, my favourite Legion, the Thunderbolts, were ready and waiting to go. I took two Legionary Cohorts and two of Recruits as my core army, these were supported by a large array of Auxiliaries, consisting of two Cohorts, light infantry, skirmishers and a unit of Contarii shock cavalry, a particular favourite of mine, I hoped these would sort out Mike's cataphracts. Mike had the same army as previous with only slight changes, his warbands were now regular and not light and he took a Sacred Standard having seen one waving over Legio XII.

Twelfth on the left, Mike on the right.

As we deployed I decided this time to put most of my effort in on my right and centre while waiting to see what would happen on the left. I was very confident as the Thunderbolts are without a doubt 'my' army and a tough proposition for anyone to fight. Mike came forward again and I also advanced, my right flank destroyed the enemy opposite, my left also did their job and I managed to get Cohors III to turn into the centre, this left their flank open but I trusted them and they bounced off a Numidian charge and got ready to roll up Mike's centre.

Battle is joined.
Go Auxiliaries.
Hold, hold.
The centre collapses.
Sounds good so far, but I had made a fatal mistake, I had increased my frontage with my two legionary cohorts which allowed Mike to hit one of them with two of his, in the desperate fighting my Sacred standard fell, despite the fight being one sided I hoped Cohors I would stand long enough for me to bring in support which was on the way. I desperately threw Cohors II into the mix only for them to lose the first clash and rout followed shortly after by Cohors I, the Praetorians who had been holding if not beating their opponents took several morale tests only to fail the very last one, my centre had gone. Looking over the field in despair I noticed I had won on the enemy right and shattered the enemy left, my auxiliary archers had put up a Trojan effort and were beating the cataphracts, maybe things were not so bad. Yup, they were, Mike had destroyed my two most expensive units and claimed the game, I was gutted. For the first time ever I had lost three cohorts while all my Auxiliary units had covered themselves in glory, the heart had gone out of the Twelfth, the Emperor a prisoner of the enemy.

A well deserved win for Mike, I had made a mistake in my attack and suffered for it, also Cohors II had let me down, thankfully the Twelfth's auxiliaries managed to keep my pride intact as I handed over my sword.

Having recovered somewhat we set up for the last game of the weekend, it was the turn of my Seleucids, I took three normal phalanxes supported by mercenary Hoplites, Thureophoroi and Thorakitai, the latter two light troops to guard the flanks, quite a few skirmishers, one bolt shooter and cataphracts of my own. Once deployed I decided to go for Mike's right and wait and see before committing the rest of the army apart from skirmishing.

Seleucids on the left, Mike on the right.

Mike once again came on aggressively in the centre but then thought better of it as I advanced my pike blocks to meet him, he pulled back. For some reason he did not pull back his auxiliary infantry and I managed to send my Galatians downhill, into and through them. On the right I beat his cataphracts as mine were of better quality and failed morale checks sent a warband and some skirmishers to the rear, not however until after they had killed off mine on that flank. He did have some luck when e charged my cavalry who were not allowed to counterattack infantry so lost out on weapon bonus', I lost these but his warband spent the rest of the battle routing and running after the Thureophoroi. On my left I did very well despite his annoying Numidians, two of his cavalry units fled from the smell of the elephant, he got one back but it made no difference to the battle as it refused to form up again from skirmish, the elephant took out the other unit. I did eventually manage to hit his right flank cohort but it was a draw and again added nothing to the result. It was my turn to kill two expensive units. I did indeed break these units and dispersed one, the other however took to their heels and evaded my pursuit only to rally later, denying me victory, so close, yet so far.

Confused fighting on my right.
The pikes hit!

It was looking so good, nearly there.

The player with initiative on turn 6 could end the battle and Mike chose to do this which meant the points on the board at the end gave a draw, but again looking at the battlefield Mike agreed the Seleucids held the upper hand. A good battle, I also thought that Mike had played well and the score also did not reflect this, his tactics and play style changed over the three battles and each game seemed tougher than the previous to me. It was good to fight a player who knew the rules and was a worthy opponent.

"You cannot kill what you cannot catch" this is what I took away from the games, time and time again Mike outdistanced pursuit and certain death while my boys were happy to let them go. Of course we only remember the enemy's good luck and brush over our own, I had several occasions where the Lady smiled on me and Mike several where she turned her back. I have however consigned another set of dice to the bin, I changed half way through my last battle and I was certain I could tell the difference!

No doubt we will have games in the future but Mike agreed that it would be better to ditch the objectives and simply fight a pitched battle as the games at mine are not competiton games and we are not restricted by time.

Romans, Romans and more Romans 1

Mate Michael Jordan turned up Saturday afternoon for a weekend of War and Conquest, I met Mike at the Bristol WAC weekend and he was keen to get some games in so we arranged this bash. It was also an opportunity for me to get all my Ancient armies out over three games, one on Saturday and two on the Sunday, Mike has an Early Imperial Roman army and is a big Roman fan so he was happy to fight two Roman armies during our conflicts.

For the first game I was fielding Patrician Romans, I took a core of Roman troops along with a force of Gothic Foederati under their own leader, the cavalry arm consisted of horse archers, my general's Bucellarii bodyguard and some Roman Equites. My missile troops consisted of a couple of skirmish units and two ballista, now I know a bit of Mike's modus operandi and he likes bolt shooters and cataphracts so I thought my own bolt shooters would whittle down his armoured tanks. The right flank was closed down a touch by a steep hill and marsh so I put my Romans in the right centre with the Foederati and cavalry on my left, the idea being to roll up Mike's right flank.

We used the WAC objectives system for the games as that is what Mike is used to and I play them at away games, so I had to kill two of Mike's most expensive units which were his three legionary cohorts, he had to raid my camp. More of this system anon.

Patricians on the left, EIR on the right.

Mike came on quite aggresively while I held my Romans and pushed the Goths forward for their attack on his right, sadly I had miscalculated and one of the units took forever to skirt the small wood and never really got into the action. The Gothic Nobles on the other hand did get into combat and swept away the first enemy cohort, but the others along with the cataphracts had smashed into my line of legions, things looked a little dodgy, I wasn't really getting anywhere on my left as Mike kept his annoying Numidian cavalry and others out of my way and it was taking far too long to cover the ground.

Mike advances.
My left attacks.
First contact as my Goths crash into a cohort.

Looking over the field of glory I was quite elated, I had held the cataphracts and was whittling them down, I had routed a legionary cohort and an auxiliary cohort, my Bucellarii was in the act of destroying a warband, what could go wrong? Well, one of my legions, Quinta Macedonica, simply refused to go into shieldwall as one of Mike's cohorts bore down on them, five times they failed this, then ran away when a nearby legion routed, I was not pleased and the unit is up for decimation. My Equites also let me down, they charged and failed to rout the Numidians, I thought this one was a gift, but no, the Africans chased them away!

Battle is joined.
Looking good (for a while).
My right is victorious.
Despite this as the game was coming to an end I had destroyed quite a few of Mike's units but not the ones I needed to, however there was a bright light on the horizon, as we entered the last rally phase the enemy had three units fleeing, if these did not rally this would give me the two expensive units I needed. My hopes were dashed as the lucky/dastardly Mike rallied them all. We used the old Weekend tally to mark up the points and it was a slight win for the Patricians, but this did not reflect the true situation on the table and Mike gave me the win, a gent.

I am not a fan of the objective system, I can see that it has its uses in competitions where there has to be a time limit but when you play without a time limit with large armies it doesn't allow you to fight a 'battle' but a game. When my son and I play we simply use Pitched Battle with no time limit, at some point one of us offers his sword.

The game, very disappointed in the Macedonica and the Equites, the former probably would not have stood up to the legionaries but refusing to go into shieldwall and then running let the side down. Mike frustrated me by handling his Numidians and skirmishers very well, I had to rout some of his units several times as they outpaced their pursuers only to rally, my boys were very slow on the feet. The ballista's on both sides were ineffectual and the cataphracts were not as big a threat as I had originally thought. An excellent game to kick off the weekend.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Spider is Back!

Dead Man's Hand last night and as usual I had no time to prepare a scenario so asked for someone else to do the work, Julian and Ryan between them brought one to the table. The town was full of people, as it would be, but hiding among them were criminals, so each of us had to confront a civvy and a die roll decided whether they were bad or good, if the former they fought back and if the latter they had to be escorted to a safe place. At the end of the game you got to throw a D6 for each person you had 'rescued' or captured and that was your score for the game, if it was a high falutin' character you got to throw two dice. It was different.

We were introducing Mike, who has never played a wargame in his life and is building up Victrix Napoleonics, Victrix is based in Kendal and Mike lives in Kendal hence his choice, I mentioned that he could get Black Powder rules for free from Warlord and it would be worth having a look at them.

I took 'El Arana' and his less than terrifying gang despite them letting me down time after time, I think he got the name from a Cornflakes packet. Anyway as we all set our sights on the nearest civilians it was clear that the Mexicans did not have as many choices as the other gangs, Julian and Simon seemed to be picking up most of them. I decided therefore to foil Julian and sent my companeros to pick a fight. Mike the newcomer confronted a figure in the square (with his hands tied, a hanging victim press ganged into use as a civvy) only for this superman to head butt his man to death, a hard intro to the joys of skirmish gaming, it did give us a laugh though.

Antonio 'The Roofman' earns his peso's.
Get Julian!

The Spider threw his men at Julian while maintaining command from a safe distance, maybe this is where I had been going wrong, usually he led from the front. Fat Pedro chased a wounded guy into a nearby saloon, kicking the door down and firing off two barrels at point blank from his shotgun only for the lead to hit the ceiling, his mate Skinny Luis did the same outside, there was something wrong with our shotguns today.

Fat Pedro and Skinny Luis run out of ammo.
 With all the civilians accounted for, apart from the head butter who had floored another of Mike's men, we realised that with all the targets in custody there was no incentive to fight the other gangs, my Mexicans aside who were simply out for kills, so that needs looking at. Lead now flew as the square turned into a free for all as time ticked away. The Spider even managed a kill as he finished off one of Ryan's men lying wounded in the street, 'El Arana' was back!

So there we go, we had a great laugh with insults being thrown back and forth, my Mexicans being the butt of several, highlights were Mike's fights with the guy with two hands tied behind his back and my useless shotguns, despite my aggressive tactics I still had four men left at the end. Oh, and who won, well I didn't only having 'rescued' two civvies, I am unsure who won in the end, Julian, Simon and Mike all had a bunch of people in tow, but I felt vindicated, more Mexicans coming at some point.

Monday, 16 July 2018

D i s a s t e r !

I settled down on Saturday morning to tidy up some loose ends re map projects, I managed one then got distracted by a fly, I can't concentrate with constant buzzing so gave it a dose of spray. This went over the desk so I picked up my stylus to give it a quick wipe and the thing came apart in my hand while little bits of circuit board flew like shrapnel. Revenge of the Flies, yeah, been there, but really just me being clumsy and Wacom not putting a thread on the pen rather than a smooth pull.

Horrified I went online to see if I could get a new pen tout suite, no one would deliver on a Sunday, so I settled for 'next day' which meant Monday, today, my tracking email however says it will be delivered before 9pm tonight, hardly next day in my mind. Funnily enough the ParcelFarce man just pulled up and had a small pen sized box in his hand, my spirits soared, only to be dashed as it is not for me, the Gods can be cruel. I am back to finger crossing, I have a lot of work on and don't want to waste a day.

I have managed to get back to some painting over the weekend due to the missus being away and no pen, His Majesty's Fifth of Foot are therefore coming along just fine and I suspect I may finish them this week, or at least get them to the basing stage. I am also learning how to use my wet palette properly, if you rub too long at the same spot you can wear away the paper and get through to the sponge underneath so it pays to move the paint around or be more gentle perhaps. I also may have put too much water in as when I went back to the palette after several hours the paint was a bit too runny having absorbed a lot of liquid. I find it very good for when you want to mix paints for a certain colour. Overall very pleased with it.

Dead Man's Hand tomorrow at the club and I am expecting a visit from WAC player Mike Jordan at the weekend for a feast of Ancient gaming, Mike has a large Early Imperial Roman army and I thought I would give it a game with each of my 'Ancient' armies, the Patricians, EIR and Seleucids, they will be larger games than normal at 3,500 points each.

Friday, 13 July 2018


I have not managed to pick up a paint brush for a couple of weeks now, mainly due to the hot weather and the 'stuff it' attitude it can lead to, but I intend to do a couple of hours tonight, I am home alone, again, as my missus does a 500 mile round trip for a night's babysitting, yes, I know it is mad.

Thank god I can now switch the TV on again without finding out the News has been delayed or moved, I still have to dodge Wimbledon but I can live with that. I opened the PO on Wednesday morning ready to empathise with any crestfallen England supporters who wandered in only to find that the first three men I asked, like me, were not interested in football and had not watched the game! Neither yesterday nor today has anyone mentioned it, no glum faces, no hint of national disaster, no tantrums, nothing, there's hope for us yet.

I am lost again with things to entertain me on the magic lantern, I have binged on the shows I enjoyed and tried several new ones. I am catching up with an old series while I paint, very loosely based on the Salem witch trials, surprisingly it is OK, good enough to paint by anyway. I also took on 'Happy' a weird series about an alcoholic ex-cop, they are always ex-cops, who is visited by a little girl's imaginary friend, a blue unicorn, wait don't go! Very brutal and very surreal but surprisingly I enjoyed it. Now here comes a real recommendation, GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a take on something which happened back in the '80's, it is heading for the 'next big thing' on TV, mark my words. It is sharp, well acted and non PC, it's on Netflix.

The only movie I have caught up with has been Downsizing, it had promise but went right off the radar, now I know why, it is desperate. The premise is that to save the planet you can volunteer to be reduced to about four inches tall then your money lasts longer and you save the eco system etc. But would you like to spend your life with the sort of people who would do that to save trees, no, I didn't think so. There really is no point to the story and it also doesn't make any sense, before I reached for the remote I hoped someone would step on all the little people. No wonder Matt Damon goes through the whole movie with a sour face, I would have squashed him myself to put him out of his misery.

As well as my normal mapping projects, back to WWI after some 18th and 17th C jobs, I have been working with Simon Miller of 'To The Strongest' fame on a scenario for his new ECW rules, Simon has a lot of excellent ideas to support his rule sets and I hope to play a small part in them.

I am not going to get that two hours tonight, I have faffed about now for a couple of hours and am losing the will to start, maybe an hour......

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Another clammy club night yesterday, Bolt Action this week, something nice and simple. Only a token force at the club, four guys with Bloodbowl games and Simon and I playing with real soldiers although I will admit the Bloodbowl looks like fun, albeit serious fun, with some very respectable paint jobs.

Anyway, back to wargaming, I asked Simon to have a go at a scenario I have played before, a defended hilltop with hasty defences, it turned out alright before so I hoped it would do again. We scrounged about for suitable terrain and tried to remember it was somewhere in Russia so no buildings or other signs of civilisation as the Soviets counterattacked. I put two regular squads up gunned with some assault rifles in the trenches along with my sniper and commander, off table were three Ostruppen squads, rubbish troops but I wanted to outnumber Simon. I don't normally take a sniper as they annoy the hell out of me in this game but I was expecting Simon to have one, but he didn't, there also was no sign of his favourite flamethrower either, but he did have four large squads, one of green troops and his KV1, I took a Marder to sort that out along with panzerfausts.

I was hit pretty badly during the preparatory bombardment and went Down to clear the pins, I should have simply rallied, this gave Simon time to approach the hill. I rolled for the Ostruppen in turn two but only one of them turned up, I had an idea to conceal this squad behind a hill so that I could flank the KV if and when it moved on my left, I left the Marder in reserve. I lost my sniper to a Russian assault but things began to go splendidly as my defenders hit back, the Russian forces were seriously depleted things were looking good, but I still had one Ostruppen refusing to come to the party. I brought the Marder on as Simon advanced his tank, bang, a hit, but the crew frowned as they saw their shot ricochet off the steel monster.

There was further fanatical fighting on the hill and I now took my ambushers forward and took a flank shot with a panzerfaust, fizzzzzzzz, nothing, the green troops now took fire and were destroyed by the Soviet tank's protecting squad along with its cheeky rear machine gun. Simon's luck had changed and it was the Germans who were now on the back foot. At last my remaining Ostruppen turned up but did not have the legs to make the hill and win me a point, and just when I needed him my officer and his mate were wiped out. The Marder took several more shots at the KV and missed as did another panzerfaust, all these shots rolled a one.

At the end Simon had two more points than me if I remember correctly, it had looked so good half way through, but I didn't do so well in the second half and the order dice favoured the Russians for the last couple of turns, the rest is history. Again the scenario played well, a real bloody fight for both sides, I took a chance with the Ostruppen and it didn't work, they were too easily killed off by return fire and their morale was terrible, hence one unit remaining off for four turns, perhaps I should have put them in the trenches and brought the Regulars on as reinforcements, but them they did sterling service in the trenches.

So there we go, I really should play more or at least remember to bring my order dice and my index for the next game, grrrr. I apologise for the poor photographs, my new phone is not as forgiving as my iPad, which I shall return to at once.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

An Unexpected Parcel

Ever since I got back from Tankfest I have been playing catch up, I have two projects 99% complete but am waiting for the authors to confirm the last maps are fine and we are good to go. I have a third which is 80% done and again am waiting for the last map, I don't like waiting, my store of patience ran out a long time ago, but hey I have plenty of other maps to draw. My missus very kindly took over my days in the PO this week in order to let me get on.

With the weekend away and so much to do I decided to give the club a miss this week so no battle reports. The missus shouted up yesterday that the Postie had just delivered a parcel for me, I was a bit unsure as I have not ordered anything for a couple of weeks now, but she was adamant and it was a large box, sure enough there it was. From Celestial Games, not a name familiar with me so I was still none the wiser, I then opened it up and SURPRISE, it was my second Kickstarter, the long awaited wet palette, I still await the first.

It is a neat item and a perfect size for my desk, it also comes with a magnetic, I don't know, normal palette with five paint holders on it, perfect for washes. I managed to get some painting done last night at last after a long break and the palette works perfectly, I opened it up a short time ago and the three colours I was mixing last night are still wet, result.

I finished my second SYW unit, a French battalion from the Regiment Aquitaine, well over a week ago but have not managed to get around to putting up a picture, so here it is. I promptly ordered up the flags for my next four regiments, no patience you see, the British 5th Foot and 2nd Battalion 3rd Foot Guards (Scots) along with Gardes Lorraine and Regiment Bretagne for the French. I only have the figures for the 5th which I am painting now.

Aventine have the first of their new Successor cataphracts out this month, beautiful figures but I am holding off for the Agema cataphracts and Companions, although I was sorely tempted to get some. I figure that by the time the 5th are done I might be right on time for those last two cavalry units for my Seleucids. I might also have some cash by then to buy them.