Sunday 16 September 2012

Scratch built terrain

Those of you that have been following my blog for a while, will have noticed a number of references to terrain making, especially buildings. After a lot of planning and preparation, I finally have something to show for my efforts. As a wargamer of many years standing, one of the most important aspects of the hobby for me is the visual. As well as good company and an enjoyable scrap, I like the table to look good and have always been pretty fussy about terrain. One of the things that has often surprised me wandering around the shows, is how unconcerned some gamers are about putting beautifully painted miniatures, that must have taken hundreds (if not thousands) of hours to paint onto a very plain table. There is no arguing with taste and to some, the game is all that matters, but I hope to offer, over the coming months and years, a service providing not only terrain boards, but the buildings and other items that sit upon them.

To start with I want to feature some 20mm buildings, intended for WWII wargaming. Without doubt the doyen of this art was Mick Sewell, who, over a period of years made buildings of excellent quality for wargamers all around the world, including me. Much of what I have learned, comes from him - if I get anywhere near his standard, I will be very satisfied indeed.

To start with, here are a few of the more basic building blocks. Each of these buildings is constructed separately and can be used "unbased" to create the streets shown above. The advantage of this system is flexibility, as the relative positions of the buildings can be varied from game to game.

An alternative, is to place the buildings on a base with extra features such as boundary walling, hedging, fencing etc and other enhancements such as trees and bushes. Below are some examples of this more integrated approach. Visually it does offer more, but of course lacks the flexibility of individual, unbased structures.

Scratch building is, of necessity fairly time consuming. One of the main areas for reducing the amount of time spent on a model, is the tiling. Hand tiling gives a more irregular and to my eye, better look. The roofs on the buildings shown above, which are removable of course, are done using Wills railway modellers plastic sections cut to size over a card and MDF frame. Either method can be provided, according to preference.

If you are interested in having something made, please let me know, providing a rough outline of your requirements. I will get back to you with a quote.

Over the following few weeks I will post more pictures of different styles of buildings - next up will be a couple of small chateaux and some battle damaged modules.

Saturday 4 August 2012

Regiment La Marck

As promised here are a few pics of my latest Grand Alliance French (actually German) battalion. This regiment fought in Italy and Flanders during the war. It also served at 3 of the big 4 Marlburian battles: Ramillies, Oudenaarde and Malplaquet. I was attracted by the uniform - light blue faced yellow - a nice contrast to the more common white/light grey - as well as the flag; beautifully done by GMB

The figures are my usual blend of Dixon and Warfare Miniatures. Phase 1 of this collection is nearly complete, with only 2 x 36 English battalions and an 18 figure regiment of French horse to paint. Phase 2, which I hope to start in 2013, will include French household troops (foot and horse), Gensdarmes and a Danish contingent for the allied cause. The rest of my painting time this year will be taken up with Napoleonics, Italian Wars and 20mm WWII.

If you fancy a unit or two for your own collection, please let me know as I am now taking on new commissions.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

En Avant les Cuirassiers!

In my attempts to get my Grand Alliance armies on the table, my Napoleonic collection has rather taken a back seat recently. Although my Russian army contains a respectable 12 battalions (with 4 more part painted) and 4 regiments of cavalry, my French have lagged behind, with only 7 battalions of infantry completed so far. I thought it was about time I added some cavalry to the Napoleonic ranks and what better than a brigade of cuirassiers. I suppose chasseurs a cheval would have been a more logical starting point, as the real work horses of the mounted arm, but the Perry cuirassier figures are some of the nicest in the range in my view and I just couldn't help myself. Rather than paint a single regiment, I thought I would tackle an entire brigade (2 regiments of 16 figures each) - hard work at the time, but a solid addition to the collection at the end of it all. I have painted both with yellow distinctions, which allows me to mix them up if needed - 2 regiments of 16, or 20 and 12, or a single regiment of up to 30 (leaving out the extra command base).

Next up is another 30 man French  battalion for my Grand Alliance collection. Strictly speaking they are German mercenaries of the La Marck regiment - light blue with yellow cuffs and typically pretty flags. They should hopefully be done in the next week or so. This is the perennial problem of having several periods on the go at once - variety of painting, but it takes an age to get them to the table!

The buildings are also coming along well, although I am delaying posting pictures of them until I have done a reasonable number. At the moment I am working on a couple of rather nice chateaux. More anon.....

Monday 2 July 2012

Dulce et decorum est

With so many figures to paint (and so little time!!), it is all too easy to overlook those  extras that make a game look that little bit special.  For me, the visual appeal of any wargame is, along with the enjoyabilty of the game itself, the most important thing. Terrain obviously plays a vital role here and I try to put a lot of effort into that area. Next up, is obviously the quality of the units on the table - I prefer fewer big units personally - a line of 36 British infantry clad in scarlet takes some beating. Another good way of tarting up a battlefield is by adding the occasional piece of redundant eye candy. I say redundant as they usually have no function in the game, other than to look pretty, but what is life without a little whimsy every now and then?

The man with the spade is a Dixon miniature from their Grand Alliance pioneer group. The attendant cleric is a Foundry figure. The subject is, it is true a little ghoulish, but a common enough sight over the centuries.

In truth, this post is a bit of a filler - it has been a while since my last one and I have been busy with some bigger jobs. I am just putting the finishing touches to a brigade of Napoleonic French cuirassiers and should be able to post them shortly. I am also working hard on a range of scratch built 20mm buildings for WWII, which are looking quite nice; again more to follow. Until then happy gaming.

Friday 1 June 2012

French Cavalry

One of the attractive features of this period is the large amounts of cavalry employed. It is not unreasonable to field 25-30% of an army as horse or mounted dragoons, which gives plenty of opportunity for that sight, much beloved by wargamers: the massed cavalry charge. "Corporal John and the Sun King" encourages this, with a very clean and decisive melee system, where waves of cavalry can charge, fall back and counter charge with dramatic changes in fortune. Alternatively, if both sides throw good morale dice, the action can build up into a huge swirling melee that can last for several turns.

Having shown a few pics of my growing allied cavalry force, I thought you might like to see the French cavaliers in all their glory. So far, I have seven regiments; 4 of horse and 3 of dragoons, but over the next year or two, I will be looking to double this by adding several more units of horse and some Household troops and Gensdarmes.

This shot, shows the whole force in motion; dragoons on the left, horse on the right. Below are a few shots of my favourite unit: the Royal Cravattes in action. Firstly a close up, followed by charges against the Dutch Foot Guards and Murray's Scots Regiment in Dutch Service.

Here are some shots of the larger force on the move - in imposing sight!

I have really got the bit between my teeth now with this period and hope to see the size of the collection grow considerably. Next on the list is more French infantry; I have recently completed a battalion of the regiment Le Roi, and have the figures for three more awaiting my attention. Alongside them are two further battalions of English infantry and another regiment of French horse. I was chatting to Barry Hilton at the Partizan show last Sunday and he has big plans for his Warfare Miniatures range, which is really taking off. I saw a unit of his newly painted (Jacobite) horse, which were quite superb, with lots more stuff in the pipeline icluding French Guards and a range of flags, which also looked very nice indeed. Now seems a great time to get into this period with so many nice figures on the market.

If you fancy a regiment or two for your own collection, let me know.

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Bavarian Kurassiers

The most recent addition to my allied cavalry force, this 24 figure regiment should provide some extra punch. During the War of the Grand Alliance, the allied cavalry seemed to come off worst on most occasions against the better led and better trained French cavaliers. By the time of the Marlburian campaigns, the Bavarians had of course switched sides; only to come up against the rejuvinated allied horse. The figures are all Foundry, apart from the Dixon trumpeter. By using the water effect and the dismounted trooper, I only needed to paint 22, rather than 24 figures: a useful saving of time and money and looks quite good too!

Next up will be some pics of my French cavalry.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Long Time No Post

My main regret is as a wargamer is that there only seem to be 24 hours in a day. Not that this is an excuse for such a long break in posts on this blog, but I have been busy. Coaching a junior football team and transporting my son around to seemingly endless games certainly eats into your hobby time. I have also been pretty busy on the work front recently with a number of  commissions. The football is now over and the work is back to more manageable levels, so it is high time that I resumed this blog. So, what have I been up to?

Probably the main change is to my Grand Alliance collection. At Sheffield Triples last year, I was much taken by the Grimsby lads' Marlburian demo. They were handing out sets of the quick play rules that they were using and when I got home, I read them through. The game, which I spent quite a lot of time watching was both visually impressive and, apparently, fun to play - both important factors for me. The rules, whilst simple seemed very well thought out, with simple but effective mechanisms. I decided that they were for me. Up to that point I had been using Barry Hilton's Beneath the Lily Banners, and was quite happy with them. The main thing that put me off was the unit sizes - typically 18 figures in most infantry battalions and 12 in most cavalry regiments. The Grimsby rules: "Corporal John and the Sun King", seemed to use units roughly double this size. Such units, deployed in line looked great. The rules are intended for the Marlburian period and therefore make no mention of pikes. Adding a few amendments to cover this and one or two other things was simple enough and in no way alters the "feel" of the rules.

So, what to do. I decided to start with the units I already had and simply build them up to the desired strengths. This involved essentially doubling the size of my allied battalions from 18 to 36 and increasing the French from 18 to 30. For the cavalry I settled for simply adding 6 figures to each unit. After that came the difficult bit - 30/36 figure battalions from scratch!

As things stand, I now have 8 allied (6 Dutch and 2 English) battalions but only 6 French. These are fully up to strength. My French cavalry is also fully uprated and comprises 3 regiments of horse and 3 of dragoons each of 18 figures and a larger 24 man regiment of horse - the famous Royal Cravattes. The allied cavalry is still a work in progress; my Dutch cavalry are all up to 18s - 2 regiments each of horse and dragoons, with one of my two Danish regiments similarly completed. My Danish Horse Guards and 2 English regiments still remain to be done. To beef up the allied horse in the meantime, I have painted up a 24 figure Bavarian Kurassier regiment - these can be used by the French for Marlburian games.

Dutch dragoon brigade (top) comprising regiments Dopff (middle) and Garde Dragonder.

Dutch Horse Brigade (top) comprising regiments Wurtemburg (middle) and Driesbergen

One of the main developments on the figures front for this period is the release of Barry's own range: Warfare Miniatures. These are specifically designed for the Grand Alliance period with informal tricornes and are quite superb. What is better, they mix in perfectly with my existing Dixon figures and I use both ranges within the same unit.

I will post some more pics shortly, showing the rest of the collection so far.