Friday, 23 September 2016

The Men Who Would Be Kings

Finally after whats seems like months of waiting, TMWWBK was finally published at the end of September and I have a copy of my own. Our Colonial collections have been languishing in their storage boxes for a couple of years now since we tried them with a unpublished version of Warhammer Colonials. We've also played Black Powder but that's more for bigger games and The Sword and The Flame, which is closer to the spirit and scale of these rules but with limited distribution outside America.

We played our first game recently using Stuart's Boxer war collection in 15mm. Great fun was had dispite us generally rolling up some quite poor leaders. Pinning units is quite key in this game, quality can win over quantity but it's in no way certain.

On to the game, this is another 'grand skirmish' sized game. Expect European forces around 40 or 50 figures, whilst their colonial opposition will be larger, say 60 to 100 figures. This is achievable in 28mm especially with plastic kits from Perry or Warlord. The rules will also happily work in other scales, so long as you can break your units down to show and track casualties. 

Players take turns activating units. They can take their free action, which depends on their type, or you can roll to carry out another action. Typically European Regulars can shoot for free whilst Tribal Infantry might be able to move. Shooting and Combat are rolled per figure involved and units must take a test if casualties are inflicted, fail that and you are pinned and unable to move. Subsequent rally actions are easier to perform but rely on your unit leader, failure will result in a retreat move.

Many players will be pleased to find a set of rules for solo play, Mr Babbage, who typically will play against the Europeans. This could also be used for a large multi player game where the players play against the game rather the each other.

We are planning a large multi player game in November and I am needing to get some painting done soonish, I already have the following;

  • Six units, 24 points of Zulus painted and a further 4 units, 16 points unassembled and unpainted.
  • Two units, 12 points of regular British and a gun and crew painted with another unit, six points unpainted.
  • Three units, 24 points of Boers unpainted.
  • Two units, 12 points of Naval Brigade plus a Nordenfelt gun painted.

Finishing that off will keep me busy.

A Tale of Two Castles Part 2 - The Tower of London

Last weekend we made a trip to London specifically to visit the Tower of London, cheap tickets on the train also got us half price entry in to the Tower.  when we thing of the Tower we usually picture the Norman 'White Tower' but the Tower has been expanded in to a enormous complex almost like a village inside.

The moat was drained and filled in on the instructions of Wellington who also had all the animals shipped out to form London Zoo.

There is so much to see you could easily spend most of a day here. The shot below shows the inside of the Byward tower. To the right is Mint Street, the original location of the Royal Mint.

Traitors Gate

The White Tower now a Royal Armouries museum 

Waterloo Barracks, now the home of the Crown Jewels

The Itish Guards were on duty

The guns were captured at Waterloo

The Yeoman Warders AKA Beefeaters are all servicemen with at least 22 years service, a good conduct medal and have reached at least the rank of Warrant Officer or Senior NCO. 37 Warders plus the Chief Warder live on site with their families. They give tours of the site and are very funny.

The 'Bloody Tower'

 Tower Green and the Queen's House

The Scaffold Site - Royalty and Nobility were beheaded here, others had a public execution on Tower Hill

The Norman keep was built on the site of a Roman Fortifications

The White Tower is full of armour and weapons, much related to the Tudor and Stuart era.

You could recreate the inside of the Tower complex with some suitable castle walls and a cobblestone mat, buildings line the inner walls of the outer bastion. The mint could be robbed or rescue attempts on famous prisoners could be made.

A Tale of Tale of Two Castles Part 1 - Berkeley Castle

In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to visit two castles, both impressive and playing an important part in our history.

First came a visit to Berkeley Castle, normally just a trip down the M5, essential roadworks closing a railway bridge meant a diversion which took very close to Nibley Green, the location of the last private pitched battle fought on British soil. The battle was fought over the ownership of the very castle we were visiting.

Berkeley Castle is the oldest inhabited castle in the UK, it's history dating back to the Normans who built a chain of castles in the Marches to prevent invasion from Wales. Edward II was imprisoned and believed to have been killed here in 1327 on the orders of Roger Mortimer after he was recaptured after an escape attempt.

The castle changed hands a few times during the English Civil Wars eventually being besieged and taken when cannon were fired at point blank range at the walls until breached. Castles were usually raised once taken but it is believed cash changed hands and the castle still stands today.

The breach from outside

And shown from inside

I have included a few shots of the castle, its outer walls and rooms.

Spot the Venetian influence

The castle was expanded over many years and shows many differing styles

A murder hole is located below the middle crenellation and was used to pour hot liquid or sand on to the attackers once they have climbed the stairs which are oddly sized to trip the unwary.

 The minstrels gallery

Jacobite standard taken at Culloden

And another from Flodden

The moat

The former chapel, reputedly the most haunted room in the castle

There is also a great tea shop in a yurt in the grounds along with a butterfly room and the museum of Edward Jenner who used to live in the grounds. Jenner discovered the link between Cowpox and Smallpox and has the distinction of saving the most lives in human history. 

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Battle of Squirrel Wood

Today we held one of our all day clubs, this gives us opportunity to have a bigger game than a normal club night.

Stuart wrote up a scenario passed on the Battle of Cowpens, details can be found on his blog; Carl brought his extensive figure collection for us to use for the day.

As part of the American team, we purchased additional Lvl 1 big men, a water cart, ammo cart and a couple of additional infantry groups. The British bought an additional artillery piece as well I believe an additional big man.

Aided by almost two complete runs of cards before Tiffin, we managed to,deploy all our light troops from the forward deployment point and began to harass the British. British artillery opened up on the skirmishers causing light casualties but it was the cavalry charging in that caused the majority of American losses.

The cavalry was very effective against the infantry but was spent, caught in the open they were shot up on their retreat. Meanwhile light troops entering the woods on the American left tied down almost the whole of that wing as it got to involved winkling them out.

With the cavalry repeatly hit by American light troops, their brigade collapsed, retiring off table taking the artillery with them. The British right finally start to get moving, too little to late. The left advance taking fire from rebel troops losing and the British CinC is wounded.

The American line troops form along the ridge line but never get the opportunity to fire their muskets as the game ends with an American victory.

This was a great day, full of fun and laughter and some of those great moments which will go down in club legend.

Meanwhile in the other end of the hall, Ian together with some of the guys from the Redditch club put on a large multi player Dropzone game, table looked great and I particularly loved the overpass.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Scenic bits and Sharp Practice deployment points

Inspired by my recent Last Valley hedgerow acquisitions I needed some bigger fields, I went in search of the classic doormat for wheatfields, I'm still looking but I picked up a cheap ridged doormat. I cut it up and then gave a spray with Halfords camouflage brown to tone down the grey threads. With that done the pieces got a brush of red brown then added a selection of flock and tufts with PVA.

Fresh from Partizan, the Ainsty Castings Celtic cross, just a simple base coat, wash and highlight. This piece will see service across Dark Age Britain and beyond.

I have had a bag full of Chinese plastic aqairium plants for a few years stashed away. I've needed some template bases and managed to pick some up on eBay vey cheaply. I decided to use a couple to make a couple of rough ground pieces using plaster rocks from a Woodland Scenics mould.

Sharp Practice uses deployment points, 60mm in diameter. Many others have made dedicated vignettes for their forces but being less free with my painting time I thought I'd make some generic multi purpose bases. Here are the first five, I've ideas for others but need to secure the relevant terrain pieces first.

I have used the top layers of single penny regiment trays, overlapping them and cutting off the excess to minimise space, these are then glued to the base and the height built up with MDF off cuts and filler. Two use more of the Woodland Scenics rocks, another barrels from Renedra and Reaper whilst the last two are made from a  campfire set sourced on eBay.

Here are the bases with Perry and Front Rank Napoleonic British Riflemen.

And now with some of my Perry Wars of The Roses.

I'm currently "enjoying" basing large numbers of trees suitable for 6mm games and adding some more bits and pieces for my Austrian army.

Last weekend I played my first game of Blucher, great fun although I'm still needing to get my head around the rules and how the units move on the tabletop. Tomorrow we have a large Sharp Practice game refighting the Battle of the Cowpens from the American War of the Independence.