Friday, 23 September 2016

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.

Monday, 22 August 2016

A quick trip to Partizan

I made a trip up to Newark yesterday to visit Partizan at its new venue at the Newark show grounds, I had a shopping list of essentials and wish list too.

Straight in front of the entrance was the last valley stand, I've wanted some pieces suitable for 28mm gaming, if you got there after me Sorry. Here's my box contents on th living room floor covering approx 3' X 5'. This will fit in great with existing collection, I'm looking forward to making a table with these at the club soon.

Now on to the stuff from the list;
  • The usual bag of mdf from warbases; circles for 6mm trees, skirmish bases for Sharp Practice and small pieces for my 6mm WW2.
  • 6mm WW2 Soviets from Adler ( these are replacements I will find the ones I lost now!)
  • Ainsty Castings Celtic Cross
  • Otherworld Wights from Annie's bargain box
  • Foundry Explorers and armed civilians from Colonel Bill for both Congo and Zulu games
  • Some tufts for the Sudan bases from Great Escape Games, there's also a can of Russian Uniform Green to speed up the painting of the 6mm Soviets
  • Congo!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Artillery, Civilians and Wagons

I have been focusing on models for Sharp Practice and have had some of these for a while and finally cleared them of the painting table.

The first of my Napoleonic artillery, a medium gun and crew for the British.

Here's the equivalent piece and crew for the French. All these castings are from Front Rank, great castings with no mould lines or flash and available singly.

They also do period civilians, here's most of the first two packs apart from a mounted gent still on the painting table.

At Salute I also picked up the Sharp Practice wagon pack.

Ammunition cart

Engineers cart

Water cart


I have a couple a drovers from Westphalia to go with the wagons and I need to source a driver for the carraige.

Finally here's a couple of Reaper Bones Dire Wolves for Frostgrave and D&D.

After finishing the rebasing of the WW2 Soviets I've been keen to continue to scratch my 6mm itch but I can't find the infantry and don't recall seeing them for a few years. I've bitten the bullet and put an order in to Adler to replace them. I expect them to turn up any moment.

Meanwhile I have had delivery of the Austrian deck for Blucher and broken up the last of my Austrian infantry bases, these have been glued back on to 60mm X 30mm MDF and I need to paint three more command groups.

Saturday we visited Haye on Wye and I managed to pick up a few books, mainly on the English Civil Wars and particularly focusing on local actions, more reading while we wait on the new Baccus range.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Evesham Battlefield Walk

Whilst at the Tewkesbury Medieval festival, I bought a Graham Turner print, here it is in the hall complete with my girlfriends bunting!

This week was the 751st anniversary of the Battle of Evesham, I'd walked the battle site before but this weekend had the opportunity to join a guided tour by The Battlefields Trust. We lingered in the park whilst the local dignatories laid their wreath on the memorial, in leui of a photo, here's the War Memorial and a shot of the Bell Tower.

The talk took us walking out of town to the small meadow associated with the battle and here's a shot of the information board. The battle happened all across the top of the hill, 12.000 infantry and cavalry take up a lot a space.

On the gaming front I have taken delivery of lots of roads and rivers suitable for 6mm and 10mm gaming and finished a refurb of my old WW2 Soviets. I've only found some of the infantry, still to dig out the rest. Bases on vehicles are not to everyone's taste, but I like that it keeps the vehicles from knocking all the paint off, also you can do little dioramas. 

Tonight's game at the club was going to be Blucher but my opponent had to cancel, I popped along to say Hi and got a quick game of The Great War by PSC Games, great fun as are all the Commands and Colours type games.

Next up, the long awaiting wagons and artillery.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Joy of 6 Sheffield 17th July 2016

The Joy of 6 is a specialised show organised by Pete Berry of Baccus, dedicated to the much overlooked 6mm scale. The games and traders were picked for their relevance to the 6mil gamer. The show was easy to find, plenty of signs pointing the Sheffield Hallam university.

The first stop was the cafe for a much needed cuppa and sausage butty, food here was very cheap, a refreshing change from other shows. I took plenty of pictures, many for my own inspiration, here are just a selection.

First up, Dresden my MAD gamers, using Black Powder.

This great walled town is from Total Battle Miniatures.

Ligny by Leicester Wargames

Brittania by Mailed Fist, the Boudiccan revolt using Hail Ceasar. The wooded areas lift off the bases, so troops can be placed underneath, a great idea done with a plastic base and lots of clump foliage.

Red Effect by Cold War Commanders

Every modern game needs its town, I like how buildings have been based. Roads are a mixture of Z gauge railway terrain and homemade on cheap floor tiles.

The cooling towers are 3D prints from Brigade, wish they would make these in resin as the prints are£13 each!

Finally on this games, a couple of examples of the building bases. All buildings are from Timecast.

Hougemont by Lee Sharpe and Ian Willey.

Saga in 6mm by Per Broden assisted by Neil Shuck.

Old Puttees by Baccus showcasing their WW1 range using Great War Spearhead.

The Somme by Robert Dunlop

Pharsalus by Andrew Brentnall using To The Strongest.

Commission Figurines make buildings in MDF and have made the first figures in lasercut MDF, just released are some Marian Romans, great details at a fab price 96 figures for just £2!

Their game mixes their own wooden figures with more traditional lead sculpts.

DBMM presented by Milton Keynes

WW2 Ground Attack by Leeds WS using Check your 6!

The Bridge at Remagen by Deeside Defenders

Skalitz by RAF Cranwall

Battle for Ponyri by Luton Lancers using IABSM3

Break the Line by David Elks and Tim Rogers

Battle of Wilton by The Legion of Blokes.

A new release from Total Battle Miniatures, a superb Motte and Bailey castle and village.

Superb painting on this game set during the reign of Stephen and Matila.

The smallest game, Operation Bagration by Seebee games

Dan Hodgson put two Star Wars games on, both the Battle for Hoth and the Battle of Endor. This guy has lots of X-Wing ships.

Heroics and Ros had plenty of nice new releases on show.

Baccus had their new WW2 ranges on show as well a sample of their coming soon vehicle range. The model, a Sherman, looked great, but I'd love to see it next to other models on the market. The infantry I think sit mid way between Adler and GHQ for size. The detail is good but with the advancing and firing infantry packs being 96 figs, you will have plenty of spare castings. I think I will be picking up some of these later in the year when I return to WW2 in 6mm.

Pete also shared the news that he was withdrawing the ECW range soon as the range is being resculpted and expanded later in the year. This was well received and I'll certainly be interested in seeing what comes out.

I managed to keep my purchases to Leven, picking up a few more adobes for our Sudan , another stone bridge, farm buildings for ACW and the La Haye Sainte farm house which is good for WW2 and Napoleonics. Next club I'll be giving Blucher a run out whilst continuing to chip away at my 28mm Napoleonics for Sharp Practice although I'm know brimming over for moving my 6mm projects forward.

Remember, the bigger the battle, the smaller the models!