Saturday, 12 October 2013

The American Civil War - An Odyssey In 6mm - Part 4

Let there be many tiny men with little brightly coloured flags above their heads; and there was!  There will be a bit of flannel below (you know the sort) but the upshot is that I have managed to finish – paint, base, flock, flags, varnish – a whole bunch of my 6mm Union troops, to a total of 5 regiments of infantry, 2 of cavalry, and 2 batteries of cannon.  And I’m pleased with myself.

The whole 'danged lot before the additon of flags.



Closeup of the first fully completed regiment - a Wisconsin one, the others are a second wisconsin, 2 from New York, and finally one from pennsylvania.


In truth the 1st regiment of foot was finished last month, and it provided a blueprint for me to complete the rest.  Having spent part of a holiday to Cornwall painting an infantry regiment I decided that I had enough to start the basing process.  This went through the following steps:
  1. I stuck the models to the MDF bases using Army Painter super glue (very strong stuff – a good purchase).
  2. Then I added a layer of PVA glue onto the exposed MDF before covering with fine sand.  My choice of brand in this case was Baccus’ own product.
  3. With the sand very dry I painted it, and any bits of the soldiers metal bases that needed it, Hull Red (Vallejo) paint – a dark brown.  This I had problems with because the sand began clumping and it was very hard work.  Advice was sought from Andy, and I started significantly watering down the paint and dabbing it on, letting it “flow from the brush onto the sand” were his words, and it mostly worked.
  4. With the brown dry I then used Kharki Grey (Vallejo), a lighter brown, to give it a bit of depth with a dry brush, and painted the edges of the bases Olive Green (Vallejo).
  5. Baccus were then the source of my flock; bright green and applied directly after a coat of watered down PVA glue.  I tend to put a lot of flock on to cover most of the base after seeing Michael’s English Civil War troops and the effect he’d managed there.
  6. Flag time, and the Baccus flags (seeing a theme here) were applied, with a national flag and a state flag for each of the command bases.  These were stuck together, and to the flag pole using PVA glue, another Andy tip which worked better than my efforts with pritstick!
  7. Finally an Army Painted Matt Varnish over the whole ensemble to dampen down the shine from the ink wash, and give the models some protection.

With this many models finished I think it may be time to take to the table soon.  5 regiments of infantry isn’t much of a match for Andy’s current Rebel horde, but if his zouvres and a few commanding officers (I haven’t managed to do any yet) swap sides it begins to look a lot more even.  The next ACW bits on the list to be made/painted are some command bases, skirmishers for the infantry, and dismounted cavalry, all of which I had put off due to not having a sufficiently sharp knife to start separating them from their tabs!  The blades are now bought, so maybe they’ll have their chance.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

A Wargaming Review of 2013

Its October so it must be time for another wargaming review with the end of my painting ‘year’.  Last years review was short because I had done little in the way of wargaming due to my job at the Imperial War Museum, however when this finished in mid October 2012 I decided I had neglected a major interest and threw myself into it. 
The Changing of the Guard

It has definitely been a year of change; since last October I have sold over 700 models of varying sizes and types.  The majority have been Games Workshop ones as old world of Fantasy/Sci-fi games make way for the Historical ones.  The ships of battlefleet gothic and the titans of Epic 40k were followed out of the door by the edges of my Imperial Guard collection, a whole bunch of Chaos Space marines, and my Bretonnians for warhammer.  eBay was heavily used throughout, although some pieces were sold at the RGMB as well.  This reflected my realisation that there was lots I wanted too do but couldn’t due to lack of funds, and lots I had not taken out of their boxes since we moved to Wrexham at the start of 2009.  Surviving the cull were the Skaven and Undead for warhammer, the bulk of the Imperial Guard for 40k, and the Necromunda and Bloodbowl bits.

In reply I took the opportunity to visit wargaming shows in York (Vapnartek, February) and Sheffield (Tripples, May), and blessed by excellent company I used the funds raised to purchase many historical models.  A Welsh warband for Saga came out of my trip to York (as did the Saga rules – courtesy of Red’s propaganda, and a particularly good suggestion it was too).  Following a very agreeable game of the Wars of the Roses against Aidan some more troops appears for that, and additional finishing pieces for my English Civil War Royalists were also added.  An additional period, and a new scale, was begun by the purchase of many little 6mm American Civil War troops, and I decided that my scenery collection had too many holes and needed a revamp with a number of new buildings and roads being added.  I also purchased my first Sci-fi models for years when I bought into Dreadball – a third new game this year after Saga and ACW, and a recommendation by Laurent which I have not regretted for a moment.  At the last moment I purchased my first Flames of War 15mm Germans for an age when I bought the Open Fire boxed set, and the purchased tally stood at 474.  Much less than the sold total, but, sadly after purchases of hobby materials, it cost much more than the amount I had recouped in sales.

In terms of gaming my habits have also changed.  When I finished my work in Manchester I decided to start going to the Deeside Defenders club in Broughton regularly, as well as the RGMB in Chester.  The latter is on a Tuesday and the former on a Thursday so I could do both with ease.  The cost of the two started to mount however, particularly going to Chester with petrol and £2.50 a night, while travelling to Broughton meant I could share a car and the excellent banter on the way there and back, and entry was only £1.  In the last few year the RGMB had become inundated with magic card players, and in the last few months it had reached a point where I could no longer find a table at 6pm, or space, or hear myself when I did, and the level of enjoyment (pressured by the knowledge of how much it was costing me) dropped off.  I decided to stop going to Chester for a period, but to keep an ear out and if it, and my finances, improved I could rethink.  Thursdays are now the gaming night of choice.

A Year of Games

It has been a very varied year of games.  Whereas I used to play either Warhammer, Warhammer 40k, or perhaps Necromunda or Bloodbowl, and latterly Flames of War en-masse for long periods I found that often I was playing 3-4 different games (and periods) in a month.  This was helped by being at Deeside, where there were much more options in terms of historical gaming.  I’ve listed some of the games below:

  • Bloodbowl – I made it to the Deeside competition quarter finals with my skaven in late 2012, and I’m now occupying the same spot so far this year, whether I’ll get any further is unlikely!
  • Dreadball – Having started this new game I helped Laurent setup, and played in, a one-day tournament, coming a close second to Andy, who’d I’d shown how to play the game the previous Thursday!
  • Blackpowder – I dipped into the American civil war a few times, and I am especially grateful to Will at Deeside for giving me the benefit of his time, expertise and 20mm horde to get a feel for the period before I plumbed for 6mm Union troops to face Andy’s Rebels in the future.  It was particularly enjoyable to play a game with an umpire (Will again), which added an extra level to the games.
  • Flames of War – Several large battles ensued, whole day affairs which were mostly prompted by Phil who’s energy is worth admiration – he tends to start everything we do, and then someone (me?) makes his ideas reality.  I also played a few smaller games; fighting in the boccage against James was entertaining and different and worth doing again.
  • English Civil War – using Pike & Shotte rules the highlights were an enjoyable campaign run by Aidan, and a spectacular punch-up run by Blue Team Dave over the Gauntlet wargaming show weekend, which was the stimulus behind much of my painting this year.
  • Saga – I’ve used the Welsh throughout, with multiplayer games being the most common with normally 3-4 players around.
  • Cold War Commander – I had two shots at this, enjoying the entirely armoured introduction more than the combined arms battle a few weeks later.

The Battle for Chester - from the English Civil War campaign season.

A less successful scenario for the Falase Gap in Flames of War.

The Gauntlet setup for the epic 'Relief of Hawarden' battle.

And again, with my fully painted Royalists pouring out of Chester onto the Holt road.

My Dreadball Corporation team - Carbis Bay Buccaneers.

All 10 teams from the one-day tournament.

Some of Will's excellent (and sizable) 20mm American Civil War collection.

I also seemed to have ended up playing lots of introductory games; explaining the rules to players who then tended to beat me thoroughly (Andy).  I can remember demonstrating Flames of War, Dreadball, and Saga to more than 1 person this year.  I’m hoping to play a little less variety and focus a bit more on a few specific games this year coming because I found that due to this jumping between periods I couldn’t get really into, or excited about, any one period/game, which affected my painting volume after July.

In terms of painting 2013 must surely be my most productive year ever.  A few major projects are responsible for this, and the majority of the 396 figures I painted in the period were done just for the single large ECW battle at Gauntlet, so I think I’ve much to thank Blue Team Dave for.  This focus upon only using painted figures at The Relief of Hawarden battle ensured that I finished entirely my Royalist army, more than 240 figures which were done at a rate of over 50 a month. 

Other projects included the painting of my entire Saga warband, 6pts (45 figures done, plenty more could be added in the future), my Dreadball team (11 figures and a ball), and finally my American Civil War 6mm stuff, which I finished 74 models of.  Scenery also took a chunk of my time, and Luke and Red were probably sick with my whinging about needing to find a 28mm church in York!  I did find a Norman chapel which was almost as good, and was added too by many feet of road, the repair and renovation of several older buildings, and some other extras such as ponds, a farm, and a bridge or two.

My first Union regiment from Wisconsin.

A bit of farm scenery for Flames of War.

The horse wing of my Royalist army.

The whole Royalist army of Lord Flasheart just before I finished the last few little details.

Some Saga, ECW and civilians on the painting table.

My initial Welsh Saga warband of 4 points from the Gripping Beast boxed set.  Its now expanded to 6 points.

What does 2014 hold?

Hopefully a new job for starters!  The lack of finance is really biting in and without Pete’s very generous lifts almost every Thursday I suspect I’d have to significantly cut down on gaming time.  Other than that I have a Flames of War campaign which I’m running in the autumn/winter months, and a Market Garden game in a week or so’s time.

Looking longer term I would like to finish my 6mm American Civil War army to a reasonable size, play in another Dreadball tournament, and play much more Flames of War – possibly revamping my German army for the latter which has had no work done on it in nearly 2 years.  Finally I feel there is unfinished English Civil War business to be seen too by my finished Royalist army.  Another campaign season would be excellent.

On the painting front – could this be the year my painted defeats my purchased, aiming for it to be so.  American Civil War and Flames of War to the fore.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Work In Progress.....September 2013

Right until the last bit of the month I didn’t really do much, but having managed to get some paint on a band of 6mm American Civil War troops while on holiday I came back and pressed through with the basing of all the Union troops I had done so far.  This turned out to be a grand total of 74 models (1 equalling; a strip of 4 infantry, a strip of 3 cavalry, or 1 cannon and crew).  A nice ending to what has been probably my most productive year of painting models.  This also enables me, after borrowing a few models from Andy, to claim to have an ACW force capable of taking to the field – post coming soon.

With a Flames Of War game against James coming up, and a bigger game in October to look at I also gained some added enthusiasm for painting a few bits of scenery, and the big Hovels resin bridge that has been sitting in the garage (thanks Dave!) has gained a few different colours, and I’m pleased with the overall effect.  It should be good for a couple of different scales as well, with Flames of War and 28mm English Civil War the big contenders. 

My old Airfix farm also gained a new lease of life.  Originally a 1/72 model of La Haye Sainte I had found it in my Airfix bits box and put it back together incorrectly, due to a few missing parts, and based it on a wooden board so that it looked like a farm once again.  I painted it in very basic colours for use in Flames of War games, and it did look the part, but I always felt it was missing some colour.  I’ve filled in the cracks between the bricks with Iraqi Sand (an excellent tip from Red) and followed up with a brown wash to give it a weathered look.  A drybrush of the same sand had a decent effect on the rest, and some flock gave it a bit more green.

Farm in 1/72 with a 15mm Battlefront german car to demonstrate scale.

The bridge, minus the toll hut, should also be fine for 15mm, but perfect for 28mm as the Royalist horse demonstrate.
The farm from another angle, the roofs are removable.

For the Painted/Purchased lark I did make a last minute mistake and bought the Battlefront Open Fire boxed set for Flames of War; at £28 (£22 + postage) on Amazon it was a bargain, but did add an additional 33 models (1 model per team) to my purchased side:

Painted: 385

Purchased: 474

Plans for October: In the next few months I’m (hopefully) running a Flames of War campaign, so I may turn back to that and paint a few of the unfinished figures for use in the Race for the Rhine.  I also have my ACW command and a cavalry regiment waiting beside the painting table for a space, and I’ve just finished reading another Wars of the Roses book, so maybe the numerous models I’ve got for that will actually get some paint too!  Finally my improving scenery collection is making my hills look a bit out of place, so I might return to those and redo them in a brighter colour. It is also the end of my painting year, so a ‘Wargaming Review – 2013’ might be in the offing.

Or I might just play more football manager: Season 3 with Liverpool and I’ve been headhunted by Internazionale!