Sunday, 10 December 2017

War of 1812ish US Regulars

This week I’ve painted another half dozen War of 1812 US Regulars from Matchlock Miniatures. This time, however, they are in the 1814 uniform (yes, the ‘War of 1812’ wasn’t just confined to 1812...terrible name for a War) and accompanied by an officer. They’ve also been complemented by some appropriately Canadian weather.

I’ve always been aware of the fact that Napoleonic uniforms kept changing and have never really thought about why.

I know it won’t apply to every change of uniform, but whilst I was painting these guys it occurred to me that the US Army changed its uniform to make it easier to produce during the war as the later uniform lacked the facings and lace details of the earlier design. This made painting them much faster, and I can only assume it did the same for the manufacturing process.

Sadly, they kept the labelled backpacks...

I think the single epaulette on the left shoulder  indicates that the officer is a lieutenant (I need to check that), which makes him perfectly appropriate to lead my small scouting force as he’ll only actually have 16 regulars directly under his command, along with a motley collection of other detachments.

Despite them being somewhat old fashioned in their style, I’m quite enjoying painting the Matchlock Miniatures. However, next up are some Woodsmen from Wargames Foundry.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

“A Mere Matter Of Marching”

In August 1812, former president Thomas Jefferson proclaimed that, “the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching; & will give us experience for the attack of Halifax the next, & the final expulsion of England from the American continent.”

And so, as a follow up to my Rifles, here are some US Regulars in their 1812 uniforms, the sort of soldiers that Jefferson believed would simply march to victory. The fact that they’re in a marching pose is suitably fitting.

I feel like I’ve had a taste of the full Napoleonic experience with painting these: having to research uniform dates; bemusement at nineteenth century fashion choices; painting crossbelts, packs, collars and cuffs; repetitive poses; repainting bits I discover too late that I’ve got wrong. It’s

My favourite moment was discovering that the US army embroidered ‘US’ on their packs for no apparent reason other than ‘bling’, this meaning that I’m going to need to freehand in every...single...model!

I’m happy enough with how I’ve done.

The models are Matchlock Miniatures from Miniature Figurines. They’re fairly stodgy miniatures with decent detail. Their proportions mean that they won’t mix in the same units with the Knuckleduster Miniatures, but they don’t look daft on the same table. The faces are also a bit ‘simian’ (this is worse in some of the other sculpts).

However, the most important detail is that I already have them, after picking up the occasional random pack at wargames shows a few years ago.

Currently I only have six 1812 US Regulars (an issue with getting random packs), which is only enough for a Flank Company skirmish group in Sharp Practice. I do have other infantry and so the initial force I’m putting together will have a fairly ‘cobbled together’ feel to it, at least until I can get to some more shows.

However, I now have two groups painted. With the addition of an officer or two, I should be able to have a small test game of Sharp Practice, putting my Americans against a Native force.  

Sunday, 19 November 2017

The Forgotten War

I’m sure I’m not alone in having projects that I keep coming back to, but just never get off the ground. For me, the most prominent of these is the War of 1812. 

Despite appearances to the contrary on this blog, I am, deep down at heart, a historical wargamer. My passion for the hobby was sparked by my dad’s collections of Romans and Carthaginians, both sides at Flodden, ECW Scots and his Black Brunswickers as they appeared at Waterloo. 

If you were to look at my gaming history closely, you’ll see the influences these roots. I always preferred the rank and flank of WFB to the ‘modern’ warfare of 40k. My collection of armies include my own Carthaginian and Hoplite armies. I once began an ECW project but it lost steam and the miniatures were added to my dad’s collection. And every so often I will begin furiously reading up on the War of 1812, pondering the gaming possibilities and impulse buying a few miniatures.

Why the War of 1812? What is it that draws me to this obscure and largely forgotten little conflict - an addendum to both the Napoleonic Wars and the War of Independence?

Mainly, the manageable scale (small, certainly compared to   Napoleon’s outings), the sheer variety of actions (small raids, ambushes, sieges, pitches battles), and the variety of combatants (British Redcoats, ragtag militia, and Indians!). Oh, and there’s a lack of cavalry - have I mentioned that I hate horses?

The trouble is, I never really got further than buying a few packs of miniatures from shows (and one rather random lot on eBay) because frankly, Napoleonic armies are quite intimidating. Most rulesets focus on the big battalions and even though the War of 1812 was small, the idea of painting even a couple of units of the same thing terrified me. Also there was the issue of who I’d play against.

What I needed was a combination of a few things:
  1. A fun rule set that didn’t require me to paint a lot, but still felt appropriate.
  2. An opponent who was doing something similar that could provide some motivation.
  3. The Napoleonic urge to come round again.
The first point had been tricky. I have a copy of Muskets & Tomahawks, but that would need adapting. However, about a fortnight ago I stumbled on a Beasts of War video featuring Sharp Practice 2 from Too Fat Lardies. Not only did this look fun (focusing as it does on the exploits of individual commanders) and manageable (30-40 models per side initially), it also had a War of 1812 supplement to help with army building.

As for an opponent, I remembered that Matt has both an unpainted (well, apart from 8 Riflemen and a few Light Infantry) Napoleonic British army (which is frankly ideal as the 1812 models I have are American), he also has a penchant for trying to paint more than he buys - and so was open to the idea of working on them.

That left the Napoleonic urge. As you can probably tell, it’s back.

So, my first ever Napoleonic unit are a small group from the 1st US Rifle Regiment.

These models are from Knuckleduster miniatures, and although a little rough around the edges compared to what I’ve been painting in recent times, they’ve turned out okay. I’m always amused by Napoleonic uniforms - green coats with yellow fringe, over white trousers, topped off with a plumed stovepipe shako...and this is a fairly tame uniform!

Sharp Practice requires troops to operate in groups of 6 or 8 (depending on their type) and join up with similar group to create formations like lines, columns and squares. Therefore these guys are a complete unit, although they’re currently missing an officer (or ‘big man’) to command them.

A quick scan of my ad hoc collection of War of 1812 miniatures pointed me to the ‘Scouting Force’ army list as being the closest fit. For this I will be building 6 Rifles (done), 6 Woodsmen, 16 Regulars, 8 Cavalry (I know...), and 4 Officers. Later on I have the makings of an artillery group too, and if I wish I can add the Woodland Indians I painted some time ago, although the Indians were more typically on the British side.

So there you have it. A new army started. I’m not sure how quickly they’ll come together, and I’m probably going to upset some Napoleonic purists along the way (my cavalry will be all kinds of wrong). However, I’m hoping Matt an I can at least take few models out for a spin in some skirmish rules before long as further motivation.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Celebrating the re-release of Necromunda... sticking two fingers up at GW and playing the original version of the game with the models we painted 20 years ago!

No, Games Workshop, we do not forgive you for what you did to the Warhammer World.

Anyway, Matt and I threw together two gangs and played what was hopefully the first game in a campaign. We went for a simple Gang Skirmish so that we could get to grips with the rules again.

Matt’s Ratskins deployed in cover and aimed to sneak up close where they could bring their pistols, mauls and freaky spirit magic to bear.

The Orlocks lay in wait with Heavy Stubber primed. I was hoping to gun the Ratskins down before they got too close.

My first volley sent Matt’s snipers tumbling, stalling his advance.

A well ordered firing line, and some really good dice rolling, kept the Ratskins pinned, wounding the Chief and the Shaman in quick succession, although one by one the Orlocks ran out of ammo.

Ammo rolls! Remember those?

Despite taking some fire in return, clear lines of sight stopped the Ratskins in their tracks.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the board, my assault team tried to avoid the attentions of autoguns on overwatch. 

Overwatch. Remember that?

Eventually, I brought my heavy stubber out to play and sustained fire inflicted five hits on two cowering Braves.

Sustained fire dice! Remember those?

Matt had already survived a number of bottle rolls, and eventually put two of my gang out of action. However, when my Flamer finally managed to unload, the pressure (and smell of singed flesh) was too much and the Ratskins bottled.

In the post battle sequence nobody died, or was even seriously injured. Some new skills were earned, Hudson (my shotgun guy) gained an extra attack, and a few rare items were bought.

All in all it was a wonderfully nostalgic trip back to a set of rules which frankly still hold up well. Many modern sets of rules are so fiddly that the preclude casual play, whereas Necromunda was built for casual play, and a campaign doesn’t need to be intensive.

We do need some more terrain as it was a bit of a shooting gallery and that was definitely to my advantage. However, more terrain could be bad news as Pete has muttered about breaking out his Spyrers!

More to come...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Shameless Plug - 7TV

Just a quick post to draw your attention to Crooked Dice’s pre-order campaign for a reprint of the 7TV game box.

The rules are simple, fun and easily adapted to a range of genres, and the box comes packed with profile cards. To date, I’ve used the rules for zombies, Ghostbusters, TMNT, Scooby Doo, Star Wars, Marvel, Juliet Bravo, Doctor Who and 70’s Cop Shows. I have plans for Pulp, more Doctor Who, Batman, post-apocalypse, VBCW and many more. It’s a one size fits all set of rules which can work for whatever niche modern project you have in mind.

As well as getting the box at a knockdown price, the pre-order allows you to pick up two starter casts (eight models each) for the amazing sum of £20. Crooked Dice miniatures are probably my favourite to paint: bags of character, a lack of fiddly and unnecessary details, and made of metal!

Basically, if you’ve been considering getting 7TV, now is the time. If you have, consider it and buy it.

It’s the perfect way to get your more obscure collections on to the table because people pick up the rules really easily.

The pre-order campaign continues for another week. Don’t miss out!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The Walking Dead - Issue #3

Following the splurge of painting achieved during Zomtober, I know have everything I need to complete all of the scenarios from the Days Gone Bye expansion pack.

I know some of you will be wondering how things turned out for the Governor, and I will get back to him, but I’m not keen on the third scenario from Prelude to Woodbury so I’m more drawn to other scenarios at the moment.

So here goes...

Days Gone Bye - Part 1: Gun Running

Rick Grimes has woken from a coma, finding the world a changed place. After finding refuge in the home of Morgan Jones and his son, Duane, the three companions set out for Rick’s old police station to secure a stash of weaponry with which to weather the storm...

This was a fun game that became significantly easier when the car alarm went off. My only gripe was that the best strategy ended up being sneaking round the edge of the board, which is always a bit odd when a game is set in a wider world (i.e. not a sports game like Bloodbowl).

One thing I really like about this game is the way the narrative ends up writing itself. Although Morgan found nothing in the first car he visited, the turn he spent there did explain why a convenient car alarm went off. Rick finding a tyre iron in a car was a nice touch too.

I do worry that after the effort of painting him, this might be the last time we see Duane gracing the pages of the comic, so I’ll have to see if I can come up with some scenarios for the Jones boys before Rick returns to Cynthiana (assuming he survives) in the dim and distant future.

Meanwhile, in the next issue Rick is off to Atlanta. I wonder how he’ll get there...

Friday, 27 October 2017

Zomtober: Wave Gone Bye

Back in April, at Salute, I'd bought all of the first wave of Mantic's Walking Dead game (along with Glenn, who's technichally Wave 2, but, you know, it's Glenn!) with the intention of painting them before I started buying more stuff. As detailed earlier in the month, I came to a bit of a grinding halt, and so for this Zomtober I wanted to make a dent in my backlog of Walking Dead miniatures. 

Suffice to say, I have succeeded in my goal. The end of Zomtober conveniently coincided with half-term, and due to Sheffield and Derbyshire refusing to admit that they are next door to each other, I've been on holiday whilst my daughter hasn't. Therefore I've been able to power through almost all of my remaining miniatures for The Walking Dead.

First up, the Atlanta camp. The tents and campfire are from Renedra and cheap as chips. They're not my finest work, but they don't have to be. The larger tents have been painted cream and green to all ow them to also be used as terrain in pulp games and Bolt Action respectively. The smaller ones were done brightly to make the camp seem suitably modern. Ideally, there should have been some different shaped tents in there, and there are several available (Crooked Dice, for example, do a dome tent), but for essentially two scenarios, I'm not going to worry too much.

Dale's RV is an MDF model from Mantic. I'm still not entirely convinced about MDF vehicles, as they are a bit flat and never quite match with the diecast cars I usually use as terrain. However, it's affordable (definitely a factor if you look at the costs of getting an diecast American style RV in the UK), fun to build (this one was infinitely better than the infamous SWAT van from Knight Models) and look fine in scenarios without loads of other vehicles - which is true of Dale's RV.

Glenn is a recognisable character from the TV show and is one of the characters who is most faithful to the comics. I like this pose as is suits his role in the game and the story in the early stages as a nimble and resourceful supply runner. Hist feet, however, are massive...which might explain why Maggie falls for him...

Allen is a character who doesn't really appear in the TV show in any recognisable form, although certain elements from his story-line (losing a leg in the prison, the twins) do pop up. This is a very simple sculpt, with an equally simple paint scheme.

Carl, or "CORAL!", Grimes. This is a cool little model from the starter set. I went with a black for his hoodie, rather than the more standard red, as I'd already given Duane a red hoodie and I did't want them to look like they're using the same shops. Although given that they're both from Cynthiana, that's not beyond the realms of possibility.

There are lots of nice details on the model which made it fun to paint. My only gripe (a small one), iis the fact that his hat, which is meant to be Rick's, is a different style to the hat on the Rick on a Horse model. I suppose this is more to do with models being taken from comic images, and so the mistake is more likely to be due to the artists (of different artists) than Mantic.

Jim is a character who is briefly in both the TV show and the comic books. He gets bitten before the group leaves Atlanta and in the TV show gets left tied to a tree to allow him to kill himself in his own time.

The colours I went for were inspired by the character Kenny from the Telltale game series. I still have the Lee and Clementine set which is based on the same game and Kenny is a significant character. Interestingly he not only looks a bit like Jim, but Jim's repair ability is a decent match to Kenny as well. My only slight issue that he's ended up looking a bit like Ted Glen from Postman Pat.

Dale, the unsurprising owner of Dale's RV, was another simple model to paint. Fortunately the comic Dale is more sedately dressed than the TV show version, who favours Hawaiian shirts. He comes armed with a scoped rifle (the equipment cards for which are also provided) which provides the opportunity to take out walkers from a safe distance.

Donna is Allen's wife, and as you can probably guess from her pose, things don't end well for her in the comics. Amusingly, in the game she's a low cost and low nerve character who almost seems designed to die as Allen gets a boost if she does.

Naturally there were more walkers to do. These four have been done as the inhabitants of an old people's home (it's also the third time I've painted the model on the left, as I keep getting it as a freebie at shows). It strikes me that in the early days of an outbreak there should probably be a higher proportion of old zombies appearing due to the inability of the grey vote to get away quickly, along with the proportions of people in hospitals, which are likely to be the source of any outbreak.

Speaking of hospitals...

I like the individuality of the Mantic zombies and each one tells a little story. Here are two first responders and a patient. The cop has clearly been bitten on the arm whilst dealing with what appeared at first to be intoxicated vagrants. The patient received a bite on the hand (which is now bandaged) and was treated in hospital before succumbing to the virus. The doctor appears to have been bitten around the mouth. Perhaps she was giving CPR to the patient?

Interestingly, the doctor is possibly the zombie with the least detailed face in the range. One of the nice features of painting zombies are that any sculpting or casting issues are easily covered up as wounds.

Finally, a slice of Americana. A punk with the strongest hair gel in the world. A plus-size walker who fell foul of rule #1 for suviving Zombieland: cardio. A hillbilly rocking what I can only assume is a mullet, making me want to call him Billy-Ray. Which means that the girl must be Miley. They both seem to be missing an arm which perhaps means they have had an encounter with a survivor wielding a machete, or even a katana?

So that's all of Wave 1 finished. The only Walking Dead models I have left to paint are Lee, Clementine and a Zombie from the show-only booster, Lacey Greene (she came with Glenn and will wait until I'm doing the rest of the Greene family), and a Hasselfree Michonne that I've bought to make use of the free game card that came with Tabletop Gaming Magazine.

I swore I wouldn't buy any more Walking Dead models until I'd finished Wave 1, and so I'm free to spend again...and guess who's going to Leeds Fiasco this weekend.

I've also started playing through the Days Gone Bye scenarios, so you can expect my comic battle reports to start popping up over the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

That concludes my Zomtober for 2017, and it's probably been my most successful for a while. Well done to all my fellow Zombtoberists who've been producing their own legions of the undead. We must do this again sometime...