Sunday 31 May 2015

Boiling a Frog

During the AAR on my VBCW battle last week it became obvious that I was lacking some heavy weapons, especially on the socialist side. So I got out my bits box and built some figures.
First up is a Vickers HMG for the Kingston Park Cricket club

The HMG came with my Empress Miniatures Rolls Royce Armoured Car. The figures are Perry 8th Army plastics with shorts and webbing trimmed back. The caps are ACW kepis sanded down.
Next is a scratch built trench mortar with a couple of converted US infantry from a Northstar lucky bag and another trimmed 8th Army figure

Next we have a 2nd Post Office Rocket. The launch frame is made from matchsticks and the figures are trimmed Hungarian infantry from 1870's (again Northstar Lucky bag). These are the least 20th century figures I  have used but they don't look too bad with post office caps and big overcoats.

I also converted a few Perry plastic Afrika Corps into Northumberland Rangers. These will add to my existing figures, unconverted Finns from Warlord with a different paint colour. The figures had webbing removed but that was pretty much it. They work well as German equipped troops on the side of the Fascists. These include a 2" mortar to give some fire support.

Finally I built a trench system. There was a cock up with this as I forgot that adding plaster cloth and shuttering and sand would narrow the trench thickness so I could only add shuttering on one side or the figures wouldn't fit.

This song was banned by the BBC and by songwriters Leiber and Stoller who hated it. I remember it from the Annie Nightingale show on Radio 1 when I was a boy in 1980 and the lyrics are proper subversive - Is that all there is by Christina

Wednesday 27 May 2015

A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil

After a typical English BBQ on Sunday, vast amounts of Strongbow Cider and Red Wine, many unopened bags of salad and a fridge full of unused meat I decided to fight a large scale VBCW battle. Never fought one before and got out all my figures and armoured cars. I stretched out by table size to 8' by 4' (its the spare bed with boards on it and piles of books to act as extra legs. I was using my own I go You go rules with unit activation each turn and a roll to see who starts the turn
The battle was for control of the village of Dinnington, a key crossroads between the Fascists / Royalists and the Socialst mines. The Dinnington villagers had blocked the roads and the Fascists plan was to capture the village. Reinforcements would arrive at random (ish) with Socialists from the left and Fascists from the right and top.
The sides

Fascist / Royalist Forces. Northumberland Rangers, Police, Lord Ridley's Estate
BUF, Valkyrie crew, Northumberland Yeomanry and 2 armoured cars with crew

Socialist Forces Havhannah Miners Collective, Kingston Park Cricket Team, 
Dinnington Militia, Border Reivers, Seaton Burn Fire Brigade (with flame throwers) 
and the Post Office Rocket Crew.

Table Layout

Fascists enter and kill the 2 guards manning the roadblock

Miners enter and advance into the village . 
Miners Vickers HMG takes position on the road to cover the crossroads.
There is stalemate in the centre as all units take cover out of range of eachother

The police had arrived and taken a hill on the flank. Miners advance to kick them off. 
Cross on hill indicates where slopes are and who can fire

The Post Office Rocket crew arrived to support the Socialists.
Love this unit, a mix of Citadel Japanese rocket and 1870's Hungarian Infantry
36" range, longest on field with D10 variation in impact point.

As the miners advance on police on hill the slightly deranged Northumberland
Yeomanry appear and charge over the hill catching the advancing miners
in the open. 

The melee was brief and brutal with 4 dead miners. The miners routed
off the table. 
The 2nd squad of miners in the woods turned and fired on
the Yeomanry and routed them off the field

On the other flank the Border Reivers, desperadoes with dubious morals,
charged the BUF at the hedge. The BUF were under inaccurate fire form the Rocket
but were having terrible activation rolls, despite getting re-rolls from the standard. The 
Reivers grenadier, who only had one grenade threw it during the charge and overshot 
luckily taking out their squad leader.

The battle was brutal and after 2 rounds the BUF retreated and exposed the Reivers 
to fire from their HMG.
The rocket only killed 2 men in the whole battle, the BUF HMG crew this turn, saving the Reivers.

 The 2 Fascist armoured cars arrive, the road block is removed and they
take out the miners HMG at the other end of the road.
The crew of the Valkyrie fire on the miners in the church grounds and cause them to 
rout of the table. The centre is now clear except for the pistol and shotgun armed
Dinnington Militia.

On the left the Socialist, despite winning all the fights are out gunned

On the right the presence of the Northumberland Rangers HMG on the hill gives the 
Fascists the flank.

The socialists are out numbered and outgunned and retire the field. 
This was a a really good battle and took me 16 turns and  a couple of days to fight, to time limit when you solo game. The rules work well, need a run option, and the socialists are out gunned. Need more HMGs and rifles.
Off to eat some left over meat, heard this on the radio yesterday for the 1st time in years Take the Skinheads Bowling.
And finally I've just finished reading the The Strangler Vine by M J Carter, a cracking adventure book set in 1830's India, very much in the style of Bernard Cornwell.

Sunday 24 May 2015

In the Kingdom of the Blind

Having a BBQ this afternoon so being an English summer I've hunted out my scarf and overcoat. Prep finished early so had a quick skirmish on my new mine terrain board. As suggested by Roy at RoyW's Hobby Blog it was a VBCW fight between the miners of Dinnington who occupied the mine and the BUF who had been sent to clear them out.

Dinning Miners - 1st Corps WW1 trench raiders


The miners locations were generated randomly using cards and the BUF would activate them when they came into view, at which point the miners would get 1st go. BUF had 3 smoke bombs and miners 3 grenades - let's not even think about gunfire and grenades in a coal mine.
The BUF fired a burst from a Lewis gun down the tunnel to pin any potential miners and chucked a smoke bomb down the tunnel as cover. They advanced to the first set of doors. 
The rules which I made up on 10 minutes before the game enabled figures to look round corners and if pistol armed to fire round corners. Visibility was 6".and the lead BUF took a sneaky peak into both rooms. The south room was deserted and the northern room only contained the hapless Bert.

Opening Advance

 Bert is cornered
3 BUF advance on Bert and demand he surrenders, which he does. Leaving Bert under the guard of a trooper the rest of the BUF advance down the tunnel past the now dissipated smoke and reveal Bruce and Bill who opened fire and missed. The corporal of the BUF, Sid, opened fire with his SMG and killed Bill.
Under the cover of Sid the BUF continues to advance. Sid kills Bruce in the next turn and the BUF tentatively enters the main hall revealing Boris and Basil.

Boris throws a grenade to no effect apart from stunning the 2 lead BUF troopers. Basil opens fire and misses.
Boris throws another grenade and both BUF troopers save and Basil hits but another save. Third attempt bu Boris and he takes out one BUF but Basil misses again, something about cows arses and banjos seems appropriate.
Sid reaches the end of the tunnel and dispatches Basil. All dead miners are down to Sid and based on previous fights his days must be numbered.
The BUF burst into the hall and reveal Brian, Bart and Bob all of whom take aim and get 1 hit on Sid who saves. Sid takes out Basil. The following BUF troopers take out Bob and Brian. Boris is hit but saves and surrenders.

This was a fun 30 minutes and the BUF won because they had sensational roles and the miners were bleeding awful.

Thursday 21 May 2015

All Fun and Games until Someone loses an Eye

Being in that limbo stage where I don't know really what to do I've been building some terrain boards, seems to be the vogue at the moment, maybe spring has that effect and we are gardening by proxy.
So my next terrain board is a coal mine, although it has potential for any underground terrain, especially as rail tracks have been around for hundreds of years before trains (wooden rails in mines from about 15thC and possibly earlier). The board is 60 by 45 cm so that 4 can fit on my small table, even though not being square makes orientation repetitive.
Walls and pillars are polystyrene fixed into place with small nail locating pins and PVA. The walls are then coated in plaster cloth to give stability and stop them looking like polystyrene.

The mine consists of 2 rooms and a pillar and stall mining area. Previously I'd mixed PVA into the water used to soak the plaster cloth on my other builds but this took a couple of days to dry so this time I mixed the PVA with black poster paint to undercoat the mine. Seems to work fine.

Little too shiny yet

View from the entrance

Next step was dry brushing with a mineral stone tester pot from Wilko and adding some coal in the corners.

Finally some shuttering, pit props and rails.

Really enjoyed making this and am going to make 3 more to give a fairly large mine level. On the others there will be no entrance or exit and I shall make some doors and trap doors that can be positioned randomly on each board giving me a wide range of layouts and different levels. 
Not going to clutter up this with  fixed bits of mine furniture so that I can keep the use flexible, I also like my terrain to be uncluttered if possible. I am not a great craftsman (every time I do DIY I reduce the value of my house a little bit) and whilst I admire truly beautiful terrain I often think "how do you play on that". So I developed an impressionistic style that matches my skill with some practical piece of terrain to play on that isn't a hill made of books - never, ever make the hill using the rule book you are using to fight.

This seems an appropriate song to end on Between the Wars though this was really a close second Heart of Gold . Holiday next week but staying at home so if weather's nice off to beach and castles (I do love Northumberland). If rainy then expect more mine workings.

Sunday 17 May 2015

Free giveaway

Not me, yet. It has become obvious to me that the generosity of the wargaming blogosphere is without limit. To celebrate his 10,000th hit Pendragon Without is giving away a wonderful church. Go over to his site and check out the general wonderfulness to be found there.
I also finished the hill that I started last week. The outcrops are the remains of a concrete flagstone weathering away to nothingness in my garden. The heather bushes are from Tajima 1. Overall its ok but you can still see the seams in the plaster cloth.

I also finished the compound from a previous post but forgot to photograph it.
I've now been blogging for about 6 weeks and generally it's been fun and the bloggers are great but I'm kinda drifting through the posts. I shouldn't have started immediately after the Analogue Hobbies challenge, I'm still a bit shell shocked. I can't get my painting going properly. I need to have a think and a proper plan to move forward. I have enjoyed the AAR posts and the central challenge of not turning them into Rimmer's Risk Diary. I've been tinkering with a VBCW campaign and have a starting battle plan, but I also have a colonial river based campaign in mind. Both appeal and I may focus on one or both for my posts in the future. 

Wednesday 13 May 2015

A big boy did it and ran away

In the last episode our plucky hero started to build a big hill from polystyrene and plaster cloth. Tips from the manufacturer state that for best durability use a mix of PVA glue and water to soak the bandage before using. However the 10 minute setting period took 3 days. So I built 2 more terrain boards and tried to paint some zombies in grey scale. This worked OK but was more grey than grey scale.
First up the zombies

These were very quick - only on hour to paint all 12 and as a horde I think will look fine. I followed the idea of having a splash of colour to set off the grey, in this case red for blood or green and blue for the ties of the office worker zombies.
Next up the terrain boards. These are 60cm by 45cm  6mm MDF which means I can use 4 on my 120 by 90 playing area or 8 on my larger board, although not being square may lead to some issues.
The first board is a wadi or canyon or, well you know. Although using same technique as the hill this dried quickly.

The dried board was painted with brown and yellow water soluble paint and poster paint. Then dry brushed. Sand was then added and the whole board was washed with thinned down PVA tinted with burnt sienna ink to give it a reddish hue.
The next board is a simple large scale walled compound with 4cm high walls made from polystyrene sheet pinned and glued in place and covered in plaster cloth. Once finished with whitish walls and a more interesting base this can be used as a compound from any age if filled with appropriate buildings, either as part of a battle field of the whole play area.

Overall it's been a fairly productive week as I have been prepping figures to free up space in the to do cupboard. I've even had to hang terrain in carrier bags in the spare wardrobe such is my lack of space at the moment.

And finally Too Much Too Young

Saturday 9 May 2015

Be My Enemy

So this week I painted some of my Northstar Samurai and started to build a really big hill. The Northstar lucky bags contained 17 samurai and I've painted the unarmoured ones.

I recently acquired some large chunks of polystyrene and so I bought a polystyrene cutter from e-bay. Like most things from e-bay it was a cheap piece of tat but it works, although finding 4.5V batteries was trickier than it used to be.
I had bought some MDF to make terrain boards and so cut and trimmed the blocks to form a really big hill. I then covered it in Mod Roc, my first go with this and I must say it was great fun and very theraputic. Areas that were too steep were bulked out with filler.
Next it will be painted with poster paints mixed with PVA to give it a good base colour, brown areas too steep to climb in normal battles but feasible in skirmishes, Finally some flocking, outcrops and foliage, more next time.

This seems an appropriate song about a hill in Wales

Thursday 7 May 2015

Election Day

Today is general election day in UK. For those of you eligible to vote I have one request. Vote. I don't care who for, not strictly true but none of my business. Much has been spoken of politicians broken promises. Well you know that the reason politicians break promises is our fault. We demand things from them and them complain when they can't deliver. because they can't predict the future.
We complain that they are all the same, rich, Oxbridge educated professional politicians.  Well the reason for this is that we don't vote for the other sorts.
Vote for the person who most closely sees the world as you do. Would react to issues in the way you would. If none of them do then next time stand for election yourself.
I'm not politically active, not a member of any party, but I am annoyed with peoples attitudes towards politics.
You always get the government you deserve.

Sorry for the rant and more interesting posts to follow

Monday 4 May 2015

Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks

Bank holiday in UK today and my travel plans were cancelled. Typically the weather is shocking and so I fought a battle between pirates and Brits to test out my newly painted boats and a Warbases palisade fort I purchased at the Border Reiver event last year. The battle is nominally set on the American mainland around 1690 with the pirates landing on a beach and capturing a fort held by the British.
I was trying out my colonial rules adapted for pirate battles and for the first time special weapons cards that can only be used once. The Pirates, under Captain Pope, were 2 boat loads of musket armed troops and 1 of assault troops with pistols and swords, ladders and 2 special weapons,a volley gun (6 shots from 1 man but no reload) and a hand held deck gun to take out the gate (again no reload). I use pistols in melee combat as an extra attack (no reload) or fired mid charge to mess up the defenders.
The Brits also have special weapons in the form of 4 grenade cards that can only be used by the grenadiers, if they are killed the grenades are lost. The British have a volley fire rule where they roll for reload against the officers stats. A volley causes an automatic pin on the target unit but give the targets a +1 save.
The battle begins with the 3 pirate launches, Maisy, Jenny and Bessie from top to bottom, appearing on the beach observed by the British beach patrol under Ensign Watkins.

 Opening positions



 Pirates come ashore

The pirates came ashore somewhat clumsily and faced a couple of ineffective volleys from Watkins patrol.

Ensign Watkins patrol
The patrol then legged it back to the safety of the fort, losing a man at the gates, leaving the pirates to advance.

Race for the fort

Under covering fire from the crews of the Bessie and the Maisy the crew of the Jenny assaulted the walls. Boaz Shufflebottom advanced with his deck gun, fired at the gate and hit the wall causing no damage. The grenadiers on the wall lobbed grenades and killed 4 pirates including their leader, Bosun Israel Hands. This was a shattering blow and they needed a 10 on a D10 not to rout. 

Frontal Assault

Which they achieved and supported by a devastating volley from the crew of the Maisy who killed 3 defenders including both grenadiers pressed home up the ladders. Mad Jack Calico made it to the to but drew his duel. The pirate on the other ladder was killed and the crew of the Jenny routed. I decided that Mad Jack was lost in the battle and if he passed a separate leadership test he would carry on..

Mad Jack Calico

Which he did, with another 10. but again only fought to a draw. Seeing his reckless bravery the crew of the Maisy advanced the climb the ladders.The pirates were having some terrific dice throws and in the next turn the crew of the Bessie swept their side of the parapets clear with another shattering volley. This cleared the way for the crew of the Maisy to climb onto the walls.

On the walls

The Brits weren't finished and a series deadly volleys kept the ramparts clear. Ensigns Watkins and Williams charged the remaining pirates on the ramparts, killing them and routing the crew of the Maisy.
Captain Pope, having lost half his men decided the the fort could not be taken withdrew to the boats.
Thoughts were that it worked well but needed some tweaks to grenade rules. All the pirates are Foundry and were my first major purchase on return to the hobby. The Brits are from Dixons. Both forces are great sculptures and a joy to paint. The boats also looked great.
For those of you who are following the building of the Battle of Chunuk Bair diorama in New Zealand have look at this photo essay. I would like to congratulate all involved it looks truley amazing. This seems an appropriate song to end on