Monday, 29 October 2012

French elements based

I finally did a quick (ahem) basing of those French elements I have painted for the Battle of Hanau (1813) for Seth's scenario to be played at Enfilade 2013. 
The rules will  be a DBx version with step-down "morale" rather than recoils as an attrition factor. 

I present the first photo

Now, did the small [7mm] black dice jump out of the photo? Hopefully not.

 As we only need a 6 max to 1 min spread in the attrition, d6 will do nicely. While the marking of the attrition originally took some different methods, using a d6 seemed the most elegant. Originally we thought to use different colored dice in 'national' colors (French in blue, Austrians in white, etc.) but I finally settled on black in order to make them as obscure as possible yet visible enough when needed for the game.  Hopefully the eye is not drawn to them in a too bold a manner.

The infantry elements themselves are 12cm by 6cm which Seth settled upon and cut using thick MDF hardboard.  Artillery 12 x 12cm.  Good to pick up these largish bases without hopefully harming the predominately plastic figures. 
Perry metal 28mm about to fire.  While the one model on the element may make it seem empty, one should image the land area necessary to contain all the wagons, cassions, and necessary spacing required for the Napoleonic artillery battery.  

At the Battle of Hanau, the Old Guard artillery was massed and blew holes in the unfortunate Austro-Bavarian infantry.  The Old Guard infantry then attacked and swept them away. Yes this is the historic battle in which you can legitimately use the Old Guard we have all painted up!

To command the lot, are the Generals elements.  I have made the commander's name (in this case the Guard's Drouot) as separate cards in a matching green color to the basing flock which is to be temporary stuck on the commanding element and those of all the elements it commands.
The point, of course, that the name on the label can be changed to suit different battles or scenarios and use the same miniatures.

The use of the label will make the game management smoother as each player can quickly identify his troops.  Any Napoleonics buff worth the moniker should readily identify at least a heavy cavalry unit from a light.  I will have the unit's ID on the bottom of each base should that be necessary or interesting to know ;-)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lyon's Mill

While trying to get in a couple of extra pics in before the camera battery died on me, I quickly took this snap of my "Lyon's Mill" This scratched build structure was built a few years ago while visiting over the holidays to the mother-in-law.

Knowing that a) I would be outnumbered by the females some 7 to 1, b) we would be doing nothing but eat, talk or watch television for the most part, and c) I would be bored silly; I brought over the wooden coffee stir sticks, glue, scissors and card etc., to create this for the tabletop.

I managed not to upset too many sensibilities with the women and gained a nice ornament for the wargame table. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wooden fortifications

While within the Napoleonic era, the War of 1812 was a separate entity with its unique character.  One of these was the use of fortifications which could be constructed much more rapidly and easily than in Europe due to the vast natural wood supply.  By cutting down the trees to create a open fire zone, the troops would use the tree trunks and thicker branches to create a bullet proof wall;  the smaller branches, an abattis in front to slow up any attack, such as the Americans besieged at Fort Erie in 1814 did enlarging their defensive area.

Spending a warm summer evening outside rather than watching stupid television or some such nonsense, I took some straight sticks I picked up during a walk in the local woods (a benefit of the region in which I live) and snipped them into appropriate lengths then sharpening one end with a knife to create that "axed down" look.  I then applied a hardening clay to a piece of flat board and using additional glue, placed the sharpened sticks next to one another.  The effect is supposed to be that of a quick trench dug, the trunks placed vertically within and the displaced dirt packed in supporting the created wood wall.

Any militia unit worth their salt could create such a rampart in short order!

In case you are curious, these figures are 28mm Old Glory in all their 'delightful' posed beauty (cough) depicting the "Voltigeurs" a well-trained French-Canadian light infantry unit

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Latest War of 1812 units

Finally finished the basing of my latest three units for the War of 1812
These are on 40mm square wood bases and have varying number of figures on each depending upon troop type.  The three units in this blog have for the Upper Canadian militia 3 to a stand, being, well, militia; the Glengarry Fencibles also 3 to a stand due to being light infantry with the ability to act open or formed; and the 2nd West India Regiment 4 to a stand as a regular foot formation. For those truly skirmishing units, 2 figures to a base are employed.  The organization is a visual representation of their quality/qualifications.

The Glengarries in open formation.  Regarded well-trained and disciplined unit of Canadians who fought with distinction. Wore a 'rifle' uniform despite using muskets.  The officer with the highlander over-the-shoulder sash as it began as heavy recruited from ex-Scots.
The Upper Canadian militia in green tunics (with officers in proper scarlet) and the blue trousers common to the militia.  (apologies to Mark, I have yet to get the flags ready)
The 2nd West India Regiment.  These 'black' units were used, not surprisingly, primarily in the Caribbean but were brought along for the New Orleans campaign and, for the 2nd, for raids along the Carolinas coast.  (no flags (the 'colors') yet as I have yet to find good information on these)
  I am rather forced to splash on the highlights on these Old Glory sculpts as they tend to have haphazard indents representing folds of clothing. And I do not spend much time on such subtleties. :-)   However the sculpts do seem to portray the correct racial facial features upon which I applied my usual color scheme, however poor or good that may seem.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Spartacus and the Romans

This week seems to be the time when all these summer projects have all been finished seemingly all at once. One of these has been my 28mm DBA based Spartacus Servile War armies.

A little background first.  I have played DBA for sometime now but only once a year at the Enfilade convention held in Washington State.  No one up here plays it but I fell in love with the concept of the game. This being having all but 12 elements in a army, a maximum of 48 figures, but much often less, to paint yet with all the research and history to study which I enjoy.  The game rules themselves?  Well, it is quite arguably quite "dicey" and well, the dice often fail me.  I roll ones a lot.  Club champion at one time.  And while I did place 3rd in the Open Tourney one year - still befuddles me how THAT happened - I don't fare all that well in the tournaments.   Probably because I only play it once a year and never look at the rules?  Maybe.

Anyway, I have some armies in the preferred 15mm, with some more to paint, but my eyes are needing reading glasses to paint with, and all that detail I do paint on the 15's are lost when they are all far down on the tabletop.  So I have been concentrating on 28mm.  One of the boxes of lead sitting patiently in storage has been my 'Spartacus' armies.  These are the Romans and the slaves in revolt led by Spartacus.  I have always had an interest in the Romans and had fitfully collected some in a rather haphazard way through inexpensive purchases at bring and buys (ooh, a big bag for only....!) or by trades.  [as an aside, I consider traded figures to be free.  If that I have, I am willing to part with, then it has no value to me even if I had paid well for it years before when I thought it WAS important! ]  I usually asked of the trader, "So what do you have to trade."  If the answer was, "I got some Republican Romans" I said to add them to the mix.  The local store had one lone bag of Gauls on a good deal, so they were added. As were some old Gladiators.   So basically this force of almost 100 figures was gathered with no particular purpose in mind.  But the Gladiators were the spark as was flipping through an old wargame magazine on an article about the revolt. 

So I went into the box to sort out what I had.  Hmm, lots of Romans but some could be slaves with captured armor, yes?  But only these number of this type of scutum (shield) so those have to be for these guys.  OK, lets make the few gladiators as Spartacus's command.  Impetus rules are good.  Yes Doug, but you only have these numbers.  Well, if I add these Gauls to the warbands, I could get 12 elements a side. OK then DBA it is.  Good. Now organized.
...Then I put the box away for a long time.

With the thought of all that plain clothes and flesh on the ancients which frankly do not really fit my painting style, I did not have the interest to complete these. However the interest in the Dip method of painting and the use of Minwax and other inks and stains in painting of miniatures had me thinking this was the way to go.  A big departure in my usual method.  Dean's painting displays (see his blog at: WAB Corner ) was great encouragement. 

So I decided on several things for this collection.  I will get it prepped (knifing flash, gluing spears, primering) in the summer all of this outside in the sun. I think I may have a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder and so just love the sun and high temperatures (and I live not in the climatic zone for it!) The primering in white to facilitate the type of painting; in contrast to my usual black primer.  I will conduct all the painting outside in the summer sun and so not on my nice high painting table with all the good light in the dark basement but on folding tables and chairs in the bright glaring sunshine.  This will mean inaccuracy in the painting, which I hope will be corrected in the staining stage but for which I was not overly concerned.  All this and I will want to be quick.  Really quick. Really really fast.  Heck I have a lot of other stuff to do!

Jumping ahead somewhat I tallied the number of hours I spent divided by the number of total figures and came to slightly over 5 minutes per. Wow, that's fast, even for me. At first that did seem to be a very short time, but big brushes, very few colors to be honest and ignoring all blotches did allow for speed.  I like the stain technique for this reason. It does seem to cover many faults!  Although I am of two minds about the overall effect.  The 5 minutes does not account for the terraining which frankly seems to take longer than the painting!!

Initially I tried Minwax but immediately did not like the effect or color even if it was the well used 'Tutor Stain'  Therefore I used the "magic wash" style using Future Floor wax and some inks thrown in.  I do not have the formula as I just kept adding amounts from a very old bottle of Winsor and Newton brown ink I had together another old bottle of GW to create the kinda red-brown mix.  Being a rookie at this technique I was not subtle about the application (remember, speed was the motivation) nor of the amounts and so lots of pooling can be found on many of the figures especially in folds and bottom of the shields.  I hit them with a spray of Dullcote but the shininess is still strong; a sort of semi-gloss but not a bad look; and I decided to leave it as is.

This whole exercise has been  interesting for me.  Is the cost of the armies important?  No, not really but it is fun to think of them as really cheap. Is the painting and its accuracy important?  Yes, I still found myself going "oh man THAT splotch is really bad...." but oh well, carry on.  Do I like the painting?  Well, yeah I think so.  But, let's revisit that one after I get it back out of the box in a year or so!

So with that long introduction here are some of the pictures of the armies
Starting with the Romans. 
Yes, yes there are no shield patterns. My rational is two fold. 1) all of the designs during this period are pure speculation.   2) Historically the Romans had to muster recruit armies quickly. Would they waste time on such details. 3) Do I want to? PS: I don't do decals.
Roman command.  As with this collection I really don't know or remember the manufacturers of the miniatures.  28mm however.
Some of the shields had imperfections, I just exaggerated them to give a 'battle damage' effect
 The wash technique seems to cover-up many of the wanderings of my paint brush. Not all, but many on first glance. So don't stare too closely.
My philosophy for painting horses? If it's brown, it's a horse!
This shot is interesting for the effect the wash on the boots.  My painting was a very quick splash of light brown to the foot area.  The wash then allows all the details to pop-out.  Let's see: number of colors used? Dark Red tunic[1], flesh[2],dark brown back of shield[3], brown pila& boots[4], gunmental shield rim and pila point [5], light brown hilt[6] bronze helmet, belt and scabbard [7].  Seven total colors and not worrying about edging or even coverage. Yup, 5 minutes is not unreasonable I guess.

And the Slave army. Do note that this version must be mid to late revolt as many of the ex-slaves have full Roman armor taken from the many dead legionaries by their previous victories over other Roman armies. Even the shields. Thus red for both sides.  To make a quick distinction, Romans in red tunics, slaves in pale.

in DBA 5 elements are warband, 5 blade (4 in captured Roman armor and for me Spartacus' blade General in, probably, unhistorical Gladiator armor.
the small group of gladiator miniatures which seem to start this whole collection!
showing the wide variety of miniatures I used to create the slave warbands
This is a good picture of the wash effect.  The middle warrior is a rather simple (but well sculpted) figure which I gave minimal colors.  The wash, albeit way too heavy, nicely enhances the sculpting. The shield to the left shows the wash pooling on the bottom. I must pay attention to that next time I use this technique. The shield in the middle shows a rather nice mud-spattered effect. Didn't do that on purpose; probably when painting the bases.  Oh well.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Rebasing of the War of 1812

A rather old report admittedly, but I changed the basing of my War of 1812 collection a few years ago from thin irregular shaped stands to thick square bases.  Originally I believed that the irregular shaped bases 'blended' into the table top making the stands less obvious and showing the miniatures in a natural environment.  However, I had based up some AWI French to match Kevin's style and found, after much musing, why I would like those rather than the 1812 versions I placed beside them?  Well, I guess it was the uniformity of shape and the very thickness of the MDF laser cut wood. 

Darn.  Now I would need to re-base literally hundreds of stands.   And I needed to order hundreds. Bugger. But for the most part I could, with minimal trimming  put the 1.5 inch stands onto the new 40mm squares.  It took a good long time but I think the effort was worth my new affinity for this collection.

Obviously I like thick bases, some don't.  But in the end it is but one's own hobby and the gain we get from what we like.

Here are the before, during, and after photos from doing one of the units. 

Admittedly these photos of these Upper Canadian Militia were taken on a rather bright greenish cloth which forms my on-the-dining-room-table protection than the matching terrain mat I have on the gaming table but one's units could be plunked down on any various terrain so the effect should be the same.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

a dismounted American General

I set up a scenario for an American landing on a river shore by boat and realized that all my American officers were mounted on horses.  With much doubt that the original landing would consist of the landing of the great beasts to complicate matters, the first Generals on the scene would be doubtless on foot.  As I had none, I would create one for myself.  Taking an Old Glory artillery officer, I proceeded to modify.  The original is on the right with the shako and my efforts to create the new officer on the left.

The most noticeable alteration is the addition of the bicorne or "Chapeau Bras" which the Americans embracing French parlance for "arm hat" was a notable distinction of the high command.  Rather than try to remove the head from one of my existing painted figures, I made the headgear from 'green stuff'.  With impatience and excitement to get him completed, my touching of the still rather malleable epoxy to attach the rather recalcitrant tassels, had the bicorne a little more east-west than the rakish over the right eye angle which the Americans seemed to wear their hats. 

The rear shot shows the removal of the over-large Old Glory cuff on the artillery officer's arm and smoothing of the boots to allow the addition of the General's riding boots showing the white cloth on the back of the knee. A paint job later and the miniature is now ready to command (...the disaster to come, I may think!)