Monday, 17 October 2016

Warhammer 40k On a Budget

It's no surprise that the Oldhammer Community have had a huge inspiration in sparking my return to fantasy and Sci-Fi wargaming. Games Workshop back in the early '80's was my starting point, as I'm sure it was for many people. Aside from time and family commitments etc it's usually the cost that puts many people off. What I've realised in the last few months however, is that this doesn't have to be the case.

The photograph above is my current collection of Imperial Guard and Dark Angels. Bought brand new, these would have taken a significant chunk from the weekly paycheck. But thanks to buying and selling websites like Ebay and Gumtree (as well as the Facebook page "Warhammer Buy, Sell and Swap" which is fantastic btw) I've gathered this entire force for less than £50.

The popularity of GW over the years is perhaps the reason that there's so much of it available cheaply secondhand. Like any wargaming fanatic, lots of folks go through phases of collecting - whereby they either decide on some other period or genre, or give up on the hobby altogether. Either way if the items don't end up on ebay or on car boot sales (this is especially the case with Warhammer stuff and is another ideal way of buying collections) or they get stashed into the attic.

I began with just asking friends who I knew had been into the hobby in the past. Quite often they had a couple of shoe boxes or carrier bags somewhere with unused sprues, vehicle parts etc. or a load of half painted odds and sods. Most were happy to part with everything for a couple of quid. If you're quite lucky you'll even get some decently painted figures. Many of my Dark Angels were already basecoated and had the armour highlights started. It took me a rainy afternoon to finish the guns and gear, and hey presto...30 figures ready to go.

Again, Ebay and Gumtree offer similar opportunities. The Imperial Guard here were in a sorry state with a particularly rough paintjob, but it doesn't take much to turn them around (some of my Terminators were spray painted in silver and gold - so the way I see it, almost anything can be salvaged!

I imagine the method of collecting I'm suggesting here is quite good if you've got children who want to get into GW. Especially if you're worried about coughing up £100 for the GW Deathwatch Overkill game, facing the possibility that it'll be discarded in favour of the XBox somewhere down the line. On that point in particular; Ebay sellers are currently flogging the Deathwatch Rulebook and tiles for £10-£15 without the figures. Buying a load of cheap Tyranid Genestealers secondhand, along with some space marines and Imperial Guard would probably mean you'd get everything you need for less than £35.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Lead Pile and other musings....

I've been working away on some painting commissions recently, which left me realizing that I haven't spent much time on my own figures. So I decided to open a few old boxes in the den and do an inventory of what I'd actually got. This proved to be surprising and mildly depressing.

First off was I discovered almost an entire 15mm colonial Sikh army for my Sudan project (I almost ordered more, thinking I had only a couple of units). Secondly it struck me how much time I spend buying and simply storing stuff "for future use".

So the last week I threw myself into painting as much as I could. I even avoided the usual complaints from my partner by moving my paint station downstairs (and hence spending time with her as she does her university work in the living room - the other bonus is that I can stick World at War on the TV, which is repeated endlessly on the Yesterday channel).

The above photo is a quick reflection of what I'm getting through. And what a mixture it is! You can see 15mm ACW, 10mm Franco Prussian, 10mm 1866 Austrian, 15mm ECW and even a Games Workshop Imperial Guardsman. Completely bonkers but great to finally get some of this finished and ready for some games.

Another solution to getting my armies completed more quickly, is looking for part-painted stuff cheap on ebay. The other day I managed to snag some base coated 15mm ACW confederates. Not very pretty and jammed onto some solid wood bases with what looked like bathroom sealant. Anyway, I removed them from the bases with a craft knife and ink washed them heavily. Next I gave them a few highlights then stuck them to my usual 20x25 MDF bases and flocked them with Kallistra Spring meadow flock (hiding any of the nasty sealant still clinging on). I think the end result looks spot on. I managed to do about three 36 man units within an afternoon, so it's definitely a time saver.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

King Arthur and Bannerman 28mm

Footsore Miniatures mounted King Arthur and his Draco banner. Here in his more historically accurate incarnation as a Romano-British warlord. These are lovely figures and I'd urge anyone who's collecting a Dark Ages Warband to check the range out. I managed to paint them up a few weeks ago whilst sat in front of the TV one evening. The Footsore figures generally don't come with weapons, but I'd quite a few left over from my Gripping Beast plastics.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Salute 2016: Northwest Frontier Game

A day spent playing our Wargames Illustrated participation game at Salute in London. Hordes of kids and Dads throwing dice around and causing chaos in the 19th century Afghan Frontier. Kenneth Moore suffered several train derailments which pleased the local natives very much. The terrain board and its creator Dave Marshall can be seen in April's issue of Wargames Ilustrated mag - showing how it was converted from 'Little Round Top' at Gettysburg to a colonial mountain wilderness.

Running a game or trade stall makes you understand the time and effort that goes into making these shows an enjoyable experience for the attendees. I arrived at the Excel Centre slightly behind time due to a station closure and diversion. This meant that Dan (along with his partner), Wayne and Keith had set everything up for me to start as soon as I got to the hall. I'd only been there long enough to drop my bags before people were asking to play. I must say that these simple skirmish games (very much based on our Evesham Medieval game from last year) are certainly ideal when introducing folks to wargaming in general. Which is why it was probably such a big hit with people and their children. It's amazing how after the first throws of the dice they really get into the spirit of things and get stuck in! I took an idea from my mate Steve at Warlord and managed to record the bugle call sounded in the original 1959 film on my phone. This attracted some attention when I insisted on sounding it whenever the Anglo-Indian forces made their move. I got so completely engrossed in the game at one point that I'd forgotten about collecting my preorders and checking out the show itself. I only realized when Keith came over and told me to take a break as it was now past 1.30pm!

And what of the show? Well for the time I got to wander around the place I felt there was plenty on offer. The new Ancients ruleset ('Swordpoint') due to be released by Gripping Beast looked good. I was also excited to pick up their new 28mm Late Roman plastics for my Romano British army. To compliment this Dark Age obsession I seem to be going through, I also grabbed a couple of nice books: "As Told in the Great Hall - The Wargamers Guide to Dark Age Britain" by Martin Hackett, and "Offa and the Mercian Wars" by Chris Peers which I bought from the Lance and Longbow Society stand. As I hurried to get back I'd noticed Curtey's had some lovely Medieval figures on offer too, along with a number of Dux Britanniarum starter sets. I'd already started to regret not buying some as I reached our NWF game again and eyed the growing queue of potential players. Thankfully this was remedied later when Keith kindly said he'd pick up the Early Saxon box for me when he was doing the rounds.

The rest of the afternoon continued very well. The eventual winner of our game (a group which included a very young lad, his father and grandfather) went away with an exclusive character set made by Artizan Designs I must mention how much I enjoyed talking to all those who took time to check out our game. As Keith mentioned they were "a thoroughly pleasant bunch" who in my mind made Salute 2016 worthy of some very fond memories.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Arthurian Adventures!

Having watched the rather excellent film 'Excalibur' for the hundredth time the other week I was intrigued to do some reading about what separates myth and reality in the Arthurian story. To this end I was thrilled to find that author Daniel Mersey (creator of my favourite Wargaming rules 'Lion Rampant') had written a book on the subject. After ordering "Arthur: King of the Britons" from Amazon I pretty much bedded down on my week off from work and got stuck into it.

I'd also ordered John Morris' work "The Age of Arthur" which is a slightly heavier academic book, but one that had been highly recommended. The Dan Mersey book in my opinion is an ideal place to start as it draws some excellent distinctions between the Arthurian story's development at the hands of those who were happy to place mythology foremost, and what can feasibly be considered a closer reality. All of this is done without sneering or putting down those such as the Medieval storytellers (and those since) who have all contributed to a fascinating icon.

Naturally for me (as my interest in history and wargaming always seem to inspire one another) my next step was to order some very lovely Arthurian figures from Footsore Miniatures . My friend Lorenzo had pointed me in their direction and from the moment I saw them on the website I knew these were ideal for the purpose. The character models are especially good and I just had to get painting the Mordred figure and his bannerman. The miniatures don't come with hand weapons but I decided on a battle axe for him that was left over from some Gripping Beast models. I imagined him stalking the battlefield in his intimidating and elaborate closed helm looking to defeat Arthur in close combat.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Battle Report: FIRST BULL RUN (FIRST MANASSAS) 21st July 1861

21st July 1861
(Re-fought Sunday, 28th February 2016 by The Sons of Simon de Montfort Wargames Club, Loughborough)

Write up by Chris Lambert.
Photos by Mark Biddle's.

Simon Breen: C.i.C (Brigadier-General Beauregard, Army of the Potomac)
Also in command of Fifth Brigade (Cocke’s) and Seventh Brigade (Evans).
Dave Grenz: C.i.C (Brigadier-General Johnson, Army of the Shenandoah)
Also in command of First Brigade (Jackson’s) and Third Brigade (Bee’s).
Barrie Daniels: In command of First Brigade, Army of the Potomac (Bonham’s) and Sixth Brigade, Army of the Potomac (Early’s).
I assisted in moving figures for the Confederates (under their orders – if only to show I’m not ‘biased’ !!!!).

Barry North: C.i.C (Brigadier-General McDowell, Army of North-Eastern Virginia).
Also in command of 1st Division (Tyler’s).
Paul Hancock: In overall command of the 3rd Division (Heintzelman’s).
Also commanded 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division (Howard’s) and 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division (Burnside’s).
Mark Biddles: In command of the 1st & 2nd Brigades, 3rd Division (Franklin & Wilcox’s).
Lawrence Cras: In command of 1st Brigade, 2nd Division (Porter’s).
The vast majority of the troops were Green (see OOB’s). The Union commanders were classed as “Poor” (-1 to their die rolls for initiative, order changes, etc. Not the Brigade Commanders).
The terrain was set up as realistically as possible for the part of the battle being re-fought (mainly across Young’s Branch of the Bull Run River, around the junction of Warrenton Turnpike and Sudley Road).
The table was 12” x 6” and the game fought the length of the table.
All of the units started either on the table (as per the scenario map) or on the edge of the board, rather than delayed until a particular turn in which to enter (otherwise a few players would not have been involved until close to the end).

TURN 1 – The Union took the initiative and moved first. Considering their “Poor” commanders, not a bad result. Both sides advanced under Attack Orders.
TURN 2 – The Confederates gained the initiative. Wise’s Battery (Bartow’s Brigade) and Staunton’s Battery (Bee’s Brigade) both of the Army of Shenandoah, opened up firing the first shots of the battle. No Union casualties were caused, but no doubt Dave felt it was a good “psychological start” to the game.
TURN 3 – Confederate Initiative. Wise and Staunton’s batteries open fire again. Wise’s battery fired but misses due to being out of range. Staunton’s battery causes the first casualty of the battle on the 5th Maine (Howard’s Brigade).
The Union 3rd US Artillery (Sherman’s Brigade) replies, but causes no casualties.
TURN 4 – Confederate initiative. As the two sides close, the action begins in earnest. The 8th Georgia (Bartow’s Brigade) opens fire on the 2nd Maine (Keyes’ Brigade) which is in the area of Lewis House, causing 2 casualties. This rocks the Union troops who fail their morale test and ‘go to ground’. The 4th South Carolina (Evans’ Brigade) opens fire on the 32 strong 2nd New Hampshire (Burnside’s Brigade) causing 4 casualties. This heavy fire staggers the Union regiment.

 The 1st Louisiana ‘Tigers’ (Evans’ Brigade) opens fire on the 11th New York (Wilcox’s Brigade) causing 2 casualties. Union return fire causes a casualty on the 7th Georgia (Bartow’s Brigade).
TURN 5 – (1210pm – Karl Grenz arrives and takes command of the Confederate Brigades of Bee and Smith, leaving Dave to take command of the remaining Confederate units (Jackson & Bartow). This puts Karl well and truly in the front line, fighting for Buck Hill in the centre of the battlefield.
Confederate initiative.
Both sides receive cavalry reinforcements at the edge of the table on their respective sides (in the real battle the cavalry played no part).
Early’s Confederate Brigade engages Porter’s Union Brigade on the extreme left (Confederate) and extreme right (Union) flanks where the Warrenton Turnpike is overlooked by Dogon Ridge. The Union troops have the higher ground – Dogon Ridge.
Keyes’ Brigade (1st Brigade, 1st Division) is fighting Bartow’s Brigade (Second Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah) in the area around Lewis House on the extreme left flank of the Union Army and extreme right flank of the Confederates. Howard’s Brigade (3rd Brigade, 3rd Division) is fighting Bee’s Brigade (Third Brigade, Army of the Shenandoah) for the possession of Buck Hill.
Wilcox’s Brigade (2nd Brigade, 3rd Division) and Burnside’s Brigade (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division) are fighting against Evans’ Brigade (Seventh Brigade, Army of the Potomac) in the area around Matthews House. Potentially the Confederates here (under Simon) are outnumbered 2:1 in regiments.
The 79th New York (Sherman’s Brigade) take 2 casualties from a Confederate Virginia battery. The 6th North Carolina (Bee’s Brigade) inflicts a further casualty on the 79th New York. This heavy fire causes the 79th to fail their morale test and falter (hardly surprising). Retribution is swift. The 11th New York (Wilcox’s Brigade) fires on (Simon’s) 1st Louisiana Tigers (Evans’ Brigade), causing 3 casualties. That will have hurt a 20 figure strong regiment (around 14% casualties in one go).

TURN 6 – Confederate initiative.
Staunton’s battery ‘finds the range’ and fires at the 2nd Vermont (Howard’s Brigade) causing 3 casualties amongst the 40 figure strong Union regiment. In this heavy fire, Colonel Oliver Howard is lightly wounded.
The 4th South Carolina ((Evans’ Brigade) fires at the 2nd New Hampshire (Burnside’s Brigade) and in this devastating fire which inflicts 4 casualties on the Union troops, Colonel Ambrose Burnside is lightly wounded. This means the 2nd New Hampshire have taken 25% casualties in two major firefights.
The 11th New York (Wilcox’s Brigade) take a casualty. The 2nd Maine (Keyes’ Brigade) suffer another 2 casualties in the area around Lewis House. That battle continues. A Virginia artillery battery fires at the 79th New York causing a further 2 casualties. This 40 strong Union regiment has now taken 5 casualties (12.5%). Due to its large number of troops, it can absorb losses better than many smaller sized regiments.
Surprisingly all units pass their morale tests.
TURN 7 – Confederate initiative.
Wise’s battery again fires at the 2nd Maine. One further casualty caused.
A Virginia artillery battery fires upon the unlucky 79th New York causing them a further casualty. The 2nd US Artillery battery (Wilcox’s Brigade) returns fire and causes a casualty on the 6th North Carolina (Bee’s Brigade).
The 2nd Vermont assaults Buck Hill. In doing so they suffer a casualty.
Mark’s 1st Michigan (Wilcox’s Brigade) pour ‘withering’ fire into Staunton’s battery (Bee’s Brigade), causing 3 casualties and the battery to falter. Brigadier-General Barnard Elliott Bee is wounded. (This is becoming quite a ‘personal’ battle between Mark and Karl for possession of Buck Hill).
The 3rd US Artillery battery (Sherman’s Brigade) causes a casualty on the 7th Georgia (Bartow’s Brigade). The 1st Louisiana Tigers (Evans’ Brigade) take another 4 casualties. This puts them on 50% strength. They take a morale test (Simon holds his breath), fail, and the regiment (not surprisingly) breaks. This causes a Brigade test for Evans’ Brigade. This time the dice are with Simon. The Brigade pass.
The Confederate aren’t having it all their own way. The 4th South Carolina (Evans’ Brigade) suffer 3 casualties near Matthews House. It’s amazing Evans’ Brigade passed its morale test both (1st Louisiana Tigers and 4th South Carolina) of its regiments have taken such heavy casualties throughout the battle. Full credit to Simon for ‘hanging on’ and delaying the massed Union assault by (in effect) sacrificing this Brigade.
TURN 8 – Confederate initiative.
Wilcox’s Brigade and Bee’s Brigade (Mark v Karl) are engaging each other on Buck Hill. Its just like Verdun in WW1. Both sides throwing in their troops trying hard to push their opposite number downhill.
79th New York (Sherman’s Brigade) take 2 casualties from canister fire and then another 2 casualties from the 7th Georgia (Bartow’s Brigade) between Buck Hill and Lewis House. In total this turn the 79th New York take 6 casualties (how much longer can the 79th New York continue in the face of such heavy casualties)?
Barrie D’s 7th Virginia (Early’s Brigade) causes a casualty on the 5th US Artillery battery (Porter’s Brigade) which was moving limbered along Dogon Ridge towards the Confederates on the Warrenton Turnpike.
This un-forms the battery.
The 2nd Vermont (Howard’s Brigade) suffers 1 casualty, but the 6th North Carolina (Bee’s Brigade) takes 5. Karl definitely came off ‘second best’ in that exchange.
A morale test by the 4th South Carolina (Evans’ Brigade) results in them retreating. No surprise there. What is a surprise is they have lasted this long. Simon will no doubt be awarding Colonel Nathan G. Evans some high award from the Confederacy (if he survives this battle – historically he did).
TURN 9 – Confederate initiative.
Paul (Colonel Heintzelman, C.i.C 3rd Division) gives an assault order to Mark (c.i.c Franklin & Wilcox’s Brigades, 3rd Division). Wilcox (Mark) wished it to be ‘put on record’ that he was questioning the ‘advisability’ of being ordered to charge uphill. Duly noted Colonel Biddles.

Palmer’s US Cavalry (Porter’s Brigade) receive a casualty from Barrie D’s 7th Virginia (Early’s Brigade) whilst advancing along Dogon Ridge towards the Confederates. The 7th Louisiana (Early’s Brigade) fire on the US Marines (Porter’s Brigade) causing the Marines a casualty.
Sykes’ US Battalion (Porter’s Brigade) returns fire and causes a casualty on the 7th Louisiana.
The 79th New York (Sherman’s Brigade) take another 4 casualties. Now up to 8. A good job it is another 40 figure regiment. Still 20% casualties though.
The 1st Michigan (Wilcox’s Brigade) causes 4 casualties on the 6th North Carolina (Bee’s Brigade) which is on Buck Hill (Mark wins that one against Karl). The 4th South Carolina (Evans’ Brigade) who are still retreating, receive another 4 casualties near to Stone House. They fail another morale test and rout.
Evan’s Brigade takes a morale test. It fails and breaks. Both units rout broken.
It really has become very bloody in the last few turns.
TURN 10 – Union initiative.
The Alexandria Virginia Artillery battery (Bonham’s Brigade) near Stone House takes a casualty this turn, as does the 7th Virginia (Early’s Brigade). The 13th New York (Sherman’s Brigade) replaces the 79th New York in leading the attack and immediately take a casualty. The 38th New York (Wilcox’s Brigade) otherwise known as “Biddles’ Finest” take 2 casualties on Buck Hill.
The US Marines (Porter’s Brigade) suffer badly in attacking the Stone House. They receive 3 casualties (not good when you only start with 16 figures). They still manage to pass their morale test.
Much to Colonel Biddles’ pleasure (and Colonel Karl Grenz’s discomfort) the 1st Michigan (Wilcox’s Brigade) push back the 6th North Carolina (Bee’s Brigade) with minor casualties. The ‘good old’ 79th New York (Sherman’s Brigade) take a morale test; they fail, and rout/disperse (having dropped below 50% strength). The Brigade breaks after taking a morale test.

TURN 11 – Confederate initiative.
The 1st Minnesota (Franklin’s Brigade) on Buck Hill fire on the 4th Alabama (Bee’s Brigade) causing 4 casualties on the 36 figure regiment. Both units were lining up to charge each other. As a result of the 4 casualties, the 4th Alabama test to charge; they fail, falter and fail to charge home. The 1st West Virginia cavalry (Union Combined Cavalry Brigade) receive a casualty between Buck Hill and Lewis House whilst moving up to support the Union assault on Buck Hill (hoping to exploit any Confederate withdrawal).
More shooting results in the US Marines (Porter’s Brigade) taking another casualty.
The 2nd Virginia (Jackson’s Brigade) receive a casualty from the 3rd US Artillery battery (Sherman’s Brigade). The US Marines receive 2 further casualties, take a morale test and falter. Not good.
The 27th New York (Porter’s Brigade) take casualties whilst situated between Stone House and Dogon Ridge.
TURN 12 – Union initiative.
The 6th North Carolina fail their morale on reaching 50% effective strength. They rout and disperse off Buck Hill. All Confederate troops have now retired off Buck Hill (one way or another).
And so ends the game as we have reached a natural point where both sides have a broken brigade, and need time to reform and continue the battle. Karl is left wondering “what might have been” had Dave let him be more aggressive and attack Mark. Mark’s final photograph shows the 38th New York “raising the Stars & Stripes” on top of Buck Hill” (there you are Mark, I did promise to put that in, to celebrate your ‘victory’. However it would be remiss of me if I didn’t mention the “Official Comment” you insisted be ‘put on record’ when you questioned the “advisability” of being ordered to charge uphill? Looks like that was a ‘good call’ by Paul).

We could have played the second part of the battle (from Turn 12 onwards) another day. Still plenty of fight left in both sides.
Far too close to call at this time (no Mark, capturing Buck Hill wasn’t a Victory Condition for the Union. It may help in the long run, but not right now).
Some of you expressed an interest in how many figures there were on the table, so here’s the statistics.

Infantry – 839 figures (6 x 40 figure + 2 x 36 figure Regts).
24 x Regiments in total.
Guns -       14 guns

Infantry -   999 figures (16 x 40 figure regiments)
25 x Regiments in total.
Guns - 15 guns
The infantry total includes Command figures.
Whilst the Union had the advantage of more larger regiments, they had the disadvantage of poor Command & Control.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Wellington in India - 28mm Redoubt Miniatures

These are a painting commission, but I thought I'd just share them here. It's the beginnings of two Native units for a 'Wellington in India' collection. Here they are in their colourful finery, ready to give some trouble to the young Arthur Wellesley.

I started these with a grey spray primer, then did a base coat of GW Averland Sunset for the coats. This is ideal for a dull yellow on which you can build further highlights. It still takes a couple of layers in order to stop the underneath/primer showing through, but once you've got a solid enough coverage you can add a 3/4 mix of Vallejo Flat Yellow and White. In my experience this really makes the colour 'pop'.

The skin I did with Vallejo Cavalry Brown, then highlighted half-and-half with Cav Brown and White. The Turbans and sashes were Carmine Red, inkwashed with Agrax Earthshade then highlighted with Carmine Red again (I sometimes prefer this rather than mixing red with white - which can give too much of a pink).

The models themselves are good to paint. They remind me a lot of AW Miniatures, in that they give nice bold surface areas on which to build up layers and create shadow.