Friday 31 January 2014

Donnybrook: First of the Mohicans...

This week has been a bit of a bust painting wise, though some progress has been made on the second Coldstream unit. The Osprey Colonial American Troops books arrived and they have led to a bit of an impulse purchase from Crusader Miniatures when ordering the odd Fallschirmjäger I needed.

I hadn't realised the late C17th was quite so interesting from an American point of view, with lots of possibilities for clashes between British, Dutch and French as well as with the Natives, so I added two packs of Crusader's Woodland Indians from their Seven Years War range to add to the Donnybrook white metal pile!

As you can see from this photo from Crusader's website, they are very nice and will make a great Tribal force to pit against Regular Army and Militia ones...

Thursday 30 January 2014

Zvezda 2014 New Releases

Zvezda have released their 2014 catalogue at Spielwarenmesse 2014 (the Nuremberg Toy Fair) today, listing some very interesting forthcoming products for wargamers!

1/72 Armour:

I was unaware that Zvezda had entered the "simple end" of the AFV market like HaT and Revell and that they already produce a T34/76, Tiger I, Panther and IS2. 2014 sees the line expand with the addition of:

5020 - T-90
5023 - King Tiger
5026 - ISU-152

There is also an interesting regular kit in the form of a (5003) Topol mobile ballistic missile launcher.

1/72 Infantry:

Following on from their recent excellent early WWI "hard plastic" Germans and Russians, Zvezda will release a (8923) World War I Game System in 2014, as well as:

6900 - British Infantry 1916
6901 - German Infantry 1916
6902 - British Stokes Mortar and crew
6903 - German 75mm Mortar and crew
6904 - British Vickers HMG and crew
6905 - German MG-08 HMG and crew

The 6000 series are referred to as mini-kits and (I think) contain four figures like the Art of Tactic boxes

A (6807) Napoleon in Russia Game System is also to be released along with:

6802 - French Infantry
6808 - Russian Line Infantry
6809 - Russian Foot Artillery
6810 - French Foot Artillery
6811 - Russian Dragoons
6812 - French Dragoons
6815 - Russian Infantry Command
6816 - French Infantry Command
6817 - Russian Dragoon Command
6818 - French Dragoon Command

There do not appear to be any new soft plastic sets...

Art of Tactic:

The variable scale Art of Tactic game range continues to grow with lost of useful stuff...

6144 - Soviet Frontier Guards (20mm)
6147 - Soviet 120mm mortar (20mm)
6150 - PO-2 (1/144th)
6163 - Romanian Infantry (20mm)
6164 - Soviet Armoured Boat (1/350th)
6180 - German Elite Troops 1941-43 (20mm)
6181 - Soviet Militia (20mm)
6182 - German Anti-Tank Rifle Teams (20mm)
6184 - Henscel HS-126B (1/144th)
6185 - SB-2 Bomber (1/200th)
6186 - Ju-88A4 (1/200th)
6187 - Soviet Air Force Ground Crew (20mm)
6188 - German Air Force Ground Crew (20mm)
6189 - British Air Force Ground Crew (20mm)
6193 - Soviet Snipers (20mm)
6194 - German Snipers (20mm)
6199 - Soviet Skiers (20mm)
6215 - Battle For Moscow 1941 Starter Set
6217 - British 25-pounder (20mm)
6218 - Fairey Battle (1/144th)
6219 - British Engineers (20mm)
6220 - Soviet MG with Winter Uniform Crew (20mm)
6225 - Airfields expansion
6226 - British Recon Team (20mm)
6227 - Crusader IV (15mm) - this is an A13 Cruiser IV
6228 - British Medic Team (20mm)
6229 - Daimler MkI Armoured Car (15mm)
6230 - Blenheim IV (1/144th)

Hot War:

The new "Cold War Hot" game also gets new releases...

7411 - Soviet Utes HMG (20mm)
7212 - Soviet Igla AA Missile Launcher (20mm)
7413 - Soviet Metis AT Missile Launcher (20mm)
7415 - US Dragon AT Missile Launcher (20mm)
7415 - US Browning HMG (20mm)
7416 - US Stinger Launcher (20mm)
7417 - URAL Truck (15mm)
7419 - ZSU 23-4 Shilka (15mm)
7420 - M163 Vulcan ADS (15mm)
7421 - 2S1 Gvozdika (15mm)
7422 - M109A2 (15mm)
7423 - Soviet Recon Team (20mm)
7424 - US Recon Team (20mm)
7425 - M-35 Truck (15mm)

Samurai Battles:

A few more packs of the lovely 20mm Japanese... (Ronin on a budget?)

6408 - Warrior Monk Archers
6409 - Warrior Monks with Spears
6418 - Warrior Monks with Naginata
6423 - Warrior Monks with Arquesbuses

Armada Invincible:

In addition to the existing 1/350th models of the Revenge and San Martin, Zvezda list...

6509 - Golden Hind
6510 - Santa Maria

Wednesday 29 January 2014

300: Rise of an Empire (second trailer)

The release of the second trailer for 300: Rise of an Empire slipped under my radar in December, but that means we only have a month and a bit to wait before the film is released...

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Watch Am Escargot: Allez Les Bleus!

A couple of years ago I had a great idea (!) to play some beer 'n' pretzels games using the Axis & Allies Miniatures rules, unfortunately I couldn't find the bag of early war French I had bought one Fisticuffs many moons ago and other projects took over.

Whilst looking for the (still elusive) Pirates, not only did I find an almost complete platoon of 28mm Fallschirmjäger (the few required figures have now been ordered from Crusader), but the long lost bag of early war French! I had thought this contained tanks but it didn't, it was chock full of French infantry - and German! Good job I didn't buy any...

So listening to the football in the radio I am currently sitting sorting out little pink bags of infantry to see what I have and planning some AFV purchases from QRF who currently have a 15% off sale on until Sunday. I intend to base the infantry up as per Flames of War as this will make them more useful (and sellable if I decide to get rid of them one day).

Monday 27 January 2014

Bolt Action: Winter War FT17

As you may recall I bought into the Baker Company Winter War Kickstarter. With the offer of additional free miniatures(!) I decided to wait for my stuff until it was all ready to ship, rather than have it arrive as and when parts were ready.

Gunn Miniatures have launched a new Kickstarter filling a couple of AFV gaps in the Baker Company range with two pre-painted 28mm (1/56th) tanks, a Finnish FT17 and Soviet Kv-1. I must say I quite fancy the winter camo FT17 and the price isn't that bad for a painted model.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Bolt Action: Fallschirmjäger in Tunisia

I made a bit of an unexpected discovery in Lead Mountain today whilst looking for a couple of packs of (still elusive) Foundry Pirates. I came across a bag of 28mm Crusader Miniatures Fallschirmjäger. Haha! I thought, Tunisia!!

Fallschirmjäger Regiment 5 fought in the Tunisian campaign and the 24 figures I found almost make a complete airborne Zug.

With a view to using Bolt Action for the Tunisian project my first port of call was the Armies of Germany book, but the forces in the theatre selector section was disappointing in that both of the North African reinforced platoons are DAK ones. Yes, you can add Fallschirmjäger to them but I see no reason why you should not be able to deploy a reinforced Fallschirmjäger platoon for games in North Africa, as occurred historically!

So, off to the history books and given 5. Fallschirmjäger were organised on the early war model still at the time of their deployment to North Africa, I need three sections of nine paras, each with one lmg. I am three figures short for this (one rifle and one lmg team) but if I buy another couple of packs of lmgs (giving me four new teams) and a pack of four infantry, I will have enough figures in total for the late war organisation which has two lmgs in a twelve man section.

I need to sort out a command section, some mortar support and decide on some reinforcing elements (I have a Solido PzIV somewhere that might be useful) but it is a good discovery given my plans for Tunisia later this year...

Saturday 25 January 2014

Donnybrook: The Rules Arrive!

A week earlier than expected the Donnybrook rulebook has arrived and mighty fine it is too. 112 page full colour with soft cover, it is wonderful looking tome and very inspiring, choc full of photos of well painted miniatures for the period 1660-1760.

Of course this "Beano" annual look to rulebooks is not uncommon but the excellent production qualities are in this case matched by the rules and supplementary sections within. I think this is the first rulebook I have read from cover to cover in decades!

The rules are wonderfully simple and I am looking forward to trying them out asap. The default score for any action is a 6 (although it can be modified) and different types of miniature, use different dice - recruits use D6, Veterans D8, Elites D10 and Heroes D12.

The key to the game is the turn sequence, decided by a deck of shuffled cards, one for each hero and unit. This introduces a random sequence to events and with the inclusion of a "turn over" card some units or heroes may end up unable to undertake any actions in a turn (this is not a unique system, David Manley's Sudan rules use it, but it is one I really like).

There are a number of additional rules that can add some level of complexity but at its heart this is a wonderful simple fun game that is hugely entertaining, the kind of beer & pretzels game you would play at a show. The simplicity of the system should allow for it to be expanded in whatever weird and wonderful direction your imagination wants. This game could easily extend backwards and forwards historically, and it would not take much to add fantastical elements (yep, I thinking Solomon Kane for starters!).

The rest of the book contains the faction ("army") lists, some great ideas here including cultists, outlaws/pirates and tribal factions, several scenarios, a superbly illustrated battle report of Scots against Natives in Latin America and a section on period theatres of conflict from Tangiers to the War of Spanish Succession.

Overall this is a great looking game, a well produced and written book and one that has lots and lots of potential for this period and others. Well worth checking out.

Friday 24 January 2014

Donnybrook: Coldstream Guard III

I managed to finish off the final four musketeers for my first Donnybrook unit. To add a bit of variety in the unit I went with four firing figures...

These Warfare Miniatures figures are great and it is really easy to pick out the various bits of detail such as the buttons and match cord.

Here is a picture of the complete unit, with the attached serjeant character. Another three units and I'll have a small force for the game!

2014 Painting Target: 39/1000

Thursday 23 January 2014

Donnybrook: Coldstream Guard II

The first half of the first unit! These four Coldstream Guard for Donnybrook are from Warfare Miniatures and were enjoyable to paint once I worked out the colour scheme and what colours the various bits of equipment were!

Great miniatures, hopefully the remaining four will be finished off by tomorrow.

2014 Painting Target: 35/1000

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Donnybrook: Coldstream Guard I

So the first figure is painted for Donnybrook, a serjeant with halberd, a character to be attached to a Coldstream Guard unit.

The miniature from the Warfare Miniatures range was a bit of test piece but painted up nicely (blowing the photo up this size rather detracts from the finish!). The first musket unit is not far behind...

2014 Painting Target: 31/1000

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Of Gods and Mortals... and Toys

Santa kindly brought me a copy of Osprey's Of Gods and Mortals mythological wargames rules for Xmas, and inbetween bouts of painting my first Donnybrook figures I had a proper look at the rulebook. I am really quite intrigued by the game now, it requires very few miniatures and should be a lot of fun being written by Andrea Sfiligio (of the Songs of... series fame).

Games require about 16 to 20 miniature a side, one God figure, up to five Legends (heroes, monsters etc) and some Mortals (the foot soldiers of the gods, these can be historical or mythically based so a Greek force led by Apollo could have Hoplites and/or Centaurs in it).

I have to confess I was put off by the price of the official North Star figures, I know you only need one God, but £15 a pop is a bit beyond my comfort zone (I do wonder if this is why the game does not appear to have taken off like IHMN and Ronin as the subject matter is such that is should prove popular). However I have a solution...

A few years back I picked up a number of the Plastoy Egyptian God figures whilst in Paris (they are still available, I even found them on Amazon so you don't need to go to France!). Whilst not very dynamic, they are pretty imposing next to a 28mm figure and would paint up nice enough.

Plastoy do some very useful stuff if you fancy trying OGAM on the cheap, a tube of Mythological figures contains all this...

And they do a nice Hydra with Hercules...

Other potential gods can be found in other toy ranges. The old Elastolin 70mm Celts and Vikings for example...

The game only has Pantheons (army lists) for Celts, Egyptians, Greek and Norse gods, but it should be quire easy to create new ones. I quite fancy the idea of a Roman force led by Mithras and the idea of something Oriental appeals...

Overall, the potential of this game is huge and hopefully gamers will start to think beyond the official line and look at what could be done with it, using some of their historical figures with a few fantasy ones.

Monday 20 January 2014

Wargames Illustrated Goes... Dynamic!

I spotted the "last" White Dwarf today at Tesco's, I had been tempted to buy it as some kind of momento but leafing through it decided it was the usual crap so left it on the shelf. I came home to find my copy of Wargames Illustrated 316 had arrived including details of their new "dynamic" electronic edition.

Now I am a convert to electronic magazines, not only do they save space, but you can "carry" them with you wherever you go on your e-reader as well as enlarge the photos to see detail you cannot in the paper copy.

WI is my last paper subscription and I had intended to convert this when it runs out following their recent announcement of an e-copy, I already subscribe to the electronic editions of Miniature Wargames and Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy.

Today, Wargames Illustrated pushed the envelope making the electronic copy superior to the paper one, not just a copy of the paper edition. They call it "dynamic content" which means that they are using the possibilities offered by the electronic medium that paper cannot do. Examples include "swipeable" photo galleries behind a photo, video, expanded paragraphs and the ability to rotate photos of painted figures through 360 degrees as well as the slightly more common embedded hyperlinks.

I downloaded the free trial issue (about 20 pages from issue 316) and was so impressed I signed up to an electronic sub then and there! There are a few things that are not perfect, you can't rotate video into landscape on the iPad, the embedded photogalleries cannot be enlarged and not all the URL's (in ads) are converted to hyperlinks (this last point is surprising as it requires minimal work), but overall I was impressed and quire excited about the possibilities (any chance of animated maps?!).

WI have also released some (non-dynamic) period compilations of articles (drawn from the Battlefront era) that whilst I have in my paper magazine collection (somewhere), are useful to have to hand and represent decent value at a couple of quid. It would have been great if they too had been dynamic but they are still good to have...

Sunday 19 January 2014

Donnybrook: How Green are your Coldstreams? (or are they Blue?)

I had planned to paint up at least one miniature today as a test piece but spent most of the afternoon trying to help Saul interface his Roland synthesiser and MacBook, all to no avail (can these people not write in basic English?). Mind you that was not as confusing as trying to work out the facing colours of the Coldstreams for my Donnybrook force...

Yes, I thought it was green, and it certainly was at the time of the Restoration, however... I've come across a couple of blogs where the authors have painted the Coldstreams at Sedgemoor with blue turnbacks and it may be that James II ordered the Guards regiments to adopt a common uniform coat in 1685 and I've pondered this off and on today in between bouts of music tech and have concluded - I don't care, they will be green...

However, that hasn't resolved all my quandries... The Osprey book has them in red with green cuffs and turnbacks in 1677 (see above) and states that this was also the case in 1684 but with red trousers and stockings.

There is a contemporary picture showing them with green turnbacks in 1680, but also green trousers and stockings (contrary to Osprey but ok for Tangiers regiment and Lambe's at Sedgemoor I believe).

I'm not sure what I will do here, I might try one in each green variation and see what I like best!

To console myself I bought another Osprey, Colonial American Troops 1610-1714, that looks fun!

Saturday 18 January 2014

Donnybrook: Getting Started...

With my Warfare Miniatures order having turned up earlier in the week and the flags from North Star I have decided to make a start on Donnybrook, organising my first force. This might seem a bit stupid as I haven't got the rules yet (they will ship at the end of the month) but I think I can discern enough from the article in Wargames Illustrated and the League of Ausburg blog to make a start.

Forces can be be raised based on the regular army, militia, town mob, religious dissenters, highlanders, outlaws/pirates, cultists(!), irregulars and natives. A lot of these seem rather fun but will have to wait to see the detail on the more offbeat forces so I will start with a regular army force.

The forces in Donnybrook are geared towards three levels of game, basic, standard and large. These levels dictate the number of force points you have available for your force; four, six and eight respectively.

Each force point allows you to choose 12 recruits, 9 mounted recruits, 8 drilled, 6 mounted drilled, 4 elites or 3 mounted elites. The overall force gets a free Hero level character and each of the units can attach a character with special abilities. I'm not sure how the characters are added but the example forces on the League blog seem to have one character eg. ensign, standard bearer, added to each unit so I am folowing that for the time being.

Having decided on an army force, the first force I have started work on is the Coldstream Guards. Not only did they fight at Flanders, Sedgemoor, Walcourt, Landen and Namur, they also saw service in Virginia and Tangiers. Further their uniform is  the same as Kirke's Lambs, Montcashel's Irish in French service and apparently some Hanoverian troops, so they can switch sides or fight in different theatres with a quick change of standard.

I'm off starting with two units of drilled troops, one with muskets, the other with pike, and two characters, one officer and one serjant. As you can see the figures have been prepared, glued and stuck to bases. Hopefully it will stop raining long enough for me to undercoat them...

Friday 17 January 2014

Whirarwistan: The British Are Coming!

The Whirarwistan "Cold War Hot" project has gone a bit cold of late but a bit if inspiration has come from the latest part-work magazine, Military Vehicles, issue two of which is out complete with a lovely pre-painted 1/72nd Warrior IFV for just £2.99.

Obviously the Americans will need rescuing at some point in the conflict so I bought three! Looks like Tommy will be heading to the 'Stan in due course...

Thursday 16 January 2014

Warlord Rules Sale...

I'm not sure who perpetuated that children require less looking after as they get older but it isn't true! Nappy changing and burping is a doddle compared to A levels, UCAS applications, university interviews and trying to become a MIDI Interface expert for your son when you have no musical or computer literacy I can tell you! :-)

I feel the need for retail therapy and Warlord have sent me an email telling me they are offering "hefty discounts" on their rules (excluding Bolt Action as that is Osprey). I am tempted by the two Hail Caesar supplements for whenever I get around to painting up my plastic Romans...

Wednesday 15 January 2014

All For (BBC) One!

I started reading the Sedgemoor book today and am hugely enjoying it. There was a fascinating anecdote when looking at Churchill (Marlborough)'s military career when serving with Monmouth alongside the French, both English officers fighting alongside the historic Captain d'Artagnan of the King's Musketeers in one action...

The fictional d'Artagnan is back on our screens this weekend in a new ten part series on BBC One. Whilst it probably won't be as good as the wonderful 1973 film, it still  should be fun to watch...

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Warhammer: Plaz-Tik the Barbarian

I thought we better have a break from my ramblings about Donnybrook, at least until I start painting some miniatures, and get back on the painting horse after a few days break. So, for your edification and delight I present Plaz-Tik the Barbarian!

Plaz-Tik is, of course, a very old Citadel plastic barbarian from the classic Heroquest board game. I have a pile of these one piece figures from the game purchased a few years back off a bring and buy at some show. Looking at them the other day I thought I'd see if the rough and ready paint, wash and highlight technique would work on large expanses of flesh. I think the result is ok and will do for unit fillers but not as good as the old layering technique.

2014 Painting Target: 30/1000

Monday 13 January 2014

Donnybrook: More Opportunities...

You'll have to excuse me for going on yet again about a set of wargames rules that have not been released and for a period for which I have yet to paint a figure, but the world moves in strange ways...

Last night I decided to do a little more research on the Franco-Thai War 1940 with the cunning idea of seeing what could be found by using Siam in the online searches rather that the more correct Thailand (the country's name since 1937). This somehow opened up articles on the Siege of Bangkok between the French and Siamese in 1688 ie. smack in the middle of the Donnybrook period. So not only will any French troops for Donnybrook be useable in Europe, America, Africa and India, I could also use them in South East Asia!

Obviously this meant looking up what Siamese troops of the period looked like and whilst this has not been very fruitful, the two pictures I have found suggest that generic South East Asian Dyak pirates and some C19th Chinese may work as good proxies as well as provide enemies for C19th opponents.

Closer to home I picked up a copy of Sedgemoor 1685: Marlborough's First Victory by John Tincey for the Kindle costing 99p (a bit of a saving on the £16 plus for the paper copy!). My current Donnybrook thinking is to have a couple of regular units and a generic rebel/militia one that can see service in both the West Country and America so this should be a useful read...

Sunday 12 January 2014

Donnybrook: Beneath the Lily Banners

I had hoped to get some painting done this weekend but life conspired otherwise and having driven up and back to London to take Saul to a concert at the Hammersmith Apollo last night I have spent most of the day slumped half asleep in the armchair watching the TV!

I did however purchase a PDF edition of the League of Ausberg's Beneath the Lily Banners, their mass battle set for the same period as Donnybrook. Whilst I have no intention of playing mass battles in this period I do like a good set of rules and it is chock full of painted soldiers and background stuff that will prove extremely inspirational.

I also bought a pile of Warfare Miniatures period flags in the North Star sale as they are half price. I probably have bought far too many but what the heck! Barry Hilton at Warfare has boxed up the order I made on Friday so I might start painting this week.

I have decided to paint some up as Coldstream Guards as they saw action in Tangiers and America as well as Britain and will double up as other units.

If you want to know more about the period I recommend checking of the League of Ausberg blog which is full of really interesting articles and lovely painted miniatures. I am spending far too much time there at the moment! :-)

Saturday 11 January 2014

Help Produce A Modern British War Film...

I think most UK wargamers will have, at some time or other, moaned about the lack of British war films, especially when Hollywood reinvents British heroes as American, or casts Brits as the bad guys.

If, like me, you have decried the lack of a new British war film it is now time to put your money where your mouth is and support Kajaki - a Modern British War Film on Indiegogo. Hopefully this will come to fruition...

Friday 10 January 2014

Donnybrook: The Madness Begins...

So Donnybrook is available for pre-order and will ship at the end of the month. The plan to buy my figures from the classic Dixon Miniatures has gone up in smoke as I decided to order a pile of figures from Warfare Miniatures having been seduced by the photos on their website. I probably should have waited for the rules to work out what I need but I have picked a mix of generic infantry which will do for starters.

WLOA1 Musketeers Firing (photo Warfare Miniatures)
I've only dipped my toe into researching the period and am trying to restrict myself to the 1660 to 1685 period (well maybe up to 1697). From an English perspective, aside from the obvious areas such as the Monmouth and the wars for and against the Dutch and French, there are also conflicts in Ireland, India, North Africa, America (the Bacon Rebellion sadly not being about bacon...) and of course against Pirates...

WLOA2 Musketeers at Ease (photo Warfare Miniatures)
Given the small forces needed (20 to 50 figures a side), their multiple usability (many units can fight for different countries) and that even non-European enemies such as the Moors and Native Americans will have uses beyond this specific period.

Got a good feeling about this...

Thursday 9 January 2014

An Interesting Colonial Diversion (aka French Chocolate Bar Trading Cards...)

The internet is a wonderful thing for getting you to go off on completely weird tangents and lose hours of time!

Yesterday I was reading the Osprey MAA on Louis XIV's Army, which I picked up to improve my knowledge on the period 1660 to 1700 with a view to picking up some Dixon Miniatures for Donnybrook. I was only a couple of pages into the book when I read that the French army was sent to Madagascar in 1666. Ooh, interesting I thought and went off to Google about it.

I found diddly squat but did get rather distracted by the late C19th French Wars in Madagascar (thinking dual use with the Dahomey French) and then I discovered some images of these lovely period trading cards from bars of chocolate...

The images I found initially where quite small so of course this necessitated me trying to find larger ones on with some limited success. I'm not sure how many are in the set, one page seemed to indicate at least 20, and it is a shame that they are so rare as I really like them.

I also found some other illustrations in magazine periodicals from the period and am planning to hunt down more. The Hova (Madagascan) army is really interesting looking and it will be interesting to see what figures can be used for them if I decide to expand the Dahomey project...

More on the Donnybrook plans another day! :-)