Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Entry #9 to AHPC VIII: Breitenfeld, 1631 - The Protestant Center, in 2mm

A couple of years ago Sarah and I were visiting Sidney and his lovely family at Roundwood Towers, and one night, over a few glasses of plonk (okay quite a few glasses) we were discussing his new project at the time, the 1632 Battle of Lutzen. Sidney had most of the figures and terrain pretty much sorted (and little gems they are) and was in the process of getting into the grist of the rules. (I highly recommend you visit Sid's blog, Roundwood's World, where he charts his thoughts and progress on this fascinating project.) 

Sidney described to me what he was wanting to convey in the rules: that they were to be a simple set of instructions which could provide a fun game, rich in 17th century character, and easily played during the course of an evening. Being a bit of a rules junky, I began to proffer a stream of unsolicited advice to poor Sid, to the extent that, by the end of our visit (happily marked by several more empty bottles of plonk), we had hammered-out the core mechanics of a set of rules which we've titled 'Swinefeather' (as a nod to the soldiers' term for the fork-tipped musket rests they used during this period).  


This past autumn we were back for another visit, and Sid and I took the opportunity to give the rules another run-through, making more adjustments and knocking off a few rough edges. It was at this time that I thought that it might be helpful if created a couple of 2mm forces so we could better playtest the rules at a distance, bouncing ideas back and forth. 

With this in mind, I decided that I wanted to do something similar to Sidney's approach, that is to pick a specific battle to which to build a couple of forces around. With Lutzen well and truly covered by Mssr. Roundwood, I decided to jump in with both feet, and set my sights upon the 1631 battle of Breitenfeld. Yes, nothing like picking one of the biggest battles of the Thirty Years War to break one's duck! Nonetheless, I thought that the upcoming Painting Challenge would provide perfect impetus to get this project off the ground and moving forward, so off I went.

So here, after that very long introduction and no further ado, are my first efforts in this new project. What I'm showing here today is the 2mm order-of-battle for the Protestant center at Breitenfeld, which was perhaps around half of the entire force commanded by Gustavus Adolphus on that dusty day in September, 1631.

Gustavus' center was commanded by General Maximilian Teuffel, with his second in command being John Hepburne (an officer of Scottish mercenaries, a fairly common fixture in Swedish service at that time). Hepburne took command of the center after Teuffel was killed earlier in the day, so I've included his command stand to reflect that occurrence. 

The Swedish right and left wings were led by Johann Baner and Gustav Horn respectively, and on the extreme left flank Gustavus was joined by the ill-stared Saxons under Johann Georg, Elector of Saxony (more on those lads and their associated commands in a future post). 

The (wee) man himself, Gustavus Adolphus and staff.

Johann Walter's 'Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden at the Battle of Breitenfeld'

The center was made up of four successive lines composed, alternately, of infantry and cavalry, and each positioned to support their friends to the front, either to exploit successful breakthroughs, or to provide reinforcement in the event of the forward lines being thrown into disarray by the enemy.

Most of the models seen here are metal castings from Irregular Miniatures. They can be a bit 'blobby' at times, but on the whole they admirably convey what they need to and are great fun to work on. On the bases I've tried to reflect the Swedish manner of how they arrayed their formations (the famous 'Swedish Brigade), including their doctrine of having small battalion guns prividing close fire support to the infantry.

The four troops of Protestant cuirassiers assigned to the Swedish centre.

The basing is:
- 60x30 for the infantry brigades, 
- 30x30 for the troops of cavalry,
- 60x60 for the massed artillery,  
- 30mm rounds for the wing commanders,
- and 40mm rounds for the army commander

I augmented the Irregular casting with a bespoke 3D range that I found on Shapeways by  a very creative company called Forward March Studios. These miniatures are printed in a white polymer resin which is quite robust and takes paint very well. 

A 2mm Windfarm!

2mm command groupings

I ordered a good sampling of their stuff, so I should have more to show from this range in the coming months. Below is a base reflecting Gustav's concentration of guns that I've created using the Forward March models.  I like the long line of gun carriages and caissons running behind the guns. Something you don't often see in larger scales. The charming windmill is from their range as well (see the unpainted examples above).

I've followed in Sidney's creative footsteps and pimped the bases with banners cut from wine bottle foil (lot of that around here it seems) and painted a coloured strip along the back to denote their nationality (here we see IKEA blue for the Swedes). As several of the big battles of the period (including Breitenfeld) were fought in the fall I gave the bases a bit of an autumnal treatment. 

We've come up with a mechanic were we mark the status of the units with small beads; yellow for 'Shaken', orange for 'Disordered' and red for 'Shattered'. In order to keep the beads with their associated units, I drilled out my bases on their top right corners and glued in small pegs, this way the beads can easily be inserted and (hopefully) kept in place during gameplay.

So there you have it. The core elements of the Swedish/Saxon force at Breitenfeld. I hope to have the two cavalry wings and the Saxons done before the end of the Painting Challenge, wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by for a peek.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Entry #8 to AHPC VIII: The Screaming Antelope & Terrain for 'Kingdom Death'

Hi All!

Our gaming group has been playing a lot of 'Kingdom Death' lately, and I have to say it's a very addictive game - very nasty and adult, but addictive. The core campaign is called 'People of the Lantern' and lasts, if you're lucky, around 30 sessions. We're about four sessions in and have managed to survive several White Lions and our growing settlement is just about to track down the next nasty: 'The Screaming Antelope'. 

From a distance, the creature looks like a giant antelope, but when you look closer you discover that it has a nightmarish gaping maw that runs down the length of its underbelly, with little creepy hands emerging from each side of the mouth that help to stuff in any nearby victim. 

Yes, the hills are alive with the sound of...screaming... Yeesh. 

As nasty as this creature may sound, it's small beer compared to what's coming down the pike. Oh well, it's not called 'Kingdom Death' for nothing.

I've painted the Screaming Antelope pretty much the same as I did  the White Lion last month. Sort of a sepia greyscale(ish) effect, with a bit of source lighting (sorry Greg) cast underneath from a dropped lantern (a little 3D print I came across). 

Sarah absolutely hates it, so I must be onto something. :)

In addition to this gnashing beastie, I've also managed to get some terrain done for the game. 

The core box comes with an assortment of punch-out cardboard pieces to represent obstructions and various bits of cover. They're perfectly fine and serviceable, but I thought it might be nice to have something a little more in-theme to go with the miniatures.

I did some poking around on Thingiverse (gosh, I LOVE that website) and discovered that some very talented folks have made excellent 3D designs of most of the game pieces. I printed off a set of the Fallen Pillars (artist: Gazgoblin) and the Giant Stone Face (artist: heribertovalle) to see how they looked. Well, as you can see they printed out very nicely, with lots of deep relieve which makes drybrushing them a doodle. 

Felix was hoping it was a dog treat.

I think I'm going to place some lanterns along the edges of these to cast (airbrush) some spooky uplighting, but that will have to come at a later time.

Next up for this game will be the oh so touchy-feely: 'The Butcher'

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Entry #7 to AHPC VIII: Italian Wars Landsknecht Culverin

I've returned to my Italian Wars project to add a bit of artillery support to the collection.

This is a German-crewed culverin (or bombard?) mounted on a adjustable split-tail carriage. In modern terms this is not a particularly large gun, but to those living in the 16th century this would have been quite an impressive piece of artillery. (With it being near as much a danger to its crew as it would be to their intended targets.)

The figures are from Redoubt Enterprises and while they are a bit ill-formed and perhaps a tad lumpish, I find they have a certain charm about them and they posses a wonderful dynamism, especially in how their various poses convey a sense of movement. These fellows really reinforce the idea of them frantically trying to realign their gun while in the midst of combat.

I tried to match the groundwork to the rest of my bases, which are all autumnal, so a wide assortment of brown foliage, late blooms and a generous carpet of fallen leaves are all there. If it weren't for the big freakin' gun and its boorish crew of beer-swilling Landsknechts, perhaps it would be a nice place for a quiet repast with a bottle of Chianti, a loaf of fresh bread and a plate of prosciutto. Ah, bellissimo!

Have a great day everyone!

Next Up: Another Beastie for 'Kingdom Death'

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Entry #6 to AHPC VIII: Wars of the Roses Archers and Casualty Stand

Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated by the Wars of the Roses, and for the past few years I've tried to complete a handful of models relating to this colourful (and bloody) period of English history.

First up in this group are seven longbowmen wearing the livery of the Earl of Northumberland, who fought on the side of the Lancastrians (Boo! Hiss!!). 

Nothing much to say about these fellows. They are all stock 28mm plastic figures assembled from the excellent 'Wars of the Roses Infantry' box offered by the Perry twins.

Next up is the first in a new series of casualty markers I'm making for my Late Medieval / Renaissance collection.

This particular marker shows two men-at-arms who have found themselves at the rude end of a well-aimed flight of arrows. Yes, the much feared 'arrowstorm' that levelled the field between the well-armoured nobility and the lower classes. Apparently there was little place for social standing when you had a yard of goose-fletched poplar sticking in you.

These two poor chaps are also from Perry Miniatures, specifically their 'Agincourt to Orleans' range. They work reasonably well together, and since they're not wearing tabards I thought (with a squint of the eyes) they could stretch into the late medieval, or even Renaissance period.

The spent arrows were bits of brass rod with cut paper for fletching. They were a complete swine to make, but I knew I needed a few of them to dress the base properly.

These fellows have been mounted on a D-shaped base that I've come up with for these upcoming casualty markers (thanks Byron!). The reasoning behind this is that they should be able to fit snug against their associated units to help aid players in keeping track of which status-markers go with which unit.


Thanks for dropping in!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Entry #5 to AHPC VIII: Darth Vader, Kayn Somos and Stormtroopers for 'Imperial Assault'

I know, I know, there's been a bit of a boardgame theme running through my stuff to date. I have no clue whats driving it. I can assure you it's not out of any grand design on my part. As Robbie Robertson once sang, 'I don't know, the wind just sort of pushed me this way.' 

'Imperial Assault' is a newly discovered game for me, so I was pretty stoked to try painting some of the figures. I know the game is old news for many as it's been out for several years, but my interest was piqued when I heard that, like 'Mansions of Madness', an app was being released to run the game's core mechanics allowing it to become fully cooperative. 

The new Imperial Assault app.

The announcement of the app coincided with the news that one of our local game stores was shutting down. The silver lining to this sad news was that in and among all the stock they were blowing out was a heap of 'Imperial Assault' stuff. So being a big Star Wars geek, I jumped in with both feet and snapped it up.

So here are my beginning efforts of the core box.  I thought I'd start with a good big whack of bad guys as, well, you always need lots of bad guys for the heroes to ventilate and/or foil their nefarious plans. 

This is a detachment of nine Stormtroopers, their captain Kayn Somos and my favourite Sith Lord, Darth Vader. 

I thought the Stormtroopers would be an easy win being all white, but of course their armour was quite fiddly to get close to what I was wanting. I'm still not entirely happy with them, but they'll die in droves, just like unpainted ones, so they'll make do.

The plastic on these figures was not too bad to work on, but still a bit too bendy for my tastes. I removed Vader's slightly warped light saber and replaced it with brass rod, and for a bit of fun, I used some thin plastic rod to simulate him deflecting an incoming laser blast.

Photographing these guys was a bit of a challenge as Vader sort of disappears into the black background and I was too lazy to swap it out with something lighter.

Again, I replaced the stock bases with clear acrylic to allow the playing-tile surfaces to show through. Following my standard skirmish trope, I also gave Vader and Somos different shaped bases to aid in their rank identification, though this is pretty silly as it's blazingly obvious when you look at the figures! Apparently it's hard to stop a creature of habit. ;)

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Entry #4 to AHPC VIII: Viet Minh Reinforcements, French Indochina 1954

First, Happy New Year everyone!!

Here is another small addition to my French Indochina collection, eleven Viet Minh infantrymen dressed and equipped as they would have been during the titanic battles along 'The Street without Joy' in 1953, and Dien Bien Phu the following year.

A popular western misconception is that the Viet Minh were poorly armed, while in fact they were often better equipped than their French adversaries, being well supplied by both Communist China and the USSR.

These soldiers were the precursors of the Viet Cong and NVA, and so were armed with many WWII era weapons. The Mosin Nagant rifle, the DP light machine gun and the PPSh/PPS series submachine guns would've been very common fixtures within the Viet Minh ranks. The assault units would have had a very high proportion of automatic weapons, reflecting their aggressive close combat doctrine.  

The heavy machine gun on the low-slung wheeled carriage is a Soviet DSHK-38. The assistant/loader is providing supporting fire with a captured French MAT49 SMG and the flank guard has a Chinese made PPS.

I really liked this model as it brings a little sobering reality to our wee tabletop battlefields.

Finally, a shot of them with the rest of their platoon (really, a thinly veiled excuse to get the banner, with its bit of vibrant colour amongst the earth tones, in there somewhere).

Thanks for dropping in!