All posts by Count Belisarius

Partizan 2018

Made the annual trip down to Partizan today. Had to get a hire car as my lad was doing the Gregg’s Cancer run so my wife needed the car. This delayed setting off as I spent five minutes reading the car manual trying to find out how to open the bloody fuel cap!! It’s a nice run south at that time on a Sunday so after a brief coffee stop at Blyth Services I arrived at 10:15. The queue had dispersed and I walked straight in.

The new venue is excellent. Plenty of space but it did get a little warm at times today. I had no great plans to buy anything. I’m trying to be sensible and rationalise projects. I’d ordered some green stuff from Minibits to be collected from Eagle Figures and I had a few 15mm Japanese buildings to collect from Brendan Morrissey. So apart from the odd pot of paint and some bases that was all I expected to come away with. The best laid plans…

I know it doesn’t look a lot but… As I want to do some 28mm Sharp Practice (I now have a couple of Conflix pre-painted buildings from EB at Ayton) I thought I really needed some tree so Last Valley provided my first 28mm scenery! Not a lot but a start.  And as I’d been reading a bit about SAGA v2 and have some Normans AND now have some 28mm scenery I cracked and bought the new version! And the Viking boards. And some dice… You can see the buildings there as well. Brendan convinced me to buy the extra Russian types he had a well and as two were nicely painted it seemed churlish to refuse! I suppose I better paint some Saxons now…

So…the rest of the time was spent meeting and chatting with Simon, Iain, Graham, Gary, Kerry, John, Jeremy, Jamie, Phil, Henry and numerous others at different stalls and games. All in all a good social event! 

There were some excellent games on show and as I spent a lot of time chatting I didn’t get to do an extensive set of photos so I’ll just pick a couple for here and the rest will be in the Partizan 2018 Gallery.

For me the highlight game was the 28mm Stalingrad game from Earlswood Wargames Group. An outstanding table that looked like a WW2 battlefield should look!

The League of Gentleman Anti-Alchemists The Biscotti Wars – Garibaldi in Sicily 1860  had some lovely figures and an outstanding centre piece:

The Perry’s put on a lovely 28mm AWI game though I suspect all their games look like this!

And the large Zulu game from North Hull Wargames Club – Battle of Islandwana looked excellent!

And too many others. I’m sure when Henry Hyde posts his official show report his photos will do them all justice.

Thoughts on the games – There seems to be a increase in the use of printed mats and cloths and fur as the base terrain for games. Fur done well looks great (Graham’s Crann Tara game) and the pre-printed mats look really good nowadays (The Biscotti game and Simon Miller’s ECW game) but a couple of games used home made cloths and I thought they just didn’t work and distracted from otherwise lovely figures and terrain. I’ve tried colouring my own mats and it’s not easy so I’m not claiming any superiority here! And other games set the bar really high.

Traders – I was listening to the recent chat from the organisers on Henry Hyde’s podcast/battle chat. It was good to hear some background on how the show developed and the plans for the future. I like the focus on the separate areas (participation, trade and demo games) but I’d really like to see a few more traders let in. I understand there is a waiting list (and a long one for some traders!) but some traders seemed to have a LOT of space.  I wouldn’t want to see traders crammed in with no room to browse but I really feel a little adjustment would allow a couple more of the well know traders in. I did wonder if there could be a ‘new traders’ area. Just small stalls with new and upcoming companies having the chance to show stuff off. With advance orders they could bring stock to cover those and a sample stock to entice new trade.  But what do I know. I’ve never organised a show and I doubt any decision would keep everyone happy…

I’m not really complaining. It’s a two and half hour drive for me and if I didn’t think I was going to enjoy it I wouldn’t go! I left about 2.15, more because I wanted to be home for the kids in a reasonable time. I could happily have stayed ’til the bitter end and chatted away – it’s that kind of show. And long may it remain so.

A

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Ayton 2018

And as the first May Bank Holiday passes we complete yet another excellent Ayton gaming weekend! This was our 8th gathering and this year, as we often do on alternate years, we returned to the C18th with our ImagiNation forces. The background and pre-game campaign was run by Henry Hyde and you can see related updates on this, the weekend itself and Henry’s excellent maps of his new ‘Indian’ subcontinent over on his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/battlegames

The crux of all the pre-game shenanigans was that myself and Purps (the armies of Altefritzenburg and Cress) had secured the pass at Currybad having spotted a large enemy force to the north. This force was commanded by Jeremy and Jamie – the Ayton Virgins! Jeremy in particular has made a huge effort painting up a large ‘British’ force just for the event!

The main area of conflict (used by permission)

Day One

We took up defensive positions behind the crest of the pass, hiding our strength and deployment from the approaching enemy light troops and cavalry.

As the enemy approached the crest our forces gradually became visible.

As the enemy approached Purps threw forward three regiments of hussars! 

And echoing Purps past reputation for valiant charges, they all died horribly!

Slowly as the advance continued our full forces came into view.

I had managed to place the heavy and medium guns of the Legion on a hill to the far right and there were able to pepper the enemy advance throughout the whole game.

It then transpired (for various campaign reasons) that the Two Js were joined by the Big G as Gary P joined our table and started marching on battalion after battalion of fresh troops…

The table was getting very full and the prospect of a successful defence was looking less promising… The upshot was that the weight of Gary’s massed troops and those of Jamie were just too much for me to bear and the elite Guards Brigade was to be the hammer that finally pushed me back and prompted a withdrawal back down the pass. 

Highlights (or not 🙂 ) of the game were my valiant Jaegers skirting the rough ground to take up post in the woods on a steep hill to threaten the advancing enemy. Only to be thoroughly dislodged by heavy cavalry who in one move advanced, changed from column of march to line, and charged uphill and into the woods! I may have felt a tad aggrieved! 🙂

A similar fate was to befall my native Indians. They executed a perfect ambush of a passing cavalry column but refused to charge home! They at least had the chance to run away!

And in the centre one of Gary’s Highland units hit two of mine and rather upset them!

So that was the end of Day One. Much fun had, even if if the odds were stacked against us! Having just about held on ’til nightfall we retired back down the pass to Fizzipop where we rejoined the main army and dug in to await the assault. There are a pile more pictures from Day One in the Gallery Ayton 2018 Day One.

The other game on Day One saw the invading forces marching and assailed on all sides by native troops. I was too busy to take many pics (the odd random one in the gallery!) but there are plenty in the links at the bottom of this post.

Day Two

Day Two is the BIG ONE! 35ft table and a LOT of figures! In the past we have often faced off across the table using our own forces of infantry, cavalry and artillery. This year Dave Hall came up with the suggestion of massing the cavalry on the one flank for a huge cavalry ding dong! The central area was the fortified city of Fizzipop (which myself and Simon (Goat Major) were defending, and the right flank had more massed infantry and light troops.

As you can see, a big table with  LOT of troops. I had the pleasure(?) of defending the old part of the city with its crumbling walls against the argumentative might of Peeler(Aytonia) and Essex Boy (The Gateway). My cavalry were deployed to the left as part of the cavalry wing but were actually facing Aytonian infantry and guns.

My infantry and guns were deployed on and behind the walls and towers and in the buildings in the town.

The general flow to the left (while Dave and Gary fought massive cavalry melees!) was that my cavalry advanced. It was either get peppered by guns of try and run them down while the rest of the force engaged what cavalry were there. The glorious Braunschweig Cuirassiers charged and were met by Peeler’s tripled barrelled organs of death and one volley saw them reduced by more than half!

I sent the flaming pigs forward to try and disrupt the enemy cavalry but they were intercepted by Peeler’s Savage Nuns!

The Legion cavalry (lancers and dragoons) charged to engage Aytonian heavy cavalry. Despite getting in first strike the dice were well against me and both units were heavily defeated!

The highlight of the defence were the Medetian rocket battery who managed to not blow up and despite some very random trajectories inflicted a good few casualties on the enemy!

The defence of the town was a grim affair as the might of the Gateway began to pummel the walls (destroying a tower and gateway) and advanced en masse. My light troops (Grenzers, Jaegers and ambushing Indians) bought valuable time for the defence with the Grenzers in particular dying to a man!

But then the assault began. The Gateway light troops advanced to the two breaches but both were driven back with volleys from the Altefritzenburgers and Legion infantry.

And as darkness started to fall the Gateway infantry made their attack. In the centre they were held.

But on the right the famed Bolyn Regiment withstood a devastating volley and then charged home across the rubbled walls. Despite being outnumbered they pushed back the Legion! And gained a foothold inside the defences!

But darkness would save the day and defenders. With no success in the other side of town the assault was deemed to have failed and Fizzipop was held!

The cavalry battle to the left of the town was a bloodbath! Very few units left on the table! Jeremy was assaulting the toughened defences in the other half of town defended by Simon but wave after wave was repulsed! And on the right the massed infantry of Medetia and Cress (under Purps) stood their ground against the massed enemy commanded by Jamie.

It was a massive game. I think another couple of turns of daylight might have seen victory in the town as the assault from Peeler was about to commence (he never rushed really! 🙂 ) and I just didn’t have the forces to hold them back. All good fun (as Ayton always is) and some excellent feeding and drinking on the three nights though not to the excesses of earlier years (some of us take longer to recover now!).

The rest of my pics are in the Ayton 2018 Day Two gallery. You’ll get some idea of the scale of the cavalry battle and the sheer number of troops on the table

There are some excellent pics of both games (and the excellent modern Africa skirmish game) from Simon over on the LAW forum:

http://www.looseasswargamers.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=281

http://www.looseasswargamers.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=282

And a huge collection from Henry himself on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/battlegames/sets/72157666714688727/

As ever, thanks to all concerned (especially Henry and Peeler) and to my opponents on both days. It was a pleasure (even against Peeler and EB!).

Roll on next year.

 

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Hedge production…

I haven’t made any small scale scenery for a while. Far longer than I remembered. I made a load of hedges for mt 6mm games way way back in 2011! http://blog.belisarius.org.uk/2011/06/boosting-hedge-fund.html. These used kitchen scouring pads and although they worked well they looked a little ‘formal’ – more like tidy well maintained hedges rather than ‘wild’ country ones!So I wanted something a little rougher looking. I’ve seen various techniques online so adopted a variation on those for these. I’ve always used Woodland Scenics clump foliage on my bases but found the colours (especially the dark green) to be a little too uniform. So a trip last week to Midlam Miniatures in Felling saw me leave with two packs of Javis clump foliage. This seemed to have a better colour with a bit of variation and highlight to it. So I started off with a sample length of hedge using a large ‘lollipop’ stick. In the past I’ve just used PVA to fix clumps down, putting PVA in a tub and dipping the clumps in and then sticking them down. However the Javis clumps were a nightmare! Very crumbly and bits sticking to the PVA and disintegrating as I picked them up! And the ‘foam’ material seemed to compress and stay compressed as you squeezed it to get a good ‘stick’. Total nightmare! I was not impressed. And the PVA seemed reluctant to stick it to the stick so I ended up using a hot glue gun. Once it was all dry I lathered the lot in watered down PVA and the end result looked OK even if a little squished in places.

I was almost going to give up on the stuff as far too faffy to use but having paid £2 a bag I didn’t want to waste it. So… deciding that 12 strips was a good number to have I lined up another 11 of the sticks. I coated one side with PVA to seal it then when dry coated the other side and dipped it in my usual ballast/sand type mix. Rather than waste time painting by hand I stuck the stick to a board and retired to  the back yard with a can of Army Painter Leather Brown spray.Although this is a little lighter than the Burnt Umber I use for my bases once I dry brush with my usual two highlight colours it is close enough.I wasn’t keen on using the hot glue gun for all of this (and visible residue is shiny) so I just ran a line if UHU glue along the stick and having spent a little time preparing clumps in the two colours I started filling up each stick.

Once stuck I then carefully socked all the clumps in watered PVA. I gave them a proper soaking and left to dry overnight. This stiffened and sealed the clumps.And then to blend them in a little with all my basing a dabbed a few bits of PVA along each side of the hedge and added some of my usual static grass mix.And that was them done! I left gaps in a couple of hedges to allow access through.

Quite pleased with the result and the final method made the use of the Javis clumps more tolerable. Given that you can never have too many hedges (and assuming I have enough sticks!) I will make up another dozen lengths and do a few half length ones to allow a bit more flexibility in laying them out. I’ll need to buy more foliage first though! I’d hoped to set up a small table for a game this weekend but time didn’t allow. The hedges look like they will work fine for 6mm and 10mm and even for for 15mm at a push so well worth  the effort!

While making up the sample hedge I also made up a couple of 6mm pylons I have had sat gathering dust since I primed the inner surfaces more than several years ago! Can’ remember who made them but they look fine and although a little fiddly to stick together (UHU worked again!) are worth the effort. I have another 8 to do…So a productive few sessions. Not quite as exciting as going to Salute but a damn sight cheaper!

A

 

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ShedCon 2018 – Grays

Despite a knackered foot and hobbling around I made the trip down to the home of Iain Burt (Essex Boy) in Grays for a 20mm WSS game to christen his shed! 

The shed is outstanding. Plenty of room for an 8’x5′ table and six of us around it. Lots of storage at one end and under table. The table is great, can be reduced in size to 6’x5′ if needed and was all built by Iain himself. The raised edge has hills and sky painted on to aid with taking nice pictures! I arrived Friday afternoon and although Iain has been planning an preparing this game for over six months I was roped into painting the bases in trees and later he was finishing basing figures! But the plan in the day was to get up early and at 8am go into the shed to lay out the table. That shouldn’t  take long should it? I knew he has some painted blankets so just throw those down and lay out the terrain on top? Not Iain… 

First a layer of 1″ polystyrene laid down followed by a double layer of compressed underfloor insulation sheets….

The river sections were then laid out and the course marked and the whole thing cut out of the insulation board to create a recess.

The blankets were then laid down, tucked under the boards and locked in by the edges and pressed into the recess to allow  the river to sit in that with matching blanket material to blend it in. A LOT of work but it really looked good.

Now the roads. These were made for the game and just needed laying out as planned as they only fitted one way. Half an hour late after looking at pictures and ‘trimming’ a few bits they finally all fitted! 🙂

A few buildings and fields and a LOT of trees added and we had the final table. Well worth the effort. The trees especially looked the part.

The scenario was a simple one. Myself and Dave Hall were defending the road junctions. Five wagons were placed at road entry points (mostly on the far side) and at end of game the other side (Simon, Gary and Tim) had to have clear roads to exit at least three of the wagons off their side of the table. As long as we had a unit that could charge the road along a route then it was blocked. We started with four infantry brigades deployed anywhere two feet away from the three ‘enemy’ sides of the table. They started with five brigades coming on at table edges. Other brigades (cavalry and infantry) were fed in to either side as Iain saw fit. Rules were based on Rank and File with a few mods from Iain.

I’ll post all the pics in a gallery but a few here to describe the key events of the game. I was defending the right against Simon with a Yomper brigade (it’s the name we give to the figure!) which included the Savage Swans and the Alterfritzenburg brigade was deployed centrally to cover against a central attack by Tim. 

Dave had the tougher job of defending the left village and centre against a determined Gary and Tim.

The battle around the village was savage with Gary having to battle through angry townsfolk and then unit after unit being thrown back before, after pushing and pushing, Dave was thrown back. Although, the road was almost open Dave was able to put up a final line of defence and with a unit of cuirassier in support still controlled the crucial junction.

In the centre Tim had a tough task. Both myself and Dave had brigades blocking his way and the impassable woods made it hard to make numbers tell as he tried to cross the river and bring his force to bear. Two gun batteries caused casualties even at distance and as both were often able to converge on one unit it made progress slow. However, as the flanks came under more pressure and unit had to be moved in support the defence in the centre weakened and with a little more time the defence would have collapsed. However, time was on the side of the defenders!

My battle was to be a grinding affair on the right to seize control of the road. After Simon’s initial attack stalled he withdrew to control the road. As his cavalry came on some went up into the woods to battle with some stubborn local militia. As his force consolidated its defence it became clear I would need to advance and contest the road as if we did lose the other flank then we could not afford to give an easy ‘point’ away here. So my first brigade advanced and the ensuing firefights did not go well for me. Supporting dragoons and cuirassiers came up and the dragoons charged into the face of multiple battalions and guns and did not fair well! The supporting cavalry did push back Simon’s line but they too were eventually thrown back. The Savage Swans were the only unit of the brigade to survive and as supporting units of Altefritzenburgers, battered from their own battles, came up in support it was clear that here too the defenders still contested the road. 

So, as the day drew to a close it was decide the defenders had done their duty and held the roads! It was a great game. The rules worked well. Each unit rolled for quality as they took their first test. I ended up with quite a few green troops! We used low ammunition rolls which restricted the power of guns a little. And the various markers and flags that Iain produced made the game flow really well. Equally the good company and their approach to the game did likewise. A pleasure to play with the chaps again! Here we all are: Iain Burt, Simon Tonkiss, Andy McMaster, Dave Hall, Gary Phillips and Tim Hall.

It was a pleasure to play with Iain and Gary’s collections and to christen the new shed in such fine a manner. Many thanks to Iain for all the work put in.

And as a final note, I spent the Sunday helping Iain buy a new PC and then setting it all up for him. I was rather shocked when I saw the PC it was replacing! I don’t think I’ve seen a monitor that small for nearly ten years!

Thanks for looking. All the images from the day are at: ShedCon 2018 Gallery

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Altefritzenburg Marching to War! Again…

Having been laid up at home following a foot operation I’ve been trying to paint up stuff for the forthcoming ShedCon 20mm WSS game. I’d hoped to get a little more painted but I can only sit for so long and then have to go put my foot up! Either way, I’ve finished the main force I wanted done and am quite pleased. So here we have the total force that Altefritzenburg will be contributing to the game:

First a little background. We first played 20mm WSS at a LAW/WD3 gathering in Framlingham in 2014 where we used Essex Boy’s and Gary Phillip’s collections. I took the opportunity to create my Savage Swans in yet another scale/period and you can see them at the back on the above picture and here:

But for the upcoming game I wanted to add some dragoons and a gun to re-create my C18th Von Donovan’s Legion.

And dismounts for the dragoons complete this earlier version of the Legion:

The Swans are heavily modded (by Essex Boy) Les Higgins and it would have been nice to do a full brigade of them but that would require a lot of work for EB so I went for recreating the Altefritzenburg units using a different Les Higgins model. A three regiment brigade:

This gives me the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Altefritzenburgers. The 3rd Regiment was a bit of a tester for the third unit I will do for my 28mm. I went for white facings but did the leggings black as I felt all white would be…well…too white! 

They are lovely figures to paint. So neat and simple. EB has been great by converting the odd figures (sometimes Irregular Miniatures) to make up command figures, and by adding proper poles for all the standard bearers.  It makes all the difference. Flags are all hand painted over a printed template.

I’m really looking forward to the game. Next plan is to complete a ‘Swan’ type brigade with two more units in the same pose. This ‘may’ lead to a slight re-write on the history of the Swans. We shall see. But it awaits EB finding the time to create the figures. I also want to do a cavalry brigade so will either do two cuirassier units to join the dragoons or do three and keep the dragoons part of the Legion. I also have some hussars to do. And then that’s it! Honest!

Next up on the painting table is odds and ends for Ayton…

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