Saturday 29 February 2020

A coven of Frostgrave witches!

I'm back from my very windswept and stormy holiday in Sussex and at last have something new to enter into the Challenge. While I was away I spent a fair bit of time assembling some multi-part plastic figures for Frostgrave. I got most of these for Christmas so they weren't assembled and primed before the Challenged started like most of my other entries. Rather than lose a whole week of work I took a box of tools and my figures away with me and worked on them as an when time allowed. I got a lot done, especially as we were'storm bound' for the first day of the holiday (crazy brits, holidaying in winter!). Now than I'm home I'm hoping to get a lot of these painted and first off the workbench are these female Wizards.

As previously mentioned I'm going to be playing a lot of Frostgrave soon, in a vain attempt to keep my daughter (aka The Young Padawan) playing games with me. She's agreed to continue playing ancients with me if I played some fantasy games with her. A fair bargain I think, and it's given me a chance to return to my roots and paint something a little more colourful. These models by Northstar are excellent and fill a gap in my collection with some female wizards. 

I kept the paint job on these fairly simple but I think they work well. 

Ah, and here's some proof I was working while on holiday... I've already posted this picture on Facebook and it garnered some envious comments from wargamers who declared my wife a saint (which she is of course) for letting me get away with this on a family holiday. 

Monday 24 February 2020

Cavalier 2020 photo report

It was a case of Déjà vu for me yesterday when I drove through Tonebridge towards the Cavalier show. I've been on holiday on the south coast and due to roadworks on the A21 and subsequent diversions, I have passed through this town four times this week already. This time however I was here early to attend the show and meet up with fellow Rejects Ray and Stuart for our first game show of the year. For me, this was a time for a restock of consumables mid painting challenge, as well as a chance to catch up with people I haven't seen for a long time. As usual, I spent more time standing around chatting than I did exploring the demo games or with the traders, and for me, that's the best thing about attending small shows like this.

Rejects on tour!

Anecdotally I'd say that attendance seemed down on previous years and certainly by the afternoon the show seemed very quite. I'm not sure if the weather or the closed A21 had an impact but whatever the reason it was noticeably slower than normal. Having said that some of the traders I spoke to seemed to be doing a brisk trade in the morning. The Bring and Buy were well attended most of the day and both Stuart, Ray and I found things to buy when we were able to get to the front! Thankfully I'm tall enough to lurk in the second rank and nip in if I see something interesting. I went back to look at the BandB several times and it seemed busy most of the day.

The Bring and Buy had quietened down a little by lunchtime but there were still some bargains to be found. 

I was a little disappointed at the number of games on display this year. Three or four fewer games doesn't seem like a lot but when there were only 16 or so to start with that's a big loss. A couple of the games were a bit lacklustre but there were two in particular that caught my eye and I've included several pictures below.

Crawley Wargamers - Escape from the Aztecs - 28mm Jungle Chase Participation

Crawley Wargamers - Escape from the Aztecs - 28mm Jungle Chase Participation

Hailsham Wargames Club - Battle of Strasbourg - Late Romans vs Goths - 28mm Demonstration

Hailsham Wargames Club - Battle of Strasbourg - Late Romans vs Goths - 28mm Demonstration

Deal Wargames Association - 'Shall we Dance?' the Boworadet Rebellion, Siam 1933 - 20mm Demonstration

Deal Wargames Association - 'Shall we Dance?' the Boworadet Rebellion, Siam 1933 - 20mm Demonstration

Deal Wargames Association - Shall we Dance? the Boworadet Rebellion, Siam 1933 - 20mm Demonstration

Friday Night Fight Club - Best of Enemies Crusades - 28mm Participation

Friday Night Fight Club - Best of Enemies Crusades - 28mm Participation

Col Bills in full salesman mode! 

Cheshunt Wargames Club - Mosquito Strike Norway - 1/300th Air Combat Participation Game

Cheshunt Wargames Club - Mosquito Strike Norway - 1/300th Air Combat Participation Game

Gravesend Gamers Guild - Kill Team - 28mm SF Skirmish Participation

Gravesend Gamers Guild - Kill Team - 28mm SF Skirmish Participation

Maidstone Wargames Society - Biggles - The Island at the Top of the World - 28mm Fantasy; Participation

Maidstone Wargames Society - Biggles - The Island at the Top of the World - 28mm Fantasy; Participation

Tonbridge Wargames Club - Fight or Flight - 28mm French Indian War; Participation

SEEMS - The Colonel’s Jammed and the Gatling’s Dead - 28mm Colonial; Demonstration

Milton Hundred Wargame Club - Der Kampf um den Krug - 28mm Napoleonic Skirmish; Demonstration

Milton Hundred Wargame Club - Der Kampf um den Krug - 28mm Napoleonic Skirmish; Demonstration

Wadhurst Wargamers and role-players - Dungeons and Dragons - 28mm Fantasy; Participation

Society of Ancients - Battle of Paratakene - 28mm; Participation

Ray taking a picture of the Trade Hall from the balcony. This is something of a tradition for us!

In conclusion, a slightly depressed event this year (hopefully just weather-related) but still worth the effort to get there. As previously mentioned this was made up for by the good conversations taking place all morning. 

Friday 21 February 2020

Newhaven Fort Museum

Despite a seemingly never ending precession of storms sweeping across the country (with accompanying rain) the family and I are on holiday in the Sussex. We're British, and used to bad weather and refuse to let it stop us... But even we have had our resilience tested this week! Despite this we have been out and about and one of the best places we have visited was Newhaven Fort. 

There has been a gun battery here since Elizabethan times but it was the Victorian building program associated with Lord Palmerston that saw the creation of a huge fort to guard the harbour. It remained a military site until 1962 when it passed to the local council. Various projects came and went, including an idea to turn it into a holiday site, but today it is a Heritage Museum. 

Inside the fort the casemates have been turned into a series of exhibitions. 

It didn't start ticking, so all's good!

Part of a very good WWI exhibit

A fantastically detailed diorama of the trenches, in 3mm. I spent ages looking at this.

The level of detail in this model was mind blowing.

A detailed model of the fort showing its prime location in the cliffs overlooking the harbour.

It was a bit windy! I struggled to stay upright let alone take a selfie! 

Fortunately my wonderful wife let me bring some model on holiday to keep me occupied when we were confined to our cabin. 

We also got round the 1066 battlefield at Senlac Hill, now the site of Battle Abbey.  The bad weather meant the full battlefield walk was closed but fortunately I've been here before so didn't feel like I had missed out.

Part of the slope leading up to where the Saxon positions would have been. It's steeper than it looks, no wonder the Norman Cavalry had trouble charging up it and couldn't get the speed needed to break the sheild wall. 

We are heading home tomorrow and I need to get some work done after a week away from the Painting Challenge. But first I'll be attending Cavalier at Tonbridge on Sunday and a chance to restock some paints and other consumables. Despite the weather it has been a good week away and I feel like my batteries have recharged and I'm ready for the final weeks of the Challenge. Time to knuckle down and make that final push towards my points target. 

Saturday 15 February 2020

Assorted Frostgrave Debris

I have been collecting together all manner of bits and bobs and now have an eclectic collection of 28mm 'fantasy' debris that I can use in my Frostgrave games. Some of this is the stuff that I have made myself; some bits are leftovers from other kits; a few items I bought without any particular use in mind (oohh Shiney! etc); and a few items are freebies given away with other purchases. I decided I needed to have a big clearout of this growing hodgepodge of items and paint them up. No idea how to score them so I'll leave that particular conundrum to the unlucky minion on duty today! 

Bits from Spellcrow 
I bought a few items from Spellcrow late last year and after some issues with Royal Mail I ended up with two sets of stuff. So you'll see there are two ruined building corners in duplicate. They also sent me a few freebies with these parcels, including useful items like the Ladders, and some more eclectic stuff like the Mushroom! I'll find a use for it all one way or another. 

Collapsed Walls
I saw something like this on another website (sorry can't remember where) and decided to make some myself. I can use these around my other buildings to block roads, create cover and provide little elevated positions for line-of-sight. All are made from offcuts of foam as I'm trying not to waste anything that could conceivably be repurposed at a later stage. Incidentally, I have run out of my usual 'frosted' grass tufts so I found some similar shaped tufts, recoloured them and dry brushed the frost on them. They match pretty closely the commercial ones I bought and won't look out of place on the table. 

Reaper Funerary Sculpture
Back at the end of November, I went to Dragonmeet in London with my daughters. This show is primarily aimed at roleplayers but it has always had its fair share of miniatures to buy. I bought myself a new set of dice for roleplaying (one never has enough dice!), and also picked up models and these excellent graveyard sculptures from Reaper. 

It's school half term next week so I'm taking my stressed teacher wife away for a short holiday to the wilds of Sussex. Little does she know I have a list of museums that I want to visit, but I'll broach that subject when we get there! I won't be getting any painting done but I will be spending some time assembling a load of plastic 28mm figures for the latter weeks of the Challenge. Not six millimetre and they are fantasy figures for Frostgrave...Ray's going to love them! 

Thursday 13 February 2020

Spanish Cavalry in the Army of Hannibal

Having completed my Classical Indian army I thought I'd revisit one of my existing 6mm collections. I've been giving some thought to enhancing the cavalry forces that formed part of Hannibal's army in the 2nd Punic War. It soon became clear that there was a gap in my army list that needed to be filled in the shape of some Spanish Cavalry. Various estimates suggest that after Hannibal descended the Alps into Italy he had about 6000 cavalry in his army, approximately 2000 of which were Spanish. These troops, along with about 8000 infantry, would have been recruited from areas directly under the control of the Barcids in their territories in the Iberian Peninsular. 

Despite being sometimes described as Heavy Cavalry they were typically fairly lightly armoured, similar to the infantry. The standard 'uniform' for the Spanish was a white tunic sometimes trimmed with red cloth. Most infantry wore sinew caps but these were gradually replaced by bronze Montefortino (conical helmets with cheek plates and neck guards) either taken from defeated Romans or forged by their own blacksmiths. All troops, foot and mounted, were armed with javelins or spears and the curved Falcata sword. Small round shields called caetra completed their equipment.

Polybius does describe some Spanish Cavalry being used as shock troops. These wore scale cuirasses and carried the larger oval Scutum shield and a single long thrusting spear. 

I have also read about extra men being carried on the horse, who would then dismount and fight on foot. I'm not sure if this sounds like a viable tactic as surely the newly deposited foot troops would be outnumbered by any infantry they engaged and would have run the risk of being trampled by their own cavalry. I'll have to read a bit more about this, although at the moment there are no rules that I am aware of in To the Strongest that would replicate this tactic.

Incidentally, my main reference source for this article is as always the excellent Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars by Duncan Head. I bought this some time ago and it cost a pretty penny but has been an invaluable reference source ever since. I constantly find myself diving into its pages for detailed information and is always a good place to start before widening the search for information.

Monday 10 February 2020

Battle of Almeida 1810

Postie ran a Peninsular War game yesterday but for various reasons, it was a bit of a bust. The UK was battered by Storm Ciara yesterday and several Rejects wisely decided not to travel in the 80mph winds. I, on the other hand, decided nothing was keeping me from a game, not even the flying debris and driving rain of an extratropical cyclone! The Shed-o-War was rocking and shuddering in the gusts, and there were a few leaks in the roof, but at least it stayed on and we were able to complete our game, albeit to an unsatisfactory conclusion. 

With just three players rather than the planned six this was already shaping up to be a busy game with lots of figures to move and multiple decision to make. Unfortunately for myself and Ray playing the British/Portuguese army, the game was effectively decided in the first 30 minutes of play.

Stuart based this game on an actual siege, however historically Wellesley decided not to attempt to relieve the town of Almeida, hoping that they could hold out long enough to keep the French tied down while he reorganised his forces. The siege, however, came to a very dramatic ending when a mortar shell hit the town's powder store. The resulting explosion flattened nearly every building, killing hundreds and precipitating the surrender of the garrison.

In this what-if scenario, the British are trying to break the siege however, with hindsight, it was clear that in this case, Wellesly was probably right not to attack. The longer the game went on the weaker our army became and Surjits forces were all the time marching to concentrate on our assault. Certainly, had we been allowed to set up our forces I think we would have deployed very differently. As it was our opening disposition forced ceratin actions on us that, compounded with brilliant dice rolls from Sujit, meant we were fighting a losing battle almost from the start.

Orders of Battle
Rather than struggle with Posties handwriting (he's so old-school he doesn't even own a mobile phone, let alone a computer), I decided to just post the pictures I took of his Orders of Battle sheets. Good luck reading them!

The Action
British forces (under myself and Ray) advance towards the besieged town of Almeida

View from the other direction across the French siegeworks.

The British advance looks strong, and we have a lot of good units in the centre. 

From above it looks very ordered (not for long). The French though have a lot of elite Legere units, with another division marching as fast as they can towards the British left flank. 

The French reinforcements, troops for the other side of the town, brought around to bolster the French defence. They are at least 7 or eight turns from the fight so it's essential the British hit their objectives quickly. 

Our Cavalry on the right flank are forced to counter the French Cavalry which means running right into the path of French guns. They make contact with the French Cavalry already reduced in number...

Surjits dice rolls are phenomenal and combined with superior numbers they wipe out or rout all the British Cavalry!! Frankly, that's game over. Our flank is completely exposed. 

Portuguese infantry brigades hastily form square but the rapid advance we needed for our plan is being thrown into disarray. 

My elite troops in the centre advance and wheel slightly to respond to a rapid French advance...I'm hoping to take some pressure off the Portuguese as French Cavalry slams into the flank of our army. 

Surjit looks calm as he presses his attack. 

The British continue to advance but are now looking to the French relife division bearing down on our left flank. 

The centre looks impressive, but it masks the crumbling flank. 

French columns bear down as they press the attack. 

British reserve cavalry starts to come ontop the flank but its too late to stop the crumbling of our Portuguese infantry. 
A view down the table shows an impressive vista. Pity, it wasn't also showing a British army on the edge of victory! 

Now the infantry Melee's begin...and we come off worse yet again! Today is not going our way. 

The thin red line

Troops everywhere. 

The British plan has fallen apart. We can't possibly achieve any of our objectives and the French Relife division is about to start pressing our left flank.

Surjit with his well deserved victory. He kept his cool (mostly) and managed an army that was designed for three players. 

I could waffle on an on here, but I think Ray and I felt like we were beaten by the scenario and the deployment as much by Surjits cool head. It was an unmitigated disaster for the Britsh and probably confirmed that Wellesly was right after all not to attempt to break the siege.