Monday, 14 April 2014

Back from Salute...

Introduction

By now, everyone else who was there seems to have put up their blog posts about Salute 2014.  I'm slightly later because it took us most of Sunday to get home (what with the distance being a bit further than for many) and then I had to go to work as usual today (Monday).  So, now that I'm back from work and the younger kids are in bed, I've just got time to put together a short report.

This isn't a general show report and I don't have any pictures.  Instead it's simply a quick record of what myself and my 2 boys did on the show day.

The Day

We arrived about 20 minutes early and had to wait in what seemed like an enormously long queue.  Younger son (A.) was getting a bit bored with this until some Star Wars re-enactors walked along the line.  For some reason they all seemed to be bad guys: we saw an Imperial naval officer, Boba Fett, one of the pig-like guards from Jabba's palace (Gamoreans?) and several stormtroopers.  Mind you, A. informed me that one of them was a sandtrooper, not a stormtrooper.  Hmm, they looked much the same to me...

The queue moved very quickly once 10:00 arrived, so that wasn't a problem.  We then spent the next hours looking at the many tables, playing some games and making a few targeted purchases.  General observations on the show:
  • Many of the stalls (but not all) were mobbed and it was very difficult to approach them with 2 children in tow.  I don't know what the traders could have done about this and maybe things quietened down later (I'm not sure), but it did mean that I saved a little money.
  • All the games I remember looked good and some were really stunning.  There were huge differences in the approach of the people running them, though.  The best clubs reached out to people who looked interested, drew them in and involved them in the game.  The worst participation games are the ones where we would hang around, maybe ask a few questions and yet the people running them would all but ignore you.  Come on guys; if you're going to go to the trouble of putting on a public game then make sure that the public get to play it!
Here's a list of the games that we did play (at least, the ones that I remember).  The show theme for this year was "D-Day", so a number of the games were oriented towards that:
  • Crossed Lances: I've been hankering for a decent jousting game for a while and am hoping that this might be it.  I won't be really sure until I've read the rules and maybe played a few games of my own, but the guys who are promoting it were very enthusiastic and knowledgeable.  We ran a few courses; firstly A. knocked J. (older son) off his horse.  Then I knocked A. to the ground.  Still got it...
  • D-1 Paratroops: I'm not sure of the proper name for this game, but A. and J. took small squads of US paratroops who were lost after the drop during the night before D-Day.  They were trying to make their way across the table to a rendezvous point, but kept bumping into cows, owls, German sentries, wounded colleagues and the like in the thick terrain.  An excellent game which both the boys enjoyed thoroughly (and it was a draw: J. got further across the table and scored more points for this, but he was penalised for leaving one of his wounded men behind).
  • Hobart's Funnies: This was a rather silly game in which goofy Sci-fi tanks from different arms suppliers tried to demonstrate their superiority to potential purchasers by making a beach landing.  Each player was dealt a hand of 4 cards every round; different cards could be used to move your own vehicle, destroy obstacles or place hazards near the other players' tanks.  Both boys enjoyed this enormously; at one point it looked as if the 2 of them were well out in front and close to winning.  Then the other 3 players started to block their route with minefields, hedgehogs and the like.  Eventually they came in 4th and 5th (of 5)!
  • [Edit R/C Tanks: There were some radio-controlled tanks in a roped-off area of the hall, with upturned cardboard boxes for buildings.  All three of us had a go, though we found controlling the vehicles much harder than we had hoped.  J.'s King Tiger and my T-34 ended up ramming and shooting each other to bits, so A.'s Sherman was the winner]
  • Firefight Normandy: A very detailed man-to-man skirmish game in thick hedgerows, using larger models.  The people running this were friendly and enthusiastic, but it seemed that much of the game was spent in calculating percentages and tracking injuries ("10% damage to the left arm", for example).  After a while we had to bow out, else we wouldn't have seen much else of the show.
  • Ronin: I've had these rules for a while and am somewhat tempted to build some warbands for Samurai skirmishes, so I was keen to see how this would work.  A. took a small group of warrior monks whilst J. opposed him with a slightly larger force of bandits.  Highlight was definitely one of A.'s initiates taking on 5 bandits at once.  I think he killed 3 or 4 of them before he was himself pulled down.  Lowlight: A's archer was hopeless; we figured that he didn't know which way round to put the arrows.  J. won in the end, but enough blood had been spilt to satisfy both of them.

Loot

Finally, here's the obligatory loot picture.  Bear in mind that it's probably 14 years since I last attended Salute:
I'm not going to enumerate everything in it, but here are some keywords: Vikings, harpies, rules, prospector, Daredevil pilots, Amera.  2 of the books and the Airfix kit are for A.; J. has already snaffled his book (so it doesn't appear in this picture).

It was a very full, but very tiring day.  We left Salute about 45 minutes before the doors closed, having been there for many hours.  Even so, I don't think we saw everything...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Clearing the Decks!

Introduction

We're going to Salute this year!  My boys and I will be visiting London for a few nights to do a little sight-seeing and to visit the biggest single-day wargaming event in the world.  It'll be quite the adventure for them, I think!

It's not the first time that I've ever been to Salute, but it will be the first time since I moved back to Scotland in 2001.  When I lived in Bristol, London was just a 2 hour train ride away and I would occasionally go there.  The last time I went to Salute, the show give-away was a Warlords "Demon Dice".  A few moments on Google suggests that this must have been the year 2000, so quite a few years ago...

Clearing the Decks

Now, here's a problem.  My workbench is already full of clutter and I think it's just possible that I might want to buy some fresh toys at the show next week.  There won't be anywhere to put new purchases!

I've tried to spend much of this last week in knuckling down and painting some of my existing models.  If I'm successful then that would free up some space.  I don't think it'll be enough, mind you, but I've got to try...

So, here are the results of my recent labours so far:

Actually, these figures aren't recently painted.  Rather, they're samples of previous work; I've got them out whilst painting more figures for the same forces so that I can match the styles and colours.  At least they don't need any finishing off before they can be put back into storage.

This quartet are almost done.  I need to add some grass to the bases and then varnish the models.  Neither of those tasks is very onerous, though it will probably take a day or two for the glue and sealant to dry.

This pair are a little further off from complete, as both lack some minor detailing.  The armed zombie needs the base to be finished, whilst the cavalier will get work on the hair and hat.  I should be able to complete both models without too much difficulty, I think.

Slightly more effort will go into the next trio.  Although large parts of these models are finished, they have a substantial number of details still to do.  Bases, shirt & tie, shields, swords, helmets, hair...

This group are even further behind.  They have most of their block colours done, but not all the big areas are textured, washed or shaded.  Obviously, details that sit on top of the block costume colours (belts, mostly) haven't been started either.

Finally, I might struggle to finish this set before Salute.  They have some of their base colours, but there are still large patches of undercoat, or perhaps colours that I'm thinking of changing.  Still, they are a long way from "just under-coated" and there is at least a slim chance that I'll paint them in the next 3 days.

Maybe I should just get on with the job, rather than sitting here writing about it?!

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Greek Gift

Yesterday, when I returned home from work, I discovered that there was a parcel waiting for me.  Now this was something of a surprise since I wasn't expecting anything.  It was still more of a surprise when I saw that the package had come from Slovenia.

Now, I only know one person who is in Slovenia and that's Mathyoo, a fellow blogger who runs the Necroleadicon .  We share an interest in zombie wargaming and recently we've been discussing Jason and the Argonauts after my post on the subject (here).  It turns out that the Slovenian version of this tale differs in some details from the tale that I know, but it is equally fascinating.

A few weeks ago, I sent Mathyoo some spare parts from one of Wargames Factory "Apocalypse Survivors" kit.  Mostly these were assault rifles of various sorts; I have little use for these as I prefer my civilians/survivors not to be armed with military-grade weapons.  However, Mathyoo is modelling an insurgent force who all need such guns.  It cost me almost nothing to post these parts so I put them in the mail and thought no more about it.

So, what was in the parcel I received?

This is the figure of Jason that was given away at Salute 2013.  For anyone who is new to this, "Salute" is possibly the largest wargames show on earth and the organisers have a tradition of giving away a free figure to all who attend.  Last year, the theme was "Jason and the Argonauts", which I didn't know until very recently.

Not only has Mathyoo sent me a Greek hero, but he's even painted the miniature for me (because of a chance remark that I had too many projects already, I think).  How cool is that?!

It gets even better.  I'm a collector of dice (see here) and Mathyoo included a die as well.  The 6-spot is replaced with the Slovenian "mountain, river and sea" symbol, thus making it fairly unusual.

So, to Mathyoo, a very big Thanks.  Definitely one of the good guys!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Inspectors

Introduction

This will be just a short post tonight, as I've not been doing much recently (related to the hobby, at any rate).  I've nothing new to show, so here are some older figures of mine that haven't been made public before, so far as I remember.

The Inspectors

Logo for the unnamed corporation

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away I saw that Heresy Miniatures produced a set of 28mm figures that are collectively referred to as "The Inspectors".  These are delightful miniatures and I bought a set just because I liked them.  Having said that, they could be used for almost any modern or near future government or corporate types.  I've painted mine in a style that is deliberately reminiscent of the officers of the Imperial Navy in Star Wars...

From the left: Johnson, "Knuckles", Kane, Bob Jones and Camille Van Towe.
At the left hand end of the line up is Johnson.  Note that I'm using the names from the Heresy catalogue in this article as I haven't got round to adding names of my own.  Johnson is the supervisor, I think.  Both his sunglasses and his posture & attitude suggest to me that he's quite confident as an overseer.

Next in like is "Knuckles".  I've no idea what his real name is, but I suspect that this guy enjoys discovering minor transgressions in his job as an inspector.  Woe betide the poor victim who falls foul of this giant!

In the middle, Kane is examining a data pad and listening to instructions over his headset.  I imagine that he's a stickler for rules and regulations; he will check everything very thoroughly indeed.

In contrast, Bob has been in the job too long.  He's not really interested in anything except making life easy for himself as he waits for retirement.  Smugglers or infiltrators will find him an easy touch, I think.

Finally, Camille is the new recruit.  She's still quite unsure of herself and possibly a bit naive as well.

This shot from the rear shows 2 things quite well:
  1. All of these figures have shoulder patches which display a logo; there is a larger version of this symbol at the top of this article.  It's traditional to invent a fictional corporation (usually evil) and associate goons such as these with that entity, but I haven't really got round to doing that yet.  I have the logo on the figures, but no names for the evil company for which they work.
  2. The bases are all plastic and come from Champ Industries.  This is an American producer with a small, but very nice, range of 25mm bases.  Individually the bases are very cheap, though as always intercontinental postage is a killer if you're not already in North America.  I bought my bases many years ago, so I've no idea if this company is still operating.
So, what's a good name for a fictional corporation, then?  Not one that's already taken, of course...

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

SOBH: The Summoning of Asmodai

Introduction

2 battle reports back-to-back?  My last posting was also a battle report, so you may be wondering what's going on.  Well, last Saturday my friend Steve came over for the day.  As well as the Napoleonic game that we played in the morning, we had time in the afternoon to play Song of Blades and Heroes.


We debated briefly whether to use my Robin Hood warbands in our game, but in the end we went with the Witch Hunters.  This was mainly because I was keen to try out the Song of the Ancient Ones scenario from the Song of Wind and Water supplement.  The scenario revolves around magic users from one warband attempting to summon something supernatural from a shrine in the centre of a stone circle.  Sounds like a job for the witches!

The Scenario

The witches Meg and Agatha prepare to summon a demon from the circle of power.  Giant rats and ghouls accompany the hags, whilst a ghost drifts around nearby.
We played the Song of the Ancient Ones scenario straight out of the book.  The witches would be the defenders and would attempt to summon something nasty from the centre of the magic circle, whilst the local humans (soldiers and professional witch hunters) would try to stop them.

Roughly speaking, the witches have to build up 9 "power points" of magic in the circle and then cast a summoning spell to bring forth a demon.  This doesn't automatically grant them a win, but will add to their victory points and will (probably) give them a useful ally.

One thing that we found slightly confusing was the scenario's description of what happened if someone entered the ring of stones.  In the setup part of the scenario, it suggested that such an act would dissipate all the stored power and therefore the ritual would have to start again.  However in other parts of the description, one power point would be lost if someone stepped into the ring.  We went with the latter and further stipulated that each further activation by a character inside the ring would lose another power point.

Initial setup.  The men chose to place the mad monk and a few soldiers on the southern edge, whilst a large number of musketeers and various characters would approach from the north-west.  As well as their forces near the ritual circle, the witches placed a couple of enormous hellhounds just behind the trees near to the southern group of men.

The Game


John Sterne (the witch hunter) and 3 musketeers climbed the hill overlooking the dark ritual.  Immediately the ghost came drifting out of the darkness towards them.  One of the musketeers fled immediately in terror.  The remaining men, afraid to charge the awful creature, fired their muskets and pistols at it.  However, their shots passed straight through the apparition without harming it at all.

The ghost then turned on one of the other soldiers and gave another terrible shriek.  The man went pale, turned and fled!

Brother Matthew, the mad monk, ran as fast as he could towards the stone circle.  He was screaming threats, or maybe prayers, and waving his staff wildly.  Because he was frothing at the mouth, he was somewhat incoherent and nobody could work out what he was saying.

The troopers who had been with him followed cautiously.  They hadn't seen what lurked on the other side of the trees, but they were still uneasy and nervous.

Matthew ran straight for one of the witches in an attempt to prevent her from chanting the horrible ritual.  However, he was followed by one of the hellhounds; the monk had barely reached the hag when he was lifted off his feet and mauled by the monstrous creature.  It scored a gruesome kill on the poor madman but, fortunately for the humans, all of his friends were too far away to see his death in the darkness.

Deciding that the ghost was just a distraction, John Sterne came down off his hill and approached the stone circle from the north-west.  He was joined by Colonel Brandon, who had ranged ahead of his soldiers.  Frustratingly, the men found their way blocked by ghouls who had moved to intercept them.  Even though they were slightly over-matched by the humans, the evil creatures proved remarkably resilient.  Whenever one of the ghouls was knocked down it would just get back up.

The witches continued to chant their dark incantations, building up the power to a critical level (8 of the 9 necessary points for a summoning).  The monk had died a grisly death, the witch hunter and Colonel Brandon were blocked by ghouls and all the foot soldiers were quite a long way off.  What could the humans do?

John Sterne and Colonel Brandon both backed away from the ghouls that were in front of them, but neither man was able to get close enough to hinder the black ritual.  Instead, Major Fairfax came running through the night.  He dodged past the waiting ghouls and stood defiantly in front of the runestone at the heart of the circle.  "Hah!" he cried.  "Foul hags!  Your filthy work is undone!"  One power point was dutifully removed from the ritual.

As the major strutted, the witches redoubled their efforts.  Agatha chanted sufficiently to add 2 more power points, thus giving the circle the required charge of 9.  Meg then called on the infernal powers to summon and bind an agent of darkness to her will.  We rolled on the summoning table and got a '2', thus bringing on Asmodai, a Minor Ancient One.  Not the most exciting result, but a demon nevertheless...

"Oh, CRAP!" the major cried, as the fiend charged straight at him.  He wouldn't get any help from the witch hunter either, as John Sterne was still being obstructed by the ghoul pack.  Mind you, there were now so many figures milling about inside the magic circle that all hope of starting another summoning ritual were abandoned!

Meanwhile, where were all the soldiers?  Sergeant Stone and his squad had been ambushed by a hellhound as they came out of the woods in the south.  After a long fight in which the advantage swayed from one side to the other, the men eventually managed to knock down and then slay the brute [this was something of a sideshow for us; the figures involved were a long way down the priority list for activations].

The soldiers then jogged forwards towards Agatha.  Their attack was disjointed though, with some men lagging far behind the others.  Sergeant Stone was in the lead but to his dismay he found himself fighting a hellhound all on his own.  Worse, the witch caught his attention and he found that he could not avert his gaze.  As the savage beast tore him apart, all the poor, transfixed sergeant could think was "Those eyes!"

All was confusion in the northern part of the table.  The ghouls finally slew John Sterne and settled down to feast on his corpse.  Indeed, they were completely oblivious to everything else for quite some time after this [i.e. they failed every single activation roll that they attempted for many turns in a row].  The demon killed Major Fairfax, though not without some trouble.

This took the human side perilously close to half their starting strength.  They had lost all bar 1 of their special characters as well as several unnamed soldiers.  If they suffered even 1 more casualty then they would all take a morale test; this would probably destroy any hope they had of continuing to fight.  On the other hand, the witches had only lost one ghoul and a single hellhound!

Colonel Brandon retreated a little, but not from fear.  Rather he was now encouraging his troops; the musketeers fired as they advanced.

More humans attacking them was the last thing that the witches wanted, so the demon leaped forwards and snarled at the good colonel.  He wasn't having any of that, so he drew a pistol and blew its brains out!

Colonel Brandon followed up by attacking Meg herself, while 2 of his musketeers hovered close by to protect from any marauding enemies.  Despite Meg's screeches for help, the remaining ghouls were still far to interested in their meal and the witch had to fight alone.  With her back to one of the standing stones, she had nowhere to run.  Several times, the colonel stabbed the hag and she fell backwards across the rock, but each time she staggered back to her feet.  Finally, the old soldier thrust his sword deep into her heart and she fell for the last time.

On the other side of the circle of rocks, the soldiers were trying to face down the second hellhound.  Agatha ordered her giant rats to attack the men as well, but this proved to be a bad mistake.  The rodents approached one-at-a-time and the first such creature to come into reach was skewered on a halberd.  It died in agony [another gruesome kill] and its terrible squeals unnerved the hellhound, which then blundered about, trying to flee from the sound.  Escape was impossible: the beast was trapped against one of the standing stones and slain by the exultant soldiers.

Seizing their chance, 2 of the men charged straight at Agatha.  The witch wasn't expecting their fierce assault and fell beneath the repeated blows, never to rise again.

This last loss was too much for the evil side to bear.  Since they were now below half their original numbers, they took a morale test - which resulted in some of the rats running off at top speed.  The remaining ghouls decided that they didn't like the odds any more and slunk off into the night.  Only the ghost was left, endlessly drifting about the hills and fields...

Conclusion

That was a fascinating and very eventful game!  It went very much in the witches' favour to start with, but the humans made an amazing comeback.  When we added up the victory points at the end, we came up with these totals:
  • Witches: 12 VPs for kills + 3VPs for a successful summoning = 15VPs
  • Humans: 15VPs for kills = 15VPs
So, it's a draw!
  • Man of the match was definitely Colonel Brandon.  He destroyed the demon and slew one of the witches personally, as well as coordinating his men in their final attack.
  • On the evil side, the ghost was possibly the most fun.  It scared 2 musketeers so much that they are still running and frightened several more pretty badly.  In return it seemed invulnerable to all the shots that were fired at it.
  •  Most useless: probably Brother Matthew, although the witch hunter John Sterne didn't accomplish much either.  Mind you, the giant rats were worse than useless for the evil side...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Black Powder: The Russians are coming!

Introduction

It's some time towards the middle or end of the Napoleonic wars.  Somewhere in central Europe, a Bavarian brigade is quartered in the sleepy town of Kufstein.  In the early morning, a frantic messenger arrives with news: an entire Russian division is approaching and will be here imminently!

General Hausmann, the Bavarian commander, quickly arrays his forces for defence and sends his own courier for help.  The nearest allied force is General Cotillard's French brigade, but can they reach the town before the Bavarians are attacked?  Even if they do arrive, the allies will still be outnumbered; can they avoid being overwhelmed by the Russian assault?

The Scenario

Terrain:

There is a small town (Kufstein) in the centre of the board.  The town is split into 2 districts by the road that runs through it; each district may be garrisoned by 1 unit.  All of this built-up area provides substantial defensive bonuses for any troops who are garrisoning it.

A few fields are scattered around the table.  The hedgerows which surround these provide some cover from shooting and a minor defensive bonus in melee.

There is a line of low hills to the east; these give height advantage when firing but they are too shallow to impede movement.

Forces:

The 3rd and 13th Bavarian line regiments garrison the town of Kufstein, whilst a couple of companies of the 6th light infantry hide behind hedges in a nearby field.

Allies:

  • 1 brigade of Bavarians (2 battalions of line infantry, 1 battery of artillery, 1 regiment of light cavalry and 1 small unit of light infantry).  These are deployed anywhere on the table before the game starts.
  • 1 reinforced brigade of French (2 battalions of line infantry, 1 battery of artillery, 1 regiment of light cavalry and 1 unit of light infantry) will arrive on the southern table edge from turn 2 onwards.  They need successful command rolls to move onto the table.

Russians:

  • 2 brigades of infantry, each with 4 battalions of infantry and 1 battery of artillery.
  • 2 brigades of cavalry (1 light, one heavy), each with 2 regiments plus a battery of horse artillery. 
All of the Russians start on the northern table edge and are available from the start of the game.

So, the Russians outnumber the Bavarians by about 4:1 .  Even if/when the French arrive, the Russians will still outnumber the combined allied force by about 2:1 .

Victory

This is determined only on possession of the town by the time the game ends (because we run out of troops or exceed a given time limit.  Or because we need to stop for lunch).  If either side holds both districts of the town then they win outright.  Otherwise if each side holds 1 district then it's a draw.

Our Game

Before the start of play, we decided to roll for the command abilities of each general and brigadier.  We used the very simple method of starting with a rating of 8 (competent) and then rolling a 'fudge' dice to adjust this up, down or not at all.  The results were thus:
  • Bavarian: General Hausmann has an average rating of 8
  • French: Both the allied commander in chief (Gen. Cotillard) and his brigadier (Gen. Leboeuf) have a dashing rating of 9.
  • Russian: The Russian commander, General Raevskii, has an efficient command rating of 9.  Sadly, all of his brigadiers are plodding 7s.  Looks like Gen. Raevskii will need to do much of the work all on his own!

Early Moves

Unsurprisingly, the Russians advanced straight away.  A dense block of infantry in the centre made good progress, but the cavalry brigades on the wings were less eager and only moved slowly.

Initial contact was made between the lead Russian infantry and the Bavarian light troops.  The Russian column suffered significant losses in the attack, whilst the small unit of defenders drew back in good order to look for another hedgerow.

Stagnation

The French relief force came marching on at the double as soon as they were permitted.  This didn't look good for the Russians.  General Raevskii was tearing his hair out; his cavalry (which should have been ranging far ahead and interfering with the French advance) sullenly refused to move.  Even the 2 Russian infantry brigades were only just bringing troops into action - and that was only because Raevskii was issuing many of the orders personally.

A couple of Russian battalions did make it into position to attack the town, but they suffered very badly from defensive file.  The Bavarian position benefited from thick stone walls, so the Russian musketry made little impact in return.

A lone Russian battalion made its way to the eastern side of the town.  The Bavarian light horse moved forward to threaten it and force the Russians to form a square.  If that happened then the nearby Bavarian battery would have been able to pummel the infantry.  However, in a (for them) rare command mistake, the cavalry regiment didn't move far enough and left itself vulnerable to being shot.  Russian marksmanship was poor, though and the light horse escaped serious injury.

The Bavarian cavalry soon rectified their mistake, made a feigned charge and forced the Russians into a square.  Once that happened, the horsemen retired a short distance and let the cannons do their terrible work.

The Assault

The main body of Russian infantry now attacked.  One battalion charged the Bavarian light troops in the ploughed field and were savaged in doing so.  Another unit attacked the town, but their support failed to materialise.  The attackers did well to hold on briefly, under the circumstances.

In a bravura performance, the Bavarian light infantry in the field destroyed the battalion that was assaulting them across the hedge.  A further Russian unit attacked the town, but the defenders routed the original battalion and drove the newcomers back.  Indeed, the second Russian infantry were driven back to a position from which the Bavarian light infantry could now enfilade them at close range!

The End

As the French infantry started to arrive at the town, the Bavarian cannon made mincemeat of the poor Russian square (which dared not move through fear of the Bavarian cavalry).

To the west of Kufstein, the story was similar.  French infantry marched up, arrayed for battle, just as the 2 companies of Bavarian light infantry shot the enfiladed Russian battalion to pieces.  One Russian dragoon regiment finally advanced tentatively, but this was countered by a French Hussar unit and even though the 2 groups of cavalry were close enough to shout insults at each other, no contact was made.

This was too much for the Russians.  One infantry brigade broke and started to rout off the field.  General Raevskii ordered a withdrawal for his other forces.  There was little hope of taking the town with the 3 remaining battalions of the unbroken infantry brigade and the Russian cavalry probably wouldn't have achieved much even if they could be persuaded to advance.

Aftermath

That did not go as I had imagined it might!  Poor General Raevskii was surrounded by dullards and incompetents.  Even though his plan was quite reasonable and didn't require much finesse, his subordinates just wouldn't behave.  In fact, it looked strongly as if the Russian cavalry commanders were more concerned with their inter-service feuds than with fighting the enemy.  I wonder if Raevskii was an infantry officer before his promotion to General; perhaps the cavalry looked down upon him?

Some awards are due, I think:
  • Unit of the match: The 6th Bavarian Light infantry did fantastically well.  This was a small unit (just a couple of companies, really) that was expected to be little more than a speed bump.  Instead, they destroyed 2 Russian infantry battalions and single-handedly held up the entire Russian advance on their side of the town.
  • Most incompetent: Major-General Emannuel of the Russian hussar brigade probably wins this.  At least 1 unit of the dragoon brigade did advance a little at one point (though they retreated almost immediately when the French jeered at them), but the hussars just stood where they were for the entire game.
  • Most frustrated commander: has to be the poor Russian leader, General Raevskii.  He spent the entire game trying to marshal the 2 infantry brigades into action only to be frustrated by his subordinates.  As soon as the artillery deployed, an infantry battalion would march in front of it and block its line of fire.  Units which were sent to outflank the town would either wander in the wrong direction and obstruct other battalions or would advance too far and find themselves isolated and shot to pieces by the enemy.
  • Most bored unit: The Bavarian 13th line regiment spent the game holed up in the houses of Kufstein waiting for an assault that never came.  Even the Russian units which fired at them failed to do any damage.  At one point it looked as if these enemies had been issued sawdust instead of gunpowder: their shots literally couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, let alone the carefully-constructed Bavarian loopholes in the masonry of the buildings.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Celtic Cross

Introduction

For several months now I have been looking for a Celtic Cross.  Although these days such crosses are most likely to be seen as tattoos or jewellery, I'm thinking more of the large stone monuments that were common near churches and holy sites during the early middle ages.  In other words, I was looking for a piece of scenery for my 28mm games of SAGA!

It's been surprisingly difficult to find what I need.  I did discover one model from a wargaming company a long time ago, but I felt it wasn't suitable for me.  I can't even remember why that was; perhaps it was the wrong scale, or the international postage was too high.  Maybe it was some other reason.

Then I found, almost by accident, that there is a huge variety of moulds of different objects sold on eBay.  These are intended primarily for cake decorating, but a silicone mould can be used for a wide range of materials as well as for chocolate!

The Mould


Most of the moulds I found are of little use to me (flowers, birds, scrollwork and the like) but I did find one for a Celtic Cross.  So, I spent the necessary £3-and-a-bit and the mould was with me in just a couple of days.


The mould itself is about 45mm (1.5") across and is made from blue silicone rubber.  As such, it's heat resistant; the inset claims that it is suitable for casting in chocolate, marzipan, wax, soap, plaster and a number of other materials.

I decided to use casting powder (aka "dental plaster" or "hydrostone"?) to make my model.  I do like marzipan, but I had doubts as to how well it would take paint and glue.  As for soap...

So, I cast 2 crosses from the mould.  These are quite thin; I smoothed off the backs with some coarse sandpaper.  The 2 parts were then glued together, back to back.  I needed to add a little filler around the seam, but that wasn't too hard.

The Setting

My cross was going to be on a little hillock.  I used a little piece of MDF as the base and added some foam sheet on top of that.  This was then sculpted (by hot wire cutter and sandpaper) into a small knoll.  I pinned the cross to the hill with florist's wire, though it might have been enough just to glue it without such reinforcement.

Next, the base was coated with white glue.  I added a few small clusters of grit and then covered the rest with clean sand (taken from the kids' sand pit, dried and sterilised).

Painting

This was a very simple model to paint.  Firstly, it was sprayed with grey undercoat.  The cross was given a black wash and was then drybrushed lightly with a pale grey.  The dirt was painted in a dark, chocolate brown and then drybrushed twice with successively lighter browns.

Finishing

To finish, I glued a fair amount of static grass to the base.  Some clumps of foam were used as bushes.  Finally, I touched the larger lumps of grit with a stone grey paint (I should have done this earlier, before adding the grass, but I forgot).  I'm not totally happy with my basework, but it'll have to do.

So there it is: a Celtic Cross suitable for use with 28mm figures.  I don't think it would look amiss with 20mm or 15mm figures either, though obviously it would represent a correspondingly bigger monument.

I shall probably use it as an objective in the SAGA "Sacred Ground" scenario, or maybe just as scatter scenery.  If/when I ever get round to making my Celtic monastery (Scheltrum Miniatures has just the right buildings!) then this will fit in perfectly.  And of course I can make as many more of these as I want, any time!