Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Norman Infantry Command 28mm - Battle of Hastings


Most of my Norman command stands are mounted. This one is the exception so far.  I thought it would be fun to have one commander ready to lead and stand with his men on foot.


The figures are from Gripping Beast and were again, very enjoyable and quite quick to paint up.


The standard is from 'Flags of War' and I selected this one just because it was large and colourful.


The shield transfers are from 'Little Big Men Studios' if I recall correctly.


This takes care of my immediate need for commanders for my Normans. I have built and undercoated lots more foot figures ready to take to the next stage, however, my interest is now firmly onto another two periods of history (two just to make it harder to paint everything quickly!).



So there will be a delay before I get onto to painting more Normans. It only took me 24 years to paint up commanders for my Normans, so I'm sure the new infantry don't mind a little wait! This is another reason why I'm moving into smaller scales...I actually want to have playable ranges...but I'll keep my existing 28mm figs and just add to them slowly.  I do enjoy painting the detail.  Anyway - there will be something different in my next post to follow soon.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Count Eustace of Boulogne - Battle of Hastings

Here we have the command stand of Count Eustace II of Boulogne.  It is believed that Count Eustace carried the Papal Banner, and here we have it in all it's glory.


Count Eustace seems to have been a colourful character, having been excommunicated by the Pope, being involved in rebellions and getting involved 'in a brawl' with the citizens of Dover which caused a rift between King Edward and Lord Harold Godwinson (if my easy research from Wiki is accurate!)


Wiki also claims that Eustace might have been the patron of the Bayeux tapestry, and then goes on to claim that Eustace is shown pointing in retreat on it. I'm not convinced that a patron of the tapestry would have himself immortalised telling the chief that the army should skedaddle!

William of Poitiers who chronicled the Norman conquest did write the following about Eustace though (which also shows that one doesn't turn one's back on a line of angry Anglo-Saxon's!).

'With a harsh voice he (Duke William) called to Eustace of Boulogne, who with 50 knights was turning in flight and was about to give the signal for retreat. This man came up to the Duke and said in his ear that he ought to retire since he would court death if he went forward. But at the very moment when he uttered the words Eustace was struck between the shoulders with such force that blood gushed out from his mouth and nose and half dead he only made his escape with the aid of his followers.'



To me it appears that the tapestry shows that Eustace is drawing attention to William who has raised his visor. 

My figure of Eustace has one of his entourage doing the actual carrying of the Papal Banner.


The figures are from Gripping Beast and the banners from Flags of War. Shield transfers are from Little Big Men Studios (if I recall correctly).




I do enjoy painting Normans - a good covering of chain mail makes painting a simpler task than many troop types!


Well, I am away working again this week and I have taken plastic 28mm Normans and Saxons with me to build - hopefully I will get to paint some more up too. It's nice to take uncomplicated things away to do in my time off in the evenings.  So hopefully more to follow soon!

Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 Round Up and then 2019...

I quite like these round-ups that bloggers are doing. It is nice to mark the hobby successes and then make plans for the next year. It will be fun to look back and see what plans I have, and just like work appraisal objectives - see how much I was completely off the mark!  I'm currently sat here with the biggest fireworks going off outside feeling somewhat like Von Paulus at Stalingrad but far better fed and considerably warmer.

So...

Highlights

For me 2018 was a big year of  'To the The Strongest', Simon Miller's excellent ancient rules.  My 10mm armies are now very playable and I look forward to playing more and painting more for it in 2019. I quite fancy a Gallic or gladiator army to take on my late Roman republican armies.



I made some significant progress with my WW2 British Normandy collection in 15mm but didn't actually play a game with them this year.



Another 28mm English Civil War Regiment was added to my army of Parliament and a good collection of artillery pieces now take their place too.



Much of the year was given over to re-basing and re-finding my old interest in 15mm figure - something which surprised me, but I am so glad I did. I have re-based literally thousands of figures in the latter half of this year and used new and improved (and quicker!) basing methods. More on this in another post to come.



I did also manage 4 x 28mm Norman command stands which was very pleasing to do.  This makes the collection 'playable'.  From now on anything else added is just really nice.



...and 12 Blood Red Skies planes - a lot of effort for planes with bendy wings.


Games played this year:
2018

Jan - Panzergrenadier - 1940 France (15mm)






Feb - Hail Caesar - Wars of the Roses - Battle of Barnet (28mm)



March - Black Powder - American War of Independence (28mm)



April - None

May - To The Strongest - Roman Civil War (10mm)

May - To the Strongest - Roman Civil War - Philippi (10mm)



June -  To The Strongest - Roman Civil War - Thapsus (10mm)

July - None

August - Pike and Shotte - English Civil War - Battle of Monkton Farleigh (28mm)


'Baaaa Waaatch ouut - The Welsh Royalists are on their wayyyyy!'

Sept - Black Powder - French and Indian War (28mm)



Sept - Black Powder - Napoleonic (15mm)



Oct - Blood Red Skies - Battle of Britain (and Warhammer 40k Skirmish)

Nov - None

Dec - Warhammer 40K skirmish & Black Powder - ACW (15mm)




Actually that was an interesting read through for me at least - I made the assumption that I had played mostly 28mm but that was far from being the case.

Painting plans for 2019

It will probably be very random as usual! However I would like to make progress with:


  • 15mm Normandy WW2 for  Panzergrenadier rules
  • Add a few more units to my now playable 28mm Hastings armies
  • Paint up more British command stands for my 28mm AWI collection and maybe a unit or two
  • Add command stands to my 28mm Franco-Prussian collection to make it properly playable
  • Make progress on my WW1 skirmish armies for Chain of Command
  • Add lots of command figures for my 15mm ACW collections and some more units too (currently on my painting desk!)
  • Build a 15mm early Russian WW2 collection
  • Add a few more Blood Red Skies Aircraft for my bastardised rules
  • Add a few more 28mm Samurai and make my armies playable
  • Add to my 28mm ECW collection
  • Double the size of my 28mm FIW collection as the units are all 12 man stands currently
I think that is enough!  It looks more like a 5-year plan!  In addition there are a three projects which I would love to start but it would be at the expense of not doing some of the above

  • Little Big Horn - yep the whole thing - ideally in 10mm but maybe 6mm - I want to see how the command choices play out and to get more understanding of the battle
  • 15mm Desert War - I have started and stopped in so many scales for this. I think 15mm is the way forward but I am prepared to go 1/285.  Rules would be Panzergrenadier
  • I have great desire to do the Jacobite Wars and I think it would be in 15mm having really enjoyed the sight of my 15mm ACW all re-based and looking great
  • Boer War in 15mm would be really interesting too but I think that might be a project too far for this year
Enough now! There are thousands of hours of painting time shown there! It will be really interesting to see what actually happens and what progress is made. It's an interesting observation for me that I don't feel like doing new 28mm projects.  But... I am a wargamer and at the end of the day - I will be tempted by 'The Shiney' (or the plasticcy) as is the modern thing.

I wish you all a happy 2019!





Saturday, 29 December 2018

Bishop Odo - Battle of Hastings




Here we have Bishop Odo, brother of William the Bastard of Normandy.  The figure is from the excellent Gripping Beast range with a fine banner from Flags of War.  The shield designs are from Little Big Men Studios.


I was going to give Bishop Odo the Papal Banner, but it does seem that Eustace of Boulogne was given the honour of carrying it with him.  I have given Odo a different very bright and expensive looking banner to reflect his high status.




There were weapon options in the pack and I decided to go for the wooden mace option as per the Bayeux Tapestry. I have read that it is thought that Bishop Odo may have commissioned the tapestry, in which case one would have thought that he might have wanted to have been represented fairly accurately in terms of armour and equipment.


The quilted armour certainly stands out on the tapestry.


Hopefully a 1066 Battle of Hastings can be recreated on my wargaming table soon. I started my little collection in the early 1990's but progress has been slow.  I think a few more troops and it might soon be playable.  Unusually I now have enough commanders to make it feasible.


...And finally a little joke which I thought of earlier.  This is how it might look if the Kubrick movie 'The Shining' had been made in 1066...!


Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Blood Red Skies - Follow Up

This post is probably going to have very limited interest, however, it is a follow on to my last post and incorporates all of my thinking of the last couple of days.

It probably is 'ALL' of my thinking. Wargamers....nothing else on our minds even when we are supposed to be working!

Anyway - I am going to share my thoughts and at least at some point in the future it might help someone who wants to improve their 'Blood Red Skies' experience - especially if they already like 'X-Wing' and have some interest in planes which fly like planes and not like spinning tops.

I have yet to play test the below amendments, but it already looks a lot more fun.


Blood Red Skies – Notes
Pros:
1.       The 3 tiers advantage/altitude is good
2.       The firing mechanism for fighters and Bombers is good
3.       The head on attacks system is good
4.       The deflection shooting system is good
5.       The reactive dodge method is good
6.       The 5 level skill system is good
7.       The use of Advantage combined with  Skill level to determine movement is good
8.       The use of Tailing to reduce advantage is good
9.       The use of Wingmen to reduce the tailing advantage is good
10.   The option to burn advantage to dive at speed or climb is good
11.   The boom chit system is quite good – prevents unrealistic side ‘wipe outs’ mostly.

Cons:
1.       The manoeuvre system is hmmmmm …weird!
2.       The outmanoeuvre roll on a pilot action smacks of being a desperate idea to actually get planes to shoot each other down
3.       Turning 180 degrees – see point one. It deserves its own mention – The biggest weird bit.
4.       Manoeuver causes stale play – the system encourages all aircraft to cluster in one area due to charging at each other and the trying to 180 degree turn to disadvantage the opponent.
5.       The use of the Action Deck – why keep playing the same cards turn after turn? The plane either has a powerful engine to dive/climb well or it doesn’t. Why play a card?
6.       Multi-Engine planes –  FAQ sheet helps in that it seems that Multi-engined planes do not appear to be able to gain advantage so fly advantaged. Hits drop it to Neutral and then disadvantaged when it will start to underperform (crew losses, damage etc.). Then it takes one boom chit on each engine for hits (HE111 thus 2 engine hits, Lanc is 4) before crashing. Those boom chits from engines only then given to losing player.

Improvements:
1.       Do away with action cards completely. Just incorporate traits as part of aircraft i.e. Climbing/turning/ robustness etc.
2.       Do away with whole manoeuvre system – Use X-Wing movement. Initially use existing templates. Tightest turns only for Spit/Hurricane. Planes with greater dive/climb move further/add on bonuses.
3.       Be rid of the out-manoeuver rule.
4.       Aircraft of equal footing advantage and neutral may shoot at others of the SAME status as well as those of a lower status.
5.       Equally disadvantaged aircraft may not shoot at equally disadvantaged planes – symbolises, stoppage/pilot confusion/disorientation etc.
6.       Would like to incorporate damage effects on fighters – i.e. Streaming glycol etc - plane avoids losing boom chit if it makes it back off the table  - but this might be over-complicating (maybe use a different ‘damage’ dice to throw alongside others?)





New Rules Playsheet Sequence:

1.     Movement Planning Phase (X-Wing discs) – Select movement option for turn on disc for each and every plane and reveal all simultaneously with other player


2.     Shooting phase
Shoot: Adv to adv or lower
Shoot: Neutral to Neutral or lower
Disadvantaged planes may not shoot


3.     Move using X-Wing templates in order of skill level (advantaged first, then neutral then disadvantaged).

4.     Choose whether to burn advantage to dive to lower level and further

5.     Pilot Action:

Shoot Again if Possible
Climb one advantage level

6.     End of Activation – place winged chit

Monday, 17 December 2018

Blood Red Skies Game - Initial Thoughts


Sometimes you want something to work really well, like a relationship or a new car  or a new job and you invest a lot of time and effort into it and you really WANT it to work.  Well this was me with Blood Red Skies.

The reviews I read online were very positive. I never like to buy anything cold these days. I will read up and research and accept the caveat that biases will exist, however you hope that you can sift through these.  Interestingly I have not found a single negative review about the whole game overall.


So with that in mind I bought the Battle of Britain boxed set game and on reading the rules I thought I would go the whole hog and buy a very nice 6 x 4 ft mat from Deep Cut Studios too (I have another purpose for the mat too so that will multi-role'). 

I watched a couple of videos on You Tube for the tutorials and thought - 'Mmmm ok that has some promise - looks a bit confusing in places but that's new games.'  Though the confusion of the experienced play testers in one game did leave me wondering.


The box is beautifully presented. I love the Art Deco design and the use of colours in the art work. The rules are in keep with the era and I like the scenario books and the simple play sheet. The mechanics look very simple. 


The models themselves are nicely scaled and have lovely panelling - not too deep but enough for a good wash to get into the low lights and make a paint job look great.   The wings are very bendy though and some of the fuselages are bent like bananas as the plastic has the feel of cheap Christmas Cracker tat.    Still plastic is a new medium so experimental materials can be forgiven. 

STOP ...REWIND.....The wings and fuselages of the plastic planes were bent!!!!  Airfix were making plastic kits nearly 70 years ago and in the time since plastic technology on models is now amazing.  I mean what the heck....it is utterly inexcusable.  Hot water did allow me to bend the wings straight but they warped back to bent.  I do now wonder whether the paint job effort was worth it.  I am pleased to say that the latest Mosquito planes boxed set are made of a much better grade of plastic and are superb but really this should have been done from the outset.


There were some basic decals included in the Battle of Britain boxed set but one did have to buy the decal sheets for the squadron markings.  Annoyingly the new Mosquito set (not pictured here) comes with the Spitfire markings decals (why?!)


The game system works on an 'advantaged, neutral and disadvantaged' system symbolising height and skill of the superior planes at any particular time. It is quite possible for a plane to go through all 3 of these states in one game turn. The stand cleverly pivots forward and back from a central position to show these states.  It does feel a bit like a car gear stick after a while and can be a little tiresome rocking the planes back and forth constantly but the simple system does do away with having to use card chits, which is no bad thing.

The dice system for shooting and saves is great. Nice and simple.  Number of dice depend on various factors.  If the Ace of Clubs/Spades or whatever it is (I'm not a card player) appears in the slack handful of dice then either good or bad things happen. I like this - it makes the game chug along nicely without adding complexity.


The rules do work mostly quite well and the quick play sheets are a helpful tool but it is necessary to look through the expanded rules and the scenario book to pick up on all of the rules. This can be a bit annoying in a game to to have 3 books open on the desk and hunting through each to find the right bit.  Clouds effects are in the scenario book....


There are a different cards that can be played during the game but this appeared confusing even to the play testers on the You Tube video that I decided not to use these in the first couple of games.  Having read through it since it is still as clear as mud.  The rules for attacking multi-engined planes (common in WW2) has some confusing rules, indeed, a new FAQ sheet on the Warlord Games website, devotes some questions to clearing this up and the answer that things depend on whether the plane was on a bomb run or not does seem to muddy the water somewhat.  In the main rules it seems that to shoot down a bomber appears really difficult.  I was confused and still am.


I think the worst aspect for me is the way the planes manoeuvre.  It is very abstract.  Usually moving in straight lines with a turn at the end or giving up an advantage level and turning up to 180 degrees at any point in the turn.  Yes - like a police car in a car chase movie it can turn a 180 on the spot and go back the other way. There are no curving bank movements which (as I understood from reading primary sources) were common in dogfights.  The X-Wing banking angles do this motion very elegantly  and indeed old wargame rules (thinking of 'Dogfight over Flanders' ) used this same method.  So in our first two games the best tactic has been to fly head on (because trying to outflank will get you attacked pretty quickly) like jousting knights and then perform a 180 as you pass the other player to get on his tail to disadvantage him and then try to take the shot on the next turn.


I think this for both Ian and myself was the weirdest thing.  I want to be kind about the game. I want it to work. I want to enjoy it. I have spent 3 days solid painting the aircraft.  I have spent a lot of money on it...but so far it's just weird!  I'm hoping that something will ping into place on the next play through and we go 'Aha! We were doing it wrong and look now the planes look like they are dogfighting instead of just charging at each other and then spinning around.'


I note that there are a lot of new aircraft being released soon which is nice.  I note also that the plane that I was hoping to see (the Boulton Paul Defiant) was actually released as a pre-production special and is now reaching £41 per model on Ebay etc. Great :-(   so I'm not likely to see this plane as a model on the table now.



So what are my plans from here.  I think to read the rules again. I must have missed something surely.  And then play test and play test again and try to use the cards as the designer intended.  I will get more models as the planes do paint up nicely. I really would like BF-110s, Hurricanes and Stukas (but not in Christmas Cracker gift bendy plastic).


If the weirdness continues then I think I will create my own game using the aircraft but utilising the banking movements in the style of X-wing with different MDF movement sticks cut out by my jig-saw to match the maximum turn rates of the various aircraft.  I have little doubt that a working mix of X-Wing and elements of BRS could actually make a cracking little game which would suit me very well. 


So there we are. A few thoughts from me. I hope in a few months I can come back and say - 'Well I spotted some good bits back then, but there was a lot I didn't realise at the time and now the whole game is superb.'  We shall see.  I shall persist!