Hussey and Vanity Fair

A somewhat appropriate combination you may think, but merely coincidence that I am reading one and watching the other! I will explain more later. My Artillery Autumn is still rumbling on and to be honest, I have been suffering from painting fatigue. To be fair, painting yellow is always difficult but trying to paint yellow piping and lace has left me somewhat frustrated. I had forgotten how difficult it is and this probably explains why it has taken so long to add to my artillery collection.

Artillery Collection - still plenty to paint!

Artillery Collection – still plenty to paint!

Nevertheless, I am making slow progress, with three horse artillery crews now painted and awaiting basing. Also on the go and nearing completion are the three cannon to go with them. As usual, I am block painting the figures, then painting over with Army painter quick shade, coating with matt varnish and finishing by re painting the lighter colours and metallics. Oh Joy! This means that I have actually painted most of the piping and lace in yellow twice to try to make it stand out.

Move that Howitzer!

Move that Howitzer!

Some of the lace work doesn’t bear close scrutiny but from a distance, the figures are looking OK. Once they are based with the cannon, I think that I will be happy with them.

Battery ready for action! - Well.... nearly!

Battery ready for action! – Well…. nearly!

Painting yellow is always fraught with difficulties. I have tried undercoating with white first, and Orange and sand yellow ( which is almost acceptable on it’s own) and I have tried many different manufacturers to find a yellow that covers in one coat – Vallejo is the best that I have used, albeit with some difficulties.

The cannon are also still in progress. I’ve stuck to my original method and paint scheme despite reservations as to how ‘accurate’ it may be. However, I have taken on board comments made regarding the wheel rims and despite initially painting them black, along with the other iron work, I will heavily dry brush with natural steel. I’ll also apply a light weathering of ‘mud’ to the wheels and spokes.

You will see from the pictures that I have some foot Artillery crew also waiting for their turn on the paint station. Whilst my painting mojo is being severely tested, I have decided to plough on regardless and finish all the artillery that I think that I will need for my army over the next month or so. I am being ‘helped’ by both my current reading and of all things, a drama on TV.

Vanity Fair...really?

Vanity Fair…really?

I knew that Vanity Fair was set around the Battle of Waterloo but most TV productions have ignored the battle. So I thought that this was a program more likely to appeal to Mrs W than to me. However, to my surprise, I have very much enjoyed it. The costumes and uniforms look fantastic (as do those wearing them), the acting is excellent ( Martin Clunes steals the show for me) and the modern take on the story has worked very well as far as I am concerned – even the soundtrack is excellent. The new ITV production has very much included the battle, with some excellent action. The scene where the infantry form square to fight off the Cuirassiers was excellent. I know some have raised eyebrows at the fact that the dismounted Cuirassiers attempted to press home their attack on foot but I wondered if it did happen. Who knows? What does one do when the blood lust is up, you’ve had your horse shot from beneath you and the bastard that did it is loading his gun ready for the next shot. Running away clearly isn’t going to work….

As if this wasn’t good enough, the next battle scene showed the French Old Guard, in all their glory, marching up what they thought was a deserted hill, only for the English to stand up and pour fire into them. Well, my imagination went into overdrive and I couldn’t wait to get back to painting my army!

John Hussey Waterloo Campaign

John Hussey Waterloo Campaign

On a more serious note, I am currently working my way through John Hussey’s first volume of the Waterloo campaign. There’s very little action in it so far – having reached page 373, we are just at the 15th June 1815 and the first encounters between the French and Prussians. BUT John Hussey has done a superb job with his forensic research and analysis of the campaign. Having read many accounts of the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo, so far, this book has been the best that I have read in helping me to understand how and why the battles took place.

This isn’t the place for me to do a full review but one rather simplistic impression stands out. If Wellington was trying to herd Cats to get the allies in place to fight Napoleon, Napoleon at times seemed to be herding snakes! There’s no evidence of a conspiracy in the French camp – they just don’t seem to like each other! Once again, each time I read a chapter, I am inspired to get painting again. I want my army ready to fight the French!

Black Powder 2ed. has arrived!

Black Powder 2ed. has arrived!

Finally, my copy of Black Powder 2ed. has arrived. Just in time to provide a tonic for the troops! I’d better get painting!

Horse Artillery colours.

Horse Artillery colours.

Back to painting – the colours that I have used for the Royal Horse artillery are as follows:

70955 flesh; 70950 black; 70899 dark Prussian blue; 70984 flat brown; 70901 pastel blue; 70871 leather brown; 70992 neutral grey; 70947 red; 70953 yellow; 70801 brass; 70864 steel; 70997 silver. That is also pretty much the sequence in which I have painted as well.

Happy painting!

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

All of the paints used are available post free from my shop here:

VALLEJO PAINTS

Use the search function if you are just looking for a specific colour

At the time of writing, you can still pre order Black Powder second edition through my shop and get the free figure and of course it will be sent out post free on 6th October, the official launch date. Hurry up though, I am running out of the preorder stock with the figures!

BLACK POWDER

 

Maiden Castle

One of the pleasures of the hobby, that I spend most of my time so immersed in, is the different facets that can be enjoyed with other people, family and friends. We are very lucky in this country to be surrounded by history that is very accessible and often set in the beautiful English countryside. So a casual walk with the family can still be a source of inspiration for my hobby.

A walk in the country

A walk in the country

We were in Dorset to celebrate my Brothers 60th Birthday and after a nice meal, a few drinks and countless games of Pool on the previous night, a nice walk to blow away the cobwebs was required. Pete had discovered that Maiden Castle, the largest Iron age hill fort in the country, was just a stones throw away from where we were staying. Even better, although being looked after by English heritage, entry is free!

2018-09-15 11.18.10 Rather than include the history of the castle here, I’ll add some links at the end of the blog so if you are interested, you can start your own research. In the meantime, here’s a pictorial tour of the castle from my perspective. I’ve added in pictures of some of the story boards, so you can see the official commentary.

The View as you approach the Western Entrance

The View as you approach the Western Entrance

As you approach the Entrance to the Castle, the scale and size becomes more apparent. In it’s time, Maiden Castle must have dominated the area as a seat of power.

How the Western Entrance might have looked

How the Western Entrance might have looked

Maiden Castle - the view from the top

Maiden Castle – the view from the top

The views of the surrounding countryside were certainly impressive on a clear day!

Maiden Castle - story board 3

Maiden Castle – story board 2

The fort started out as a Neolithic gathering place and over the course of the years, developed into the massive complex that we see today. There are stories of the Romans laying siege to the hill but it seems that there is no firm evidence to support this. I certainly would not have fancied trying to climb over the mounds and ditches whilst the locals were throwing sticks, stones and harsh words!

Maiden Castle - the complex banks and ditches protecting the summit.

Maiden Castle – the complex banks and ditches protecting the summit.

Maiden Castle - Burial Grounds

Maiden Castle – Burial Grounds

Maiden Castle -The Eastern Entrance Story Board

Maiden Castle -The Eastern Entrance Story Board

Whether the Romans fought their way into the fort or defeated the occupying people in battle elsewhere isn’t clear. What is for sure is that the Romans did take over here in Dorchester and the hill fort became the site of one of their Temples.

Maiden Castle - Roman Temple Ruins

Maiden Castle – Roman Temple Ruins

Maiden Castle Roman Temple

Maiden Castle Roman Temple

Maiden Castle - an Aerial View

Maiden Castle – an Aerial View

An aerial view of the castle shows it’s complexity and size. As I walked around it, I couldn’t help but think of the history and events that had taken place there. I have ambitions to build a Roman Army and I have been very tempted by the Victrix range of Imperial Romans available. Like wise, the Footsore Romano – British range would make a lovely warband. I’m sure that if King Arthur did exist, he would have at least ridden by this area!

King Arthur - Footsore Models

King Arthur – Footsore Models

The Commercial Bit

First the links to:

ENGLISH HERITAGE – MAIDEN CASTLE

WIKIPEDIA _ MAIDEN CASTLE

If, like me you are tempted to build a Roman army, a great place to start is with the new Victrix range:

VICTRIX RANGE

For an even more comprehensive range, you cant go wrong with the Warlord Hail Caesar range:

WARLORD GAMES – Hail Caesar 

For a later Roman or Romano British army, the footsore range contains some beautiful models:

FOOTSORE

At the time of writing, items are supplied post free to most world wide locations!

Happy Modelling!

Artillery Autumn – Jumping the traces…

My modelling continues to be dominated by my obsession to finish my Artillery project. I am having to use all of my self control not to be distracted by other more tempting models that I have recently acquired. So far , I’m sticking to the plan…’I’ve started , so I’ll finish’!

I had already decided but was further encouraged by some excellent feedback on TMP to add the traces to the limbers. I thought that this would be fairly straight forward and that it would be easily done once the horses were based. In my mind, I had decided that I needed the horses to be fixed in position to enable me to measure the traces accurately. This of course is true but the mistake that I made was that I should have prepared the horses before I had even started to paint them by drilling out the small holes where the traces would fit.

I also needed to make the traces. I had thought that I could use the wire used to hang pictures as this looks about right for the ropes. There was an issue though. The picture wire that I had was too thick and also would not work with the chain that I had in my spares box. I could go and either search out some narrower wire or a different sized chain but my patience was wearing thin and I wanted to get the job done. I decide to wind the rope myself, using some thin florists wire.

Wire traces in my bench vice

Wire traces in my bench vice

My first attempt at winding the rope was a bit patchy – I was trying to do the job by hand and the result was somewhat non – uniform to say the least. Regardless, I pressed on, and with ‘ropes’ the correct size, I was able to thread them through the chain to make my first trace.

The first trace!

The first trace!

It was then just a question of cutting them to the correct size and gluing them to the horses….it was at this point that I realised I should have drilled the holes first. Even with the smallest of hand drills, I couldn’t get an angle to make a decent hole and I was in danger of damaging the paintwork on the model. If a bad workman blames his tools, then I maybe not that bad after all, as it was my tools that came to the rescue. Using my Zuron flush cutters, I was able to get a perfect flat cut on the ropes and with a combination of Expo thick super glue and spray activator, I managed to get the traces to adhere to the horses.

First traces fixed to the horses

First traces fixed to the horses

It isn’t a perfect solution and if I’ve made it sound easy, trust me it wasn’t! It took about 30minutes to get the first trace in place during which time I had stuck it to myself about six times, ‘lost’ it on the floor, stuck it to the tweezers and developed a whole new combination of swear words, which is quite an achievement for me….Fortunately, to paraphrase an old movie poster, ‘nobody can hear you scream in the garage’.

Two traces done...22 to go!Two traces done…22 to go!

At that point, I gave it a rest for the evening. Overnight, I had a brain wave and remembered how to wind model rope from wire. The solution is simply to put a cup hook into a hand drill, fix three lengths of wire into the mini bench vice and then fix the wires to the cup hook and wind the drill at a steady pace – perfect traces every time!

The hand drill does it! Perfect traces everytime!

The hand drill does it! Perfect traces every time!

With the traces more uniform, I was able to make faster progress and over the course of the next two evenings, I finished making and attaching the traces. There is just one problem. Whilst the joints on the traces are quite strong when pulled, any lateral movement tends to dislodge them. So even with the reinforced Renedra limber bases the weight of the model will cause the base to flex – no problem – the traces flex and hold. But, pick up the model and accidentally press the traces and as likely as not they will snap off , as I have found to my cost. Despite this, I was able to finish the landscaping on the base and I think that I have a nice model for my cabinet.

Horse artillery Advance!

Horse artillery Advance!

So I now have a slight dilemma, do I add the traces to my other foot artillery limber and make it look nicer for the cabinet or do I leave the traces off and make it a more robust model for gaming? I think that I will add the traces but see if I can work out a way of drilling the horses without damaging them. There’s usually a simple solution to all problems. Hmmm, may be a bit of masking tape will protect the horses and give the drill something to ‘bite’ into…?

Horse Artillery Limber complete.

Horse Artillery Limber complete.

Whilst I summon up the enthusiasm to tackle the traces on the Foot artillery limber, I have decided to crack on with the crews for the guns.

Royal Horse Artillery Gun Crews - W.I.P.

Royal Horse Artillery Gun Crews – W.I.P.

At my current rate of progress it will be the end of September at least before everything is finished. I will have expanded my army collection to include a horse artillery battery of three guns and a limber and my foot artillery will have an extra 2 ( possibly 3) guns and crew as well as a new limber. With nine guns in my collection I think that I can say that I have enough British Artillery for now!

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

I have just decided to feature the three most useful tools that I used in this Project:

THE BENCH VICE

ZURON FLUSH CUTTERS

EXPO THICK SUPER GLUE

We have a huge range of tools, paints and adhesives in our range, to browse, just click into our shop using the link at the top of the page. At the time of writing, we post free to most worldwide locations.

Happy Modelling!

Battling with Black Powder

In what could be the last battle with the ‘old’ Black Powder rules set before the relaunch of the new version on the 6th October, I faced off against my long term gaming buddy Pete Harris in his new gaming room. We are both great fans of the Black powder rules set, having fought many a battle with them and enjoyed the easy going social atmosphere that the rules set bring to our games. We tend to play the ‘Vanilla version’ with very few of the extra rules from the supplements. We find that this makes for a simpler, fairer game, with less need to refer back to the rule book and fewer contentious issues to resolve. Our games are played in the course of an evening, on a smaller 6 x 4 or 8 x 4 foot table and so we use 66% movement and ranging distances. We also use half size units on the smaller tables for these ‘club’ battles. My British Battalions are actually split into 2 x 12’s, two units for the price of one! Pete has organised his French infantry into 16’s for club battles – the French are more likely to form column and 16’s look nicer. Cavalry are 6 per regiment, we simply split the full regiment of 12 for the club games. We still use one gun for our artillery but when we do get the chance to play larger battles, then we find that batteries of two guns look nice! Once on the table, there are enough figures to give the ‘feel’ of a decent sized battle but there is still space for the armies to  manoeuvre.

French Army deploy into line after a rapid advance.

French Army deploy into line after a rapid advance.

The only flavour that we have added to the basic game is to Give the French ‘Pas de Charge’ which effectively means that a level 8 general will pass orders for infantry columns on a 10. The British get first fire for their battalions but must fight in line. We do not give the Brit’s counter charge, or use any other of the rules in Albion Triumphant. These two simple changes are enough to ensure that the French will tend to be quicker to move around on the Battlefield and the British will tend to fight a more defensive battle.

The British Heavy Cavalry Brigade and the First Infantry Brigade.

The British Heavy Cavalry Brigade and the First Infantry Brigade.

Another change is our points system. It is very much simplified with standard Infantry battalions and Light Cavalry worth 2 points, Artillery 1.5 points, Lancers 2.5 points, Heavy Cavalry 2.5 pts. Add one point for D3 Heavy cavalry, Add 0.5 point for light Infantry, add 0.5 point for rifles. We also adjust by a point or so for elites, large units, small units etc. It is by no means a perfect system and how we got to those values is lost in the mists of time. However, it works and allows us to bring approximately equal forces or if required, deliberately unbalance the forces. For our battle tonight, Pete had 30.5 points and I had 31 points. This gave us both 2 Brigades of infantry and one Brigade of cavalry. If that sounds as though the forces were identical, the detail will show that this is not quite the case. For example, Petes’ cavalry brigade consisted of two regiments of Lancers and one regiment of light Chasseurs plus a Horse artillery gun. I had two regiments of Household heavy cavalry. There were other differences in the make up of our Infantry Brigades but I wont detail them here. You can see our original points system in an older blog here:

BLACK POWDER FOR CLUB NIGHTS

There’s one other rule we usually follow for a club night battle – we go off to the pub for a nice meal and a drink before settling down to play – We find this helps to put everyone in the right frame of mind! We don’t like to battle on an empty stomach!

THE BATTLE

The French Infantry occupy the Farm House

The French Infantry occupy the Farm House

The French won the initiative and immediately advanced to capture the Farm house on the British Left. The general push forward saw them advancing on the Central pass between the hill and lake and attempting to capture the large hill that would dominate the battle. The British in reply decided that the French could have the Farm complex and moved their army to the open ground on the right. This would allow them to flank the French with the heavy Cavalry brigade and a strong infantry brigade, leaving the Rifles to defend the left wing and the rest of the brigade to hold the central pass.

British Move to the right

British Move to the right

It was now that the French ran into trouble. The artillery battery trying to gain a dominant position on the hill stalled, failing it’s orders to move thereby hampering the rest of the French brigade from moving. A blunder on the left also meant the the other brigade was not moving. Even though the French Commander was able to intervene, the French were unable to fully implement their plans. The Brigade on the far left was now playing catch up in pursuing the British, whilst the French cavalry were divided and vulnerable on the right.

Brish hold the pass - Rifles hold the flank!

Brish hold the pass – Rifles hold the flank!

The British Cavalry seized the initiative and the full Brigade charged a regiment of French Lancers. The ensuing combat saw the Lancers shaken and withdrawing in disorder. Although the lead British cavalry regiment had taken wounds, it was still able to follow up and charge the French Light Chasseurs. The resulting combat saw them forced from the table and the French Cavalry Brigade were now broken.

On the left, the Rifles had taken a pounding and before too long, they were unable to stand the pressure exerted by the full French Brigade on the left, resulting in them breaking and leaving the table. They had bought just enough time for the British to bring reinforcements to the centre to hold the pass and rout the lead French infantry unit.

The British Left under pressure. Can they hold?

The British Left under pressure. Can they hold?

For 5 turns, the French Artillery unit attempting to ascend to the top of the hill failed it’s orders, stalling the brigade and frustrating the French army in its attempt to dominate the centre of the Battlefield, whilst the British continued to press from the right. The French Commander was heard to shout ‘must I do everything myself?’ in frustration, as order after order was failed by his brigade commanders!

Withe the artillery stalled on the hill, the French infantry march into a trap!

With the artillery stalled on the hill, the French infantry march into a trap!

Eventually, the large French infantry unit ascended the hill only to find that they were in the jaws of a trap and facing two gun battery’s and five battalions of British infantry. They too were routed. With the British Heavy Cavalry now rested, they were now threatening the rear of the French army. Although the French were taking a heavy toll of the British brigade on the left, the game was up for the French. The Second Infantry brigade was broken and the Army decide to pull back, leaving the British in control of the field!

Heavy Cavalry break through! Fench rear under threat.

Heavy Cavalry break through! Fench rear under threat.

POST MATCH ANALYSIS!

Once the French had captured the farmhouse it was pointless to try and challenge on the left. It is difficult to take on infantry in fortified positions, so a move to the right was inevitable for the British. The surprise was how effectively the British were able to execute their orders. Conversely, the French had appalling luck with their orders rolls, leaving the commander to pick up the pieces and do the best he could. This gave the British the opportunity to exploit their numerical superiority on the right flank, whilst holding the majority of the French infantry on the left and in the centre. For once, the British Heavy Cavalry did as ordered and were more than a match for the Lancers. The real bonus was catching the French lights on the edge of the table, they were always going to loose the combat and get pushed back from the field of battle. With the French Cavalry gone, the British were free to move their infantry without threat.

Merde! Le Gun est stuck in ze mud...

Merde! Le Gun est stuck in ze mud…

The French gave the British Brigade on the left a good mauling, breaking them in the final turn but it was too late to save the battle. The French commander was going to have a serious talk with his Brigadiers!

French Infantry advance. These guys did their job!

French Infantry advance. These guys did their job!

It’s nice to win a battle but in fairness to Pete, I should point out that the last time our forces met, he trounced my army in three turns! The dice gods can be very fickle!

THE COMMERCIAL BIT

It’s no secret that I am a great fan of the Black Powder Rules set. I think that it facilitates a great game without losing sight of the fact that the hobby is about having fun with friends whilst playing with toy soldiers.

fc57c2a7-4872-488d-8dd9-61f47aa5e874

The new version of Black Powder is due to be released in Early October, provisionally on the 6th. If you would like a copy post free, with the exclusive miniature then simply click here!

BLACK POWDER VERSION 2