23 October 2019

Napoleonic Peninsula War Campaign: Part 1

Over the last month, Jon and Gav at the club have been playing a Napoleonic campaign in the early years of the Peninsula War in Spain. To add to the fog of war I volunteered to moderate for them and deliver them the results of their blind map moves to help build a campaign narrative.

We have been using Sharpe Practice and the Dawns and Departures campaign supplement, which we enjoy and they have worked extremely well.  The campaign context has been late in the campaigning season with the French collecting fodder and supplies from the recent harvest, in order to prepare for winter cantonment. The British, along with their Spanish guerrilla allies, mean to stop them.

The French Commander (Gav) went with a more numerous force of average and some lesser quality troops - this would allow him to occupy (and plunder) a number of Spanish villages and "acquire" the supplies he needs. The British (John) took a smaller but high quality Regular force, supported by the guerrillas, so he could strike hard. It was an interesting matchup and there were 3 days of map moves  in which I really played out some fog of war, vague scouting reports and the like - all adding to a sense of tension, before the battle was joined.

The British went on the offensive and pushed north to find the French main body, with a flank security force of light troops on their west flank towards indication of a smaller French force in that direction. This second French force was larger than expected, comprising of Voltigeurs and Dragoons was indeed moving in their direction but without expectation of contact. This resulting engagement was played out on a club night and as expected the British Riflemen and light bobs fells back before the stronger French, but giving the British Commander warning of what was coming.  The scene was set for a nice big weekend game.
The Commanders gather to do battle at Gav's Palace of Gaming - French would enter from the left on the flank of the British marching down the table
Flank Attack
The first big game was the contact of the French recon force hitting the flank of the British main column. They hoped to sack the baggage and do some damage while hoping for reinforcements from the French Main force, now alerted via dispatch rider, and thus catch the British from 2 directions.  The British commander hoped to repel this flank attack, crush it in isolation and then turn back to the main force to defeat it in detail.  Note that neither commander knew the exact size or composition of the enemy at this stage.
The British in march column 
John's newly painted Light Dragoons, under the command of young Lieutenant Overbight, scout ahead and on the flanks
The French advance from the left and the forewarned British deploy from the road to meet them
The British Regulars move forward into the French fire, undeterred by casualties from enemy fire
Musketry exchanged both at the farmhouse and in the vineyard (not shown)
About to be overwhelmed, the French light troops start to fall back from the farm, just as the Dragoons start to move in...
On the Northern edge of the Battlefield, French reinforcements begin to arrive - but are they in time to make a difference?
The French light troops deliver defensive fire into the Dragoons, but the cavalrymens' blood was up... 

And in 2 turns it was over. This French unit was cut down by galloping sabres and the remainder sensibly retired to the west.
A most enjoyable and thematic battle with some masterful handling of the Cavalry by John. The French reinforcement arrived too late to swing the odds, but the scene was now set for a major engagement in the afternoon. The French Commander, now aware of the location and disposition of the British, was bringing his main force to bear and while his reinforcement had arrived too late for this battle, they seized the key terrain to support the guns and infantry of the main force.

The afternoon would be hotly contested indeed...

19 October 2019

Making a Wargames mat

I wasn't happy with my array of gaming mats for use with Mortal Gods - they are all too woody, green and more like Northern Europe.  So I decided to experiment and try making my own. The parameters were to be: looks Mediterranean and is easily portable for use on club nights.
The finished product - WIP pics below
I went with a 3 x 4 size, using a cotton based material as a base which was pinned into place with drawing pins (to stop curling) with a few feet extra on each side.  The first step was to make the base layer using caulk which I scraped thinly across the whole surface. Once this was done a few small patches of gravel were made, as was a small track sized road from one side to the other - I used some ballast as the road surface and some kitty litter along the edges. These were all pressed into the soft caulk and left to dry overnight.

I chose a dark coffee coloured caulk to use, so it would be a good base colour
The next day another, thinner, layer of caulk was applied - as it dried and got tacky, I applied a range of cloths and material to try and raise areas and provide a rough surface that would be suitable for drybrushing. In this way I would avoid having to use sand or other materials which are both abrasive to figures and which are prone to falling off when the mat is rolled.  Once dry, I started drybrushing and mat began to take shape.

First drybrushing layer was a Tamiya Earth colour, followed by lighter cremes

After three layers of deliberately uneven drybrushing

Detail of the road
After giving the paint an hour to dry I began flocking, initially using yellow, light green and brown and a little bit of clump foliage

In going for a drier climate look, the darker/green colours are at the centre, surrounded by the lighter patches where the vegetation is struggling.

Trying out with some olive trees

The mat was then left for a week to thoroughly dry, slightly lightening in colour as it did.  I then did another layer of drybrushing, including a little over the patches of flock to help blend them in.  I then started adding some Woodlands light green and medium green coarse turf in a blended fashion.  This added in additional texture, as well as helping avoid a spotty look by adding clumps in the areas between large flock patches.

I also applied a thinned out brown artists ink along the road edge to define it better.

With the turf laid down, two light layers of watered down PVA were applied with a spray gun to help seal them in place.

Of course, all Greek themed boards look better with a temple and some Spartans in position (not mine though, unfortunately!)

It was now trimmed down to size using a stanley knife and a long straight edge, and I did some final drybrushing to the road surface and rock edges - ready for battle!
Picking out the road edge and the odd rock in white on the mat really made it pop

Along to road to Corinth...
I'm very happy with the outcome and I picked up some good techniques during this project. Thanks to club mates Mac and Gav for their invaluable assistance and advice along the way (and more than a few of the materials Gav - cheers mate).  Overall materiel costs were similar to buying a commercial product, but I think I have achieved a better outcome and enjoyed myself along the way.

28 September 2019

September Hobby Update

Well, that was a quick month and no mistake: a holiday in Norway and a stack of gaming has left little time for hobby progress. Not an entirely horrible state of affairs I must admit!  I'm slowly getting my painting mojo back though with a return to some favourites.
First up: Noway was fantastic with 2 weeks spent with friend in both Bergen and Oslo.  A great time touring the fjords, climbing mountain and catching up with great friends.  I really enjoyed the museums of Oslo too, with the Viking Ships museum being a particular highlight.

I coudn't resist!
Gaming wise we have played a bit more Mortal Gods which has been great. Reilly has now requested an army of his own and we are ready to start playing bigger games with some different scenarios.
Aled's first game, discovering how fragile slingers can be!
I caught up with Comrade James and the Canberra lads recently, and played my first game of Kill Team against Patch using Reilly's old Salamander Space Marines. Quick, thematic and lots of fun. Not sure why it took a year to get around to playing it, but there will definitely be more!
My plasma gunner and medic take up a flanking position in the ruins
While a Heavy Bolter and auspex fitted marine take Overwatch positions!
Another example of Patch's lovely painting
Comrade James and Adam enjoying some Blood Red Skies action!
Reilly has also ben continuing his weekly D&D campaign, playing weekly with his friends.  He designed his own character figure using HeroForge, which was excellent. He plays a Turtle Warrior (of mature years, neither Teenager or Ninja!) named "Sir Reggie" and it was all there on the site for him to build and arrived quickly.  I enjoyed painting it with him and together we finished it in a day to wreak havoc on the table in style.

Our Hero victorious over an evil denizen!

I'm also getting back into my FIW army, expanding it so that I can use it for bigger games and also on the continent for broader SYW engagements.  I have a friend with French Armies for the period so it will be good to get double duty from it next year. It could be triple, if I can find someone with a Jacobite Army for the '45!

I started with a Mounted Grenadier Officer (Front Rank model) to get me in the groove, and am now doing the first of two more Grenadier units for him to Command.  Once they are done, a Highlander Regiment looks at me expectantly but the tartan and striped sox have me concerned...

In the meantime, I have been moderating a Napoleonics campaign using Sharp Practice set during the Peninsula Campaign and it has been a hoot!
We are 3 battles in now, but that deserves its own post soon.

Hope you are all well out there in the blogosphere!
I hope to catch up with some Aussie bloggers at MOAB early next month in Sydney

19 August 2019

August Hobby Update

The last few weeks have been good hobby wise.  I came home to find Alan had painted us up matching forces for Mortal Gods so we have been enjoying that a great deal, pitting his forces from Megara against my polis of Melos:
Naturally, all the hoplons are hand painted

Alan laments are rare setback on the battlefield
Reilly and I rediscovered our Blood Bowl treasures and had a few games. 1 win to him and 1 tie but lots of fun all round. Now considering playing in the upcoming MOAB tourney...

A painted a couple of fun things from 1st Corps:

There is a black sheep in every family!
I just had to have this priest for an Objective marker in Mortal Gods

And I found out there will be 2nd edition Frostgrave released in June next year, which is very exciting! https://therenaissancetroll.blogspot.com/2019/06/frostgrave-second-edition.html

And now I'm off on a holiday to Norway for a few weeks - cant wait!