Monday, January 8, 2018

Challenge Ate - Bonus Round Flight Entry

A flight of BF110s shepherds two flights of Stukas over the Mediterranean
After originally  posting this I realized that I should have given a plug for the whole crew of bonus rounde ntrants, who's work is much finer than mine.  You can see them over at the Challenge Bonus Round Blog

What do you know I actually got a bonus round in this challenge.  I was not expecting as this as I have a very busy work schedule this coming Winter.  My service role is doubling from 1/3 to 2/3 of my time and while my teaching role stays constant at 2/3 of my time (and yes I teach in a math department).  Also we are hiring to replace a retiring faculty colleague and I am chair of the Search Committee.  But I found these in the lead pile and what do you, presto change we have a flight entry.

These are elements of Luftwaffe Fliegerkorps X, an anti shipping unit transferred from Norway to Sicily in early 1941 to help the Axis war effort against the Royal Navy.  We have two Me 110Cs and four JU 87R1s (Stukas).  The models are 1:1200 scale produced by CAP Aero and available from Last Square or Magister Millitum depending on which side of the pond you're sitting on.  They made an immediate impact in Operation Excess most notably crippling HMS Illustrious while proving the toughness of RN carriers with armoured fight decks.  The models are small (about the size of small micro armour vehicles) but convey the essence of the aircraft quite nicely.  They were primed years ago to go with my 1:2400 WW2 Naval project before that got mothballed.

I've painted these in a very simple desert sand upper sides with pale blue-grey under sides and silver canopies.  Brief research showed either this pattern or desert camps and I don't have the head space for camo in 1:1200 right now.  There is a band of white around the rear fuselage which I've included, but I excluded the teeny tiny Black Crosses.

Basing in my normal cheap ass, impatient but works style.  Florist wire was bent into stands and glued to small roughly circular card bases.  By painting the wires black they tend to disappear at any distance (old magicians trick there) and the end end result looks better than it has any right to.

So that's six 1:1200 aircraft, I'll leave that Curt to work out the points value but I'd guess it would be similar to a small scale land vehicle.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Fischer's Chasseurs

12 figures for the Challenge plus 2 on the right painted in 2016 for contrast.  Note the darker more monotone uniform.

Here's my first post for this year's Analog Hobbies Painting Challenge.  I've been participating since Challenge number 4.  This year I'm dealing back my target due to having to take on extra duties under one of the two hats that I wear.

These are 12 light infantrymen from of the Chasseurs du Fischer, an irregular unit from the French Army that served in the War of Austrian Succession and Seven Years War.  Fischer's unit was one of the better irregular units and grew to a 8 companies each of foot and mounted chasseurs.  They were heavily engaged in the Kleine Krieg throughout the war. 

The figures are from Front Rank, who deserve a shout out for good service.  I had a small group of 6 chasseurs painted a year or so back and ordered 6 more to make a larger unit.  My package seemed late arriving, and after another Front Rank package arrived (which I ordered later) I contacted them to see if they could track it.  The next morning I got a note back saying that they'd sent out a duplicate package to replace the missing one.  Sure enough both packages arrived safely in the end, but Front Rank said to keep them both.

The right hand file are from the lot painted in 2016.   Need to fix the collar on the chasseur in the centre!

The figures are very nice and painted up nicely.  I like the droopy moustaches and the mix of loading/firing poses.  Front Rank figures tend to be stouter than Perry's for example, but with this period the bulkier clothing styles hides a lot of the extra bulk.  The mirliton (or flugelmutze to use the lovely German term) adds to the irregular feel.  Nothing better for skulking in the underbrush than a tall stiff felt hat with a long fabric tail on it!

From the rear

For the first set I'd painted, I found that the solid green I'd used was a little flat and so opted for a wash technique to bring out more details,  This was an old technique that I'd used for my 15mm Austerlitz armies 35 years ago, and can give the impression of an aqua colour print, which I like for Lace Wars armies.  I'm not sure that this was the best decision, but that bridge is crossed now.  Perhaps I'll go back and touch them up or add a deep wash over top.

Uniform information on even regular units can be sketchy for the SYW, and there were conflicting opinions on this unit to be sure.   While my fist six have white belts, black cartridge boxes and brass buttons, I opted for buff belts, brown cartridge box and pewter buttons for this lot.  I found this print to use as a guide, which also illustrates the problems inherent with keeping up with current hat fashions.

A (non-baker's) dozen foot chasseurs in 28mm at 5 points a pop gives me a starting volley for 60 points.  At least I've broken my duck.

Ok it's most of the new group.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Boxing Day Game 2017

On boxing day, Curt hosted a game in honour of visit from his friend John Bertolli.  John had asked for an Italian Wars game, so I put together a scenario and off we went.  I used an old chestnut from C S Grant's Programmed War-game Scenarios, the Weak Flank.  

I am sure that this is based on the Battle of Flodden (1513) where an English Army pulled off a daring flank march and cut down the both the Scottish King and the flower of Scottish Chivalry.  
Basically, the defender sets up on a long ridge expecting a frontal assault, but leaving a small flank guard on his right.  The attacker then deploys his whole army on the right flank, having stolen a march overnight- however due to challenge of a night march divisions have the chance of delay or wandering off course.  For our game we had Curt's pike heavy Germans and Swiss on the ridge commanded by Curt and my daughter Katie (her first miniatures game), while John B and Stacy attacked with my Italian army which was short on pike but heavy on cavalry and missile troops.

After initial deployment.  Curt's flank guard is beyond the stream.  The attacker's right flank is delayed and has drifter to the right.
Poor picture, but the formidable array of pikes from the expected line of advance.

The key right flank.

Curt's centre

Curt's left flank.

The assault on the flank guard.  Things looked grim for the defenders at this point, but that was the point.

The assault bogged down as the flank guard held its ground.

Another poor shot, but it shows the defenders redeploying,  The fellow in the background is Curt's brother in law- who was an interested spectator.

Curt directs Katie's next move!

Katie and Curt discuss tactics

The defenders redeploy!

It seemed to take for ever to get one division over the stream.  Katie's Gendarmes (near the tape measure on the left) and about to go through John's troops at the stream edge.

Those big pike blocks take a while to redeploy - especially when your command dice are poor.

Mean while, the party in the rear goes on uninterrupted,

Gendarmes going through missile troops like a hot knife through butter.  However, fire from crossbows and a light gun caused disorder the next turn.

Situation at the end.  The defenders have redeployed but taken enough missile casualties to cause them to cede the field of battle.  On the right here, Stacy's Italian heavy cavalry halted a pike block but kept getting disordered by artillery fire.

It was an interesting game that was far more Shotte than Pike, unlike our other games.  Essentially the stream, poor command roles slowed the Italian advance.  There were times when they could have pushed the issue more but didn't want to advance an isolated division and get it caught out by Curt's huge pike blocks.  But good shooting and frequent disorder results meant that the defenders couldn't close either.  In the end, the Italians had more missile troops and their fire caused several of the defender's units to rout.  One of these was from a small division, meaning that the whole division was shot and at this point Curt conceded the field.

As always, actions lead to learning opportunities and I'll try and note my observations in a post later this week.  I had fund GMing it and I hope that the players enjoyed it too.  I've played the scenario several times in several periods and it tends to give a good challenging game for both sides.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Italian Wars Game

Curt had Byron in town from Winterpeg and we put all of our Italian Wars kit on the table for an all in tag team wrestling match.  In the end Curt's (mostly Swiss and Imperial) troops won out commanded by Stacey, Jay and Byron defeating my (mostly Italian) side with Sylvain and Jeremy on board.

We didn't use points, but the two sides were mostly even.  They had better close fighting foot (more pikes and more Swiss), we had the edge on cavalry and shooting.  In the end Stacey showed much more discipline and kept his battle line together while we opted for opportunistic charges by individual units.  So we end up fighting multiple enemy units with every one of ours.  Sigh, there are no mistakes just lessons.  However, some lessons need to be retaken several times.

Our battle line after set up.  The light gun was a star on our side.

The opponents side of the table.

Initial moves underway

Closing on the enemy.  Curt has his units on big sculptured bases, which don't always work well with hills - hence the big blue die to prop up his pikes.

The view on our right flank

I choose to lead our Swiss in an opportunistic charge on a unit caught out of position.  The red exclamation mark shows that the pikes were disordered by fire.

Sylvain brings his heavy cavalry up and gets counter charged - the opposing cavalry are here in the middle of our battle line.  The melee went very much our way - Sylvain swept away the Gendarmes and then carried on to rout the Genitors behind.

Here's the follow on charge - go Sylvain!

Melee from the other side.  We could have really used the second lot of Gendarmes but Sylvain had them position to prevent the house threatening our flank!

This melee took a few rounds, but didn't go our way in the end.

Things are swinging back against us now.

The Gendarmes routed off following shooting hits.

Two enemy foot charge our Italian sword and buckler men - not a good match!

The sad end of our charge by the pikemen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Why We Game

Another absolutely stonking great Italian Wars feast for the eyes over at James Roach 's blog

A massive game weekend featuring astounding tables and armies and some of my wargaming heroes. Nothing better...any I seriously covet that Ian Weekly model of Fort St Elmo!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Shout Out for Fast Delivery and Good Service

Further adventures with Canada Post and figure orders from the United (sic) Kingdom.  This fall I ordered a bunch of SYW figures in preparation for the upcoming Painting Challenge, two orders from Front Rank and two from Crusader (North Star).  I previously compliments North Star and their good service, so this time the plug goes to Front Rank.

It's a tale of two orders, one on September 5th the second on October 5th.  On October 24th the second parcel arrived, three weeks turn around which is good for UK-Canada mail, but the first was no where in sight.  Accordingly I contacted Front Rank and asked if they had any way of tracking it.  The next morning I got a note back saying that they had refilled the order and dispatched with tracking, no charge to me.  It arrived on November 2nd, a one week turn around.

So well done to the folks at Front Rank.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Shout Out for Fast Delivery

I thought I should give a shout out to NorthStar Figures based on a recent order that I placed with them.  This was the second order I've placed with NorthStar since the end of August and both arrived PDQ, the most recent one week after order.

For someone in the wilds of Saskatchewan that's extremely fast turnaround.  Postal delivery on war-games materials is always an issue for Canadians, as we are almost always ordering from overseas and typically from Britain.  Perry Miniatures have always been excellent on trans-Atlantic orders but it looks like North Star are equally strong.

Many of my blog readers are from the UK, so are used to fast and easy delivery, and I suspect that the American readers will also expect this.  Canadian manufacturers are few and far between and don't really offer what I want which means the perils of ordering from abroad.  There are a few basic rules of thumb in this regard.

  • It is not worth considering ordering figures from the US.  Americans just don't get the rest of the world in posting or in anything else.  Shipping charges are astronomical, delivery is so slow that is must be routed via camel train through the Silk Road.  Moreover, they typical pack things in a box that this about 12 sizes larger than what's required (must be overcompensating for something, like their President) meaning the box won't fit my letter box but also that it invariably attracts the revenue man meaning that I get his with duty and sales tax.
  • Among British Manufacturers there are two types - those that deduct VAT for overseas orders and those that don't.  Perry, NorthStar and Front Rank fall into the first category, most others the second.  There is a middle ground of companies that keep the VAT but don't charge shipping over a reasonable level (like Dixon at the 25 quid level).  Basically deducting the VAT  nets out most of the shipping charges. 
  • Regardless of how good the company is on quick turnaround, the shipping time is essentially a crap shoot - or a multi-layered stochastic probability exercise to use the technical term.  It's very much a matter of when it hits the dock vs when the ship leaves the dock vs when and where the ship docks in Canada.
  • Brits have figured out that small is good - I typically get a small box or bubble envelope that fits easily in my mail box.  Getting hit with duty and sales tax is rare, almost unheard of.
  • Ordering books from overseas is just not worth it.  The cost and time involved are huge - much better to get the PDF or E-book.