Tuesday 6 December 2016

Here Be Dragoons

As I continue to build up my Napoleonic forces for the upcoming summer campaign, I have found myself acquiring a number of metal Minifigs figures.

Various artillery crew. 3 French Foot Artillery, 1 French Horse Artillery, and 1 British Foot Artillery. The mounted officer I believe to be a French line Horse Artillery Officer, and the fellow with the telescope a French Horse Artillery Officer of the Imperial Guard. All corrections gratefully received.
At first it was just the odd command figure, but entire units of second hand painted figures have started being purchased - especially if I think they might be old 'S' range Minifigs.

French guns. The one on the right seems to have its wheels put on the wrong sides.
The main reason for this is that I find the figures have a great deal of character - much like I find the Airfix plastics have a certain charm to them, even though there are much better figures available now, the nostalgia value of Airfix figures will always remain high for me. So given that I believe the 'S' Range figures were originally designed to complement the Airfix range, and fill the large gaps in the Airfix Napoleonic line, it seems only natural that I should like  them as well.

These I believe are Minifigs S Range British Light Dragoons painted as the 16th Light Dragoons.

My most recent purchase has been some rather nice figures I believe painted as the  British 16th Light Dragoons (As always please feel free to leave corrections to my identifications in the comments!)

These will rebased  and turned into a V&B stand that will represent the British 4th Cavalry Brigade during the Waterloo campaign
The other group purchased is this rather interesting set of of what I presume are French Dragoons, with their metal helmets painted yellow rather than a more goldy/brassy/bronzy colour.

French Dragoons! These will require a little bit more effort in their refurbishment.
The figures are smaller and thinner than the Minifigs Dragoons I acquired earlier (click here for details), and the horses seem to be a much rawer sculpt, but never the less the effect is one I find pleasing.

Another view of the figures. One can never have too many Dragoons.
I'm still processing through the last purchase of Airfix figures, but I hope to have figured out exactly how I plan to base them up in the next few weeks. The British infantry have largely all been painted with white trousers which may reduce their utility for the Waterloo campaign. One possibility is to paint their trousers grey. I'm reluctant to do this for two reasons: Firstly, the original paintwork is very nice, and secondly, it does start to defeat the purpose of buying prepainted figures.

Sunday 27 November 2016

Logistics Vehicles

I finished these back in August, and I have been meaning to post these pictures  for a while. The bulk of the models are either Airfix or Airfix reissues of ex JB Models kits.

I decided on a nice generic olive drab scheme for the vehicles, so I can use the for variety of forces. I am finding that the Airfix reissues of the JB Models kits are becoming harder to find - particularly the 105mm light gun kit.

Hiding in the back - a Corgi Land Rover

The view from above.
The idea is to create a pool of vehicles to represent various logistics elements on the tabletop. The next additions to the pool will hopefully be a few Unimog or MAN trucks - the S&S resin models will probably be what I use.

Land Rovers and trailers.

A different view of the Land Rovers.

I still have a couple of moderns logistics vehicles to assemble and paint, and a few diecast trucks to repaint in a common paint scheme, but finishing this lot has made a major contriution to my motor pool.

Wednesday 16 November 2016

More Napoleonic Purchases

Recently I have been purchasing more second hand Napoleonic figures to refurbish and use for Volley and Bayonet. These figures have been a mix of 20mm plastic with some 25mm metals as well.

A vast horde of very nicely painted Airfix and Esci figures.
 The plastic refurbishment I hope to cover in another post, but the metal figures have been quite fun. While most are true chunky size 25mm Minifigs, some are possibly either part of the older S rnage of Minifigs that were a smaller 25mm figure, or even possibly from other manufacturer like Hinchcliff (or is it Hinchliffe?)

Back to Front: Minifig French Dragoons, Some Chasseurs?, and  French Cuirassiers.
 The Dragoons required little in the way of refurbishment, just touching up some paint, basing and and then given a brown wash. The Chasseurs (please feel free to provide a better identification) required a little more work, but not much more. The Cuirassiers will need some reinforcements before I can base them up.

Bare metal: Minifig French Lancers, Red circled figures discussed in the text below, and three Minifig French Dragoons.

I've circled a number of the figures above as I hope to use them as command stands for V&B. The rest should find an eventual home in the legions of the Archduke Piccolo. The encircled figures are I believe (from left to right), A French General, a Minifigs Murat, a Grenadier Officer, and a Dragoon Officer. Please let me know if I have misidentified anything.

Minifigs Murat. I had fun with painting the tiger skin.

Chasseurs? or not Chasseurs?

Nice big chunky Dragoons!
I'm quite looking forward to using these figures on the tabletop, as they have a nice heft to them. I suspect the Dragoons will eventually become a display piece as they dwarf my 1/72 plastic Dragoons, but they do have a great deal of charm about them.

Thursday 15 September 2016

Micro Machines Jet Bikes

 I had actually thought that I had posted this already, so if I have please let me know!  The recent (as in within the last 12 months or so!) release of Micro Machine Star Wars toys prompted me to grab some to add to my various Star Wars armies. Given that I am a big fan of speeder/jet bikes in Sci-Fi settings, grabbing some more was a no brainer!

From top to bottom: Old MM Rebel speeder bike , New Rebel speeder bike, Old Imperial speeder bike, New Imperial speeder bike.
The new bikes are quite nice, and are clearly a new sculpt rather than a re-release of the older models. Does this mean that the molds for the older models have been lost or destroyed? Or could it be that it was simply cheaper to make new ones?

Left to Right: New bike, Old bike, New bike, Old bike.
My plan is either put the new bikes into separate units, as both the rider and bike are sculpted in a quite different style to the originals (at least in my eyes). Still they are quite useable and it is nice to see Micro Machines back on the shelves.

Left to Right: Old bike, New bike, Old bike, New bike.
I have picked up some of the other figures in the new range, but the pricing in New Zealand has meant that without major discounting I am unlikely to buy more as they can be nearly twice the price (even allowing for a generous rate of exchange) of what I had seen them on the shelf at Wal-Mart or Target. This makes taking a punt on the mystery blind bags a little less attractive than it could be.

The new bikes will fit on the old stands.
Another factor has been that there have been no 'army builder' style packs released. Being able to buy a number of basic troopers at once is always quite useful. My hope is that enough people do buy the range that making packs of of the various troop types from the various seven movies is viewed as being profitable by Hasbro.
The new bike is more streamlined, but the paint job on the rider seems a little unfinished.
Of course, I am not the target demographic - so it is rather unlikely that this will happen! Fortunately I have enough figures to run the odd game, and to keep myself amused!

Monday 1 August 2016

Keeping it Semple

It has been some time since I last updated my blog...real life has been keeping me rather busy! Recently I celebrated my birthday and amongst the various nice things I was gifted, I also received this very nice 1/72 Semple Tank from my mother in law, Elaine.

The Semple Tank has been a vehicle that has intrigued me ever since I first heard of it, so I was delighted to finally have one in 20mm!

The Semple Tank with Airfix WW1 British infantryman for scale.
To those unfamiliar with the awesomeness of the Semple Tank, I suggest a quick look at the Youtube clip below:

And of course additional information can be found at this rather harsh Wiki entry here, which at the time of making this blog entry has the final result of the project summarised as "In the end, due to their impracticality, the tanks were rejected. New Zealand has yet to create another abomination of this caliber." The Military History Now article here at least mentions the positive effect that the tanks had on public morale at a time when better alternatives were sorely lacking.

The model was designed by the very talented Fitz over at Shouting into the Void (click here for his post on designing the beast), and can be purchased at his Shapeways store here.

Now I just have to paint it, and give it some CD 3 statistics. I finally have some Allied armour that will make Japanese armour look awesome by comparison!

Tuesday 7 June 2016

Volley And Bayonet: Quatre Bras

Earlier last month (or perhaps even the month before that) I arranged a game to see how the second edition of Volley and Bayonet worked. The 1815 Quatre Bras scenario was selected (with the Anglo-Dutch having a rather motley and Prussian feel to their forces).

Refurbished Airfix Hussars. French heads on British bodies.

The game was run over two days, as it would allow for a late start on Saturday, and a leisurely conclusion on the Sunday. On the first day I acted as umpire, and on the second I took over the Anglo-Dutch forces.

The Prussians Dutch defend Gemioncourt against the first of many French onslaughts

The scenario in the second edition rule book presents a rather different order of battle for the two opposing sides compared to that in the Napoleon Returns campaign book. The main differences between the two are a reduction in the number of artillery stands, and an increase in skirmisher stands. The next time I play this battle, I intend to use the order of battle from the campaign book.

A French division on the advance. The black squares representing two of the many skirmisher stands I have yet to complete.
This is in part due to the unhappiness faced by the French player in having less guns and instead having to deal with the less flexible dedicated guns that many French infantry stands gained. Keeping track of them was bad enough, but the rules regarding crossing streams seemed overly harsh. (Essentially you have to leave the dedicated gun behind, but small separate batteries can cross exactly the same stream that their dedicated brethren cannot)

The green dice represent a visual reminder of each stands dedicated gun. This, to my mind, is not the most optimal method - but I have a plan...
The battle was hard fought, with the successive waves of reinforcements for each side being committed to battle as soon as they arrived.

Confused by who is who? Well, the French are the ones advancing....
For the Anglo-Dutch, this rather seemed like feeding fresh meat into a meat grinder. The French artillery and heavy cavalry seemed unstoppable.

Guns and heavy cavalry - rather useful stuff.
And as Anglo-Dutch units were either eliminated or exhausted, the defensive perimeter around Quatre Bras shrank dramatically.

From holding on....

....To opps! the French are through the gap in the middle....
The game, which was to end after eight turns (2pm through to 9pm), only resulted in a draw because the French ran out of time to deal to the last allied reinforcements holding on around Quatre Bras. One more turn and the road the Brussels would have been secured by Ney!

If this game had been linked into a wider campaign, then the very heavy losses that I suffered would have resulted in a number of absences from the fields of Waterloo! In terms of casualties in this game versus the real battle, let's just say that the French losses were less, but the allies much higher....

I rather liked how these figures turned out. Click here to see their original state.

The game was, as like the other two recent V&B games quite fun, and has certainly spurred me into painting more - even if I am making less blog posts!

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Brienne 1814 - A (P)Russian Defeat!

Recently I played another game of Volley and Bayonet, in which I used my Prussians to represent Russian troops. The scenario was one of the ones that can be found here at Keith McNelly's rather excellent site.

The view from behind Prussian line of the initial set up.
We had elected to play the Brienne Scenario (found here), using the shorter table options. It was at this point I made two decisions that would have a dramatic impact on the game; The first being not to worry about having the required skirmisher stands, while the second was to not worry about having the required number of model villages, and to use paper templates instead. This in in a game that required me to hold a village temple (which can only be done with skirmish stands), and a supply line that passed through a village two templates big.

Supply line represented by quickly made wagons, limbers, and other sundry items on 3" long stands.
Rather than making the skirmish stands, or the villages, I concentrated on bodging the wagon train together - which from memory was some 10-12 stands worth - thinking I could make some skirmish stands later, after all they wouldn't be that important?

Note the undefended red roofed BUA at bottom? Holding that was one of my victory conditions....
My real undoing was my poor initial deployment, in which I contrived to leave a battalion of heavy guns on an exposed flank. Why? Because I'm an idiot?.....

Stout Prussian defenders of Brienne le Chateau, force a French brigade back.

But more are coming like an endless blue tide....
 Still despite my mistakes, the Prussians were able to hold on to the town , and give a good account of themselves.
Starting to feel a little outnumbered...
 By eventually the French pushed out the Prussians and seized the town. Any dreams of a counter attack at this stage had been replaced by a desperate need to fall back and hold the supply line.

Finally the French occupy the town....
The French started to push their troops through the light woods, hoping to break my line of communications, and seize victory by looting my baggage train.

A French division on woods edge.

The French advance.
 At this stage I still felt that I could prevent this. I had burnt through my cavalry on my right flank, and had hurt the French cavalry in the process. I still had two un-exhausted infantry divisions, and I was hurting the French. I might just manage to prevent defeat and get a draw.

And meet solid resistance from good Prussian steel!
And for a while, that was possible.....until the mounting casualties resulted in first one, then both divisions becoming exhausted - which meant a clear French victory!

We kept track of casualties. It was a close run thing....
Overall it was a very fun game, which we played over a couple of days at a very relaxed pace. The French fought well, and I think the result would of still been a French victory even if I had the skirmishers holding the villages. It certainly ranks up there as being one of the more fun games I've played.

But a well earned victory for the French!

As a result of seeing some of the notations in the scenario, I decided on getting the second edition of Volley and Bayonet, and the 100 Days expansion "Napoleon Returns". They both arrived last week, and I am starting to gear up all three armies required to play - although based on the games I have been playing lately perhaps painting some 1814 Russians might be in order first?

Still, it is an achievable goal, and working towards it will mean that I will at least finally make some villages!

Wednesday 13 April 2016

Clash in Southern Khand 2012

This is another AAR of a moderns game that has been played recently. This time, rather than use CD 3, I decided to use CD 2 as I felt it that it might offer a better game. Vehicle and equipment statistics were taken from Combined Arms, so some of the stats were very different from some of the stats from more recent products.

The large empty table. Southern Khand will never have a major tourism industry.
The aim of the game was to revisit CD 2 to see if it handled modern games better than CD 3. With this in mind, a scenario was generated that would allow for the testing of different aspects of the rules. 

Khandish Peoples' Liberation Army 
Task Force Kalid
Troop Quality: Experienced
Morale: 12

Headquarters Company with:
         1x Command stand
         1x BTR-80
   2 Motor Rifle Companies, each with:
        1x Command Mot. Rifle stand
        2x Mot. Rifle stands
   Anti Tank company, with:
        2x AT-4 teams
        1x BTR-80
   Anti Aircraft Gun company, with:
        1x Command stand
        1x Gun crew stand
        1x ZU-23-2
       1x  GAZ-66 light truck
  Tank Company, with:
       1x Command T-72
       2x T-72s 

The KPLA has long been a major faction in various conflicts in Khand. The most recent fighting has seen the KPLA grow in both strength and in confidence. The very high morale factor is reflective of the fact that this particular unit has been very successful and is very dedicated to their cause.

Journalists exit the scene after obtaining some battle footage.
 Independent Media Group

A collection of soft vehicles festooned by cameras and journalists. While broadly sympathetic to the Western Alliance, they are motivated by the hunt for fresh news from the front. This is represented by having them move to within 6 inches of any firing and staying there for one turn, in order to capture said news from the front. Once they have captured two such incidents, they will head towards the nearest friendly controlled road exit to leave. They block line of fire for Western Alliance forces, but not for KPLA units.

Western Alliance Armour.

Western Alliance Forces

Combat Team Smith
Troop Quality: Veteran
Morale: 9

Headquarters Company with:
         1x Command stand
         1x M2 Bradley
   Motorised Infantry Company, with:
        1x Command stand
        4x Mot. Infantry stands
    Cavalry Squadron, with:
       1x Command stand
       3x M3 Bradleys
       1x M1A1
    Engineer Troop with:
       1xM1A1 with Mine plough and towed MICLIC
Early in 2012 a token expeditionary force was dispatched to Khand in order to safe guard the interests of the various governments that make up the Western Alliance, and to also attempt to prevent some of the worse excesses of the ongoing conflict in Khand.

KPLA AA Company deploys near an are of light scrub land.
One of the things I remembered very quickly about CD 2 (compared to CD 3) was the sheer amount of firing that can take place during a turn. In CD 3 an element can only fire once per turn, whereas in CD 2, and element can potentially fire up to three times. This gives defending forces a great deal of opportunity to shoot the hell out of an advancing force.

A bad day for Western Alliance armour.
As the Western Alliance forces were doing the advancing.... They attracted a great deal of fire, and the KPLA rolled some great dice.

The engineers are halted, while the Motorised infantry keep moving.
The scenario did given a great deal of advantage to the KPLA with their initial deployment. I had hoped that the better stats of the M1A1s would compensate for that, but looking back on it, probably not as much as I'd planned.

It was a very bad day for Western Alliance armour, but not an entirely good one for the KLPA either.

KLPA AT-4 teams lurk on the edge of the scrub.
However, the main point was to see if CD 2 would be a better basis for Moderns games than CD 3. After playing this game, and ruminating on it for some time, I keep coming back to thinking that an amalgam of the best bits of both would work best.

And an air attack takes out a troop of T-80s.
The major weak point of CD 2 for Moderns is the lack of decent stats for quite a few modern weapon systems. The biggest gap is with aircraft. I have started to stat out some aircraft using data from various CPQs, Combined Arms, Harpoon, and some other GDW games, which I am then comparing to the 'real world' information available on aircraft. This is something I will need to do regardless of what version of CD I use.

The scrub offers some cover to KPLA armour.
CD 3 has much simpler mechanisms for determining quite a number of things (spotting, range bands, etc) but in my opinion handles aircraft badly, and I've never fully liked the reduction of firing phases for a number of reasons. However, the simpler mechanisms do make the game quicker.

Close up of the "I can't believe it's not a GAZ 66" Soviet era toy diecast truck I've been using as the tow vehicle for the ZU-23-2. 
Clearly I still have a great deal of thinking to do as I continue to paint things and be slack about making blog postings!

KPLA recon reports in on the Western Alliance movements.