Sunday, 19 March 2017

Painting with Bob Ross

Does any one remember Bob Ross? He had a TV show back in the day in which he painted a landscape in 30 minutes. I was watching some of his shows with my kids recently, and was inspired to upgrade my back drop with his help. It has been on my "to do" list to add to my backdrop, as my old one was too small for my new, wider table. I found an episode with a landscape I liked and got my canvas and paints out. He paints with oils and I paint with acrylics, so I had to adapt on the fly. On the whole, I am pleased with the results and I think it is a big improvement on the previous painting. I have seen people use actual landscape photos for a backdrop but prefer the painted version as the realism contrasts with my attempts at terrain and toy soldiers.


...and after

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Battle of Eylau 1807

After the fun of setting up the table and organizing the figures into opposing armies, it was time to roll some dice. The battle of Eylau was arguably one of Napoleon's first setbacks. He had conquered Austria and Prussia and was pursuing the Russian army into East Prussia. The Russian General Bennigson chose the hills surrounding the town of Eylau to make his stand against the Grand Armee.
There was a snow storm that played a role in the battle, causing the two sides to blunder into combat when the snow began blowing. At the start of each turn , there is a 50% chance the blizzard will impair your army for the turn.
Russians on the left French on the right

The French had the first turn. They started with most of their army in marching to the battle. Napoleon elected to take the initiative and capture both Eylau hexes and the adjacent graveyard. Murat's cavalry caught the Russian cavalry in column on the French left and pressed forward aggressively.
French occupy Eylau at a cost

Hearing the sounds of the battle engaged, the Russian generals left the army HQ to find their units. Seeing the French had moved into range of their guns, the Russian front line opened up a devastating volley causing many casualties. The Russian Grenadiers assaulted and recaptured the graveyard but could not retake Eylau. The Russian left pressed forward against the exposed French right. The Russian cavalry on the right consolidated against the superior French cavalry in the midst.
Russian right in disarray

Napoleon decided to probe the Russian lines for weakness, despite his initial heavy losses. The French light infantry division supported by cavalry broke through to the left of Eylau and drove the Russians back in confusion. The French cavalry attack on the far left had continued success but were starting to risk dispersal due to accumulated losses. Napoleon sent his elite cuirassier unit to shore up the exposed right flank.
French view of the centre

Losses after the first game day 12 Russians (including 3 cannon) to 23 French. Stay tuned for part two....
Russians form up on the French flank

Monday, 13 March 2017

Sails and Muskets

I was able to try out a game of Sails of Glory recently. It is based on the game mechanics found in Wings of War/Glory and X-Wing. You have to plan your maneuvers two in advance and cards are used to measure how far you move. The combat system was a little too devastating in my opinion. A 74 gun ship was knocked out from a bow rake and a broadside from another 74. It allowed the game to come to a conclusion in a hurry but in my opinion, a ship of the line should be able to survive a little longer than this. As you can see from the pictures, the game components are very nice. The ships are pre painted and mounted 1/1000 scale.

The first picture is of the ship's control panel. The top row shows ship strength and crew strength. These boxes are marked off as the ship takes damage and battle effectiveness is reduced accordingly. There is special damage like dismast, fire and leaks. Fires are particularly deadly and perhaps a little too common but can be minimized by ordering some of the crew to be a fire brigade.

Every turn captains pick a new maneuver card as well as assign crew to task such as firing, reloading, musketry, repair and fire brigade. You can load round, chain and grape shot.

Here is a shot of two British ships pounding a French with a bow rake and broadside. The French tried to cross the T but failed and burned to the waterline for it's mistake. The French ships later collided and were entangled for several turns. The surviving French 74 was lining up a stern was lining up a stern rake on the trapped Brits but they disentangled in time to maneuver to safety.

Very tempted to purchase this game

We scheduled future games at the Sails of Glory game including a game of Commit the Garde. I put together Russian and French armies to give the newly published Eylau scenario a try. I thought I would try to addd some snow and ice to my table to emulate this notoriously blizzardy battle. I found some snow flock at the local hobby shop and bought some light blue felt to make iced over rivers. I could not add as much snow as I would have liked because I had to be able to see the hexes underneath. I had to use a paintbrush to uncover the hex corners after flocking. Stay tuned for the after battle report...

Here is the scenario map I am trying to emulate. Each hex is 500 yards

 New Flock

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Jobs a good one

I am happy to show my completed ECW cavalry. These are plastics from Warlord. I slipped back into my routine of painting at least 2 colors 5 nights a week like an old glove. My lead pile is once again empty. I can get back to playing games (and writing blog posts!). I always feel a little down after finishing a painting project without another to fill its place. Like Alexander with no more lands to conquer, but less Great. Flags are again from WarFlag. The units are generic and can be used for either side of the conflict. Simple painting as always: white primer, block colors, brown ink wash then black lining. 24 horse in about 10 days.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Brush with Plastic

Here are the completed infantry units from my recent purchase of Warlord plastics. They are a little larger than my usual Old Glory metal figures but close enough not to matter. I spent about 5 or 6 hours assembling 40 foot and 24 horse and this would be time better spent painting. I had to remind myself that the figures were a great value while assembling, to get through it.

Once assembled the figures looked great. There was a little bit of mold line that I ignored and as you can see from the pics, the lines are not visible once painted.

I printed off some ECW flags from the excellent Warflag website and voila, 40 figs build and painted over a 2 week stretch.

Next up will be 24 horse made into 4 units. I have them assembled and primered. I am painting the horse first and then the riders. Stay tuned for cavalry reinforcements and then a big game of Baroque to blood them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Battle Royale

Here are the highlights from last nights Sword and Spear game with Martin. The Romans faced off against Mithradate's Pontic army.

We tried out the terrain placement rules for the first time. This resulted in a hill and swamp in the centre front of the Roman deployment zone. The Pontics had a woods in their rear and a hill and field on their left and another field on their right. This was a fair bit of terrain for an ancients battle and had quite a bit of influence on the battles outcome.

The Romans were out scouted and deployed their heavy infantry on the hill with their flank anchored against the swamp. Cavalry deployed on the right and archers with light cavalry formed a screening force and reserve on the left.

The Pontic Army set up opposite the Roman heavy infantry and cavalry. They had a larger army and were able to stack the flanks with extra light units. to try and win on the flanks.


The Roman plan was to attack with a refused left flank. The cavalry clashed on the Roman right resulting in a quick loss of a Pontic skirmisher and cavalry unit. The remaining units on that flank settled into a seesaw battle.
Cavalry battle

The Pontic Army invested their initiative in moving their flank attack on their left but found themselves hampered by the swamp and cultivated field as well as low troop discipline.

The Romans advanced the right of their heavy infantry toward the Pontic Imitation Legionnaire line, hoping their cavalry would hold long enough to avoid getting flanked. The Pontic responded by attacking the partially committed Roman heavy infantry.
Heavy Infantry closing in the Centre

The Romans spent the next few turns sending in more troops into the centre until their two sides were engaged in a major press of shields.

It became apparent that the Pontic flanking maneuver would not arrive in time to alter the outcome in the centre. The Romans were slowly winning the cavalry fight on the other flank. In the centre, Roman armour and discipline wore down and eventually defeated enough of the Pontic heavy infantry to clinch the win.
End Game

Martin and I talked at length after the game to decide what could have happened differently. Rome did very well in the terrain set up by getting a defensive spot to launch their attack from. The terrain deployment system in Sword and Spear has a random element that can see terrain move around or disappear and the Romans were lucky to have their gamble pay off.

The Pontic heavy infantry could have deployed further back, anchoring their flank against some heavy woods. If the Romans pursued, the Pontic could have more easily picked at their exposed flanks and Roman flankers would have been impaired by terrain. The Pontic cavalry might have faired better if they led with their melee cavalry and supported them with skirmishers in the rear.

The game was set up and played in 4 hours including a couple of coffee breaks. A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon and a chance to try out our luck as Armchair Commanders.
Bad Activation Roll!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Literal Inspiration

I am recently returned from a holiday. During my break, I read two books of historical fiction based in Julius Caesar's Rome. The first book was about the Roman Civil War up to Caesar's death. The second book covered the slave revolts and the Pontic revolt in Greece. Mithridates was a cool character and so I have elected to have a Roman vs Pontic battle using Sword and Spear. I will need to do some rebasing of my newly acquired Greeks and look forward to seeing them in action on the table top. Mithridates was beaten by the Romans but the point system in S&S will give him a fighting chance of turning back the Roman invaders...

1 General - Mithridates VI
3 Captains

8 Imitation Legionnaires - Shield Wall and Thrown Weapons
2 Heavy Cavalry - Armored and Undisciplined
2 Archers - Medium Foot - Undisciplined
1 Sarmation Cavalry - Armored, Impact and Undisciplined
1 Thracian - Medium Foot, 2H Weapon and Undisciplined
1 Bastarnae - Medium Foot, Unarmored, 2H weapons and Undisciplined
1 Skythian Horse Archer - Light Horse
2 Javelin men - Light Foot
2 Light Horse - Javelin

Army Value 69

1 General - Pompey
2 Captains

1 Veteran Legionary - Thrown Weapons and Armored
6 Legionary - Thrown Weapons and Armored
2 Cavalry - Armored
1 Lancer - Armored and Impact
1 Horse Archer - Light Horse
1 Light Horse
2 Auxilia Archers - Medium Foot

Army Value 52

I have a shaky hand tonight and my pics are a little blurry. I rebased a few Greeks to fill out Mithridates' army. I added some height to the bases to help the smaller figs blend in with my existing troops:



Light Horse

Heavy Horse