Tuesday, 26 March 2019

What's my Timeline

As a " cardigan dude" in the grand scheme of war gaming, I have gamed many historical and a few non historical eras. When I started I knew very little of actual military history. Like most wargamers I was influenced by the film's that I watched or books that I read. My early war gaming consisted of a grid of 1 inch squares with a plastic figure in each square. You had to roll a six to hit.

Having read Donald Featherstones Battles with Model soldiers when it appeared in 1970, I started out with the American Civil War. At that time Airfix had both Union and Confederate boxes of figures on sale. Information about the war were in plentiful supply at the library. The figures were never painted or based!, the game was more important.

The first foray into metal came when I read a copy of the Airfix magazine. A company called Miniature Figurines were advertising metal figures in 25mm (??).
Infantry were 1 shilling (5 pence ) and Cavalry were 2 shillings ( 10 pence ). I think at that time I bought some Imperial Romans and Barbarians. The game was always a fight on the edge of Hadrians wall ( a company called Britain's made farmyard walling which was quite tall compared to the figures.

Anyway, I,m waffling, more to the point what do I actually like war gaming.

First: The 18th century. There were conflicts going on all over the planet from small scale skirmishes to full scale battles. The numbers involved in a large battle were between 20/50 thousand. Those in a small battle maybe 500 to a few thousand. You can pitch Europeans against Amerindians or Asian warriors. Alliance's changed at various times so that one minute the Austrians were fighting the French the next time they would be allies. Famous commanders didn't always have it their own way. In this century, the British army were auxilliaries to the Hanovarian army with the Duke of Cumberland making a fair few blunders! Even Frederick the Great lost battles simply by underestimating his opponents!!

The uniforms are straightforward to paint and nowhere as complicated as the Napoleonic wars. As a bonus one or more countries used more or less the same colours. In addition to this the Navy played a more integrated part in moving troops around. So, virtually any scenario you can think of can be played out on the table.

Number 2: The late Roman Empire. By this time in history the Western Empire was suffering. As ground was being lost to small tribes of Barbarians the amount of money in taxes was also being reduced. Emperors were fighting userpers with Roman armies fighting each other and the Barbarians. Eventually the Native tribesmen became the Roman army. As central authority broke down, petty kingdoms rose up. Even the Huns were employed by the Romans as auxiliary cavalry. So you can mix and match troop types to make up opposing forces.

3: The American Civil War. This needs no intro. Most people know about the war if not the politics. In this instance you either need infantry and guns or cavalry. Very few battles were fought with all three arms present. Most of the bigger battles were fought in the East.

The Western theatre had the smaller but more diverse armies. This theatre also created a lot of raids. Once again the uniforms are a doddle to paint, with the added bonus that most of the combatants  looked pretty tatty after a few months in the field. ( to be honest our war game armies are a lot more well dressed and tidy than their real life counterparts!!)

Even groups of Amerindians were part of the armies on both sides. Well, these are the three main eras that I have armies for, and I have the greatest and longest interest in. I have done others ;

The Thirty Years War. The English Civil War.  The Napoleonic Wars in Italy , The 14th century in Italy. The Roman Republic and Hannibalic Wars (all in various scales ) but I,ve always maintained in interest in the three listed above. Don't ask me why. I think in part it's because of the simplicity and diversity in each of the three periods. Armies do not have to be massive and the individual formations don't have to have loads of figures.

I have also had science fiction forces in 6mm and 28mm. 10mm armies of Orcs and Humans have also been part of my wargaming life.

I have never done other 19th century eras or done anything on World War 1 or 2.
Maybe because my parents and their relatives were involved. I don't know. However as a " last Hurrah!" I might go into 6mm once again mainly because of the space I have to store stuff.One is the Russo-Polish war 1917 to 1925 and/or the Franco Austrian war of 1859.

One final era that I have some figures for is the 12th century ( 28mm!!),. I'm thinking of doing some actions on Sicily at skirmish level.  We shall see. Apart from this there are a few sci- fi figures sitting in a draw waiting to see the light of day!!

Just to clarify, I use 15mm figures for the 18th century and the American Civil War, and 20mm plastics  ( with a few metal figures ) for the Late Roman Empire.

Next time I'll write some stuff about the current rule set. Oh! and some board games!

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Scenery for the Grid.

When I started using a grid, I wanted the scenery to fit in with this system. Now, I realised that I could have irregular shaped scenery, however I did,nt want the stands of figures standing at odd angles and being half-on or half-off the scenery.

Another problem I have found is that should you want to make up the table to play an historical battle,having irregular scenery makes it harder ( to me anyway) to work out how big or at what scale to make the armies.

Therefore I decided to try and make the scenery fit to the square system. This created my first problem in that most war game scenery is made for the figure scale not for the table. This meant I  would probably have to make my own.

I will say at this at this point that I have acquired ( when I could afford it) tailor made scenery, but most times I have made my own. It's not brilliant, but it does fit the 2 inch grid.

The next item was , how much scenery do I need?. Well, I decided firstly how big a table I had room for. Years ago I had a 6x4 foot table, then a 7x5 foot table. That is 180cm x 120cm then 210 x 150 cm. That was when I was using measuring tapes and bounce sticks. At that time I was a flat dweller therefore on numerous occasions I had to move the furniture to accommodate the table,and the guys I used to wargame with. I was also using 28mm figures.

Fluctuating fortunes in the job market made sure I never became a home owner. Fluctuating money supply made selling my figure collections an unavoidable event.

Fast forward a few years. I'm still a flat dweller and married, with children coming and going according to the ebb and flow of their own circumstances. Also elderly relatives were reaching the time in life when they needed help.

Having a large war game table with big scenery and loads of 28mm figures is no longer an option. So, thinking "Bejou and compact" the table is 3 x 2 feet, (90 x 60 cm). Everything I play is geared to that table size. The table is in one corner of the bedroom. This means I can have a game and leave it in situ should we have visitors.

So, having fixed the board size I  worked on the amount of scenery required. Having thought about the sort of battles I wanted to do this is the basic requirement I  came up with ;

6 hills, 8 x 8 inches ( 20cm x 20cm)
6 hills 4 x 4 inches ( 10cm x 10cm)
3 base outlines for woods  6 x 8 inches ( 15cm x 20cm)
The trees themselves are not fixed and on their own bases. This is so I can move them to put figure stands within the woods.

For rivers I use thin blue card overlapping marked in two inch segments. I use 2 inch (50cm) wide pieces for small rivers/ streams. I use 4 and 6 inch width ( 10cm and 15cm) for larger rivers requiring a boat to cross. The reason being that using cheap card allows me to make any kind of river formation.

The same reasoning applies to roads and the outline of villages. I use light brown card for this. I tried using sticky tape but having left it on the board to long the tape was a job to get off! and it marked the board.

Over the course of time I have built all kinds of scenery. It's not that good but it forfills a requirement . In recent times I wanted a fleet of 4inch (40mm) long ships wide enough to fit a stand in. I built 18 ships. They would definitely NOT win any awards for expert modelling! but, I can get my Saxon warbands ashore in Southern Britain.

The materials I use are;
Cardboard, the thick type used for picture framing and the other thin stuff.
Sandwich board, the stuff with a layer of foam between two pieces of cardboard.
Cocktail sticks.
PVA glue.
Texturing paste. This stuff can only be got from an art store or online. It's not cheap but you get a big pot. This  is great if your model doesn't  go together accurately. You just brush the paste on and let it dry. It can be undercoated and painted as normal. It's handy for covering over the rough bits!!.

Next time I'll talk about the era's  I'm  interested in and why.

The top pictures show my boats ( sorry, barges)
The bottom pictures show the castle. All scratchbuilt.

The figures are Hat Industries Goths and Emhar Viking Rowers.