Friday, 27 September 2019

Bande Nere

Here are my Bande Nere di Giovanni, ready for the Italian Wars, for which I am currently writing rules. I've recently expanded the pike to be 4-deep. The arquebusiers can be fielded as light or massed-light units. All of the minis are Perrys, with most painted by the prolific Shaun McTague, and finished and based by me. You can click the photos for a close-up! The flags are from Pete's Flags.

I have the ratio of pike-to-shot correct; 2:1. This was thought at the time to be too high.

Now, I suppose I need to get someone painted for them to fight!

In other news, it's my Birthday, today, so I have a sale on.  :-)

Monday, 23 September 2019

To the Strongest! in Glasgow, Part II

Here are some photos from the second day of the Glasgow To Strongest! event, starting with my third game. This was against Ian Austin and his Spartan army. Ian set up in the left corner of his side, and I set up in the left corner of mine. My flank attack failed to kill the Spartiates, largely on account of their excellent saves, and by mid-game most of my units were facing right, and most of his were facing left.

Despite our best efforts, nothing was dying. Nothing at all. I couldn't break his hoplites, frontally, and any knights that got disordered pulled back and rallied. It became a unique game with not a single unit lost, not even a measly helot. I cannot recall this in any previous game of TtS! that I've seen; it is a famously bloody set of rules.

In the penultimate turn of the game, though, I rode some light crossbowmen off of the table edge near his camp. On the final turn, I managed to bring them back onto the table, and activate them for a lucky second time, to trot into his adjacent camp, securing three points. You can make out Ian menacing the offending horsemen, in the image below. Ian had certainly picked the rules up, in only his fifth game, he was playing quite as well as I was, after well over 100.

In the final game, I found myself facing John Muir's Italo-Normans. across an open plain. This was a very different game from the previous three. Eschewing subtlety, John and I lined up opposite each other, and charged. He had more knights, but I had better-armoured knights, so it was pretty even. The battle degenerated into a single huge confused melee (below), with troops facing in all directions- charging, retiring, rallying and shooting. Slowly I was able to gain the upper hand and, eventually, cornered and killed one of his generals to win the battle 10:3. It could easily have gone the other way.

The scores...

And onto the presentations! 

Above is Liam Entwhistle, who secured third place with his beautiful ex-WAB Later Hungarian army.

And, second once again, yours truly! Always the bridesmaid, never the bride! ;-)  I received some lovely Claymore Castings minis, so I suppose I'll have to start another army, now.

Finally, below, the winner Peter Clarke whose Fatimid Egyptians had pipped me 63.5 points to 63. As well as a trophy, Dave Soutar presented him with a stunning command stand, painted and generously donated by chum David Imrie.

And finally Dave Soutar very kindly gave me some souvenirs - haggis, Scottish shortbread biccies and a limited edition Glasgow and District Wargames Society dice (!!!) tray. 

A huge thank you to Dave Soutar and the other organisers of the event, and to everyone who came along and played! It was a blast. I very much hope to come back next year. Dave and l set a provisional date, shortly.

p.s. Dave has just sent me some more photos- I'll either do a third post, tomorrow., or provide a link if he posts them online.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

To the Strongest! in Glasgow

This weekend I'm in Glasgow, where Dave Soutar of Glasgow and District Wargaming Society has organised a two day TtS! event. Dave very kindly picked me up from the station and we played the first two games, yesterday.

Above is game one vs. Balkan Dave, who I already knew of of from his excellent blog.  Predictably Dave had brought (Balkan) Dacians. I only got this one photo- You can see I've out scouted him, and am preparing to smite his right wing with the full might of Milanese chivalry. It went well for Milan, although the Sarmatians put up a tough fight. I spent the post game period trying to persuade Dave to write all the Medieval Balkan army lists that I'm lacking- Serbs, Albanians, Transylvanians.  :-)

Here's game two vs Bill. Bill had a beautifully painted Aventine Sassanid army. He outscouted me (the horror!) and started pushing his troops forward (below). I quickly found myself pinned on my side of the table, and out flanked on my left. I didn't have an answer for the Sassanid elephant, either!

It all went downhill fast and I had no time to take photos, until this shot taken about 15 minutes before the end of the game.  I am five medals to three down, and pinned like a caged beast into 1/4 of the table with my left flank totally in the air. It's never a good sign when the other player has to come round your side of the table to play his activation cards!

Luckily, shortly after this (below), I finally got my act together and launched a desperate counter-attack. Here are the last cards of the game- I managed to polish off some levy spearmen and a disordered cavalry unit and general to and snatch an 11th-hour ten-five victory from the jaws of defeat. It was one of the closest and most enjoyable games I've played.

So with two wins in my pocket; the omens are good for today!  Tomorrow, I'll post part two.

No photo description available.

GDWS is a great club- 50 years of wargaming history. I wish I was a bit more local! They are a super bunch of guys, very welcoming, indeed.  If you want to look them up, or better still, join,  you can find them here.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

TtS! Knight Fever at the London GT

On Sunday I, and eleven other stalwart TtS!ers, visited the The Lee Valley Athletic Centre to participate in the London Grand Tourney.

Here's a shot of the main hall. It was BIG; rather more than 1000 gamers? Tons of Warhammer 40K players. We TtS!ers found ourselves in splendid isolation on the stage (below) - perhaps in recognition of our disdain for the dice used on the other 680 tables. ;-)

Setting up- that's Tim Thompson, and Simon Purchon. Below, Tim is admiring Ian Notter's Arthurians. The detail on these is stunning- I'll post some pictures, eventually.

Above, Ian Notter's Arthurian-themed Feudal French face Colin Bright's Free Company. 

Below, Iain White's Venetians face Simon Purchon's Nikephorian Byzantines.

Above, Dene Green with Later Crusaders vs. Gareth Humphries' Yorkists.

Below, Peter Ryding (Tibetans) vs Tim Thompson's Italo Normans (which latter had ridden down my ambitions at Roll Call). 

I must apologise for the partizan nature of the rest of the account, I was so preoccupied with my games I didn't see much else that was going on!

My first game was against Iain White's Venetian Italian Condottieri. I'm afraid I was so "in the zone" that I failed to take any photos. I recall crashing through the gaps in the Venetian line, riding down all manner of skirmishers, and then knights, whilst busily avoiding a big scary mass of bristling Swiss pikemen. It went splendidly.

My second game was also against Venetian Italian Condottieri, this time in the hands of Michael Guest (above). Who knew there were so many Venetians? There were rather fewer Venetians, though, after around an hour. ;-)

Below is the table after Michael's first move (I was out-scouted). This was a particularly good-natured game between two matched armies and two broadly equal players, and I was lucky to secure a win. I think the fact that I had more knights, and was able to successfully dance around yet another scary mass of Swiss, decided it. I was also very lucky at the end.

I ran into Simon's Purchon's Byzantines, myself, in round three. I was lucky enough to out-scout them and this enabled me to out-deploy them. I went for a head-on clash near his baseline and the extra weight of my charge told. Again, it was pretty 50/50, his troops all being veteran and mine only seasoned, albeit clad in shiny Milanese-patented later-knight steel. That's the first time I've ever beaten Simon.

My final game, indeed the final, was against Chris Winter. I've never played Chris before but his reputation preceded him, that and the fact that he'd scored almost 600 points, the maximum possible, in the three previous games.

Chris had a Feudal English army, led by Edward the First, as a great leader. His army was a fifty-fifty mix of knights and spearmen. I won the scouting and made a good plan, but Chris literally rode rings around me and it all went Pete Tong. I won't say exactly how he beat me, since he will, no doubt, want to do it again to someone else. And I might too! :-) I was very lucky to take 4 medals off him.

Ian Notter narrowly won the battle for the wooden spoon. I gave him a rather lovely Roman dromedarius; I'm not sure how that will fit in with his Arthurians- he'll need to start a new army. :-)

I don't have the full breakdown of the results, yet, but Steve Dover (English 100 Years War) came third- unfortunately I don't have a photo. I must find out how he did it, what with longbows having a somewhat bad reputation, just now.

Above, I was delighted to come second- my best ever result, which I put down to being familiar with the army (my third tournament with it) and not playing too many Aces!  ;-)

And finally, Chris Winter (Feudal English) took the laurel crown. This was a particularly well-deserved win, based on four decisive victories and not far from the maximum possible point score. The man is a machine! I'll get him, next time, though.  ;-)

It was a splendid day of good-natured gaming. Thanks very much to everyone who came, and particular thanks to Tim Thompson for checking all the army lists and doing the scoring. Oh and the London GT and BHGS organisers, too, they did a cracking job! Particular thanks to BHGS Dave Ruddock for the lovely presentation glasses.

I hope everyone had as much fun as I did- if so I'll see if we can run it again next year- possibly with a Medieval theme, or perhaps with Biblical chariot-era armies, by way of a change.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Kirke's Lambs

Here are Kirke's Lambs, more formally known as the Queen Dowager's Regiment of Foote, hard-bitten veterans of the Tangiers garrison. There was nothing lamb-like about their behaviour after the battle of Sedgemoor, when they ruthlessly hunted down fugitive rebels and executed .

The historian Lord Macaulay describes the eponymous Colonel Percy Kirke as "a military adventurer whose vices had been developed by the worst of all schools, Tangier.... Within the ramparts of his fortress he was a despotic prince. The only check on his tyranny was the fear of being called to account by a distant and a careless government. He might therefore safely proceed to the most audacious excesses of rapacity, licentiousness, and cruelty. He lived with boundless dissoluteness, and procured by extortion the means of indulgence." He was personally responsible for ordering the hanging of at least 100 rebels. He famously promised to spare an innkeepers life if his daughter slept with him. She did, but in the morning awoke to find her father's corpse hanging from the window.

I bought around two dozen of the painted Front Rank minis on eBay, and some more (including the super Colonel Kirke) from a chap called Malcolm (sorry don't know the surname). The splendid flags are from Iain at Flags of War.

Here are the shotte. I messed up by using only flintlock-armed minis; at Sedgemoor, most of the Lambs would have carried matchlocks. Still, though, not too shabby!

Finally, I really like this shot, from the rear. I mixed madder, a brownish red, into the paint for some of the minis' tunics, as it was likely a major component in the dyes of the time. The bases are of my own design, so that I can swap out the command stand and even the pike, for more shotte.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Italian Crossbowmen

In the current sweltering heat, it seems appropriate to be working on Italians. Here's a unit you may have seen before (as a smaller unit), which I've recently expanded from two FK&P6 bases, to three, so that I can field them both on a 20cm grid as well as on a 15cm. The photos aren't the best (too much light), but you can see where I am coming from. The minis are Perry plastic mercenaries. The new minis (top right element, bottom left element) were painted by Shaun McTague, you can see them better, below. Nicely done!

I might, later, replace the flag which is a little anachronistic, with a Pete's Flags condottiere flag. 

I'm just finishing up some more light cavalry, along with some super arquebusiers. Soon, I'll be opening a new Burgundian front. There are a lot of minis going on bases, around here!

Monday, 22 July 2019

Fun with de-basing

I believe that only three things are certain, in life: Death, taxes and the need to re-base miniatures.

I base well over 1000 minis a year, mostly onto the very large bases I designed and use with "To the Strongest!" and "For King and Parliament." Perhaps half of these need to be stripped off old bases, first, usually the 2mm MDF bases that we have learned to love over the last decade.* Following a discussion on TMP, I thought it might be useful to describe how I do this, because I have had a lot of practice!

The steps are:

1. Find a tray with a flat bottom, a jug of water and, ideally, a stack of pennies.
2. Place the bases in the tray on a couple of pennies each (this allows water to get under the bases, and speeds the process). See pic above.
3. Carefully pour water into the tray, to bring the level of the water level with the top of the bases. If a little water goes onto the top of the bases, that's all for the good. However, should the minis be in water up to their knees (or hooves), you risk damaging their paint. See below; the water is just wetting the top of the base, but not enough to frighten the horses.

4. Leave the bases in the water for 24 hours or rather longer, especially if the bases are 3mm thick. The longer, the better results. The bases will gradually absorb water and get  thicker and thicker. Top the water level up, if necessary. A nice by-product of the process is that, after the first hour or so,  the thrifty baser can often salvage any tufts. Just remove them with a pair of tweezers (below), leave them to dry and re-use, later, with a little PVA. 

5. Give some of the minis a gentle tug, and see if they will pull off the base. If they were originally glued with wood glue, they will, most likely, come away very easily.

If, on the other hand, they were glued with superglue or UHU, you'll need to "crumble" the MDF base away (see below), and carefully trim away the remaining MDF and glue from under the individual bases with a sharp craft knife.

And there you have it; it's easier (and safer) than hacking away at dry MDF with a scalpel.

*... although theologists talk of an especially hot corner of hell, that is reserved for those who superglue minis to pennies, or, worse still, plywood.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Gallic Horse

Here are some photos of my extended and re-based Gallic horse. These are, strictly, part of my Gallic army as seen  at Salute in April, but they weren't needed for the Mancetter battle. Shaun McTague very kindly painted a dozen more for me, which I mixed in with the 36 I already had, to give me a generous total of 48. Each unit now consists of a whopping 16 miniatures. This gives me a broadly similar representational scale between my infantry and cavalry units. I'm gradually adding extra cavalry to bring my other armies up to the same standard.

Almost all of the minis are Wargames Foundry. I took the opportunity to "tart up" the existing figures and re-based onto my 20cm grid-half bases, which fit together to make a unit 19cm wide by 13cm deep for the 20cm grid. The photos don't do them justice.  :-(

These are half the heavy cavalry that I require for my 2020 To the Strongest! Salute game. The other half will be "Romanised" Gallic horse- semi-uniformed types, proto auxiliaries, in fact.

I've been basing a lot of other great stuff- I hope to post some more photos, next week!

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Royal Dragoons WIP

I've been very busy painting and basing, recently, too busy to post very much, although I will catch up. But here is a WIP shot of the Royal Dragoons, for a future Sedgemoor project. They are North Star 1672 minis, very nicely painted, mostly by chum Steve Spence, although I couldn't resist painting a couple, myself. They are nice Copplestone-sculpted minis, with a fair few variants, and (very conveniently) North Star have recently begun to extend the range with some new dragoon command groups and rumours of Spaniards.*

I've decided to go with the dragoons as a 24-man unit which (at least for Sedgemoor) will operate in two halves, on the wings of the Royal army. I also plan to do the unit dismounted, with all 24 horses and horse holders. Raising a regiment of dragoons is a serious commitment, and not for the fainthearted!

*Some grenadiers in furry hats, with firelocks, would be a splendid addition, Nick  :-)

Thursday, 4 July 2019


Here is the first finished battalion for my Late c.17th project, in fact the very minis that attracted me to the period. David Imrie very kindly sold me these miniatures some five years back. They represent a battalion of around 1690 from the French Regiment Tournaisis, which served in Ireland and elsewhere. The picture is clickable. David's painting is superb- I can't get anywhere near this standard.

All of the miniatures are from the superb Front Rank Late c.17th range, and the flags are Flags of War. Having bought the 40-odd minis from David, I find that I have bought some four hundred and fifty more painted minis from various sources. Eventually there will be a set of rules and a display game, but don't hold your breath. :-)

It took me years to decide how to base them, and I settled on two wings of 12 shotte, 8 pike and a command stand of 5. My friend Ian Notter and I designed a series of wobbly-edged bases to carry them. There are four bases which means I can swap out the command stand for one with different flags, from a different nation, perhaps, or swap out the pike for an extra stand of shotte so that I can use the minis for the early c18th. The new bases can be found in the BigRedBatShop, here.

Finally, here's a closeup of the command stand. What I love most about this period is the cut of the uniforms, but I'm also mad for the floppy hats with ribbons around the edges.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Louis Quatorze's Warses

This week I've had a really heavy cold and haven't been fit for much other than some light basing duties. Here are some miniatures that David Imrie (Saxon Dog) painted that I've finally managed to re-base onto one of my wobbly-edge command bases. They will lead a brigade of French that I am slowly building (one of the battalions also painted by David); pictures to follow next week.

I'm also basing my first British battalion, Kirke's Lambs. These incorporate minis from three or four different painters, including myself. Much better photos and more details of the completed unit are to follow in a week or so. I absolutely love the Front Rank minis; it is entirely possible to build a 37-man unit with 37 different variants.

Eventually there will need to be some rules so that I can put the minis on a table. The working title for these is Louis Quatorze's Warses, which name was picked at the end of an evening of brainstorming (=heavy drinking) before Colours, last year. I won't start on the rules before I've finished Renaissance, however.