Friday, 27 April 2012

Sir Allen Apsley's Regiment of Foot

Those of you who have read this blog before (for which I thank you) will probably know that I had a demo game of Pike and Shotte at Salute last weekend. I had been looking forward to getting the rules (which I have now had a chance to read) and I have to say that I enjoyed the game immensely. The ECW is another period that I feel drawn to, but unlike the others which interest me most, I don't have such a "personal" attachment to it. My interest in Napoleonics stems from going to a school founded by Old Nosey himself and having busts of the likes of Picton and Uxbridge staring out at me during my school days. The Anglo-Zulu War interests me because when I was a lad, my father was posted to South Africa, and I spent 6 years of my childhood in Jo'burg. But the ECW has a different kind of appeal to me.

You see, I like flags. Lots of them. And nothing gives a gamer a better excuse to go all out with loads of flags on a unit than the TYW and ECW (well, maybe excepting the Italian Wars, but I just couldn't bring myself to paint that many Landsknechts - I'd go mad). It's not a very sensible reason to get involved in a period, but I make no claims to being sensible.

After playing the game I decided to finish off and base one of the many regiments that I have near completion for this period. While I may not be quite as personally involved, I still had to pick the Royalists when I started (I will be providing both sides, as per usual, but you have to start somewhere), as I am a West Country lad, uni in Oxford and now living in Prince Rupert's old stomping ground. Plus I don't have much time for Puritans.

Anyway, I give you Sir Allen Apsley's Regiment of Foot (still missing 2 flags). The figures are mainly Bicorne and Renegade with a smattering of Redoubt and Warlord:

The whole regiment.

The man himself. 

Without the command base.

The pike block. I think I will expand this by two more bases.

Originally the plan was two more command bases for the shot sleeves to be used with the Perfect Captain rules, each of which would have a flag. I think, though, that I may just add two bases to the pike block to widen it, and add the two ensigns to the new rear centre base's front rank. The regimental command base will just be for dressing up the table, as it will play no part under the Pike and Shotte rules.

The "right" shot sleeve. The officer is Redoubt.

The "left" shot sleeve. This time the officer is a Warlord plastic.

My shot are in 4 ranks, too. I know this is not the commonly accepted way to do things, but if you look at contemporary engravings, the shot units are very often portrayed as being as deep as the pike.

Battle of Naseby

It is needlessly more expensive this way, but I like it, and I guess that's all that counts. It also gives me a chance to stick a drummer and a sergeant "dressing the ranks" in the back rank, too. I may also slip a flag into each shot sleeve as well in future.

Now I just have to finish of Hopton's and Talbot's foot, which have been languishing in the half painted pile for ages, and I'll have my first full battalia.

Comments and criticism welcome as usual (as well as any advice on how to learn to use a camera properly - the new one I have is great but I fear the photographer is not).

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Salute 2012: Part 2 - Pictures and reviews

I have had a few days since getting back from Salute in which to enjoy toothache (!) and start putting things together and painting. I thought I'd share a few of my pictures from the day (I know people are probably sick of them by now but hopefully I'll have one or two new shots), as well as giving a closer look at some of what I bought.

First up is the stuff I bought from 4Ground. I bought a Saxon house (the middle sized one), a general wagon, and the water cart. So far I have assembled the first two. Now I am not what you would call a skilled modeller - I consider myself to be a bit ham fisted at the best of times, so I was really surprised at how easily these went together. I puzzled over the instructions for the cart for a few seconds, but that was really just my stupidity, and once I had figured it out, the whole kit went together easily enough. I have chosen not to add the hoops on this one for ease of figure placement (you can get 2 figures mounted on 25mm washers on the wagon bed), but I shall be getting a couple more of these, at least one of which will have the hoops and a covering applied. For me this is far better than an expensive metal model, or indeed a cheap plastic toy. Highly recommended.

It is sold as a 19th century wagon, and I can see this wagon doing duty from the Peninsular War through the  Wild West to Zululand without any trouble at all, but I might stretch it as far back as the ECW. I have no idea if it would be wrong, but it doesn't jar on the eye (well my eye at least), so why not? I guess I'll have to paint the wheels at least, but, to be honest, it doesn't bother me as it is.

Perfect for a wagon train

An even bigger surprise was to come, however. I also picked up their painted Saxon dwelling, the middle sized one of the three they offer. This was even easier to put together than the wagon, and the next one I get (and I will be getting more) will be a project I will do with my son, as he'll easily be able to cope. If it weren't for the need to let the teddy bear fur dry, you could have this up and on the table in half an hour. I think it looks amazingly good for something put together so quickly.

And here's the surprise, the "painted" interior. Why they don't actually advertise the fact that there are separate painted internal walls I really don't know.  Note the opening doors, and fireplace (not glued in place yet). I now have to work out how exactly to "decorate" the inside of a Saxon house.

I have been looking at all sorts of resin buildings for my Dark Age terrain, and I must admit that there are some very nice ones out there, but this is the way I am going to go now. These are cheap, easy to put together, light (a serious consideration when I have to get everything shipped to the Czech Republic) and quick to get on the table. It's the dawn of a new age for scenery with the likes of BattleFlag, Sarissa, Warbases and these guys putting out new kits all the time. I really hope that 4Ground put out a Saxon church and/or a Lord's Hall in this line; I'd be all over those "quicker that you can say cobbler" as they say in Czech.

Next up, some more laser cut buildings, this time from Warbases. I bought the outhouse, and the stable block. Neither of these are very complicated builds (just as well, as there are no instructions), but I have to say they don't fit quite as well as the 4Ground kits. While the floor keeps the Saxon hut's walls at right angles, the stable block has nothing like that to aid during drying (an easy enough fix, I know) and it seems the wooden posts will need to be glued in place after the roof in order to get them straight and at exactly the right height. While none of this is all that difficult, it isn't as easy and I don't think Seb will be helping with this one.

 The stable kit
Just propped up

All in all I think the 4Ground kits are finished better and easier to put together, but I like the Warbases ones too, and more choice is always good. And 4Ground don't produce SAGA measuring sticks and nice tokens like these...

Shaken (not stirred)

Another thing that is taking a bite out of the resin scenery market is the injected plastic products produced by Renedra. Responsible for all the lovely plastic figures sold by the Perry brothers, Victrix, Gripping Beast et al., they also produce a nice range of scenics under their own name. I picked up a set of Saxon tents, some palisade, and wattle fencing. I'm not sure how to paint the tents, 2 of which are open and 2 closed, but I have done a trial run on one of them as just plain (and dirty) canvas. I'm not sure how many people need Saxon tents, but they do add a bit of colour and interest to the table top.

I picked up a double pack of the wattle fencing and have just given it a very quick and messy dry brush. I was originally intending to mount the sections on card, but I am not sure I'll bother now; I could just disguise the supports with a tuft or two. Quick, easy and well worth the price.

 One sprue's worth (I think)

With a figure for size comparison (Renegade ECW)

I don't have the palisade painted up at all yet, so that will have to wait.

And on to Salute.

First up is the deserved winner of Best in Show. The Corunna display (it wasn't a game) was absolutely breathtaking in real life - photos (especially mine) can't do it justice. It was huge, but also incredibly detailed.
Just look at the rigging  on the ships below, and some of the little vignettes they set up. The only problem (in my eyes) is that it wasn't a game. I admit it's a pretty churlish objection, though.

A beautiful demonstration of how effective the Kallistra hexes can be (10mm ACW)

A nice board for Freebooter's Fate, which just shows that effective terrain doesn't have to be huge.

The Crimean War game put on in connection with Wargames Illustrated.

Victrix put on a 54mm participation game, which was also absolutely stunning. I had no idea that Italeri also made 1:32nd figures (such as the Mamelukes below) - perhaps there are enough sets out to play a game or two of something - a Song of Drums and Shakos springs to mind.

Finally a game set in I believe Matabeleland, which I liked for its cheeky details.

 Feint, pin and flank 'em. Simples!

I took a load more photos, but as you can see the quality wasn't so great (new camera with the wrong lens, added to a photographer who doesn't know what he's doing), and others have taken similar shots far better than I did, so no more from me I promise. Salute 2012 was well worth visiting and I'll definitely be back again next year.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Salute 2012: Part 1 - Pike and Shotte & other purchases

So Salute has come and gone again this year. It's only my second trip, but I have to say it has already become the gaming highlight of the year, if not so much for purchases (although I made far too many, I can get most things over the web), then for the sheer range interests that the hobby inspires. I have heard a few people saying that perhaps it wasn't as good as last year's show, but it didn't seem that way to me. Lots of good demo and participation games and plenty of traders, all of whom seemed to be doing some brisk business. To me it seemed that wargaming was most definitely alive and well.

I got to the queue quite early, so was within the first 100 or so from the door. Yes, I had to wait but I was up and about anyway and it gave me a good chance to read through the guide, goodie bags having been handed out early. Then there came the inevitable stream of flyers and special offers (yes, the golden tickets did exist - a guy just behind me in the queue had one), all of which I tried not to read too closely. At about 9.45 the doors were opened and the first of us allowed in.

I headed straight for the Warlord stand to get my copy of Pike and Shotte:

I know this is not one of my "projects for this year" but I still wanted to grab a copy and grab a place in the participation game to see if it played all that differently from Black Powder. I was given the Royalist centre to play with, and I have to say I had a lot of fun with it.

I have a feeling someone with Parliamentarian sympathies painted these figures, 
just look at the colours on Gerard's Regiment...

This was my battalia - 3 pike blocks and 6 musketeer units. In the rules these are treated as separate units but all musket units within the battalia can be protected by any pike block within 6" (provided it is not already giving protection to 2 other musketeer units). I also had a cannon off to my right, and the good fortune to have the C-i-C, who was a good commander with a leadership value of 9.

I only played for about an hour or so - not enough to give the rules a review, but first impressions were good. I was faced by only 2 "regiments" of Parliamentarian foot, but they did also have a gun and some cavalry support.

I was also able to keep a bit of an eye on what was going on on my flanks so I got some of the flavour of cavalry combat, too. At first all seemed to be going quite well for the Royalist cause; the cavalry opposite me was redirected to the left flank and if anything I was the one was was bogged down a bit in the attack.

The foot to my immediate right move forward

 Royalist cavalry charge on the far right

Things not looking too good for Parliament on the left either.

But after wailing on each other for a while, the Roundhead horse on the left broke the Cavaliers due to a lack of support for the Royalists and the same happened on the other flank due to woeful die rolling on one side and inspired dice on the other. In the meantime, thanks to a Parliamentarian blunder, I had very luckily  managed to catch one of their pike blocks with flanking fire, removing it and effectively putting its "attached" musketeers out of the game by shaking them. But despite the centre holding, it would have been all up for the Royalists had we played to a conclusion, as by this time both flanks had collapsed.

So what did I think? The game is very quick to pick up. All of us were pretty much up and running within 10 minutes. Basing seems to be the standard 20mm frontage per foot figure, 25mm for horse, and although some people have mentioned being concerned that the rules mention 2 rank and 3+ rank foot, I can see no reason at all why I can't continue to use my shot mounted in 4 ranks as well; it's not as if a unit's combat values are based too closely on the number of figures - it's the usual small, standard or large. It's perfectly possible to "model" the Swedish and Dutch systems without getting too precious about it, too.

From what I could tell with the horse, the options there seem to be right as well. Some cavalry can counter-charge, some can't according to doctrine, and they can even charge pikes - but at such suicidal disadvantages that you'd have to be mad, desperate or both unless the pikes are really disordered. Morale and break tests are similar to BP and HC so if you are familiar with those rules these will be exceptionally easy to pick up. There are a few "advanced" rules: Hedgehog formation,Fighting from buildings, Dragoons, and then the list of unit characteristics (or "Useful Rules") that we have come to expect. I suspect that much like BP and HC, how much you get out of these rules is going to very much depend on what you are prepared to put in in the way of preparation.

Conclusion? Well, I admit it's still early doors, but I like them. The ethos of a gentleman's game very much comes through, both reading the rules and in the way the demo game was put on, for which I must say a big thank you to the Warlord guys, whose names I have all promptly (and shamefully) forgotten. They seem to be designed to be used from the beginning of the 16th (in fact the first example period is the Italian Wars of 1494 - 1559) right through to the end of the 17th century (with rules for plug bayonettes for example), so you can get plenty of mileage out of them. Are they sufficiently different from Black Powder and Hail Caesar to justify buying them? Sure, you could work out all the factors and so on yourself, and come up with rules for musket taking cover with the pike, but why re-invent the wheel. Bottom line, they are fun, and for me that's the best recommendation of all.

So what else did I see at Salute? The first thing I noticed was the number of laser etched kits on sale. Battle Flag had some mightily impressive buildings on sale, and I will be making a few bespoke orders when my Blackwater Gulch sets come through. They had a particularly nice funeral director's, which I was told would be out in the next couple of weeks. I also saw some amazing stuff at the Sarissa stand; the new System Infinity looked great as did the Old West stuff. I did buy some tokens and the stable block and outhouse from Warbases, as well as picking up 3 kits from (a water cart and  wagon, which will both do generic 19th century duty, and a mediaeval house) from 4Ground. As you can see, I couldn't resist starting the dry fit on the stable block...

4Ground had the stall next to Renedra, from whom I bought some Saxon tents, some wattle fencing and some palisade. I also managed to pick up some more tufts from Antenociti's Workshop.

This really is a golden age as far as terrain is concerned, and had I not had to fly back with such a small bag and  a 15kg weight allowance, I'm sure I'd have picked up far more. There was some fantastic looking scenery from The Last Valley for example, and S&A Scenics. I wish I'd taken more photos, but I was using a new camera and didn't really know what I was doing!,m 

I've already mentioned Pike and Shotte, but I also wanted to pick up Northern Fury. The Gripping Beast stall was as busy as last year, but I didn't feel quite the same buzz as last year. They did have a very tempting box of Skraelings for £50, which I only just managed to resist, but more interesting for me was the battle board that I saw by the demo game, which was mocked up for Byzantines...

The lovely Skraeling figures (not my photo)

Since I have decided to move ahead with my TSaTF project, I needed a few more d20s.

All this and no miniatures? I did pick up some figures as well, if not too many. 4 packs of unmarried zulu from Empress, as well as 2 packs of unmarried heads. I actually went to Salute with the intention of suggesting unmarried heads for conversions, and there they were, ready and waiting! And I'd thought I'd had such a clever idea... I also grabbed 5 loose Foundry zulu from Dave Thomas's stand for just a bit more variation.

Finally, I also grabbed a Prince Rupert and Hopton from Bicorne. I think I may have been inspired a bit by my game. These, along with the new Eureka French field bakery and cantiniere made up the last of my purchases, to which must be added the two freebies I got: the Salute Maya chief (an absolutely amazing figure!) and the Warlord ensign.

Although it doesn't feel like I bought all that much, I still managed to spend far more than I wanted to - and that was without the Victrix hoplites I wanted (not out yet). 

The complete Salute haul
(the Foundry box back right was picked up from my brother's)

Another great day out and a whole lot of fun. My only regret was having to leave before the blogger meet up, as my father was in town for a meeting and so it was off to the RAF club I needed to go. Even cut short, it was worth it, and I'll definitely be flying in again next year.