Monday, May 25, 2015

Carthago Delenda Est!

At the beginning of the year those fiendish folk at War and Peace Games had a sale of Agema plastic Roman Republican legionaries for about half price. Wargaming the triplex acies of the middle Republic has long appealed to me, so I succumbed. 'Now is the time for decisive action' I growled, pressing the 'buy' button.

The great thing is that Steve from our Odin's Night gaming club happened to have a Carthaginian army in his plastic mountain, so I am now enjoying the rare pleasure of painting up an army in parallel with an actual live opponent. Our goal is to make an army each that can be used for Impetus and Sword and Spear, so we have set ourselves a couple of deadlines to make the project achievable.

First up, the goal is to prepare a Basic Impetus army by 2 August, which happens to be the anniversary of the Battle of Cannae. The next 'stretch goal' is 19 October (the Battle of Zama), by which we should have a larger force for a full game of Impetus and Sword and Spear.

Units are based on 120mm frontages, and I've finished my first two units of Principes, the second line of the Republican Legion consisting of men in their prime. All the figure are from Agema, but I've mixed in a few of their metal characters and command figures among the plastics for some variety. I am very impressed with their figures overall, particularly since the more realistic 'true 28mm' scale appeals to me. These wouldn't mix well with the likes of Victrix or Crusader Miniatures, but they are pretty nice by themselves. Hand painting all the shield was a bit of a swine.

Note that I've decided to give this army north African-ish deserty bases. This is entirely aimed at psyching out Steve, as they are based for Zama rather than any of the Italian battles. Heh.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Saxons for Dux Bellorum

I've been steadily chipping away at a couple of projects this week, and have four bases of early Saxon warriors to show for it.

As with my Romano-Brits, these are based on 120 x 50mm bases so that I can use them in Dux Bellorum, Impetus and Sword and Spear.

Figures are a mix of Gripping Beast metal and plastic and Musketeer Miniatures. Shields are hand painted, as usual, although only the wealthier-looking warriors got much in the way of designs.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Thank you Westfalia Miniatures!

I was fortunate enough to win a prize draw for some loveliness from Westfalia Miniatures at the end of Curt's Analogue Painting Challenge. I was well chuffed with this as I've been eyeing off Westfalia's small but beautiful 1812 Retreat from Moscow range for a while to add to the figures I'm gradually painting from Perry and Murawaski Miniatures.

The good people at Westfalia were lovely to deal with and super generous, sending me more than I asked for. The figures and field guns are stunning; beautifully moulded and will fit in perfectly with the other ranges. Thanks to Westfalia for their generosity, and I'd encourage you to check out their figures (including their new and interesting range of steampunk minis).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Ooh! Shiny!

Since it is Star Wars Day, I shall confess to my first outrageous impulse buy of the year.

Last Wednesday was our fortnightly Odin's Night gaming club, held at the local Good Games shop. In my defence, I knew it was likely to just be me and one or two others turning up, and I had left all my SAGA stuff at school, so I grabbed my starter box of X-Wing and headed down to the store. I quite like X-Wing, but to make the game work you really need more than the starter set, so I was thinking I would buy a couple more ships, maybe even the Rogues and Villains set.

Anyway, after some agonising, I ended up buying Star Wars Armada instead, for which I largely blame the review on Meeples and Miniatures. Gaming buddy Lawrence and I had some fun assembling all the shiny components (many of which are fiendishly clever), then got the ships on the table and worked our way through the basic game, joined by Ben. I confess to being the first to make 'phew phew' noises while manoeuvring my Tie Fighters.

He's smiling because he didn't pay for it.

I have a theory that X-Wing appeals more to gamers with a background in things like first person shooters or skirmish games, while Armada is going to appeal more to gamers who normally get into big tactical games. It's a clever and pretty intuitive system once you get into it and play a few turns, but to my way of thinking this is a deeper game than X-Wing, and I think I will enjoy it more. As it turns out I'm pretty glad I never bought much X-Wing stuff. Armada may prove to be costly.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

More Romano-British Shieldwall

Phew! I have a lot on the go on the painting table at the moment, so I'm experiencing an extra glow of satisfaction when I get something finished. This week I managed to complete another dense shieldwall unit for Dux Bellorum. Figures are Black Tree Design, Gripping Beast plastics and Artizan. The shield design is hypothetical, representing a unit of Limitanei from Britain in the C5th.

Battle Group Blitzkrieg Hits the Doorstep

Much like one of Pavlov's dogs, I now have an entirely predictable response to new releases from the Iron Fist Publishing/Plastic Soldier Company Axis that brings us Battle Group. I just pre-order every supplement, and pretty much salivate when I see the satisfyingly heavy envelope arrive.

Battle Group Blitzkrieg, the latest supplement for the Battle Group (BG) rules, arrived this week, and I have been enjoying flicking through it. For a general overview of how the Battle Group rules work, and why I love them so, check out my earlier post here. These are just some initial impressions on the latest release.

Battle Group Blitzkrieg covers the Polish and French campaigns of 1939-40, and it is clear that this supplement is something of a labour of love for the authors, Messrs Brand and Kinrade. Although most gamers are drawn towards the later war period (Tigers! Panthers! About 10 Jagdpanthers on the table at the same time if you play FOW!), it is the authors' contention that early war battles have a great deal to offer gamers. In France in 1940 in particular, German success was not due to the technical superiority of their equipment. Quite the contrary, in fact, as German troops faced by Matilda II and Char BI bis tanks were to find out. Games representing the early war campaigns therefore need to find a way of capturing the German advantages of air support, better communications and more effective tactical coordination. As with every BG supplement, the authors have done so by adding a few special rules to the strong core mechanics of the games system. So for example, the Germans benefit from the Panzermarsch special rule, allowing them to deploy their reserves more rapidly, while Polish, French, Belgian and British air support is less likely to show up than the Stukas. In contrast to the supplements dealing with 1943-5, all sides suffer from less effective communications with off-board mortars, although this is ameliorated slightly by special rules for runners.

The Blitzkrieg rule book itself is the usual quality product we have come to expect from Iron Fist Publishing, containing a good historical overview, hobby sections, army lists and rules, supported with period photographs and model photographs. One of my minor quibbles with Battle Group Barbarossa was that photographs of German tanks in panzer gray were very dark, but they have certainly solved the problem in Blitzkrieg. Battle Group books always contain nicely explained hobby sections with guides on painting tanks, but for the first time Blitzkrieg also has detailed guides for painting British, French and German infantry, a really good inclusion that should help newcomers to the hobby in particular.

Battle Group Blitzkrieg contains detailed army lists for different types of German and Polish formations in 1939, as well as Germans, Belgians, French and the BEF for 1940. The sections on each campaign are also supported by specific scenarios drawn from actual events during the Polish and French campaigns. I really like the look of these, especially since several of the scenarios are infantry actions with nary a tank to be seen. The inclusion of some quite small infantry engagements should make gaming the early stages of the war more accessible to new players, as well as highlighting the fact that Battle Group is far more than just a system for gaming the massed tank battles of 1943.

Congratulations to Piers Brand and Warwick Kinrade on another cracking addition to the Battle Group stable. In a year's time we can probably look forward to the first supplement for the desert war, supported by shiny new releases from PSC. If I could, I'd pre-order it already.