Saturday, July 15, 2017

Workbench Update - July 2017

Although I've been preparing lately for a move mid-August, I've kept the painting table open and been finishing off some lingering items before the move....

Front Rank Napoleonic civilians, awaiting finished bases.

Warlord Games  BA-6 for Michael's WWII  Soviet force 
(basing to be done in the Trenton Gaming Emporium).

Warlord Games Soviet scouts for Michael and some various earthworks and guns in the background for the ImagiNations collection.

Black Tree Design Soviet infantry with SMGs, 
purchased at the Cold Wars flea market for Michael.

Black Tree Design Soviet 57mm AT gun & crew.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

War of 1812: US regulars (1813)

Another addition to the SP2 War of 1812 collection, US regulars... this time from 1813. These are Old Glory figures and sport the simpler blue tunic (without lace on the breast, thank goodness) and leather shako, similar to the British tombstone version. When I started these, I thought I had appropriate command figures included in the bag but was sadly mistaken. I was able to find an orphan standard bearer in the proper uniform and headgear but unfortunately, no officers with shako. I thus used an officer figure with the earlier uniform until I can acquire some proper Big Men. This batch completes the American force for now (although I do have enough figs for two more groups of state militia skulking in the lead pile). The flag is from Battle Flag, who are one of the few retailers who supply 1812 standards. You can choose, when in the shopping cart, which regiment to represent and here we have the 13th Regiment of Infantry (though admittedly difficult to see on the flag).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

War of 1812: US rifles

So, I'm riding the 1812 painting wave. I've learned over the years to just ride the wave as it comes. Fighting it only leads to heartache and resentment. In January & February this year, I was obsessed with my Imagination collection and added three new infantry battalions to the Gourmandie army (see here). I was on such a high with that painting blitz that I ordered an entire new army from Front Rank (St Julien, see here). Of course, I probably should have knocked sharply on wood because that was the last of the ImagiNation world for the last few months (there is a palpable lull in aggressive activities amongst the rival countries... must be the nice weather). And so the War of 1812 has barged its way to the front of the queue. This is due in no small way to the efforts of Ohio Bob, as his recently-delivered painted British figures attest, and Monsieur Vidal, putting up with my desire to play-test 1812 scenarios.

Riding close on the heels of the recent 1812 additions, I pulled a few Old Glory US rifles from the lead mountain. These are smaller figures than any of the other manufacturers in my collection, although still some of my favourites. In fact, most of my US army is made up of Old Glory figures.

Next up, more US regulars but in the later uniform (for easier painting)...

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

War of 1812: natives

Some time ago, I received, as a gift from Ohio Bob, some natives for inclusion in the War of 1812 project. I believe these are Northstar figures and quite lovely they are. I've chosen to paint only two 6-figure groups and two Big Men for the time being, as these are not your typical assembly line types (the process thus takes more time than usual) and most scenarios I can see not needing too many more than this.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

War of 1812: Canadian artillery

Amongst my latest purchases from Brigade Games were some Canadian artillery. Although my initial plan was to concentrate on only 1812, when the militia artillerists were most likely not uniformed at all, I couldn't pass on these beautiful figures. Besides, I'm not so much of a pedant that I wouldn't use these in any 1812 scenario. They were a joy to paint, with crisp detail that perfectly fits my painting style. I added in an officer from the militia command pack as well. Although strictly speaking not meant as an artillery officer, I think he works quite well. I think I could equally use him as an engineer officer in a pinch.


Up next... natives!!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

RayCon 2017: Battle of Queenston Heights 1812

A couple of weeks ago, Vidal and I ventured to the wild shores of Lake Huron to enjoy our annual excursion to RayCon. The usual suspects came out to play, including Michael and Kevin, and Ohio Bob. Saturday is the traditional gaming day, when we set up the tables outside beside the cabin. This year, thankfully, saw a bright sunny day with minimal wind and pleasant temperatures. In the morning, Vidal and I hosted a Sharp Practice 2 game using our combined 1812 collections, the same as which we play-tested earlier (see here). 

Various photos of the game below from Michael's camera (the natural light lends a nice ambience)...

Looking into the village of Queenston from the bank of the Niagara River.

Another view of the village.

American militia form up on the bank of the river.

British regulars rush out to attempt to push the invaders back before they can become organized (ultimately a futile gesture).

New York militia consolidate and defend the landing zone.

The British regulars form line and prepare to fire.

US regular infantry land to back up the militia.

More New York militia units begin to land. The British regulars in the background find themselves outnumbered, with no reinforcements in sight.

Canadian militia units finally begin to arrive on the scene but have a distance to go to help the British regulars, seen in the background.

New York militia begin to pour volleys into the British regulars.

The British regulars have been severely depleted (they started with two full groups of eight figures each) after facing two formations of New York militia backed up by US regulars. But the Canadian militia can be seen coming up to their rescue.

A light British gun arrives and unlimbers in the village.

Unfortunately, no more pics of the game. This is probably a good thing as the Anglo-Canadians were thoroughly trounced. The Americans have secured a solid foothold on the Canadian shore and next will move to secure the nearby heights.

Meanwhile, in the evening...

Saturday, June 3, 2017

War of 1812: Anglo-Canadians for Sharp Practice 2

I've been beavering way the last couple of months on a force to field against the War of 1812 Americans I completed about this time last year. In the intervening months, I've been battering at Vidal's British force (successfully, I might add... but who's counting?) but I thought it time to start on my own Anglo-Canadians. To start and as an initial adjunct to Vidal's Brits, I purchased some Brigade Games Canadian militia. Recently, I took possession of 50+ painted figures from Ohio Bob as part of a transaction that saw my entire Carlist Wars collection move south of the border.

The full force, militia on the left and regulars to the right. To the front left are Glengarry Light Infantry from Old Glory and from the brushes of Ohio Bob. To the right foreground are Old Glory Canadian Voltigeurs, again from Bob's talented hands.

Canadian militia from Brigade Games and sculpted by Paul Hicks. These are quite beautiful figures but I have a couple of quibbles. Recent years have seen various sculptors in the industry moving toward more realistically proportioned figures. These figures are part of that trend, especially in the thin (but admittedly more realistic) muskets and bayonets. These are, however, more of liability than an improvement. They are easily prone to bending and I can see many breaking in the future. And if you're going to sculpt more proportionally accurate muskets, why are the hands still looking like baseball gloves? I'd much rather sacrifice a bit of accuracy in the weapons for a more robust figure.

British regulars from Ohio Bob: three groups of centre company men, two groups of flank company men and a howitzer with crew. These are all plastic (Victrix and/or Perry?) and besides the excellent painting, all I can say is I'm glad I didn't have to assemble the damn things! Thanks Bob for a solid regular core for the force.

On the painting desk sits a group of Canadian artillerists and a 9lb gun with limber team. Next up after that are some natives and more US militia... oh, and US rifles, and US regulars, and Upper Canada Incorporated Militia. Just a few more additions...yeah, just a few!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Crossing the Niagara - 1812

A  recent visit to Casa del Bairos in the happy burg of Cambridge saw a first attempt at a scenario from Mike Hobbs' recent publication, The War of 1812 - A Campaign Guide for Sharp Practice. We chose Crossing the Niagara, mainly because it provided an opportunity to try out the new 1812 buildings. Overall, this Sharp Practice supplement is quite good and was obviously the result of a lot of work on Mr Hobbs' part. But as a typical gamer, I have a few issues with unit ratings - particularly with the 1812 lists. Here are a few highlights of changes I've made...

US Regular Infantry (1812): This is the most obvious concern (at least to my mind) when rating US regulars in 1812 as, umm.. regulars! Even to American commanders at the time, the regulars were often considered at par with or even worse than the state militias  (re: training, motivation, and equipment). Putting them on a par with British line infantry (at least before considering other characteristics) is, I believe, a mistake. The British infantry were professional soldiers, albeit perhaps somewhat off their game because of prolonged garrison duties in the colonies. The US regulars by contrast were, for the most part, recently recruited and barely trained. I've chosen to downgrade the US regulars to conscripts and volunteers.

US Regular Infantry - Flank Company (1812): The supplement lists these troops with the Sharp Practice characteristic. I believe that this should be reserved only for those troops who demonstrated a superior initiative that allowed them to give fire more often than other troops. The flank companies of the US infantry should, in my view, be no better than any other US infantry in 1812, and definitely not on par with their British counterparts. Thus, I've taken this characteristic away.

 US Militia (1812): The supplement rates these as militia but since I'm of the opinion that they were pretty much indistinguishable from the US regulars, I've upgraded them to conscripts & volunteers. In fact, in the real battle, the militia distinguished themselves rather well in the opening stages (given that they were reluctant to cross, the horrible mismanagement of the crossing logistics, and the landing on a strange shore in the dark).

British Regular Infantry (1812): I see that the stat line in the supplement for these units is pretty much lifted from the Peninsular list, including Thin Red Line. I've yet to read of a British infantry battalion in the War of 1812 loosing a volley and then charging the enemy, as is stereotypical of the Spanish campaign (I could be wrong here but I don't think so). Thus, I've removed that characteristic.

So enough of my tinkering... some photos of the game...

Overview of the table (with a rather pathetic attempt to show the blue of the Niagara River to the right... blame it on inferior software).
The British Deployment point can be seen in the outskirts of Queenston Village to the left. The American deployment points appear as the US troops land on the river bank. The Americans must fight their way across the table towards Queenston before British/Canadians can fully deploy in defence of the village.

New York militia begin to land and shake themselves out into line. I'm not sure how Van Rensselaer ferried his horse over the river. As a side note... in the scenario, Major General Van Renssalaer is listed as commanding the first wave of the landing. This is, in fact, untrue. His cousin, Lt Col Solomon Van Renssalaer commanded the troops in the opening stages (which this scenario is attempting to model). Stephen, the general, Van Renssalaer was at this time overseeing the horribly chaotic embarkation point on the American side of the river.

British regulars appear in response to the American landing.

The New York militia begin to make their way towards Queenston.

The regulars occupy the churchyard in anticipation of an assault.

The regulars Present Arms and are joined by light troops.

 New York militia skirmishers and US regulars join the advance.

The commander of the US regulars trips and falls. Luckily, his troops had been less than enthusiastic about advancing on the British-held village and were out of immediate danger.

New York militia probe the British right flank but more Canadian militia (masquerading as regulars) have marched out of Queenston and secured the flank. Nowhere to go... but back, as it turned out!

 Similarly, militia skirmishers probe the left flank but prove to be too few in number as the British commander moves yet another regular unit forward to bolster the lights defending the fence-line.

The British defence of the village proved to be too firm and the Americans fell back to the landing areas. The British commander was reluctant to leave the relative safety of the village and declined to pursue. Thus, The Americans were able to maintain their bridgehead. We deemed the battle a draw, as the Brits had neither broken the American Force Morale nor captured their Primary Deployment Point on the river bank.

Some tweaks will be made to the scenario for another playtest in advance of RayCon at the end of May. The British/Canadian deployments will probably be staggered further apart to allow the Americans more of chance to get near the village before it is completely defended and the river itself will take up 8-12 inches of the table, reducing the distance required for the Americans to move from the bank to the village.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We will build a town...

My recent trips to Cold Wars and HotLead saw a haul of North American buildings suitable for the War of 1812. Since I've been in a bit of figure-painting lull, I've instead been beavering away at these and recently finished enough to put together a small photo shoot at Casa del Trenton. Now I just need to get in gear for painting the Anglo-Canadian force for Sharp Practice 2.

L-R: Perry Miniatures farmhouse; scratch-built cottage; Renedra fences; Sarissa church.

Surprisingly, the Renedra fencing took more time than anticipated. The posts weren't the best and I had to fashion several new ones from balsa. The end result is quite nice though.

Old Glory early war US regulars marching past the Sarissa church. This was a pleasure to build and is an impressive model (but more of this anon).

L-R: Old Glory storehouse/barracks; scratch-built two-story house; Renedra barn.

Pennsylvania militia riflemen occupy the farmyard. The Renedra barn is a lovely little model, easy to build and paint.

A better view of the Sarissa church. I was unhappy with the roof (because of the anchoring tabs showing so glaringly) so decided to fashion a new one. This was a relatively simple but lengthy process of scored balsa sheets (the steeple fittings were particularly fiddly). The most difficult part was achieving the weathered wood look. After some discussion with various members of the non -wargaming crowd, i settled on a brown base coat, followed by successive drybrushings of greys, and finally a wash of sepia. Quite pleased with the result I am.

A view of the Old Glory blockhouse. Not sure how often this will be used in a game but when it does make an appearance, it'll be fun! Just need a wooden palisade to go with it.