Saturday, 31 December 2011

Work in progress....

The list of items mixed up on the worktop covers a range of scales and periods. The 15mm Napoleonic French are still awaiting any work at all, while a renegade saker and the Kings lifeguard ECW regiment of foote have taken painting priority and are at the skin and armour stage.  Finally tonight I've been preparing my new roman auxiliary cavalry for the sticking bit. The bases are ready and most of the flashing is cut off. The job would be finished but with one rider and a shield to go I successfully sliced the craft knife into the tip of a key finger. Cue much swearing and bleeding, and they have been left for another day!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Work in progress....

With the Romans shoved off, a regiment of pike and shotte complete and their officer done suddenly the work desk looked empty!  Filled it back up a bit though.  It now contains a second regiment of pike and shotte who have already had some painted done but need a refresh and a major completion job.  My 15mm French Napoleonic troops also stand ready for some trial painting experiments using the dipping process, and finally a number of roman auxiliary cavalry men need bases cutting and cleaning up and building.  Despite their status as a Christmas present I'm counting them 'as new' for my total.

Cavalry count as one, so does the mortar because its one piece (despite having several crew).

Years totals from 1/10/11:
Purchased - 12
Painted - 106

Declaring for the King - Part 1

A new start to an old subject; I began my English Civil War Royalist army, both in 28mm scale and in earnest, in early 2009 and have put some bits about it on both editions of the RGMB forum, but the first vanished and the second doesn’t have any room for more pictures so its moving onto the blog, especially now I’ve a progress report!

Better start at the very beginning, a very good place to start……..All to be played using Blackpowder etc rules.........

The Army List:

Lord Flashearts Army of the West

Foote - Sir Hugh of Beeston
Regiment of Foot (Stradlings; Blue jackets) - Standard -16 pike, 16 muskets
Regiment of Foot - (The King’s Lifeguard; Red jackets) - Standard -16 pike, 16 muskets
Mortar Battery - 1 gun

Foote - Bishop of Bath & Wells
Regiment of Foot (Talbots; White jackets) - Standard -16 pike, 16 muskets
Regiment of Foot - (Hopton’s; more Blue jackets) - Large -16 pike, 24 muskets
Forlorn Hope - Standard - 18 musketeers
Saker Battery - 1 gun

Horse - Brigadier Wolfe
Regiment of Horse (Sir Marmaduke Langdale) - Standard - 8 horsemen 
Regiment of Horse (The Duke of Dorchester; aka ‘Mad Frank’) - Standard - 8 horsemen

The less interesting ‘who, what and why‘ part:

Most of my troops are Renegade miniatures models, with the exception of Lord Flasheart (Warlords Charles I model) and Hopton’s foote (more Warlord pike and shotte).  This makes them reassuringly heavy, and they have a nice level of detail on them.

Onto the tricky part; making and painting.  Basing is the key to the making, all but the Warlord lot are already one-piece metal models (except the cavalry which are two piece, and the guns which are a few more).  Having originally tried moving my (individually based for Warhammer) regiments around, and found they annoyingly fall over everywhere, I decided to base up my infantry in fours (a square 4cm by 4cm base), and my horse in twos (on a square 5cm by 5cm base), all based up on plastic card - so much cheaper and better than GW slotta bases.  The artillery have a base per gun and team, which depends on their size.  Here Blackpowder is handy because I don’t have to remove any models until the entire regiment is destroyed!

The Whole Damn Process:
This is all remarkably identical to my process for painting my Roman army, those who have already seen this might want to skip to the pretty pictures.  On the bases are stuck the models, then the bases have sand stuck on with PVA glue, then the whole thing is sprayed black (GW Chaos Black spray paint).  Following this the model is painted a brown (paints are primarily Vallejo, much easier to use than GW), then dry-brushed two more shades of a slightly lighter brown, before the main colours are picked out (coats, flesh, guns etc) very roughly.  After the base painting is complete the model’s off for a dip in the Army Painter Dip tin, then after drying it gets the flock treatment, and finally a coating of matt varnish to take the gloss of the dip off it.  The object is speed painting, something which I normally fail in miserably, being a stickler for details even if I‘m hopeless at picking them out!  This will leave most of them looking quite rough around the edges, but hopefully will help me finish the army once and for all!  I must at this point aim a finger squarely at Aidan because this is his style of painting, and I’m hoping it works for me to a similar standard as it works for him.

A last mention to some men I had already painted in a previous effort; the 18 musketeers will form the forlorn hope foot regiment and stick with their paint scheme and basing so they can skirmish and I don’t feel it was all wasted time!  

Update time!

On to the current day and the picture of the entire army below is a bit out of date. 

The red bunch are indeed still the same colour but no more work has been done, while the Saker cannon and horse are still more black than anything else, and finally the officers/commanders are all sprayed black.  Everything has had its base painted a nice brown and lined with green, but the big improvement is that of the black sprayed regiments one has its coats painted white, one medium blue, and the fourth (Stradlings) is quite stunningly finished!  I know, amazing or what?  To add to this heady mix I have also finished the mortar and an officer (Sir Hugh of Beeston).  All good stuff.  

The next step, should I ever get round to it, is to carry on where I left off doing the King’s Lifeguard (red coats).  Don’t watch this space, you might die from boredom.

Oh, and this chap kept popping up, so I painted him as well.

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 8

A few pictures to confirm previous unconfirmed reports that I’d actually finished every legionary and auxiliary model available!  Not strictly true of course, I’ve a few more auxiliaries and a couple of legionaries, and after Christmas I am the proud owner of a bunch of auxiliary cavalry, but its still a nice milestone to have had nothing left to paint at one point.  Hopefully I might even get to use them in a game at some point, this Christmas I was the proud beneficiary of a copy of the Hail Caesar rulebook, and it would good to try and work out what they are on about in it!

Next up (after I’ve harangued Warlord for failing to put a musician arm/body in the cavalry pack) is to base up the horsemen, and to purchase some more troops!  Command groups all round, a few officers and a pack of Renegade Balaeric slingers I think, still toying with the idea of getting an elephant as a nice Christmas centre piece to the army, although where from I’m not 100%.  Renegade do one, but its without a howdah or troops, and doesn’t look as exciting as Aventine miniatures efforts.  Foundry and Warlord seem to have missed this part of history as well.  The pictures of elephants in Hail Caesar are definitely Aventine ones.  Looking to Christmas money to finish the funding for the main part of the army.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Work in progress...

Good news! The painting table is empty, and not because the biotitan has taken the opportunity to attack it either! The roman legionaries and auxiliaries are all dipped, flocked and painted, leaving no romans waiting to be done until I acquire some more. The english civil war mortar is at the same 100% finished stage, while the 32 combined pike and shot and a mounted ECW officer are painted and just awaiting the dipping etc process. Next up I'm going to look at a fast track way of painting my 15mm French Napoleonic troops, and, if no Romans arrive soon, pick a second ECW regiment to start on after the first is dipped and done.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Work in progress...

The paint has dried on the auxiliaries and the Royalist mortar, plus the remaining legionaries. A total of 16 auxiliaries, 24 legionaries and the mortar and crew have also been dipped (or rather painted on), and are now letting the flock dry on their bases. Tomorrow evening I should be able to apply a coat of matt varnish and they will join the ranks of the finished models!

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

On The Painting Table

On the painting table: 24 roman legionaries 16 English Civil War musketeers (Royalists of course!) 16 ECW pikemen of the same ilk 1 ECW mortar and an ECW staff officer/brigadier Years totals from 1/10/11: Purchased - 0 Painted - 32

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 6: A Battle Report!

Less of an update, more of a battle report as my Romans took to the (3ft by 5ft-ish) field of green baize to battle Aidan's Romano-Brits as they also took part in their first clash. As well as the two painted cohorts of legionaries I also fielded one of auxiliaries (easy to spot with their bright blue shields) and one of partly painted legionaries. The Romano-Brits, also facing their first encounter, easily outnumbered my small forces, and kindly lent me a small unit of Saxon mercenaries, a tiny unit of horse archers, and finally the Titus Aduxas model to lead my three legionary cohorts. The auxiliaries and Saxon’s being led by a random auxiliary on a horse who lost an arm (literally) half way through.

With us both being rusty we went for a straight punchup, thinking it would be best to prevent us getting into too many complicated rules areas. I hoped my legionaries (as heavy infantry apparently, and so quite good) would best his infantry (mostly a bit lighter), but was concerned about my lack of cavalry and skirmishers and so lack of flexibility. I was however confident having watched one of my three Roman period films the previous night to pick up historical tactics. None of you will be wondering which one so I'll tell you; I rejected Gladiator, and turned down King Arthur reluctantly, but felt Life of Brian was the best option. In hindsight perhaps not, particularly when the opposite army was being lead by King Arthur! 

 The scenery having barely survived a sustained attack by the bio-Titan we kicked off, my legionary cohorts on the left facing the bulk of the enemy army.

 The auxiliaries and allies on the right facing some cavalry.

 The bulk of the Romano-British army (from now on to be mostly referred to as Brits for ease), lead by a nicely painted King Arthur (centre of front line - green cloak and light blue shield, standing heroically!) and the Bishop of Bath (back on the right looking religious).

 The Romans were mainly sluggish, their CO having to remember that in Hail Caesar the troops move a bit slower.  This let the Brits allied Saxons in for the first charge, and they crashed headlong into the second cohort!  I stood expectant of these ruffians to be seen off in short order, so when the second cohort (how many hours of painting?!?) disintegrated in the first round I was slightly miffed.

 With the rest of the Brits army seemingly quite happy to sit and watch the Saxon’s then carried on into the Fourth cohort on my far left, hitting them in the flank but luckily the legionaries stood firm this time.  Rumours of big money sponsorship by Coke and Maryland cookies for the Romano-Brit faction cannot be dismissed easily.

 Rallying his men Centurion Titus Aduxas personally lead the third cohort into action against Arthurs best men, as the fourth cohort got the best of the smaller Saxons and began pushing them back.  Arthurs elite copied the embarrassing actions of the second cohort and vanished in short order, while the Saxons continued to reel backwards.  Both Roman cohorts having been fighting for a period (and my saving throws being shocking) they were both quite worn down.

 On the right the action centred around my own Saxon’s taking advantage of a rare opportunity to charge the enemy horse.  They of course counter charged, but with my auxiliaries (which I think are probably from Gaul, or Germania, while Aidan thinks they are more Spanish looking) following and hitting the enemy in the flank I was confident.  I shouldn’t have been.  More shocking dice rolls followed, and the auxiliaries abandoned ship early as well, leaving the Saxons to be harassed off the table by the cavalry.  My own tiny unit was a minor annoyance with its one arrow a turn, but nothing more.

 Having tired of the oppositions Saxons getting in the way Titus Aduxas lead both cohorts of legionaries in a charge, wiping them out.  Both cohorts then pursued into the skirmishing spearmen, with Titus and King Arthur both joining in to devastating effect.  When the round was over the Brits spearmen had gone, dragging Arthur with them from the battlefield, while the fourth cohort had also dissipated, and the third (last remaining legionary cohort) was badly damaged.  

 With the disaster than had befallen the auxiliary and mercenary wing it was backs to the wall time for Titus and his last legionaries.  The Bishop of Bath lead his infantry into the charge, as the Brits cavalry appeared around a bunch of trees and launched themselves into the enemy flank.  The legionaries held out but had to withdraw, and found themselves eventually pushed off the table giving victory to the Romano-Brits!

Analysis: I’ve never read the Hail Caesar book, and Aidan’s knowledge was rusty, so we probably got a few things wrong.  It was however, and despite defeat, fairly enjoyable to be able to use my Romans.  The rules are subtly but definitely different from Blackpowder in some critical areas, and a few games would help.  The Romans and the Romano-Brits also looked the part fighting, and in an unusual twist most of my army was actually painted!

In other news; once my Romans had finished limping off the field I got to use this lot:

 The trains were particularly effective.

And after this final skirmish was victorious as Duke Tristram (me) foiled the dastardly Earl Erik!  More detail I suspect may be found here:

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

A Lost Continent - Ancient Wargaming

I once read an article in a miniature wargames mag about the concept of fantasy-historical campaigns, being around 10-12 years ago this was quite unusual and it stuck with me. The basic premise was to create a fictional land/continent/island etc where each nation could be who you wished, for example the accompanying picture was of Norman knights charging a bridge guarded by Roman legionaries.

This springs to mind now because of the current variety of 'ancients' in terms of periods at the RGMB. Personally I'm collecting imperial Romans, AD80 or so, as is Dave, while Luke is looking at one of the Celtic barbarian nations. All fits so far, but then Aidan's troops are Romano-Brits, AD800ish, while Red swings the other way (could resist, sorry) to BC500 with his Greek Hoplites, and finally Chris is going all Viking on us.

If only there was a way of all being able to play nicely together. Like on a fictional lost continent. And there's where the train of thought currently ends, a nice fictional land with a bit of Greece, couple of roman empires, some barbarians and some celts(I know, no such thing but it's a nice generic title) and some extra unknown space for future exploration and different opponents. All fighting nicely against each other using the Hail Caesar rules. Sounds like something I may have to look into.

I also came across the following paragraph or two written by a friend.  He may have gone a bit further into the bizarre than the period I was aiming for, but he is on the right lines!


The second anachronistic war will have been fought by just about anybody who couldn’t possibly have been there due to not having been born yet, or having died a long time before. In fact the situation was so bad that it was missed from the Annals and Histories of the period simply because no contemporary that could have been there, was there, and thus the greatest conflict in history passed almost completely unnoticed. 

When the battlefields of the war began to be uncovered they revealed impossible battles between Dinosaurs and Romans, Zulus and Martians, Spartans and Americans, and more besides: It was thought to be a hoax and still is amongst conspiracy theorists. It has given archaeologists major headaches trying to work out the anachronology (warning: not a real word) of the war or the period it took place. It is currently assumed to have taken place at least partly during the beginning of the 21st century, on the basis no finds from this period will have been found on the battlefields. 

No trace of the First Anachronistic War is going to have been found yet. 

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 5

Time for a roman update; I've not actually been too lax on this subject, with the first two legionary cohorts of 16 models a piece finished I decided to do my auxiliary bases next. There are 5 of these, each with 4 models on, and once I've bought a couple of command groups and a spare sprue of troops will expand into 8 bases, split into two cohorts of 4 bases and 16 models each, the same size as the legionaries.

I started with the same intent of quick and basic paint, then dip, flock and spray. However I found the auxiliary models (Warlord Games troops) had a few more details than the legionaries (trousers for a start!), and needed a couple of extra colours, the tunics for starters needed a better look. Having consulted the oracle (and been told I wasn't The One) I settled on a lighter brown for the tunics and a blue for the shields. I kept with the silver for the helmets, deciding bronze wouldn't look good enough to justify the extra time needed to paint it.

Having done the main colours (brown, silver, flesh then shield) which i expected to take a while, I moved onto the smaller bits. These took far longer than I had hoped, partly due to constant bio-Titan interruption (surely children need sleep prior to 10:30pm at night?!?) and partly because I fell back into an old habit. It wasn't until I was starting to curse the word auxiliary and was trying to get the line of leg vs sandal right that I realised I was trying to be perfect. This, as the more astute will try and forget, is where I've always gone wrong in the past - higher quality finish in v low quantities - very German.

Having had this moment of clarity I swiftly stopped prattling about and refocused, finishing them quickly. They still need the dip, flock and spray, but I'm going to do that en-masse when I've another cohort painted.

The 2 command groups and extra men are some of the bits I'm looking to get post-Christmas (waiting to ensure no possible duplication). On the good news front I think I need almost exactly £100 to complete (yes I said COMPLETE!) the army, and I have already obtained £62 in finance from chaos space marine sales. The cockerels have been sacrificed and the gods are clearly favouring me. Hopefully re-enforcements will be close at hand in January and with my Tuesday nights now freed up I can get the rest of my legionaries (and some ECW pikemen for variety) done before the 31st.

The Auxiliaries

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

English Civil War - A Winter of Discontent - The Campaign Overview

The story so far……….

Week 1

In an unusual break with traditional military logic King Charles gathered his forces and marched northward from Oxford in early October 1643. Shadowed by parliamentary forces lead by Earl Michael de Blondeville, assisted by the mercenary Lord Flasheart, Charles turned and defeated his pursuers at the Shropshire village of Much Wenlock. At the same time the army of the west gained control of Cirencester, Bristol and Gloucester. In reply Parliamentarian forces moved to secure Colchester and then to Reading.

End of week 1.
Week 2

The following week saw Charles meet up with Prince Rupert, and head into Cheshire. On the edges of the village of Bunbury Earl Michael and Lord Flasheart caught up with them once again, and this time inflicted a stinging defeat on the king, sending the Royalist army tumbling southwards once more. With Parliamentary Troops now holding the south coast ports of Dover, Portsmouth and Poole, as well as Arundel, Charles moved quickly to claim Sherbourne and Lyme Regis and block their passage into the West Country. 
End of week 2.

Week 3

Charles and Rupert were joined by Prince Maurice (Ruperts brother), the Duke of York and Lord Byron to fight an inconclusive draw near Dorchester against Earl Michael and Lord Flasheart. This ended the Royalist interest in Weymouth, but enabled them to gain Devon, holding Exeter, Dartmouth and Plymouth. Parliamentarian forces showed more interest in the midlands, bringing Norwich and Birmingham into the fold. A sour note for Earl Michael was the detection and dismantlement of his spy network by Royalist agents.
End of week 3.
The awards gained: The forces of the king, having thwarted the enemy at the battle of Much Wenlock, had supreme (misguided) confidence in their CO. However Charles spent most of the fighting around Dorchester not using his High Independence ability. They then moved into Lord Flashearts tavern, gaining an Untested regiment of horse. Parliament managed to set up a spy network, which was promptly dismantled, and produce an Academy trained regiment (Sir Adam Duckville's foote) which now performs as Superbly Trained.

We are now up to week four of the campaign, and I’ve attached a lovely map with squiggles on it.  The towns with crosses on are the ones held by the Parliamentarian forces, while the circles are the Royalist strongholds.  Perhaps following tradition the Roundheads have claimed Kent and that section of the coastline (although I have no idea what we’re doing in Birmingham, sorry Aidan), while the Royalists have branched out into the West Country.  I’ve added Falmouth because it surely should be on there, Wrexham though is more of a whim.  Overall we’ve seen a victory for each side and now a draw, and we look forward to Cromwell moving out from his constituency and joining the fight.

Week 4

The Battle of Broughton ended in a Royalist proclaimed draw, and, although it was their army which quit the field, gave the King the opportunity to draw up his men to force a decisive battle against the newly arrived Cromwell and his forces.  At the same time he opened negotiations with that well known mercenary Lord Flasheart about a possible transfer to the forces of light.  Little changed in the country for this action, Royalist troops used some of their few ships to sale to Liverpool and capture it, along with securing Chester, and when Parliamentarian troops gained that important regional centre of Wrexham they sacked it and forced them back to the other Roundhead prize; Shrewsbury.  The explosion of the powder magazine in Wrexham did not help the Roundhead cause. 

End of week 4.

Week 5

Kings Charles' victory over the arch-fiend Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Knockin in early November 1643 sent Royalist supporters into rapture around the country, and sent Cromwell back to London in disgrace, threatening not to reappear for a further 6 weeks.

In the days that followed the Royalists claimed the towns of Manchester, Wakefield and Wrexham. But promptly lost the last when the garrison revolted.  Parliamentarian troops chose to gain Lichfield and Leicester, although to what purpose nobody knows.

Things are not all rosy for Charles however, although Cromwell and his army are scattered or returned to London, Earl Michael de Blondevilles forces remain in the field at some strength, and Sir Brian Cromwell has returned to his home county confident of raising more regiments for his cause.  And to add to this Lord Flasheart, angry at the snub he received at Knockin, is becoming increasingly difficult to control or even retain as a royalist supporter.  Finally, as winter begins to bite, shotte and powder levels are beginning to dwindle. The next few weeks could be a nervy few for all. 

End of week 5.

 Week 6

Charles, Rupert, Flasheart, Earl Michael and the Cromwell's (like the Krays but with ruffs) all took a well deserved break just as characters looking suspiciously like them played the key parts in a sideshow in Cheshire.

The Battle of Middlewich was won by a whisker by the forces of Parliament, who, in a totally unrelated series of events, also captured Caernarvon and that well known regional centre of Wrexham, before using the M1 and A1 to reach Edinburgh.  In reply the Royalists cunningly captured Falmouth, and finally captured Hull via the use of kinda eggs.

This put the Royalists firmly in the lead in terms of powder centres, holding 7 to Parliaments 5 - five shots of powder for them next week! In terms of rewards the forces of the Roundheads gained the news that god is on their side (probably), while Charles received the unwelcome news that Lord Flasheart has appointed himself as a secondary general to the main Royalist army.

Rumour has it Oliver Cromwell may return this week, although whether he will be seeking another major confrontation is questionable, however his numbers of troops have been boosted by his brothers; Sir Brisn Cromwell, recruiting drive.
End of week 6.

Week 7

The unexpected return of Cromwell, assisting the Earl of Essex and his army, saw King Charles and his new best pal Lord Flasheart try and seize an opportunity to thrash 'Old Robin' and young Oliver before the rest of the Parliamentarian forces could join with them.

They failed. Miserably. The troops of Earl Michael de Blondeville and Sur Brian Cromwell being in plenty of time to rescue Cromwell and the rest, as well as inflicting a stinging defeat on Charles. The less said about Prince Ruperts non-appearance on the battlefield of North Muskham the better.

Cromwell and Essex headed back to London, hoping unrealistically that the stories of drunkenness, madness and previous defeats had been left behind. Lord Flasheart stalked off the battlefield, with his troops completely intact, bemoaning the Kings tactics and threatening to turncoat once more. Sir Brian headed for the seaside, and Earl Michael furtively took a similar road to Lord Flasheart. The king retired to Oxford (again) to practice his next song and dance routine.

In the battles being fought through the rest of the country Parliament succeeded in wooing the scots, adding Dunbar, Aberdeen and Inverness to their collection. The Royalists replied by cunningly gaining the port of Falmouth and Pembroke. 

Another week into the winter, and even the Kings drive is struggling to keep his men in the field against driving fog and blinding drizzle (or was that the other way round?). Following advice from Rupert (not necessarily the best idea) Charles has decided to gamble on one final confrontation against his enemies before the winter weather closes in, hoping to break their will to continue the war into 1644.

It will take him a number of weeks to bring his full force to bear, both sides will spend that time grappling to improve their chances of victory. 

End of week 7.

Week 8: The Beginning of the End

The Covenantor victory at the Battle of Alford ended the Royalist interest in Scotland for 1643, and left the Parliamentarian forces in an unassailable position. They had also gained the key town of Newark, as well as Lincoln and made an attempt to drive into the heartland of the Royalists by capturing Selby, cutting off York and Hull. The King, clearly unperturbed by these events, obviously has one eye on the 1644 bathing season, claiming Scarborough and Bridlington.

With one week to go this left the Parliamentarian forces in control of 21 towns and ports, to the Royalist 19, leaving a puritan victory to the campaign inevitable. However, in an unexpected turn of events the magazine at Caernarfon exploded, wiping out the Roundhead garrison.  If the Parliamentarians are able to stall enough for a stalemate, or claim victory in the large, and last, battle next Tuesday then they will be victorious in the campaign.  Should the Royalists claim victory against the odds then they will be fought their way to a credible overall draw in the campaign.  Although the final scenario is yet to be decided upon do not forget that victory at the Battle of Alford enables the Parliamentarians to pick their ground, and force the Royalists to deploy their forces first.  The Cavaliers do have one ace up their sleeves however, due to their capture of the powder magazine at Scarborough they have the first fire ability for each regiment for the first two rounds of shooting.
End of week 8 and overall final map.

Week 9: The End (yes, actually)

With King’s Charles victory at the Battle of Radway the 1643 campaigning season came to an end.  The forces of Parliament had gained a stranglehold on Scotland and the South-East, however the South-West and many of the countries vital ports remained in Royalist hands, and overall neither side could claim to be victors.

The King can look forward to summers on the beach at Scarborough, and a winter spent in comfort at Oxford with Prince Rupert.  Earl Michael, who can take much of the responsibility for the roundhead successes is heading to Lisborn for some much needed R&R, while Cromwell, Cromwell and Essex take stage in London as Parliament plans next years campaign.  Finally Lord Flasheart, who so nearly changed sides (and sometimes did but very quietly) has a few months holed up in that important 17th Century cultural centre of Wrecsam to consider his choice of ally for 1644.

Many thanks to Red and Michael, our main Royalist and Parlimentarian protagonists, along with Luke for buying into the ECW, and Aidan for providing laughs a plenty and a crucial victory and defeat for his side in the biggest battle, plus a splash of colour to the battlefield with his army.  Between him and Michael the Roundheads can take credit for the best looking bunch.  9 weeks may be the longest RGMB campaign in rather a long time, and ended at the right time; on a high.  Perhaps with the new rulebook in 2012 we can return and do it all again (I might even have painted something, Red‘s army certainly looked more colourful), not that 1644 was a particularly good year to be a royalist…….

English Civil War - The Battle of Radway

With the cold creeping in, and the increasing damp making misfires commonplace, King Charles has drawn his forces together for one last effort at winning a moral victory. The Parliamentarian commanders, with 1643 looking like ending in success are hoping to add the icing to the cake. The Earl of Essex and Oliver Cromwell, with Scotland secure and Earl Michael de Blondeville and Sir Brian Cromwells men once again in the field, are also marshalling their men on the village of Ratley, barely 10 miles away from the Royalist encampment.

A chance meeting of pickets and some low level discussions later and a date and place has been agreed. Charles winter campaign of 1643 will end on the 28th of November on the outskirts of a little known place called Radway in Warwickshire, curiously close to another battleground…..

Or so they thought!  Two changes of plan later and it was King Charles (Red), Prince Rupert (Chris Fazey) and Lord Flasheart (Rick/me) facing the forces of Earl Michael de Blondeville (Michael) and Sir Brian Cromwell (Luke), following a calamitous event - messieurs Essex and O. Cromwell (both Aidan) suddenly realising they had a (joint) prior engagement with a hairdresser in Loninium!  With the Royalists now with the upper hand in terms of numbers Earl Michael assumed command, and, satisfied that his side have won the 1643 campaigning season, he turns the troops towards home.  Charles, Rupert and Flasheart, saw their last chance of honour, and a possibility to trap and destroy the Parliamentarian army and set off in pursuit. They met the enemy rearguard on the edges of Radway where a river blocked the Parliamentarian path. There was a bridge, but by good Royalist fortune a regiment of dragoons had made it there first and started to stall like champions. As most of the Parliamentarian army looked to charge the bridge some turned to try and delay their pursuers one last time.

Technicals - the Royalist forces now significantly outnumbered their opponents, so a couple of standard foot regiments and a Forlorn Hope changed sides to even it up.  The scenario was one picked from the Blackpowder book, page 118 to be exact, and we tried to get the deployments and rules as close as possible.  They Royalists deployed on the battlefield by mistake(!), and to rectify this the Parliamentarians had first turn.  They had to get 6 or more regiments across the bridge and off the far table edge by the end of the battle (9:45pm of course), any less and the Royalists won the battle, and claimed a share of the campaign spoils in a draw.  Anyone who claims to see Roman legionaries or Father Christmas in any of the following pictures should see a psychiatrist for some expensive and electric-shock related treatment.  Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera, so the Iphone deputised, and the lack of flash and detail at least hides some of the lack of paint on show.

The Battle:

The Royalist army was split into four parts; Lord Flasheart (Rick) commanding the infantry right of centre, Lord Byron and the Duke of York (both Red) those left of centre, and Rupert and Maurice (both being played by Chris) the large cavalry wings, and the dragoons at the bridge.  Red also took the role of King Charles.  For the Parliamentarians Michael controlled two of the infantry brigades (the two on their left side), and was the army general, while Luke had the other infantry brigade (Sir Brian’s men) and the horse brigade (Fairfax).

The Parlimentarians, having conferred frantically and declared their mission impossible, dispatched their horse towards the bridge with all haste, to be followed by one of Earl Michaels foot brigades.  The remaining two foot brigades, perhaps unaware that they had been marked for death and destruction, formed a line of pikes to hold back the veritable horde of Royalists standing around in the village of Radway.

And their off! Flasheart decides standing around is for pansies who have forgotten to stick their wig on properly, and leads his four foot regiments in a wild charge towards Earl Michael’s foot and cannon.  Unfortunately he had forgotten that to move so far meant no shooting, something that would hurt later. 

Not quite as rash as Rupert’s first suggestion however, and only a couple of poor command rolls prevented his horse being thrown into the front of the enemies pike on the right flank!  On the left Prince Maurice was more sedate, leading his brigade of horse forward slowly, while Bryon, York and Charles struggled to get their foot motivated, and lost one regiment instantly to a single cannon ball.  This failure to pass break tests would soon become a feature of the battle.

 Surviving the first volley of musketry, Lord Flashearts men closed to push of pike and started to slug it out blow for blow, with Rupert, now blocked from charging, champing at the bit for a breakthrough.

At the other end of the battlefield a desperate fight had developed, as Earl Michael’s Swedish foot regiment, resplendent in their yellow, and using the feared ‘Follow Me’ command, charged into the dragoons guarding the bridge, watched by Fairfax’s horse regiments.  Unbelievably the Swedes bounced off and dissipated; the Parliamentarians most powerful regiments vanishing in a flash!  It would be down to the horse to see the job done now.

A nicely painted Sir Edward Verney putting in a colourful appearance in support of the foot regiments fighting in the centre, dispelling rumours that he had actually died a year earlier.

Fear (and sponsorship by Red Bull) lends wings to the Parliamentary horse of Fairfax as they race across the bridge and fling themselves upon the dragoons, only to see the defenders resist every effort to dislodge them, the initial charge coming within a whisker of breaking them however.

And might well they worry, for behind them a disaster has occurred, with Maurice spotting an exposed flank and sending his gallopers to take advantage to the cheers of the kings foot regiments!  Two of Sir Brian’s foot regiments vanish in minutes, leaving the final one alone, and Earl Michael’s foot unsupported and under immense pressure.  They did succeed in shaking the Royalist gallopers and trotters however, and they would struggle to continue the pursuit of the remains of the Parliamentarians later.

Earl Michael’s men managed to drive the King’s Lifeguard (redcoats) back to their starting positions, but the pressure of numbers and some appalling break tests began to tell, with one Roundhead regiment after another fleeing.

Suddenly its down to a nasty push of pike fight, with three large regiments picking on two artillery and a standard Parliamentarian one.  The cannon crew swiftly flee, however Earl Michael’s foot give Hopton’s a very bloody nose and stick it out.

With their defensive line collapsing, and expecting Ruperts horse to be unleashed any moment the Parliamentarians continue to scrap for the bridge, with the remains of various foot brigades clustering, hoping Fairfax can find them an escape route.

Unbelievably they are granted a reprieve as Earl Michael’s foot, assailed in combat ion three sides refuse to give in and hold up the Royalist advance!

The bigger picture, showing how far behind the Royalists are from the Parliamentarian survivors by the bridge.  Rupert in particular is struggled to make his men understand the word ‘Charge’, probably something to do with his pronunciation of the ‘r’.  The roundheads need six regiments to escape to claim victory, and four horse, plus 3 foot, are gathered around the bridge.

Ruperts men sudden work out what their glorious leader was screaming at them (blue in the face by now) and launch a 40”+ charge on the rear of Fairfax’s horse.  Sadly for them they are seen off in short order, and retreat to wait for the rest of their brigade to arrive.

The magnificent last stand of Sir Michael’s foot; finally wiped out to a man by one of Byron’s regiments.

And not a moment too soon for the Royalists, as the dragoons suddenly, with no warning, melt away into the evening, and Fairfax’s horse pour across the bridge and away towards London.

However it is too late for the remainder of the Parliamentarian foot, as Rupert and his horse return and send them reeling away on the wrong side of the river.  With 9:45pm upon us, Royalist foot regiments closing in to assist Rupert, and the enemy foot looking extremely unlikely to recover the Roundheads concede and victory goes to the Royalists, along with a share of honour in the campaign.


I picked the scenario on the basis that being in the Blackpowder book would mean it was general well balanced rather than risk the campaign result on an oddity, and it didn’t disappoint!  Although extreme pessimism seemed to reign on the Roundheads side through the early parts they got organised, and their plan was general quite sound, with the horse and a foot brigade marked for escape, and the rest as a delaying force.  

Their undoing was the heroic, and at times mathematically unlikely, survival of the dragoons by the bridge  Even then the last ditch defence by Michael’s foot regiment, and Chris/Rupert’s failure to launch an early charge following the breakthrough, gave the Royalists a taste of fear and possible defeat, and it was only right at the last moment that the Royalist horse caught up and prevented the Parliamentarian foot from escape and victory.

So a nice balanced game overall, and keeping the result of the battle, and of the campaign hidden right down to the last moments of the last battle, nice place to sign off I think.

Monday, 28 November 2011

The Romans - A Hail Caesar Project - Part 4

Time for the post on Painting Romans

Now it must first be noted that most of the process I'm using has at best been copied (and at worse pinched) from others methods and ideas. Because i a nice person who is afraid of being sued I will put the credits at the bottom.

My painting - a nod to my own technique, a combination of base colours followed by a lighter series of dry brushing with some washed used sparingly for skin/guns/metal etc. This tended to produce quite good results (I thought), however incredibly slowly, meaning that by the time one unit was done I would have lost the will to live and abandoned the task, bit of a problem when your army is 8-9 units big at least. My lack of dedication and slowness in painting technique adds to the lack of time I have to paint due to work and (mostly) the bio-Titan (a 19 month old with a fascination with paint and brushes), to mean I hadn't finished a model, let alone a unit, since feb 2010.

 A previous effort; ECW musketeers.

The revolution - having watched a number of people building and painting their armies happily, and suffered the (sometimes slight sometimes acute) embarrassment of turning up with unpainted models I wondered what the secret was. In some cases time appeared a factor, the player simply had more of it, and in others a single-mindedness to finish before they used anything. Neither approach looked likely to help me, but a third way had potential, relying on an effect from more of a distance than the close-up "eyes painted and face correctly shaded" ideals I was using. It seemed to cut painting time down to a minimum, and I had seen, and envied, the results on the tabletop myself. I resolved to gave it a shot, and so far it appears to be bringing me results. The full process used is below:

Modelling - stick model together, stick models to bases in blocks of 4 on a 4cm by 4cm base. The bases are plasticard which I cut to the right sizes. I use plastic glue (humbrol mainly), rather than superglue, i find it cheaper and easier to use (do have to wait a bit for it to dry but I think i, although revert back to superglue for metal or resin models. Then attach sand using pva glue covering base.

Painting - I undercoat the model in chaos black spray paint, then paint the entire model with a cost of brown (medium-dark), before adding/dry brushing another couple of layers of the same brown on, a bit slighter each time.

Once that's done it's metal (armour, swords etc) followed by flesh, all of which is done in one shade, although sometimes a couple of coats to make it strong enough, and done quickly. Then some details; red shields, beige sword slings are the obvious, the command group needs more. Then only tidying up, with brown mainly but also metal where the flesh can carried over. All is done quickly and without any aim of perfection which would slow the job down. The command group needs a couple of greys for the wolf skin, and some cream for the tunics and gold and bronze for the standard and horn respectively. No effort is made to do details like eyes, buckles etc.

On the subject of tunics; the traditional red all round would be nice, but much more time consuming so the lighter brown is left. In actual fact the dye for the wool was often unavailable and plain cream or brown tunics worn and that satisfies my historical accuracies committee.

The bases get the same base coat of brown, but then a lighter coat of a different brown in a change from my usual 3 coats plus. This is partly for speed, but mostly because the flock will cover 90% of it.

 The Cohorts post paint but pre-Dip.

The Dip - Painting finished and onto the next bit: the infamous Dip - I have the strong quick shade one. Now the size of the neck of the dip can means its rather tricky to get a 4cm square base in, so following some advice I use a paint brush to put it on the model, which works nicely because I can then remove excess bits in areas like faces with ease, plus you don't waste as much trying to flick it off after dipping. I tried dipping first but the sheer volume of shade on the model was a disaster and I had to use a brush to take most of it off. Once dipped (or painted etc) I leave the model for 24hrs, which goes against my impatience streak, but is necessary for the dip to dry 100%, no kidding here - first couple of attempts went horribly wrong. 

 Post-Dip shiny-ness.  Actually didn’t look as bad as if you had actually dipped it in the stuff, probably because by ‘painting’ it on I hadn’t used as much.

After the 24hrs it's onto the flock (mix of two greens from gale force nine, attached to 90% of the base using pva glue), then once that is dry (another min of 12hrs I reckon, but I left it 24 because I was at work anyway) a coat of the army painter anti-shine matt varnish. This does two things; one it takes off the shine and gives the effect, and two it cements the flock to the base. I think any matt varnish should do the job to be honest but I'd bought that one with the dip so used it.  Big tip - use Dip and Varnish in good humidity conditions; cold and damp is disastrous!

And done! Didn't actually time the period taken to paint each model or unit but due to the bio-Titan I tend to have to do bits in short bursts so it would be tricky. The mere success of painting the two cohorts has brought back the joy of painting however, and I'm varying the subject matter by working on some English Civil War pikemen at the same time (more on that somewhere else sometime).

Next up is a unit of auxiliaries, although I need to buy some command groups before I can complete anything.

And not to forget the credits, two ‘thank you‘s‘:
Firstly to Michael for his tips on basing (which caused me to go with the 90% flock cover - a very good move), and for information on ‘Dipping’.  Also for his single-minded determination to embarrass the rest of us by painting models he has purchased.
To Andy for the info on humidity and using the varnish, saving me from packing the whole lot in before I’d really started!
And the biggest thanks to Aidan, because it’s his quick painting technique I’m using and exposing to everyone else, and because he responsible for me purchasing the Army Painter system in the first place, even though he now claims he said not too.  Plus his ECW army makes me feel bad every time I play a game.