Monday, 27 December 2010

Ral Partha Samurai

Due to some complications in my personal life, my wargaming activities have been at a low level for the past couple of months. However, now and then, I find the time to paint some figures. I am slowly working at my backlog of figures acquired during the past 20 years, in the hopes of ending up with 0 (yes, zero) unpainted figures a year from now. Is that a choir of maniacal laughter I hear in the background?

Anyway, here's my latest paint job. A bunch of old Ral Partha Samurai figures, currently sold by Iron Wind (Iron Wind took over much of the Ral Partha catalogue). Ral Partha once was a giant in the fantasy miniature scene in the eighties and nineties, but I haven't followed them anymore since a long time.

The figures are painted to a rather quick gaming standard (I've always been a gamer first, painter second), and given the [Army Painter Quick Shade dip treatment]( I use the medium tone, and so far, most figures I've dipped in the brown goo come out pretty ok.

The building in the background is Japanese Temple the from John Jenkins designs. The happy Buddha is a cheap figure from an oriental trinket store, the lion statues are Temple Dogs from Ainsty Castings. The photograph is a bit oversaturated, but oh well.

Time to organize some Samurai skirmish games ...

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Building a big river - the sequel

Some days ago, I [wrote about building a river]( Since then, I've progressed a bit on said river.

After cutting and glueing the river pieces, the next step was to level the banks a (tiny little) bit using filler (I used bog standard Polyfilla). The filler also serves to level out scrapes and hollows in the foam of the banks, as well as the grooves where I used the foam upside down (remember, the foam I used is meant to be used under laminate flooring and can be glued to the ground - the underside is grooved to provide grip for the glue).

The next step is to glue a mixture of various grades of stones in the river, along the banks and in areas where the stones might collect due to the way the river flows. This is glued using simple white glue.


After this glue had dried, I decided to strengthen the bond of the stones to the foam by 'washing' them again with diluted glue. I used a mixture of about 1:1 glue to water (the exact ratio is undetermined - I just throw water and glue together rather haphazardly) and slathered the stones liberally with this:


The stones are a mixture of actual model railroad gravel of various grades and (unused) kitty litter, by the way.

After this second coat of glue has dried, the first coat of paint goes on the boards. Normally I use spray paint to provide the first coat on scenery items, but the spray paint I use eats the foam (I tested on a scrap piece). So, I mixed up a very dark shade of brown (which actually looks black in the photos) and painted the river boards with a big brush (that's important - it goes fast that way :) ):


And that's the state the river boards are in now - first coat of paint is on:


That's it for now, but the story will be continued :)

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Bavarian 1st Light Infantry - full

Earlier this month, [I showed]( the first half of the 1st Bavarian Light Infantry Battalion. The full battalion has now been painted:

Bavarian 1st Light Infantry

The bases obviously need to be finished and the flags need tassels. But for that, I first have to do some research (read: dig out the relevant Osprey) to see whether the Bavarians used only tassels or tassels and cravats, as the French did.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Building a big river

While I have a set of rivers for my 28mm games, they are rather on the smallish side - the widest of them is around 3" wide. That's fine for most games, but not for a few I am planning. I'm working some games which involve assault crossings of a river using pontoon bridges and possibly barges and boats as well. In order to do that, you need a river that actually looks like something you'd want to cross in a boat instead of hop-skipping over it with one swift jump.

So, with that in mind, I set about creating this river. As my table is 6x8 feet, I decided to build the river in 2 foot sections, so I can use three of them to cross the table breadth wise and four to cover it lengthwise. As a river of this size does not tend to meander that much, especially in the small area represented on the table, I also decided on only doing straight sections. Additionally, I intend to build a second river set which is about half the width of this one, so I wanted to build a piece where the smaller river joins the bigger one. Finally, with shades of Lobau island in my mind, I wanted to build a sixth piece with a big island in the middle of the river.

Jumping straight to the end result, here's the set as it stands at the moment:


The material I used is a kind of foamboard that is normally used to form the base to put under laminate floors and as such is easily available in various DIY stores (I went to the nearest Brico for it). The specific one I used is [this one](

Transforming them into a river is just a question of deciding on a number of measures, particularly a standard profile at the ends so they join up to any other section. My measurements for this river are: 30cm wide, with the banks three cm in on each side (so the river itself is 24cm wide) and 60 cm long. The next step is breaking out the cutter knife and hacking away:


The offcuts are turned into banks by means of diagonal cuts to create slopes and glued onto the river using simple wood glue, as are the islands in the big island section:


And that's where the project is at currently. Next step will be spackling the banks and glueing small stones along the banks in the riverbed, before painting the thing.

More pictures can be ogled at in [this photoset](

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Here's one I did earlier

In rummaging through my drawers of painted miniatures, as one does, I came across this one:

Briton  10

He's an old [Metal magic Asterix Briton]( (look for code C1705b in the Britons picture) bought way back when in the Lonely Mountain store in Leuven (in the first golden age of Schild en Vriend). He was snapped of at the ankles so I repaired him today.

He forms an interesting view of how my painting evolved. This chap was painted in 1997 (I still marked the figures bases with the painting year back then) and he shows the beginning of my move to the three layer style. The flesh shade is still done with inks, the entire figure is painted on a grey undercoat (hence no deep shadows or blacklining) and the highlights are nowhere near as exaggerated as I do these days. However, glimpses of that later style (I think I came into my later style about a year after this figure) are already apparent, especially in the trousers for example.

Just thought it would be an interesting walk down memory lane :)

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Bavarian 1st Light Battalion, 1st three companies

Wet off the painting table, here's the first three companies of the 1st Bavarian Light battalion:

Bavarian 1st Light - 1st half

Purists will notice that it's 2 companies and 3/4th of the third, with a carabinier tacked on instead. Further purists will note that carabiniers were not added to Bavarian lights until after the 1809 campaign which is my focus for this project. Tough luck.

The plan with basing these is to have the main 'line' companies on two 45x40 bases, the command on a single 30x40 base and the light and carabinier companies on single 15x20 bases so they can be deployed as skirmishers. Line battalions will probably be based on 4 45x40 bases (which means that I have come to my senses and am going for 24 figure battalions again, as opposed to 36).

Next on the painting table are the 12 chaps completing this battalion. Oh yes, the figures for these are from Front Rank.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

A red that works

Those of you who regularly apply brush to miniature know that there are certain colours that are, shall we say, reluctant participators in this whole painting thing. I'm talking about reds and yellows of course.

Reds and yellows, because of the way these pigments work physically, do not cover easily. You will usually need more than one layer to get a good coverage with any yellow or red, even with miniature paints where the amount of pigment in the paint is higher than usual. And if you do get coverage with a reddish or yellowish colour, I'm certain you'll find that it is more of a brownish colour, which is cheating really.

Until now that is. I've discovered a red that actually covers a black undercoat in one go. [Games Workshop]( (yes, the vaunted evil empire and bugbear of many supposedly stout hearted historical wargamer) do a range of paints called [Foundation Paints]( which are specifically formulated to be used as base coats and intended to cover in one layer. I'm guessing what that means is that they have so much pigment in them that they're just a midsomer nights sigh away from being chalk.

But, never one to shy away from some experimentation (I blame my education) I bought the red ([Mechrite Red]( and one of the yellow ([Ivanden Darksun]( ones to try them out. You'll notice that I went straight for the difficult customers here.

Earlier this week, I used the red one as the shade coat for the piping on a bunch of Bavarian light infantrymen I'm painting and you can hit me over the head with a flabby flounder and call me flaky if it didn't cover the black undercoat in one go. Even thinned (I almost never use paint straight out of the pot) down to my preferred consistency it still covers the black. I'm sold.

Now only to find something to paint yellow to try the other one.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Meeples & Miniatures painting specials

While painting the last few days, I've been listening to two episodes of the [Meeples and Miniatures podcast]( episodes 65 and 69 which form two parts of a special on painting miniatures.

Host Neil Shuck and guest presenter Steve Archbold talk about painting miniatures (obviously) for someone who is only just beginning to paint. So they go into all the basics such as material, painting techniques and painting styles.

A few things I particularly like about it is that they have a firm emphasis on army painting, i.e. painting a miniature to a standard that works on the tabletop in a time frame that actually gets said miniature on the tabletop with a few tens or hundreds of its friends and enemies. Additionally, it hits upon a few of the things that I know are true (I have a bit of experience painting miniatures myself) but haven't really heard or read in much other places. Things like brush control, brush size (the bigger the better - which is somewhat counterintuitive) and the amount of contrast you need on a wargame level figure (more than you think).

Of course, there are areas where I disagree (I *do* dip figures in Army Painter, as real men do - you can be the judge as to the [result]( ) and the hosts accent is thick enough to host an elephants picknick on, but in general these are two very good podcast episodes to listen to, preferrably while painting miniatures. Heartily recommended.

[Meeples and Miniatures episode 65](

[Meeples and Miniatures episode 69](

Sunday, 21 November 2010

US Cavalry

These are some of my last unpainted Old West type figures (they're Foundry figures if you hadn't guessed). They were half (well, a quarter) painted what must have been almost 10 years ago and then abandoned. They ended up in a shoebox that made it through about 4 house moves before I rediscovered them when rearranging storage in my attic last week.

US Cavalry

Anyway, they've been painted over the last few days. Three of these figures were three quarters done 10 years ago, when I still painstakingly mixed my own colours and used upwards of 4-5 layers on each colour. The rest of them are painted in my current army level 2-layer style. If you can spot which is which, feel free to comment with your guesses :)

Next up on the painting table is a battalion of 24 Bavarian light infantry (Napoleonic). They'll make up the 1st Light Battalion.

Great Northern Powder

27 April 2016: links updated, and downloadable document restored.

As reported here earlier we played a Great Northern War scenario using Black Powder as the ruleset. As the Great Northern war falls just outside of the purview of these rules -- not in chronology but rather in weaponry and tactics -- we used a number of adaptations to the rules.

The below document, now christened _Great Northern Powder_, repeats these adaptations, with a few modifications brought upon by the experience of the game and with everything dolled up a bit as well.

Great Northern Powder (606Kb)

Differences with the earlier version are:
  • Slight rewording
  • Further clarified pike rules
  • Upped cavalry HtH stats
  • Included sample unit stats 
Feel free to use and adapt these in your own games. The version linked above is the low resolution version. If you want to print it, send me an email and I'll send the hires version (though be warned that that's a lot bigger).

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Battle of Ingenstansby

Update February 2016: Link to pdf document restored.

Last Tuesday we played a Great Northern War game, this time using the Black Powder ruleset with [a number of modifications]( to adapt it to that period, theatre and set of opponents.

The scenario was the battle of Ingenstansby, a fictional battle which I've played three times now using two different rulesets (Beneath the Lily Banners and now Black Powder), adapting it to lessons learned each time so it's close to getting well balanced and playable :):

Battle of Ingenstansby (504Kb)

The game went pretty well, for a first game of a new ruleset. Eddy, as Swedish player, chose to attack the Russians behind the stream immediately while advancing on his left flank in the hope of drawing out some Russian troops there. Phil, as tsar Peter, defended the stream and Ingenstansby with his best infantry brigade and advanced on both flanks with the cavalry.

One of the nice things about Black Powder is that is meant to give a good game in a single wargame evening, which in this game meant that units were in contact at the end of turn one. Unfortunately for the Swedes, their attack in the center faltered when it met the concentrated fire of Golitsyn's brigade and two field guns - one regiment broke and streamed away to the rear, while two other were stopped in their advance by the murderous fire.

On the flanks it went a bit better for the Swedish player. On his right, the cavalry managed to chase of an attack by Russian dragoons and horse grenadiers, while on the left a hastily formed infantry line bounced another cavalry attack. However, in a brilliant move by Phil, one squadron of Russian dragoons managed to outflank this line and wreak havoc in the Swedish rear, overrunning two struggling battalion guns and forcing the king to seek refuge among the right flank cavalry for fear of being overrun.

All in all a good game, of which more pictures can be seen in [this set](

I did however have the feeling that the players had little tactical decisions to make, largely because of the move distances of the units in Black Powder. After a turn, and at the latest two, the major lines of the battle had been set and it became essentially a dice rolling exercise with little maneuver left. The battle was set in concrete after two turns. Next time, I think we'll reduce the move distances by a third - my table is 6x8 while most of the games by the author's group is on a 6x12 table. The excellent summary sheets [here]( make this conversion easy :).

Apart from the movement distances, I'll make some adjustments to our Black Powder adjustments :), mostly in the unit stats. I'm thinking of giving the Swedish infantry 'Elite' to make it more likely they will continue to advance through enemy fire, and upping both sides' cavalry HtH scores. But that will be the subject of another post.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Black Powder adaptations for Great Northern War

We're planning a Great Northern War scenario soon, and we intend to use the [Black Powder rules]( These rules cover the entire horse and musket period, basically the era in which the musket was the most important infantry weapon.

I feel the Great Northern War falls just outside of the range for these rules. This war, more so than the contemporary War of Spanish Succession (the Marlburian wars), really straddles the 'pike and shot' era on the one had and the 'horse and musket' on the other. Both parties still carried around pikes, yet the units they were organised in were classic horse and musket battalions as opposed to pike and shot tercios or their later Protestant versions, and the musketeers had bayonets.

So, a number of adaptations are necessary to use the Black Powder rules for this period. This post will list them. This is very much a first stab at this, as next Tuesday's game will undoubtedly provide more insight into whether they work or not.

That said, here goes:

### Units

Our infantry battalions are based 18-20 on three stands. A 'standard' infantry unit is thus in this range of figures (18-20). Cavalry squadrons are based 6 to two bases. A 'standard' cavalry unit is thus 6 figures.

There are no skirmishers in this period. Undoubtedly, units did fight in skirmish order, but the concept of formal skirmishers or light troops did not exist yet. So, no skirmishers.

### Formations

There are only two formations for infantry and cavalry: line and march column. There are no attack columns or squares (but see pikes).

### Firing

One die of firing per musket stand. For our troops, that works out as two dice for the Swedish and three for the Russians. If your troops are based differently, it also works out as the ratio of musket to pike in the units. Swedish had a third of their battalions as pikes, so they get 2 thirds of normal fire, i.e. 2 dice.

Units that are all musket armed get +1 on their fire (so would without other circumstances hit on 3+ instead of 4+).

As the fact that you're firing from a live firing platform that tends to shy away from loud noises is much more important than what you're actually firing with, I'm giving cavalry on both sides (most of which were armed with a carbine) the standard 1 dice in fire.

### Melee

This is an area where it is important to differentiate the Swedish and Russians correctly to keep the historical flavour. For those unfamiliar with the period, the main Swedish characteristic in this war (apart from a propensity for half -- or fully -- rotten fish) is their aggressiveness: they trained to close with their enemy and engage in hand to hand, as opposed to the linear firefight type of combat all other infantry was trained for. So that needs to be reflected. Pikes, which both sides still used, also add to the hand to hand capability of a unit.

I decided to give Swedish infantry a 7 for hand to hand combat value, and Russian infantry a 6. Further differentiation can be done using unit special properties. I selected 7 vs 6 as opposed to 6 vs 5 for two reasons: the pikes and the fact that I like things to move on, and I'm guessing they will with higher factors.

Cavalry in this period, again with the exceptions of the Swedish, were not intended to be battle winning chargers. Their main function was to eliminate the other side's cavalry and then fall upon the flanks of the infantry line. Only the Swedish cavalry was trained to aggressively close with and destroy the enemy. So, I'm giving Swedish cavalry the standard 7 in hand to hand and downgrading the Russian to 6. I'm also not differentiating between different types of cavalry. Whether they were termed 'Horse' or 'Dragoons' or whatever did not matter much - they pretty much performed the same function on the battlefield.

### Pikes

Initially I had thought these to be the hardest part of these adaptations. However, I've kept it quite simple (though that might change after the game :) ): on the one hand, pikes give the higher HtH factor mentioned above. On the other, they enable to unit to function as a square. While a pike armed unit does not actually form square, when it is frontally attacked by cavalry, it can form up with pikes in an anti-cavalry formation (i.e. spread out over the entire frontage instead of only in the center). The rule for this is exactly the same as that for 'Form Square' (p.75 of the rulebook). So, essentially, the unit tests and if it succeeds, it forms an anti cavalry formation with the exact same advantages as a square (for the frontal fight).

There are only two differences with the Form Square rule:

* A unit that is Disordered can _not_ form up pikes
* Forming up pikes is always optional. The unit may choose to deliver closing fire instead of forming up in an anti cavalry formation.

### Special unit rules

Infantry units on both sides have First Fire. Swedish infantry have Ferocious Charge. These are the standard special rules I'll try for all units. Others such as Guards on both sides will of course have other special rules.

A final word of warning: giving these units such good hand to hand factors only makes sense within their own period. If you plan to use them out of period, you will unbalance things. Gentlemen would never do that, of course.

And that's it. We'll see whether this all makes sense soon - stay tuned.

_Update_: a new version, incorporating what we learned when playing the game, is [here](

Friday, 12 November 2010

Great Northern War resources

This post came about because of a fellow gamer (sorry, I didn't get your name) showed a lot of interest in our game at Crisis and, having bought quite a few boxes of the Zvezda 1/72 figures for the Great Norther War, was wondering where to get the information to paint them. I'll list some of the books and other resources I used (and still use) to get the information for building my armies.


First the two books which were my main source for the uniforms (such as there were) and flags of the troops. That latter part can be taken literally, as many of the flags on the miniature units are scans from these books.

* _The Great Northern War 1700 - 1721, Colours and Uniforms_. Lars-Eric Höglund and Åke Sallnäs, Acedia Press
* _The Great Northern War 1700 - 1721, II. Sweden's allies and enemies, Colours and Uniforms_. Lars-Eric Höglund, Åke Sallnäs and Alexander Bespalow, Acedia Press

Both these books can be bought from Pete Berry at [Baccus Miniatures]( (check under Products/Publications).

Next are two books on the history of the Great Northern War and more specifically the Russian campaign and the battle of Poltava:

* _The battle that shook Europe. Poltava and the birth of the Russian empire_. Peter Englund, I.B. Tauris
* _The dawn of the Tsarist empire. Poltava and the Russian Campaigns of 1708-1709_. Nicholas A. Dorrel, Partizan Press

Both are good books, the second going more into the military detail of the campaign and providing good scenario material. The OOB of the units on our Poltava game was based on this latter book. The first should be generally available, the second can be ordered from [Caliver Books](

And finally there's three Ospreys that deal directly with the campaign:

* [Campaign 34 - Poltava 1709](
* MAA 260 - Peter the Great's Army 1: Infantry
* MAA 264 - Peter the Great's Army 2: Cavalry

Unfortunately, the book on the Russian infantry seems to be perpetually out of stock. Also, there are no Ospreys on the Swedish army of the period (apart from some plates in the Campaign book on Poltava).

On the web

Dan Schorr's [Northern Wars]( page had some great information on various aspects of the Great Northern War, but the page has gone offline recently. I mention it in the hope that it will come back someday.

Wikipedia has a good page on [the Great Northern War]( and on the [battle of Poltava itself](

Finally, there is good content relating to the Great Northern War at [Wikimedia Commons](, much of which is in the public domain.

The above list should get any gamer interested in the Great Northern war started in this fascinating bit of history.

*Update 13/11/2010*: the Wyre Forest Games Club has a number of very good pages on the Great Northern War. Start [on this page]( and then explore using the menu at the top of the page.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Crisis 2010 - Poltava game thoughts and documents

Update January 2014: Links to documents at end of document restored.

We took our Poltava game to this year's Crisis. The game was well received we thought (at least it seemed there was nary a moment when there was not at least one person taking photographs of the game) though we did not win any prizes with it. Some pictures (among many others) can be seen on various forums:
Let me just copy one of the last forum's pictures here, which shows what happens when you let one of our more enterprising members umpire the game :) : the ahistorical collapse of the Russian left flank.


Anyway, while there have been some rumblings and musings in the extended gamer group (all four or five of us :) ), we had fun on the day and we got two 18th century horse and musket armies out of it, which we intend to use quite a lot.

I'll leave you with two documents for the game: the (English language) handout and the list of cards (and thus the rules) we used for the game.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

A mule and some new lighting

This post, my first in a long time, hits two birds with one stone. It is a picture of what I just painted and it talks about a new photography gimmick I found. First the picture:

It's nothing special, just a pack mule (Foundry I think). I've been reorganising storage on the attic a bit (to make room for more figures, of course) and came across a box with a few Old West type figures that were half painted years ago. I'm now finishing them, and this is the first of them off the table.

Now to the second point. Notice how the picture is one of the best lighted I have taken in a long while. As you all know, [lighting is everything]( when taking good miniature photographs. I've experimented with a lot of lighting setups (see some of the posts behind that last link) and while I have been able to get occasional good results, many of them were unwieldy (several lights) or not readily available (sunlight of the right sort).

That's when I came across this silly looking gizmo on eBay (clicking it takes you to the item listing):

Flash diffuser

It's a flash diffuser. You slide it in the hot shoe for an external flash and the white bit then sits in front of the pop up flash on the camera and diffuses the light (a bit). The result is seen in the picture of the pack mule - it was taken with the flash diffuser, and I only did a quick adjustment of output levels and a crop in iPhoto afterward.

Highly recommended! You get the advantage of a flash (no fiddly lights, no long setup) without (most) of the disadvantages (overexposure, washed out harsh highlights).

Monday, 8 November 2010

Kevin Dallimore's Painting & Modelling Guide: Master Class

So there it is, a follow up to master painter Kevin Dallimore's first painting guide which Bart V reviewed [some time ago](, giving him "mixed feelings". Now for someone who has long mastered the very same layering technique as advocated by Mr Dallimore and once thought that 6-layer paint jobs were the bare minimum, there was not much 'new' in the first volume. Nor is the 3-layer technique the stuff off hyper-complexity so even modest painters don't 'need' the full 176 pages to get the hang of it. However, the book is always in short reach of my painting desk as it offers a huge source of inspiration and its amazing pictures yield you great info on what color schemes work and which not. I find myself often oogling over the horse paint schemes for instance.

Now onto its 308! page follow up. It starts with a short recap of the 3-layer technique to dive into somewhat more advanced methods such as Non Metallic Metal, Glazing, Textured leather, Blending and 7 layer paint job extravaganzas etc. Then there is a large section with painting examples from different 'periods'(Fantasy and science fiction, Ancients to Medievals, Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian, Pioneers and Adventures and finally WW2). These periods are interspaced with modelling and conversion articles, where Kevin goes really overboard on a couple of Science Fiction tanks (A bit too elongated if you ask me), buildings, dioramas and an odd river boat.

As the input was delivered by many of Kevin's painting pals the feel is less uniform as the first volume and there is a certain level of repetion (yes they all remove flash, yes they all gloss/matt varnish) but overlooking the repetition there are several bits that give you the "ahum I might try this at home" feeling. Also depending on the style of the writer some subjects are handled more elaborately than others. The part on blending for instance only covers three pages and 5 figures. The part on painting vehicles covers 21 pages and 70! figures.

In short, it is not the Holy Painting Grail that shares you the dark hidden secret of ultimate painting skills. Most off the content is plain sensible down to earth stuff. That said, I really enjoyed reading it, well more just looking at it really, and the book will probably give you some ideas to work with (This applies to normal mortals, Bart V). However,if you really want to field an entire army using the more advances methods as outlined in this book you probably go bonkers.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A 40 year old mystery, thanks to Nazaire Beeusaert

A few weeks ago I visited a special exhbition in the [Belgian Army Museum]( in Brussels. On display was part of an extensive collection of toy soldiers of collector Jacques Witmeur. Although I had some trouble in actually getting to this special exhibit (apparantly museum personnel seems to think closing off a special exhibition is in the interest of their customers, but a special thanks to the friendly man at the reception desk for summoning his minions to open it for me), it was worth it. Several thousands of toy soldiers, of all periods and manufacturers, were organized along several historic themes. A pleasure for the eye, especially the eye of someone who likes to play with toy soldiers.

In the museum shop I bought the booklet that was published together with exhibition (“Figurines Made in Belgium” by Paul Herman and Jacques Witmeur), and which lists all the Belgian manufacturers that at one time or another made and sold toy soldiers. I was particularly interested in this work, since I was hoping to identify some soldiers that have been in my collection for over 40 years. As long as I remember, I do own some soldiers that once belonged to my dad as a child. These were 'Belgian' soldiers, and as a kid, I happily mixed them with my plastic 'Cowboys and Indians' playsets. Needless to say they have taken quite some beating over the years.


Anyway, the only identification I ever found on these figures read 'NB' on the bottom of their base, which - after consulting the booklet - seems to stand for the Belgian toymaker Nazaire Beeusaert. Just the sound of this name makes it come from a different era! A quick Google-search turned up some more facts. There is a [website dedicated to Nazaire Beeusaert](, on which I could actually see some photographs of exactly the same figures as in my collection. A 40 year old mystery solved after all.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Te Wapen Revisited

A [recent blog post]( at 'A Wargaming Odyssey' (with a [follow-up posting]( as well), brought the ruleset *Te Wapen* back to my attention. *Te Wapen* is a fantasy ruleset, heavily inspired by the game engine of [Battlecry]( and [Memoir 44](, both excellent boardgames. I wrote these rules a couple of years ago, as part of my neverending quest for the perfect rules to fight fantasy battles with miniatures. This obsession started when I first read *Lord of the Rings* many moons ago, and over the years, as driven many of my miniature wargaming endeavours. Needless to say, I don't think *Warhammer* is a ruleset that appeals to the needs of the discerning wargamer, but let us not open that can of proverbial worms.

*Te Wapen* (most recent rules, dated 2007, can be found on the Yahoo group) is actually fairly simple. It uses a hexgrid for movement and ranges, and the combat resolution is a direct derivative from the games mentioned above. The command and control mechanism went through some iterations, though. The original *Battlecry* gave the player some command cards, with which you could activate units. The next turn, those very same units could be activated again. This works well if all units are more or less the same in strength, but in fantasy games, where one unit can be a tiny battalion of goblins, and another a mighty dragon, this doesn't work that well. Nothing stops a player from activating the dragon over and over again. Moreover, the *Battlecry* or *Memoir 44* system also doesn't work that well when each side has a different amount of units (e.g. in an attack-defence scenario), since it implies that units on the numerous weaker side get much more activations on average compared to units on the stronger side.

Hence, I started looking into alternatives: more cards per turn; activation counters with each unit (a unit cannot be activated again until everything else has), etc. Also, I had to find an alternative for the 3 fronts commonly used in *Battlecry*. Many scenarios do not adapt well to the three front battlefield.

The final version of the rules uses generals (each of a certain color, and partly inspired by [**Rudi Geudens' variant rules**](, that can command any unit in their vicinity (replacing the three fronts), and a counter activation system that prevents activating units over and over again. This worked well, and I remember we played a couple of (very bloody) battles using these rules. If I would do the whole exercise all over again, I would probably look into the command&control system made popular by *Blitzkrieg Commander* or *Warmaster*.

However, in 2006, [Battlelore]( was published, and development on *Te Wapen* sort of stopped. My own interest also shifted back towards more historical periods, resulting again in self-developed rulesets (ACW skirmish, Napoleonics, Infantry firefights), but I will keep a discussion of these for a future posting.

Friday, 30 July 2010

20mm unpainted plastic Napoleonics

Shock and Horror! We staged a Napoleonics game using unpainted 20mm plastic figures. Before you choke on your single-malt whisky and let your fine Havana drop to the ground, let me assure you we have not lowered our standards. After all, the moto of our gaming society still is 'Visual Appeal is everything!'.

However, there are times where 'perfect is the enemy of good'. One of our illustrous gentlemen members is busy collecting and painting Napoleonic figures at an alarming rate. In the mean time, we already want to try out some battles - hence the stand-ins in the form of the old faithful 20mm plastics.

Now, I don't have a strong objection against using unpainted plastics. They provide a sort of childish pleasure, almost a throwback to times when wargaming was much simpler and cheaper. I still remember my first wargaming experiments, using plastic romans as substitutes for Orcs and Elves, and using chalk to draw the battlefield on top of my study table. Fun was had by all, and I still have loads of cheap plastic figures lying around. The visitors to my wargaming garage can testify this.

About our Napoleonic battle then. The rules we use are based on the divisional level wargame found in 'Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun' by the late Paddy Griffith. As is usual in our gaming group, we amend and iterate over any ruleset till we have found a workable set of rules that fancies all players in the group. Moreover, I actually did some decent research on this one, reading up on Napoleonic battle tactics and translating my findings into the rules proper. Although is some work, it has produced a very nice result.

The pictures show our game, played on a 8 by 6 feet gaming table. Such a large table definitely adds appeal to the game, and lets you move and manouvre your troops as you see fit.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

What, an update? So Soon?

So it seems it’s been a while since the last post again. Oh well, these things happen in blogging, so let’s not dwell on reasons :)

Anyway, I thought I’d give a quick round up of where I’m at project wise. First up is the GNW project, whose big showing — [Crisis 2010]( — is coming up with astoundingly alarming alacrity. Thanks to Alan who (re)painted (there’s a long story in those parentheses in the previous word) a boatload of Russians, the project currently stands at:

* 10 battalions of Russian infantry
* 4 squadrons of Russian cavalry
* 7 battalions of Swedish infantry, with no. 8 in the last stretches on my painting table
* 2 squadrons of Swedish infantry
* 2 guns

Apart from an increase in the cavalry and artillery, I think that I’m almost there figure wise. So, next months will see me focusing on cavalry, vignettes and terrain. Pictures of painted stuff to follow as and when.

I’m also in the delightful preparation phases for next year’s project, which I’ve decided will be the 1809 Danube campaign, and specifically the part before Aspern-Essling. This has sprung out of my painting up some [Bavarian infantry](, and has since somehow transformed into a plan to collect / paint Bavarians, French and Austrians. The initial idea is to base my armies around the battles of Teugen-Hausen and Abensberg, which will give me choices from Davout’s III corps, most of the Bavarian army and all and sundry Austrians. I’m currently reading up on the campaign (John H. Gill’s Thunder on the Danube trilogy, which I recommend strongly) and planning the armies. Funnily enough, I already have most of the figures, both through taking advantage of various discounts at various manufacturers and through scoring Ebay for Austrians (I [hate painting white](, but there is still plenty to paint.

I’m planning on using big battalions - 36 figures for a French and Bavarian battalion which means 48 for an Austrian and a whopping 60 for an Austrian Hungarian recruited one (ouch - good thing I don’t plan on painting the Austrian infantry myself). Rules will have to be determined — we’re looking at home built rules (by our very own rule writer Phil), Black Powder and Lasalle. I also own a copy of Republic to Empire, but I don’t think I can ‘sell’ that to the group.

Anyway — lot’s going on, as you see :).

Wait, an update? So soon?

So it seems it's been a while since the last post again. Oh well, these things happen in blogging, so let's not dwell on reasons :)

Anyway, I thought I'd give a quick round up of where I'm at project wise. First up is the GNW project, whose big showing -- [Crisis 2010]( -- is coming up with astoundingly alarming alacrity. Thanks to Alan who (re)painted (there's a long story in those parentheses in the previous word) a boatload of Russians, the project currently stands at:

* 10 battalions of Russian infantry
* 4 squadrons of Russian cavalry
* 7 battalions of Swedish infantry, with no. 8 in the last stretches on my painting table
* 2 squadrons of Swedish infantry
* 2 guns

Apart from an increase in the cavalry and artillery, I think that I'm almost there figure wise. So, next months will see me focusing on cavalry, vignettes and terrain. Pictures of painted stuff to follow as and when.

I'm also in the delightful preparation phases for next year's project, which I've decided will be the 1809 Danube campaign, and specifically the part before Aspern-Essling. This has sprung out of my painting up some [Bavarian infantry](, and has since somehow transformed into a plan to collect / paint Bavarians, French and Austrians. The initial idea is to base my armies around the battles of Teugen-Hausen and Abensberg, which will give me choices from Davout's III corps, most of the Bavarian army and all and sundry Austrians. I'm currently reading up on the campaign (John H. Gill's _Thunder on the Danube_ trilogy, which I recommend strongly) and planning the armies. Funnily enough, I already have most of the figures, both through taking advantage of various discounts at various manufacturers and through scoring Ebay for Austrians (I [hate painting white](, but there is still plenty to paint.

I'm planning on using big battalions - 36 figures for a French and Bavarian battalion which means 48 for an Austrian and a whopping 60 for an Austrian Hungarian recruited one (ouch - good thing I don't plan on painting the Austrian infantry myself). Rules will have to be determined -- we're looking at home built rules (by our very own rule writer Phil), Black Powder and Lasalle. I also own a copy of Republic to Empire, but I don't think I can 'sell' that to the group.

Anyway -- lot's going on, as you see :).

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

After painting a pink horse ...

... little girls grow up to paint SYW teddy bears:

Eureka SYW teddybears

These are two [Eureka Miniatures]( [SYW teddy bears](, one of which is painted by me, one by my 6 year old daughter. For those with deep memories, she painted [a pink horse]( quite some time ago and, although she selected the colours on these bears, only the facings turned out to be pink.

Anyway, the idea is to let her paint a few of these at her own pace and see what transpires.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Roman auxiliary cavalry

I still need to matt varnish them, but here are the next addition to the Romani Plasticii:

Roman auxiliary cavalry

12 Wargames Factory Romans (well, slightly civilised Celts more probably) on horses, for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Painting Log: Roman auxiliary cavalry

Right, that's 12 [Wargames Factory]( [cavalry]( done dipping style. The figures are nice and poseable, though a few of the horses have very weird heads.

As these were not provided with shield transfers I did a very basic free hand design (a stylised eagle over an equally stylised wreath) after the figures were dipped.

Any remorse I might have felt at awarding myself full painting points for dipped figures is now completely gone, after noticing that the time you win in painting, you lose in assembling as the 12 figures took a whopping 4 hours to clean and assemble completely.

So, that's 24 points done for a total of 39 this month. Seems things are picking up.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Swedes on horses

Pictures of the recently painted stuff. First the cavalry:

Åbo och Björneborgs Läns ryttare

And next two views of Major General Roos:

Major General Roos 1

Major General Roos 2

All the figures are Reiver Castings. On a related note, I have decided to follow the 1:35 ratio of Beneath the Lilly Banners ruleset (which makes sense, as my infantry are to that specification) for the cavalry. That means that the two bases (six figures in total) form an entire squadron - less figures to paint :).

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Painting Log: 1st company Åbo och Björneborgs läns cavalry and a major general

The first of the Swedish cavalry are done - they're the first company (half squadron) of the (and I shudder to think in how many creative ways I'm spelling the Swedish here) Åbo och Björneborgs läns ryttare.

A company in 1:20 for Swedish cavalry regiments around the time of Poltava comes to (very roughly) 6 figures, so a squadron is 12. I'll be trying to paint a squadron for each of the regiments present in the main battle at Poltava (11 or so) - these are the first.

The figures are Reiver Castings whose horses look absolutely horrendous in the metal, but who luckily do look the job when painted and based up.

I also finished the first command figure - major general Roos, who took a third of the infantry strength of the army off to swan about trying to capture redoubts instead of bypassing them. He'll be based on a somewhat elaborate base, so he gets three points instead of the normal 2 for a mounted figure.

As always, pictures to follow, but I'm counting 15 points for these - 12 for the 6 cavalrymen, 3 for Roos. Next up is probably a bunch of Romans again, as my black primer has run out for the moment (and the Romans are grey primered).

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Uncharted Seas ships

And here are the pictures of my latest paint jobs.

_The Empress' Cynical Smile_, the human flagship joining her [friends](

Human flagship

And their slightly more scruffy adversaries:

Orc fleet

More pics of the orc ships in their own [set on Flickr]( As you can see, these were again painted with speed in mind rather than beauty. Oddly fitting, for orcs :).

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Category archives working again

For those who have been missing them, the various [archive pages](/snv/ttm/archives.html) are working again. They were a victim of my recent rebuild of the templates of this here site when I switched the blog software behind it to a new version, which lost backwards compatibility with my (admittedly ancient) templates.

So, month and category archives work again. Rejoice!

Friday, 19 February 2010

Painting log: Uncharted Seas orc fleet & human flagship

And another bunch of tubs is ready to set to sea. This time some ships for [The Uncharted Seas](

* An Orc fleet pack consisting of:
* 1 battleship
* 3 cruisers
* 6 frigates
* An Orc battlecruiser
* An Orc assault ship
* A human flagship, the _Empress' Cynical Smile_

According to some ridicilously arbitrary formula I made up (2 points for the 6 frigates, 1.5 points each for the remaining Orc ships and 2 points for the flagship - many sails to paint) I'm giving myself 13 points for these, for a total of 32 so far this month. Next up on the painting table are some Swedish GNW cavalry by Reiver Miniatures.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Dal Regiment, all pretty like

And here they are with finished bases, the 1st battalion of the Dal Regiment:

Dal Regiment, 1st Battalion

I've tried something new on the base with the cannon ball 'in transit' on the righthand (lefthand for the unit itself) base. Not sure about the effect yet.

For those of you wondering, I'm basing these to fit in with 'Beneath the Lily Banners'. For the Swedes, that's three bases, of which I'm using the bigger 60x60cm size. I fit 19 figures on the three bases, which in a 1:20 figure to men ratio gives 380 - 400 men to the battalion, which is more or less (more on the less side thereof :) ) correct for the battalion sizes at Poltava (except for a few regiments which were given the remainders of the batallions retreating from Lesnaya earlier).

On to the cavalry now!

Friday, 12 February 2010

Painting log: Dal Regiment, 1st Battalion

And that's the final of Roos' battalions done, the 1st Battalion of the Dal regiment. Here's a quick badly lit pic I took of them on my painting station awaiting basing:

1st Battalion Dal Regiment

Again all Musketeer figures. I did a very minor conversion on the officer and NCO (central and right hand stand respectively), swapping their heads around to keep some variation going, as there is just the one figure for these essential positions. The flags are printed copies from the Höglund book.

Painting this, the classic Swedish blue / yellow combo, and going over my notes for the remaining battalions, it suddenly struck me that the non traditionally coloured regiments (Närke-Värmlands and Jönkopings with red facings and Västerböttens with white) were all with Roos at the redoubts, while the more traditionally coloured ones were in the main infantry battle (with the exception of the second battalion of the Närke-Värmlands). Funny, that.

That makes 19 points. Next up in the queue is an Orcish fleet and a human flagship for Uncharted Seas.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Pilsen Prerogative: a Trafalgar scenario

Last night, a bunch of us played a game of [Trafalgar]( The game is the first in a narrative campaign called _The Enbevian Endeavour_. For those of you unfamiliar with our use of the term 'narrative campaign', allow me to explain a bit.

Over the years, like many wargame groups, we have played a few full blown campaigns, some successful but most, as usual, foundering after a few moves. As with most game groups, we find that the high level of commitment needed for playing in and especially running a full featured campaign is often difficult to achieve. However, campaigns do give a large added value to wargames, so to still capture some of that we have been doing these things we call 'narrative campaigns'.

A narrative campaign is essentially a series of linked scenarios, often involving the same two (or more) antagonists in every scenario, but only linked in a general overarcing story line, not through any campaign system or rules. We find that a narrative campaign gives the added value of a rich context to the individual games, without the attending overhead of an actual campaign. For those familiar with the recent publications by C.S. Grant and Phil Olley, _The Raid on St. Michel_ and _The Annexation of Chiraz_ (get them from [Caliver Books]( ), the scenarios in those books can be played as simple linked scenarios and are thus very similar to our narrative campaigns. We stand in the shadow of giants!

Anyway, I've currently got a narrative campaign underway for SF space (and land) games (_The Beryllium Wars_), and have yesterday started one for Napoleonic age games. This one features the nations of Enbevia and Posch-Enhausen, going to war over a seemingly innocent proclamation involving beer. The first game in this campaign, _The Pilsen Prerogative_ (I'm big on alliteration :) ) is a naval game using Trafalgar rules. You can download it here (warning: big 6.3M file):

The Pilsen Prerogative

A full battle report will follow, but as a teaser I can tell that the Posch-Enhausian navy managed to score a hard fought victory. Many ships were left ablaze and/or sunk.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Napoleonic unit formations with 9 4-figure stands

So I decided to move from 24 figure to 36 figure battalions for my Bavarians (and French in being). There's a number of reasons for this:

* Visual Appeal (which we know Is Everything) - 36 figures look much more like a block of Napoleonic age troops to me than 24 do. It's still quite a distance away from _real_ old school battalions (which sniff at anything below 48 figures), but in this day and age, 36 men is enough to be considered old school anyway. There's a reason old school attracts increasing interest these days - big battalions work (although I do not care for other aspects of the old school movements: flat painting, flat bases and flat terrain)
* Figure to men ratio - when using a figure to men ratio of 1:20, most standard battalion sizes of the Bavarian army are much closer to 36 than 24. Many rules and attending literature wrg unit organisation and such use a 1:20 man figure ratio.
* Unit formations - in an extension to the first point above, unit formations with 36man battalions, based in 4, look pretty good. The rest of this post will show some examples of this.

I'm still deciding on which ruleset to use for Napoleonic games (and will probably try a lot of them) but the current frontrunner is Republic to Empire (R2E -- others are Lasalle and Black Powder). As R2E probably has the most varied unit formations in the game, if I can represent those in a decent fashion, I guess the rest of the rules are automatically covered. Here they are, with the exception of line, which is just the stands put next to each other.

###Column of march

This is the stands placed one behind the other. This makes for a _long_ column, leading the player to have to think about its use and effect on the battle plan, which is probably historically correct.

Column of march

The unit showing off the various formations in this and the next photographs is the recently painted [I/1IR](, augmented with three stands from its [sister battalion](

###Column of companies

This formation, which is not often represented seperately in wargame rules, is more or less the 'default' formation, the easiest from which it is to deploy to other formations.

Column of companies

###Column of attack

The famous, and probably most overrated and misunderstood, attack column of the French and their close friends. In R2E (and historical reality), this is supposed to be wider than deep, but I find a 2 line formation with 5 stands in the first row and 4 in the second to not look very satisfactory. So I'm applying wargamers license here and use a 3x3 formation:

Column of attack


For the equally famous square formation, I use a formation with 2 stands on each side and the command stand in the middle - something that is not possible with only 6 stands.


Now, there only remains the issue of painting seventeen thousand other figures :)

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Bavarian Infantry Regiment 1, 1st battalion

Painted earlier this month, photographed today, the Bavarian I/IR1:

Bavarian IR1/I

As said, I'm going to be expanding this with an extra three stands to bring it to 36 figures from the 24 it has now.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Painting log: 12 Bavarians, and some musing on wargame unit structure

I finished 12 Bavarians last evening (well 11 Bavarians and one -- presumable -- Bavarian horse), which until about a week ago would have completed the 1st Battalion of the 1st Regiment, _König_ or _Leib_.

However, I decided that 24 figures is a bit meager for a single unit, and that at the 'classical' 1:20 ratio 36 figures better represent a battalion: the average Bavarian battalion that entered Russia in 1812 had about 750 men (they came back with a lot less, of course -- the Russian campaign was a disaster for the Bavarian army), which at 1:20 is 37,5 figures, close enough to 36 to not matter. So, both of my 'finished' battalions will be expanded with another three stands of 4 figures to bring them up to 36 figures each.

As to basing, I'm going to keep them as 4 figures to a base of 30x40mm (15mm frontage per figure). The rules I'm eyeing, [Republic to Empire](, work with 'combat groups' of four figures, which fits perfectly with that basing, and it would also mean no rebasing of the figures (which I already did once for the first unit -- they were initially based on 20mm frontage but looked, in the words of a member of the [Steve Dean]( forum, looked like a skirmish line instead of a ranked unit).

Another advantage is that a number of formations in the rules actually look pretty good when executed with 4 figure stands. More on that later.

The disadvantage of staying with 4 figure bases is that this no longer reflects the theoretical company structure (6 companies, 4 of fusiliers, 1 of grenadiers and 1 of lights) of a Bavarian battalion -- 6 figure stands would reflect this perfectly. But as not all battalions would have adopted this company structure, and real life military units of course varied wildly from theoretical establishments, I don't feel that weighs heavily enough to abandon the 4 figure basing.

So, that's 12 points for January. Up next is another battalion of GNW Swedes, and probably the first GNW Russians after that (the Preobrazhenski Guard Grenadiers).

Monday, 11 January 2010

Yes! Warhol was right.

Everyone gets their fifteen minutes of fame. Here's mine:

Bavarians in Lasalle rules supplement

Sam Mustafa's [Lasalle rules]( have a new Bavarian (or, as he correctly refers to them, 'sausage heads') supplement, featuring some [familiar people](

Schild en Vriend for world domination! :)

Sunday, 10 January 2010

French 7th Cuirassiers, refurbished

Here are the [refurbished cuirassiers](

7th Cuirassiers

As said, these were block painted in a single colour as I bought them. I touched up some of the paint jobs, shaded them with Army Painter Strong tone and rebased them (though looking at the picture, they could also have used a wavy sword replacement - it's not so bad as it looks in reality).