23 March 2011

Old Habits Die Hard.

Ever had an Epiphany? A sudden burst of light and with it an understanding not previously held.
Well it happened to me recently when I visited the NWA (Nunawading Wargame Association). Both Alex and I popped into their Friday night meeting over at Mitcham to see for ourselves the club and who was there and more importantly what they were playing.

Being that it was a fairly warm night I was surprised to find the place jumping. Lots of people and lots of games going on. Ranging from Fog of War, 40k, 28mm ECW, 28mm AWI, 25 mm French versus Austrians, DBA and others. Obviously I headed to the ECW and spent some time talking with the player there who was waiting for his opponent to turn up. I was interested to see how they were handling The Perfect Captains "Very Civil Actions" rule set as they were the only other group from my knowledge giving it a try out. Actually the talk was good as they had only played 1 game previously  and a number of questions were asked about the rules, which I answered to the best of my knowledge. But it was when he showed me his troops that I had my Epiphany.

His troops were a mixture of Warhammer and Hinchcliffe if memory serves me correct. Not competition winners by any means but pretty good nonetheless in my honest opinion. Now I've always painted as good as I can, but am really a pretty ordinary painter who simply doesn't understand or have the ability to do the shading and other advanced methods used by most painters these days. Having my army professionally painted is not a consideration as though I could afford to have this done, painting is the personal touch that each of us brings to their army. Its the infusion of personality that differentiates one army from another, though they may be in all other aspects identical. Besides, painting is that portion of our hobby that mostly is done in the piece and solitude of our painting desk and not only appeases our artistic natures but also gives us that sanctitude and release from the day to day drudgery of the real world, albeit for a very short time.

So I asked him what his secret was? No secret he replied. I paint them up and then apply the "Army Painter" system, by dipping them in the strong tone dip and then Matt spraying them after they are dry.
I was staggered, the light came on and I thought  "I must try this". At this stage his opponent Neil turned up and one look at his troops convinced me this was the way to go.

On returning home I booted up the computer and soon was watching many videos on u-tube about the Army Painter method. Within a few days I had my supply of the three dips,  Soft tone, strong tone and Dark tone. Also a spray can of their Matt vanish.

So armed I proceeded to do a number of single figures that I use for officers and a couple of elements of horse.


After Army Painter


Used Dark Tone
Do they look better? I'll let you be the judge.
For mine it has improved my rather ordinary painting to at least something acceptable for the wargame table. The above horse was done using the dab method with a brush, rather than dipping as recomended by the "Army Painter", as seen on many u-tube videos.



This officer was dipped as per the "army painters" instructions.

1. Dip into tin.
2. Allow the stain to run off.
3. Flick onto paper to remove any extra excess.
4. Allow to dry for 24 - 48 hrs.
5. Spray Matt finish.

Dipped in strong tone.

Dipped in Strong tone.

 I am happy with what I've achieved but things always improve with practice and I'm sure that by the end of the can I'll have results that will help make the troops look spiffing!

Neil W

20 March 2011

The Lads of Richmond Hill.

Played a couple of games of  ECW against my good friend Alex on Monday 14th, being our Labour day holiday. A smallish encounter between about 6 units a side, ranging from disciplined troops to a couple of militia units of dubious ability and character. We use the Perfect Captains free rule set named "A very civil Action" which is used in conjunction with their "Spanish Fury" rule set. It is designed with the smaller battle in mind and as such recreates the smaller battles, ambuscades and encounters very well. One of its main attractions is that each unit's Officer character plays a major part in the game and influences the way each unit acts, even to the point of changing the units abilities. As officers are drawn at random prior to the game and can be killed and replaced during it games can be different each time even though the same units are used in consecutive games.

As we are learning the rules set for both theses games we  had all "Bookish" officers heading units. In the first game 1 unit was rated as disciplined, 2 units undisciplined and the rest ordinary fellows. In the second game 1 unit was disciplined and the rest ordinary fellows.

The battlefield was approx. 7ft (2.1m) x 4ft (1.2m) and the games were played length wise. The scenery remained unaltered for both games and both players diced for ends as per DBA rules. Strangely both players  kept the same ends for both games.
The scenery consisted of a Church at the North end of the field (Table). To it's right lay a light wood. Travelling south down the table a meandering stream ran across the middle of the table in a North East to South west direction. A road crossed the stream at what appeared to be a ford, but the condition of the rest of the stream was unknown. On the south side of the stream to the West lay a moderate hill flanked further West by a heavy impassable wood. Further South near the tables edge lay a manor building. Both the church and Manor was considered the Headquarters of the respective armies and the objectives of both battles.

The biggest difference was the composition of the armies for each game. Prior to each game each player is given a printed sheet from which to pick their armies. They must choose 1 unit from a compulsory list of 5 choices. This unit is the disciplined unit and their best unit. From the optional list they then choose up to a maximum of a further 5 units, two of which were considered to be undisciplined militia units.
In the first game Alex chose  a unit of Cuirassiers, a unit of Horse, a unit of dragoons, unit of Pike (Undisciplined), unit of shot (undisciplined) and a Light Gun.
I chose a unit of Cuirassiers, unit of Horse, 2 units of Pike and 2 units of shot (Both Undisciplined).

Game 1.
Both armies deployed, Parliament (Alex) to the north and the Royalist (Neil) to the south. Alex drew his deployment on a map whilst I deployed straight to the table. After which he then deployed as per the map.
Basically he lined up his foot and advanced them toward the stream with a view to forcing a crossing or to deny me a crossing. It appeared that this was where the action would take place.

On the Parliament's right flank their commander Advanced a Unit of Horse and a limbered gun. The royalist commander also dispatched a unit of horse onto the hill to deny its use to the enemy.
Th hill ultimately was the turning point in the battle as  the royalist infantry being stronger than its counterpart started to cross the stream and the Parliament forces became defensive. The Pike and shot remained in a defensive position whilst their dragoons dismounted and entered the light woods to await the oncoming royalist foot.

Meanwhile the troop of Parliament horse started crossing the stream below the Richmond Hill. In the distance the gun was unlimbering, unable to assist the cavalry or slow the infantry across the Fields advancing on their foot. Seeing his opportunity the royalist commander charged down the hill and caught the Parliament horse in column, unformed whilst partially across the stream. In the melee that followed some unfortunate die rolls saw the unit break and rout with the Cavaliers hotly in pursuit. Sadly for Parliament their rout move followed immediately by the pursuit move resulted in both units being in contact at the end of their turn, which under the rules means that the routing unit surrenders unless they are a fanatical unit.

Bad as this was, worse was yet to come. Despite some desultory shooting from the Militia muskets which was mostly ineffectual , the Cavalry charged the gun, the gunners fled and the gun was taken. Back at the stream, both the Royalist Cuirassiers and the Lobsters charged each other over the ford. This rapidly developed into a stalemate that locked up both units for no result. Eventual a standoff occurred and each unit retreated back whence they came.

At this stage the Parliament Commander asked for parley which was duly granted. He felt that with his horse prisoners, the gun taken, his lobsters worse for wear and the Dragoons sitting in the light woods and only  a militia Pike and shot unit left that he couldn't stop the Royalists taking their objectives. A good game played in good spirit.

Game 2.

In this game we once again chose sides and strangely took each others forces from the first game. All commanders were again "Bookish" which meant they have to throw 1 die 6 before each move. If a 6 is the result then that unit does nothing that turn. Once again Alex drew a map, after which I then Deployed my units.

Having the army with less foot than the enemy, I had decided that this time I would be on the defensive and form a line in front of my Headquarters. With my Gun unlimbered and loaded in the line between my pike and shot units to the left and Horse and Currasiers to the right I awaited the stronger Parliament army to approach and when crossing the stream I'd have at him. To the left of the Royalist line were the Dragoons.

The Parliament army formed a line of of two columns of shot then pike with the Unit of Horse and Lobsters to their right flank. Their intention it seemed to me was to entice me out and then crush me with their obvious advantage in foot, whilst the cavalry negated each other. A good plan provided that the Royalist commander fell for the bate. One comment made after the First battle was that artillery and dragoons were a waste as they were largely ineffective. A comment that would soon come back to haunt him.

The battle started with the royalist gun bombarding a shot unit which immediately retired back through the pike causing both to become unformed. Not serious but annoying nonetheless. The royalist commander dispatched the dragoons to occupy the Richmond hill. The rest of the royalist line remained stationary. The Parliament commander seeing the dragoons riding to the hill became somewhat distracted and dispatched his Horse, Lobsters and a unit of shot toward the hill. His foot he did valiantly try to send towards the stream and road, but here his subordinates failed him a regular intervals and being bookish would not move on occasions.

In the meanwhile the dragoons having not only made the crest of the hill, having dismounted commenced a withering fire down on the luckless shot unit crossing the small stream. Together with this and the effect of being fired on by the gun, the shot unit retired back across the stream. Their efforts were not in vain though as their sacrifice had made possible the Lobsters crossing of the stream intact and unmolested. Luck however was soon to play its part in this drama when the lobsters decided to charge and it failed to act that turn. Free now from the danger of the Unit of shot, the dragoons turned their attention to the Lobsters and fired on them, causing them to loose a squadron from the unit.
The shot unit had now returned and forced the dragoons to retire, though they still occupied the hill. The Lobsters again tried to charge but failed the morale test so sat and copped another round of shooting from the dragoons who then moved back to their former position. The unit of Horse also across the stream could not flank the dragoons due to the Heavy wood and so was locked unable to act by the Lobster unit position.

By this time the whole of the Parliament Commander's attention was on this hill and how 1 well positioned unit could hold 50% of an army. Determined to succeed he once again tried to charge the Lobsters, miraculously they went in and just as quick they came out. Below are some photo's of the brave lads.

From The Parliament side

View Along The Stream.
It was about this time that time ran out and we called it a day.
Some times in a few, only a few, games that a unit is heroic or does something that makes you say WOW, this was one of those times.
Sure The Parliament Commander got distracted.
Sure the Royalist lacked aggression, whatever the way you look at things its these rare instances when its just a joy to be part of .

Neil W