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Had a few battles of the last few weeks that I haven’t had time to write up properly, so instead thought I’d do a captioned photo post. I also got in a game of Bluecher with Ernie, but since that was just using the 100 Days campaign cards, I didn’t take any pics. It still doesn’t really feel like a “proper” wargame to me if you just use cards, in the same way that I hate to play using unpainted figures. I’m working away on my French though, so I’ll be able to field an actual army soon for Bluecher, and looking forward to doing so. Maybe after I get my Ancients stuff from War and Empire painted up, I’ll do another Bluecher army (almost certainly Austrians, because Austrians) so I have a matching pair. Anyway, these are from a game a few weeks ago, when I took on Dave with yet another Hundred Years War bash:

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Starting positions. I’m the English at the bottom, David was the French at the top.

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I backed the War and Empire kickstarter campaign by Forged in Battle a while ago, which was very successful, and ended up with quite a lot of figures as a result which arrived a month or two ago. Since the figures are now about to appear on the open market, I thought I’d do a quick review of them. I’ll add pics here and there throughout this post of the figures, starting with the ones I’ve painted so far (still on their painting sticks).

Roman Velites, unit 1

Roman Velites, unit 1 (from pack WE-RP-02)

Roman Velites, unit 1, reverse side

Roman Velites, unit 1, reverse side

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Had another bash against Dan’s Mongols with my HYW English last week. Dan was looking for revenge after our initial outing, when he was soundly defeated. This time he came a little closer, but the result was inevitable – an army comprised of mostly Light Cavalry doesn’t fare too well against a mass of longbowmen and heavy foot unless he can get around the flanks, which he finally did, but too late to make a difference.

 

We diced of terrain as normal, and that’s where I had my first stroke of luck – obviously Dan didn’t want much terrain to get in the way, but I managed to pick 5 pieces, and my first roll enabled me to place to wherever I wanted. Then Dan rolled, and even better, I got to place that piece where I wanted too, so I ended up with two hills forming a pass to defend. A few more rolls and I ended up with woods forming flanks to those hills too – a nice position to defend.

 

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The Mongol Horde approaches

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[Bluecher] A review

Bluecher, Sam Mustafa’s new game, is out now, and after a short test game, I thought I’d give my opinion of these grand scale Napoleonic rules. First of all, some background: I first bought Sam’s Grand Armee not too long after it came out, and was suitably impressed; so much so that when he released Lasalle, I bought it on the day of release, sight unseen, and have done so for Maurice and Longstreet too (as well as belatedly buying Might and Reason). I’m an unashamed fan of Sam’s rules; they have just the right mix of period flavour and simplicity of design that I like, and can guarantee a game within an evening’s play.

Bluecher has arrived!

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Had yet another HYW bash this week, introducing Dave to the game. He’d played once before, but that was a while ago. Once more I split the forces into the usual lists, with some of my English proxied as French knights. Dave chose to use the English (a good choice, since they tend to win in this set up, and he also had a camp (which enabled him to use extra bonuses) whereas the French (under moi) did not. These were the initial dispositions:

Initial Positions

Initial Positions

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Been doing some more work on my Napoleonic French for the last couple of weekends, and managed to get another four brigades done. The next four are glued to painting sticks and undercoating is tomorrow, so I can start painting them next weekend. After that I have 2 more infantry brigades, which I’ll probably do with the 2 artillery batteries I’m doing, and 6 cavalry brigades, as well as command stands (which I probably won’t need so much for Bluecher, but which I like the look of, so will do anyway, one for each corps). Not sure yet whether I’ll do all the cavalry together, or whether I’ll do light cavalry and commanders in one session, and heavy cavalry in a second session. We’ll see. Anyway, here’s the 4 new brigades:

Another four brigades of French infantry

Another four brigades of French infantry

As before, they haven’t had their basing treatments done yet – I’m waiting till I get them all painted and glued to bases before I do that, to ensure they look the same after I get them done.

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Time for a yearly round up, I think. I’m splitting this into Painting, Games Played, Future Projects and Misc.

Painting

At the start of the year I painted up my 15mm Rangers for Musket and Tomahawks, and made a start on my Iroquois, but have yet to complete them. I managed to paint up a load of 10mm ACW Union for Longstreet, mostly cavalry (including dismounted cavalry) and artillery, and started in on organising the infantry (Zouaves were already done), which still leaves me with a huge amount of painting to do, but I’ve put a solid dent in them.

I managed to finish off another couple of bases of my 15mm Hundred Years War English too, enough to split them in two and field them as surrogate French and English. These were originally done for Impetus, but since Sword and Spear uses the same basing, they’re getting most of their play in that game instead. It’s nice to have two opposing forces that are historical enemies (well, sort of) so that I can put on demo games for people. Most of the figures I painted up this year were to convert my army to a Free Companies list, with Italian mercenary crossbowmen and the like, which I can proxy as French. I still have quite a few more figures to paint up too, including more longbowmen and heavy infantry (for the English side of things), and some Breton cavalry and peasant mobs (which I can proxy for the ‘French’ too). I should make up another camp sometime too.

I started work on my 6mm Napoleonic French, originally for the club Waterloo project, but which will now be loaned to whoever runs that at their convention and then used for Bluecher, which I’m really looking forward to. So far I have 4 bases of infantry done, another 4 just about done, and the next 4 undercoated and ready for painting. I’ll be working more on these in the next few months to get them ready for use, as they’re my priority project.

Games Played 

I had a few different games this year, at the beginning playing a couple of games of Maurice. It’s still one of my favourite games, but I didn’t play much after the premature end of our campaign. I’d like to get in some more games next year though. Likewise, at the start of the year I played a few games of Bolt Action, which I still enjoy, and which I still need to finish my vehicles for. At some point in the future I’d like to add an allied force too (possibly Polish paras) so I can have a matching enemy.

Muskets and Tomahawks saw some love around mid year after I got my rangers painted up too. I really like this game, though I need to sit down and read through the rules properly again – the last couple of games I was really rusty and had to keep checking the rules to see how to proceed, though part of that was having only really skimmed the river rules, then playing against Dan’s lovely canoe-paddling Indians. Another game I’d like to play more in 2015.

The latter half of the year was almost all given over to a new game though, Sword and Spear. As well as playing half a dozen games myself, I umpired / demoed the game to others, mostly using my Hundred Years War English army split into two and one half being proxied as the French, but with an occasional ahistorical game (such as the one against Dan’s Mongol Horde). I’ll be playing this a lot more in the coming year too, as it’s rekindled my love of ancients gaming and because I have a whole heap of figures heading my way soon.

Future Projects

As I mentioned above, my current default project is to get my 6mm Napoleonic French painted up in time for my old club’s con this year. That’s definitely my priority, though I’ll probably do some other painting once in a while too when I get chance. As luck would have it, it’s also going to provide me with just about everything I need for a Bluecher force – a new game that I’m really looking forward to, not least because it’s another Sam Mustafa game, whose games so far (Grand Armee, Might and Reason, Lasalle, Maurice and Longstreet) have all been real winners. I generally enjoy larger strategic battles to skirmish games, so Bluecher should be right up my alley, and from what I’ve seen of the game so far, it’s going to be a corker.

After I get those painted up, I want to plod on with my Union army for Longstreet and get some games of that under my belt too. I can probably get a starter army painted up pretty quickly, and then work on reinforcing it as I go rather than do all the rest of the figures at once.

Sometime in the next couple of months I should be receiving my War and Empire figures too from their kickstarter. I didn’t bother buying the rules for that game (the playtest versions didn’t do it for me), so I’ll be using Impetus / Sword and Spear basing and probably mostly be using the latter rules. I have three armies coming, Graeco-Bactrian, Mid Republican Roman, and Later Carthaginian, so again I’ll have a historically opposing match-up there to cover the Punic Wars. I think my favourite there will be the Graeco-Bactrians though, so I’ll probably end up painting those first.

I have a couple of other projects in mind too, more of a long term / slow boil thing, for which I don’t have any figures yet. For both games I’m considering cannibalising the Sword and Spear rules (mostly the core mechanics, anyway) for homebrew rules. The first, which I’ve been working on bit by bit when I get time is for the Spanish Civil War, an area that provides ample opportunity for quite a few different troop types, from Carlists, Foreign Legion, Falangist militia and Moroccan troops on the fascist side and International Brigades, Anarchist militia, Assault Guards and Regular troops on the government side, both using the wonderful tiznaos (home-made armoured trucks) and where the heaviest tank available was the mighty T-26. Figures (15mm) would be using the comprehensive range put out by Peter Pig mixed with some of the cool range brought up recently by No Pasaran, with maybe a few Minairons vehicles thrown in the mix too. I considered the Warmodelling SCW range, but at 18mm, verging on 20mm, they won’t match the others, and they don’t have as full a range as PP/NP yet.

The second project I’m still on the thinking stage of using the core S&S mechanics is Colonial, particularly the Mahdist War in Sudan in the 1880s and 1890s. There are really only two sides in this conflict (Anglo-Egyptian or Imperial, and Mahdist), but there are still a nice variety of troops available (for example, Egyptian and Sudanese battalions, Highlanders, Marines and Naval Brigades, Camel Corps and Bengal Lancers, versus Beja / Hadendowa and Ansar sword and spearmen, with Jihadiyya riflemen, Baggara cavalry and the like. I’m still wavering between which figures I’d use for this too. I’d considered 6mm (Baccus)  and 10mm  (Pendraken do some lovely figures), but I think I’d go for 15mm / 18mm, of which the best ranges are Peter Pig and Blue Moon. Sadly, the former are 15mm, the latter are 18mm, so they wouldn’t really mix. For both these games, I’d like to add a bit more spice into the mix too, something like Musket and Tomahawks’ sub plots, but whether I could just do that as scenarios (the Imperials must get a heliograph team to a certain location them defend them while they send a signal and await a reply), or use some sort of card system (similar to the event style cards of Maurice, but with fewer to choose from). Both of these still need more work before they’re ready to be playtested though, and I need to buy and paint figures before I can do that too, so they’re going to be low priority projects, and may not see the light of day at all in the coming year.

Misc

Finally, a few words on the year as a whole. It was a mixed year, the highlights being the games I played against some great friends, who I hope to continue playing against this year, as well as two new fora, one a more formal (but still entirely friendly) one shared with great friends from the world over, the other much more informal consisting of a few like-minded local friends. The Hold the Line convention was fun, not least because of the opportunity to meet a couple of people I’d only chatted to online before, and though I still have mixed feelings, the new gaming space at Meeplemart is a distinct improvement on that of Dueling Grounds, since you can have a conversation there at normal volume for one thing. They’re the main Pros for the year.

Cons are sadly plentiful though, from my good friend and constant gaming companion Markus leaving to pursue his occupational dreams, to the aforementioned premature end to our Maurice campaign, and to my decision to leave the club I’d been part of for the last 8 years or so. Differences of opinion concerning the club’s rules led to me deciding that it was no longer worth the bother, and so instead I now play with friends (most of whom are still members of the club), but I’m now free to talk about scales other than 25mm, and can spend my gaming time with people I want to spend time with, whether that’s playing wargames or boardgames. So, even though no longer being a member of that club is a con, the fact that the coming year will see me still enjoying the company of friends and gaming regularly makes up for it, and I will not miss the endless arguments that the club’s forum was descending into. I’m sure that certain sections of the club are correspondingly happy that I’m no longer there to disagree with them too, so that probably counts as a win-win. :)

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