Sunday, 30 October 2011

Napoleonic naval game at Conquest 2011

For the past few years I promised myself that I wouldn't get caught in the trap of having to paint up units at the last minute for demo games at the annual 'Conquest' convention held in Christchurch during October. Sadly, yet a gain I set a low standard and failed to achieve it in this regard.

This year the Southern Strategists decided to have a Napoleonic naval battle using the superbly detailed 1/700 ships from the Skytrex range. The bulk of the fleets had been painted by Dave Houston who had introduced the group to naval wargaming last year. As a sign of 'solidarity' (a socialist term frowned upon by Dave who is our resident law firm partner and card-carrying member of the ultra-conservative 'Act' Party here in NZ), we all decided to buy and paint up at least one ship each to provide a sizable game. Several months out from the event another member of the group pushed for the demo game to be a 28mm Victoriana Dark Africa skirmish game. 'Great' I thought as that meant I didn't have to supply any newly painted troops. However, the gaming gods were against me as three weeks out from the convention our Victoriana specialist panicked at the thought of transporting all the required terrain to the show and suggested we revert back to the naval game. 'Bugger' I cried as I that meant I now had to rush to paint up two 3rd Rate ships that were languishing in my lead pile. So, yet again I was still finishing off the ships in the wee hours of the morning before the game, cursing at fingers glued together while try to add rat-lines and rigging. As it turned out my ships entered the fray without any 'colours' and banners due to frustration and tiredness getting the better of me.

Fortunately the effort was worth it as our game received plenty of public attention throughout the day and was a novelty for those use to gaming tables covered with armies instead of model ships. Although not based on any specific battle, the game played using Warhammer Trafalgar rules proved somewhat historical in that both fleets (Franco-Spanish alliance against the Royal Navy) fought until they were near exhaustion, with wind direction determining manoeuvring.

Sadly, my two ships, the 'Berwick ( a French 74-gunner) and the HMS Defiance (another 74-gunner that was seconded to the Franco-Spanish fleet for the game) came to a sticky end on their first outing; the 'Berwick' blew up after leading the vanguard of the Allied fleet, with the 'Defiance' having to strike it's colours after losing all it's cannons and crew. Still, a very enjoyable wargaming genre that provided some variety to the convention and hours of satisfying gaming and convivial banter.

The Southern Strategists table at Conquest...only a few paces from the bar as usual!
Rodger Wood took some images of the game and convention which he will put on his blog 'Rebel Barracks' and the Southern Strategist blog in due course. The convention and swap-meet was well supported as usual, but the most striking image he took records the only female gamer at the convention fully engaged in the 'Flames of War' competition. This sparked some light-hearted suggestion amongst our group that she had an unfair advantage over her opponents in that most male gamers would feel distracted by her womanly qualities and fail to ruthlessly attack her forces, giving her victory. It was certainly unusual but refreshing to see a woman getting involved in such a male dominated hobby.
The valiant but hapless "Berwick" - blown to pieces in it's first engagement

The Berwick before sinking

The fleets collide...the Berwick about to take on three British ships (top centre)

Is that the rule book or a Womens Weekly that she's reading?

HMS Defiance firing a broadside

The Defiance in action before losing her cannon and crew

Now that these ships are done I can get back to my French & Indian War/ Seven Years War project that I have struggled to finish.....    

Saturday, 8 October 2011

1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot -Seven Years War

It's been a while since I placed a post of the blog, which is mainly due to my slow painting of figures. I've got a few projects on the go, but watching the rugby World Cup, which is being played here in New Zealand, has been a bit of a distraction as well.

I've just finished painting and basing the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot for my Seven Years War project. These are the superb 28mm Front Rank figures that I love due to the detail that makes them easy to paint. This is only the second British regiment that I have painted so far and this time I changed the painting style; previously when painting faces I left black shading from the under-coat and painted in the eyes. However, this time I just gave the faces and hands a wash using Citadel's Gryphonne Sepia wash. This certainly cut down on painting time but the jury is still out on the final 10-year-old son is my greatest critic of my painting and he prefers my previous painting style.

These units should prove very versatile as I intend to use them in my '45 project, along with gaming the French & Indian War and the Seven Years War in Europe. I'm currently in the process of finishing off some 25mm Dixon Seven Year War Highlanders that I'm painting up as the 42nd Foot (The Black Watch). I have these troops wearing buff facings so that I can use them for the '45 project, as well as for the French & Indian War. The only problem that I have struck with them is that the Dixon standard bearers come with the flag pole attached and are too small for the GMB flags that I use. To remedy this I had to order a couple of Front Rank standard bearers so that the regiment could proudly display their colours. I'm not too worried about the size difference as I have also included in the unit the 'Wee Wully' Highland officer that was free with the Last Argument of Kings supplement for the Black Powder rules; this figure is larger than the Dixon figures but should fit well with the Front Rank standard bearers on the same stand. The blue facing of this unit is much darker than the photos portray, using Vallejo Imperial Blue to get the right dark shade required. 

I've also included in this post my newly re-based British Legion cavalry from my American War of Independence British Army. I've had this unit for some time but they suffered casualties in the September 2010 earthquake that struck Christchurch. Hence, they have received a fresh coat of paint and have had their balsa wood bases replaced with mdf ones....and nicer flocking.

Another long term project has been the building of an 18th century brigantine from the plans Gary Chalk published in Wargames Illustrated in the 1990s. Again, this has been a slow process but I thought I should provide a photo of the progress made so far. At this stage I have the 'bones' of the ship together but with plenty of work still to come. Originally I intended this to be a pirate ship but will ensure I have a number of different flags to attach to it to provide some versatility in what I can use it for. I've already decided to call it the 'King James' in honour of my Irish Jacobite ancestors, so I suppose that prevents it from being part of the Royal Navy....meaning I'll have to produce a second ship to fight against it.

1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot
Royal regiments had dark blue facings and, in the case of the 1st Foot the officers & drummers, had Royal gold/ yellow lace

Tarleton leads his British Legion cavalry

Front Rank British Legion cavalry 'refitted' & ready for action
The brigantine 'King James' under construction- fortunately I haven't glued the masts and bowsprit in yet as it appears the bowsprit is too long and I need to swap the masts around....still a work in progress!

Oh, I just about forgot to mention that the book I recently wrote for Osprey, 'The New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War 1,' is due to be released on 18 October. The artwork by Mike Chappell is simply superb and I'm thrilled that he has agreed to be part of the second project covering 2NZEF in World War 2, which won't be released until late 2012/ early 2013.