For King and Parliament First Outing

This morning I was able to get FK&P onto the table for the first time. Been working on the ECW troops for the last year so it’s good to finally get them out.

Unfortunately the second table I’d ordered didn’t arrive but was able to get a decent setup using the one I had and the kitchen table. For those who aren’t aware, FK&P by Simon Miller and Andrew Brentnall is a playing card driven, grid based game for the British Civil Wars. It’s based on the To The Strongest! Ancients ruleset with many additions and tweaks to suit the period. The basic concept is you activate a unit by drawing a card, then continue to activate units drawing cards until you draw an Ace or a lower card in a unit with a higher card. Those activations can then be used to move and attack, drawing various cards for hits and saves.

Below is a picture set up with the grid. The grid corners are laid out using small stones and tussocks made from glue and flock – glue gun blob, flock, PVA spray.

The effect is quite subtle and doesn’t really get in the way once the game begins.
The Royalist veterans, Rupert leads the horse on the right, Sir Jacob the foot on the left and King Charles looks on.
The Parliamentary forces. Cromwell leads the horse, Skippon the foot and Fairfax as overall commander.

The Royalist order of battle consists of two standard units of foot, Prince Ruperts Bluecoats and the King’s Lifeguard of Foot, as well as a pike heavy unit of mixed regiments, the various leftovers of broken battalia from a long war forming a tercio under Sir Henry Bard. There are also two units of horse, Sir William Vaughn and the Northern Horse. All units are rated as veteran and the horse have attached shot, small units of musketeers to provide some extra initial firepower.

The order for the Parliamentary side is three standard units of foot, John Pickering’s, Sir Hardress Waller’s and Phillip Skippon’s own, as well as a unit of commanded shot, two field artillery and two units of horse, Nathaniel Rich’s and Edward Whaley’s.

The miniatures are all 10mm Pendraken and based on 120mm frontage for foot and 100mm frontage for horse and commanded shot. The grid was 150mm squared.


The Royalists make the first move and press the advance. Cautious of the enemy artillery the horse sweep round the flanks while the infantry surge forward to try and close before too much damage can be done. Bard’s motley crew lag behind the other foot but still press forward. The Parliamentary horse rush to greet the advancing Rupert but both sides draw off after an initial clash ends in stalemate. The Parliamentary foot move up on the flanks hoping to envelop the smaller enemy force while the concentrated firepower batters their centre, but at this distance the shooting from both sides proves ineffective.

Vaughan managed to get a bit ahead of the Northern Horse so Rupert went to badger them along. The Parliamentary horse moved up in good order together.
The foot stare each other down, laughing off the long distance potshots. The artillery, a little perturbed by the Royalist’s rapid advance, miss their targets badly.

The Royalist advance moves up to closer range, exchanging fire with the ill-prepared artillery and driving them from the field, but Skippon and Waller fill the gap and lay down retributive fire, inflicting heavy casualties. The Northern Horse join the flank fight and both sides battle hard, neither giving any ground.

Fight on the flanks heats up with Whaley’s horse taking some damage.
The devastation of close quarters musketry takes its toll on both sides.

Vaughan breaks Whalley and sets off in persuit, but the arrival of Cromwell gives Rich’s men a fresh burst of vigour and they press the fight against the Northern Horse, breaking them and setting off in a persuit of their own. While Rupert’s foot fall back to regroup from the fight, the King’s Lifeguard launch a brutal salvee charge into Waller’s men. The sturdy Roundheads take the punishment and push the redcoats back, turning their muskets on them and unleashing wave after wave of shot until their red coats become redder still. The Lifeguard break and flee the field.

A brutal exchange ends in a Parliamentary success.
Bard is feeling a bit lonely at the front
“Eh guys…you’re going the wrong way!”

As the foot start to tire from the heavy fighting, Bard launches a half arsed charge, but is driven back by the concentrated fire of the enemy. They have no desire to press the advantage though and take the respite where it is available. Rupert, in a rare moment of awareness, realised the foot were struggling and managed to rally his remaining horse while Cromwell charges after the jubilant horse calling them back to the fray unsuccessfully.

In a bit if a role reversal, the Royalist horse pull off from the persuit while the Parliamentary horse charge on.
The foot stand off. Notice that fresh unit of Pickering’s relaxing in the rear.

Cromwell finally manages to pull his horse back in line and gets them turned round and back towards the fight in short order. Rupert struggles with his own horse as, unused to continuing the fight after a good rout, they mill around in disarray but eventually get turned in the general direction of the enemy. The foot battle back and forth, slowly grinding each other down.

Horse finally facing the right way
The bluecoats eye the wavering troops of Skippon’s regiment

The bluecoats surge forward in a last ditch effort and break the heavily disordered Parliamentarians. With renewed effort they launch an attack on Pickering’s reserve troops but are thrown back by the fresh troops. Rupert urges his horse onwards towards the exposed flank of Waller’s regiment but the long day has tired them and Waller has time to turn his men to face the incoming attack, stopping it short. With a ripple of musketry from the Parliamentary shot, Bard’s beleaguered troops finally break and flee from the field. Seeing his centre broken and Cromwell’s imminent return, Charles sounds the retreat. The day goes to the Parliamentary forces, but the Royalist veterans put on a brave fight.

The main forces at the end of the fight, viewed from the Royalist side
The view from Cromwell’s position
The view from Rupert’s position

Overall this was a lot of fun. The difference between the staying power of the veteran Royalists vs the numerical superiority of the Parliamentarians gave for an interesting balance. The fight got pretty close at the end. Had Rupert got one more activation and managed to hit Bard’s flank it might well have been a Royalist victory.

As far as the rules go, I do think they’re an improvement over TtS! and can see a lot of the modifications that have been added to the predecessor come to their fruition here. I suspect we’ll see those come into the ancients rules too in the next version.

The game started a bit slowly, partly due to my constant checking of the rules for things like range, and what numbers I needed to get, but after the first turn or two I didn’t need to check them again and got in the swing of things. The first few turns had high cards for activations and low cards for attacks, the opposite of what you want, so that slowed things down a bit too, but once the range closed the fighting got much faster and more furious. I particularly liked the persuit mechanism as it was something very important in the outcome of fights of this period and something not all rules cover well.

The most awkward part of it all is the set up process. The tussocks and stones worked well to not distract from the game, but laying out the grid with measuring tapes was time consuming and awkward. My two options going forward are to either use my felt cloth and mark out the grid directly on that, or else make some form of template to make it easier to lay out quickly.

I know I made some mistakes with the rules, but hopefully only a few small ones. I’ll have to have another read of the rules now I’ve had a game to put it all into context. I’ll definitely get some more games in the future and have a few more units in the queue to add to the forces in future. I didn’t use a few of the rules available as this was a test game, but will be more confident with using then in future.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

What am I at?

This year has been one of the busiest of my life, both in work and personally. Hobby time overall has been pretty small compared to what I’d like due to time and budgetary constraints.

However, while work continues apace, my personal life has become a bit quieter and a bit less expensive for the moment so all being well I can focus some more time on hobbies!

The past few weeks I’ve been getting into my lead hillock and clearing it down a bit. First up, some additions to the Islamics for the crusades. This was primarily Arab tribal units and horse archer units with figures mostly from Irregular miniatures, though a few from Pendraken too.

Arab light infantry/skirmishers
Horse archer (Pendraken) marker unit
Arabic tribal light cavalry
Arabic tribal light cavalry
Horse archers
More horse archers
Even more horse archers

I’ve also made up a few “minor” command bases for the Crusaders. These can operate as sub commanders, though I intend to use them as the main commanders in a campaign that I plan to do between two minor (imaginary) Crusader and Islamic states. Figures are again a mix of Irregular and Pendraken.

Next up a little preview of some work in progress. I’ve settled on the Crimean War as my 2mm project and have started putting together the British units. Still toying with basing design and flags.

There’ll be plenty more to follow in the near future. Initially I’m doing the Battle of the Alma with BBB so will need to fill out the British, French, Russians and a few Turkish too. Depending how I feel about things after this I may expand the forces out to cover the entire set of BBB Crimean War scenarios.

This week also marks the arrival of a fairly large order from Pendraken:

This contains the seeds of multiple projects to keep me going for the next little while, plus expansions to existing ones.

The main new project is from their Aztec range, where I’m hoping to do some of the pre-Columbian wars between the various states such as the Mexicans, Tarascans and Tepanecs.

There was also a few models from their early 20th Century ranges and a copy of Blitzkrieg Commander IV to experiment with a “Very Nor’n Irish Civul Whar” project, more on that in future posts.

There’s a stack of figures from their fantastic fantasy/dungeon ranges to have a stab at some fantasy RPG games. I’m mostly interested in historical, but the odd foray into fantasy can be fun and it’s a good way to draw others in.

There are several figures to round out my ECW armies, as well as some packs from their newly (re)published TB Line medievals to expand out the Crusader armies. Their figures, especially the cavalry, are a bit bigger than Pendraken’s normal cavalry figures, which works well as most of my knights are currently from Magister Militum, which are generally a bit chunkier and taller anyway.

Lots to keep me busy! I’m sure I’ll also be getting back to the Flippant History posts at some point too, though they’ll probably take a back seat for a while to painting.

Thanks for reading!

Matthew

English Civil War Progress Update

As I’ve mentioned a few times in past blog posts, I’ve been working on an English Civil War, or British Civil War, or War of the Three Kingdoms (but that just makes me think of China and all the potential there…) project. It has been somewhat slow going, mostly due to this being a pretty busy year (one of the busiest of my life to be honest) so in the past ten months I’ve only been able to produce a couple of small forces.

I’m basing the project on the Battle of Naseby, a turning point in the Civil War that saw the Parliamentarian New Model Army overcome the rag tag Royalist veterans. I de-scoped my initial plans a bit to focus on producing two smallish forces that I can game with, then add to and expand into the full order of battle I want.

I’ve now (finally!) finished these small forces and as of today have them varnished and drying. I decided this would be a good time to photograph them as well. Alas my photography skills are poor, and I’ve only my phone camera and poor lighting. Though typically the sun came out after I was finished! Awh well.

I’ll be putting together an order to “finish” the project in future, but want to take a break from the period for a while and focus on other things. I’ve a bunch of odds and ends for the Crusades projects to paint up and I think I’ve settled on a 2mm Crimean War project next.

So without further ado…here are the pictures. You can click on them to enlarge.

The Royalists

Parliamentarian New Model Army

Bits and Bobs

Various markers that can be used for attached shot, hero markers, etc. I’ve some casualty markers too, but I haven’t photographed them, so you’ll have to wait for when I get a game in for that!


I’ll be expanding there forces gradually over time. More horse, more foot, some dragoons are all on the agenda. I’ll also try and get a game in at some point as I’ve been looking forward to trying out the For King and Parliament rules.

Thanks for reading,

Matthew

Paper Wars in Action

Last week I was able to roll out some of the 2D armies for some games. I’d put together forces for the Boyne, Culloden and Gettysburg and got a chance to play a couple of games with my father.

Culloden didn’t get onto the table, though as it was the one I was least interested in I wasn’t too concerned. For the Battle of the Boyne I used the Pike and Shotte rules with my own custom scenario for the battle. For Gettysburg I used the excellent Bloody Big Battles ruleset with a scenario from the BBB Yahoo group.

The magnetic tape the paper counters and labels were attached to worked well, giving the playing pieces some weight and other than perhaps cutting some of my flexible ferrous paper into movement trays to keep them all together on hills, I’m pretty happy with them. I’ll definitely be using the tape for future projects, provided I can find a way to cut it a bit more regularly square. I suspect patience and care is the answer but life’s too short for taking your time!

I’d initially scaled the games for dining table play but the discovery of a table tennis table at the place we were staying was too good an opportunity to pass up. With a little tweaking I was able to stretch them to suit the larger space.

I’ll be sharing all the resources I used here at the bottom of this post so stick around if you’re interested in any of it for yourself.

The Battle of the Boyne

The Battle of the Boyne is quite the appropriate one to play given the proximity to the 12th July, the traditional “celebration” of the battle in my home country, complete with bonfires, bowler hats, orange sashes, marching bands, protests, riots and flags on every lamppost (I counted no less than sixty on my short walk to work). If you don’t know of what I speak, Wikipedia is a good place to start!

Controversial as the “celebrations” may be all these centuries later, it is still an important turning point in the history of the British isles and as a battle offers a lot of fun opportunity to game.

Queen Mary and her consort, Prince William of Orange, had recently been welcomed by Parliament as the new Queen and King of England when the last King of England, James II, having the audacity to declare himself a Roman Catholic, was promptly deposed. It’s said when William turned up on England’s shores for some light invading, King James decided to do nothing about it due to having a bit if a nose bleed, which was enough to make even the most loyal of royalists rethink their position. Supporters flocked to William and Mary in droves and James, in a petulant temper, chucked the the king’s seal* into the river and fled the city. This gave Parliament the convenient excuse of claiming James had abdicated. Huzzah to the Glorious Revolution! All nice and neat. Now William…er well his wife Mary (James’ little sister) could be Queen and after some legal wrangling and red faces in the House, William and Mary were declared joint monarchs.

James ran off to Ireland to drum up support with the help of the French and started making trouble in his neighbourhood. He got in one little fight and then got scared and ran off to be the king of … nothing. That fight was the battle of the Boyne, part of a wider campaign by William to bring the unruly Irish (who seemed to think they should be allowed to practice religion however they wished, the horror!) under full control. In truth the battle was less significant at the time than the battle of Aughrim a year later, which ended the Williamite War in Ireland, but as James and William were both present at the Boyne it tends to get all the press.

Interestingly, it was the anniversary of Aughrim that was originally celebrated on the 12th, with the Boyne taking over in importance a century later and stealing the date (it was fought on the 1st by the Julian calendar). Also, if seen in the wider context of European politics it is interesting to note that the Pope at the time was in fact an ally of William in the League of Augsburg arrayed against the French, a bit of an odd quirk of history given the sectarian nature of the war and remembrance of it.

The battle was preceded by a feint by William, sending a small contingent of cavalry far down the river to ford while bringing his main force towards Oldbridge where the river was more easily forded.

James mistook the feint for the main attack and sent around two thirds of his force to intercept. They pulled up opposite sides of an impassible marsh and stared at each other until word reached them that William had crossed already at which point James promptly ran away.

 

* The kind used to stamp things, not the noisy sea mammal, who would be unperturbed by a dip in the river. 


I decided to focus the battle at the Oldbridge crossing, here are some shots of the setup:

Oldbridge Town, the main objective of the game to hold/take. The fields in the distance cover the whole area enclosed by the hedge (as I said, expecting a smaller table!)

I’ve set up two crossing points, one a ford, the other an island with slightly different rules for each. There’s marshy ground on the other side of the island.

The sheep in their enclosures. No sheep were harmed in the making of this battle.

I took on the role of James’ understaffed defenders while my dad decided to lead King Billy’s forces across the river.
William started his advance by sweeping the cavalry round towards the island, and moving his elite infantry up to the ford. He opened combat with a somewhat ineffective artillery barrage. The defending forces deployed the dragoons along the hedges and moved the cavalry over towards the ford to try and support the Oldbridge defence. The infantry fired a few potshots across the river to no real effect.
William’s cavalry moved across the island with great elan, only to end up mired in swampy ground and milling about in skirmishing disorder for most of the battle, while the Irish dragoons picked them off one by one. The infantry began their inexorable advance across the river ford under the fire of the defenders.
The Dutch guard advanced up to the walls and hedges of Oldbridge before being thrown back by the king’s foot guard. The Irish cavalry tore along the river towards the encroaching enemy but stalled in confusion under the harsh battering from William’s artillery barrages, eventually becoming broken and scattered.
William’s infantry kept advancing under heavy fire and getting thrown back by the elite King’s Foot Guard at the walls. Confident in the defense ability of the guard, two units of infantry hopped into the open to enfilade the enemy and managed to break a couple of units before getting bogged down in combat. A shaken unit of Williams infantry (mistakenly) advanced on the guard and despite drawing combat, the support of the units coming up behind was enough to cause the foot guard to take a break test, inexplicably breaking completely without having taken a single casualty. Luck of the Irish…

The Williamite forces surged forward seizing the town and taking the victory. James turned up at the end to see what was going on, far too late to do anything worthwhile.


Some shots from the game, Dutch in Orange, Irish in Green. Obviously!

William’s forces advancing towards Oldbridge

Some milling cavalry

The advancing cavalry, looking frisky, unaware of the artillery barrage about to cause them some consternation


All in all the scenario played out well. I think I managed to organise the forces well and the terrain added a lot of flavour to the game and helped balance the overwhelming numbers of William. I did get a few rules wrong, only one of which really altered the overall play, but was a good close game regardless.

I might make a few tweaks to the scenario if I play again, but all in all, I was pretty happy. This was my first time playing P&S but found them to flow as well as the HC games I’ve played. It would have been good had I time to play them solo first to iron out a few rough edges as was teaching my dad as I went. His summary was it was good but a bit too complicated to remember all those rules!

Gettysburg

Next up was the Battle of Gettysburg using BBB. This as a cracking game played over two days and was a close one in the end.

I’ll not go into the history as I did with the Boyne as my ACW knowledge isn’t so deep (an area I’m working to improve) but this is another attacker Vs defender scenario with the fresh faced Union troops attempting to hold their ground against General Lee’s Confederate veterans.


Dad took the dirty rebs, I took the upstanding army of the Union.

Here’s some pictures of the layout, ran out of brown tape (having used it at the Boyne) so grey and brown indicate roads, black is railway (and later rifle pits) and blue the streams. Sorry about the poor lighting, though as you can see by the light it’s been a glorious day outside. 

The rebels swept in from the north but fell like wheat to the scything gunfire of the Union forces. All day they pushed forwards but couldn’t make ground on Gettysburg. They did better on the western flank, after a bit if a stalemate over ttje railway line, they broke it and proceeded to push the Union back from the railway, forcing them to retreat up Seminary hill and pushing forward to threaten the west of Gettysburg.

Night fell with nothing more gained and the forces pulled back to recover their troops and give space for reinforcements to.make their way to the field. Day two opened with a smattering of ineffective gunfire from the Union on the west, but a devastating barrage on the east against the rebel artillery position caused some damage.

The rebels pushed forwards with great gusto, advancing on Gettysburg from the north and west but the concentration of fire from the Union lines held them at bay. A Union assault up Benner’s hill was repelled by the rebel artillery but a further Union barrage swept the hill wreaking havoc amongst the rebel artillery corps.

Some shots of where things are halfway through “day 2”:


Gettysburg


The west


The east

Fighting intensified in the second half of day 2. Pender lead the assault from the west of Gettysburg while McLaws and Anderson pushed from the North and Rodes advancing cautious from the North East. Early and Heth sat back and licked their wounds. The invincible Hood charged the rifle pits of Barlow against withering fire from across the hill, pushing them back to the river then obliterating them in a follow up assault.

The assault on Gettysburg was a success and in the closing hours of day 2, despite the valiant defence from the Iron Brigade they were shaken out if Gettysburg and the victorious rebels swarmed into the town for a well earned night’s rest. The forces consolidated their positions over night and brought in their last reinforcements. The cavalry was still engaged in battle on the east field so didn’t make an appearance.

Day three opened with the Union moving swiftly up to defend their western flanks and trying to take the round tops and devils den against Pickett and Hood moving up the West. The northern lines sent a smattering of fire into Gettysburg without much impact. The rebels launched their assault on cemetery hill, throwing everything they had at the position and quickly overwhelming the defending Union troops. Good and Pickett, overcautious of the Union artillery after the damage they’d done in the previous day’s hung back, attempting to silence the artillery position before assaulting up the steep slopes of the round tops. They succeeded in silencing them but we’re unable to take advantage of this before the fresh Union reinforcements made their way to the hills and the den. The Union made a failed attempt to retake the cemetery and as the day drew to a close the rebels in the North threw their forces against Culps hill in one last desperate charge but was thrown back by the combined firepower of the Union. 

The battle ended in a draw. The rebels had fought hard to take Gettysburg and cemetery hill, but were completely spent by the efforts. Both sides drew back to leave the fight to another time.

All in all a close run thing. Had the rebels taken Gettysburg earlier in the game they could probably have swept to victory. As it was, the solid defence put up by the Union troops broke the Confederacy troops down and managed to hold in to a draw.

Assault on Gettysburg

Assault on Cemetery Hill


Pickett’s not charge

Resources

Below are links to download the labels, scenarios and templates I used for these games.

Battle of the Boyne

Boyne OOB inspired by: https://onelover-ray.blogspot.com/2013/06/battle-of-boyne-oob-broadside-2013.html

Labels for Gettysburg

Scenario for Gettysburg – requires sign up to the Yahoo Group

Markers and Objectives

Paper Army Unit Pack – including both borderless and bordered (depending on the printer)

Terrain

Remember the Alma…

As promised, I’ve rolled out the new 2D armies to try out the Bloody Big Battles ruleset. This let me put together a game to play the rules out despite the fact I don’t have a proper miniatures army.

The scenario I picked was the Battle of The Alma from the Crimean War. The French, Turkish and British forces are attempting to overrun a defended Russian position to open the road to Sevastapol.

The terrain is very much rough and ready, much like the armies themselves!

The Turkish position arrayed for the defence:

And the allied forces entering the field:

Turn one begins with the allies advancing on the two bridges to try and sweep aside the Russians.

The Russians move in to block the way:

Turn two the British push across the river but take a heavy beating from the Russian guns in the process:

The Russians are pushed back by the French but the Russians are still preventing them from crossing the river.

On turn three the Russian assaults continue to hold the French at the river while the British seem to be stalled exchanging fire with the Russians across a stream.

The British occupy a small village and repel an assault by the cavalry.

Turn four and the pressure is on, there are only six turns to take the roads and the allies are far behind where they need to be.

The French slog across the river slowly while the British seem to do little. It seems like they have forgotten they can cross streams without a bridge!

Turn five and the French continue their grinding slog towards the objective while the British slowly, cautiously try to outflank the much weaker opposing forces rather than getting their feet wet and storming them across the stream.

The surge of Russians against the French throw them back from their hard won ground.

Turn six, the final turn and the British finally realise that they can just hop over the piddly stream and give the Ruskies their cold steel. Too little, too late.

The French flail around in disarray. The fight is over, night draws in and the allies retreat in disgrace. There is much to celebrate in the Russian camp that night.

За здоровье!


The purpose of this game was threefold. First to try out the cardboard counter armies, second to try out BBB and third to give one of my potential periods for a next project a go.

On the cardboard armies, they fared well enough. My two main issues came from the lack of weight and lack of identification. The identification issue can easily be solved with a bit of prep work to create labels but the weight issues may need some more work. The issue being that the light card tends to bunch up and overlap making it difficult to move about. This could be solved with MDF counters as someone suggested, or by using some sort of sabot system. I’m pondering the use of some old painting sticks to make labelled sabots for the counters to solve both these issues. Regardless, they worked well to get a feel for the conflict and I didn’t mind the abstracted nature of it so I’m sure they’ll come out to play again in future. Best of all, the entire project fits into a small zip up food bag!

As suggested in comments of the previous post and a related thread on the Pendraken forum, there are some great paper armies out there as well as a load of excellent looking paper terrain on http://www.juniorgeneral.org so I’ll be definitely checking that out. Thanks to everyone who commented, the feedback and suggestions are always welcome!

Regarding the Bloody Big Battles ruleset, I really enjoyed them. They’re intuitive and fun to play and keep the action moving at a good pace. I played the entire game with just two dice, rolling against a table for movement and combat rather than the buckets o’ dice or single resolution approach that I’ve encountered previously. I probably did many things wrong (like forgetting that you can cross streams until turn six!) and I’m looking forward to reading the rules in depth now I’ve a sense of the core concepts. I always find the best way to get to grips with a rule set is to get it on the table and fail fast. You learn more from where you go wrong than obsessing over knowing it all before you start. It’s all in the name of fun so no harm in fudging things here and there using common sense where you’re uncertain! I’ll do a proper rule review in a future post once I’ve had another go with them. I’d enjoy playing this scenario again and trying different approaches to see how they fare. There’s plenty of other scenarios to choose from too!

Finally, the next project. I reckon that BBB will be a lot of fun to play in 2mm where you can represent the scale of the conflicts involved. The Crimean War is a potential option. As are the Prussian wars (Austro- and Franco-). At 2mm you can easily proxy armies without it looking out of place so it wouldn’t be too difficult to field multiple conflicts with the same sets of figures. There’s plenty of other rule sets out there too covering these periods that they will adapt well. Some more research to be done!

2D Gaming

One of the issues I have with being a relatively new gamer is a lack of materials to play games with. Now I know for many people this gap in their own collection can be covered by combining with friends or joining a club, but for the moment I’ve been pretty much a solo gamer, roping in the odd friend or family member for a battle here and there, but providing everything myself. At present that means a sizable set of armies for the Crusades, a small set of English Civil War armies in progress and no scenery other than a could of bags of unbased trees and a few bags of base scatter.

There are clubs in my area, but having had quite a busy year so far I’ve not really had the time or inclination to go along to any. The aforementioned busy period also means progress has been fairly slow. Last year I managed to put together a couple of usable armies for the Crusades in a few months, however my follow up project, the English Civil War, has been going on for 6-8 months now and I’ve still a few units to finish before I’ll have even a small army to play with.

I’ve not posted yet about my ECW project on this blog yet (though have some progress updates on the Pendraken forum) so there’ll be more on that in a future post and hopefully an outing with them to the battlefield using For King and Parliament rules in the next couple of months. I really need to make some hedges though…

Regardless, this means getting into new periods and rulesets has a steep entry if I want to have two usable armies put together to face off. As I’m getting towards the end of “Phase 1” of the ECW project* I’ve been looking into researching a Horse and Musket era conflict next, to continue my core coverage of the difference periods of warfare. In order to speed up the process (and save some money) I’ve been looking into doing it in a very small scale, getting samples of both 6mm and 2mm. I think I’ve settled on doing the project in 2mm though haven’t decided where to focus it just yet. Mid to late 19th Century is the likely choice given the general uniformity of the… uniforms, compared to 18th Century and Napoleonic periods. This will look better at the very small scale and the scale will also give a better sense of the sheer numbers of people involved in the conflict. If I enjoy it I can plan a more visually appealing project using 10mm at a leisurely pace as I’ll already have a usable army to scratch the gaming itch if it arises. Assuming I don’t fall in love with the massed troops at the micro scales and do more projects there!

This weekend I received a copy of Chris Pringle’s Big Bloody Battles and its scenario counterpart covering the major European conflicts of the 19th Century. The game looks like a lot of fun and is very different from the rule sets I’ve been playing so far, being primarily ancient/medieval focused.

So how to decide what conflict to do? This gets me on to the title of this post. If I want to get a feel for what it is to play games in this period I need something to play with. If I want to do this with miniatures then I need to pick a conflict and spend time and money putting forces together. Bit of a catch 22 if I’m trying to decide what conflict. I’d have to just pick one that seemed interesting and dive in. Or…

Alternatively, I could make some very abstract units out of cardboard counters and use them to play some battles and get a feel for different armies and periods. With some different markers and clear differentiation I could even use these counters to represent just about any conflict I wanted.

While 2D counters will never give the same look and feel and satisfaction that painted, based miniatures would give, they do allow test games, rule teaching and versatility at a very abstract level. So rather than spending a rare free Saturday afternoon painting and basing my ECW Royalists as I’d intended, I instead went “back to school” with cardboard, rulers, scissors and colouring pencils to put together some cardboard troop counters and scenery pieces to use.

Simple red vs blue set up. Those with a horizontal line across the top represent infantry. Those with flags can be used as centre point stands or command as needed. The diagonally halved ones represent cavalry, the triangles artillery (despite looking a little like sail boats) and the circles with flags are generals. I can add markers or different symbols to show different units and statuses as well. If I use these for ancient battle I can use crossed swords, spears, bows, etc on the reverse to show different troop types.

To make up for my lack of scenery I’ve also started creating some 2D terrain to work with these.

This also has the added bonus of being highly portable. I’ve a family get together for a week next month that I might be able to get a battle or two in with some family members. While it would be impractical to transport miniatures while traveling, cardboard counters have no such issues.and would allow me to put on games in periods that might peak their interest.

Now, not only did I have some free time today, but I should have a few hours free on Sunday too and hope to put these troops into action in one of the scenarios from BBB. So stay tuned folks for the next post covering how they were to use in battle, how I found the rules and any other general ramblings that spring to mind.

Thanks for reading!

Matthew

*There’ll likely always be more added to the armies as I play out scenarios and want to expand more, as I have been with the crusades and continue to do so. Indeed I’ve a stack of Saracens on my painting sticks along with the ECW at the moment.

Reflections so far…

I started out my historical wargaming experience, as many do, at 28mm with a Hail Caesar! Conquest of Gaul starter set. After painting up a few units and ordering some more I soon realised I would never have the time, space or inclination to do anything more than skirmish level games at 28mm. I want my military units to look like they have some mass to them, not just a few blokes standing about comparing sword lengths, and the time investment to get even a small division of troops on the table at that scale is considerable. Not to mention the size of table that would be required!

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Is your sword longer than mine?

I then went searching other scales to see what was out there. I started out with a pack of Macedonian pikemen and a pack of Persian Immortals from Baccus and  I found them a real struggle to paint. The sculpts were great, very detailed for the scale, but I wasn’t yet experienced enough with the brush to deal with such fiddly details and ended up blobbing the colours on and not enjoying the process at all.

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If you would be so kind as to just charge directly into our pointy sticks, that would be wonderful!

Next came some 15mm samples from Essex Miniatures from their Han Chinese and Huns range. These figures were great fun to paint, looked good but being smaller more economical in terms of cost, space and time.

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How come he gets a horse? I don’t even…

While I was painting those, however, my next set of samples arrived. This time 10mm Medieval Billmen and Saracen Infantry from Magister Millitum. I fell in love. The scale provided the perfect balance between detail and mass and I could produce sizable armies without incurring huge investments in those three key factors – cost, time and space.

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Bill? Bill! Bill… Bill, Bill, Bill. Bill!?

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Is black my colour?

That launched me onto a new project focusing on the Crusades era. I had never intended to get into the Crusades. I always thought my first big project would be in the Ancient World, but such is life. I then spent most of last summer painting Crusader and Saracen armies with figures from MM and Pendraken. One of the added benefits of this is in doing so I learned a huge amount about the Crusades and medieval period in general.

I enjoy listening to audiobooks and podcasts on the history of the period I’m painting when I can. I had a passing knowledge of the era before starting, but I’ve come out of it far better read with a broader knowledge of the entire middle ages. While I’ll likely never be “finished” this project I wrapped up the current stage of it when I had two sizable armies that I could actually play some games with. I’ll see if I can hunt out the pictures to post some battle reports and rule reviews in future, as well as what the next steps are with the project.

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Is this the way to Dorylaeum?

As I enjoyed getting into new history so much, I decided to do the same again for my next project and jump into something I was less familiar with. The Pike and Shot period seemed the logical choice. It followed chronologically from the late medieval into the Renaissance, had many interesting armies and tactics to explore and would be an introduction into more gunpowder oriented warfare to provide a contrast to bow and melee oriented medieval period.

I settled on the English Civil War as the place to start using the excellent 10mm range from Pendraken. I picked up their Parliamentarian army pack and a few other odds and ends and started painting up the New Model Army. After much arranging and rearranging of bases and miniatures, I came up with the outline of a project. I decided to base the armies roughly around the Battle of Naseby. Something about the raw but shiny New Model Army facing up against the ragtag Royalist veterans appealed. That has been my project over the past winter and still ongoing. I’ve put together a “Mini-Naseby” Order of Battle to use for the project and I’m probably about 60-70% of the way there as I type this. My knowledge and interest in the history of the period have increased, especially around the English Civil War and broader British Civil Wars, or Wars of the Three Kingdoms as they’re more romantically known*, as well as the 30 Years War and other conflicts across Europe. There’s still much more to explore there, so I’m sure I’ll be back to it in future.

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Colonel John “Nose” Pickering’s Regiment of Foot

I have a number of other projects planned out with ideas that have taken my interest…but that’s a story for another time. While I’ve settled on 10mm as my scale of choice, I do want to try the other scales again at some point. 6mm may be less of a chore now I’m a more experienced painter and there’s plenty of skirmish games out there for 15mm and above.

As to those poor 28mm Celts and Romans languishing in their box… I’ve decided to do a project at some point using Lion Rampant adapted to the Ancient World so they can get finished off and see some service.

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Bring it on!

I’ll have future posts going into more detail on the various projects, and ones that I have in the planning stage, but I wanted to reflect here on my experiences so far.

Thanks for reading!

Matthew

 

*That just makes me think of China though, so I’ll stick with ECW/BCW.

 

Introduction

Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head.

Euripides

Hello and welcome to my blog.

I’ve been a long time history lover who has recently gotten into historical wargaming.

My love started in the ancient world at a young age. I remember flipping through books on ancient Greece and Rome before I was old enough to understand much more than the pictures and it just developed from there.

Interestingly, I never much enjoyed history at school. Even though I would learn about it in my own time and read books and play games, something about the endless dates and dreary textbooks sucked all the life and narrative out of historical events. Thankfully that wasn’t enough to dampen my interest and my curiously has only broadened.

I’m pretty well read on ancient through medieval history, in both the East and the West, and in the past year or so have been delving more into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Nineteenth and twentieth centuries will be sure to follow in short order, though I know enough to know there’s a huge depth of discovery before me!

I got into wargaming just a little over a year ago. I’d dabbled in the fantasy/sci-fi stuff very briefly in my teens, but had never taken to it fully. I’m not sure why it took me so long to try historicals, but I’m glad I did!

On this blog I intend to document wargaming projects and history, mostly for my own enjoyment, but if others find what I share interesting then that’s just an added bonus!

Thanks for reading,

Matthew