Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Battle of Ferozeshah (This Day in History)

Today (and yesterday) marks the 170th anniversary of the Battle of Ferozeshah (1845).
Jensi artillerymen
After being reminded with a local newspaper article [Anniversary] and a recent [wargame show] today marks the 170th anniversary of the Battle of Ferozeshah. Full accounts of the battle can be found [here] and [here]. The battle marked the end of Sikh Raj in Punjab and the end of the first Sikh War. A number of Sikh colours were captured by the 80th Regiment of Foot (Staffordshire Volunteers) and were sent to Lichfield Cathedral. These flags usually (they are currently being restored) stand atop of the monument dedicated to the officiers and men of the 80th who died in Indian during the Sutlej campaign of 1845 and 1847.
Sikh Monument detail, Lichfield Cathedral 
The Sikh army, the Dal Khalsa, was probably one of the very few colonial armies that were equal, if not even superior, than the forces fielded by the British. European officers (some of whom were veterans of Napoleon's army) were employed to train the Sikh army to the latest standards.

An account of a young soldier (taken from "A Leicestershire Soldier in the Second Sikh War: Recollections of a Corporal of the 32nd Regiment of Foot in India 1848-49" by John Ryder) shows what high regard the British held for the men serving the Sikh artillery. He recorded:

"We drove them before us upon their own guns and works bayoneting the artillerymen at their posts. They were as good soldiers as ever took the field. They would not leave their guns and when the bayonet was through them they threw their arms round the guns and kissed them, and died."

These figures shown above represent Jensi artillery men. The particular figures are from Studio Miniatures 'Sikh Wars' range.

Using the forthcoming colonial 'The Men Who Would Be Kings' wargaming rules (by Dan Mersey and published by Osprey) the Khalsa Army will provide a very interesting alternative to the usual opposition faced by the British. 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

December Downturn

Regular readers may have noticed a distinct decrease in posts during the later half of this year. I must admit I had run out of steam updating this blog and had been sorely tempted, more than once, to let it die a natural death (or preserved forever in the ether like an adolescent's electronic diary, a petrified testament to playing with toy soldiers). Anyone who has a blog, and regularly updates it, will know  just how much time and effort it takes trying to maintain decent volume of material. I imagine it's the same for any hobby not just gaming, painting, modelling etc.

Whilst winter months normally mean an increase in painting and modelling for most people I've experienced the reverse. Ironically this may be because from gaming very occasionally I'm now playing at least once a week. Overlooking board games this has been increasingly involving games of Lion Rampant (LR) and its variants The Pikeman's Lament (TPL) and The Men Who Would Be Kings (TMHWBK) from the pen of Dan Mersey via Osprey Publishing. Taking into account the usual busy period at work this has led to a decrease in time available to blog.

I'm not going to do a review of the year because readers can simply scroll through the posts. Neither I'm not going to predict what projects I'll attempt next year as I'll inevitably change my mind half way through.
Wargamer Programme & Forthcoming Events
Wargamer 2015
On Sunday 6th December my brother and myself attended the Wargamer Show in Halesowen. This show was previously held in Great Barr but the new'ish (this is the second year at the current location) venue is a big improvement. One of the issues with the old venue was parking and access. We thought the new venue had very limited parking until we found a large carpark on the other side of the leisure centre.

After suffering 'the morning after the night before' from an interesting event at a local game store we did eventually arrive at Halesowen just before two where things seemed to be winding down.
The Battle of Little Big Horn
(The Guards, Sheldon, Birmingham)
Battle of Canny c.1476
(Wyrley Retinue)
Battle of Canny c.1476
(Wyrley Retinue)
Battle of Canny c.1476
(Wyrley Retinue)
Battle of Canny c.1476(Wyrley Retinue)
Battle of Canny c.1476(Wyrley Retinue)
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Sikh Wars
Napoleonic Farmyard  
Napoleonic Battlefield
Napoleonic Battle
A better review of the show can be found here [Tales From GHQ] and here [Geez spot]. I've detailed a particularly fun game [here].

A enjoyable show with plenty of potential for the future. Hopefully there was enough trade for the show to be a regular feature on the calendar. Speaking of which I've included a image from the show's programme. It's worth checking because it lists a good number of forthcoming events and shows, some of which I was unaware of. 

Between my brother and myself we bought only a small amount of loot. Mainly terrain and a few character figures which I will detail in other posts, hopefully a couple of which I will be able to do before the end of the year.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Battle of the Little Big Horn (Waddington's) participation game, Guards Wargames Club

After attending the recent Wargamer Show held in Halesowen (which I will hopefully detail in another post) I thought this particular game deserved an individual post for a number of reasons. It was a very good example of a participation game. Basic rules, nice figures (Wargames Foundry in this case I believe), simple terrain and probably the most important thing of all, friendly and knowledgeable people manning the game who actively encourage people to participate. 
Original Waddington's game 
If you're reading this blog then I'm pretty sure you will, at some time or another, have played a game published by Waddington's. Perhaps best known for producing games in the UK such as Monopoly, Subbuteo and Cluedo, this particular game, The Battle of the Little Big Horn, was released in the 1960's and was one I'd never actually heard of before.
Game Set up
The rules were suitably simple to enable a passer-by to pick up the basic principles with in a few minutes, The object for the Indian player was to kill the three US Cavalry commanders, Custer and his brother etc. and for the US Cavalry it was to escape or try and kill the three Indian chiefs.

US cavalry (who were all dismounted) and Indian warriors on foot could move one square each, the mounted Indian figures could move three squares. Figures with rifles and bows had a shooting range of three squares and if figures were in adjacent squares they could engage in hand to hand combat. Fatal hits were achieved rolling a six. Figures shooting at each could force the enemy to retreat with a higher result even if they failed to get a fatal hit. 
The 7th Cavalry try to escape across the river
As the US Cavalry I chose to make a run for it and needless to say got completely wiped out, cursing Reno as the last of my officers bit the dust. Even so apparently I made the best effort out of all the previous attempts and so earned myself a medal for being a brave little soldier (awarded posthumously obviously). I'm not sure how the US Cavalry could win without a lot of very fortunate dice rolls but it was great fun regardless. 

Funnily enough, one of the first large scale (war)games I remember being played was another game from Waddington, Buccaneer, This was way back in the mid 1980's at the original Alumwell wargame show (when it was actually held at Alumwell, Walsall) when I was more interested in military modelling. 

Compare this game to a demo we saw being played where one chap was laughing about how his opposite number hadn't even managed to attack despite playing for several hours. He was trying to find various ways of not winning to keep himself occupied. 

I'm pretty certain that any kids (and big kids like me) who joined in will remember playing the Battle of the Little Big Horn game for years to come, especially if they got their parents to wear the Indian feather headdress or cowboy hat. 
Custer's Last Stand (well, last dash). On the roll of a six another trooper bites the dust.
The club that ran the game, the Guards, meet on Thursdays evenings in Sheldon, Birmingham. Although I work just down the road from where they meet it's not a convenient night for me which is a great pity. If anyone needs their contact details please message me and I'll pass on their details.
Medal of Honor (Wargamer Issue)

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Famous By My Sword, Helion & Company

This book 'Famous By My Sword': The Army of Montrose and the Military Revolution to give its full title is part of a new series 'Century of the Soldier 1618 - 1721'. published by Helion.
Written in an easy going style by Charles Singleton "Famous by the sword" covers the campaigns of James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose. This commander of the Scottish Royalist army fought, and won, against several larger Scottish Covenanter forces in the mid 17th century. The book gives a good coverage of the battles, including maps and tactics, which can be used for setting up your games. 

If you already have an interest in this period then you may find this book challenges a number of preconceived ideas such as: 
  • The traditional makeup and image of the highland army, 
  • The aggressive use of the pike units, 
  • Equipment used by the majority of army, 
  • Influence of contemporary Europe (or to be more precise Swedish) military practices, 
  • Effective use of cavalry, especially lancers, during the period, 
  • The actual roll of Highlanders in battle. 
I won't detail the myth-busting as I don't want to give away any spoilers but I was genuinely surprised by a number of the revelations revealed within the book. 

The book also gives details of the Irish Brigade under the leadership of Alastair MacColla plus, unusually for a book of its size, full contemporary accounts of the campaigns and battles. 

The book follows an Osprey Publishing style with a brief history of the conflicts with colour illustrations and photographs of uniforms and equipment. The illustrations are by Peter Dennis and Anthony Barton. There are several (nine) clear battlefield maps and a number of useful colour photographs of re-enactors. 

Highly recommended for anyone interested in 17th century military history. The publishers are actively looking for submissions for this series so if you are interested in getting a book in print get in touch with them.

For anyone who likes the technical bits: 
Helion and Company, February 2015 Paperback. 248mm x 185mm 80 pages c 20 b/w ills, 9 maps, 8pp colour plates. 

Although hundreds of miles from Scotland, Scottish troops formed the largest part of Charles II army during 1651. During the retreat from Worcester a large group of the cavalry were ambushed in Kidderminster town centre, an event witnessed by the midland preacher Richard Baxter. During 2016 I plan to paint up a number of Warlord's Scottish lancers. I already have far too many cavalry units but I like the look of them on the tabletop.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Hittite Spearman (standing), Wargames Foundry

This particular set from Wargames Foundry were labelled as 'Hittite Spearman (standing)' so I based my painting scheme on an illustration from an appropriate Osprey book.  

This was the final batch of painting for Wargames Foundry. I did actually complete a command group of figures for the same range but in the rush to finish and post them I failed to take any photographs. 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Hittite Spearmen (advancing), Wargames Foundry

Keeping on the theme of Wargames Foundry here are another set of figures that I don't believe were ever released by the company. They don't feature on their current webpage as far as I can tell. They may have appeared in the past but as Biblical gaming is not an interest I haven't regularly checked (Using the Art of The Covenant must be the Top Trump in any game).

These were nicely sculptured and balanced figures but I quickly realised that I hadn’t a clue how to paint them. As usual Google Images came to the rescue, hurrah! A quick search revealed that Osprey had produced a book ‘Hittite Warrior’ with their usual high quality illustrations, in this case supplied by Adam Hook, which gave me all the information I needed. A common feature with the illustrations appeared to be the detail colours so to maintain a ‘uniform’ look I painted all the figures with a blue trim and an inner parallel red stripe.

Foundry actual supplied all the required spears, round bases plus the paint to finish the base. All I had to do was paint, assemble and base them.

The figures themselves are painted with Citadel paints as I don't have the necessary Foundry triad paints. Citadel's (Dwarf) Bronze is too dark for my liking to represent realistic bronze (which when highly polished looks like gold). As I never seem to be able to get a decent gold finish I now paint the base coat of silver and build up the watered down Citadel's 'Burnished Gold' and 'Shining Gold'. Flesh wash is used to create a feeling of depth and warm that bronze seems to have.

I’ve since noticed how often people seem to paint Bronze Age figures with iron/steel coloured weaponry.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Bronze Age Chariot, Wargames Foundry - Part 2 of 2

This is the second set of (lost?) models painted for Wargames Foundry painted around four years ago. Another example can be found [here]. As mentioned previously I don't believe these chariot models were ever released commercially by Wargames Foundry but if any readers have a set please let me know.