Thursday, 5 June 2014

Blenheim Blitz Mock Up

I have spent today creating a mock up of how Blenheim Blitz will look and to enable me to commence play testing. It is scaled down using 3" squares as opposed to the 6" squares the full version will use. The board is 27" x 18".  The counters are 3cm x 1.5cm scaled down from the full size 6cm x 3cm bases. This means I can see how the whole thing will fit together. Now I've cut the counters out and laid them out, I'm wondering if my order of battle is too large for the table size. There is little room for manoeuvring and I haven't put any guns on the board.

I will use the Leipzig lite/Gettysburg at a Gallop rules and play out a few turns to see how they work and make a few notes. The advantage is that I can get the rules sorted out without having the need to rush and paint up two armies. I'd like to get the balance of the figures at Phalanx but now I am thinking i need to nail down just how big the armies are going to be.


I found this beautiful map of the battle at the Obscure Battle website. Lots of useful information on there and I am sure I will be returning to it on a frequent basis other the next few weeks.

In hobby news, I have now sorted out my paint collection. I have 324 pots of paint from the likes of Vallejo, Coat D'Arms and GW plus a few others. I have ordered some paint racks inspired by Dr Mikes set up and I have splashed out on some Rosemary and Co brushes. There is nothing more frustrating than spending more time looking for a particular paint than you do actually applying that paint to a figure - which is even easier to do in 6mm. So I am hoping my organisational skills will benefit my output and encourage me to actually sit down and get some stuff done on a more frequent basis.

More soon...

Monday, 2 June 2014

Bucket List

During my chat with Dr Mike at Partizan, the subject of the ratio of figures in the unpainted pile compared to expected life expectancy came up. In other words do you have more figures in your pile than you can reasonably expect to paint in whatever time you left on this mortal coil.

Prior to recent purges of stock levels I was coming to doubt this. I suspect I have something along the lines of 18 projects of one form or another in 15mm alone. Ridiculous that I spent money on figures wi a view to gaming with them and then hiding them away in a cupboard as my mind wondered away onto something else.  I also play golf to a relatively decent standard (6 handicap). In my time I have spent a lot of money on golf equipment. But one thing I have never seen a golfer do is buy a load of new equipment and then leave it in the garage untouched for years. So what is it with wargamers that we attend shows or browse the internet and then throw a load of money at a project only to have it gather dust atop the infamous 'lead' pile we all seem to accumulate.

 I am currently going through a cull of mainly painted figures. The latest sale was a large 15mm ECW collection. I have played maybe 6 games with it in 6 years. Having said that I have lived in my current house for three and a half years during which time the figures have lived in a cabinet in my garage. Unloved and I played with. Barely looked at even. So in a new spirit of frugality I have decided that if I am to undertake any new project I shall fund it through the sale of figures that have seen now use in recent memory. I have never had much of a sentimental attachment to my figures anyway and firmly place myself in the gamer camp as opposed to hobbyist/painter  camp. So funds are available.

 I would like to be financially in the black for the rest of the year. I suspect I am close to it now after several profitable sales already. I more planned but certainly I will be able to fund Blenheim Blitz plus another project or two. One thing I do aim to do is to concentrate on Belnheim. I have figures for other areas of business but they are more as painting type projects for the time being until they evolve into something more. You may see a link to a blog called The Boiling Point of Eric Jenkins over to the right. This is my fantasy/sci if blog with a heavy emphasis on Warmachine and Malifaux at the moment so there will be little time to look at other historical projects for the remainder of this year at least.

So the title of this post is Bucket List. I intend to only look at projects that can be completed within a reasonable amount of time in the future. Having said that there are periods and certain battles that I do want to play at some point. My Bucket List then for now (subject to change) looks something like this:

1. Naseby and/or Marston Moor.

Maybe as a Reduced Battle or using something like Polemos. One or the other will be done sooner rather than later.

2. Seven Years War.

I've never played this period and have little knowledge of the it but can see me doing it at some point.

3. Passchendale

I have walked the Flanders Fields many times and Tyne Cot is a beautiful place. I would love to recreate an attack up the slopes towards the pill boxes that remain in Tyne Cot cemetary. Another 3 years for the centenary so some time to contemplate this one.

4. Ancients

Mons Graupius from the SPQR rule book intrigues me. At Large scale this would look spectacular on the table.

5. Colonials

Maybe Zulu, maybe Sudan but on a large scale ala the MAD wargamers Isandlhwhana.

This is subject to change. Maybe as soon as tomorrow! We wargamers are nothing if not fickle.

My mantra for now though is discipline. Blenheim will be at a show in the autumn. Hopefully Derby work permitting. This week will see the order do battle finalised to enable me to buy the balance of the figures to get painting. I will be building a mock up of the table too hopefully next weekend so there ought to be some tangible progress to report on as opposed to rhetoric and hyperbole.

More soon...

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Partizan in the Park 2

Sorry for the split post but I am writing this on my iPad as the laptop is being repaired and I struggle to format blog posts using it.

So a great show that has left myself and Ade energised for future projects and plans. I had a great time painting a unit of Seven Years War British at Dr Mikes SMS clinic. We had a good old chat about the hobby and attitudes to painting. Another chap came along and joined in (didn't grab his name) but it's amazing how a common interest such as ours can have you chatting with strangers like you have known them for years. Later in the day Mike presented me with a unit of Union infantry that I had painted and left behind at one of his clinics at the Baccus Open Day 2 years ago which was a very pleasant surprise. You can rest assured they will take centre stage amongst my Union army as it grows in the near future.
 
By the wonders of modern technology, this is the unit in progress from the show two years ago. 

I also managed to snaffle some time with Peter and discuss my Blenheim Blitz project which he seemed pleased to hear has been resurrected. He laughed at my plan to fight the whole battle in under and hour. I smiled and said "It WILL be done!" And so, though he doesn't know it, I take it as a challenge to make it so. I was please to hear that the official Reduced Battles team have plans of their own which I won't spoil here but I will say I can't wait to see what is coming up.

We also had a chat about the show scene in general and look forward to the Joy of Six show coming up in July.


We agreed many shows were stale and offered nothing different to ones we attended 20 years ago. I agree and certainly feel that they need to evolve and maybe begin to offer something new if they are to survive. I know of many shows that have fallen by the wayside over the years and it seems  to  be becoming the survival of the fittest as punters are voting with their feet and wallets. Triples a couple of weeks ago was a show not to be missed for many at the Stoke club ten years ago. Now however especially since the venue change, it's a hit and miss affair for me. This year was he first time in 2 or 3 years I have attended. Many of the games on show are the same old same old. I do appreciate the effort people put into putting several hundred (thousand?) 28mm figures on a table with nice terrain. But really I've seen it all before and it takes something out of the ordinary to impress me.

The Bruce Weigle game certainly did impress me. It probably had fewer figures on the table Han most games at the show but the landscape style terrain was a sight to behold. I have seen pictures of this around the web for years but seeing it close up was inpsirational. 

Peter has big plans for the Joy of 6 show in the future with plans to keep things fresh and  expand over the coming years into a real celebration of not only the scale but the hobby in general. I for one can't wait to see what he has in store.

Purchase for me consisted of  some stock for my Blenheim game. Foot, horse and flags mainly to give me some figures to get the ball rolling. I intend to plan out the balance of the figures to purchase at the Phalanx show at St Helens in  a couple of weeks time. I also stocked up on paint and brushes. I have probably over 200 paints in stock but you can never have enough. I do plan to get organised with my painted, inspired by Dr Mike who uses Vallejo which he decants into flip top lid bottles and stores in spiffing paint racks. Puts my storage system to shame. But I intend to change and get sorted as I am fed up with scrounging around looking for a specific paint wasting valuable time which is in short supply as it is.

I did sneak a couple of other purchases in. A box of 1914 French and a box  of AWI militia from Baccus, just as a painting project. Nothing more. Honest. No plans for big armies with them. Yet, anyway :-)

More soon....








Partizan in the Park

Myself and Ade D had a drive over to Partizan today which was located in 3 marquees in the grounds of the Kelham Hall this year due to double booking of the main venue. Thanks to the weather it turned out to be a great day. The marquees were certainly lighter as opposed to the Stygian gloom of the hall. It did get very hot particularly in the morning when attendance was at its highest, but as soon as the crowds thinned out in the afternoon things settled down to a more comfortable temperature.

Not many photos I'm afraid as the phone battery died after lunch when I was planning on taking a good few snaps. First are some Romans from Dr Mikes SMS clinic base on 40mmx20mm bases. Myself and Mike discussed basing conventions at length and I have a bit of a hankering to base my ancients (when I get around to doing them!) on this size base to use for both Hail Caesar and SPQR. I shared a vision with Ade about doing Mons Graupius from the scenario in the SPQR rule book. One day maybe.
 Secondly is a simple picture of some ECW from Peters stand, just for the sake of it. Many of you who have been to a show where Peter Has sold his wares will have seen these, but I love the look of them and if nothing else I will use this as reference for when I get around to my ECW project.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

A few years ago Peter Berry wrote this article regarding 6mm wargaming. I am fairly sure I linked to it on my original blog. Hopefully Peter doesn't mind me pasting it here. I honestly believe this article should be read by all wargamers whether they are interested in 6mm or not. And no, I'm not blowing smoke where the sun don't shine. I just think it's an excellent argument.



Size does Matter!
Why YOU should use 6mm figures.


Right, now I've got you captive on my web page I can attempt to bombard you with lots of propaganda about using little soldiers. Why do I have to do this? Well, consider it as my small way of fighting back against all those articles in wargaming magazines that tell you how to start wargaming and how to choose scales and that contain comments like:

"6mm scale is very good for microarmour games but for real wargaming you must use 15mm or 25mm figures."

"6mm offers a cheap alternative, but the figures cannot have the design quality of properly sized miniatures."

"6mm figures lack the visual appeal of 15mm figures."

"The advantage of 6mm figures is that they are so small that they can be used for anything across different wargames periods." 


(Bitter? Not I!)

In other words, most wargames articles are written by people who use larger scale armies habitually and have no idea of the quality of design, range availability and ease of use of small scale figures.

(Time to redress the balance, Methinks.)

If you have stumbled across this polemic you are:

Either

Reading this because you like 6mm as a scale and agree with every word I say,

or

You have found the mention of wargames on a browser, and have no idea of what I am talking about, and would as much consider using a 6mm wargames army as sticking your head into a kitchen blender.


To the latter reader, may I say, 'read on!'. What I write may offend, upset or plain turn you off, but you might just find something of interest, and it should at least be entertaining. If you agree with just three of the points I make in the piece I challenge you to dip your toes into smaller scale wargaming, and try for yourself. 



A Question and a History lesson 

'Why are modern wargames dominated by 25mm and 15mm scales? '

Is it because these are the natural sizes for toy soldiers?
No!

Is it because no other size has the unique advantages offered by these scales?
No!

Is it because they are convenient and easy to use?
No!

The answer lies in model railways.

Wargaming is a relative newcomer as a mass hobby, H G Wells and the Prussian general staff excepted, because warfare has not been seen as a viable leisure interest. On the other hand, celebrating the triumphs of civil engineering and a fascination with smelly, dirty, noisy and apparently romantic steam trains has been, and is still, the basis of a hugely popular modelling industry. When Airfix began to release its seminal ranges of military subjects in the 1960's, it did so in the scale that it was most familiar with - the infamous HO/OO scale, acceptable to railway modellers. These figures were anywhere between 20mm-25mm in size and became the backbone of the armies of that stalwart band of pioneer wargamers in the 1960's. Naturally when a nascent metal soldier manufacturing industry began, it followed precedent and we saw companies such as Garrison, Jacklex, Minfigs and Hinchliffe all producing 20mm to 25mm figures so as to complement the existing market. The tyranny had begun....

As wargaming expanded in the 1970's 15mm began to appear as an alternative to the increasingly expensive 25mm scale. Wargamers saw them a means of getting cheaper figures that were easier to paint and offered the opportunity to buy mass armies. Unfortunately for them it hasn't quite worked out that way.

While all this was happening, the first evidence of a smaller, more flexible, more dynamic form of life made its appearance, with the advent of micro wargaming using tanks. Now, I had always considered tankies and armour fetishists to be a bit weird, but if you think about it they were the first ones to latch on to 1/300th wargaming realising that it offered the chance to fight big battles at realistic scale ranges with lots of models that were not too expensive to buy in quantity and were quick and easy to paint. Perhaps tankies should be conceded as having more up in their cupolas than I had previously thought. However, despite the best effort of Heroics and Ros, the scale was slow to catch on, and 25mm and 15mm figure manufactures grew in numbers and popularity. 


To bring us up to date. 

As the years have progressed there have been two main developments with larger scale figures:


•The quality of design and detail in both scales has increased beyond all recognition. The detail and animation on Foundry figures and on products from new companies like those from Gripping Beast are incredible.

•In order to accommodate the extra detail, figures have grown bigger in size and bulk. 25mm really means a minimum of 30mm, while 15mm figures are topping out around 20mm.

A fascinating symptom of all this is the adoption of the '28mm' figure. In the good old days, the 25mm standard was used by most. As the heavy and thickset style of figures produced by Games Workshop and followed by Wargames Foundry came in vogue, it became a little ludicrous to call a casting standing 32mm tall a '25mm' figure. So, instead of coming clean and admitting that 30mm scale was the new standard, it was decided to call these giants '28mm' scale. Now its no more accurate to call them 28mm as 25mm, but I suppose it dupes the buyer into thinking that they are not really that far oversized.

(Back in the 1980's the British government renamed the rather leaky nuclear facility at Windscale. It became transformed into Sellafield and we were all supposed to believe that changing its name made it more acceptable and less leaky. Now the general UK populace wasn't really fooled by this name change, but wargamers seem to have accepted 28mm as an accepted fact. When one person on a Newsgroup tried to to describe them more accurately as 30mm figures he was called a pedant and laughed out of court.

I'm afraid changing a name still doesn't change a nature, and I'm obviously in a minority in the wargames population, as evidenced by my crazed interest in very small soldiers. But I digress.)

There are no real problems with increasing the size so long as everyone is doing it. But, remember that increased bulk means increased mass, means increased weight and increased cost. It is a very fortunate person who can go and buy an entire army at one go. We are sold the increased cost on the grounds of the increased quality. Unfortunately very few of us can really do the superb sculpting the justice it deserves when it comes to wielding our paint brushes.

The increased cost also manifests itself in how we wargame. One of the main selling points of DBA was that you didn't need to use a lot of figures to make an army. Fine, but the sight of a DBA game played with 25mm figures is ludicrous. Similarly Fire and Fury have swept all before them, but once again you can reach the ridiculous heights of having a dozen figures represent a whole Brigade!

Another manifestation of this is in rule sets like the Warhammer series in which increased emphasis is placed on individual figures as they are given special characteristics, rendering the game more like a big skirmish than a battle.

The result of this reduction in numbers of figures is to make us put more effort into what we have got. Hence we go to ridiculous lengths to emulate the beautifully painted figures in the glossy wargames magazines and lavish care and attention on painting and detailing and basing. There has emerged a new culture, whereby wargamers no longer produce colourful and interesting counters for wargames, but miniature dioramas for photo opportunities. We are becoming Military Modellers, not Wargamers.


Does it matter, and why does the use of small scale figures make a difference? 
I admit it...no amount of words from me will change the opinion of the affluent wargamer with a long established collection of thousands of 25mm figures who has a permanent wargames room in which to store them, or has a extensive club premises. In the real world, most of us have to find storage space competing with the kid's toys, have three hours to play a game one evening a week, and have to transport our little warriors around. To the second group may I address the following:


• Small scale figures are a lot cheaper than bigger ones. I could increase my prices by 50% and you would still find them cheaper weight for weight than the most 25mm products.

• 6mm figures offer acceptable entry costs for the newcomer to the hobby or new period.

• 6mm figures are much, much easier to paint in large quantities than either 15mm or 25mm equivalents. See my painting guide to find out how, but trust me on this one.

• Even lots and lots of 6mm figures weigh much less than big toy soldiers. They are therefore much easier to lug around and suffer less damage when dropped or when your carrying case gets stood on its end by your partner.

• 6mm figures take up far less room and are easier to store.

• Using 6mm figures properly gives you far better battlefield presentation than larger scale figures.



To elaborate on that final point.

I have already touched upon the fact that most people cannot afford large numbers of 25mm figures, so armies become smaller representing larger numbers of actual men. If a wargamer chooses to use 15mm figures the tendency is to use 25mm thinking and just use a similar number of 15mm figures, but on smaller bases and with reduced move distance and ranges. The problem comes when that logic is applied, as it all too often is, to the use of 6mm figures. Of course small scales cannot compete on these terms. The answer is to use some lateral thinking.

There are lots of good rules out there for use with 25mm figures using solid mechanisms and units of measurement that do not rely upon a micrometer to establish. The answer is to use their base sizes and ground scales, but with 6mm figures.

Let me show you how. I will use the example of quite simply the best ECW wargames rules available on the market - Forlorn Hope published by Partizan Press. (Yes, I am biased, I wrote them, but this is my soapbox remember!). I wrote these some years ago for use with 25mm figures and it shows. 


This is what I do now. 
Each infantryman is supposed to be mounted on a 20mm square base and represents approximately 33 men. A large regiment of one thousand men is therefore represented by thirty figures. Casualty removal is by whole figures - two Hits = two figures removed.

Using 6mm figures we retain the 20mm square base. We replace the lone 25mm figure, (cost £0.70) with three Baccus 6mm figure strips totalling twelve miniatures in three ranks, (cost £0.42). The regiment of one thousand men is now represented by three hundred and sixty figures and really does look the business. Figure removal is done by taking off one base of figures. Movement and measurement is done in inches.

Horse similarly sees one mounted figure, (cost £1.50) replaced by three strips of Baccus figures (cost £0.78).

You get battles which look like battles as opposed to skirmishes, you get the advantage of easy to use, tried and tested rules and at a third saving of the cost of equivalent big figures.

Similarly I play Fire and Fury games with eight 6mm figures replacing one 25mm figure. The result is long lines of infantry and massed attacks that look like massed attacks, and in this case at half the cost of using big'uns.

The reduction in the relationship between figure size to ground scale also enables us to make more informed judgements as to realistic table top ranges.

If you have a unit of 25mm javelinmen each representing say 50 men, you may think that a reasonable weapon range is 100mm - four inches.

Now, replace those 25mm figures but occupy the same the area with 6mm figures and you quickly realise that 100mm would see them all throwing their javelins further than Olympic athletes!

Lots of rule writers (myself included) have been suckered into allowing their judgement to be affected by the size of their toys, not what they those toys are actually supposed to represent.

A pleasant side effect of all of you appreciating the quality and truth of my arguments is of course that I move more metal to customers. However, I do believe that you, as a gamer get cheaper armies, a much more spectacular gaming experience, more realistic looking battles, armies which are quick to paint and use, a release from the tyranny of painting eyelashes and dental fillings on figures and an opportunity to have more fun in your hobby. Fair exchange to my way of thinking!

Comments, abuse, enquiries, reasoned arguments as to how wrong I can possibly be and any other verbiage can be addressed to me through e-mail, baccus6@aol.com, fax, or letter.

I look forward to hearing from you. 


Think Big and buy small!

Click for the Bacchus Website

Blenheim Blitz Order of Battle



Blenheim Blitz will be a 6mm recreation of the Battle of Blenheim taking place on a 4' x 3.5' table and played out in an hour (or less). The inspiration comes from Baccus' previous presentations of Gettysburg, Leipzig and the retreat from Moscow. I have already planned out much of how I intend to do this, which I will cover in forthcoming posts here.

First up is my intended order of battle for my Blenheim Blitz game. Now clearly some liberties have to be taken to cram the battle onto a small table and to allow the game to be played out in the specified time. Whilst accepting this, I still want a fairly accurate representation of the troops that fought on the day. The Allied army in particular is a real hodgepodge of nationalities that will at least keep the painter happy with a huge variety of uniforms.

The Allied army will look something like:

Foot

4 British
2 Hesse
1 Dutch
3 Hanoverian
1 Wurtemburg

4 Prussian
2 Danish

Horse

3 Danish
1 Hanoverian
1 Hesse
2 Prussian
2 British
1 Dutch

Dragoons

1 Danish
1 British
1 Hanover
1 Prussian

Cuirassier

2 Austrian

These are as close to the correct ratio of regiments present, scaled down to be manageable in the game. This gives a total of 17 Foot bases and 16 Horse/Dragoon bases.

Opposing them will be the French and Bavarian army made up thus:

Foot

16 French
4 Bavarian
1 Walloon
1 Irish

Horse

7 French
1 Spanish

Dragoons

2 French

Cuirassier

2 Bavarian

Which amounts to 22 Foot and 12 Horse/Dragoons. I have taken some liberties with the French. I really want to paint an Irish unit and the Walloons just lept off the page to say 'Don't leave us out!".

I am struggling to find information around what nations used Grenadiers in their foot units and what sort of headwear they used. All of the figures for this project will come from the excellent Baccus Miniatures who list 4 types of Grenadier, one of which is Austrian but the others are listed as tall mitre, short mitre and fur cap. I may be digging too deep here but i would like each base of foot troops to have the correct head dress. I must invesatigate further.




This is my plan for the battlefield. The grey squares are built up areas. Ignore the green yellow and brown shapes. This was me trying to be 'arty' as there is nothing I dislike more than plain green battlefields. Anyone who has ever flown will know that countryside is far from the billiard like tables that we see in most wargames. The odd shapes are meant to represent the patch work quilt look of fields in various stages of use. I realise the continent may have had a different look than in the UK at the time, in particular I am unsure if any sort of enclosure system was in use at the time.

So things are in motion once more for a project I doubted I'd ever complete. Hopefully up next will be some more details on how this thing will get done as well as some photos of finished troops.

More soon...



Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Take 2

So, around 2 years ago I started a little blog I called Gods own Scale.

This was to discuss the many and varied projects that I had planned to do in 6mm scale, which I do believe is the ideal wargaming scale for large historical gaming. Contentious maybe but if you hang around then maybe you will see the light too.

There are many people who agree with me. And a whole boat load of people who disagree, some quite strongly. I will go into more details on my philosophy on gaming in more detail at a later stage. But, as I said, 2 years ago a blog started. And quite happy I was too, plodding along charting my progress in various periods. Then I was hit by the death of my mum and wargaming took a back seat for some time. When the mojo finally returned it was to other pastures.

This is probably a familiar story to many. Life events happen to us all as time goes by. Work, kids, relationships. Most of us encounter these at some point enough to invade hobby time.

Hobby mojo comes and goes. Enthusiasm for projects wax and wane, influenced by books read, films seen, blogs viewed, in fact from any number of sources. I've planned whole projects out before breakfast only to change my mind by lunch time. I think fickle is the word. These ideas don't always disappear forever. They sometimes just wander off (usually to the loft) to patiently await their moment in the limelight.

So enough ramble. Back then I dreamed up a small scale project heavily influenced by the Baccus series of demo games refighting great battles of history in under an hour. So far they have done Leipzig, Gettysburg and the retreat from Moscow. My own project was Blenheim Blitz.

Well, I've dug out all the research I had done and the figures I had started and I am keen to see if I can get this thing going again. Its Partizan at the weekend so a perfect chance to stock up on some supplies. As per usual other ideas are already forming with catchy titles such as:

Marston Moor (or less)
Guagamela a go go
Sharpe (ish) Waterloo
Towton Twostep
ZULU! (not very catchy...)

But as it stands they will be just thoughts and ideas for now. Blenheim is such a fascinating battle and hugely iconic. I would love to get this done for the Derby show and put it on there as a public participation game in the same vein as the Baccus displays.

Of course, thats pending Real Life(tm) getting in the way.



These are some French infantry to show I did actually put brush to figure 2 years ago. They are based now and have several friends to stand next to them. I will look to add photo reports of my progress in due course.

More soon...