Monday, 29 April 2019

Inspiration?

… can come when least expected.

I was about to get a train back from Manchester Piccadilly on Saturday evening when I chanced upon the latest edition of Wargames Illustrated in the station's WH Smiths. 
I rarely get the magazines these days, but with a train journey of a couple of hours ahead, I decided it would make for good company on the way home.

And I'm so glad I did.
I was pleasantly surprised by the content of this issue, for us "mainstream"/ traditional wargamers.
Amongst other things, the main source of inspiration came from 2 sections...

1. Bill Gaskin's photo shoot - showcasing his Napoleonic and SYW collections. Now, there were some glaring oddities about some of the captions (to label a SYW unit as "5th Prussian Musketeers" when they are clearly carrying Hessian flags is a bit of a goof, for example). However, Bill's collection is superb, and no mistake. I couldn't help thinking that the photos were a bit "busy" and there could have been more thought about the choreography and composition of the shots, but I can imagine that seeing the Gaskin collection in Bill's legendary wargames room would cause massive overwhelm, and a desire to just click away at the shutter as fast and as often as possible! Lots of eye-candy to enjoy.

2. The second item that really caught my attention was the piece by David Bickley about his Italian Wars project. I've "done" Italian Wars (way back in the past), and it's a colourful and vibrant period. Yet, it wasn't so much the period that inspired me, but the way David and his pal Phil (a different one) have gone about their collection. It's a good read. Well done to them both.

Finally... there have been a couple of 'offline' enquiries about the Napoleonics for sale (see previous post, below), but nothing is yet concrete... so if you fancy them, drop me a comment.
Cheers.
Phil


Sunday, 28 April 2019

A few figures for sale

I have run out of shelf space in my cabinets!
So, I am doing a bit of rationalising... which means a few units are up for sale.

These Napoleonics were painted within the last few months, but I have decided not to pursue the project further.
Therefore, I have for sale a Prussian infantry battalion, and 3 French infantry battalions.

First up, The Prussians. 24 Figures.





Next, The French:




Prices:
Prussians £120

French: the 3 battalions for £300

There are a load of GMB flags also that I will put in with the figures, as well as some spare castings (in the case of the Prussians)

For picking up at Partizan, preferably.

Let me know in the comments below if you are interested.

Cheers
Phil




Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Knife Angel and a "New Faction"?!

Pottering around Coventry town centre recently, I stopped at The Knife Angel installation outside the Cathedral.
It's a very powerful piece of art, and well worth a look.




I recently called into a local Games Workshop to stock up on paints. 
The usual question was deftly delivered as I browsed the paint racks... you know the one:

"What is it you're painting at the moment?"

It's a great opening gambit.

And, I usually just reply, "Oh, I just paint historical stuff, y'know."

To which the well-trained shop assistant usually says something like, "Oh cool... like Napoleonics?" (I have often mused that their stock period might be "Napoleonics" on a Monday, "Ancients" on a Tuesday, "American Civil War" on a Wednesday, and so on).
"Well, mainly 18th century" is my usual response, and that's where the brief engagement usually finishes.

But this time, I decided to be a little mischievous...
So, the exchange went something like this...

Assistant: "What is it you're painting at the moment?"
Me: "Have you heard of Vaubarians?"
Assistant: "Erm, no."
Me: "Well, I shouldn't really tell anyone... But, it's a new Faction that GW are bringing out next year. I've got all the pre-releases to paint up for the online shop, White Dwarf, the catalogues, and codexes. Y'know, like they do. Now, you must promise not to tell anyone, or we'll both be in real trouble!"
Assistant: "Wow! No problem. that's fab. Just let me know if you need anything."
Me: "Yeah, it's cool... I just have to keep all the receipts so I can claim it all back from GW central. But I can buy what I need. So, thanks for your help."

I was careful to make sure I used such 'down-wiv-da-kids' lingo as "Faction" and "Codex" and the like.

Well, it kept me amused.

Next year, of course, I'll have to tell him that they pulled the range in the end, but that they often do that...

Anyway, if you've read this far, you deserve a couple of photos of Vaubarian Cuirassiers. This is regiment Vogts.

The reverse of their flag features St Sebastian... patron saint of Vaubaria.



Thanks for visiting, and for all the recent comments. Much appreciated.


Saturday, 20 April 2019

Hussars!

Introducing...

… The Podolski Hussars, in the service of The Electorate of Vaubaria, circa 1704.

Since this is an early period for hussars to appear in, I decided to make the uniforms relatively basic, and leave the pelisses off (adding a wolf pelt to the officer, as was the fashion at the time).

The white rose motif appears on the Podolski family heraldry, so it seemed to fit.





Figures are Foundry.
Flag is hand-painted.


Happy Easter!



Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Spring update

It's been a great start to 2019, and as we hurtle headlong to Easter, I'm at the paint-desk at last.
In the next few days, I'll have a fresh unit to show for these efforts, but meantime, what has been keeping me occupied?
in other words, what is my mitigation for not posting about model soldiers and wargaming these past few weeks.

First... a bit of trumpet blowing, with no apology whatsoever...

I'm very proud that over the past 2 years I have led a project, putting on "Strictly-style" dance competitions here in Coventry to raise funds for a local baby hospice. The first year (2017), we raised £64,000. 
We recently got the final tally for 2018; £90,000!
No mean feat (or feet... pardon the pun). 

 

I get to chair the project, and MC the shows... which is hard work, but great fun.

Amongst all that, Dianne and I recently had a bit of a break in Alicante.
Lovely place, and a well-earned rest...



Can't get enough of the local castles... they're so Moorish! (groan!!)



Anti-Social? Moi?
It was drawn to my attention, that my 2007 Polish Winged Hussars game was being lauded on twitter recently, courtesy of Henry Hyde. Thanks Henry.. and to the many who retweeted, liked and commented. with the exception of keeping a 'watching brief' on certain FB wargaming groups, I don't do wargaming on social media (I have my reasons), but I am grateful for all the kind comments. 


This week, and next, I'm taking some time off for Easter, so expect some actual painting to take place, and the odd picture to appear here.



Monday, 25 February 2019

New School Imagi-Nations - Choosing the figures

Thanks to all who commented last time. My ramblings seemed to have struck a chord with many... which is very gratifying indeed. So, on with the rationale behind our new project...

We settled down, one summer lunchtime, in our Top Secret favourite haunt (Fosseway Indie-Fencibles HQ, somewhere deep in the Cotswolds) over gammon and chips, to discuss figures.

Yes, gammon and chips… “No pineapple ring, thanks mate.”
Whoever first thought about putting a pineapple ring on top of a piece of gammon should be… well, let’s not get carried away…
Back to our storyline…

Right at the outset, we agreed that the painting of the figures is what derails most wargaming projects. Or rather, the not painting of figures.
How often has a wargamer, practically every wargamer, certainly including me, got started on a new project, a new collection, with vigour and intensity…

Then something happens.
Something gets in the way.

A new range of figures, a new shiny project, a new thought that creates the “wish I’d done it differently” moment that results in “now I need to change the figures/ change the basing/ change the painting style” moment of doubt that derails the whole thing.
So, we decided to have a lengthy planning phase.  This also allowed us to bring to fruition a few other little projects, or at least get to the point where energy and focus could be devoted to this one.

Choosing the figure range (and therefore the period to set the project in) was crucial. We wanted speed and ease of mail ordering (this would allow a ‘unit at a time’ approach, rather than having an over-facing lead mountain). We wanted single figures, separate riders/horses, and a complete range (so not a case of waiting for new releases to keep the project moving). The decision to go with the Front Rank WSS range was taken on this basis. Not only that, but they are figures we both admire, and have a penchant to paint.  

above: Vaubarian Infantry Regt 3 - Breitner 

This was also aided by the desire to set the project firmly in the horse and musket period as we feel it is most suitable for the types of games we want to play… the ubiquitous balanced forces of Horse, Foot, and Guns being the order of the day.
Now, we won’t pretend that it was easy to reach this point. Although, the period and figures were mentioned right at the outset in our conversations, we subsequently visited practically every century, perused every range of figures, and explored every avenue of possibilities to decide on our project. At one point, “sending off for a few sample figures” became, “oh dear, I seem to have ordered a whole brigade!” … and not only that, a brigade for a period we subsequently discarded! Frequent emails, meetings at our adopted HQ, and get-togethers at wargaming shows, allowed us time to make the right decision. This also allowed time for a few other existing hobby ventures to be given full attention and brought to fruitful completion before launching properly into this project. 


Above: Astrovian IR1 - Frankl

Next time, I'll talk about the countries we've settled upon and some of the other "essentials" of the new venture.

Friday, 22 February 2019

New School Imagi-Nations?

Following my previous post about The Skirmish at Sprengenhof, I received a fair bit of email correspondence and some general interest on a few forums and the like, all of which has prompted me to give a little background into the whole WVS project...

Introducing the Fosseway Indie-Fencibles...
This is a loose alliance of wargamers, dispersed along the ancient route of the Fosse Way in England who meet on an irregular basis, to collaborate on wargaming projects that take our fancy.

Well, ok… in reality, it’s just a couple of middle-aged blokes playing with toy soldiers…
In fact, most of what we’ve been up to so far has simply involved meeting up for a pub lunch and waxing lyrical about the hobby, as I’m sure many do.

We do, however, have a certain vision, an unwritten set of criteria, that is the filter through which we have decided on the projects we wish to embark upon. And this, we hope, will become clear …
Whilst embarking on an “Imagi-Nations” style project, we decided that we wanted to avoid the “old school” label in terms of figure choice, painting style, terrain, unit organisation, and rules, amongst other things.

Imaginary countries don’t have to have Spencer Smith figures, or Staddens, or even Mindens, painted in an older style, with battalions of 60 figures. Not that there is anything wrong with that either. But, it can be done a different way… and that’s what we’ve decided for this project.

Our desire was to have a setting in which we could play a number of “teaser-style” games, starting with modest forces and building from there. And we also decided that although we do have an outline schedule, we would take as long as we wanted to paint the figures – no deadlines or painting pressures. It’s a hobby.
We, therefore, present for your enjoyment (we hope) our take on what we’re terming …
“New-School Imagi-Nations”.


 

 


Some thoughts and criteria for our venture

During one particularly interesting and valuable PTSD session (that’s PTSD: Post-Traumatic Salute Discussion), we began piecing together what we wanted from our gaming.
Salute 2017 had been, in my eyes, absolutely crap! Just a personal point of view... But, it certainly felt like a completely different hobby than the one I wanted for myself. Our discussions revealed that I wasn’t alone. It wasn’t just me who was out of step. For quite some time I mused on this, and started to consider why I felt that, and what I wanted from the hobby.

So...
What did we want our wargaming to be about?
Here are some of the outpourings of our conversation…
  • Skirmish games are ok… as the wargaming equivalent of an amuse-bouche, or an after-dinner entertainment over cigars and brandy. But not as a "main course."
  • Having said that, games don’t have to have 1000+ figures to be enjoyable. In fact, a couple of forces of half a dozen units can give as much fun, if not more, and with carefully crafted scenarios can produce interesting tactical challenges.
  • Units need to be large enough to be representative, but not so large as to be over-cumbersome on the tabletop. The thought of a unit arriving on table in column and almost reaching the opponents deployment area seems just wrong. It stunts the game.
  • Let’s avoid “Biggism”… the trouble with many horse and musket periods is the desire/ requirement to make it huge… so not for us an amorphous mass of 1805 French infantry; 12 battalions of 36 infantry before your orbat allows a squadron of cavalry. No thanks. Partly because, we are realistic enough to know that the days of painting in such numbers are over. 
  • Tables don’t have to be huge either. We decided to limit the number of figures per unit, the units in our orbats, and the table size to create something eminently achievable by anyone… we hope to be emulated, but that’s up to you, dear reader. So, the ability to play on a 6x5 table, expanding in time to 8x6 max seems about right for us. 
  • Terrain: keeping it simple, effective, and attractive, without being cluttered or diorama quality.
  •  Fast-play is a turn off! Yep, there I’ve said it. Getting the game over quickly is not a deciding criteria. We want games to last as long as they need to… and we want to take the time to enjoy it, not wizz-bang, you’re dead, game over, next… draw a card, and off we go again.
  • Painting and building the forces, the scenery, the buildings is to be pressure-free, and as enjoyable a part of the hobby as the gaming.
This is not an exhaustive list of the things we chatted about, by any means. To know that we had the same ideas, the same ethos, was very encouraging, and comforting.

Driving home after this chat, it was as if all was suddenly well with the world. And as I switched on the radio in the car, they were playing an old classic. I hadn’t remembered it from before, but when I arrived home, I downloaded it. “Sebastian” by Steve Harley/ Cockney Rebel. It just so happens that St Sebastian had already been ear-marked as Patron Saint of Vaubaria. A sign?
The sun was shining, and I felt I had a hobby again…

Over the next few posts, I'll talk more about figure choice, choice of period, rules and so on...