Wednesday 28 February 2024

February Digest

Following January's end-of-month post, I thought I would do the same for February as, once again, it has been a productive and varied month on the hobby front.

Despite being away quite a bit (business and pleasure), I have been getting a fair amount of time at the paint desk.

Painting points for the month are as follows:

Ottoman Spahis 12 cavalry = 24 points
Tatar infantry = 12 points
Ottoman artillery = 5 points
Muscovite artillery = 5 points
Italian farm for Billhooks game = 1 point
3 tents for Billhooks = 3 points
Cavalry leader + standard bearer for Billhooks = 4 points

Total = 54 points.

... plus the Bob Ross style painting (see post from a couple of weeks ago)!!

Here are some pictures of this month's output:

Spahis (shown in a previous post):

Tatar infantry:

Note the use of sabots. One thing I dislike about movement trays and sabots is the 'gap' left by removing casualties. So,. my own Wargames OCD solution is to create 'spacers' to fill the gap. Think it looks quite neat.

Of course, if you don't want to put them in sabots at all, they can simply look like this...

Ottoman artillery:

Muscovite frame gun and crew:

It hasn't only been the Eastern renaissance project getting the attention this month. In preparation for our recent game of Billhooks, the Condottiere set-up also got some bits n bobs done, such as this farm:

Condottiere tents:

Condottiere cavalry leader for Billhooks:

I named him Luigi Riva (if you were around for the 1970 Italy team in the World Cup, you might remember Gigi Riva... I discovered, sadly, he recently passed away).
I painted this in a bit of a hurry to get ready for the game... the power of a deadline!


My previous post described the Billhooks game we had last weekend... so no more to say really, except that I am already level with the whole of last year in terms of games played!

Parting Shot

I was delighted to see the recent FB post by The Perrys and North Star Nick showing a 1672 game. On closer inspection, I realised that several of the units in the picture were painted by me about 11 or 12 years ago... they were sold on to a well-known show trader in order to find their way back to Nick's collection. So it was great to see them in the photos... one of those 'double-take' moments!

That's about it for the month.
I'll be heading to Hammerhead this coming weekend (browsing and shopping!), so hope to see many of you there.
All the very best for now...

Monday 26 February 2024

Never Mind the Paintings...

We had an "Old Berks" gathering on Saturday, so John Kersey and Andy Moran visited for a game... Steve G was unable to come due to a bout of illness. He was sorely missed... but John took on the mantle of two players in our game.

For a while, we have been putting together forces for imaginary European armies of the mid-late 15thC with the intention of playing Never Mind The Billhooks, and having had a few 'practice games', we decided to go for a slightly more involved and ambitious scenario on this occasion.

The setting, the armies, the names were all totally made up so no need to go looking for the historical events they mimic.

Even before the Deluxe version came out, I had an eye on using the core rules for mid-late 15C Italian Condottiere armies, and so our game used the basic rules, with the likes of "Swiss" (actually the Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes) being veteran pikes (but without all the rest of the Swiss special rules), for example. Each army was approx 100ish points, so a game of around 200 points per side.

The Protagonists:

The Army of Bavetta (dark blue Milanese type chaps) commanded by me.
The Army of Haut-Dijon (sort of Burgundians) commanded by Andy.
The Army of Firenza (sort of Florence types) commanded by John.
The Army of The Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes (sort of Swiss) commanded by John.

Map of the Table:

Scenario Outline:

The army of Bavetta has called upon its allies under The Duke of Haut-Dijon in its fight against the forces of The Republic of Firenza. The latter has also called upon allies and a powerful force of The Konfederation des Weissen Kreuzes has answered that call.

The armies face each other across the open plain of Decolla. To add to the situation, it is rumoured that two masterpiece paintings by the renowned artist, Roberto Rossi, are to be found in the area. Local gossip has it that a code is concealed within the gilt frames of the pictures - a secret gunpowder recipe that will dramatically reduce the rising number of inadvertent artillery explosions that many armies have recently been experiencing. Understandably (anyone who has ever played Billhooks will get this), such secrets are much sought-after. The generals are aware of the value of the masterpieces, and of the secret code. The discovery of the paintings and the code would be a huge boost to any individual's currency at Court. 

Therefore, the objectives for each player are to destroy the enemy, seize control of the plain of Decolla, and find the paintings.

To add a further complication... there are actually 4 paintings hidden on the table. Two are the real ones, two are fake.
So that I wouldn't know which were the real ones, Lisa put a note of both the real and the fake paintings in a sealed envelope. On her return from a day shopping/ daughter's wedding venue visiting (leaving us boys to play toy soldiers!), she would open the envelope... more of which later.


Having seen the table laid out, we diced for which side the armies entered from. Winning the dice-off, Firenza-Konfederation troops decided to enter from the west. Haut-Dijon and Bavetta would enter from the east, Bavetta taking the left wing, Haut-Dijon the right.

A hard fought game ensued, which ebbed to and fro.

The Bavettans held the farm all day (discovering a painting in the main building) against an onslaught of the Konfederation pike/halberd blocks who had overrun the southern shrine (discovering a painting) and who came trundling down the hill and across the plain. Meanwhile, to the northern end of the table, the Firenza troops had launched up the hill, ransacking the shrine of Our Lady of Decolla (and discovering a painting), and starting across the plain. Haut-Dijon began his advance and soon had skirmishers in the woods, also discovering a painting.

The Firenza defence against Haut-Dijon was stoical, but eventually the arrow storms proved too much. 

Meanwhile, The Konfederation pike blocks had been stopped by a dogged Bavettan defence despite the Bavettan artillery, having caused a few casualties, eventually doing it's usual and blowing up, earning it the Old Berks "Good Grief" Wooden Spoon award which Andy had made specially and brought along on the day. The Bavettan infantry performed well, using the hard cover of the farm walls to good effect (and having a unit of skirmishing handgunners firing from the farmhouse helped) along with a sweeping Gendarmes attack. At last, the enemy blocks were halted, faltered, and began to break up. The 'Swiss' dice rolls in one turn temporarily earned them the Wooden Spoon, but it was soon back in Bavettan hands when the second unit of Gendarmes attacked the Swiss pikes in the flank, but failed to break them with some typically atrocious dice rolls.

The Duke of Haut-Dijon, having seen off the last of the Firenza forces, began to come to the aid of the beleaguered Bavettans and the game was up.

A terrific game, lots of fun, nail-biting moments. The vagaries of the dice were matched by the vagaries of the faux-Italian accents that accompanied the banter!

Whilst the Bavettans were holders of the Woden Spoon, each army had gained a painting... but which were the real masterpieces and which were the fakes?

Lisa tentatively opened the envelope to the eagerly awaiting Old Berks.

Yes! Bavetta's was real.
And the Konfederation had also gained a real one. So, myself and John had the luck.

The Haut-Dijon master of antiquities and art is now seeking fresh employment!

Firenza is no doubt plotting revenge.

Can't wait for the next game.


The paintings/ masterpieces:
... you may recognise from my previous post a week ago!

That's all for now folks...

Back later this week with a review of the month, more figures painted, and some more random thoughts about the hobby.

Meantime, "Arrivederci", as they say in Bavetta.

Monday 19 February 2024

Happy Accidents!

Not related to wargaming, but I have been doing a bit of painting of a different kind.

Like many, I became aware of Bob Ross a few years ago, and watched lots of his "Joy of Painting" episodes during lockdown. I always fancied a go.

Having spoken to many wargamers, I know quite a few who had also discovered the great man, so hope this is of interest...

For Christmas, Lisa had organised a special painting day with a Bob Ross accredited instructor.

On Saturday we went along, and had a fabulous day.

Lots of laughs, and a "passable" painting to take home too.

That's all for now... more wargaming stuff shortly!

Friday 16 February 2024

Ottoman Spahis

February has been fairly productive in a bid to push the Eastern renaissance project along.

The Ottoman Spahis presented a number of options; 

- should I go with a uniform coat colour, and uniform lance pennants? 

- or uniform coats and non-uniformed lance pennants?

- or non-uniformed coats with uniformed lance pennants?

As you'll see, based on some illustrations I had seen and a hefty dose of personal preference, I went with various coloured coats and uniformed lance pennants!

Flag is by Mark Allen.

Figures by TAG.

Despite a number of people mentioning that Ottomans would never wear purple, I decided to include one figure in that colour, again simply out of personal preference.

Have been productive on a number of other units too, so more pictures to come when they are fully ready.

Meantime, thanks to all who commented on the previous post about Graham. Much appreciated.

Thursday 8 February 2024

Farewell to a Friend

Graham Cummings

It’s taken me some time to compose some thoughts for this post…

I must say the news of Graham’s passing has been devastating. It’s thrown the whole hobby, and life in general, into sharp perspective. Really truly sad.

We first met in early 1990s at Triples where he and Lee Maxwell and Gordon MacLean (The Redcar rebels, who Duncan MacFarlane had nicknamed “The Teesside Triumvirate”) were putting on a Boyne game. I had been aware of them for some time as they had featured in many magazine articles, most recently at the time for their Demo Game of Killiecrankie (as seen in the yellow magazine Duncan produced – Wargames World issue 3).

It was always a joy to see what their next project would be and to meet up at many shows – especially Triples and Partizan - across many years. We also played in many games over the years, typically large multiplayer affairs. I don’t think I have laughed so much in the hobby as when in the company of Lee and Graham.

Losing Lee to MND 10+ years ago (Nov 2013) hit Graham hard. They had gamed together on a very regular basis for many years, and by that time Gordon MacLean had left the demo game scene, so Graham and Lee just planned and executed projects as a duo. Graham was always coming up with new periods and new ideas, and he and Lee would tackle them head-on and produce them, painting all the figures and making the terrain, play frequent games with them, then show them as a demo game. Despite the loss of his best gaming buddy, Graham remained enthusiastic, positive, and full of the possibilities of the hobby, always looking ahead, forward to the next project, the next army, the next game. Now, I hope Graham is once again getting some games in with Lee up there in the clouds.

It was fitting that Graham was able, just a couple of years ago, to put on his Culloden game with his son, David, at Partizan, representing every unit on the tabletop – a long held ambition of his.

I’m a bit shocked, and upset, to say the least. Suddenly, painting figures doesn’t seem so important. But then again, what else is there to do than assign meaning to the futile.

My thoughts go out to Graham’s family, and in particular to his wife, Dawn, and his children, David and Helen.

RIP Graham Cummings. Wargamer, Top Bloke, and great friend.