Friday, 21 April 2017

Team Yankee: Homemade Air Power Counters

Afternoon everyone,

Time for (yet another) new project.  I have a habit of starting more things than I finish, but I've decided not to let it worry me unduly.  I not just paint what makes me happy, and if I 'finish' a project, then it's a bonus.

One of those is Team Yankee, the 15mm game from Battlefront Miniatures, much more well-known for their Flames of War series of games.  I'm a recent convert to the scale and time period, being much more interested in 1600 - 1914 and usually in smaller scales.  I was intimidated by the gargantuan size of the FoW rulebook, which brought back painful memories of tedious games of 40K's newer editions, which seemed to consist entirely of looking up obscure situations in rulebooks.

However, I was assured that all that had changed with the Team Yankee rules, which were a forerunner for the new 4th Edition of FoW.  Basically, things had been simplified and players are now provided with a series of snazzy laminated unit cards, which make dice rolling much easier.  I'm currently working on a Polish force - of which more in a future post.

But for today, I wanted to talk about the depiction of air power in games.  Team Yankee, like lots of other games, have players roll a 4+ to bring on air assets.  If they succeed, an expensive model plane is placed on the board, its shooting is resolved, then the model is removed.  Seems a bit pointless.

Motivated by a desire to make my Polish force as cheap as possible, I started toying with the idea of a 'strategic map', where off-table assets like air power (and artillery) can be represented using counters instead of on-table models.

So, with the help of Tumbling Dice's excellent range of Cold War-era aircraft, some 2mm armoured vehicles from Irregular, and an old Soviet map of Hamburg, we did it.

This is the 'board' - a sort of secondary game that's fought alongside the Team Yankee battle.  If ground attack planes can swoop down over whatever grid square the battle is being fought in, it can make an attack run on the board.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Line of Battle: Rules for Large Battles 1600 - 1914

They're always closer than you think.
Today I unveil a project I've been working on for several years: Line of Battle.  This is a universal set of wargaming rules for large scale line battles between 1600 and 1914, and I'll be putting them up for sale from today.  Read on for details about the game, as well as how to get a free copy for yourself!

What is Line of Battle?

It's a set of rules for historical wargames that we have developed over the last three years.  The concept was inspired by other big-battle rules, like Warmaster and Give Them The Cold Steel, and it has been developed from a set of house rules and amendments to become a completely unique rules system.  Almost every 2mm or 6mm game you have seen on this blog since 2015 has probably been one iteration or another of Line of Battle.

What are the key features?

The game is designed to be moderately complex; a balance between playability and realism.  The key mechanics all fit on two sides of A4, and the rest of the rulebook is devoted to explanations, examples and other historical tidbits.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Battle Report: The Civil Wars In Scotland

Yours truly, doing some experimental archeology...
Some of you may recall the 6mm American Civil War rules I wrote - detailed rules for regimental-level combat, with a focus on period battlefield tactics and drill.  We used these to refight every battle in which the 4th Texas fought. Well, I've now done the same for the British Civil Wars, using my 6mm Baccus figures.

Warre Without An Enemie is a tactical game where you command a body of pike and shot, supported by some cavalry and skirmishers.  You need to get all the different types of troops to work together effectively, in particular your musketeers and pikemen.  The rules revolve around morale and ground - casualties are almost an afterthought.  Your men will start to fragment long before they all die.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Russo-Japanese War Supercampaign

Time for another of our Supercampaigns!  These are our in-depth, alternate history campaigns where members of our gaming group take the part of historical figures and refight old battles.  We've already done this for the British Civil Wars, American Civil War (twice), the Franco-Prussian War.  Most of this campaign took place last year, but I've only just got round to finishing the write-up.

Jane Dunn painted another beautiful picture, depicting a conference between the two Russian commanders and the umpire.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Warmaster Three-Way Battle

Some of you might know that over the last year, I've really got into Warmaster - GW's 10mm Fantasy Game from many years ago, for those who don't know.  It's a really nice game, very simple to learn and play, and the models are fantastic.  Its simple mechanics have influenced my own game design, persuading me to strip out complex shooting rules from Two Splendid Lines and replacing them with simple, single dice rolls.

When I get the chance, I pop round to my friend Mike's house, and we play a game in his newly-renovated attic (almost all my games photos from the last year were taken in here).  The ability to have a dedicated space for gaming and terrain has revolutionised the way we play.  Now we've got storage, all the odds and ends of terrain and armies is now stored in a single place.  By pooling our resources, we're fortunate enough to be able to create some stunning battlefields.

Our gaming group, which began as a group of friends who all went to the same school, is now spread over quite a bit of the country but concentrated in Newark.  Whenever I can (all to rarely) I drop in for a game.  Recently, it's all been Warmaster.  I play with a rare army of Dwarves, Mike has some fantastically-painted Bretonnians, and Dan is the valiant Empire.  Here are a few flavour pics from our most recent game, where Dan triumphed over us both in a climactic three-way battle.

(As an aside, this is the first time I've ever bought a painted army second hand.  Although I don't feel as attached to these chaps, it was refreshing to be ready to play games straight away without a month of building, painting and basing).


Monday, 30 January 2017

A Tale of Two Armies - Basing a 2mm Force

Today we continue the Tale of Two Armies - an in-depth look at collecting a 2mm army.  We covered organising, basing and painting small-scale armies - now it's time to look at basing them.

In 2mm, basing is keyA nice base always brings a model together, but at this scale, the base is pretty much all you'll see on the tabletop.  Painting is just about giving the impression of a block of troops, but the base is what most people will actually be looking at.

The key is not to go overboard - a tree at 2mm might be 5mm tall, say, but you're not going to put a tree on every base.  I go for a generic green flock, with a scattering of fine gravel and sand to break it up a bit, then some foliage for bushes and small trees.  Anything more than that starts to look a bit over the top.

The War Room is ready.  Models are set out ready for basing, I have an area for scattering flock, with PVA on standby.  I find an old knife, a sculpting tool and even a few matchsticks are invaluable for spreading out the PVA.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Diorama: The Death of Marshal Poulain

I've done a few small dioramas in my time, and recently I felt the need to paint some 28mm models again.  I'm taking a break from my 2mm posts to bring you this diorama which depicts the (fictional) death of Marshal Poulain at the Battle of Talavera.

Some of you might remember our recent Talavera game; it was an enormous undertaking, all done on 2mm scale.  I thought, however, I'd use my Christmas money to buy some lovely Perry Miniatures and recreate some crucial moments from the battle.  As with my previous dioramas, it's fairly small in scale, all mounted on a 120mm Secret Weapon Miniatures resin base.

The diorama shows the moment where Marshal Poulain, surrounded by Grenadiers of the 68th Ligne on one of the main crossroads in Talavera, is cut down when British Light Dragoons manage to flank the small force.  It was an absolute joy to spend lots of time on these - each model took about an hour to paint in total, spread over a day to allow for drying.  I know Perry Miniatures don't need me to plug them, but they are by far the finest 28mm miniatures out there.  Meticulously researched and stunningly sculpted, they made the whole painting process more enjoyable.

Next week we'll continue my posts on the 2mm Austrians with a basing tutorial, and you can look forward to a second Talavera diorama in the next month or so.


Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Tale of Two Armies - Painting a 2mm Force

We continue with a series of posts on wargaming in 2mm today, as I build and paint the Prussian and Austrian armies for a future Battle of Lobositz.  You can see the post on organising and building the armies here.

I'm including the painting in such detail, because that's one of the biggest misconceptions about 2mm gaming.  For those who've only ever gamed in 28mm or 20mm, the small blocks of lead can seem like counters.  Why not just play with tokens?  Hopefully this quick post will shed some light on why I love this scale so much.

The key to painting in any scale is to give an impression of reality.  If you look at even the most talented 28mm painters, their models would look terrifyingly unreal if they were scaled up to life size.  Their skill is making them look like they are life sized figures which have been scaled down.  The same is true for 2mm - give an overall impression, and we do that by combining main uniform colours with the occasional tiny detail.  On a 28mm model, that tiny detail might be a badge, the model's eyes, or a wooden stock.  On a 2mm model, it's the heads and the banners.

Often I try and photograph my 2mm models sympathetically, that is, from a distance so you can see how they look on the table.  However, these have been photographed ruthlessly close up, and I've even fiddled with the light levels to show you how much (or rather how little) detail you need on these tiny figures to give a great impression.  I think there's a natural reluctance to show 2mm models at this scale; we try to always give 'finished' impressions of our armies.  Hopefully this will lift the lid on just how small scale painting is done.


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Tale of Two Armies - Building a 2mm Force

Our recent Talavera game was a huge success, but a correspondingly huge amount of work.  Our focus has been almost exclusively on gaming and rules-writing, so I thought I'd relax last night by building some 2mm Austrians from Irregular Miniatures, for a planed game of the Battle of Lobositz, 1756.

This is actually quite a complicated process.  To recreate accurately the ratios involved, I have calculated that:
  • 1 infantry base = 1 battalion = (about) 8 - 900 men
  • 1 cavalry base = 4-5 squadrons = 8 - 900 men
  • 1 artillery base = 15 - 20 guns
I then had to find an army list and translate them into numbers of figures.  This also involved approximating the many different types of unit into a couple of available figure types at 2mm.  For instance, grenadiers and line infantry can be easily represented by the same generic infantry block (with some judicious painting to set them apart), but different cavalry types have to be incorporated.  Almost no two cavalry units were the same, which was frustrating.

I notice that most of my posts are just nice shots of the finished miniatures.  I thought I'd show you round my War Room so you can see 'under the hood' as it were.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Battle of Talavera - Day Two

Today, we continue our large-scale Napoleonic battle report for the Battle of Talavera.  If you missed the first day, click here to read it.  We played this game in 2mm, using Irregular Miniatures and my own 2mm rules system.

So, let's remind ourselves how things stood at the end of the first day.  The British had taken a pounding, but their clever deployment along the line of the hills thwarted the French attempt to make a bold flanking manoeuvre.  The butcher's bill favoured the French, but they had been unable to make significant headway and had a touch prospect on the second day when they assaulted the town itself.

And so, let the battle resume...