Thursday, August 27, 2015

The onward march of the Marshes

The next step for the marshes was to give each tile a quick blast of Army Painter brown.  This was the work of but a minute and I managed it while sticking things in the freezer. 

Once each tile had his coat of brown, they were left to dry. Then a biggish, stiff brush and quick dry brush of white over all the tiles. This always looks very odd to me, but it somehow looks better once the base is flocked and so forth. Funny old business, colour perception. 

Once the dry brushing was done, I dug around for something suitably gribbly in a green.  Vallejo Reflective Green was something I had a second bottle of and seemed about right. I mixed it 50/50 with water and then put a loose sloppy coat over all the water areas. This can make the water look very flat and uninteresting, so while the paint is still wet, quickly add some dabs of dark blue and mix it with the green to give the illusion of depth. 

Once that is done, add some dabs of PVA and garnish with static grass, clump foliage and lichen to taste. 

I not entirely sure why I took a picture of my hedgerow pieces, but here they are now that the coat of PVA added as sizing has dried. 

Of course, I managed to forget one of the last steps.  Take a pot of GW gloss varnish (by whatever jolly pirate nickname they are calling it now) mix with water and put a thin layer of varnish over the water.  Don't be precious, it looks better if the rocks and earth are slightly glossy. A good water mix helps avoid a textured finish (GW varnish can be quite thick) and it typically takes three to five thin coats to reach the desired finish. 

The (almost) finished product, though a poor photograph

This tile has had two coats of varnish and could do with some more, but we'll get there.  I have to go buy some more varnish. I must check if Vallejo do a gloss varnish. 

And go get weaving on those hedgerows. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Marshes & Hedgerows

The sticky bit

The cat litter has been added to the marsh hexes and the latest step is to daub a goodly quantity of PVA over the litter in order to fix it in place.  This picture was taken about two hours after I added the PVA, so really lash it on.  This fixes the little rocks and so forth in place. 

I'm not absolutely certain about the next step, probably a quick spray of Armour Painter brown and a highlight. We shall see. I may try one test spray first. 

How's my topiary? 

With the marshes well on the way, it was time to get started on the hedgerows. These are my trusty MDF hexes again. I then roughly cut a  small piece of upholstery foam, added a notch in the middle and hot glued it to the hex. I will probably use a soldering iron to shape the foam, add some filler for texture to the hex and then hot glue some clump foliage to the foam.   If I'm feeling particularly adventurous, I may add a tree armature. We shall see.

Though as quick and dirty terrain goes, we're not doing too badly.  These, both the marshes and hedgerows, were done in two forty minute stints while getting myself together after work. 

The offending article

The library on the top floor is now mostly finished. It still needs a radiator and carpet and other things, but the book shelves are up and that's the main thing.  It occured to me while shelving that there are poor souls out there who cannot organise their shelves by conflict. 

How do they live? If it can be called living? 

At the ripe old age of thirty five, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that all change, no matter how small, is for the worse. Also those smallest changes are the worst. 

While I was shelving, I noticed some gaps, books that I've either lost, loaned or given away.  I have decided to slowly, but surely fill out these gaps. So I whipped out my phone and ordered three of the Flashman's I was missing. They arrived yesterday. 

And they've changed the bloody spine by God.  Hanging is too good for them!  It remains to be seen whether these wrecks of books remain readable after this appalling mutilation. 

Monday, August 24, 2015


The festering bog as a work in progress

Unexpectedly, I'm free this coming Saturday. This naturally brought to mind the prospect of getting a spot of wargaming in, so a cunning plan was hatched.  As it's rather short notice and there's every possibility that the lads won't be able to make it, I thought that I would try and organise something that required very little prep, but that we hadn't tried before. 

I fixed on the VE Day scenario pack released by Days of Wonder this year.  

Unfortunately, soon after I sent the email, I realised that I hadn't checked to make sure I had sufficient terrain.  Nothing stirs the creative juices like panicked last minute improvisation.

With that in mind, I find myself making some quick and dirty marsh tiles.

Add cat litter for texture

I needed to make something that was robust, didn't take up a lot of room and that looked nice or at least appropriately boggy. I banged the above together in about forty minutes.The bases are my trusty five inch MDF hexes from Jim at Products for wargamers. I have added a layer of pre mixed filler to represent boggy ground. The flat surface of the MDF will be painted as water. Once the filler had dried, I added some dabs of PVA and scattered some cat litter on it to add a bit of texture. 

I was going to add twigs and reeds and things, but what I'll probably do is stick to some static grass and a few dabs of lichen as I don't want to raise the profile of the hexes much as it will make it hard to stack them for storage. 

This is all a bit of improvisation, so we'll see how they turn out. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Strelets French Army Sledge Train 1 & 2

French Army Sledge Train 

My Russian army is nearly complete and I've been playing through the full set of Spanish Peninsula scenarios over the last few months.  This means of course, that before too long it will be time to set out for the frozen wastes of Russia as the Napoleon's Grande Armee marches towards nemesis.  There are a couple of scenarios from the retreat from Moscow in the Russian expansion. While I have acquired a snow mat and some fir trees with the firm intention of doing a snowy setup, I have no intention of adding another army of Frenchers wrapped in blankets to the figure collection. 

However, I was ordering some Zulu War British from Harfields the other day and wasn't really able to justify spending almost £5 on postage for a £5 box of figures. Now with the economic sense that has made me the millionaire I am today, I realised that if I ordered more figures, the postage wouldn't go up and if it did it wouldn't be by much. 

And that gentlemen, is how I talked myself into buying the two boxes above, reasoning that I don't need to buy a new army - I can just add a few figures here and there and the illusion is complete. 


The boys in the plastic

What you get for your money is two plastic sleds and a collection of grim looking Bonapartists, several of whom are missing limbs.  I was a bit dissappointed at first as the number of figures was quite low, but on mature reflection the only comparable offering is from Schilling and they are more expensive again. 

My plan is to base these up as little dioramas, with each stand representing a single infantry stand and a stand on it's own being a casualty.  This should give my 1812 Frenchers a more ragged look and for under a tenner. 

You can get a more in depth look at the figures individually here, but I think if you like Strelets usual output you'll like these.  Otherwise more expensive metal figures might be the way to go. 

In other news, my new neighbours have been doing rather well with the new arrivals. Poppa Swan is rather protective of their lawn. I think he's thinking of putting some planters down. 

A better view of the cygnets taking a well earned kip. They are getting so big. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

1st Hussars

(click to embiggen)

After all that time stealing other mens glory - I thought it might be time to post some pictures of figures that I've painted myself.  These are hussars of the 1st Regiment of Hussars in the French service.  They were originally know as the Hussars of Bercheny, but were renamed during the Revolutionary unpleasantness.  

I love commanding cavalry on the tabletop, but I hate painting them. With that in mind, I purchased some French hussars from a german collector last year.  Now as it happens, I managed to get enough figures to do one and a half units.  

(click to embiggen)

So I gritted my teeth and based up some extra Italeri hussars that I had lying around and painted up the spares.  These fellas complete one unit and I will have to paint up officers and a bugler for the second. 

The first served at Eylau, Friedland and Leipzig so they will see some service against my Russians.  

Not the finest paint job ever to grace a toy soldier, but they fit with the rest of the unit and that's the main thing.  

(click to embiggen)

I don't have any Napoleonic games planned right now and I do actually have three units of Chasseurs in stock should I need them, but occasionally one needs more than three units of French lights cavalry for large games. 

Not that there any of those planned right now. 

To be honest, there's probably dozens of things I should have painted before these (and I have another four lads to go!) like for example Afghan jezails,  VBCW BEF and Crimean turks, but I suppose this just goes to show the innate perversity of the wargamer. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rambling Kinch - Cork Train Station

A pretty poor picture, but needs must. 

Mrs. Kinch and I were down in Cork for a wedding a while ago and we enjoyed all the hospitalility that Cork city is known for.  The bride was beautiful, the groom was lucky and I had a happy excuse for wearing dress uniform during the Guard of Honour.  Mrs. Kinch and I danced the night away and had a simply wonderful time, which while entertaining for us, probably makes for dull reading.  

But, what is probably of more interest to readers of Joy & Forgetfulness is Engine No. 36, a restored Victorian steam engine which sits in Kent Railway station.  I know nothing about trains, other than that they are infinitely preferable to car in my book, but I'm told that if one likes trains this one is of interest. 

This while illegible at this resolution, should be readable when clicked on. 
(Click to embiggen) 

Engine No. 36 was built in Liverpool by Bury, Curtis and Kennedy in 1847.  She cost £1,955 sterling and was brought to Ireland to run services between Dublin and Cork for the Great Southern and Western Railway. She remained in service until 1874. 

The engine itself is quite big, though smaller than the contemporary types, and just looks great in its green paint and gleaming brass.

The staff of life

One things we did learn while we were in Cork was that "Gurr cake" was called "Chester cake" in the south. For those who are unaware, Gurr cake is a sort of compressed fruit slice made up of the remainders of other cakes, dark rum and raisins.  I used to get mine from the small shop behind school and it is indelibly linked with that time and place in my mind.  Wonderful stuff. 

To learn that that it had a different name in Cork was an awful shock - I'm anxious to try some next time I'm down there, just to confirm that it is inferior to the Dublin made variety. 

Chester cake indeed. 

It'll be dogs marrying cats next. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Plastic Soldier Company: The Great War - First Blush

Kinch (and friends) setting out to the post office to collect the expected parcel.

So my kickstarter goodies arrived from the Plastic Soldier Company, a copy of Command & Colours: The Great War. Savage and I gave it a go and we found it a very interesting addition to the Command & Colours stable. There are a number of additions to the system which pose a number of challenges. 

HQ Points - These are the currency used to power your artillery and Combat Cards. You can pick them up at the end of your turn or by rolling stars on the combat dice.

Combat Cards - These are used in addition to the normal Command cards and represent things like Box Barrages, Gas Attacks, Stretcher bearers and Mata Hari amongst others. These can be played in your turn alongside a Command card or in your opponents turn.  These range from the nice, but not critical, to complete game changers.   Most of these cards require HQ points to be activated which should prevent them from derailing things.

Might need something a mite bigger than a Webley.

Reserve Artillery - this is an off board unit that allows you to drop barrages anywhere on the board. How powerful those barrages are is dependent on how many HQ points are used. What's interesting about this is that the barrages are potentially devastating and can effect up to seven hexes. However, they are only really devastating against units that are bunched together and in the open. Spacing your units out and keeping them in trenches can mitigate a lot of the worst artillery can do to you. That does of course mean surrendering the initiative to your opponent.

The chances of wiping a unit out are pretty slim, but successive barrages can whittle down units and make them more vulnerable to an assault.

Another thing about Reserve Artillery which is new is that it can alter the terrain on the battlefield. Drop sufficient HE on a hex and there is a possibility that your target becomes a smoking shell hole. It's not sufficiently likely that I would build a strategy around it, but it does make big barrages more worth while.

We've only played the first engagement, a fictional training scenario,  and thus far the gameplay is easy enough that two veteran Memoir '44 players picked it up pretty much immediately.  We worked out all the new moving parts pretty quickly, what we're still trying to do is work out what they mean and how a canny player will use them.

General observations so far.

1. Troops need to minimise the amount of time they spend in the open or they will be severely punished by artillery and mortars. The fact that Reserve Artillery can range the entire board means that you cannot disregard weakened troops in the communications trenches.

2. Specialist assault troops like bombers need to be hoarded and used carefully.  They can be devastating, but they are just as vulnerable as regular troops.

3. Simply hiding in your trenches and hoping that artillery will do the job simply leaves you open to counter attack by an aggressive player who is willing to spend time to build the hand of cards he needs.  Artillery will contribute to, but cannot secure victory. It simply isn't powerful enough.

4. Command & Colours Napoleonics and Memoir '44 both allow players to play a little bit fast and loose with their strategy because cavalry and armour units give enough movement to the board that sudden and dramatic plays can rapidly alter the course of a battle. Command & Colours: The Great War to my mind rewards a careful player who builds a plan, works out what combinations of cards will work for the forces he has in hand and then builds the hand he needs.

Of course, doing that before the other player does it to you is the trick.

On the whole, I am cautiously optimistic about the game. We knocked a game out in under an hour and most importantly it felt very different to previous incarnations of Command and Colours. Careful planning and managing supply (both of HQ points and cards) were very important and at least to me, it had that all important "feel" of the period.

Am I going to play this again?