Thursday, April 30, 2015

A turbaned gentleman

A HAT Askari 

I've been following Ross's new game on his blog and I was thinking it might be a good fit for some games that don't quite work with CCN. I had intended to use it for an 1850s "what if" style scenario, using my Crimean Russians, Austrians, Hungarians and French.  On the other hand, I might actually see if I could use it with my Indian armies as they haven't had a go yet.  This was sort of prompted by the fact that I'm getting a game of TSATF in tomorrow and it means I won't have reset the table. 

With that in mind, I thought I might need a couple of Indian civilians.  I don't actually have any, but I did have a German Askari lying around. So I gave him a quick trim with a sharp knife and added some green stuff for a turban and turned his jacket into robes. 

It's not the neatest job in the world, but it might pass muster with a lick of paint. 

John Lockwood Kipling bas relief - inspirational stuff. 

I'm quite looking forward to getting a game into tomorrow. It's been a dogs age. I hope I remember how TSATF works. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Strelets Zouaves

The Zouave by Van Gogh

There is something about a Zouave that provokes a romantic response.  My tastes in painting tend more to the Academic or the Romantic, than post Impressionists like Van Gogh, but I still like this piece.  My old mucker Vincent however did not care for his work - I think it captures the essence of the man in a way that photography simply can not. What strikes me most about the painting is the insouciance of the soldier and the gorgeous rich red of the uniform.  

I was fortunate enough to be the recipient of the largesse of a fellow wargamer, who passed on a box of 1/72 Strelets plastics to me. This box not only contained more British infantry than I could shake a stick at, but a massive bag of Frenchmen. 

Not only that, but a goodly number of them were already painted.  So much so in fact, that I've been able to add five fully fleshed units of infantry to my Crimean French forces.  The freemasonry of the hobby working its magic yet again.

I needed one or two extra figures to finish of one unit of Zouaves, so I added these fellows myself. 


Sergeant & Officer

I used the marching figure as an officers as Strelets set comes with a lot of acrobatic Zouave types, throwing themselves around as is their wont. I decided that this slightly more staid fellow would do for an NCO.  

I notice from my photograph that some strands of static grass have attached themselves to the officers kepi - drat, drat, drat. 

A crawling Zouave - very inconspicuous I think you will agree

These chaps were painted in an off fashion to match the figures my friend had sent me.  He primes everything in black and then adds a drybrush of white over the top. The result is to give some shading and so forth.  He makes a far better fist of it than I, but I think you can see some of the results here. 


Much like our pal Van Gough, my friend paints his figures in a deliberately expressionist style which I think works very well for such brightly coloured gentry as these zouaves.  I have done my best to replicate his style - I will add some pictures of his figures very shortly - though I did experiment with adding some shading to the trousers.  I painted these Scab red and then built up a series of highlights using translucent Vallejo acrylics. 

A wounded Zouave & a bugler

Normally I'd chop up a figure to use as a casualty marker, but it would be silly to do so, when the Strelets have gone to the bother of including a wounded figure. Given that I should be studying right now and that my next wargame will almost certainly involve the Hundred Days, there is absolutely no reason why I should be painting Crimean War French. 

Perhaps he's just done his ankle while he was leaping about?

It just goes to show that Homo Ludum Bellum will almost always find a reason to paint the last thing he should be painting.  Still it was a nice distraction to put a brush to some figures.  These took me about two hours all told, most of it spent on the couch with Mrs. Kinch.  I've found that I've lost the knack of watching television without something to do with my hands. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Turkish Gambit: A Review

Note: I wrote this some time ago and then forgot to publish. Pardon gentles all. 

I really liked this poster. It reminded me of Frank Franzetta's work. 

Following the lead of Brother Cordery over at Wargaming Miscellany, I ordered a copy of Turkish Gambit recently and watched it a few days ago.  I ordered my copy of Amazon's German operation and picked the DVD up for approximately €10.

Both Mrs. Kinch and I are fans of Boris Akunin.  He's a very talented Russian author who writes novels in a variety of genres, but most particularly mystery novels. His most successful series have been the Erast Fandorin novels set in the late 19th century and featuring the exploits of Russian state official Erast Fandorin who wanders around world righting wrong and investigating mysteries.

A story I have heard is that the novels were written in response to a bet that the author could not write a series of crime novels in each of the genres sub genre's. Thus, there is a Murder on the Orient Express novel, a Red Dragon type novel, etc.  Turkish Gambit is Akunin's take on the Ian Fleming/Alistair Maclean heroic spy book.

The film is a relatively faithful adaption of the book, which is set during the Russo-Turkish of 1877. The Russian army is besieging Plevna when Fandorin learns that a secretive Turkish agent is sabotaging their efforts.  He then tries to track down the enemy agent.

The film differs from the book in several respects, but the main points of the plot were there. The screenplay was adapted by the author and in terms of style and heft you probably won't notice them unless you know the book well. The cast put in a series of very presentable performances, though I think special mention should be made of Olga Kraska, who plays the female lead.  I found her character insufferably irritating in the book, but Ms. Kraska managed to capture the irritation while still being a pleasure to watch and a fine comic actress to boot.

The production values were excellent and the director of photography certainly earned his money, though I would take note of the use of CGI. The use of CGI throughout is clever, immersive and imaginative - very well done.  I would be very surprised if Guy Ritchie had not seen Turkish Gambit as his CGI sequences in the Sherlock Holmes movies are reminiscent of this film.

Turkish Gambit is a slick, funny adventure film and I would recommend it. You can buy it here

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

For Sale: Prince August 25mm Fantasy Moulds

I have come into some 25mm Prince August Fantasy Moulds and if I hang on to them, I will be tempted to do something with them. That way madness lies, so I'm hoping to sell them. 

I have the following moulds. 

(there is an extra mould on the table, it's one half of a catapult mould, the other half is missing, I'll throw it in if anyone buys the lot) 

 These retail for about nine pounds each. I'm looking for four pounds per mould or I'll sell the lot of twenty pounds. Buyer pays shipping at cost and Paypal (as gift) preferred. 

Email me at Conradkinch AT gmail DOT com. 

Picture from the Prince August website of PA683: 25mm Scale 3x Dwarves Moulds #2

Picture from the Prince August website of PA677: 25mm Scale 3x Orcs Moulds

Monday, April 20, 2015

Quatre Bras - Part Two - The Allies

The Prince of Orange
- he seems to be waving his hat in every picture I see of him. 

I've spent most of the week hitting the books and getting better acquianted with the finer points of Landlord & Tenant law, which is about as riveting as it sounds.  In between times, I've had a chance to muck about with this Quatre Bras scenario.  The map is drafted and I've done a draft order of battle for both sides. The following order of battle was put together at a scale of one unit per infantry battalion, cavalry regiment or artillery battery. With 59 units of the table, this is wildly too much, but I'm not sure if I'm thinking about this clearly.

The Allies will start with about a fifth of those troops deployed, while the French will have about forty odd units on the table from the start. I also don't expect all the Allied troops to make it onto the table.

The more I think about it, the more I think that this might actually work.  In CCN large armies are great, but they are hard to co-ordinate. The way I see the game developing as a race to seize the crossroads of Quatre Bras, with the Allies trying to hold the town while the French struggle to bring their superior numbers before the redcoats arrive. The other problem for the Allies is that the only a third of their force is made up of redcoats. CCN does not rate the Dutch-Belgians particularly highly, though in this situation they will be defending and will have the benefit of picking their ground which should balance the books slightly.

At present I'm leaning towards the following idea -

The French must either inflict thirteen casualties AND hold Quatre Bras or inflict eighteen casualties.

The Allies must inflict thirteen casualties AND hold Quatre Bras or inflict eighteen casualties.

The action deck has 118 cards (discard both Grande Maneuvre cards), the day ends when the deck runs out and it is not reshuffled.

Now to work out if the reinforcements turn up on a strict timetable or leave some element of wiggle room?

Allied Order of Battle

CnC - Wellington
Prince of Orange

2nd Dutch-Belgian Division - Perponcher - 11
1 Dutch Light Infantry
3 Dutch Militia
1 Horse Artillery

5 Nassau Line Infantry
1 DB Foot Artillery

1st British Division - Cooke - 8

6 Guard Grenadiers

2 Foot Artillery

3rd British Divisinon - Alten - 12

4 British Line

5 Hanoverian Line
1 Hanoverian Light

2 Foot Artillery

Reserve Corps

5th Division - Picton - 14

3 British Line
1 Rifles

4 British Line

4 Hanoverian Militia

2 Foot Artillery

Brunswick Contingent - Brunswick - 11

1 Rifles
3 Light Infantry

3 Line
1 Foot Artillery
1 Horse Artillery

1 Light Cavalry
1 Lancer

2nd Dutch Belgian Cavalry Brigade  - Merlen - 3
2 Light Cavalry

1 Horse Artillery

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Quatre Bras - Part One

Scenario design with my trusty batman, Flashman. 

There's a new Epic Waterloo scenario on which put me in mind of doing a Waterloo day sometime in June. There's a possibility I might have enough Prussians to do Waterloo by June, but one scenario isn't quite enough for a whole days gaming. 

Of the Hundred Days battles, Quatre Bras was the natural choice for a second battle as I have quite a few Dutch and Belgian troops and a very limited supply of Prussians.  

Scenario design is always a bit of a tricky business, I find that ultimately it isn't like a scientific experiment where finely calibrated inputs resulting in a perfect output.  The process for me at least is far more like throwing a pot. Far better to start putting something together and make the (often crushing) mistakes along the way, adjusting on the fly until you achieve a result.  The end product may be less aesthetically pleasing, but in my case, at least makes sure that something gets done.

Examining Quatre Bras as a battle, there are a number of points that  need to be addressed. 

1) The battle is the story of a smaller defending force meeting a larger attacking force and being gradually reinforced over the day.  

2) The battle took place late in the day, opening at about 1400hrs and therefore the French player in particular will be fighting the clock. 

3) The high standing crops between Gemioncourt and Quatre Bras are a distinctive and unusual feature of the battle and should be included.   The forest of Bossu is of course important, but less unusual. 

From a game point of view, there are other concerns. 

1) The battle kicks off with a Dutch-Belgian Division facing a French Corps. I've no problems with this per se, battles are meant to be a struggle, but it does cause problems for our usual method of modelling a battle because of the way we play.  With at least three players on each side, this could mean that the French players will have plenty to do, but that two thirds of the Allied team are sitting on their hands. It may be good history, but it doesn't make for entertaining play.  I will have to think about how to square that particular circle and determine how much of a wait is reasonable to impose on the Allied players. 

2) At present, I've adopted an order of battle where each battalion/regiment/battery is a unit.  This  makes the initial confrontation quite manageable, but means that there are over fifty units on the Allied side towards the end of the battle - which is at the upper limit of what CCN handles well. It is likely that French will have caused some casualties by then and the troops will be more spread out because they will be arriving in dribs and drabs. Still something to be borne in mind.

I may  reduce their numbers proportionately to make things a bit more manageable. 

I sketched out the battlefield last night, something that would be very easily done on a screen, but that I find easier with some hex paper and coloured pencils. Suitable furry company is an invaluable assistance. It was a pleasant occupation and a fine way to while away an hour.  

Mrs. Kinch took very ill last week and is unfortunately still in hospital.  She's receiving the best of care and will hopefully be on the mend soon. It's been a grueling few days between work, trying to get some study done (exams at the beginning of May - phew!) and getting into see her twice a day. But God is good and I hope that she will be able to come home before too long.

If nothing else - Flashman is beginning to get a bit unruly.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Christ is risen!

The Resurrection of Christ by Rubens

Deep in Kukuanaland

She knows her audience...

My apologies to regular readers as blog posts have been precious few this year, a bare dozen and not what we have come to expect from young Kinch.  I can but plead the fact that I have been deep in Kukuanaland these last few months and that if I escape alive, I shall return loaded with the first half of a legal education from the proud warrior chaps that run that particular establishment. Between maintaining a respectable work return at my day job and ensuring that all my essays and such make it in, there's been precious little time for anything else. 

I have just about managed to keep my head above water writing for Battlegames.  We concluded a rather exciting Napoleonic game played by email, though at a rather more leisurely pace than I would normally go for. 

The rather excellent lid pictured above was a gift from Mrs. Kinch on the occasion of my turning thirty five last week.  She is the finest of all her sex, as if I needed reminding. 

It has taken me a lifetime to reconcile myself to 
the fact that I will never be able to pull this look off.

There's not much else to write really other than to thank the correspondents who were in touch during the week - it's nice to be missed. I hope it won't be long until the next posting.