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Friday 3 May 2024

TLC for old lead Dudes. The Scots Greys.

In the 'Shinyloo' world the Scots Greys are- as yet the only near completed British Cavalry regiment. There are bits of other units as the old models get restored and  painted up. Some Hussars and some Heavy Dragoons  are finished and more Hussars and a few Light Dragoons and Horse Guards are in the 'to do someday' box.

The Scots Greys as they currently stand as one large squadron.

 Most of the ongoing 'Shinyloo'  retro project has been achieved using 'pre-owned' models  acquired from ebay . Sometimes in a pretty poor condition. Often needing new sword blades  and always needing a repaint though not always back to the metal.. There is, without doubt, a certain satisfaction in returning these old models to something close to their 'former glory' . Making the British fit to face the might of Napoleon Shinyparte's army- or indeed the Gloss coated glory of Shinyfarnce to face the perfidious Albion of the Duke of Wellyboot has indeed taken on something of a life of its own over the years.


 The units are large by today's standards- or at least that is the plan though they grow quite slowly as regular readers will know this is far from my only project. The Greys can therefore form two Squadrons or one large one as needed. Models are for the uninitiated 30mm either Stadden or Minifigs both from the 1960s or early 70s- the Minifigs being unavailable in the UK since then and  the present whereabouts of most of themoulds unknown.  Stadden are still available from Tradition of London.  

And as 2 squadrons.

And a few Hussars by way of difference- still a bundle of these to paint. 

Monday 15 April 2024

Traffic Chaos on the Autobahn.

A collection of no less that 5 of the Tantobie Warfare and Tactical Society met last Saturday at our new venue of Stanley Masonic hall. (Does the change of venue now make us the SWATS instead of the TWATS? I suspect either would fit depending upon the time and place!)

Steve was in the chair and elected for a 20mm Cold War Goes Hot game using his impressive 20mm collection. Not sure who made the excellent tanks and APC' but the infantry were by Elhiem and they are really very good indeed..

The only slight jarring not was the table size- the main hall was in use so we were restricted to the bar - which had its compensations so the table was only a tad over 6 feet by 4 .
 Still no worries overall 
 Paul and I took the British with a platoon of Infantry  in FV432 and a platoon of 3 Chieftain mk9 . We also had an 81mm Mortar a couple of Milan posts and off table artillery controlled by an on table observer.
 Andrew and Shaun took the East Germans and all I can say is that there seemed to be a lot of them T-72 all over the place and all sorts of other vehicles with all sorts of guns hanging off them !

Rules were Steve's own derived from I believe the WW2 set Spearhead or some such. I didn't take much notices as in umpire controlled games such as ours you get to concentrate on decision making rather than rules mongering.

The system was basically IGOUGO but with tweaks  and only a certain number of orders per turn depending upon a dice roll and your troop capability most actions taking 1 order but others taking 2 or even 3 orders. So you needed your wits about you..

Britsh infantry await the onslaught. 

 The British were tasked with defending the rather shattered village  from a reconnaissance in force by WARPACT forces so we dug in and awaited the assault.

Early on we realised that this was not going to be an easy gig. There seemed no end to the East German forces as they came on to the table. Fortunately our artillery was up to the job and while we did not actually kill too many  'pinned' vehicles caused and awful traffic jam which upset the WARPACT timetable.
 However their own artillery was not idle and it was this that gave the plucky Brits the most grief killing dug in infantry and a Milan post and if memory serves  our right flank Chieftain - though that may have been a T-72.

It often seemed to us- Paul and I- that the more we smashed them with artillery and mortars the more of them that needed smashing. Our Milan and Chieftains did their share- taking out BRDMs and T-72s amongst other things I can't recall but the WARPACT artillery was slowly wearing us down- we'd lost a third of our  morale.( This was a neat mechanism- when suffering casualties you drew a chit from 'the bag of doom'  which usually had a number between 1 and 5 on it- though there were other results which never came up. This number was subtracted from your 'Army Break Point' number once you reached Zero you were done. Our Break point was 31 the WARPACT 26. We had our fair share of luck here never drawing more than a 3 while the opposition drew at least one 5 ).

A Milan post. We began the game with two covering this road 

For most of the game we kept pounding  at the WARPACT traffic jam not always with massive success but enough to keep them hung up  while we picked off around the fringes.

The Warpact traffic jam part one. 

As it happened we had decided to bug out in the  near futures as their artillery continued to pound us but some of our own shooting finished the issue taking out a Shilka and another T-72 which after firtling in the bag of Doom took the WARPACT  total over their break point just before we decided to scarper. 

 So a narrow victory for the plucky Brits.

Personally I was seriously impressed with the rules. They flowed well and forced you to think but also had that taste of 'realism' which we enjoy. Nice One Steve.

As always our thanks go to Norman Oyston for the use of the venue and to Ros for the splendid beef butties without which no meeting would be complete. 

The WARPACT traffic jam part tow- well done the Royal Artillery. .

Friday 5 April 2024

The Tedium of 'perfection'.

 One of the reason that, at least for some of my collections, I prefer older models is simply that they are more distinctive than many of todays products.

 This is not a matter of 'better' or 'worse' and will doubtless leave some of you a bit confused  but I do find that some of the fine detailed plastic and resin offerings  lack that indefinable 'something'  that sets them apart. Also I find that- unless you have the box, telling one '28mm hard plastic' from another in the same period is middling tough. I have two sets of plastic Pathans by different makers- they may as well be identical- the parts are virtually interchangeable. Now in itself this is no bad thing as it makes simple conversions  easy enough if you are that way inclined - and of course have the time  to actually make them. But somehow the lack of distinction between them makes them both slightly bland. They paint up well enough and the assorted parts are really useful- though  both sets make the identical mistake with the Pathan Jezzail  using the less common curly 'Arab' style butt rather than the plainer straight 'Indian' style, though doubtless few have noticed.

Blandness extends to many of the renditions of 3D printed figures I see on the internet mostly varying shades of grey  staring out of the stygian gloom of a black background looking strangely alien  somehow. Many of them look soooooo similar to each other that you can't tell one from another. I do make an exception with some of the armoured figures I have seen- they tend to have more 'life' in them paradoxically, than the repetitive WW2 Germans that one sees do not. Now doubtless the painters and modellers who use these can  put a bit of life into them by the exercise of their craft but with the possible exception of some medieval models I have seen I don't think I'll bother. Especially since I also see that some fellas are having trouble with fragility and indeed brittleness- though this may be because they are using the wrong type of resin. 

 Now 3D printed vehicles are another matter. Those I have are fine- detail is good and aside from losing the will to live while picking off all of the 'runs'  and 'sprues' on them prior to painting I'm pleased with the results  but then their prototypes are  steel and have no human element in them. Of those assorted vehicles I have - some are 1 piece models and others are in kit form some with a good few bits. The only problem as ever with these is cleaning up before assembly..

3 of the 3D vehicle prints I have actually painted. These are for my 15mm 'Moderns' collection.

I'm told there are more companies producing stuff in all materials now than there were last century which is very probably true. But if it all looks very similar how can you tell, once you have binned the packaging.

 Back in the day- I'm talking 1970s-80s here up to about 1990- you could tell a 25mm Minifig (sturdy as possibly a bit boring but dependable) from a Lamming(chunky lots of separate heads and weapons. Superb Medievals) from a Garrison (good sculpting but some odd horses) from a Les Higgins( crisp castings good design but a bit small unless you could afford the 30mm) from a Stadden (good anatomy superb horses)  from QT( lots of separate heads and weapons lots of variety clean castings but some odd horses) from Hinchliffe- (large range occasional anatomical quirks but good  overall quality Excellent equipment).. Form Corvus-a bit stiff but good detail- horses a bit small. You could even tell a Hinchliffe from a Hinchliffe Foremost- the latter being a bit bigger and with round bases for the infantry.. Or Dixon-  very clean castings solid models. or Front Rank- chunky chaps but clean castings good detail somewhat static horses.

Some of my 30mm Stadden AWI. You cn tell a Stadden model from most others of the time. 

 All this being before we get to outfits such as Warrior or Vulcan or Viking or Feudal Castings or Asgard (yes they did a few historicals) or Ral Partha or Britannia or even Foundry who were about in the 1980s doing 25mm which like most others they now call 28mm (yes chaps Guilty as charged ) . Doubtless there are companies I have missed perhaps because I never owned any of their models. I think at one time or another I owned models from all of the above. They were not sold in blister packs back then, so despite a lack of distinctive packaging on many I could tell one from another ! 

A3 Battalion brigade from my 'other' AWI collection- recently rebased on 15mm Frontage per figure.
 Two battalions are Old Glory the third - with Blue Colour- are Old Glory Second Edition. Each range has its distinctions .

There are now doubtless some chaps out there whose '28mm' armies are all plastic. It can be done for WW2 and some Napoleonic and Ancients armies and some Medieval and Renaissance but not for the majority of periods that really interest me and anyhow why would I want an army that looks and feels the same as all the others. As an aside that is why for example, I'm rebseing some of my smaller collections so that they don't look the same as 'standard' units as I have seen 24 figure horse and musket units often called.  The urge some seem to have to be the same as everyone else is not mine  neither in wargaming nor in other walks of life- Not Me - The Resistance Lives On......

Now to finish some Pathans- both metal and plastic. 

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Catching Up On My Reading- no 20

 Those of you who read my ramblings more or less regularly will know of my interest in the military history of the Indian sub-continent. So it will come as no surprise to you that  news of Rene Chartrand's latest work sparked considerable interest and caused me to lay out some cash.

I was not to be disappointed.


This one really was worth the wait.

 It is a fairly meaty tome at around 320 page and barely one of them is wasted.

 The activities of the various permutations of the French East India company are covered in some detail for the first time in English and most importantly all in one place. This obviously covers the Indian sub-continent but less obviously Africa, China Thailand Madagascar and Louisiana.

In 21 chapters and 3 appendices M. Chartrand takes us through the wars  and armies of the Compagnie-des Indes. Not only the obvious conflicts against the British in the 18th century but less obvious conflicts against Spain in what is now the US state of Florida and their battles with the First Nations in other parts of what would become the USA. The scholarship in impressive and the emphasis is of course of French sources which is as it should be.

For me however the meat of this fascinating book were those chapters concerned with India. Here the success of the book is to bring all of the disparate information under one set of covers. Speaking for myself I had around half- or a bit more of the information on uniforms in assorted other sources- some in M. Chartrand's other works  but this volume both brings all of that into one convenient place and corrects some misconceptions. For example more than one source refers to French Company troops dressed in the usual Grey white coats- in fact this was the exception rather than the rule- when fighting the British the French Company troops in India would more often be dressed in Blue uniforms.

As well as campaign narratives chapters on weapons and organisation - both of the European and local troops are covered in some detail. I will have no trouble organising my French forces for Indian wargames with this book to hand. 

Physically the book is well up to the usual Helion standard. Indeed rather more sumptuously illustrated than some. There are 12 colour plates by Patrice Courcelle as well as 18 other pages of colour illustrations.  some contemporary and some not. All are to the point. Add to this a large number of black and white illustrations- of which only a minority were familiar to me and this is another winner from Helion and from M. Chartrand. 

There were only a couple of jarring notes. Both linguistic and very minor first the various French trading posts which English sources would refer to as 'Factories' are referred to as 'lodges' . Slightly more jarring is the reference to Indian matchlock musketeers- who would be 'peons' or 'barkanzys' or 'buxerries'  depending upon where they were from and in whose service they were- as 'fusiliers'  which is a bit confusing until you get the context. But that is merely nit-picking and does not in the least detract from and excellent book.

 Very Highly Recommended.

Sunday 21 January 2024

Rules Rules and more bloody Rules.

 There are times when bits of this mostly fascinating hobby of ours bores me witless. The obsession with rules is one of my personal bugbears. Rule books become ever thicker and denser and often more expensive and equally often moving further and further from the historical prototype. I suspect that this is inevitable as each rule writer/ game designer has his own hobby horse to ride.

Could I really use these 40mm TYW with Renatio et Gloriam- somehow I doubt it .

This does not mean that new rules are all dross, but you do have to be more careful  these days than formerly when trying to pick the chocolate bar out of the cess pit.

Now one of the possible gems out there may well be the new Renatio et Gloriam set. Now I don't own these yet  but on the back of a few games of the ancient version -Mortam et Gloriam they do interest me. At least as much as any set of rules ever can. Being card driven they allow a bit of thought about how to play the hand you have been dealt and was it not Clauswitz or one of those 19th century thinking dudes who opined that war was more like a game of cards than of chess? So something a little more intriguing than the usual picture book with a few rules in I hope.

 The trouble is  when I get a copy I'll have to puzzle them out and not having a massive amount of time for such it may take me a while.

Moving swiftly on our groups next game will be a new period for us. I finally have enough Indian Mutiny stuff table ready. Not a huge amount but enough for a club game. So there is another problem- which rules?

The 'regular' part of the current Mutineers collection. I can add almost the same again in assorted 'irregulars' .

  I have several possibilities.

 1/. John Company- a phonebook thick American set of some age. I have tried to read these but gave up. Anyway my collection is not even remotely similar in basing.

2/. Black Powder- either version. Yes I could use these if I could actually read them. 2nd Edition is printed in brown on cream paper so is difficult to read in anything less than perfect light. There is some good stuff hidden in there but can I deal with the eyestrain?

3/. The Men Who Would be Kings.  Easy enough but small units and  some odd organisational quirks (no General Officers). Feels very dice heavy. Set unit sizes - which I have never been a fan of and rather a lot of 'abstracting out'. Tied to a silly points system which should not be hard to get round . Need a bit of setting up with unit stats and suchlike.  Artillery rules are not much use.

4/. Charge !  with  period amendments .  I know and like Charge- I use it for the 'Shinyloo' games and it has hidden depths not apparent in simple reading. Unlike more modern rules you can actually read the book. Playing  does not bore the arse off you  but I'm not sure I can make them fit the period. Hmmm.

5/. The Sword and the Flame. Pretty simple but possibly a bit long winded with card driven movement. Not sure they really fit the Mutiny but are rather for later 19th century.

So a bit of a quandary which I have to solve before next Saturday.